Thursday, June 30, 2011

Three Things on Thursday

#1- I got a Sonicare toothbrush a few weeks ago. And I am in love with it...  It's AMAZING. The first time I used it, it totally tickled and I couldn't stop laughing. I wasn't sure I would be able to keep using it. But it's been fine ever since. My teeth feel so clean after using it. I actually look forward to brushing my teeth. Weird, I know. Anyways, I bought it at Kohl's- it was on sale. (Because aren't all items at Kohl's ALWAYS on sale?!?) I used a 30% off store coupon I had. Plus I was able to use a $10 off coupon I had cut out of the newspaper. Needless to say, I got a great deal. If you need a new toothbrush, check it out.

#2- The Waiting Game is over! Luke met with his boss on Monday and things are starting to get ironed out with what his new job will look like. It's basically all coming together as we hoped and prayed it would. This means more responsibility for Luke, new people for him to oversee, and a raise. All good things. He is looking forward to stepping into a new, more challenging role. We are thankful for answered prayers!

#3- Someone I follow on twitter posted this video a few weeks ago. Honestly, if you chose to watch it, you will be touched. If you know me, you know that I love children. Adoption has been something that has been on my heart since I was a teenager. I believe that it's quite possible we will adopt someday. I have seen firsthand how adoption changes lives. I strongly believe that as a Christian, I am called to DO. DO SOMETHING. Not just sit back and watch. But be active and do.

I don't believe that adoption is for everyone. Right now one way we are "doing" is by supporting a child through World Vision. We have been supporting Kevin in Guatemala for 6 years. I will be honest. There have been times when money has been tight and the thought has crossed my mind that maybe we should drop this support. Then I realize how little we are actually giving. $30 a month. And Kevin has opportunities that he might never have if he wasn't a part of the World Vision program. He has access to clean water, education, nutritious food, and healthcare. And really? $30 isn't that much. I wouldn't think twice about going out to dinner and spending $30. But somehow, sometimes when we are giving $30 away, it seems like so much. And in reality, that's pretty selfish.

I would encourage you to check out Compassion or World Vision and look into sponsoring a child. One thing we hope to do as our children get a little older is to sponsor a child close to their age and have them be a part of the process. Let them write letters to our sponsored child and help our children learn about the rest of the world- and how so many other people live. To learn to be grateful for what we have. And to learn to share what we have with others...

This is a really touching video of a man who was sponsored  as a child through Compassion. He tells about how Compassion changed his life- and at the end of the video meets his sponsor for the first time. All I can say is, have a kleenex handy.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

One year ago... (Part Two)

If you didn't read part one of our move to Colorado click here.

So we moved to Colorado the beginning of June last year. To say it was wonderful at first would be an understatement. Our first few weeks in Colorado were like a vacation. Because we moved with no jobs, we put all of our belongings into storage and moved in with my parents. So literally, it was like a vacation. I was still technically working, so I did work from my parents house and in mid-June we returned to California to wrap up my job. One big part of my job was helping with VBS at our church. VBS at Venture is a BIG deal- lots of kids, lots of volunteers, and lots of logistics. So I was going to back to help and to train my friend, Allyson, who took over my job when we moved. Our time back in California was busy and wonderful. Both Luke and I worked with VBS in the morning and sometimes part of the afternoon. But we had lots of time to see our friends and visit our favorite places and restaurants. :)

We came back to Colorado at the end of June and really began the job hunt. Since we were actually living in Colorado, it made job hunting a lot easier. Luke had a couple of great potentials, but nothing came together. He had one ministry offer him a job two times, but the pay was literally poverty level. They wanted to pay him more, but the money just wasn't there. So he turned it down knowing that he could not support our family with that job. He continued to hunt for jobs. I continued to scour the internet daily for jobs. And nothing. The disappointment started to grow. We came to Colorado on faith and things were just not coming together as we had hoped. And on top of that, I found out I was pregnant at the end of July. (Side note: Levi was truly a "surprise"baby- and oh. my. goodness. The BEST surprise ever! Maybe that is just how surprise babies are, because I was a surprise baby too. And I am pretty sure I am my parent's favorite... :) At least that is what I always tell them).

In Mid-August, Luke got an email from a guy he had previously talked to about a job at a church here in the Springs. Josh wanted to hire Luke for a contract position. Obviously, this wasn't ideal for us. A contract position meant no benefits and no regular salary. But something is better then nothing, so Luke took the contract job. But we continued to search for a full time job at the same time, knowing that was what we ultimately needed.

After contracting for almost 3 months, the church offered Luke a full time job. We were THRILLED! The offer was a little different then what we had anticipated, but we knew that it was the right fit. Luke started officially on December 4th and we began hunting for a house to rent. We moved into a townhouse at the end of December and Colorado began to actually feel like home.

