Sunday, February 14, 2016

Observers Gotta Observe: Water Park Edition

Aaron is usually the only one privy to my slightly snarky water park observations, but I decided to share these with you!  I believe the word you are looking for is lucky.  ;)

1.  Rough Start
When I first go into a water park, it is so loud and overstimulating!  Once we were at one and it was "party night!" or something like that.  So, in addition to the sounds of splashing water, fans, and happy children, there was bumping dance music.  I felt like I was in my own personal, overstimulated hell.  But, then I got used to it and it was all good :)

2.  Cautionary Tale of Tattoos
I understand the appeal of tattoos.  I get that it's a way to mark important life events, share creativity, or tell a story/testimony.  I'm just saying it might be a good idea to go to a water park in case you are considering any of the following:
  • a large oak tree in your cleavage with a skull sporting pig tails on the side
  • barbed wire with a dangling dream catcher or two on your upper arm
  • haunted house on the shoulder
  • flaming infinity sign on your back
  • rosary necklace around the neck
What looks good on a firm 18 year old body, might not look so great on the "40 year old and I've had a few too many beers body" or the "30 something had some babies body."  Just make sure you'll like it when you look different or will have the confidence not to care if your tattoo gets a bit wonky.  Also, go ahead and get those tats touched up; put it in the budget!

3.  Defined Water Park Personalities
Our daughters have very defined water park personalities!
  • Leah is the "watch me!" kid.  She's always coming up with fun tricks, jumps, and handstands, and spins for us to watch.
  • Maggie is the hot tub kid.  She gets cold really easily, so she likes to spend lots of time in the hot tub!  
  • Gracie is the water slide kid.  She will go up and down a water slide literally 20 times in a row.  Those stairs are quite a workout!  
4.  I saw a guy who looked like Buddy Garrity on the lazy river.
It wasn't him.

5.  Cell phone usage
Almost every time we're at an indoor water park, I see someone talking on a cell phone.  I can barely hear myself think, so I'm always slightly impressed that they can hear someone on a phone.  I'm also impressed by the risk takers using their cell phones in the hot tub...whether or not it's in a ziplock bag.

6.  About the hot tub...
Let's keep it PG, playahs.  Moving on...

7.  Camo isn't just for the Army/hunting/Capture the Flag anymore
A couple years ago, the bridal store downtown had camo prom dresses in the display window.  Then, I actually saw a girl wearing one with a blaze orange sash/belt, naturally.  And it wasn't the army camo, it was the kind that has branches and leaves on it.  

Fast forward to the camo swimming suits I saw.  I felt that the military-esque camo swimming trunks were anticipated, but the mom wearing a branch and leaves camo tankini with coordinating skirt was a bit unexpected.  

8.  I like that lots of water parks have life jackets.
It puts my mind at ease when I can't spot the girls right away.

9.  Lifeguards rule
I was a lifeguard back in the day...way back in the day.  I'm here to tell you that lifeguarding is as boring as heck, except when you are pulling someone out of the water, and then you're adrenaline is going crazy!  I like watching the lifeguards scan the water and walk back and forth to the areas that would be blind spots if they weren't checking.  It seems like it helps keep the guards alert.  Lifeguards win!

10.  I like that the girls especially like water parks
I like that they play so nicely together.  I think it's especially sweet, too, that after they tire of the slides, they play imagination games with each other in the regular pool part!

Do you have any random water park observations?  Do share!

Also, are indoor water parks a midwest thing, or are they all over?

Happy Monday!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Everyday Happy: January 8th-14th, 2016

It's been a good week around here!  And, although I have yet to pack a box, I have thrown a lot of stuff away, so that's always a plus, right?  I feel like Gracie and I will be able to pack up some games and rarely used kitchen items today, though!

January 8

Enjoying scones and Downton Abbey with my favorite person!

January 9

We had a super fun Saturday in Madison!  We met some friends for lunch, hung out at the Children's Museum, looked around inside the capitol and stopped at Trader Joe's!  The girls were so impressed with how fancy the capitol was!

January 10

Yeah, that's the Vikings game we are subjecting our children to watching.  I always feel bad for the kicker, especially when he misses an easy one!

