Thursday, October 30, 2008

A plan for next year...

Celebrating Halloween has been pretty fun this year...with the biggest party coming tomorrow in Cloe's classroom!
I've run out of time for decorating pumpkins, but next year I hope to have a mantel decorated with these beauties:Aren't they so beautiful?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Apple Cake

I'm having this weird obsession with apples. With my big bag running low and the hard frost last night, I kind of got a little apple sentimental and crazy all at once. The boys and I made a mad dash to the Happy Apple Orchard this morning and to my happy delight, they had a big sale! Needless to say, I'm back up to my ears in apples!
I found the following recipe from a really cool cooking blog. This girl lives a big city life and is a great writer...super enjoyable to read and great recipes! Check it out here.
This recipe wasn't hard, but it does require quite a bit of time in the oven--enough that my whole house completely filled with a wonderful warm baking apple smell!

Here's the recipe:
Mom's Apple Cake
6 apples, Mom uses McIntosh apples
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.
Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.
Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.


Want a piece?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Seven

Here are my seven things to be thankful for this week:
1. I'm thankful that Carson was able to get tubes in his ears on Friday. He's a little off kilter yet, but I'm looking forward to an ear infection free year!
2. I'm thankful for old friends and the friendship bond that seems to surpass time. My best friend from high school came to town on Friday. We hadn't gotten together for seven years. It was great to catch up and realize we still have so much in common!
3. I'm so thankful that Caitlin accepted Christ as her Savior! I will never get tired of hearing of people's salvations and seeing those smiles on new believer's faces!
4. I'm thankful for the five people who were baptized today at church as a public profession of their faith. It always prompts me to pray more faithfully for my children's salvations and that they will want to be baptized someday!
5. I'm thankful for the *date* Cody and I got to enjoy this week!
6. Who isn't thankful to see that sunshine shining again!?!
7. I'm thankful for the reminder I had this week of the great mercies of our Savior.

What are you thankful for this week?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Mother-in-laws' Apple Bars

In college, Cody and I double dated with a lot of different couples. One of the weirdest experiences we ever had was with this guy who asked cooking questions all night...as I would answer or his girlfriend would answer, he would retaliate with how his mom did it and how that was really the best way. We, basically, needed to change everything about how we cooked and do it his mom's way. It was annoying, to say the least. When we got home, my very sweet husband said to me, "I will never do that to you." And he never has! We never double dated with that couple again, either. Cody has always been so appreciative and encouraging about my cooking. When we were first married, I would have to beg the name of a favorite meal his mom made out of him.
This recipe, however, came right out as a fall favorite. It has quickly become one of my favorites too! I will warn you...these bars are a real pain in the patooty to make! Making the crust has caused me to come dangerously close throwing the rolling pin out the window. You'll probably make them with raging success...but just be warned, you might not, too!

Enjoy these frosted apple bars with a fresh hot cup of coffee and the company of great friends, and they'll surely become your fall favorite too!Carolyn's Apple Bars

2 1/2 c. flour
1 c. shortening
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. salt

Mix ingredients with a pastry blender.
Put 1 egg yolk in a cup and fill to 2/3 cup with milk.
Add to flour mixture. Dough will be very soft.
Roll out half the dough between sheets of plastic wrap. Spread in a jelly roll pan over the sides.

Peel and slice 6 cups of apples. Sprinkle apples with 1 c. sugar, 1 T. cinnamon, and 2 T. flour. Pour into crust. Roll out top crust and seal edges. Make small slits in top to release steam.

Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees until slightly golden brown. (I start with 20 minutes and then let it go in five minutes increments until the top is golden brown.)

