Friday, March 29, 2013

Thoughts on Easter

Hello Friends!

We dyed Easter Eggs yesterday and had quite a fun time doing so!  Gracie started out thinking she was supposed to crack each egg, but ended up repeatedly dyeing the same egg over and over and over again...taking the egg in and out of the dye with her hands, naturally.

We started out with one broken egg, but ended up with four broken ones.  Not bad :)



Having all of the broken eggs makes me think of bad grapes.

Stay with me here :)



When we are on a driving trip, sometimes we'll have grapes and I toss the bad ones out the window.

I call them "the weirds."

I guess broken Easter eggs makes me think of "the weirds."



As I throw the weirds out the window (which I seriously, seriously enjoy doing), I think to myself how glad I am that God doesn't toss out the weirds...because in one way or another, we are all the weirds.


But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8



But, we're more than just "the weirds," we are the broken, the sinners, the unlovely.

Even my little cuties, whose pictures I'm going to randomly place here, are in desperate need of a Savior.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23



As broken sinners, we are actively in rebellion against God, He but loves us anyway.

For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!"  Romans 5:10



And that's the beauty of Easter.  Not the Easter dresses, or Easter eggs, or jelly beans, or any other spring-time goodness.

What's beautiful is that God loved us so much that He sent His only Son to pay for us with His life.

But now He has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish, and free from accusation.  Colossians 1:22



That's what makes Good Friday...good!  There's nothing good about an unjust death, but there's everything good about Jesus rescuing us.




I'll leave you with one of my favorite parts of Scripture:

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.  He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.  Colossians 2:13-15

Now THAT'S exciting!


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Obviously...

We find stuff in the most random spots sometimes and we say, "Well, obviously we put that in this totally random spot."

Har-dee-har-har...we crack ourselves up :)

Here are a few examples!



In Maggie's defense, the water and ice dispenser doesn't work, so as far as she's concerned, this is the perfect little cubby for a camera!



We found the sweater in the potty chair before we started potty training.

We have since abandoned the potty training.

I don't think Gracie was quite ready.

Neither was I.

I'm actually fine with giving it up for now, and I'm fine with the fact that it didn't go perfectly.

This is growth, my friends.  Growth!

Anyway, where else would a girl keep her blanket?


Obviously on the towel rack in the bathroom.

Lastly, I couldn't find my Bible.  It was in the living room when I was working on a talk and the girls were looking at it.

I didn't want to be the mom who says, "Hey, kids, stop looking at the Bible."  I mean, I want God's Word to be accessible to them and a normal thing, even if my Bible isn't the most age appropriate one.

Buuuuut, then I couldn't find it.

Until we were playing in the basement...


...where it was in the trunk of the Little Tykes car.

Obviously ;)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

She's a Go-Getter!

My Gracie Kate is a go getter!


When we were at my parents' house for March Madness (yes, there is snow on the ground at the end of March), my dad and 10 year old nephew, Jonathan, were shooting baskets outside.

Gracie wanted to go out and see what my dad was doing, and naturally wanted to participate.

I love that she didn't care that she was significantly littler than Papa and Jonathan...she just wanted to jump in!

Look at that sweet smile...waiting to get the ball!

2 year old spunk is priceless...

...just like my girl.


Linking up with Shannon!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Before the girls and I left for my parents' house for March Madness, I made a pot of soup for Aaron to eat while he was painting a third of our house.

It's his favorite soup, and I figured it could be a bright spot (and an easy meal) in the midst of all his hard work.

I know, you're dying for the recipe now, aren't you.




I've heavily adapted the recipe from allrecipes.com.

For starters, make a box of Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice.



Set it aside.

Here are the rest of your ingredients:



You can see that I put the veggies in the food processor and zip them up so they're like confetti!

"Confetti" is significantly cooler than simply vegetables.  Plus, they are cuter and people who are, shall we say, "hesitant" about vegetables don't mind them as much!

