Friday, February 26, 2010

Lovin' Lemons

When life gives you lemons, eat them.

And, no matter what they taste like, keep going.

If don't have a way to view videos, her face was a combination of these next photos (only it was cuter in action).

We've had a crazy week here. Just for fun last night, we sat around the dinner table eating lemons. Okay, honestly, the boys and I sat around watching my daughter eat lemons. The real saying? "When life gives you lemons, laugh."

I'm sharing our lemons with Ann Kroeker's Food on Friday Blog Carnival. Head over there to check out other food related posts.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thursday Thanks Tank #121

Guest Blogger today- The Husband.

It's just about 9:30 and Jane Anne is in bed asleep. Just before she closed her eyes she asked me what five things that I'm thankful for. I told her that I am obviously thankful for her, but she would have to read the rest in the morning when she wakes up. So here I go.

1) Work. Jane Anne reminded me last night, once again, that regardless of how many hours I work this week, I'm home at night with her. It's Thursday night and I've clocked about 54 hours so far this week. Tomorrow should be a little bit shorter though. I'm thankful, that in this pretty rough economic time, I have a challenging job with a good company. God has provided for us in a great way.

2-5) Jane Anne. We've been through a rough run this week. I say 'we', I mean Jane Anne and the kids. David's had a heckuva time this week with his asthma. Thomas has been fighting a sinus infection/ cold/ yuck for a month +, Elsie has been up at least an hour early every day this week as she's fought and lost to a cold, and Jane Anne has caught it too. And... She's taken care of them without any help from me this week. The flip side of me working ridiculous hours this week is that she's been left to do it all herself. And- she's in the middle off organizing a crazy fundraiser for the PTO. The passion and dedication she shows for our family and the PTO is impressive. She's amazing. And she's making a difference in a LOT of kids and teachers lives.

Take a little time to think about all of the ways you're blessed today. you won't regret it!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Indoor S'mores

The sun was shining here in the NW earlier this week. It made me long for warm days. So... I made s'mores. I tried out a delightful recipe for s'mores you can make without a campfire. These s'mores bars put smiles on a lot of faces.

One warning, they aren't for those lacking a sweet tooth. These are very rich. I have one son who doesn't love sweets (crazy, huh?) and it was too much for him. (But, then, regular s'mores are too rich for him, too.)

Everyone else enjoyed the sticky sweetness. I bet if you actually let them cool 15 minutes, they won't be this messy.

Indoor S'mores

20 whole (about 5 x 2 inches) honey graham crackers, divided
6 bars milk chocolate candy (I used Hersheys)
1 package (16 oz) miniature marshmallows, divided
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, divided
3 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange a single layer of graham crackers to completely cover the bottom of a bar pan, breaking the crackers to fit. Toast in oven 2 minutes. Remove pan to a cooling rack.

Coarsely break remaining graham crackers into a bowl; set aside. Coarsely chop (or break) chocolate bars into pieces; set aside.

Combine 3 cups of the marshmallows, 3 tablespoons of the butter and milk. Microwave on high 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Add half of the chopped chocolate; stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Spread marsmallow mixture evenly over graham crackers.

Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter; toss with broken graham crackers. Add remaining marshmallows and chopped chocolate; toss lightly. Spoon evenly over mixture in pan.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly browned. Cool 15 minutes (if you can wait that long). Cut into bars. Serve warm or cool.

Check out other wonderful recipes at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I will not forget

This is my second year participating in Lent. I didn't grow up participating in this tradition but I found it to be a powerful exercise for me last year. This year I decided to give up Facebook for Lent. It wasn't exactly easy for me to decide to give up Facebook. (Here's how I decided on the Facebook sacrifice.)

I deactivated my Facebook account. I had a few days of a surprising relief. I didn't feel torn away. I felt free of something that had a hold on my time. That was a nice surprise. That wore off and then I felt like something was missing. I remembered a suggestion from a friend: The practice of Lent works best when it is more than just self denial. The preparation of my heart during the 40 days is effective when I dedicate myself to the growing of my faith. In other words, instead of just giving up something, I should take on (or step up) something. I should replace what I am giving up with something that will draw me closer to God.