This past year has been a roller coaster, which I honestly didn't anticipate. (Which was pretty naive on my part!) Moving is never easy. It's lots of work and lots of changes. But it's also an adventure. Some days the adventure has been exciting and somedays I just wanted to go back to California. But we are where we are supposed to be; we know that. For this season of our lives, Colorado is home. And it's finally starting to feel that way.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Waiting Game

Two weeks ago, Luke found out that his boss had accepted a new job. Though Luke has loved working with Josh, his leaving potentially meant a new role for Luke- a step up. This was obviously exciting; part of the reason Luke really enjoys his job is because of the potential for job growth and learning. Unfortunately, the lady making the decisions about how this would all pan out left for a scheduled vacation literally the day after Josh announced he was leaving. And then she returned from vacation, and we all know how that is. She was swamped. So it has very much felt like our lives have been in limbo, waiting to see what is next and how that will effect Luke (and thus, our family).

Well today I had a particularly bad attitude about the waiting. I am tired of waiting. I just wanted to know. So tonight we were having two friends over for dinner; two guys that attend the Air Force Academy. One of them, John, was from our church in California and Luke was a youth group leader to him. The other guy, Andrew, is John's friend- and now our friend too. We love having them over for dinner and hearing what is going on in their lives. And Silas and Eliana absolutely love playing with them. Literally a few minutes before they walk in the door I sort of word vomited my thoughts all over Luke about his current work situation...  I am just frustrated. But the reality is, so is he. So all of a sudden having people for dinner felt like the last thing I wanted to do. But you know what? Within a few minutes of them being here, I felt better. Because I was forced to not focus on and worry about something I have no control over anyways. We had a fun evening with good food, great company, and we ended the night by watching some Jim Gaffigan clips on youtube. Perfect, right? :)

So as they were leaving, I went to our bedroom to feed Levi. Because the guys were watching youtube clips, I had no computer to use (and normally I read facebook or news on the computer while I nurse). So I picked up a book (that I love) on my nightstand. It's called "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young- and there is a short devotional for each day of the year. The devotionals are based on the Bible (the specific verses are listed on each page). And the author writes as if Jesus is actually talking to you. There have been so many times that I pick it up, and it applies directly to my life. Today was one of those days. The first words were, "Hold My hand- and trust." A few lines later, "Fearful, anxious thoughts melt away in the Light of My Presence. When you turn away from Me, you are vulnerable to the darkness that is always at work in the world. Don't be surprised by how easily you sin when you forget to cling to My hand." And that, my friend, is exactly what happened to me today. I chose to worry and be fearful about a situation that I have no control over. My worrying about it isn't going to help us get answers any faster. Rather then worry, I need to continually trust God. He has a plan and though we can't see the end result yet, He is at work. He has never let us down or failed us, why would He start now?

I need to start focusing upwards and stop worrying about what is happening around me. I am so thankful for the devotional I read tonight. It was exactly what I needed- and I know that wasn't a coincidence. I am thankful for a God of second chances. Because I screw up. All. The. Time. So next week we should find out what changes lie ahead for Luke with his job (and just fyi, it's not like he is at risk for losing his job or anything- just changes). And regardless of the outcome, I know that God is in control. And that is enough for me.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Three Things on Thursday

#1- Updates from last week's "Three Things on Thursday." We got our computer back from Apple- all fixed and for free. Seriously, I love Apple.... Along the lines of yogurt now. We did not make it for our free Pinkberry. I kind of forgot about it on Thursday and told the kids we would go swimming after dinner. We didn't have time for both. And guess what? I received an email from a new blog friend, Meredith, and  neighbor (seriously, she lives a few blocks away from me but we haven't met in real life yet)... anyways, she said that she heard from her friend who was at Pinkberry the night of the grand opening and the line was 2.5 hours long. So glad we did not go. I love free, but my time is worth something too. We hit up another new yogurt place on Friday night, LuLu's Frozen Yogurt. Absolutely delicious. They have 16 frozen yogurt flavors- some of them are sugar-free and gluten-free options. Lots of toppings- fruit, cereal, candy. The kids especially loved it- so many choices for them to make! If you live in Colorado Springs, this is a place worth checking out.

#2- Note to self: when shutting the back of the van, be sure you are standing far enough away so that when you pull the door down, you don't hit yourself in the head. Yep, I learned this one the hard way today. And boy, did my head HURT! I was a little dazed and instantly had a huge bump. There were tears- quite a few of them. And I rarely cry. (During the birth of all my kids, I think the only pointed I ever cried was because they refused to allow me to eat anything and I was sure I was going to starve to death. Thank you Kaiser!). My head was instantly pounding. Worst. Headache. Ever. So through my tears I called Luke and he took the afternoon off. I was so thankful that he came home because I could hardly function. I slept for 5.5 hours and woke up feeling a little better. (And yes, Luke woke me up regularly during my long nap.) So lesson learned. Be more careful when shutting the car doors.

#3- Jim Gaffigan. Have you heard of? If not, you are missing out. He is a hilarious comedian. My younger brother first introduced his videos to us. And he is my favorite comedian now. I follow him on twitter and his tweets make me laugh almost every single day. One time while watching one of his videos (one that I had seen a million times) I almost spit water all over the computer from laughing so hard. Needless to say, Luke was not amused by this. You can watch some of his video segments on youtube, as well as catch some specials on Comedy Central. Here is one that I really like- and for the record, I actually do like camping.

The weekend is almost here- have a great Thursday!

Monday, June 20, 2011

"Learning" ~ a book you won't want to miss!

