Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dear Sally Lloyd-Jones

Dear Sally Lloyd-Jones,

Can I call you Sally Lloyd-Jones?  Because if you told me I could call you Sally, I'd still probably call you Sally Lloyd-Jones.  It all just flows together so nicely, doesn't it, Sally Lloyd-Jones?

When you introduce yourself to moms, do they hug you and start to cry?  If I met you, Sally Lloyd-Jones, I would hug you and cry.

And, nothing against your buddy, Tim Keller, but I'd way rather meet you, Sally Lloyd-Jones.  And, that doesn't take anything away from the incredible-ness of him.

Speaking of buddies, when I find out that someone else likes The Jesus Storybook Bible, I feel like I'm good friends with them already.

I know it's kind of silly, but that's just how I roll.

Sorry, I'm kind of talking a lot before I get to the point.  I tend to talk a lot when I'm nervous.

Anyway, Sally Lloyd-Jones, thank you for writing The Jesus Storybook Bible.

If I could only pick one book for our daughters, that is the book I would choose.  We love it so much that we are currently on our second one, as our first one was losing pages left and right.  

A couple of nights ago we were reading the story with Moses and the burning bush (God to the Rescue!).  When we got to the part about the Israelites killing their best lamb and spreading the blood on their door frame to spare the lives of their first born son, it reminded me about Jesus being the Lamb of God...just like God designed it.

I got to explain to Leah, my 6 year old, how the Old Testament gives us clues about Jesus.

We turned to the story (Heaven Breaks Through) when John the Baptist says, "The Lamb of God...God's best lamb...who takes away the sins of the whole world," and we talked about how Jesus is the one the whole Bible is talking about.

But, Sally Lloyd-Jones, you should have seen my 4 year old, Maggie.  We were having the most beautiful conversation about Jesus and the Gospel. 



Granted, at one point she did ask if we could go fishing, but other than that, she was really tracking.



We talked about how when we do naughty things, we not only make the person sad who we hurt, but we make Jesus sad, too.  And how even if we sin and our mom and dad don't see, it is still a sin against God.



Then, we turned to the part when Jesus died on the cross (The Sun Stops Shining).  We talked about Jesus staying on the cross, when He could have climbed down, so that He could die for us.

For Maggie.


We talked about how Jesus loves her so much that He died in her place...to take her sin away.  

Even though she doesn't fully understand yet, our conversation was holy somehow, and blanketed in God's grace and goodness.

So, thank you, Sally Lloyd-Jones for writing The Jesus Storybook Bible and giving me yet another chance to speak Gospel truth into the lives of my daughters.

But, most importantly...

Thank you, God, for sending your Son for us.

Thank you, Jesus, for paying the price for my sins, for loving me when I was actively in rebellion against you, and for being my Emmanuel.

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for the way you are working in the heart of my Maggie.







Linking up with: Loved and Lovely 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Committed and Candy Land

Leah had a go-to-school-two-hours-late day a couple of days ago. 

I totally missed that part and had Aaron take her to the empty school.

It never occurred to me to check for a school delay for ice and not snow.  I have since signed up for text alerts from a news station so I will hopefully only send my daughter to school when she actually has it.

See, I'm so committed to her education that I want her to be in school even when school isn't in session!  

And, yes, I forgot to write a day off on the calendar, so I unnecessarily sent her to school earlier this year.  

I'm reeeeeeally committed to her education.

That or a little spacey :)

We used some of that extra time for some Candy Land!

Hello little colorful men!


I like that the little marker pieces are all the same gender as we've had crying over the Chutes and Ladders pieces before. 

Nobody wants to be a boy.


When we play Candy Land, I don't put the cards in a stack on the ground or the table.  I hold them in my hand and give out one card at a time when it is someone's turn.  This eliminates the stack falling over, picking more than one card, and forgetting it is your turn.


Thankfully, I am more on top of whose turn it is in Candy Land than I am with when school is or isn't in session.

Maggie and Leah are Candy Land professionals!  They do a great job staying on task and paying attention!


Gracie started out really strong.  I like how she is holding her game piece in her fist!


She did have a small bout of not paying attention.


Somehow, she won our first game!  

I always think it's funny when the person paying the least attention actually wins :)  

I suppose it helps that she got Grandma Nut on her first turn and never let go of the early lead.


Poor Leah had a rough turn of events during our second game...


But, apparently I consider it my duty as a non-competitive person, to de-competitive-ize our daughters, so they are usually pretty excited to get second place.

But the true winners are parents everywhere.

And this is why...



The multicolored last space is genius!  It ends the game quickly and concisely and most importantly minimizes tears and drama.

This mama can't ask for much more than that!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Painting the Little Piggies

Confession:  Sometimes I feel like I should be able to punch out of the parenting clock after supper.  

I'm pretty worn out at the end of the day.

The problem is that the girls are worn out at the end of the day, too, which means I need to amp up my parenting, not punch out.

