Saturday, July 30, 2011

Look What I Found, Mom!

(excitedly waving a $20 bill) X: Mom! Look what I found!

ME: Wow! Where did you find that?

X: It was just sitting right there. Right on that desk! We have money. Let's go to McDonalds!

(Earlier in the week while driving past the Golden Arches, Xander asked to stop @ McDonalds for a cheeseburger. I told him we did not have money to spend at McDonalds. He quickly went into problem-solving mode & suggested we use our 'Aldis quarter' which we keep in the truck; certain that would buy him a cheeseburger).

ME: Actually, that money is not yours. It belongs to dad.

(slight pause) X: Okay. We can wait until dad's not home. THEN, we can (take the money and...) go to McDonalds!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

RECIPE: Asian Beef Tacos

We recently purchased a quarter of a cow. WoW! Does that kind of purchase put a dent in the grocery budget! :)

I like beef, and let me tell you, this is REAL GOOD beef, but in general, I am more of a chicken-girl. I knew this purchase would require some diversity in my typical menu planning so I started searching for some recipes. JACKPOT! I found this slow cooker (a.k.a. perfect for steamy summer days when you do not dare start the oven!) recipe in the July 2011 issue of Women's Day.

Simple & delicious. You can't go wrong with that combination!

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 to 2 tsp chili garlic sauce (omitted b/c I did not have in my pantry)
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
* 1-1/2 lb. flank steak, cut into 2-1/2 inch thick strips
4 scallions (substituted green onions)
1/2 small head iceburg lettuce, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
8 small flour tortillas
3 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

*I used chuck roast, b/c I did not have a package labeled flank steak and there was NO WAY I was going to buy beef at the store!

DIRECTIONS: In a 5-6 quart slow cooker, combine the soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, chili garlic sauce and cinnamon. Add the beef and turn to coat. Cover and cook until meat is tender & shreds easily, on low for 7-8 hours/high for 5-6 hours. Fifteen minutes before serving, thinly slice the scallions lengthwise. In a bowl, toss the lettuce, scallions, cilantro and vinegar. Serve teh beef in the tortillas and top with lettuce mixture. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Monday, July 25, 2011

CraZy, CRaZy Hot!

With the temps in the triple-digits, we've been staying indoors more than normal. But with two very active boys needing to burn some energy, I gathered up tubs, buckets & cups and let the boys loose for 1/2 hour with the hose. Xander had a blast but Jonathan was soon begging/whining to return indoors. He does NOT like to be hot, EVER! By the way, legally, I cannot post any pictures of Jonathan on a public space; thus the reason you're still seeing pictures of only the X-man.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

If Eyes Could Talk...

...then my little man is SELDOM silent :)

A Moment of Reflection...

I quickly skimmed thru posts in the past month or so and realized this blog has been lacking some heart lately. An accurate representation of my life, I guess. I find myself caught up in the logistics of the day without really absorbing the moments as they pass me by. (If you're always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you are in?)

I am certain of God's presence in my life, especially these past (3) weeks as we have adjusted to our role in Safe Families and the challenges/delights that Jonathan has brought into our family, but I can sense a distance, too. I am often distracted by whys? and what-ifs? and whens? The close of the day often finds me exhausted, sometimes physically and sometimes mentally (and being totally honest, some days both!). My days have purpose but my VISION is foggy. My heart is peaceful and yet seemingly unstable, too.

Tonight I am praying for rest -- body, mind & soul. For a renewed focus on what is REALLY important, and the discipline to not become distracted by minor inconveniences. And the ability to "be still & know that He is God" amidst the flurry of life & its responsibilities. Would you join me in that prayer?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tutorial: How To Eat a S'more

Sorry. My battery was getting low so images are a bit fuzzy.

insert as BIG of a bite as your sticky, MESSY hands...begin licking off the sticky-ness... continue licking off the sticky-ness (until you realize it is NOT working & demand a wet-wipe immediately)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Backyard CampOut

Alexander's adjustment to having Jonathan is our home continues to be a bit of a struggle, some days okay & some plain NOT okay. In an attempt to calm his heart/fears, we have specifically carved out some special daddy/son time. Per the X-man..."for just us BIG boys, not for mommys" (or Jonathans, not stated but implied)!. This past weekend, that equaled a campout in the backyard. NOTE: I graciously sacrificed my involvement in the activity to stay in the air-conditioned, bug-free house with Jonathan! :)