I love to read. When I find a good book, it can sort of consume my life until I am done with it. Luke has woken up many times at 3:00AM to find me awake, still reading. I must admit, having three kids now, finding time to read is a lot harder. But I have a few authors that I love and will always make time to read their books- even if it means losing sleep. One of those authors is Karen Kingsbury. My friend, Shelley, recommended Karen's books to me a number of years ago. Thankfully, it was pre-kids, because when I discovered Karen's books, I could not get enough of them. 

Karen is a Christian fiction writer. Her books are all sent in present time with very relevant story lines. I started with the Redemption series, which is based on the Baxter family, a family made up of five adult children. Each book focuses on a different child. It's a great series! Another series that I love by Karen is the 9-11 series; a trilogy of books that are based on 9-11. I would highly recommend these three books- a story based on a real, life changing event in our country. A warning for new readers: always have kleenex handy. If you have heart, you will cry at some point of almost every book.

I won a contest on faceboook about a month ago and was selected to receive and review an early copy of Karen's new book, "Learning," which comes out this Tuesday, June 21st. I received my copy a few weeks ago and wrote the following review of the book. It's a great book! If you have read Karen's books before, go get this book on Tuesday. You will not be disappointed! If you haven't ever read Karen's books before, don't start with this one because it's the second book in a series. Either start with the first book in this series, "Leaving," or if you want to know where to start with Karen's books or my personal favorites, drop me a comment and I will email you back. Enjoy!

Review of "Learning" ~ Another amazing book by Karen Kingsbury
Karen Kingsbury has done it again! “Learning” is another beautifully written story by Karen that will find readers laughing and crying, while comparing the situations in the book to their own lives and walk with God. “Learning” is the continuing journey of Bailey and Cody, as well as the Flanigan and Baxter families. The book will take you to life in Bloomington, Indiana and New York City. Karen has an incredible talent of bringing places and characters to life for the reader- and “Learning” is no exception. Some of the characters are like old friends and we are excited to read about what is happening in their lives. We go through the ups and downs with them and see how God is there to meet their every need. Karen also intermixes new friends; friends you will fall in love with as you read. 

Bailey is coming of age in “Learning” as she moves to New York City to be a part of the cast of “Hairspray.” Brandon Paul is still very much a part of her life. She has said her good-bye to Cody, but can she let go of him in her heart? “Learning” finds Bailey discovering new life lessons as a young woman who is seeking to shine for Jesus in a dark place. 

Cody is back in Indiana coaching high school football and helping Cheyenne recover from her car accident. He is determined to be a friend to her and help her through the rehabilitation process, which he knows the difficulty of firsthand. Cody continues to believe that Bailey has moved on and that he must too. But can he truly move on from his memories of Bailey? And is Cheyenne the woman God has for his future? 

One particular scene from the book that encouraged me was when Bailey is sitting in on a Bible Study with Betty (the older woman she is living with in NYC) and three of Betty’s friends. Bailey is having an off day and is struggling. One of the ladies reminds her that God has great plans for her. Bailey responds by saying, “That’s my prayer, anyway.” One of the ladies encourages her by saying, “You can pray that God will help you understand those plans. But you don’t have to worry. He definitely has good plans for you.” This was of particular encouragement to me because I too often worry about the future. I can so easily lose sight of God’s promises. Reading this was a reminder of God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

This book has so many story lines relevant to our world today that you will find yourself identifying with many of the characters. One of the my favorite aspects of Karen’s writing is how the readers interact with God and how God responds to them through scripture. It’s a reminder to me that I need to be talking to God every moment of the day, as if He is right there. Because after all, He is! Karen’s writing also reminds me of the importance of memorizing Bible verses and shows how those verses come back to us in moments of need. You will love every page of “Learning” with the exception of the last page, because that signifies the book is ending. And let’s face it, we never want these books to end! You will not want to miss “Learning”- you will find yourself learning right alongside of Bailey, Cody, and all of our other friends.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Summer Quesadillas

My mom is all about food being "summer food" or "winter food"- and it always seemed silly to me. Guess what? I totally get it now. Some food just tastes better when it's hot out! So the other night I made quesadillas- and not just regular quesadillas... Roasted Corn and Chicken Quesadillas. They are good- and spicy! This is a pretty quick dinner that uses ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.

Roasted Corn and Chicken Quesadillas
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken- cut into 1/2" cubes (I used 2 chicken breasts for this)
1 cup frozen corn
3/4 cup medium salsa
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup mayo (I used light mayo)
2 tsp. chili powder
1 (12 oz) pkg. flour tortillas (8- 7" tortillas)
1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese (or you can use colby/monterey jack cheese; I used a mixture of colby jack and pepper jack cheese)

~Combine chicken, corn, 1/2 cup salsa, and salt. Spread mixture in a single layer in a 9 by 13 pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, stirring half way through.

Chicken, corn, and salsa mixture ready to go in the oven

~In a small bowl combine mayo, chili powder, and remaining 1/4 cup salsa. Spread mayo mixture evenly over half of each tortilla. Using a slotted spoon, top mayo with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Fold each tortilla in half and press down gently.