Frost with 3/4 c. powdered sugar, 2 T. butter, 1/2 tsp. vanilla and a splash of milk until smooth.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Piled High Lasagna


Last night we tried a new lasagna recipe. It's a take on a Rachel Ray recipe, but I tweaked it to our preferences. This recipe also fit into a little challenge I got at Ladies Bible Study on Wednesday. We are studying the Fruit of the Spirit and our challenge was to do something kind for another person...not wait and think about it, but actually do it! The focus was to aim kindness toward our enemies or people we don't prefer, but thankfully, I'm running low in the enemy department. I had to put that disclaimer in for anyone that was there because I actually made this for my sister-in-law! She's not an enemy!

Here's the recipe:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, grated
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 heaping tsp. dried basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small carton ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 to 1 c. parmesan cheese
  • 2 boxes oven-ready lasagna noodles (use 1 box per loaf pan)
  • 2 cups grated Italian cheese, divided
  • Parsley, chopped, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Place a large skillet over medium-low heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Cook the onion and the garlic, stirring frequently, until tender, about 10 minutes.
Turn the heat under the skillet up to medium-high and add the beef to the pan. Cook it through, stirring frequently and breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Add the beef stock, tomatoes and basil to the pot and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring the sauce up to a bubble, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
While the red sauce is simmering, place riccota cheese, eggs, milk, Italian seasoning, and parmesan cheese in a bowl and mix well.
Lightly grease two loaf pans. Ladle about 1 cup of the red sauce into the bottom of the first lined loaf pan. Put down a layer of lasagna noodles, then top them with about a cup of ricotta mixture. Continue building the lasagna, alternating layers of noodle, red sauce, noodle, cheese, until all the noodles are covered. End the lasagna on a layer of red sauce and top it off with the grated Italian cheese. Repeat this process with the other loaf pan and the remaining sauce. (I got seven layers in both pans.)
Cover the pans with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes until the noodles are tender and the cheese is melted and golden brown.
Remove the pans from the oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes to let the lasagna set. Garnish each slice with fresh parsley.

One pan was the perfect size for our family and the other pan was perfect to give away!

Carson's surgery

Early this morning, we all packed up and head down to Lutheran Hospital for Carson's surgery for his tubes in his ears. He was pretty smiley!

He LOVES this puppy. As long as the puppy is along, all is right with the world!

Notice that I couldn't dress the boys alike? Carson had to wear zipper pajamas so they could monitor his breathing and watch his chest. I think it actually hurt to leave with them in different clothing! They were both really confused, too. Carson said, "Hey Clainey, you wearin' the wrong stuff. Look at me!" Maybe I've done a little damage...
We had to give Carson a breathing treatment before his surgery to make sure he was completely opened up to breath. The anesthesiologist said this would also prevent any complications. Carson went back with the nurse pretty willingly. Everything went smooth putting the tubes in and all the infection was flushed out. He came out of the anesthesia really well and even snuggled with a nurse on the way out of recovery back to us. All the kids got super cute little stuffed bears for being so good.This picture was right after we got home...back to his normal silly self! He was also starving! He polished off a big plate full of scrambled eggs and toast. Then he requested goldfish and carrots. He also managed to eat a pretty healthy lunch an hour later!
I'm kind of sad that the side affects of drowsiness and laying around didn't seem to hit him! I have those side affects today! I think the breathing treatment hyped his heart rate up so much that it's hard for him to be still.
We're thankful it all went well and are looking to a year free of ear infections!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cute Money!

Check out THIS website.
Insert a picture into any monetary bill and get this: Of course, this buck won't get you far in Target,
but it will buy lots of smiles!

Mercy

On Monday, I went to a ladies' get together with women from all over our state. The speaker spoke on *MERCY* from Psalm 136. Here's a portion of Psalm 136:

1Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
2
Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.
3
Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever;
4
to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever;
5
to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever;
6
to him who spread out the earth above the waters, for his steadfast love endures forever;
7
to him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever;
8
the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures forever;
9
the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever;

Then the passage goes on to describe His steadfast love and mercy to His people--the Israelites.