I spent a day or so wondering what I should do. I prayed. I found a desire to increase the time I spend in prayer and Bible reading. That desire is a constant desire, though, so it didn't seem like enough for my Lent observance. Then it hit me. I need something that I can focus on constantly during this season. I need something to draw my attention. I gave myself a goal: scripture memory.

To the best of my ability, I am going to memorize Psalm 103 during Lent.
I will share with you pieces of the chapter on Sundays.

Today I am focusing on the first five verses. These verses remind me not to forget what God has done. In ways, I cannot imagine ever forgetting. But I do go through many days not remembering.

I will not forget: God is full of grace. He provides. He redeemed my life. He loves. He is compassionate- beyond all I can comprehend.

Psalm 103: 1-5

Praise the Lord, O my Soul, all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my Soul, and forget not all his benefits-
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your life with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thursday Thanks Tank #120

Earlier today I wrote down a list of thankful thoughts (on paper no less). Now, I am just beginning to feel the effects of the Nyquil I took about 20 minutes ago and there is no way I am getting up to get that paper. If you ask me tomorrow, I am sure I will say I am thankful for Nyquil...or I hope that's what I say.

Here's my list of thankful thoughts (please pardon me, I have a feeling my clogged head will affect my ability to put together eloquent sentences... or maybe that isn't something I usually do anyway...)

1. Fresh flowers: I bought my favorite flowers last night. (You get 10 points if you know which flowers are my favorite flowers.)

2. Weekend Away: Ah, last weekend was incredible. I love getting away. It was refreshing and exciting. Did you hear what I did for Valentine's Day? My husband is still talking about it.

3. Medicine: There's the Nyquil (I really have high hopes this is going to help my clogged headachy head) and there's the medicine we got yesterday for my son's asthma. He's having a terrible time. It just keeps getting worse and worse. We got an additional medicine (pills) to try on top of the nebulizer treatments in an effort to kick his asthma cough into next year (or not, because I don't want it to come back). (Pray for him, will you?)

4. Donations: I have been soliciting donations for a school basket raffle. Oh my goodness, it's work. It's also pretty exciting when businesses donate to the school.

5. Good Conversation: This goes along with #2. I had a fantastic time hanging out with my friends this past weekend. I enjoyed everything but there is nothing like a good talk with a girlfriend.

6. Sunshine: Today was gorgeous. The sunny weather made me smile.

7. Honesty: It's hard but it's right. I'm thinking about when others are honest with me. Sometimes I don't like hearing what they have to say but I appreciate honesty so much more than flattery.

Take time to be thankful. You will be better off for it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I Prayed for You, Momma

I say prayers with my kids before bed. Sometimes they are the sweetest prayers ever (especially from my 4 year old) and sometimes they are the funniest prayers ever (again, especially from my 4 year old). I encourage my kids to pray on their own.

A few weeks ago, my oldest son said he wanted to pray silently before we prayed.

That seemed fantastic to me. I prayed while he prayed, smiling and thanking God for his heart. When he was finished, I commended him for praying.

He said, "I prayed for you, Momma."

Stunned, I am sure I said something like, "Oh, you did?"

Then he explained that he prayed I wouldn't spend so much time on Facebook.


I am not a big Facebooker. I am not.

REALLY, I am not.

(Ok, just a bit of denial there for your reading pleasure.)

The truth is, my kids see me on the computer and they assume I am on Facebook. The reason: Facebook is perfect for escaping.

'Ugh, life is stressful. The kids are fighting. Maybe one quick game of Farkle will make me smile.'

'Oh my gosh, my house is a wreck. Maybe seeing pictures of my friends will comfort me... or maybe just one more game of Farkle.'

I never spend hours on Facebook. I just jump on and off it all day long.
My kids see that.

Sometimes, I talk to my kids while I am on Facebook. Yes, I am guilty. That's zero of the eye-to-eye contact that I am struggling to teach my kids.

