Friday, August 31, 2012

good eats, good reads

good eats:

If you've been reading my blog for long, you know how much I love roost. The photography, the recipes, the writing--it's all sublime. Their recent summer squash salad post has me weak in the knees (helloooo peaches, manchego and truffle oil!) Once I start feeling better, I am SO making this.

Can't get enough peaches? How about this combination? Shutterbean has a knack for combining my favorite flavors in delicious-sounding and -tasting recipes (much like Joy the Baker, who, by the way, is shutterbean's internet BFF). 

Speaking of fresh Summer fruit, how can you pass up a refreshing glass of agua fresca? I made a pitcher of a strawberry-melon recipe a few weeks back that lasted all of two hours. Next on my list? This one by David Lebovitz.

All of my favorite food blogs are leaving me hungry, craving all sorts of flavors and textures I've been missing out thus far in my pregnancy (no thanks to you, colitis). Cabbage is a big no-no for now, but when I'm improved, you can be sure I'm going to grill up a big, juicy flank steak and serve this slaw alongside.

good reads: 

My baby girl started Kindergarten this week. It's been five and a half years in the coming, but it still hit me like a ton of bricks. What an emotional whirlwind. I cold so totally relate to the sentiments of one of my all-time favorite writers, Kelle

I so appreciated these comments over at Stuff Christians Like. It's something we strive for at Soma SRV, to be real, to be vulnerable, and to admit just how deeply flawed we are. The world would relate so much better to a bunch of people saying, "Yeah, we're messed up. We don't have it together. But God loves us in spite of that. And he loves you, too."

I love a good, honest writer. This post on adoption by Jen Hatmaker doesn't sugarcoat any details but also speaks the grace of the gospel so clearly. It calls to mind Ephesians 2:4-7 to me: 

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

We've been accepted and adopted in grace. We were (and are) unlovable apart from Christ. Adoption is not always an easy process, but it is one of grace, of kindness, and of immeasurable riches.

And with that, I say: Happy Weekend, dear readers!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

1st Day of Kindergarten

Today was my Maddie girl's first day of Kindergarten. Wow, how time has flown.

Seems like just yesterday that Maddie was a wide-eyed, curious, happy little baby bean.

And now, would you look at her?!

long-legged, dimple-chinned, curious, happy, thoughtful, compassionate lovey girl

(For the record, Ben is not a fan of this outfit or the hairdo. He thinks she's too 80s. She asked for one side braid, and she selected the outfit, and I think it's super cute and totally Maddie.)

This morning I was wide awake at 5:00, thinking about her first day, praying for her, reminiscing about "firsts" from the past. I had a good long time with Jesus before I heard the patter of their feet on the stairs. Thankful I had those moments to center myself and prepare for the day.

She likes to pose herself these days. :)

The side sweeping french braid, totally necessary because she went to bed with wet, unbrushed hair. It was quite a fluffy, wispy, wavy sight this morning.

The big girl in front of her new classroom:

And playing around on the playground:

Waiting in line to head in the classroom:

Scenes around the classroom (word wall, welcome Kinders, library time, bulletin board, puppet theater):

And, at the end of the day, hugs from Mrs. Legeluche, the honey bun of a K teacher and already friend of the family.

And for a fun & special big girl date, we headed to the beauty salon for new haircuts.

Is she not the cutest thing you've ever seen?!

Yay for Kindergarten. Neither of us cried a tear. It was a happy, fun and special day. So thankful for this wonderfully sweet girl.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Back-to-School Feast: 2012

Tonight we celebrated our two special students: a Kindergartner and a preschooler. Every year, on the night before school, we have a big, delicious feast in which we anticipate the upcoming school year and instill prayer and the word of God into our kiddos to start the year off right. It's honestly one of my very favorite family traditions and every year I look forward to pulling off the surprise. (Previous feasts here, here & here. Seriously going to cry if I spend too long looking at those pictures. Babies!)