23It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever;
24and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever;
25he who gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures forever.26Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Those verses are full of praise to our merciful God for the way He shows His steadfast loveI would like to consider myself a merciful person...full of compassion to others. So I checked out the whole definition of mercy: compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender or an enemy. In Biblical terms it is defined in the following words: by the atoning sacrifice of Christ a way is open for the exercise of mercy towards the sons of men, in harmony with the demands of truth and righteousness. Through God's mercy, He was able to give us His grace to withhold what we as sinners truly deserve--this mercy continues daily to us!
Mercy is something I have grown to expect from God and sometimes take for granted that God will continue to show mercy. For myself, I've found that my "mercy" standard may need some work! Here's how God showed this to me:
The speaker closed by reading a testimony from a lady in their church. This lady had been the top drug dealer in their town and had a life completely controlled and driven by drugs. She was arrested one day and sentenced to forty years in prison. A friend of this lady had come to know Christ and got her entire church to send this lady cards and notes in prison to show her Christ's love. After eleven years in prison, she became eligible for parole. The parole rule was that she had to have a stable home to go to. All of her family had rejected her, so she timidly turned to her Christian friend. This friend showed mercy and took the lady immediately into her home. They began to go through "Stranger on the Road to Emmaus" and within weeks, she accepted Christ as her Savior. Her relationships with her family members have all been restored and this lady has changed her life drastically and is now a thriving Christ-loving woman (with a real job this time)! To go back a little, her first Sunday in church, she realized that three of her biggest drug buyers were in church--they had all become believers as well!

As the speaker closed, I felt really convicted about my *mercy*. I loved hearing this testimony and it really touched my heart. Would I be willing to befriend an ex-con / drug dealer and show them mercy--love and compassion? Why do I find myself willing to exert mercy to my friends who make a mistake here and there, but then I somehow draw a "line" of those sins that I just don't seem to find mercy to love have compassion for those people. It's only by God's grace and mercy in my life that I'm not the "ex-con / drug dealer" or what have you... I should be hunting down these people (hunting in love, of course) and showing them the kind of compassion that Christ exemplifies for us.
I want my life to be a reflection of gratitude for the mercy, the endless love and compassion, that God continuously gives to me. I think I can only truly show that gratitude by exerting that same type of mercy to others. I need to be looking beyond my bubble for those people who need that steadfast love that comes from Christ. How cool would it be if I, too, could read a testimony from someone one day who came to Christ because of *mercy* being shown to them!

Lamentations 3:22-23
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Apple Recipes

Yesterday my mom helped me work up a ton of apples. She ran the apple peeler/corer/slicer, and I threw the apples into several recipes. We ended up with cookies, cakes, breads, apple butter, and several frozen apples. The crazy part...we only did half of the apples! Guess I'll have to take another day to finish the project!

To my great surprise, everything turned out super tasty! Here are the recipes:Doesn't this excited face make you want to try a cookie, too?


Oatmeal Apple Cookies

1 3/4 c. flour (I used 1 c. whole wheat flour and 3/4 c. all-purpose flour)

1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. butter

1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. rolled oats (oatmeal)
1 c. apples, chopped (measure generously)

Sift dry ingredients together. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Add oatmeal and apples, mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix
well.
Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheet. Bake in preh
eated oven at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes.
These cookies are pretty similar to muffin tops and work great for breakfast!


Dutch Apple Bread
This recipe was stolen from Beautiful Chaos' blog. It is SO good, I had to share it here!
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped, peeled apples
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Topping:
1/3 cup flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinammon
3 Tbsp. butter

Cream butter & sugar together. Beat in eggs & vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Fold in apples and nuts. Pour into a greased 9-in. x 5-in. x 3-in. loaf pan. For topping, combine the first four ingredients; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes.
We wrapped this bread up and took it to Cloe's teacher at school today! Hope we earned some brownie points!



Apple Cake
This recipe was stolen from Beautiful Chaos, too. Last night, one of our kids at the Drake Bible Study told me I was the best cook ever...we'll be adopting John soon!