Assembly line! Tortillas, mayo spread, chicken mixture, and cheese.

~Cover a 16 by 14 baking sheet with foil. Spray foil with no stick cooking spray. Arrange quesadillas evenly on baking sheet. Lightly spray top of quesadillas with cooking spray. Bake for 5 minutes at 450 degrees. Take the quesadillas out of the oven, carefully turn them over, and put them back in the oven for about 5 more minutes. Let the quesadillas stand for about 2 minutes before serving. Serve with additional salsa and sour cream.

And dinner is ready!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Cavity

A few months ago Silas started complaining that his teeth hurt. I heard him say it a few times and sort of dismissed it. Finally I came out of my sleep deprived state and actually listened to what he was saying. I asked him where it hurt, and he pointed to one tooth. I grabbed a flashlight and looked at his tooth and I could see a brown spot. I started looking at a few of his other teeth (all ones in the back of his mouth)- and noticed three more teeth with spots. I started to panic inside a little. I have had one cavity ever- and it was after I was married. I couldn't believe that my baby had a cavity- much less, potentially multiple. I called Luke and told him what I suspected. And then? You guessed it. I turned to google. (Why? I have no idea. I guess to just confirm what I suspected.) Google images can be awesome; it can also be very not awesome. This was one of those times. When I did a google image search for something along the line of "starter cavity" I got pictures of people who probably never brushed their teeth in their entire life. Rotten, falling out teeth. These pictures were way beyond "a cavity." I continued to worry about how traumitizing this might be for Silas if he did indeed have a cavity. To be honest, I probably spent a few hours being distracted by this cavity business- and just feeling like a horrible parent, wondering how my 4 year old ended up with a cavity. 

And then out of the blue I thought about Kate McRae. Kate is a little girl who was diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was 5 years old. She is now 7 years old and still very much in the midst of fighting for her life. Here I was worrying about how my son will deal with a CAVITY. There are other parents who have real problems as they fight for their child's life. I instantly got a perspective check and realized that if Silas had a cavity, life would go on and he would be fine. And I was reminded how much I have to be thankful for right now. I have three beautiful children who are happy, healthy, and safe.

So a few weeks later we got Silas into the dentist and he did have one cavity. We made an appointment to go back for the filling. That appointment was today. Silas was a brave little trooper! We see a pediatric dentist- and he is great. Silas got positioned up in the chair, he got hooked up with some orange scented laughing gas, and he got some earphones on. Then he laid back in the chair and looked at the ceiling, where a flat screen TV is mounted. He spent the rest of this short visit watching Monsters Inc. He was pretty oblivious to what they were doing. I sat next to him, holding his hands while the dentist did the work. Every once in awhile Silas would squeeze my hand and I would wonder if he was scared or hurting... I would watch his little feet move around (an effect of the laughing gas I was told). I hoped and prayed he was doing ok- that he wasn't scared or feeling any pain... And then the visit was over. He sat up, went to pick a toy out of the treasure chest, and we left to have lunch at Chick-fil-a. As I was driving, I was thinking how relieved I was that this was over and the experience had gone well. And then it hit me again. I have so much to be thankful for. There are people out there with sick children, who sit by helplessly while their child endures procedures that are actually painful... parents who have to wait days and weeks to find out the results of tests that may tell them if their child will live or die. I have so much to be thankful for. What a reminder to me to not worry about such little things in life and to stop and take a moment to remember the blessings I have right now. Also it's a reminder for me to pray for Kate and other children (and adults) that I know who are battling sickness and fighting for their lives.

I have no guarantee that me or my family will always be healthy. I have lost family members to cancer. I have seen friends grieve over the loss of a child. I have much to be thankful for today- something I want to remember each and every day. To be thankful for life. Oh, the lessons learned from a cavity...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Three Things on Thursday

 I have so many random things that I want to mention that don't make up their own blog post, that I decided that I would start to compile these random things each Thursday.

~I have realized this week that I *might* be a food hoarder. I counted how many boxes of cereal we have right now. 8 open boxes and 23 "back up" boxes. And it wouldn't be that bad if cereal was the only thing I stockpile. It's not. If the economy really goes south and you need food, you know where you can come.

~I have fallen in love with Apple products. When Luke got a Mac Book Pro for school almost 4 years ago, I was sort of disgusted. I had no idea how to use this foreign computer that didn't have a Windows operating system. Over time, I started using it a little. And (gasp), realized I actually liked it. Thus began my slow takeover of Luke's computer. He tells me all the time that he needs a new computer since I have confiscated his. I tell him that when money grows on trees we can afford that... So for now, we are forced to share the Mac Book Pro, while the Dell computer sits in it's computer bag like an ugly stepchild. Anyways, the other night I was watching a video on hulu and the computer screen suddenly went black. I figured that the battery must have died and plugged it in. The computer didn't come back on. I realized it was actually on, but the screen just wouldn't come on. I forced the computer to shut down and restarted it. The screen was still black. At this point, I was forced to call in Luke and let him know that I had probably broken his computer. (No reason to overreact, right?) We tried a few more things and nothing worked. I pulled out the old Dell and turned to my best friend, google, and tried to diagnose the problem. I came across a Mac forum that discussed a video card problem with Mac Book Pros that were made right around the time we purchased Luke's computer. The forum indicated that if you brought your computer to an Apple store and it was within 4 years of purchase, they would fix the problem free of charge. We hoped and prayed this was the problem. Luke made an appointment with the Genuis Bar at Apple for the following day... Much to our relief, the problem was the video card. And the cost of the repair if we were paying for it? $900. And Apple is fixing it for free. Yes, a computer that we bought almost 4 years ago. I. LOVE. APPLE.

