Thursday, May 27, 2010

Thrifty Thursday!

You didn't think I'd leave you hanging a whole week without a thrifty tip, did you?
Almost late...but here it is!

Thrifty Tip #24:  Buying grains in bulk can cost much less and also gives you the option of trying a variety of grains in smaller portions.

You  may have noticed that I was super excited to visit a certain market while in Chicago:
One very special thing about this market is the option to purchase grains, flours, and beans in bulk. 
Only a few of the grocery stores in our area at home offer bulk purchasing.  None of them have the great selection that Whole Foods Market provides. 

I love to buy grains in bulk because  most of the time it costs less than the prepackaged item.
*I say most of the time because it is important to keep a running "spreadsheet" of cost per ounce for items.
(I keep my spreadsheet in my head...no, it doesn't hook up to a printer and if  I ever get Alzheimers, I'm  sunk!)

For instance, quinoa in bulk is $2.50 a pound.  The same item prepackaged is $3.99 for 8 ounces. 
Quite a large difference in cost! 

Another advantage of buying in bulk is the option to just buy enough for one meal. 
I often purchase just enough for one meal to see if my family is going to like the item or not. 
This week I picked up four new kinds of beans and three kinds of rice to try out when we get home. 
Each item cost me around 25 cents for enough to use in one recipe...not bad for a few taste testing meals!

So there you go!  Get brave!  Buy those crazy unknown grains and google a recipe for them!
Here's a great link from the Whole Foods website to give you some backgrounds and recipe ideas for whole grains.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Please pray!

Just a quick note today.
Please pray for our friends John and Marissa.
Their little seven month old baby boy, Malachi, went to be with Jesus yesterday.
He was born with CHARGE syndrome but was such a cute little fighter!
You can check out his story here
and stay updated with their family blog here.

Thanks for praying!
Our God is truly the God of comfort and peace!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Here's what I'm up to!

The past post may have seemed extra sentimental...it's because I'm away from  my babies this week!
Cody is taking a class near Chicago and I got to tag along.  
I have to admit, when I dropped Cody off for his first day of class, I had a wave of emotion sweep over me. 
It was just like when I dropped Cloe off for her first day of school!   

What is wrong with me?!?  
(if you're my brother, don't answer that!)

Anywho...it lasted just a moment and then I realized I was FREE!

Where did I go first?
It's like grocery store heaven!
I spent a nerdy long time checking out every.single.aisle.
I filled my little green basket with a plethora of bulk grains.
I checked out cookbooks and  magazines.
Drooled over this:
(I'll be trying this out first thing next week!)
Bought a delicious little snack:
It was like someone took a piece of sweet juicy cherry pie and filled it with yummy almonds--AMAZING!

Then I headed to a few more shops until Cody's class got out late in the afternoon.
We hopped in the car and headed just a few miles to Lake Michigan.
It was absolutely beautiful!
Our kids would have thought they died and went to heaven:  
a playground on the beach!
(I was trying to be a subtle photographer so I wouldn't creep out the parents!)
We walked on an old stone path and found this cool stone archway.
On our way back, we passed miles and miles of enormous, exquisite homes.
Then we sat on the patio at Big Bowl and enjoyed a fresh ginger ale with a splash of pomegrante juice!  
SO delicious and refreshing!
Obviously we were too hungry to snap a picture of the pad thai, but it was super good, too!
We went back  to the hotel so Cody could study and read...and I could sleep!

Today I got my Mother's  Day  gift:
I have only had a couple of massages, but this one was the best!
The masseuse was a short, hippy looking lady named Pam.
She called me "Larnda".  Gotta love my name!
So relaxing!!!

That's all for now!
(sorry if there are grammatical/spelling errors...I'm hurrying!)

Tomorrow:  IKEA!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

May I {brag}?

Sometimes things so nice happen that a mom just has to share!
These sweet boys...sometimes I stretch them to the max being on the go, and sometimes they stretch me to the max with their boundless amount of energy! 
Friday was a crazy, busy day that was going to end with a houseful of friends and family. 
I knew the boys needed a nap, so I asked them to pick up their toys and head upstairs.  I told them I would be up in a few minutes to tuck them in for a nap...
...Thirty minutes and three phone calls later, I realized that it was strangely silent and I hadn't tucked the boys in yet.  I went up to their room to find all the toys picked up and neatly put away, both boys in bed, McClain completely cashed out and Carson laying quietly beside him.  (Carson really doesn't need a nap but McClain does. Our deal is that Carson must lay quietly in bed until McClain falls asleep, then he can get up.)  
They had followed every direction to a tee all by themselves!  Sweet boys!!!