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
3 well-beaten eggs
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
3 apples, diced

Gradually add flour to other ingredients. Pour batter into lightly greased and floured 9x13 pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes at 350 degrees.


I added a little glaze on the top...doesn't everyone love a little frosting!


Spiced Apple Bread
This recipe came from southernfoods.com. It made five medium sized loaves of bread. The kids think it is yummmmmy!

2 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups coarsely chopped apples
2 teaspoons sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and oil. Beat in eggs and vanilla, then stir in chopped apples. Add the dry ingredients and mix until well blended. Grease 2 9x5-inch loaf pans and line bottoms with waxed paper. Greased waxed paper. Pour batter into pans, smoothing the top with a spatula or spoon. Bake for 20 minutes at 325°. Pull out rack and sprinkle loaves with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Continue baking for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes; turn out onto a rack. Slice and serve or freeze.
Got any other apple recipes I should try?

There's a new name written down in Glory...

...and it's CAITLIN'S name! Last night at our Drake Bible Study, something was different! When we would discuss the passage, interactions and questions were different. As the night wrapped up, Cody had a chance to ask Caitlin aside from everyone else if she had been thinking about accepting Christ as her Savior. She just totally lit up and got all smiley...it was the coolest thing! I was a total wash of trying not to cry, smile, and laugh all at the same time as she shared what had happened over the last couple of weeks.
Caitlin had been coming to our Bible Study and doing a study on Thursday nights of Stranger on the Road to Emmaus. She said one week she just studied and read and prayed about if "this" was something she was going to do or not. One night, she sat down and told God that she did believe He sent Christ to be her Savior and that Christ had died for her sins. Caitlin said she instantly felt different and was so excited.
Of course, we asked why she didn't say anything sooner. Her explanation was that she felt so unknowledgeable about the Bible that she thought "believers" would be offended that she was calling herself a "believer" without knowing more. Then on that Sunday, Pastor Trent had shared how he led Sophie to Christ, so she thought maybe she needed to meet with someone to make it count. It all came out really funny and light-hearted as we told her that how she did it was perfect and not one person would be offended at her lack of knowledge. Truthfully, I think she's far beyond some aged believers!
So...the reason for her turmoiled look last week = awesome! She told her boyfriend that she was totally serious about growing in her relationship with God and she was looking for someone that would lead and teach her about Christ in their relationship. Then she said an amazing quote: I want to be a woman that can only be found when the man is finding Christ first. Their relationship is a little on "hold" while this is all explored by David. Pray that we can reach out to him, too!
Well, that was our Tuesday night! We didn't get home until almost 11:00 pm. My parents were waiting up...which is quite amazing for these 10:05 to bedders. When we walked in the door, my mom burst, "Well, did she accept Christ or not?!?" It was really fun to retell what had happened and know that my parents had been sitting on that couch praying all night!
When you see Caitlin, give her a big grin! I think she's found life abundant in Christ! I can't wait to encourage her as my sister in Christ! Pray that God would fill the longing for family that she has had with her new relationship with Christ and her new family in Christ!

Monday, October 20, 2008

My little guy!

Today we revisited our ENT to find out if Carson's ears had healed. Unfortunately, there was no improvement after two prescriptions of some super strong antibiotics. The doctor told us if we as adults had an ear infection as bad as Carson's we would be bedridden from the pain....yet, Carson just keeps on smiling! This Friday he'll be having surgery to put tubes in and also have all the infection and blood flushed out from his ear. Hopefully this will correct the problem!
Thankfully, I know God is in control...even of the smallest details. If you think of it, pray for Carson and his doctor (Dr. Porto) on Friday. We know God will bring glory to Himself even through this! Pray that we'll have opportunities to be a part of HIS glory!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Slacker

While it may appear like I'm being a slacker at blogging these days, the rest of my life has left no hint of slacking behind. It's been a complete marathon around here lately...there may be a slight glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel...Wednesday?
I do have a Sunday Seven in my head...but there's just nothing left in me to put it out there into the blogosphere. God knows. That's all that matters. Have a lovely week!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Super Sermon Magnificent Message Terrific Talk