January 11

This is what after school is like at our house!  At the beginning of the school year, I've had the girls bring their folders and papers to the table where we have a snack together.  I look through the papers right away and get rid of whatever I'm not saving.  I enter dates on the calendar right away, too.  I feel like it's really helped me keep on top of things!

January 12

I started reading the girls The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe!  We're really enjoying it!  I've never read any of the Chronicles of Narnia, so it's been fun for me, too.  I find that the girls do better listening to a chapter book if they are doing something with their hands, although Gracie did wander off (thankfully not into a wardrobe)...

January 13

We went to Menards to look at some flooring and found these fine Darth Vader shower heads.  I'm sure we can all agree that we would get much cleaner using one ;)

January 14

Maggie got 3rd place in the fire prevention poster contest, but it was for the Kindergarten category.  There was some sort of mix up, and her poster got in the wrong pile, but she handled it well!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Update Time!

I think that I blog in dog years.  

For example, way back on September 13th, I said, "Later this week, I'll share more about this truly amazing group of people that God has put together."

Yeah, that was a long time ago!

But, I've decided to rev the ol' blog back up.  I really do feel like this is going to be a big year for our family, and it's important to me that I capture all of that.

So, at long last, here are the people in our church plant's core group.  I could really go on and on about them all, but I'll keep it brief :)  Be sure to stick around to the end; I'll update you on when we are moving and all of those fun details!

Our partners are Brandon and Hannah:

Brandon is going to be the preacher.  He's compelling to listen to and his love for Jesus and the Gospel oozes out when he speaks.  He's also really good at techie things like computers and sound know, things with lots of knobs that are intimidating to the rest of us.  Aaron and Brandon work really well together and their skills compliment the other very well.  They share a high level of trust and unity.

Hannah can organize and administrate anything.  She is hospitable, anticipates the needs of others, incredibly helpful, intentional, and a great mom and friend. Hannah helps me understand Maggie and offers a lot of wisdom to how I can mother Maggie well.  She is also super pregnant with baby #2 (a boy).  She is facing a lot of big life changes this year and is doing so like a champ!

Their daughter, Emma, is almost two and is obviously adorable.  She is super friendly and always brings a smile.  Gracie is one of her favorite people :)

Ryan and Becca:

Ryan has one of those smart guy analyst jobs that I don't really understand, but, he's not nerdy...for real! He's great at putting together small group Bible studies and leads them well.  He consistently works at building relationships with others even if it takes him out of his comfort zone.  He's very well thought out AND loves the NBA, so you can see how both of those things make him good friends with Aaron :)

Becca is a gather.  She is the quintessential girls' night hostess and loves having people in their home.  Becca has a lot of interpersonal energy and is so friendly and welcoming.  She is super fun and caring and has a game for any situation.  She loves Jesus and those around her so well.  She teaches 5th grade and is well loved by her students and co-workers...and pretty much everyone who knows her!  

Andy and Steph:

Andy is a phenomenal graphic designer.  He designed our church's website (which I will post when everyone on the core team has announced that they are moving), and it's incredible.  Andy is fun and funny.  He is a reader and is well informed on things that are going on around him.  Andy always sees the good people and is adored by our girls...particularly Gracie.  He's also a Vikings fan which Aaron enjoys :)

Steph is a great question asker and listener.  She has a soft heart towards Jesus and the people around her.  Steph is really creative and crafty and has happily organized areas of my home that are prone to disaster (hall closet, I'm looking at you).  Steph sees things that need to be done or people who need to be cared for and she just steps in and quietly takes care of it...task or person.  

We have another couple who are a part of our core team, but haven't told their employers that they are moving yet, so I won't spoil that online :)

Plus, BONUS, our friends Mike and Jen are joining us!

Mike and Jen have been married for a little over a year, and Mike just got an engineer-y job in Dubuque.  Jen works at a cupcake shop which is pretty much the most fun job I can imagine!  Mike and Jen are fun and hospitable and generous.  They love building community with those around them and are great at taking initiative.  Plus, they are wonderful with the girls!  We were so excited when they moved to Dubuque!