~Pinkberry opens here in Colorado Springs today. I have never eaten at Pinkberry- though we had one in San Jose. The line was always incredibly long and all I saw was people coming out with frozen yogurt with fruit toppings. My motto is: "If it's not chocolate, it's not dessert." Thus, I never tried Pinkberry. I have since learned they do indeed have chocolate frozen yogurt and I keep hearing how good this place is. So we are going to give it a try. And guess what? Because today is their Grand Opening here in Colorado Springs, they are giving away free frozen yogurt from 5-9PM tonight. So if you live in the area, check it out. I love free- so we will be there!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gluten and Dairy Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Tonight we had dinner with a family that I knew from my trips to Guatemala. They were missionaries there years ago when Guatemala was a country I visited frequently. (True Story: I visited enough times in one year that I was stopped and questioned at immigration when returning to the U.S. because they suspected I was smuggling drugs). I went to Guatemala on mission trips, as well as to visit my friends the Ellers, who lived there as missionaries. Their teammates and neighbors were the Stiff' and I got to know them during my time in Guatemala. The Stiff's now live in Colorado, literally 5 minutes from us. Last week I ran into Nell and we made plans to have dinner this week. So tonight we went to their home for a BBQ and I volunteered to bring dessert. I made brownies and cookies. I found this recipe for gluten free and dairy free peanut butter cookies on numerous websites and the reviews were all very good. I was skeptical, but thought I would give it a try. And I am so glad I did. They. Are. Delicious.

The recipe is very easy:
1 cup sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda

~Mix the sugar and peanut butter together first. Then add the egg and baking soda and stir until creamy. Roll the dough into small balls, about 1" in size. (I also rolled the balls in sugar before putting them on a cookie tray). Then press the dough down with a fork to flatten the cookies. Bake at 325 for 8-10 minutes. I pulled my cookies out at about 9 minutes. Let the cookies cool completely while on the cookie tray. (This is important because they are essentially still cooking a little more).

~I am sure you could add chocolate chips to this recipe to make them even more delicious. I might try adding mini chocolate chips next time.

So there you have it! Simple and delicious. And perfect for people that have food allergies. Enjoy! :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

We love books! Vol. 1

At our house, we love to read. (Ok, Luke doesn't love to read... but I do, and the kids do too!). We read to the kids before nap time and bedtime and throughout the day too. I thought it might be fun to share some of our favorite children's books in case you are looking for some good books for a special child in your life. If you have any favorite books, please share them in the comments. We go to the library weekly and are always on the hunt for good books.

Thank You God!
We gave Eliana this book for her second birthday and it has quickly become a favorite at our house. It's a board book (so not super long) and the illustrations are very cute. The book is about thanking God- for everything from our home to our family. Being thankful is something we are already trying to teach our children- so this is a good book to help do that.

Snuggle Puppy
We love all of our Sandra Boynton books! Her board books were some of the first books we bought for Silas, and we are still reading them today. (Some of them are pretty beat up!) Sandra Boynton's books are fun and silly. Snuggle Puppy is a cute book that is all about how much you love your child (or grandchild). My kids are my little snuggle buddies, so I especially like to read this book at nap time or bedtime.

That's Not My Sister
Silas received this book as a gift when Eliana was born. It's a fun story about two mooses (is that even a word?!?). Manny and Molly are brother and sister and the book follows them through a game of hide and seek. It's a very cute story with great illustrations. Eliana recently discovered this book and now she loves it too!

Shopping with Dad
Silas got this book from my sister and her family for his birthday. This is a fun book about going grocery shopping with dad. And let's face it, we know what that's like. Silas loves this book!

The Great Pig Escape

This is a library favorite. The author has also written the "Five Little Monkeys" books (also favorites at our house). This is a silly story about pigs escaping from their owners right before going to the market (ie: being turned into bacon). The pigs are hidden throughout the book, dressed up as people, trying to avoid being caught. It's a fun one for kids, and as a parent, I enjoy it too!

Here is further proof of our love for reading. Silas, sitting on the ground in Costco, looking at books...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Evening at the park

One of the things we love doing in the summer is going to the park and having picnics. I really love doing this in the evening when it's not super hot out! One of our favorite parks is Fox Run Regional Park. So last night we packed a picnic and headed out to enjoy a beautiful evening. We had dinner, played at the park, and fed the fish. All in all, a fun way to wrap up the weekend!

He is definitely following the instructions on his shirt!
All 3 kiddos! Eliana-2, Levi- 2 months, and Silas- 4

Feeding the fish- and man, those fish were hungry!

My view of Levi- he was sleeping in the sling during the fish feeding.

