Friday, May 31, 2013

One Proud Mama

I wish I had a picture, or better yet, a video.  But I don't.

Nature Girl has been singing in the Youth Choir at church.  We have a great Youth Choir, led by a godly man and the kids that sing in it are fabulous.  Last year when they sang at our Wednesday night service, I knew I wanted NG and all my kids to be a part of it.

They learn to sing and then at the end of the year they take their show on the ride via bike.  This year, they leave on Sunday and will be gone for 5 days.  They will travel 180 miles on bicycle and sing in churches and nursing homes along the way.

About a month ago, the pastor who leads all of this, asked for auditions for solos.  Nature Girl did not try out.  The following few days, as she was, yet again, singing around the house, I encouraged her to try out.  And she agreed.  I emailed the Pastor and because she had voluntarily sung a solo a couple of weeks prior, he said he didn't need to hear her again and assigned her a part.

She rehearsed her part.  Except, come to find out, it was the wrong part.  By the time we figured it out, she had a week left to get it right.  So, back to practicing.  But, because I am not musically inclined, I did not catch that she was rehearsing it wrong.  And it was a modern version of an old hymn so it needed to be right.  We found this out on Tuesday and she was to perform last night, Wednesday.

It is unusual for someone her age to have a solo.  Most of the kids are older and have been singing for awhile.  They have learned how to sing independently.  Things that NG is still working on.  Because she has never sang in a choir or had voice lessons or played an instrument she had a huge learning curve.

For 24 hours we worked and worked and worked on her solo.  The Pastor tried to help her get it right.  But she was just having some type of mental block.  Then yesterday we ended up going from one thing to another.  A 25 mile bike ride on a local trail, we got home late so had about 45 minutes to eat lunch and get to ballet.  Then by the time we got home from ballet we had 20 minutes to eat dinner and get to church for rehearsal.  So, it didn't leave much time yesterday for firming up her part.  But she did her best.  A friend listened to her and thought she had done it right.

But, because of her inexperience and my lack of musical knowledge we just weren't sure.  So, we decided that even if it was not exactly right, she was going to sing it with confidence because she did her best.  And any decision as to whether or not she was going to sing was just going to be the best for everyone involved.  Although it would have been hard to take, I knew she would understand what was best for every one involved.

Once again, she rose to the occasion and accepted the challenge ahead of her.  About an hour before her performance last night, she went into the music Pastor and sang her solo again. (If she didn't get it right, he was going to have someone else sing.)  She was nervous and scared and didn't want to fail.  We prayed and read scripture and just talked about how even this was in God's hands.  It was a wonderful teaching and encouraging moment for both of us.

A few minutes later, she came out and told me she did it!  I was so proud of her.  Not because she can sing, because I know she can.  But, because once again she did not quit.  Because she could have and everyone would have understood.  When the kids were rehearsing before the program last night, and I heard her part coming up, I sat in the doorway and peeked in.  When she was almost done with her solo, I let her see me.  And when she was finished I jumped up and down and gave her a huge smile.  I know I embarrassed her.  But, I needed her to know how proud I was of her.

She is a fighter.  She is determined.  It hasn't been pretty these last few weeks with all the challenges she has faced.  But, we have used these moments to point our focus towards God.  To work together as a mother and a daughter and as a family.  And God has choose to bless us in some pretty mighty ways.

She has her faults.  As do I.  As do all of us.  I am thankful for her in my life.  I am thankful for all my children.  They challenge me but they grows me to be more like Christ.  Who could ask for anything more . . .

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Comfort Food PW Style

Maybe because it is warm weather here or maybe because I didn't make this just right or maybe it is because we have had better beef stew.  I don't know.  But, last weeks recipe was PW's beef stew and it was OK.  I will say, two of my friends made it and they LOVED it.  Chances are it was just me.  Hubby had some good ideas that might improved on it for next time.

It had all the right ingredients and it really wasn't very hard.  And as you can see it looked delicious.  Maybe it just needed a tad more salt.