Our theme for this year was Cling to the Promises of God. A trip to Home Goods (hello, LOVE that store) inspired the theme, when I happened upon this lovely rainbow striped pasta:

Instantly my brain starting ticking: rainbows...promises...rainbow-themed party with God's promises for the kids! Yay!

Planning a rainbow-themed feast was fun and easy from there. Even though I haven't been feeling well. Thankfully, I had all the craft supplies I needed to make one hanging rainbow centerpiece, a couple of special traditional crowns, and placemats (horrible pictures ahead. bad lighting. not in focus. I just didn't care tonight):

Maddie's crown and promise for the year: 

Zephaniah 3:17 is one of my all-time favorite Bible promises. We wanted to remind her that she doesn't need to fear, because God is with her and mighty to save, no matter the circumstance! Also, we often tell Maddie how delightful she is, and this just sums up how her Heavenly Father just adores her! How awesome is it that we have a God who rejoices over us with singing?! I mean, we're supposed to sing songs of praise in worship to him, but he thinks we're so delightful that he sings songs over us.

Sam's crown and promise for the year ahead:

We loved this verse first because it has battle metaphors, and our boy loves him a good battle. Also, it talks about leaping for joy, and our sweet Sam is a bundle of joy.

I printed out additional copies of these verses and hung them on the kids' doors. Each night that they go to bed this school year, we'll remind them of God's promises and pray for the truth of who God is to sink deep in their hearts.

Other highlights from the rainbow-themed evening included these beautiful rainbow-colored flowers from Trader Joe's: 

rainbow fruit salad:

rainbow tomato salad with basil chiffonade:

rainbow pasta with butter & parmesan:

and our back-to-school feast wouldn't be complete without sparkly! (Or, as a certain almost Kindergartner--sob--used to call it, "farkly.")

This boy downed that glass mighty fast!

Dessert was easy peasy lemon squeezy. TJ's whoopie pies rolled in rainbow sprinkles:

 Maddie entertained us at the table by filling her mouth with enormous cherry tomatoes:

Plus, you can kind of see all of us, so it counts as a family picture. :)

Happy Back-to-School, dear readers. Praying that your first days back are smooth and peaceful.

Friday, August 24, 2012

good eats, good reads

It's been a while since we had a good ole' roundup of good things on the internet. Let's get started, shall we?

good eats:

I'd love to try these carnival cookies, grain-free, from one of my faces, shutter bean

What people eat around the world. Amazing. I could flip through photos like this all day long. via shutter bean

This ganache. By the urban poser. It is amazing. I drizzled it over sliced strawberries on almond flour waffles. I dipped banana slices in it. I swirled it in ice cream. Make it.

good reads:

Another reason to love Jen Hatmaker. An awesome post. This girl speaks truth, in the midst of crazy, Who-Are-These-People types of times.

Interesting perspective on the word "missional." Still thinking it through.

A much-awaited event, my friend Mel had her baby, Luke. I could look at pictures of him all day. And he's even more delicious in person. Congratulations to a wonderfully sweet family whom I love dearly.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

random thoughts on wednesday

Sam woke at 6:00 this morning having soaked through his pull-up. Last week I changed his sheets 3 times. This is not a fun way to start your day.

Maddie woke up shortly after and joined Sam in his rinse-off shower. The two played for twenty minutes or so while Mama & Daddy snatched a few more minutes in bed. 

Topics covered/things overheard as they showered:
  • who gets to stand in the water spray and for how long (a complicated formula based on when one entered shower, how long said person has been in water, the degree of coldness one is experiencing, etc.)
  • only mamas with babies have milk in their boobies (Sam is convinced he has milk, much to Maddie's consternation)
  • boys and girls have different, ahem, apparatuses, for emptying their bodies of urine (time for separate showers?)
  • a loud, joyful, smile-inducing rendition of "Heaven Fall Down" sung by two sweet little voices (my favorite part of the morning so far)
The Psalms continue to speak to me. I'm so thankful that the Word of God has real-life applications. When my heart struggles to believe, I can read the words of saints past who had their moments of doubt and disbelief as well. When my heart is rejoicing, I can read words of joy and faith and celebration.