This morning I painted our bathroom and listened to THIS message. It was about "Little Foxes" that creep into our marriage. There is a lot of great wise counsel here for stronger, better marriages. I was pretty excited as I listened to this sermon that some of these principles we already practice in our marriage. There were also more principles that I'm excited to talk more about with Cody. It might seem weird to listen to sermon in the middle of the week (I know I totally weirded someone out this morning by suggesting that they listen...), but it's a great way to keep our focus in the right place and continue learning how God wants us to live!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Soup Recipes!

**Don't forget to leave your favorite soup recipe in my comments...I'm heading out to shop, so I need to buy a PRIZE!**

Apples!

After reading all the wonderful apple recipes over at Beautiful Chaos' sweet little blog, I became so obsessed with wanting to buy tons and tons of apples! Today was my golden opportunity! When Cloe got off the bus, we hopped in the car and drove down to the Happy Apple Orchard. It was kind of crummy weather, so we didn't get to explore the orchard very much. We picked up a 1/2 bushel of Jonathan apples that were #2's. That means they were *cheap*! Any apple that has a slight bump on it gets sold as a #2. Jonathan apples are perfect tart apples for baking!
Since tonight was our Drake Bible Study, I didn't have a lot of time to cook. I pulled out an old quick and easy recipe--the Drake kids loved it! Hopefully tomorrow I'll be trying out the apple bread recipe!
Here's the recipe for Apple Pinwheels:

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1-1/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 tubes (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 3 cups finely chopped peeled tart apples
  • 1 T apple pie spice

Directions:

In a saucepan, combine water, butter and 1 cup sugar; cook over medium heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
Unroll crescent dough into one long rectangle; seal seams and perforations. Combine the apples, apple pie spice and remaining sugar; sprinkle over dough to within 1 in. of edges. Roll up, jelly-roll style, starting with a long side. Cut into 1-in. rolls; place in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan.
Pour reserved syrup over rolls. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm. Yield: 2 dozen.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Recipe in Waiting...

Have you ever met someone in life that was almost too good to be true?
Way back when my sister was in college, she had this roommate that was super sweet and super beautiful--I was in that "awe" state of her as a nine year old girl. When she and her husband had their first baby, she turned into an amazing mom overnight. They went on to have three little girls by the time I got to college. Their family was always so sweet to us. When we got married, we had their little girl Sophie as our flower girl. This special lady always amazes me at the many things she accomplishes, the humble way in which she faithfully serves her family, and her passionate dedication in loving Christ and others.
There are many spiritual aspects that have made an impression on me, but another area that she always leaves me in awe is her cooking. She's not only a great cook, she makes everything from scratch. I'm talking like grinding her own wheat...type of scratch! Their family has a little bread and goodies business and I'm sure no one feels disappointed with what they buy!

Recently I was able to get her granola recipe, and I can't wait to try it out this week! Cool weather, fresh cider and tasty granola seem like a great mix to me!
The granola recipe:

12 c. old fashioned oats
2 c. coconut
2. c bran or wheat germ
2 c. bran flakes
2 c. all bran
1 1/2 c. almonds
1 1/2 c. pecans
1 c. sunflower seeds


Heat together:
1 c. butter
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. maple syrup
1 c. olive oil
1 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt

Combine in large bowl. Grease 2 half sheet pans. Divide granola between pans. Press down. Bake at 225 for 3-4 hours, until dry. Do not stir. This gives it the big chunks - great for snacks!! Cool completely. Break into chunks. ENJOY!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Seven!

I have so many things to be thankful for...it's hard to know where to begin! Pastor Mike preached on stewardship today, and we do certainly live a blessed life! Here are some big and little things I'm thankful for:
I'm so thankful for *sleep*! All week the boys did great sleeping in their new sleeping bags. This was a pretty risky move considering we keep them "tented" in their crib at home.