A perfect way to the end the weekend....

Thursday, June 9, 2011

One year ago... (Part One)

One year ago this week we moved to Colorado. It's hard to believe it's been a year. In some ways it seems like forever ago, and in some ways it feels like we just left. This last year has been a roller coaster for Luke and I. When I think back to last year at this time- and where we are today- WOW! Lots and lots of changes.

Last April we made the decision to move to Colorado. We had been thinking and praying about it for years. When Luke graduated from SJSU in May of 2009, we expected that we would be moving shortly. But God had other plans. We visited Colorado to check things out and to begin the job hunt. Luke had found a job opportunity that he was very excited about- and we were just waiting for the job to become officially available. We waited. We waited more. And still we waited more. Finally, he was able to apply for it- and we just knew that this was it! We waited for the interview process to begin. A few weeks later we found out that Luke had been eliminated from the candidate pool because we lived out of state. We were floored. Everything seemed to be pointing to this job. We never doubted that it would work out. When it didn't work out the way we expected, we were shocked and confused.

Not to sound dramatic, but I was pretty devastated. I had been working full time since before Silas was born. My desire has always been to stay home with our kids. When Luke was in school, that wasn't option. I knew that working full time with small kids was just a season and wouldn't last forever. When Eliana was born, I expected I would return to work for a time, but I didn't expect it would be very long... So when this job didn't work out, it felt like we were starting over in the job hunt. The end was not in sight and I was crushed. Both Luke and I were working full time- basically opposite schedules because we didn't have childcare for Silas and Eliana. It was a crazy, stressful time. Yet it was clear that God had us waiting for a reason. But that reason wasn't clear at that time.

We continued to believe that Colorado was where we end up. Luke continued to look for jobs- and I continued to look for jobs for Luke. Sometimes looking for jobs seemed like a full time job itself! Everywhere we looked, doors were shut. It was beyond discouraging. We were at the end of our rope as far as trying to balance life with full time jobs, taking care of the kids, and just trying to make ends meet living in such an expensive area (Silicon Valley). As spring came last year, we began to sense that God may be calling us to take a leap of faith and move. Even without a job offer. It seemed crazy and unwise. We thought and prayed about it, but didn't act on it. Then we found out that Luke was going to get laid off from his job within a few months. And that was the push we needed to decide it was time to move. We both sensed from God that the next door wasn't going to open until we shut the door where we were. So we set the date to move. We gave notices at our work. And the process of moving our lives began...
(to be continued)

I love this song! It's a great reminder for me...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Random thoughts

~Sometimes getting out the door with 3 kids seems impossible... Or impossibly slow. Somehow I need to turn into a morning person so I can be up before my kids. I know that if I went to bed earlier that would help... :) One of the bonuses of Silas going to preschool in the fall is that I will be forced to get up earlier, which I will hate and love at the same time.

~Eliana has still been using a pacifier (or "Bop" as she calls it) for nap time and bed time. This past week I decided that we needed to do away with it entirely. We went cold turkey- and it went so much better then I expected. There were some tears initially. The biggest downside is that it takes her longer to fall asleep now, so she talks and talks to Silas every night at bedtime... And they both end up falling asleep later as a result. Hopefully that will improve over time. Tonight was the best night yet! Next up: Potty Training.

~Levi had his 2 month check-up on Friday. He weighed 12lbs 6oz and is 23.5" long. So he has gained 5lbs since birth! I took Levi to the doctor alone and loved having time with just him while we waited for the doctor. We "talked" and smiled and he giggled. I loved it. The appointment went great- and then came the shots. Now normally I don't stress about shots. Of course, I don't like them- I don't like to see my babies cry. But I don't lose sleep over it either or spend days dreading it. So he got 2 shots and just screamed his little head off. Both Silas and Eliana would cry when they got shots too- but normally they would be be done crying by the time we got to the car. Well he cried and cried and cried. I had to nurse him just to get him to stop crying. He fell asleep on the way home. When we got home he woke up. And guess what? He cried more. Finally we both fell asleep for about 2 hours. I was hoping when he woke up, he would be his happy self. No. Such. Luck. More crying. More nursing and some tylenol. And he finally stopped crying. Seriously, my heart was breaking for him. Thankfully, Saturday morning came and our happy boy was back to himself.

~This afternoon our house was getting hot. It was 79 degrees inside and in the 80's outside. I decided that it was time to turn the air conditioning on for a couple of hours for some relief. So I turned it on and set it to 72 degrees. I waited awhile. The air coming out of the vents did not seem that cool... Luke was on his way home so I decided to just wait until he got him to let him know that there was a problem with air conditioner. When he walked inside he said, "It's hot in here!" I said, "I know! The air conditioning doesn't seem to be working... I guess we need to call Stan (our landlord)." Luke looked at me and said, "We don't have air conditioning!" I guess the "cool" option on the thermostat is there just to fake me out... :) We both had a good laugh about that.

