Thursday, February 21, 2013

At the Top of Our Lungs

It has been a year of transition in our house.  I have an 11 year old who is in middle school.  At the beginning of the year, the change wasn't apparent.  But, 6 months later, it is so obvious that my first baby girl isn't my baby girl anymore.  She is different.  A little more grown up.  Not so much a little girl anymore and absolutely becoming a young woman.

Kind of scary.  And I am totally not prepared.  But, it is a little bit exciting when I relax about it a little.  The differences in my big girl are subtle but noticeable to me.  One thing I have realized is, she has to spread her wings just a little bit.  She has to put her toes out there and test the waters and test her faith.  Not easy for this mama to do.

One activity that we have added this year is the youth choir at church.  It was kind of by accident that this came into our view.  I knew our church had a youth choir but just because the church offers some youth activity doesn't guarantee that we are going to be involved.  One Wednesday we were at our midweek service and the youth choir came and sang.  I was blown away.  First, they were good.  Second, they had a purpose.  (They have a citywide concert and they take a bike trip that lasts a couple of days and they sing in churches and nursing homes along the way.)  But, third, was watching those teenagers praising God with songs and smiles.

There were many teenagers up on stage truly praising God with their voices.  They were smiling and enjoying singing about their Savior.  Many of them were not there just to be there or because their parents had made them.  I knew I wanted Nature Girl to be a part of that.  To hang around kids like that.  Smiling, singing and praising.  Good, God fearing kids who are working on having a purposeful life loving and serving others.

Needless to say, when youth choir started in the fall Nature Girl signed up.  This past Sunday, Nature Girl had her very first city wide concert with them.  And it was great!  So many kids from so many churches sharing the gospel through song.  And they loved it.  A bunch of kids from our church had solos and the did awesome.  EG's ballet teacher was one of the soloists so that was cool.  Our baby sitter's younger sisters are in the choir so that is neat as well.

It can be a little unnerving (for me) letting my baby girl find her way.  It is something I have to get use to a little bit at a time.  And, there is always some type of growth or life lesson in venturing out (for her and for me.)  But, all in all, I think it was a positive experience for all of us.  Next up is planning for the 2-3 day bike trip.  That will be exciting . . .

Monday, February 18, 2013

I Love Little Mama This Much

As most of my friends know, I am not a big birthday person or sleepover person or any of those fun things that a mom should probably be.  But this year my beautiful, sweet, selfless baby girl wanted a party for her birthday.  It has been a long time since we have done that.

My LM is someone I wish I were.  She is thoughtful, selfless, kind, generous, patient and loving.  She is a peacemaker and loves her family.  She will share and help.  And just wants everyone to be happy.  And she will do what she can to make that happen.  She loves to hug me when I am annoyed.  She loves to give me kindly reminders when I am not doing the things that I have called them to do. She is a great friend, sister and daughter.

What is a mom to do?  So, this is how we celebrated and are going to celebrate one of the most amazing people in my life.

This past Friday we had a progressive dinner for LM and two of her very bestest friends, who also have birthdays this coming up week.  We started out at one friend's house for cheese fondue.  It was a hit.  Then we moved on to the other friend's house and had an amazing dinner of pulled pork, au gratin potatoes and "church" green beans.  The mamas all served the girls.  The food was delicious.

Then on to our house for dessert and presents and a sleepover.  About a month ago we were watching the Pioneer Woman's cooking show.  And she just happened to have a birthday dessert that was ice cream in a flower pot with pound cake on the bottom, ice cream in the middle with Oreo dirt, gummy worms and a pretty flower to finish it off.  It looked like a real potted plant but it was edible.  That is all LM wanted for a birthday dessert.  So, when we mamas were planning the birthday party, I requested to do dessert.

Then, because the girls had been asking for a sleepover I decided what the heck.  And we turned the birthday party into a sleepover.  And my girls were thrilled.  I had six of the sweetest girls in my house overnight and I think they had a great time.  In the morning we had pancakes with strawberries, chocolate chips, whip cream and syrup.  Breakfast of champions I am sure.

Today is her actually birthday and we are celebrating by having no school.  We are watching a movie and LM wants to make brownies.  We will go to ballet and then after dinner go skating with a bunch of friends.  This Sunday will be our family birthday party and LM got to pick the Pioneer Woman recipes for the week.  Chicken wings and cherry limeade.