This was how we found them one night before we went to bed...Cloe had rolled into McClain's bed, pushing him on to the floor...but never fear, Carson's holding his hand!

I'm really thankful for the opportunity to watch my children as they discover the world with wide-eyed wonder and amazement. Here's McClain's first S'more:

I can't believe my mom just handed me this square of sweet gooey goodness.
This is amazing. The marshmallow just keeps stretching bigger and bigger.
Hmm...more chocolate.
The look of guilty pleasure. That was tasty!

I'm thankful that my Carson is uninhibited by what others think of him...nerdy glasses, a hot pink bike, and a whole lot of fun!
I'm really thankful God provided this little farm stand on the way home. HUGE pumpkins for $1! What fun! Everyone picked out their own pumpkin to put on the front steps...plus some fun gourds and some really inexpensive fresh produce!

Sometimes it's good to stop and be thankful for the simple things:
*Chocolate*caramel*pecans*
This was just pure delight!I'm really thankful for this little girl! Before leaving for vacation, we received some tough news from her teacher that my pride said I would never share with anyone. BUT, I know that there is power in prayer, and I hope you'll pray for Cloe! She didn't pass the Dibels test for reading readiness...which in perspective of life, might seem insignificant. As a mom, it wracked me with guilt and fear that I had done something wrong or not done enough to prepare her for school. Visions of her struggling in school made me tear up and fear that she would be made fun of or have a hard time learning... However, the more we've learned about reading readiness, the more we discovered it really is an age appropriate skill that children all arrive at at different times. (now I'm extra self-conscious of my writing skills, too...) Cloe will be going to Title 1 for extra tutoring a few times a week. I'm thankful that God definitely put two encouragers in my path specifically for this area: our MOPS mentor had her daughter in this program and said it was the best thing that ever happened to her--the one-on-one help built her confidence and gave her the skills to be the best reader in her class by the next year; my mother-in-law was a Title 1 teacher for many years and knows exactly what will go one and how we can best help Cloe at home. We are reading with her like crazy and working with alphabet flash cards and games...progess is coming! I'm so thankful for her determination! I'm also thankful for her sensitivity to spiritual things--which are more important to us anyday! In the car on the way home, Cloe told us, "God speaks to us through His Word, and we speak to God through prayer." How cool that God's Word is already a tool that Cloe will learn to listen to God through and that through prayer, she will talk to God!Lastly, I'm really thankful for this *guy*! I'm thankful that God has given me a husband who is an awesome provider and leader for our family. I *love* that he wants me to be with our children at home! We listened to this sermon on the drive home. It's a good one! I really think that we have a wonderful marriage already, but this sermon encouraged us to communicate well, to pray for one another more, and to keep our marriage growing in holiness before God. A statistic is mentioned in the sermon that says years 9-36 are the happiest...I can't wait...we're just beginning!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Soup's On!

We made it home safely and fell right back into the swing of busy life today! This morning was filled with a sweet beautiful birthday party for an extra sweet little girl who's had one amazing ride for her first year of life!
Then it was to Home Depot buy supplies for the "garage project". Our garage is just gross...so Cody and a friend painted it this afternoon. It's on the funky side now...olive greenish in color. I like it. We have a box full of treasures from my grandpa's barn to display on the walls, and Cody picked up some new "organizational shelves" for all the miscellaneous things that need to be stored out there. It will be a work in progress for a few days.
While the boys worked, I did a bazillion loads of laundry. It always feels like that after vacation! My next project will be to paint our main floor bathroom. It's the only room that we haven't painted since we moved in. Guess what! It's going to be a shade of *blue*. Thanks to Peter Marie for sharing her love of robin's egg blue with me!
So, while all the sudden household projects? We're hosting the Great Pumpkin Carving Party for our ABF on Saturday. Gatherings are always a good incentive to get a project completed!
Here's where I need some input. We're having soup (as always). I want to have five crock-pots of soup. That way, if there are left-overs, we can have a little variety. So far, the picks are Abby's Rockin' Chili (that's my new name for it), Cheesy Potato, Chicken & Wild Rice, Minestrone, and ???.
SO, let me know: what's your favorite kind of soup?
Here's where I'll make it fun! Leave me the name of the soup and your recipe. If we make it--I'll give you a prize! Seriously. I'll go to the store and buy you something!
(I don't know what I'll buy yet because I don't know who the winner will be. I'll try to reward appropriately to your likings!)