My son's prayer hit me like a rock in the middle of my forehead.

One of the reasons I tend to avoid watching TV is that I have seen it take precedence over real relationships. My mom (I love my mom, dearly. I must say that.) would often struggle with finding balance with TV viewing. I vividly remember her shushing me or only talking to me during commercials. That frustrated me. I never doubted her love. But, it frustrated me.

My love of all things internet is often that kind of distractor from my relationships with my kids, my spouse, and my relationship with God. It's humbling to admit that. I don't want to be that person.

I am taking a Facebook hiatus. It's for Lent. I am going to use that time to reconnect in new ways to God and my family.
I am disconnected from Facebook. I deactivated my account. That was the only way I could keep myself from checking status updates on my phone (can we say, addiction?).

If you are my Facebook friend- no worries, I will be back after Easter in some form or another. Facebook claims all of my facebook friendships will still be intact (unless someone takes this opportunity to de-friend me).

I am excited about the Lenten season. This Facebook sacrifice is going to be refreshing. I am certain of it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

On Target: Shot by Cupid

Love changes people. Love changed me.

I remember debating the use of guns with a friend. I believed in peace. I abhorred violence. Guns symbolized everything evil violence to me.

I ended up falling in love and marrying a man that was going into the military.

I supported him. I encouraged him. I understood his job.

My husband has been out of the Army for a little over 2 years now.

We celebrated Valentine's Day a day early. We went out to dinner with friends. Before that, we went to a shooting range.

I went for him. I never dreaded going but I wasn't excited about it either.

I held a gun. I pulled the trigger. Unlike the time when I went to the simulator at the Army base, this gun contained real bullets.

I had no idea that I would have fun. I had a blast (pun intended). I did not imagine the happiness it would bring my husband to see me enjoying myself at the shooting range.

Love tries new things.

We laughed. We listened. We surprised each other.

I could not have imagined how much we would enjoy doing something new together.

Who knew love could grow at the shooting range?

I am thankful for my man and for our fun Valentine's date.

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

You are loved.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thursday Thanks Tank #119

I am thankful for YOU. Why on earth are you reading my blog? I haven't posted in week. What made you drop by? You don't have to answer that. I am thankful you take the time to visit my little spot in blogland.

Where have I been? I have been busy... too busy. I am overloaded, spinning out of control with activity. My life (this current spin cycle I am on) represents "Gravity of Motion" right now. I have been struggling to keep up with everything that I have on my plate. When I have had free moments, I have pulled myself away from the computer. Never fear, I am still blogging. It just can't be a daily devotion right now.

I am committed to cultivating a thankful spirit. So, it's Thursday night and I am thinking about thankfulness. It's hard not to think about love this week. Following that train of thought (just slightly), here are some things related to my love that I am thankful for:

No bake oatmeal cookies: Have you had those no bake chocolate oatmeal cookies? These were, perhaps, the first cookies I gave my husband. We were in high school. I made him cookies. It was sweet. Except, he said they looked like turd cookies. I smile just thinking about that now.

My Promise Ring: I have a promise ring. My husband gave it to me 4 years ago on Valentine's Day. He was in Iraq. He sent it to me and promised to do everything possible to come home safely.

Wow, there you go- 2 things- turd cookies and a promise ring and I am stuck. I can't think at all.

I'll let you think about that. Maybe it's a good thing I have been slow to post lately.

Hey, I'm just wondering how those "Turd cookies" would taste with sunbutter instead of peanut butter. Bet my boys would love those. (Anyone tried that?)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Delightful Black Bean Taco Salad

Last night as I started making dinner, I posted a Facebook status about the salad I was making. My husband commented right away about when he would be home. Then, I had several requests for the recipe. So, as any good blogger would do, I took a few pictures a long the way so I could post the recipe on my blog.

This salad is delightful. The first time I made it all of my family, minus my 2 year old, loved it (that's an 8 yr old, 6 yr old, and 4 yr old plus my husband). It was a hit. One of my boys decided he didn't love it last night. He still ate it and barely complained.