Yes, there are days when I tell myself that Wheel of Fortune is educational, so we watch that.

Other times we play some card games or do a lot of picking up.

But, Saturday night, I decided we'd make a little treat and paint some toenails.

Gracie was, naturally, dressed as a royal kitty for the occasion.


The girls love to help in the kitchen, and this was a really easy recipe.


Good thing I live with a bunch of expert stir-ers :)


After we put the pudding/mousse in the fridge to chill, we headed to the couch for some toenail painting.  

This is also my tricky way of clipping their nails.  It's not as bad getting your toenails clipped when they are also going to be painted with a heart on the big toe!


The girls did a good job of sitting still, as that is the hardest part.


Something about that picture of Gracie is so precious to me <3

Maggie decided that she wanted me to take her picture.  


Her cuteness can't be beat when she cooperates for a picture.

Aaron took a break from cleaning the refrigerator (because he's awesome like that), and the girls got to try on his glasses, which is always SO adorable!


We had to keep Gracie from pulling them off in the 3 seconds it took to take the picture.

I always think Leah looks so much like Aaron, but especially when she's wearing his glasses (or one of his hats).

After their nails dried, it was time for a treat!

Full disclosure:  Lest you think that there is always happiness, peace, and harmony in our home, Maggie had to stand in the corner, Gracie had to sit in her bed, and Leah had a very stern (irritated) talking to before we got to the actual treat.

Sigh.  I literally went from correcting behavior to saying, "Who's ready for a treat!" in like one second.  Nothing like a little emotional whiplash!

They sure were ready for a treat!


They're a pretty fun little group to hang out with on a Saturday night !


Monday, January 28, 2013

A Mysterious Problem

I was getting breakfast ready for the girls on Sunday morning when Aaron mentioned that there was something green on my face.

That isn't a normal morning conversation for us...or any time of day for that matter!

I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror and, sure enough, mysterious green on my face!

I had no idea what it was until I thought of the tattoos.  

Leah got a stamp at school as a reward of some sort, and she is super generous with her stamps. When Aaron took her to school the day after she got it, a whole bunch of kids showed him the stamps on their hands because she was sharing. 

Leah likes to wear them like tattoos because she's edgy like that :)


Maggie didn't have any tattoos at the moment, but wanted me to take a picture of her on her "bed," and she was way too cute to pass up.


Yes, she's whistling again :)  

The special cup is another story for another day!

Anyway, I do have a "tattoo" but certainly didn't intend for it to end up on my face!


Then, I put 2 and 2 together and realized I sleep on my hand!


Thankfully, I was able to scrub it off my face in time for church.  

Who knew a stamp tattoo would be the gift that keeps on giving?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Salted Caramel Pie (made with Dulce de Leche)

Edited October7th:  Hi Friends from Mel's Crock-tober link up!  

This is, hands down, the best, most decadent use of your crockpot...ever!  Well, except for creme brulee; did you know you can make creme brulee in your crockpot?  Amazing!

I've never met a person who doesn't love this, and it's super rich, so a little really does go a long way!

Enjoy!  

I feel like the last two recipes I posted were pretty healthy.

That is not the case with Salted Caramel Pie.  It is pretty much a heart attack on your plate, but so, so worth it!

You start out by making some dulce de leche (or ddl as the cool people like to say).  My sister in law has a great recipe that uses the crockpot, which is what I do.

Start out with two cans of sweetened condensed milk (you can make just one can at a time if that's all you need for a certain recipe, but you need 2 for this pie).


Leah saw me taking the picture of the cans of sweetened condensed milk and said, "Mom, that's a really boring picture."  I suppose it is :)

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a glass dish that fits in your slow cooker.


I cover my dish (you could use aluminum foil) so that watery condensation doesn't form on top of the milk/ddl.

Put your dish in the slow cooker and pour water into the slow cooker until it is half to 3/4 of the way up the side of your dish.  


You might want to put the empty dish in before you fill it with the sweetened condensed milk and pour the water in around it.  That way you don't risk getting water mixed in your dish with the sweetened condensed milk.  

Don't worry, though, it's not that big of a risk :)

Cover the slow cooker and set it to low for 3-5 hours (all slow cookers are different).  

You'll want to check after 3 hours and give it a stir.  Basically, your want it to be a caramel brown color and pretty thick.  Give it more time if it needs it.

When you stir it, it might look a little weird.  I should have taken a picture of this, but didn't.  It might look chunky and you'll think you did something wrong, but it's totally fine.  Just keep stirring it and it'll smooth out.

Here's what it should look like after you've stirred it:


You can use the dulce de leche as it is for ice cream topping or dipping apples.

Or, if you're like me and love vanilla, you can add a splash and a sprinkle of salt.  Salt just brings out the flavor in everything, and you're just adding a little here, so it won't be salty.


If you want to kick it up a notch, you can make the dulce de leche into Salted Caramel Pie.  