Now comment away...please!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

One Last Howrah!

Today Katie and I got to spend a couple of hours at the mall...with no kiddos! It was a lot of fun to explore the mall for deal-i-os! I also needed to pick up Katie's birthday present. Thankfully, we found just what she needed: "after baby" clothes at great prices, too! I didn't take any pictures--I didn't want Katie to think I was totally a blogging-whack-o!

When we got home, the kids all rested while the boys got in one last game of golf. Then for supper we had a nice bonfire in their fire pit, roasted hot dogs and made S'mores! I did catch some great pictures of the bonfire. It's so late, I'll post them when we get home...tomorrow!

I think this was the world's fastest week! We had a lot of fun being with *family*! I love the family that God has given us and am so thankful for Kipp and Katie's willingness to let us invade their home for a week.


Tomorrow, we'll be piling back in the vehicle and trekking back to IOWA! I'm excited to see how much the leaves have changed and *beautified* this week!

Then it's back to the swing of life...it'll be exciting, too!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Today's Adventure

Today we took a little trip over to Grand Rapids to the Children's Museum. It is hands-down the best place we have ever taken our kids! So much to see and do--and everything is made just for *kids*! The pictures seemed to have captured a lot of the backs of kids' heads and kids in motion--no one wanted to take the time say "cheese" for very long! Here's a glimpse of our visit:

Right in downtown Grand Rapids, this old building has been transformed into a children's museum. The architecture and artwork was amazing!
During October, they have a special display set up for Emergency Responders--here are the helicopter and ambulance.
Cloe worked on the patient in the back of the ambulance while Carson and McClain "drove" it to the hospital and ran the siren and lights up front.
There was some serious discovery going on in the firetruck.
Next we headed to the "Construction Zone". The kids worked up quite a sweat hauling plastic rocks and tire tread all around this little set-up. We think McClain even tried a *taste* of tire tread--a little black residue smudged on his lips kind of told on him!
The girls got tired of the Construction Zone and headed into a cute little kitchen to prepare a tea party.
*ALL* the boys loved playing in the tire tread! They would fill up this tunnel as fast as they could and then pull the plug and let it pour out...over and over and over...

Everyone loved piling into this little yellow bug! It was parked right next to a "tree" that led to a huge tree house.
The next room was full of these little contraptions to fill with plastic balls and then release. I love how they were mounted on the brick walls.
There was also a grocery store, sand box, panting center, stage, and gift shop on this level!
This is the tree house on the the second level. This level had more "educational" interactive stations, a play bank, play cafe, library area, puppet stage and everything else you'll see below...There was some super deep concentration going on here as Cloe tried to model Cody's actions in getting these little wheels to spin on the moving circle. She got really good at this!The Human Bubble Contraption!
Even Kolby got in on some of the bubble action!Everyone got their sleeves a little wet (literally) in bubble making!Here's a small glimpse at one of the murals and another play area.There was a huge music area with tons of percussion instruments and this funky piano. I think this was Kolby's first lesson...pretty cute!This part was one of my favorites. The kids got to dress up like bees and then observe a real bee hive. The hive had a large silver pipe coming out the back so the bees could actually come and go from the outside. Of course, it just wasn't a bee display--it was the BEE Movie complete with Barry and all his friends!Cloe loved the fun mirrors!Everyone got into the magnet table!After a full day of discovering and playing, I love this picture of the fisted--gnawed on apple, a drained Caprisun, and a cashed out little guy!

Thanks for sharing our memories from the Children's Museum!