I can not believe my baby girl is in double digits.  Where does the time go?  I love her so much for so many different reasons.  I am glad to be her mommy and so excited to see her grown to be a beautiful young lady . . .

Sunday, February 17, 2013

PW: Another Hit

I don't know what I would do if I, we, didn't like the recipes that are in my Pioneer Woman cookbook!  This past week was another hit.  We have found a new way to cook a pork roast and we are never going back!

Dr. Pepper, chipolte peppers, onion, six hours in the oven and we had a masterpiece if I do say so myself.  We also made the perfect au gratin potatoes which were pretty good too.  Potatoes and cheese can never go wrong.

It was another easy meal.  One I felt pretty confident in making.  It was a recipe that definitely has given me confidence in the kitchen.  At dinner, while we were eating, I kept complimenting myself.  I know I am not suppose to do that, but it really was soooooo good.

A couple of days later we took the leftovers and put it on buns and had another easy meal.  The kids loved it. I am so glad we are doing this.  It makes life a little more interesting and it is growing me as a person and hopefully as a "chef."

Because LM's birthday is next week, I let her pick the recipes.  And she picked spicy chicken wings and cherry limeade.  Wings are an absolute family favorite . . .

Friday, February 15, 2013

7 Tackles Clothing

The second month in our 7 experiment tackles our obsession with clothing.  How we have more clothes in our closet than we could possibly ever wear in probably a month's time.  At least that is what my closet looks like.  So, this month we are on a clothing fast.  With our end goal to realize, yet again, that we don't need what we have and because of that we don't appreciate what we have and are not good stewards of what we have.  Because, if we can't find the match to one shoe, by golly, there are always three or four other pairs of shoes to choose from.

This is a family affair.  Everyone is participating in some way.  Even hubby.  For the next four weeks I will be wearing seven articles of clothing.  And only seven.  One pair of jeans, a pair of sweat pants, two long sleeve shirts, one short sleeve shirt, a sweater and two pair of shoes (which we decided would count as one thing).

The kids each have four outfits one of which is for church and one of which, for the girls, is ballet stuff.  They each have two pair of PJs and two pair of shoes.  Hubby has his uniform, a church outfit, a t-shirt, gym shorts and yucky pair of jeans and another shirt of some sort and some shoes.  (He has a little more flexibility.)

We will not be doing half loads of laundry.  We hang up our clothes every night or put them neatly in a wash bucket in case we have a load of laundry.  Or, if they don't get washed, they can be taken out and put on.  It necessitates thinking and planning ahead.  I am currently in a long sleeve shirt with my black sweats.  I have realized I need my jeans for the next three days when I go out of the house so the less I wear them around the house the more "clean" they will be.  I would have wore my t-shirt but I slept in it last night and I had a full load of colored clothes so I threw it in.

Sure, the "experiments" are some what contrived.  And, really, is wearing 7 articles of clothing going to change me?  I don't know.  But, I feel we need to do something to break out of the mindset we have as Americans, as a family.

I am tired of the lack of appreciation for the basic things that we need to live yet we have in abundance and take for granted.  I am annoyed by our lack of good stewardship because we just know there is more where it all came from.

But, my main goal, is to help us truly focus on our wonderful Provider.  "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow:  they neither toil nor spin, and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"  Matthew 6:28-30.

Less of me and my stuff and more of Him . . .

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Week Six: PW and Meatballs and Leftovers

Last week was Whiskey Meatballs!  Real meatballs simmered in whiskey and cream sauce.  The recipe was pretty simple but one thing I have noticed also is, the recipe always takes me longer than I think it is going to take.  Have I mentioned that already?  We usually eat dinner around 6:30.  But, when I am making a PW meal it is more like 7:30.  You would think I would learn!

Anyway, I loved the idea of homemade meatballs and we will definitely be doing that in the future.  Change the recipe a little so as to use them in spaghetti.

Hubby loved them.  The kids said they were OK.  I served them over egg noodles.

The best part of this recipe was that the second recipe picked used the leftover meatballs for sliders with mozzarella cheese.  I loved those!  So easy.  I think NG liked them but the others not so much.  But, we ate them all!

I didn't get a picture of the sliders.  But, they were a couple of meatballs on small dinner/slider rolls and then a piece of mozzarella lying on the top of the meatballs with the top of the bun on that.  Really easy meal for a very busy day.