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

1 box of Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice, prepared
2 cups of cooked and cubed chicken (or turkey)
1/2 cup or so of celery, carrots, and onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
6 tablespoons of butter, divided
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups half and half
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Add the vegetables and garlic; cook until softened.  Remove from pan.  Set aside.

Mix the flour, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl.

In the same pot (still on medium), melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter.  Stir in the flour mixture about a tablespoon at a time until a paste forms.  Whisk in the half and half a little at time until fully incorporated and smooth.  Cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the chicken broth and stir until incorporated.  Add in the veggies, chicken and about 2/3 of the rice.  Stir and be sure the rice is evenly distributed (i.e. no clumps).  Continue cooking on medium until heated through, 10-15 minutes.

You might want to serve it with this delicious bread!

Enjoy!

Monday, March 25, 2013

If March Madness is Wrong...I Don't Want to be Right

I simply love March Madness.

I love the upsets.

I love the one and done thing.

I love the drama and emotion.

I love following along with my bracket.

For the last few years, we've gotten together with my side of the family for March Madness.  We compare brackets and taunt the people we're beating.

Good ol' fashioned family fun!

Here's my bracket in the afternoon...


My WEST section is a huge mess.  You'll notice that I circled Syracuse in the EAST section, because my gut said to pick them instead of Indiana, but I went with my logic instead of my gut.

Because, you guys, we've all seen the movie Hoosiers, so I should CLEARLY pick Indiana.

Indiana being a 1 seed doesn't hurt either.

Before the basketball started, the girls had some Nana and Papa style fun!

The girls did their "product."


They're all so cute lined up like that :)

Then, they made books with Nana!  Leah is calling her's "How to Grow a Flower and Other Stories."


Naturally, craft time is punctuated by playing with Papa.


My brother and 2 of their kids came over before supper.  My sister in law was home with the other 2 as they were sick :(  

But, we still had lots of fun with the ones who came!

This is one of my favorite pictures <3


They're like the English speaking versions of Dora and Diego.  

Then, Gracie was a baller...and a game changer.


There was even some silliness and jumping rope.


And some Hide and Go Seek!


I know...it's like Where's Waldo meets planking.

You're wondering how Marquette pulled out their victory, aren't you.


Obviously.

My bracket is hanging in there!


And while the girls and I are hanging out at my parents' house, the best husband in the world is painting our kitchen and cabinets.  

Aaron is seriously amazing.

But, his bracket will probably beat mine, and I'll be just fine with that!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Saturday with Friends and a Shower (the party kind :))

One of the best things that has come from Aaron having worked with college students are the friendships.  

I love that the ladies I met with are my friends.  I love how they love our girls and how our girls love them.

I love seeing them marry wonderful men and being able to celebrate these wonderful milestones in life!

Saturday was Steph's bridal shower.  Leah and Maggie got to come, too.  I didn't think that a bridal shower would be an environment that Gracie would excel in at this point :)

We had brunch at the shower which involved many of Steph's favorite breakfast foods.

I brought blueberry muffins.


We played some fun games, and Maggie went to the bathroom about once every 5 minutes.  I'm not really sure what she was doing in there, but she was happy, so that's always good :)

After that Steph opened gifts.

My go-to shower gift is a personalized pan!


My mother-in-law got me one for Christmas probably 3 years ago, and I love it!  It's really handy for pot lucks as it's obviously already labeled.  

It's super fun for a bride to be to see her future name on something :)  I order these from That's My Pan.  Their shipping is a lot faster than it says on their website which is a huge perk for a procrastinator like me!

Here's a picture of me and Steph!


Isn't she so pretty!?!  After she and Andy get married they are going to live in town while Andy finishes his last semester of school.  I'm excited that we'll get to spend more time with them!

Here's me and Becca, the shower planning extraordinaire!