Soooooooooooo, what's going on with us?  We sold our house to our friends, Drew and Sam.  We didn't even need a realtor!  Shortly after we announced we were moving to Dubuque, Sam facebook messaged me and asked about talking about buying our house.  She and Drew looked at it a couple of times, and we worked out a deal.  We closed at the end of October.

We are currently renting the house from Drew and Sam.  They have been so generous to allow us to do that!  There's a mortgage rule that the owners have to occupy the house 60 days after closing, so we need to move out at the end of January.

Enter our neighbors, John and Margaret.  They are retired and go to Florida for 2 months in the winter.  They offered to let us live in their house while they are gone!  We will move into their house for the next month.

We close on our house in Dubuque on February 22nd.  We had an accepted offer at the beginning of October!  The couple we are buying the house from is buying a house from people who are going through an acrimonious divorce and they were pretty inflexible with their closing date, so it pushed things back for all of us.

Aaron and my dad are putting in new floors, plus we are getting a wall out and doing a lot of painting before we move in.  We will move the big stuff on February 27th and the girls will start school on February 29th.

We are excited about where we are going to live!  It's about a 3 block walk to the elementary school and middle school (they share property with each other).  It's also about a 3 minute drive to Aldi, so that's a win in my book :)  We love that it's totally in a neighborhood and we've heard that there are lots of kids around.  

Needless to say, we really see God going before us and making a way!

And THAT'S what's new with us!  Hopefully it won't be several dog years before another update :)

Friday, January 8, 2016

Everyday Happy: January 1-7, 2016

I'm jumping back into taking a picture every day!  I decided to call it Everyday Happy, purposely using "everyday" as one word.  Everyday basically means regular.  And, while I certainly don't think that everything in life makes us happy all the time, I do think that the happy little bits of the everyday in our every day are worth noticing!

January 1

We celebrated New Year's Eve the afternoon of New Year's Day.  Gracie was really feeling the party :)

January 2

Gracie loves grapefruit without sugar sprinkled on top.  Pretty impressive for a 5 year old in my book!

January 3

Singing songs for Sunday School (say that 5 times fast :))

January 4

Such a sunshiney day definitely called for some matching shades :)

January 5

I started going through Maggie and Gracie's room...some pre-packing organization, if you will :)  It always looks worse before it looks better!

January 6

Gracie and Emma hanging out in a box, like friends do.

January 7

Some fun imaginative play on a Thursday night!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Morrows on the Move!

Well, friends, in case you haven't heard the news, we are moving!

It's been several years in the making, but in early 2016, Aaron, the girls, and I will be moving to Dubuque, Iowa to start a church!

This is obviously a huge transition for our family with lots of details currently settled in the "unknown" column.  In case you were wondering, I'm one of those people who prefers details to permanently reside in the "well planned" column.  

But, even though some things are kind of up in the air, namely selling our house and buying a new one, I'm really, really excited!  The girls have gotten used to the idea and are inching towards being excited, but I wouldn't say they are there yet.  And that's normal and okay!  Aaron and I have had several years to think about and get ready for this but the girls just found out at the end of the summer. A move, even a close move like this one, really does send a child's world into some sort of upheaval.  

If you are someone who sees Leah, Maggie, or Gracie, I think it would be best if you let them bring up the move with you as they are ready.  

'Even though this is an adventure that Aaron and I are excited to take, it is certainly bittersweet.  We love our life here.  We love our friends and our neighborhood and our home and our kids' schools and our church and the fact that we are 7 minutes from anything in town.  

But, we trust that seeing as this is something God has made clear that He wants us to do, we know that He will be caring for us and giving us strength as we go.  

We also aren't doing this alone!  We have partners and a team of people moving with us.  Later this week, I'll share more about this truly amazing group of people that God has put together.

While many people have heard this news from us personally, it still feels kind of awkward to just drop it like a bombshell.  But I figured that I just needed to get it out there so I can write about it.  This is something I want to be able to look back on and see how Jesus has grown us and sustained us.  Plus, I hope that YOU are encouraged and challenged by our story.

So, BOOM!  There it is.  We are on the move...