A multi-day diet of bananas, yogurt, chicken soup and applesauce leaves MUCH to be desired.

On the above diet: it's advisable to avoid watching hours upon hours of the food network when 1) pregnant, and 2) on a restricted diet. (If I lived in NYC, I seriously would have hailed a cab and high-tailed it to the asian fusion dive featuring hand-pulled, wok-tossed noodles, handmade potstickers, and crispy slow-cooked beef sandwiches. Oh dear.)

On the above tv-watching marathon: in an effort to save money, we now receive the following cable channels: local tv (snore), kids' channels (nice at 6am), HGTV and the Food Network. Yeah, about that: ugh.

My friends are the best of any friends. This week I'm thankful for play dates, encouraging texts, verses, prayers, Facebook statuses, warm meals for my family, groceries delivered, flowers in vases, substitute mamas who love and care for my kids like I do, long weekend sleepovers with Aunties and Boppas, & free housekeeping. I am so, so, SO BLESSED.

Um, I'm pregnant. Being so sick has kind of overshadowed this fact. Every once in a while it hits me afresh: I'M PREGNANT. There will be another member of our family in less than 30 weeks. Yikes. Yay. Crazy. Overwhelmed. Overjoyed. Can you say complicated emotions?

I'm going to get some bloodwork done today, some ordered by my ob/gyn and some ordered by my gastroenterologist. Pending the results, I might be going back on prednisone. Oh, the dreaded prednisone. It makes me a crazy person. I have never experienced anxiety, insomnia, joint pain and racing thoughts like I do on steroids. Praying for a miracle in my body.

Taking 15 pills at breakfast time, half of which are ENORMOUS, makes me gag. Just looking at the pile sitting next to me right now, waiting to be swallowed, makes my stomach turn. Thankful for healing meds and supplements, yet wishing I could just receive them intravenously. lazy.

Bananas are my best friend. I have eaten at least two bananas every day since I was first pregnant. Some days I eat upwards of four. Folks, that is a resounding 64-plus bananas. Many bunches. Loads of potassium. Happy sweet, starchy, staving-off-nausea fruity goodness.

I haven't done my hair in over a week. I'm thinking about cutting it all off. Ready for a change.

Ok. That's it. Pills still sitting next to me, waiting, taunting. Ready for another banana. 


Monday, August 20, 2012

praying for faith

I have at times been called a Pollyanna. Not that this is bad--I tend to look for the good in life, to see the glass half-full, to wade through miry swamps of confusion with hope and joy, knowing that safety and sunshine are not far off.

But in the past year, I've had a few instances in which my hope has been challenged. I am in one of those times right now. Finding myself pregnant a mere four months out of the hospital has been raising all sorts of fears, doubts and insecurities. Along with the great joy of discovering I was pregnant came intense fears that I would relapse, or even worse, lose the baby. 

It has been less than four months since Jesus himself met me in my hopelessness and sorrow, casting his great light and hope and grace into that dark hospital room. For weeks after, I walked in a space unlike anything I've even known: I was teary but with joy; I was deeply loved yet greatly humbled; I felt closer to my savior than ever before and completely dependent on his care.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

baby #3: two months pregnant

Dear baby number three,

Well, aren't you a delightful little surprise?! After trouble getting pregnant with your big sister, less so with your big brother, and then eventually giving up on a third, you came along and completely and totally surprised us with joy and eager anticipation. 

I used to look at women who got pregnant unknowingly and think, "Wow, it must be nice to not even have to think about getting pregnant." What a funny, gracious, generous God we have! I've been drawn toward names meaning "gift," "grace," and "mercy," because to us, sweet little expected one, you are all those things.