I haven't tackled the ice coffee yet.  It makes a lot and I don't have anything to store it in at the moment.  But it sounds wonderful.  Next up is spicy Dr. Pepper pulled pork and awesome au gratin potatoes (or some name such as that.)  The picture in the cookbook looks so delicious. . . .

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Daddy and Daughter(s)

My baby turned four in November.  My middle baby is turning 10 in a couple of weeks.  And my big girl will be 12 in a couple of months.

Can somebody please tell me how that happened??

We have tried over the years to do daddy date nights (or lunches or dessert) with the girls.  And it has been spotty at best.  This year I am trying again.  It is so important for his girls to spend time with him alone.

A week ago, EG got to go to lunch with daddy.  She talked the entire time.  And didn't want to go to the playground to play.  That is saying something.  She must have enjoyed the time with her daddy.  Just her and her daddy.  I asked what the best part was and she said "ice cream."  :)

Tonight Little Mama is going to a grown up restaurant with her daddy.  Just the two of them.  I can't remember the last time that happened.  If ever to be honest.  Knowing Little Mama, she will have lots to say.

I am not sure how often this will happen.  Or if we will be able to make this a tradition.  But, I am sure they will enjoy their time together.  Just daddy and daughter. . . .

(Hard to sneak in a picture without EG.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

PW: Week Five I Think

It is crazy to me that we have been cooking through the PW cookbook for 5 weeks now!  Sometimes it hasn't been easy, especially when there is a busy week.  A lot of what we eat is crock pot food and recipes with 5 ingredients or less.  (Just being honest.)

But, it seems that Saturdays and Tuesdays tend to be the days that I cook.  Because we are usually home with nothing else going on.  This past Tuesday was Cauliflower Soup and Make Ahead Muffins.  I have noticed the picture taking has kind of gone by the wayside.  Like I never got a picture of the finished Best Grilled Cheese Ever.

This week was another hit.  I would like to think it is because I am learning something.  But, I think the recipes were just easier.  And things I am just kind of use to doing.  But, truth be told, I am totally getting more comfortable in the kitchen.  I will tell you this, though, it doesn't matter what I make, both LM and Daddy tell me it needs bacon or bacon bits.  I don't get it.  ;)

The soup was fabulous!  A big hit.  Boop had at least two bowls.  I really was impressed with it myself.  It is something I will definitely do again and it was pretty easy and it made a ton.  We ate leftovers three days in a row.  I just didn't think it will freeze well.  I had also made homemade bread.  A perfect winter meal if you ask me.

I also made the muffin mix on Tuesday.  Eggs, bacon, cheese, mayo and some great flavorings.  It looked fabulous.  I put it in a Tupperware container so it was ready for breakfast the next morning.  It went on English Muffins and put under the broiler.  It was OK.  The kids were not big fans.  Well, Boop liked it.  It took EG until lunch to finish hers.

Hubby and I ate it the next day on rye bread and I thought it was much better on that.  It is a nice alternative to some of our bigger breakfast meals.  It might even be perfect for camping.

All in all a pretty good kitchen week for me.  Next up whiskey meatballs, meatball sliders and perfect iced coffee.  Yes, coffee.  So excited to drink coffee . . .

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Curb Appeal

The kids and I, along with another family alternate picking up trash along the truck route in front of our church.  Yesterday was our day.  The kids are not overly thrilled with the project but it needs to be done and it doesn't take very long.  And it is a great for us to serve together as a family.

It amazes me that people are such slobs.  We pick up bottles, candy wrappers and Styrofoam.  Plastic grocery bags, straws and broken pieces of plastic that came from who knows what.  Soda bottle tops, cigarette packages and cardboard.  All of which is just thrown on the side of the road.

But, the most amazing thing to me is the number of cigarette butts out there.  Tons and tons.  It would take a week of picking up nothing but those to get the shoulder of the road remotely trash free.  I didn't think that many people even smoked anymore.  Is it because cars don't come with ashtrays??

Another thing that has been kind of interesting is that people don't always slow down when going past us.  I keep the smaller kids away from the road so they are no where near the traffic.  The last time hubby had one of his shift partners just kind of sit on the side of the road for a little while just to kind of slow everybody down.

One guy in a big black SUV went flying by.  It was so obvious he was speeding even while we were on the side of the road.  With the deputy car sitting there.  The deputy ended up pulling him over.  I am not sure how that ended up.

Yesterday was a beautiful day.  And now the front of our church looks a little bit nicer.  And the kids and I did a little something to help somebody else.  Not bad for a little service project . . .