The grand adventure ended about 12:30AM when Alexander woke Blake with the words, "Dad. I'm done sleeping in this tent. I want to go in my big-boy bed." No worries! Blake got over his crushing disappointment of the relocation request:) no campout is complete without a campfire...learning how to put marshmallows on a roasting stick...first attempt at roasting (some perished in the fire!) future fireman? what do you think?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Celebrating: 4th of July

After a action-packed weekend of out-of-town family activities, we spent the 4th watching our local parade and attending the fun family activities at the town lake. It was hot! hot! hot! so we drank lots of water & lemonade; should have packed more.

In the evening, the 'big boys' (Blake & Xander) had some special daddy/son time together watching fireworks on a blanket (which Xander insisted they found @ the park but which had been strategically placed by daddy several hours earlier!) & eating popcorn WAY past bedtime.

loved getting his face painted with a big 'firebreak' (...does kinda make sense)
I look a tad-bit miserable in this picture (which, honestly, I was!). I now understand why my mom was always telling us kids, "Stop touching me!" on hot/sticky days! Oh...but I love this little (I mean, BIG) boy of mine!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tutorial: How To Eat An Ice Cream Cone

OPEN REALLY BIG (Quick! Before It Drips!). CLOSE CAREFULLY. (Quick! Before It Drips!) YUMMY-YUM!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Oh, Yes! We Had a Potty Party!

As an incentive while potty training, GmaH. told Alexander that if he kept his big boy pants dry & learned to go on the potty like (daddy, grandpa, U.kevin -- we used all the motivation we could find!) that she would throw him a Potty Party.

He instantly began making plans -- although the potty training part was FAR, FAR from instant! He requested a blueberry cake. A cake as tall as he was. And he wanted to invite his cousins to the party.

Fast forward several weeks to this past weekend when we celebrated in style! Although far from glamorous, and held together from toppling by two skewers, Alexander celebrated his success with the TWINKIE cake of his dreams! P.S. Lest you think we have mastered the potty-ing, we are not quite there but OH SO! much closer.

So proud of himself!

We decided Twinkies must have been MUCH better when we were KIDS :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Introducing Miss Brooke...

My little sister (Brenda), husband (Mike) and 2-year old son (Isaak) welcomed little Brooke Avery to their family on June 24th. I was so anxious to see her that I think Blake considered hiding the car keys after I hung up from hearing the good, good news. :)

But this past weekend, I did get to see (and more importantly, snuggle) the littlest member of our family. So, so sweet with lots of cRaZy dark, soft hair. I had lots of hair as a baby and was secretly hoping she might resemble her [favorite] aunt Christine. Alas, she's a spitting image of her older brother, Isaak.

So thankful to have a new niece/cousin to love!

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Guest In Our Home...

"Who should we contact to coordinate the date/time for meeting this little boy?"
"The child is waiting. Can you be (at this address) within the hour?"

This is a summary of the phone conversation that took place last night about 7PM at our house. A 15-month old boy needed a 'safe family' to stay with for a couple of weeks & God choose us. We are thrilled/exhausted/anxious/amazed with the opportunity.

A little background. We were introduced to the Safe Families program several months ago. Since 2005, Safe Families for Children has offered sanctuary to thousands of children, minimizing the risk for abuse or neglect and giving parents the time and tools they need to help their families thrive. The ultimate goal is to strengthen and support parents so they can become Safe Families for their own children.

God made it clear this was a ministry He wanted us to become involved in (amidst our fears!). Because we already have an open license with DCFS, becoming certified as a Safe Family was more streamlined than 'starting from scratch' so were able to complete the online training, paperwork, etc. rather speedily.

Within days, we began receiving notifications of children/mothers/parents/families who needed a helping hand. Children abandoned. Mothers overwhelmed. Medical/Financial crisis. Lost jobs. Homelessness. Incarceration. During crisis such as these, children are especially at-risk for neglect or abuse as their parents struggle to cope with crushing circumstances and emotions.

So, here we are on a new journey; thankful to be His hands & feet.

PRAYER REQUEST: As you can probably imagine, becoming a big brother overnight has 'rocked' Alexander's world. Please pray that God will give us an extra measure of grace/wisdom as we face challenges in the days/weeks ahead.