Not to be left out...this sweetie girl has been working so hard to become a fluent reader. 
Thankfully, God provided us with a wonderful teacher this year who stayed on top of Cloe's progress and helped us give her the best reading tools.  Cloe has completed extra reading homework every single night (on top of the class' regular homework) for the entire school year.  Just in the last two weeks, she has taken off reading!  She loves it and she's good at it!  Seriously, an answer to prayer! 
Now instead of us asking her to read, she is asking to read to us--all of the time!  Yeah! 

I could not be a more thankful mom tonight!  
God has blessed me with three sweet beautiful blessings!
I love them so much!


**Can you tell we had a little pirate party here on Friday night?  Arrr Matey!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Look what I found in the garden!

Radishes!
These little guys grew super quickly!

The kids really wanted to eat them, but radishes get a little too hot for their little mouths.

So, I went to my favorite recipe site: Tastespotting
and searched for a radish recipe.

Found one!

An amazing one!

 Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Radishes, Cucumbers, and Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette

You've got to try this recipe from Kalyn's Kitchen.

We loved it!

The kids loved!

The radishes are gone!

Here's my just-a-little-bit-different version:

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 avocado, peeled and diced  (Cody thought it was a rotten cucumber--should have warned him!)
1 T  lime juice (for tossing avocado)
1 cup chopped radishes (sliced thinly)
1 large cucumber (seeds scraped out, and diced in 1/2 inch pieces)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

Dressing:
3 T fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. season salt
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 T extra virgin olive oil

Bring 2 cups water to boil in a small saucepan, stir in quinoa, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Let the quinoa cool for a few minutes, and place in salad bowl.  Fluff with a fork and cool.
Peel avocado, dice into pieces, and toss with 1 T fresh-squeezed lime juice. 
 Dice cucumbers into 1/2 inch pieces. 
 Cut off root and stem end of radishes, wash if needed, and slice thinly. 

Thinly slice enough green onions to make 1/4 cup.

In a small bowl, stir together the 3 T lime juice, ground cumin, season salt, and sea salt.  Whisk in the olive oil.

When quinoa has cooled in the salad bowl, stir in the sliced radishes, diced cucumbers, and thinly-sliced green onions. (Don't add avocado until the end.) Stir in enough dressing to moisten salad to your liking (you may not need all the dressing.) Gently stir in diced avocado, season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper, and serve immediately.


Yum!  This tasted so garden fresh!

Thanks for a great recipe, Kaylin!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thrifty Thursday! {updated}

Thrifty Tip #23:  Jump on the Summer Reading Program bandwagon and get FREE books and other fun stuff!


Check out these links to get started:

Barnes & Noble:  Kids 1st-6th grade:  read any eight books and track them in the printable travel log.  Return to the store and pick a free book!

Borders:  Double Dog Dare for kids 12 and under.  Read any 10 books and record them on the printable form.  Return to the store for a free book!

Half Price Books:  Kids 14 and under can earn a $3 Half Price Books Gift Card for each week they read at least 15 minutes per day.  Stop by the store for a reading form.

Chuck E. Cheese:  Receive 10 free tokens for filling out the reading calendar.  *Pizza purchase is required.

Check out your local public library for fun Summer Reading Programs!
Our library offers fun rewards and incentives with age appropriate reading goals!

Here are a few more links courtesy of Amy at My Front Porch Looking In

http://www.hebuddy.com/content/pdf/readingclub.pdf

http://www.tdbank.com/summerreading/

http://www.potterybarnkids.com/customer-service/book-club.html
Moms with pre-readers can read to their kids for some of these programs and have it count! (we have no readers yet)

Thanks, Amy!

Leave me a comment about the Summer Reading Programs you are excited about!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, May 17, 2010

Closet Dreams

The title of the blog post has you weirded out!  
Right?

No worries!

It's a game!

A few years ago at MOPS, 
we had an ice breaker where all the moms went around and shared a 
Closet Dream: 
anything in the world that we would love to do or be or go or whatever...  
  