~Tonight Silas and I were making cookies and I asked Luke if he could get Eliana into the bathtub. Silas looked at Luke and said, "In case Eliana has a bad attitude, after her bath she will have to go straight to bed. No books." I almost busted out laughing! He really likes to "help" us parent Eliana. :)

~I started working out at the Y regularly a few weeks ago and love it! I have been going three times a week and the kids go to the childcare program during that time. There is a great childcare worker who seems to be there every time we go. She knows the kids by name- and I really appreciate that. I feel like they are not only be cared for, they are known. They aren't just numbers when they are there. When I used to work in Children's Ministry it was a goal of mine to know people's names- I feel like it helps people feel noticed and valued. And now that I am on the receiving end of that with my kids, I am reminded that simple things like knowing someone's name can really make a difference.

~Being that it's summer and I am out of Bible Study, it's so easy to let me personal quiet time slide. And I hate that. When I make time to read my Bible, journal, and pray, my whole day is different. I am more patient, I worry less, and in general, things just seem to go smoother. Both Luke and I just started reading the New Testament, a chapter a day, five days a week. I like that we are doing something separate but the same. One of my biggest goals for the summer is to stay on track with my quiet times. I saw this on Twitter, and really liked it... posted by Tony Evans, "What you see God do FOR you is dependent on what God is doing IN you. Eph 3:20."

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sausage and Vegetable Stir Fry

Another quick and easy dinner idea for you. This is a meal idea that my mom came up with- and one that I really like. One reason I like it is because it allows you to use any vegetables you have on hand. So I often make it when I have a bunch of vegetables that I need to use. So for those of you who have a vegetable garden, this might be a great idea for you! There isn't a real "recipe," just a list of ingredients to add to your liking.

The ingredients in it are smoked sausage; I used Hormel Beef Smoked Sausage. When making this dish for me and Luke, I use about half the sausage. Add a bunch of cut up vegetables, cooked pasta, Italian dressing, and Italian seasoning.

The first step is to slice the sausage and cook it. I cook the sausage on both sides until it starts to brown. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside. I wipe out the grease from the pan before using it saute the vegetables.

Next, start boiling some water to make pasta. I make about 3 servings of pasta when making this for us. Then cut up a bunch of fresh vegetables- how ever much you want to eat. Use whatever vegetables you like and have on hand. This time I used little tomatoes, baby carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, and red onions. In the past I have also used zucchini, cauliflower, red peppers, and white onions.

Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil and add the vegetables. Saute until tender. Add Italian seasoning and Italian dressing. (I used low fat dressing.) Add as little or as much as you want. Add the cooked pasta and sausage to the vegetables. Cook a few more minutes until everything is heated through. We always have leftovers when I make this. Somehow the dish always ends up larger then I expect. Luke often ends up bringing the leftovers to work for lunch.

I served this dish with a simple salad. Romaine lettuce, mandarin oranges, sliced strawberries, and sugared pecans. Luke used a balsamic vinaigrette for dressing. I don't use salad dressing. (I know, weird. But typically, I don't even eat salad.)

And I will leave you with a picture of my cooking assistant that evening- sitting in a Bumbo for the first time! Isn't he just the cutest?!?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

One happy boy!

Guess what?!?

I'm learning to ride my NEW bike!

My mom and dad say I am doing a great job...

And Eliana looks like she is pretty proud of me too! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Well this blog wasn't intended to be a blog about food... but it's been the topic lately it seems! Growing up my mom made homemade cake donuts about once a year- they were delicious! About a year and a half ago, some of our friends in San Jose invited a bunch of friends over for homemade donuts on Halloween morning. I clearly remember being in a very bad place emotional at this time. Luke had just found out he did not get a job that we thought was a for sure thing- and my world felt like it had turned upside down. It was a season of many tears. So when we got this invitation for donuts, I honestly didn't really want to go. I was depressed and didn't want to see anyone and pretend I was ok. But we went- and I am so glad we did. For one thing, I needed to be around other people and not just sulk in self-pity. But the other, more shallow reason I am glad we went, is because that was the first day I got to try Sarah's homemade donuts. WOW! Seriously, they were THAT good. I continued to think about them often for months. We had lots of donut shops in California, but none of them were as good as Sarah's donuts. When we went back to California for Thanksgiving last year, during our time in San Jose we stayed with Brandon and Sarah. Sarah promised me that she would show me how to make donuts one morning- and I was so excited! So I helped her make the donuts and Silas was the sprinkle master. We had a great morning- and ate far too many donuts (or at least I did!).

Well on Memorial Day I decided to venture into the unknown and try making homemade donuts on my own. We invited my parents over for breakfast, so there was added pressure that these needed to turn out right since company was coming! (I know that's silly being they are just my parents, but company is company.) So far too late on Sunday night I started making the dough. The recipe Sarah used was an overnight refrigerator dough. I contemplated making more then one batch of dough because I wanted to be sure we had enough. I stuck with one batch and eventually went to bed. When I woke up on Monday morning and took the dough out, I was horrified when I realized it didn't rise. I began to google things about refrigerator dough rising... I came to the conclusion that it was probably fine, and just hoped they would turn out! I started heating up the oil and cutting out donuts.