It takes a little bit of time to chop everything up. Other than that, it is simple to make. It has an outstanding flavor.

Black Bean Taco Salad

(I doubled the vinaigrette because we like it so much.)

1/4 cup chopped seeded tomato
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 T Olive Oil
1 T Cider Vinegar
1 tsp grated lime rind
1 T lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 garlic clove

Mix together, set aside.

roasted chicken (The first time I used grilled chicken; last night I used rotisserie chicken.)
1 can black beans
1 can chopped tomato
1 cup chopped bell pepper (I used a green and red combination)
1 cup finely chopped onion (I skipped this b/c my kids don't love onions)
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (I added a bit more)

Mix salad together, pour vinaigrette on top and toss.

Serve with Tortilla Chips. (I broke my chips up and ate them in the salad.)

This post is linked to Ann Kroeker's Food on Friday Blog Carnival. Head over there to check out other food related posts.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Thursday Thanks Tank #118

For quite a long time, I have dedicated my Thursdays to thankfulness. I make sure to spend time thinking thankful thoughts and jotting down a thankful list. I have run into a problem the last couple of weeks. My Thursdays are too busy. (Truth is, my every day seems too busy lately but I won't ramble on about that.)

Well, it's still Thursday here in the NW and I am going to make a thankful list because I need it. Comments or no comments, I want to document my thankful thoughts today.

Here are a few things that are filling up my Thanks Tank this Thursday. This time around they are all things I am thankful for from today:

1. An afternoon of my kids playing nicely together
2. Parents that buy safe food (for a child with a peanut allergy) to celebrate birthday parties at school.
3. My son's attentiveness to his allergy [My son was so excited to get safe cupcakes. When I picked him up from school, he excitedly told me, "I had cupcakes and they were safe." I reminded him that I check all the food for parties. I asked him if he asked about them. He said, "Yeeeeees. I asked two times." He asked two different people, just to make sure.]
4. Texts asking if I want a latte
5. Lattes
6. McDonald's sweet tea
7. Encouragement from teachers
8. Found keys
9. Salad (I had salad for lunch and dinner today -two different salads, both very yummy.)
10. Excel Spreadsheets
11. The prayers of my kids
12. Clean children
13. Folded laundry
14. Coupons
15. Chocolate

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Wednesday Words

I read the following prayer at the beggining of the week. It resonated with me because it reflected feelings that I have felt. I was humbled to discover the prayer's author and when the prayer was prayed. I have read this prayer many times this week. It prods my prayerful heart. I am not going through a serious trial but I do struggle from day to day. These words encourage me to pray.

"O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray
And to concentrate my thoughts on you;
I cannot do this alone.
In me there is darkness,
But with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me...

Restore me to liberty,
And enable me so to live now
That I may answer before you and before me.
Lord, whatever this day may bring,
Your name be praised."

Dietrick Bonhoeffer, written while waiting execution in a Nazi prison

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Work of His Hands

This morning, in the middle of the start-up of the day rush, I paused. I set everything aside for five minutes. I slipped on my jacket and stepped outside. It was chilly. It was quiet. A couple of birds fluttered by.

I gazed at the sky. In one direction, the clouds were lifting. I could see the light of the day behind the clouds. It was a beautiful beginning.

In the other direction, the moon hung in the sky. It was breathtaking. It's brilliance was muted by the daylight colors. It was a peaceful end to night.

I took a few deep breaths. I thanked God for the beauty of nature.

As I continued through my morning, the sky became cloudy. The clouds were emotional (trials and burdens) and physical (real clouds in the sky).

It's raining now.

The rain does not bother me. It cannot put out the flame of appreciation that started this morning.

Those moments this morning were a focal point for my day. The brilliance of the morning sky and the subdued moon reminded me that God is amazing.

Psalm 19:1-2
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge."

I am making an effort this week to be more aware.

I encourage you to take time to notice the beauty God has provided around you. On your way to the car or on your way in a building, take few breaths, check out the clouds, notice the birds in the sky or the insects crawling on the ground.

Be aware that we live in a special place and we have an amazing creator.