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos

I am transferring all of the recipes from my soon to be defunct food blog to this blog!  Here's a good one!
There are lots and lots of slow cooker chicken tacos recipes out there, and I’ve tried a few.  None of them are really bad, but I haven’t tried any that I thought were anything special.
Until now!  (That sounds pretty over-dramatic, doesn’t it :) )
These are the winning-est slow cooker chicken tacos, PLUS I think there are a few factors that make them easily special.
First of all, salsa verde.
Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos // Becky's Happy Table
If you’ve watched any Dora the Explorer, you’ll know that verde is green!  Salsa verde is made with tomatillos instead of regular red tomatoes.  I’ve heard that Herdez makes some great salsa verde, but I’m partial to the World Table Roasted Tomatillo salsa.  It’s made with tomatillos, roasted jalapenos, cilantro, and lime.  It’s actually distributed by Walmart, so I’m pretty sure that’s the only place you can get it.
Also special?  Instead of using chicken breasts, the recipe calls for chicken thighs.  These tacos weren’t dry at all.  I always think it’s weird when I’m eating a pulled chicken from the slow cooker and it manages to by dry even though it’s wet.  Does that make sense to anyone but me?
The last special factor?  The polblano pepper!  I’ve had stuffed and fried poblanos at a Mexican restaurant before, but this was the first time I’ve bought one.  I’m a fan.  They aren’t too spicy…they just add a nice little kick!  You should know that I’m a baby about spicy things, and I didn’t think this was too spicy at all.
Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos // Becky's Happy Table
After cooking the meat for 4-5 hours on low, you stir in some freshly squeezed lime juice and cilantro.  I love these fresh additions at the end!  Sometimes I feel like food that is slow cooked can have its flavors muddled and kind of dull, but the lime and cilantro perk this right up!
We enjoyed these as tacos with monterrey jack cheese, sour cream, salsa, and lettuce.  I also had it on a salad with cubed jack cheese, black beans, and chopped tomatoes.  I made an easy dressing by combining equal parts of sour cream and salsa verde.  I would have added avocados to the mix if mine was ripe.
Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos // Becky's Happy Table
I also think this would be great on nachos or in white enchiladas!
Aaron and I loved these (the girls had cheese quesadillas…whomp whomp), and I plan on making them again.  I’m also freezing the leftovers so I can defrost them for an easy dinner!
Slow Cooker Salsa Verde Chicken Tacos
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time:  
Cook time:  
Total time:  
Serves: 8-10 tacos
These slow cooker chicken tacos with a twist and perfect for a weeknight meal. Freeze the leftovers for later!
  • 2 and ½-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large (compared to the others in the bin) poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup tomatillo (or green) salsa
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • additional salt and pepper to season chicken
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup minced cilantro
  1. In a large slow cooker, combine salsa, chopped poblano, and ¼ teaspoon each oregano, salt, and pepper.
  2. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper before adding to the ingredients already in the slow cooker. Be sure to nestle the chicken in there; don't just set it on top.
  3. Cook on LOW for 4-5 hours.
  4. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove to a plate. Shred with 2 forks and return to the slow cooker.
  5. Add the lime juice and cilantro. Give it a stir to combine.
  6. Serve in flour tortillas with your favorite taco toppings!

Recipe barely tweaked from Taste and Tell.

Hospitality Hint: Sparkle

I am transferring all of the recipes from my soon to be defunct food blog to this blog!  Here's a good one!
I had a super fun 31 Gifts party last week, so now I’m sharing an easy hospitality hint with you!
Meet the sparkle:
Sparkle!  //  Becky's Happy Table
A lot of cooking and serving food (or beverage in this case) is in the presentation!
I feel like calling a beverage “punch” lacks a bit of, you know, punch!
I prefer the term “sparkle!”
Doesn’t that sound so much more fun?
Here’s the equation:
Sparkle!  //  Becky's Happy Table
In this particular sparkle, I used equal parts ginger ale, and cran-raspberry juice, and…
TA-DA!!  Meet Ginger Cran-Raspberry Sparkle.  Or you could call it a sparkler :)
You can even add a twist of lime for an extra little something :)
This particular sparkle was a little bit drier (as opposed to sweet), but you can certainly mix and match the soda and juice however your little heart desires!
What combination would you enjoy?