Becca and her husband live in Missouri!  We're hoping to get down to visit them this summer!  Fun Fact: Becca and I are the same Myers Briggs personality :)

Jenny and her husband, John, came to our house for the day so that Jenny could ride with me and the girls to the shower!


Gracie loved hanging out with Aaron and John while we were gone!  I was afraid that she'd feel left out, being the only sister not going to the shower.  But, Aaron said that she was in all her glory being the only kid...showing off and being silly!

It was so good to spend time catching up with Jenny!  She is having their first baby in August and I'm so excited to for them to be parents; they will be so amazing.  Jenny and John have such huge hearts and love people really well.

The day was full and fun...perhaps a little too full for Leah.  

Literally.

I may have let her eat too much candy at the shower.  I figured I'd let her and Maggie eat the Hershey's Kisses that were on the table and, well, I just said yes to some food choices that might have been too much for her tummy. 

It was kind of a carb overload for her (I'm usually good about keeping her food pretty well balanced).  She was just not feeling well.

And sometimes when you're not feeling well, you need your mom.


We talked about carbs, and school, and House Hunters, and books and lots of other little things.

I'd never want one of the girls to be sick, but cuddling and talking about a whole lot of nothing before bed isn't a bad way to end a wonderful day...

...not bad at all!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Vapo Rub Problem: Solved

This little cutie has had a bit of a cough.


And, like most human beings, my girls don't like getting vapo rub on their chests.

I was putting it on the bottom of their feet, because several people told me that worked even better.  Plus, I read on some random blog that when people stand on cloves of garlic with bare feet they taste the garlic right away.  That supposedly explains why it works so well to put vapo rub on a person's feet.

I mentioned this to our doctor, and while he didn't laugh out loud at me, he said there's no medical reason for it to work.  Plus, the reason vapo rub is put on the chest to begin with is because you can breathe it in that way.

A little light bulb went off in my noggin.  I actually thought of an idea by myself!!!  Usually I get my ideas from pinterest or another person, but not this time.  I mean, let's not kid ourselves here,  I'm sure someone else has thought of this, but I've never seen it before.

Why not put vapo rub on a cloth and put the cloth by your face?  I did that with the big girls a couple of times and it worked really well.

Then, I kicked it up a notch with this idea.  Put the cloth in the pillow case!

You need a pillow in a pillow case, vapo rup (or Wal rub in my case), and a thick cloth (I used an old burp cloth).


Let me apologize now for the yellow-ness of some of these pictures.  I took them at night and the lighting was not at it's best.

Get a good sized glob of vapo rub on your finger and smear it on the bottom half of the cloth.


You might want to add another glob and spread it around a bit.


This is probably a 3 or 4 inch square-ish.

Fold the cloth in half to keep the vapo rub from getting on anything else and place it in the pillow case.


Then, your little cutie can breathe in the vapo rub without getting all messy.

I'm sure it's not quite as effective as putting it on your chest, but it certainly gets the job done!

All the benefit without the mess!

Give it a shot the next time someone in your house is sick!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Sweet Moment Framed


Gracie was pretending to have a tummy ache, so Maggie was being Dr. Maggie to the rescue.

You guys, they play like this all.the.time.  Seriously!

OK, that was the biggest lie I've ever typed out loud.

They love each other a lot, but, just like their mommy, they aren't perfect.  They fight sometimes and pester each other on purpose.  But, most of the time they are little buddies.

These are the sweet moments that I want to freeze and frame and remember forever <3


Oh, I posted a lot later than usual yesterday, so if you didn't catch it, here it is!


I'm linking up with Shannon!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Oatmeal Pancakes (from a mix you make yourself...because you're awesome like that)

Every now and then I like to be the 1950s mom. 

You know, things like warm cookies when Leah gets home from school, making a pot roast with mashed potatoes, and giving my daughters a nice warm breakfast.

Let's face it, Leah is guaranteed warm cookies after school on the first day, but not so much after that.  I don't do pot roast often at all because I can't pick a good one to save my life.

