Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Love Song

When I was in college I had the distinct privilege of serving as a Resident Assistant and a Head Resident Assistant.  Many of my longstanding friendships are with my fellow R.A.s.  We prayed together, worshiped together, planned and played together.  We were mentored and invested in and pointed toward Jesus.  I am so grateful for those years and how God used them to shape me.

One of the R.A.s, Carmen, took the J.B. Phillips translation of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a and gave it a melody and it became the R.A. theme song for several years.   It is ingrained in my brain.  And I'm so glad for that because sometimes when I'm feeling frustrated, or impatient, or like I've been overlooked, that quirky little melody comes rushing to the forefront of my mind.  It becomes a chance to reset my priorities, sort truth from lies, squash ill feelings and choose LOVE.  

I'm sorry you won't get to hear the tune and have it become ingrained in your brain, but you can print out the image I made this morning and have your own little reset button.

Do you have a "reset verse" ingrained in your brain?  What is it and how did you ingrain it in your brain?

And I'm curious to know if any former Multnomah R.A.s were singing along to this post :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How to Win Frogs and Influence Sith Lords

 Miles: I'm a frog and dis my friend Darth Vader!

 Toby:  Ugh.  I'm Lord Darth Vader.

Miles:  Dis my Darth...Toby!

Brotherly love.  My favorite part of this picture besides the sweet hug is that the mask strap is folding Toby's ear in half.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Love in any language...

I was so fortunate to be able to spend a wonderful weekend with my friends, Lora and Rhonda at Rhonda's house.  It was exactly the retreat I needed to catch up on sleep, talk deeply about every subject under the sun, laugh, and unfog my mind from mile long to-do list in front of me.

I know the boys had a great weekend with Geary but we had a sweet reunion.  Miles lit up like a Christmas tree and exclaimed, "That's my mama!  Mama, mama, mama!  Meow, meow, moo!"

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Alternative Worship

Yesterday  had I the worship song "Be Unto Your Name" stuck in my head.  The first verse is:

We are a moment, You are forever
Lord of the ages, God before time.
We are a vapor, You are eternal
Love everlasting, reigning on high...

As I was going around the house singing it must have gotten stuck in Toby's head, too because later I heard his version:

We are a moment, You are forever
Lord of the ages, Land before time.
We have Lord Vader, You are a turtle.
Love everlasting, Land before time...

Oh, my tummy hurt from laughing!  And now I'll never be able to hear the song without Toby's lyrics.
Here's the original song in case you want to sing along.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


After I changed Miles' diaper I couldn't help but give him a little pat on his cute toddler buns.  In return he gave me his famous stink-eye face and said, "Don't slap my bottom!  It's not a bum drum!"

Monday, May 14, 2012

Play Time

Today the sun was bright!  The littles and I dug out our sunglasses and went to pick up a new mattress for Miles' big boy bed.  On the way home we stopped for Slurpies and then we sipped them while we drove through a car wash.  We were pretending that the car wash was a great sea monster that was attacking our submarine.  The giggles and squeals and slurps heard from our van were magical.  Today was a gift.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Miles the Gymnast

It's time for a big boy bed, I think!

Happy Mother's Day!

Geary and I are especially thankful for our mothers.  We are proud of them, too.  They really are SUPER.  Or, sthoopah as Miles would say. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Instead of Flowers

For Mother's Day I would like a cardboard cutout of myself looking stern to place at the entrance of my kids' bedroom when they think they are being sneaky at bedtime.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

They make me smile

Miles calls the penguin character from The Backyardigans a chicken-duck.  

We also had way too much fun making "ice-cream" with stacking cups and bubbles in the bathtub today. 
 He loved squishing his "ice-cream" on my nose.  And I loved hearing his delighted squeals.

And he finally decided that it would be okay to pee on the potty again.  
He went twice today and also told me every time he needed a diaper change.  We're on our way!


Today, Toby came inside from the backyard and said, "Mom, me and Noah and Miles are dancing outside in the sun
with no shirts on and no shoes on and no socks on and, well...do you wanna come watch us?"

Toby is learning to read and write!  We've been working on phonics and today he wrote TIN and TEN all by himself.
He also figured out how to write POTTY because of all the Miles excitement today.