We all took turns sharing some secret or not-so-secret aspirations.
Some of the moms shared dreams of singing on Broadway, becoming an archaeologist, traveling to Europe, living in a Victorian Home, using the bathroom alone--oh wait, that's a real dream! 
  The game was tons of fun!

Often I find myself thinking of something fun I would love to do and referring to it as a Closet Dream.  

Here's my favorite one:

I would LOVE to open a Children's Bookstore 

like the Shop Around the Corner in the movie You've Got Mail.  

I would include a Coffee Shop for the grown-ups so I could take the children and read them whimsical stories while their parents enjoyed coffee, pastries, *sugar cookies*, and a little date!  
Of course, there would also have to be a little Cafe because kids get hungry too!

Sounds awesome, huh!  

I'd also like to be the pastry chef, the cookie maker, the children's books author and illustrator, cafe chef, and I'd wear a cute apron--that I would sew myself.  You know, just a few dreams!

Obviously, I've spent some time thinking about this!

Now it's your turn!  

What's your Closet Dream?  

Please do share!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Field Trip

On Thursday, I went with Cloe's first grade class to the zoo!
Notice the winter jackets!  It was freezing but thankfully not raining!
I had the smiliest, most photogenic trio of girls!
Everyone loved watching the new baby camel still unsteady on her feet.
Did you know a giraffe has a purple tongue?
Thankfully this elephant wasn't spraying water today!
We spent a lot of time being silly in the aquarium room!
It was warmer in there!
Here is Cloe's first grade class of sweet kids!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thrifty Thursday!

*This tips comes on the heals of an amazing Mother's Day Sermon (listen here!) and the conclusion of reading Sally Clarkson's book on motherhood.  It's a more serious Thursday because it's what's on my heart!  It wasn't the easiest to truncate my thoughts...hang in there!

Thrifty Tip #22:  Do NOT be thrifty in your role as a mom!  It'll be the best investment you ever make for your children!


When I started reading The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child's Heart for Eternity
by Sally Clarkson, I was honestly looking for a mothering book that would give me the "secret code" for teaching my children perfect obedience.  I wanted to know how "to do it all" as a mother. Truthfully, I wanted some easy catch phrases and the tools that would make mothering seem "easy".

Instead, I have walked away with a vision of teaching and training my children to love God with their whole hearts.  I gained a "goal to make the Lord real--His character, beauty, love, justice, truth, excellence, and purpose.  My goal is to touch my children's hearts with the overwhelming wonder of His presence  As I seek to gently and lovingly expose my children to the natural greatness of God's being, my hope is that their own devotion will naturally arise out of the wellspring of their full hearts."   I want to touch my children's hearts in a way that will turn their hearts toward their Savior! 

A friend sent me this note recently:  
I love this sentence (from the book):  "But once we commit to embrace the vision of motherhood, God always provides the creative guidance we need to keep moving toward our goal."
 Oh, Praise GOD for this!  I wholeheartedly believe this and am so thankful that God's guidance, the Spirit, Christian women, families, etc can infuse us with the creativity we need to embrace this mission.  Motherhood LOOKS like different things - it is different at every single household, because every child and every mother is completely unique.  How quickly the world (our enemy) homogenizes mothers and children into pools that are classified, described, pulled, led, shoved according to the world's standards.  Don't pull me in, world!  
I am so thankful that as a child of God, my mission is eternal, and it should not be swayed by what is popular, trendy, new, or on the other hand, historic and traditional.  What this creativity means to me, practically speaking - is an active engagement in the life of my boys.  You've seen it: the passive Mom that's too busy/bored/tired/annoyed to invest in their kids.  Sure, they are "mothering" with their presence and time, but they aren't creatively structuring and building a life with eternal value for their children.  I know I don't have all 24 hours a day to be present with my boys, so I NEED the inspiration and creativity that God lends me to actively parent them.  This means goals, ideas, plans, rules, activities, that aren't bogged down by the world's suggestion of popular-parenting, but are all leading down the road that ends at the cross and the tomb - the gospel.  If they don't see Christ through me as an active and creative parent, where are they going to see it?  Who better can show them?  Who loves them more than their mother?  Like Christ is ACTIVE in my life and the great CREATOR, I desire to be ACTIVE and CREATIVE in the lives of my boys.  What a precious amazing gift that God has entrusted to my care.
 
I have pretty amazing friends, right?