But a warm breakfast?  BOOM!  I'm all over that one.

You've got nothing on me, June Cleaver!  ;)

And you, too, can be the awesome 1950s throwback mom.

Plus, it's easy peasy!



When I took this picture, the pancakes were literally steaming hot.  But, because I have the photography skills of a monkey, you can't see it.  That's OK, though.  You can trust me that they were steaming.

You need:



3 1/2 cups quick oats
5 cups of flour (I use all white whole wheat, but you can use all all-purpose flour or 3 cups of whole wheat flour and 2 cups of all-purpose flour)
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup canola or vegetable oil

Look, I'm using "The Big Three" again!  

Anyway, I put the oatmeal in the food processor (you can use a blender, too) to make it smooth.  This is optional, but I figured my girls would do better with a smoother, less chewy texture.  It's up to you.



It only took about 30 seconds to get it nice and fine.



"Hey, Oats, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind!  Hey, Oats, yeah, yeah, hey, Oats!"

Sorry about that 90s song reference.

Anyway, whisk all of the ingredients (EXCEPT for the oil) together in a large bowl or bowl for your Kitchen Aid mixer.  

Gradually pour in the oil while your Kitchen Aid mixer is mixing (on low) or while you are using your hand mixer (also on low).  I've done it both ways.  You almost have more control with a hand mixer, making sure you have it evenly mixed.  

You want to make sure the mix clumps together when you squeeze it.



See!  Clumpy is the new awesome!

Then, put about 1 cup of mix in each ziplock bag.



I probably put a little more than a cup in each bag, and end up with 8 portions.



I put each portion in a regular sandwich ziplock bag, and then put all of the regular ziplocks in a freezer ziplock, because I'm clever like that ;)



The label says, "Pancake mix, 1 egg, 1-ish cup of buttermilk."  I feel like the "1-ish" is hard to read.

Pop it in your freezer or refrigerator until you need it!  

Making the pancakes from the mix is so easy that a 2 year old can do it!

Put one baggie of the mix in a medium sized bowl.



Then, all you need is...



1 cup of buttermilk (remember the tip from my last recipe, if you don't have buttermilk, you can easily make a substitution by putting 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in a 1 cup measuring cup, fill the rest with regular milk, stir, and let sit for 5 minutes)
1 egg
splash of vanilla (a splash of vanilla makes just about everything better)

NOTE:  Buttermilk from the store is thicker than the buttermilk substitution.  In this recipe, you'll need less than a cup of buttermilk if you use the substitution.  I'd start by adding a half cup and the egg and then adding more of the buttermilk substitution until you get it to the consistency you prefer for pancakes.  

Moving on...see how intense my cute little helper is while she carefully pours the buttermilk.



She wanted me to take a picture of us.



I'd like to say she requested a blurry picture, but that wasn't the case ;)  I think she's covering her mouth because she was about to cough.

Back to work!

Now she's stirring in the egg and vanilla splash, too!



Then, just make the pancakes like you usually do!  This makes 8 or 9 regular sized pancakes.  I usually just make 8 because every time I made the last 9th guy by himself, I forget about him and then he gets burned.  Not cool.

Maggie can't wait for pancakes!



Leah wanted to butter them, and when I told her I was going to take her picture while she was buttering, she got reeeeeeeeally into it!



I always cut the pancake into 4 triangles for them so they can easily dip them into the syrup. It's a lot easier than making silver dollar pancakes.



See that silver dipping cup?  I got a 4 pack of those at Walmart for 97 cents.

The best 97 cents of my life.



I save the pancakes that we don't eat for the next morning.  Just put them in a ziplock and then pop them in the toaster to heat them up!

Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, this is what the rest of my kitchen looks like when I take tidy pictures for the blog :)



Look!  My computer is open to the recipe on Mel's Kitchen Cafe!  

You, too, can be the awesome 2013 version of June Cleaver!