So far you've made yourself known through nausea, headaches, large but sore breasts, and some crazy cravings. Every morning I wake up and eat a banana. Sometimes two. The combination of sweet carbs is just what my body needs to head off the morning sickness. Then it's a cup of tea, with honey. Coffee, no so bueno. And omelets. I've never made so many omelets in my life as I have in the past three weeks.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Maddie: 67 Months

Dear Maddie,

Like I mentioned a week ago in Sam's post, forgive me for missing last month's update. You're just as marvelous as ever. No amount of posting could even come close to cataloguing the joy that it is to be a part of your life every day!

That said, you are quite a joy these days. This past month has been full of new adventures and fun goings-on, and you've handled it all with your usual fearlessness, joy and both-feet-jumping-in attitude. You went on your first overnight fishing trip with Daddy, a trip that just cemented the fact that you are SO MUCH your father's daughter. Two passionate, focused individuals, crazy about catching big fish, spending one-on-one time together. How much more fun does it get?!

You learned this month that you're going to be a big sister, once again. For about five minutes, you were sure that we were teasing you and refused to believe us, walking around with your eyes averted and arms crossed. Once we had finally convinced you that we are indeed going to have another baby, you jumped and leapt and sang for joy! You could hardly contain your excitement and began telling anyone who would listen, "We're going to have another baby!!" 

You've started talking to my belly, intent on familiarizing our newest family member with your voice. This is all in response to one of your all-time favorite stories: Daddy singing "Jesus Loves Me" over and over to my belly while pregnant with you, so much so that when you started to cry in the hospital when placed on the warming bed, he started singing and instantly your eyes widened, you turned your head in his direction, and stopped crying. So sweet. If this baby has half the love that your brother does for you, well, it will be a whole lot of sister love!

Two weeks from today you will start Kindergarten. How is it possible?! I keep telling people that you were ready for school right out of the womb, and it is definitely true, but I had no idea how fast five and a half years would pass by. Gone are the lazy days of staying in our jammies and watching cartoons. Soon our mornings will be go-go-go as we get you and your brother off to school. It makes me equal parts sad and excited: sad that our long days together are coming to an end; excited for you and the joy that awaits you in school. You are going to thrive in Kindergarten. Your teachers are going to love you. (But I'm gonna miss you!)

Thanks for reminding us to take time to cartwheel through the grass, look for snails in the bushes, savor each bite of a s'more, snuggle in the morning, and the importance of saying "I love you." You are such a fun, funny, delightful, imaginative, spunky girl. 



Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Sam: 41 Months

Dear Sam,

So, in July I skipped the monthly updates. For a while I was feeling sort of guilty, but then I just forgave myself and moved on. I've had a pretty good track record so one month isn't going to knock me out of the running for mom-of-the-year. :)

Sam my man, you are such a funny guy these days!

I HAVE to record your sweet little sing-song voice. What you lack in articulation you make up for in intonation. You have a way of trailing off your words either with a Soprano upswing or a long, drawn-out dissolve into a growly Basso. You are full of words, talking constantly, and needing my *full* attention in order to finish your thought. Many times this month you've grabbed my face, ears or hair gently with two little hands to focus my face and eyes directly on you while you talk, talk, talk. 

You are thrilled with the idea of a new baby. Some of your first thoughts about being a brother were enough to melt my heart. When I asked you whether you wanted a baby girl or a baby boy, you said, "Want a baby girl. Want another Ma-Ma!" The fact that you want another Maddie in the house is so, so sweet and so indicative of the close-knit relationship you two have. Shortly thereafter, you announced to us all that you had big plans to hold that baby on your lap while you went on Papa's tractor. I love that you are already planning to share your love of all things vehicular with this new little life. 

Your Daddy said the other day that sometimes he just wants to bottle you up. I totally agree. For all of your naughtiness, sneaking around, and general little brother peskiness, you are just too delightful for words. You are sweet and funny, delicious and snuggly, smart and curious and cute, cute, cute. Some of the things you say and do leave us laughing for hours, revisiting that look, antic or choice of words long into the following hours and days.