Once the donuts were cut out, I had 31 donuts and a bunch of donut holes. They cooked really quickly and I was done sooner then I had planned. (Let me assure you, this almost never happens!) I shook some donuts in sugar and glazed the rest. I then dipped the tops of the some of the glazed donuts in chocolate and maple glaze. Let me tell you, they were delicious. DE-LIC-IOUS. I ate a lot of donuts on Monday. I also had a nice workout at the Y on Monday which probably still didn't undo the damage I did with the donuts. I may never get rid of the rest of this baby weight at the rate I am going...

Here are the pictures of the process and the recipes I used.

Donuts cut out and ready to fry.
The first batch cooling off...

Overnight Refrigerator Dough (originally from the Joy of Cooking, but I slightly modified it)
1 package of active dry yeast
1 T. sugar
2 T. water (105-115 degrees)
1 cup milk (scalded)
7 T. butter
6 1/2 T. sugar
3 beaten eggs
1 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups flour

~Mix the yeast, 1 T. sugar, and water together in a large bowl- set aside. Scald milk; add butter. Let the milk and butter cool to 105-115 degrees. Add milk and butter mixture to yeast/sugar/water mixture. Add remaining sugar, eggs, and salt. Mix together. Start adding the flour, a cup at a time. (The original recipe says to beat the dough for 5 minutes. This did not work with my mixer. So I ended up stirring it by hand for about 5 minutes.) Cover the dough with tin foil and put it into the refrigerator. Remember, it doesn't really rise in the refrigerator- so don't panic (like I did!) when you take it out the next morning.

~On a floured cutting board, roll out about 1/3 of the dough until it's about 1/2" thick. Cut out donuts! You can buy actual "donut cutters." I unfortunately forgot to do this, which required some improvising. I found a circle cooking cutter, and also used just a regular glass. To cut out the center of the donut I used the lid of a sprinkle bottle (the little red lids). This actually worked out just fine. The donuts were not regular full size donuts, but that just allows you to eat more of them! (And they were the perfect size for kids.) Put the cut out donuts on some parchment or wax paper that is dusted with flour (so the dough won't stick). I let the dough rise for about 30 minutes.

~In a large wok or deep pan, heat oil until it's 375-400 degrees. Add the donuts to the hot oil; they will cook quickly. I used a small metal strainer to flip the donuts over and take them out. You need to continue to watch your temperature because the temperature drops as you cook. You may need to let it reheat to get it back up to the right temperature. I cooked 4 to 5 donuts at a time; if you cook too many at once, they may not cook evenly. I cooled the donuts on a cookie racks and then moved them paper towels.

~Tip: I put an old towel in front of my stove on the floor and then lined the area around the pan of oil with tin foil. This makes clean up quick and easy. I don't think any grease actually got on the floor, but I wanted to put the towel there to be safe (and because I cleaned my kitchen floor the night before). The tin foil around the pan most definitely had splatters of grease on it- so I am glad I used it.

Chocolate, Chocolate with Sprinkles, and Maple
Sugar and Glazed
Glaze Recipe
2 cups powdered sugar
1 T. butter (softened)
1/8 cup milk or hot water
1/2 tsp. vanilla

~I basically just created this recipe. And you will change it more if you use it. I started off by combining these ingredients together in a medium size glass bowl- and then I continued to add more powdered sugar and milk/water until I got the consistency I wanted. I also microwaved the icing so it was hot- which made it thinner.  Once it was thin enough, I dipped the donuts (the entire donut) in the glaze. I let the excess glaze run off and then I put the donuts on cookie racks so the glaze could harden. I had a tough time getting the glaze thin enough at first, so the plain glaze donuts had a THICK coat of glaze.  I eventually got the glaze thinner, and I dipped the top of those donuts in chocolate or maple glaze too. To make chocolate glaze, I started by putting some of the regular glaze in a bowl and I added a few teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa to it. Just add cocoa until you get the desired taste you want (some people like it to be more "chocolatey" then others). For the maple glaze, I started by putting some of the regular glaze in a bowl and adding some maple extract or flavoring. This is normally a pretty strong flavoring, so you don't need to add much. Again, just add as much flavoring as you want- taste it and see if you like it. If you want a stronger maple flavor, add more!

~Because we have kids, sprinkles are a must. I poured out a bottle of sprinkles on a plate and dipped the top of some of the chocolate donuts in sprinkles immediately after dipping them in the chocolate glaze.

~For the sugar donuts, I just put the donuts (one at a time) in a ziplock bag of sugar and shook them up. This works best while the donuts are still warm. Next time I may try to make some cinnamon sugar and powdered sugar donuts too.

~For the donut holes, I dipped some of them in glaze and some of them in sugar. Some of the glazed ones I also drizzled chocolate glaze on and sprinkles. They were quite festive looking! :)

The finished product~ all ready to eat!

So there you have it! My donut making experience. Honestly, I couldn't believe how easy these were to make. That is both a positive and a negative. Now that I know how easy they are to make, I will have to have serious self-control to not make them often. (Remember food, specifically bread, is one of my love languages.) Also, there are no donut shops in Colorado Springs. If you want donuts, you get them at the grocery store. There is one Dunkin' Donuts- and it's not close. And they sell out quickly (probably because not only are they good, they have no competition).

Let me know if you try making donuts. I had a lot of fun making them and hope you will too!