So, who do I need to be?  A whole-hearted mother who daily seeks God's plan and His will--His plan for my life and for my children.

"My children didn't need me to be on top of all my chores or even be perfect in taking care of all their needs.  What they needed was for me to be content and patience with life.  They needed me to walk by faith that God was in control, allowing his Spirit to give me peace and joy in the midst of life's inevitable ups and downs....When I model patience in the midst of difficulty, joy in the midst of messes, contentment in the midst of lack, then I provide them a pattern for their own lives.  They will learn that my joy is not circumstantial but real because I have an endless source of strength through the power of the Holy Spirit in my life."

Here are a few questions that have challenged me as a mom lately:

Do I live like my children are a blessing or a burden?
Do I daily show them grace, mercy, and unconditional love?
Do I love them selflessly like Jesus Christ loves me?
Do I share with them beautiful things in nature that reflect the awesome Creator?

There could be so so many more!  It's good to continue to challenge ourselves and strive for growth!

Please take the time to jump over and listen to this sketch by my talented friend, Jessica:  A Mom's Life.  
A painting similar to the one below was painted by my other talented friend Abby live during this sketch. 
It was so touching!  I'll try to get a picture of the real painting soon!

They shall call her blessed.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How My Parents Kept Me Humble When I Was In Junior High

The Honda Moped 
50cc
 (whatever that means)

Mine was YELLOW.

Same WHITE baskets.

Same ORANGE flag.

Maxed out at 40 mph...but my parents said I couldn't go faster than 25 mph.

I was the epitome of coolness...or not. 

If only I had gotten a RED Honda Scooter like the popular kids...
then I would have been cool...or still not.


Thanks for taking that walk down memory lane with me.
And thank goodness for growing up!

What was your sweet ride as a kid?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chilly Weather Name Dropping

On Saturday, we headed to Adventureland to spend the day with Junior High Students from our church.  
It was chilly, to say the least!
We took along some super nice students...including four of the McCaughey Septuplets!  
(name drop #1)
Can you believe they are already in Junior High?  
Kelsey was so kind to our children and chose to spend the day riding rides with them.  
All three of our kids now love her like crazy and wish she were our cousin!
Nathan was a smiley, joyful trooper the whole entire day!
Adventureland employees were so helpful in securing him in all the rides.
They also have a policy that anyone using a walker gets to go on the ride two times in a row.
He was in smiley, twirly heaven!
 See that speedy yellow car in the middle?
That's Katie @ the Baby Factory!
(name drop #2)
It would appear that I was stalking her this weekend!
Long and lean...a girl can dream, right?
We spent a lot of time in the crazy mirror room...
...mostly because it was warmer than being outside!

After hours and hours of being chilled to the bone,
this tasty beef soup warms you from the inside out!

Savory Vegetable Beef Soup

1 pound beef stew meat, diced into 1 inch pieces
1 can stewed tomatoes, with juice (organic brands don't have sugar!)
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup carrots, sliced
3 potatoes, cubed
1 onion, chopped
4 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 cup frozen green peas

Brown beef and drain off any fat.  Add the vegetables, broth, and seasonings. (Reserve peas until the very end.)  Simmer for 4-5 hours in crock pot on low (or if you happen to have a Dutch Oven...ahem, Abby...it's 5-6 hours on low).  Add peas about 15 minutes before serving.

I have loved reading all of your Mother's Day posts!  
We had a great time at church in the morning with some really cool Mother's Day things--which I'm hoping to be able to post about soon!  Then we headed to a little chilly afternoon of soccer!  
After that, it was home to warm up and head to bed early to catch up after our exciting weekend!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Why We Love Those Delightful Dutch!

Warning:  I may have taken pictures like a crazy lady a lot of pictures today!
They are earning me points with Grandma and Grandpa to share with the ones we love!
Beautiful Tulips!

 

Picture perfect tulips!





Big Wooden Shoes

Windmills



Poffertjes
a.k.a. crazy powdered sugar covered goodness!
(We tried these in honor of Katie @ The Baby Factory!) 
















Hot Coffee                                             Dutch Pastries 




Decked out Dutchman


Twitter worthy treats

 




Brick paved paths

Brilliant Tulips











Tractor Rodeo                                     Dutch Dancers



Cream Horns


Pella Bologna



Tulips!
And more tulips!
See you next year!