Noah has been passing his timed math drills (called Calculadders) like crazy!  In the past four weeks he's passed eight levels.  Geary and I have decided to reward him with one dollar for whichever level he ends the school year on.  As of today he's on level 27.  I sense a big Lego purchase coming up.
We are extremely proud of him, especially because he started the school year out struggling in math.

Noah has been major blessing to me.  Did you know that whenever I ask him for help he responds by saying, "Gladly!"
He inspires me to be cheerful worker.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Tiny Flowers

A couple weeks ago I sent the boys outside to play since the sun was shining.  They came in for a water break and brought me the tiniest bouquet of backyard wildflowers.  
 Isn't that the most precious bouquet you've ever seen?  I love my three boys!

Monday, May 07, 2012

Once a Month Cooking Again

Last Friday I did my second round of Once a Month Cooking.  It was a lot easier this time around.  Here are some of the things I did differently this time:

1.  I did all my grocery shopping at Winco.  Okay, this part wasn't physically easier than ordering from Safeway.com but it was much easier on our wallet.  I did plug this month's shopping list into Safeway.com but my total had passed $250 before I had even added in all the meat!  I was a little stressed out about it because earlier in the month I hadn't been paying very careful attention to our budget and I overspent in some areas.  I only had about $200 for this venture.  So Wednesday evening I drove out to Winco praying all the time that God would stretch those dollars.  I found everything I needed there and my total was $159.  Yes, my jaw dropped and the cashier gave me a strange look before I recovered enough to pay her.  God is so good to us!

2.  However, my total was also lower this month because I decided to not make any of the breakfast items. They were super yummy last month but they aren't our main need.  Plus, they took up a lot of time on cooking day, and a lot of the ingredients were kind of expensive (gluten free flours and such).  I'm glad I made the decision I did.

3.  I borrowed a big food processor and did Chopping Day.  It took me about three hours to chop 26.5 cups of asparagus, four pounds of spinach, 12 yellow onions, two red onions, 30 green onions, a couple carrots, a lemon, some cilantro and basil.  I also, zested lemons and oranges, and minced fresh ginger.  Carolyn's tip for freezing the ginger beforehand worked like a charm.  And I didn't even buy a micro-plane--just used my super fine cheese grater and it worked great!  The food processor made a HUGE difference in how fast I was able to get it done.  Plus, I didn't cry my eyeballs out over those onions--although I still need to get some onion goggles!

4.  I did use one little shortcut and opted not to mince a bunch of garlic.  Instead I bought a giant jar of minced garlic from Winco for about $4.  I used about 1/3 of the jar on Cooking Day so it was a worthwhile investment.  I also completely skipped ingredients that I knew my family wouldn't like.  For example: mushrooms.  A bunch of the recipes called for mushrooms but I just left them out.  So far, the world has not crumbled.

5.  This time I wore sturdy shoes and an apron with a towel tied at my waist.  I also had a measuring cup/spoon station (a  medium sized tupperware container) which really helped.  And I every time I used a measuring item I rinsed it off right away and tossed it back in the station so it would be clean and ready for it's next use.

6.  Not doing any of the breakfast baking meant that I finished Cooking Day in seven hours, including cleanup!  In that time I made:

Updated on 6/26/12 with comments on how we liked each meal on a scale of 1 (blech!) to 5 (uh.may.zing).
All the recipes can be found here:  OAMM April 2012 Gluten Free Menu.  Keep in mind that I followed the altered, gluten free/dairy free recipes which can be found on the downloadable OAMM recipe cards.
  • Asparagus & Spinach Risotto with Chicken (4 batches--I'll explain later)
Rating: 4.  It was very tasty but since we had so much of it we got tired of it quickly.  In fact, we still have one bag of it in the freezer.
  • Panda Orange Chicken (2 batches)
Rating: 5.  Everyone loved this meal.  I sampled it on cooking day and it's incredible after it's just been cooked.  After being frozen, thawed, and cooked again, it's still delicious but didn't have that great crispiness of coming straight from the pan.  But we still gave it a 5--it's that good.
  • Lemon, Tomato, & Olive Chicken Pilaf (2 batches)
Rating: 4.  The kids weren't fans of the olives and tomatoes but they were easy enough to pick out.   
  • BBQ Chicken Pizza with Balsamic Onions (2 pies)
Rating: 2 (adults), 1 (kids):  This just didn't do it for us.  Fake cheese, meh. And the BBQ/balsamic vinegar taste wan't our favorite.  
  • Chicken & Rice Casserole (2 batches)
Rating: 4.5.  This meal was simple and basic and the kids gobbled it down.  It was flavorful and comfort-foodish.  I'd definitely make it again.
  • Cardamom Honey Chicken (2 batches)
Rating: 5.  This was my personal favorite meal.  Super delicious!  The kids didn't like the peppercorns but again, they were easy enough to pick out.
  • Baked Turkey & Spinach Meatballs (2 batches)
Rating: 4.5.  The kids really loved these.  Geary was a big fan, too.
  • Slow Cooker Cube Steak (2 batches)
Rating: 4.5.  This steak was so tasty! And super easy in the crock-pot.
  • Pork Roast with Brown Sugar Apricot Pomegranate Sauce (2 batches)
Rating: 4.  I'm not usually a fan of pork but this was really nice.  The sauce would be delicious on chicken, too.
  • Sweet & Garlicky Pork Chops (2 batches)
Rating: 4.  These were really good but too spicy for my kids.  If I make them again I'll cut back on the amount of garlic.