This is where it gets amazing!

You'll need just a few more ingredients:


I use a store bought graham cracker crust when I'm making it for a friend, like I did this time, so that they don't need to worry about returning the pie plate to me.  If I'm making it and keeping it here, I make my own crust.  Either is totally fine.  Short cuts are our friend!

Pour the dulce de leche into the pie crust and sprinkle it lightly with kosher salt or sea salt.  


You can see that I didn't go crazy with the salt...just a bit!

Next, make some whipped cream.  Pour 2 cups of heavy cream (or whipping cream...same thing), 4 tablespoons of powdered sugar, and a splash of vanilla in bowl.  Use a hand mixer or kitchen aid with the whisk to whip it.


This is what was going on at my house while the kitchen aid was doing all the work!


They like to carry all of their treasures around in shopping carts and bags and backpacks.  I think they were pretending to go to school, but Gracie missed the part where kids don't take shopping carts to school :)  She makes me laugh!


Back to the pie!

You'll want to whip the cream until fairly stiff peaks form.  You can see how thick it is here:



Be sure the dulce de leche is cool before you put the whipped cream on top.  You don't want a melty mess.

Spread all the whipped cream all over the pie...


I would have posted a picture of a piece, but I didn't think it would be very nice to give my friend a pie with a piece missing :)

Oh, and you know how sometimes people tell you something is so rich, and then you try it and you think, "That isn't rich!  I could eat like 5 pieces of it.  You must eat rice all the time!" ...or something like that.  

Believe me, that is not the case here.  This is really rich.  I would cut it into at least 10, if not 12, pieces!

I got the recipe for the pie from here.

I have the tendency to over-explain recipes, and if that was the case here, I apologize!  It's really easy and most of the "work" is done while you wait!

It is certainly worth the wait for the cool, smooth, deliciousness of Salted Caramel Pie.

Plus, you can get all of the ingredients at Aldi, so what are you waiting for?  

It's practically free :)

I'm linking up with Mel at The Larson Lingo!


Crocktober 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Yes, I Let My Two Year Old Wear a Fake Nose Sparkle in Public

I drove the girls to my parents' house this weekend.

By myself.

I realize this doesn't sound like a big deal, but I find car trips with 3 highly interactive (occasionally even high maintenance) daughters to be highly, highly stressful.

There have been car trips when I turn around so much managing them that by neck hurts.  Of course, Aaron is driving in those situations :)  

Aaron worked literally all weekend long, so he suggested that we visit Nana and Papa's house for a little fun.

It was a great suggestion!  I don't think the girls will ever need to go to Disney World when they can do awesome things like use the kids sized shopping carts at the grocery store in their town.  

They seriously love it!

Gracie and Papa played the marble game:


I love the marble game!  My grandparents had it when I was little.  I loved it then, and I love it now.  

The only way I could love it more would be if I was a cat.  I feel like a cat would really get a kick out of the marble game.

Moving on... :)

The big girls and Nana did a few crafts:


I was talking to a girl in my Sunday School class about having her grandparents over to visit, and she was telling me about the crafts she and her grandma were doing, because her grandma is an "artist."  I asked her grandma if she was an artist and she's actually a retired first grade teacher :)

Never underestimate the impressiveness of a good craft on a little girl!

They even colored on long paper down the hallway!


I love how many Gracie makes pretty much any activity into a whole body experience.

She lives with gusto, and I love that (most of the time)!

I don't think they even colored on the floor :)

Another highlight of any visit to Nana and Papa's is "product."  This is when my mom gives the girls scented lotion and powder and they put it on their arms and tummies.  My grandma let me play with her lotions and some make up when I was little, and I still remember the smell.

My mom kicked "product" up a notch this weekend, though, and gave the girls a nose sparkle!


Maggie had a practical moment and didn't want one.

My mom even tried one out!


I think she pulls it off quite well!

Gracie LOVED her sparkle!


She didn't want to take it off, so, YES, I let her wear it when we went out for pizza.

Because it isn't every day that your 2 year old looks like she has her nose pierced.

And it's hilarious.

And it's adorable.

And it's fun to say yes to something a little silly sometimes!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Love Notes

When Leah started writing, she could only spell a few words...Leah, Mom, Dad, Love, Hi.  

Just the basics.

It led to a lot of little love notes left around the house, because she could only spell love note kinds of words.

I was kind of sad, in a sentimental mommy sort of way, that when she learned how to spell more words, she'd be done writing love notes, because she'd be able to spell so many other words.  

I'm glad I was wrong!  

Here are a few examples from the last week or two:


I made a little dot to dot and word search during church and she turned the heart into a little love note:


I think "hary" is supposed to be "hooray!"  Either that or it's hairy which would just be weird.

When we were at my parents' house, she got to use envelopes and made us more!



I don't think we'll ever get tired or finding little notes like this around the house.  I hope they keep on coming!



I love my sweet Leah <3