There is one small thing that I would love to address, and that is the issue of potty-training. For months you've gone days at a time with no accidents, only to regress on a moment's notice, peeing on the floor, behind playground equipment, in your pants, you get the idea. And the three year-old poops? They are making my stomach turn. Literally. The closest I've been in the past 8 weeks to losing my lunch is when I've been hunkered down in an enclosed space, changing your pants. Let's go ahead and do those things in the potty. What do you say, bud?

In one short month you'll be back in preschool, three days a week! My little boy is growing up so fast. I can't believe you'll be gone three mornings. While I know I'll relish the down time (aka nap on the couch time), I will miss our mornings together. You've been the best, most easy going little compadre. You sit in the stroller while I exercise. You love to run errands with me. You're a super coffee date. We'll have to make the most of our Tuesday and Thursday one-on-one times, squeezing in lots of dates this year before another little person enters into the equation.

Thanks for always being wiling to offer a snuggle, a kiss, a high five, a funny look, and for just being the best boy ever. You are such a marvelous creation of a most amazingly creative God. 



Monday, August 06, 2012

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Triple Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

I'm not sure when I made the connection between what I ate and how I felt, but I do remember a point in college when I felt horribly sick after a night of eating pizza and ice cream. Ice cream has always been a trigger food for me--all that heavy cream and sugar tastes SO GOOD but leaves me feeling SO BAD. 

Imagine my sheer delight in stumbling upon recipes for coconut milk ice cream. The rich, full-fat "milk" of the coconut is a perfect base for many flavors. Some work better than others. In my opinion, this triple chocolate chip ice cream is the best I've ever tried. But I do love chocolate. Coconut milk replaces the cream, honey replaces the sugar, and the result: mouth-watering.

Starting with a super chocolatey base and then mixing in a chocolate ganache swirl and cacao nibs makes for a treat that not only tastes good but leaves me feeling good as well. Enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
makes about 1 quart

2 cans full-fat coconut milk
1 cup cacao powder
heaping 1/4 cup honey
5 egg yolks (optional)
pinch of salt
1 TBS vanilla extract or vodka

1/2 recipe chocolate ganache (amazing treat by the urban poser)
1/2 cup cacao nibs

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring coconut milk to a simmer. Whisk in cacao powder and honey.

If using eggs, place yolks in a small bowl and beat well. Temper the egg yolks: take a small amount (say, 1/2 cup) of the warm coconut milk mixture from the pan and slowly pour it into the egg yolks, whisking rapidly. Once the egg yolks are tempered, pour them slowly into the saucepan, whisking all the while.

Add pinch of salt.

When mixture has thickened slightly, coating the back of a wooden spoon, remove saucepan from heat. Cool completely. (To speed cooling process, you can pour mixture into a separate glass bowl set inside another glass bowl with an ice bath).

Once cooled to room temperature, stir in vanilla extract/vodka and then completely cover surface with plastic wrap and place in fridge until thoroughly chilled.

Prepare ice cream in an ice cream maker following the maker-specific instructions.

Once ice cream is thick and well-churned, scoop into a large rectangular container. Drizzle half of the chocolate ganache over the top and sprinkle about half of the cacao nibs. Using a spatula, fold the ice cream gently up and over the ganache and nibs, swirling everything in. Repeat with remaining ganache and cacao nibs.

Cover surface of ice cream tightly with plastic wrap, add lid, and then freeze until serving time. (or just start spooning into your face, straight out of the container).

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

family photo shoot

My mom has wanted updated family portraits for a while. Since we were all together in Oregon last week, it was the perfect opportunity to snap some shots. All of these were taken in front of my parents' cow barn.

my sweet little family:

My brother Ben, his wife Michele, and their kids Grace, Lizzie, and Elijah, plus Penny:

Grandparents with their grandkiddos:

Uncle Joe and the nieces and nephews: 

the fellas:

the girls:

all the cousins: 

Mom and Dad (celebrating 40 years of marriage this July):

and the whole family:

Love them all! :)