I also took a page from my friend Alison's book and cooked up some chicken, ground beef, and ground turkey simply seasoned with a little salt and pepper.  Now I have some meat basically ready to go to throw on salads or pasta or to make tacos if I need to make something fast.

Here are some things that I hope to do differently next time.

1.  Even though I read through all the recipes I didn't read them as carefully as I should have or compare them to the shopping list.  Some of the numbers were really off.  For example, the Asparagus Risotto recipe was quadrupled from the original recipe so I made enough for four batches of the complete recipe rather than four servings.  Good thing it tastes great!  Also, I ran out of onions so I had to send Geary out for more. That was kind of frustrating.

2.  I started losing steam when I still had about six meals to go.  Thankfully a lot of the meals didn't require actual cooking, just sorting ingredients into bags for freezing.   It went pretty quickly.  But I think it would help mentally to just do those sorts of meals first rather than last.  That way, I could get six meals done and in the freezer right away before hardly any energy was expended at all.  I'll try it next month and see if it makes a difference.

3.  I have been buying all my spices from the bulk section because most of the time the recipe calls for 1 or 2 teaspoons and I would rather spend 10 cents on a tiny amount of fresh spices than $6 per bottle and have them expire before I can use it all up.  However, this means that I have about a million (okay a little less than that) plastic baggies of spices filling up my cupboard.  I need to get these organized into small containers so that they're easier to find and so that I can tell what I already have.  I bought a small bag of cornstarch only to find that I already had two other small bags and a whole box of it already waiting in my cupboard!  I don't want to waste money on things like that so it's time to get organized.

Some people have asked us how we've liked the meals so far.  You can go back to my original post about Once a Month Cooking to see an updated section on how we rated each meal.  Click HERE for that.  So far we've been really pleased!

Thanks again for reading.  And if you have any tips or questions feel free to add them to the comments section!

Makin' Stuff

Toby made a Play-Doh hamburger.  When he explained all the parts he said, "That's the bun, that's the meat, that's the lettuce, and the red thing isn't ketchup.  It's a tomato."  And then to further clarify, he stated, "It's a grown-up hamburger."  Because, you know, kids would never eat tomatoes on their hamburgers.

My friend, Chris, just had a beautiful baby boy and asked me if I would make a diaper stacker for her.  She had a train theme going but couldn't find a train style diaper stacker that she liked.  When she told me the nursery colors were blue, green, and brown, I found this collection of fabrics.

And here's the finished product.  Oops, I forgot to iron it before taking this picture.  It was also taken at night but I didn't take any better pictures because I was eager to package it up with some other goodies to send to my sweet friends.  The feedback:  She likes it and said it's perfect! Yay!

A couple weeks ago my MOPS group went to a fun store in Portland called SCRAP.  It's like a thrift store for art and craft supplies!  I found this big spool for 50 cents and a ball of yarn for a dollar.  Together they became an over sized spool of thread decoration for my craft room.  I wrapped the yarn around some wire and bent it to spell out the word love.  I think this would also look so cute with a ball of yarn for knitters or crocheters.   I only wish I had bought the other three giant spools that were also at SCRAP.  Maybe they'll be there next time I go!