Now the dessert we had was crazy good!  It is Pots de Creme.  I am not even sure I spelled it right.  Anyway, it was coffee and chocolate chips blended together to make a wonderful mousse and then I added a heavy cream topping.  It was so easy but, oh, so delicious.

I am not sure how many recipes we have done so far, but it has been super fun taking this challenge.  I am so much more confident in the kitchen which has helped tremendously with my every day cooking.  And we all have tried things that I am not certain we would have never eaten before.  

Now, I think, we are probably on to some of the little bit harder recipes.  We will see how that goes . . . 

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Netherlands

I am positive I have way more fun than the kids do for our annual Geography Fair.  It takes all I have not to be totally in charge and put my little fingers into all the aspects of it!  I do my best to let them do most of the work.  But, it is soooo hard.  I just love it so much!

Anyway, this year we chose The Netherlands.  We had just gotten through reading Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates and I had just read Windmills of War.  Both books were set in the Netherlands so it seemed an obvious choice.

We learned so much about the country just by reading the books.  Things like much of the country is below sea level hence the need for so many dikes and windmills.  The dikes to keep the water from coming further inland and one of the original purposes of windmills was to pump water.

Did you know that tulips are not native to the Netherlands but they are from Turkey.  And tulip is a Turkish word for crown or something like that.  Cheese is as staple in many of their meals and there are almost as many bikes as people.  Holland is a region of the Netherlands.

Boop built a windmill out of Legos but I forgot to take a picture of it.  I thought it was super cool!  Hubby was on a call a couple of weeks before the fair and he noticed a man had a pair of wooden shoes in his garage. He asked the man if he could buy them and the man said sure.  So, we had a pair of wooden shoes to display.  Up until fairly recently, the people of the area actually wore them.  Much like steel toed boots.

All of the people that attended the Geography Fair were given a colorful map of the world.  On that map were places to put dots on the countries that had been "visited."  The kids had a great time going around to each display and trying to figure out where the country was on their map.

We all had a great time.  We look forward to participating again next year . . . 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mexican with PW

I think we are getting pretty close to having prepared many of the easier recipes in the Pioneer Woman cookbook!  And the beef and bean burritos were one of the easiest and so very yummy.  What made it extra special is that we were using our grass fed beef from the quarter cow we had recently purchased.  Special seasonings, onion, melted cheese and a warmed up tortilla.  Move over Taco Bell!  Definitely a kid favorite.

I was going to make the Mexican Rice from PW along with the burritos.  Makes sense, right?  But, of course I forgot to buy some of the ingredients and by the time I realized it, it was too late to run back to the store.  And, in all honesty, very rarely do I pack up the four kids and run to the grocery store for just one thing.  So we had to have a plan B for another day.  And this is what I came up with, Mexican rice stuffed peppers.  I added a little of our grass fed ground beef and we had a whole other meal.  Stuffed peppers are one of my all time favorite meals.  And these turned out fabulous.

Maybe not such a big hit with the kids.  But they ate them.  That is about all I can ask.

With our bumper crop of green peppers this summer, I can certainly see me doing this again . . . 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

PW Update

So, I have made quite a few things from PW in the last couple of weeks.  Most of them, if I remember correctly were wonderful.  The following recipes are not in an particular order.

I had almost forgot about this recipe, PW's pesto pasta.  It was delicious but then again, anything with pasta is usually a pretty good meal!

Basil, heavy cream, garlic and pine nuts.  If I remember correctly, I drizzled olive oil into the food processor and is was churning.

The pesto went into the pasta and got all mixed together.  Everyone loved it and it was easy enough to do.  So I imagine we will have it again.

Apple dumplings.  Baked in Mountain Dew.  Just looking at the pictures makes my tummy growl.  Dessert to me is chocolate.  No matter what.  Until I had these.  Words cannot properly or adequately describe how heavenly these were!  Crescent rolls wrapped around a wedge of a granny smith apple, baked in Mountain Dew and served hot with ice cream.  I had a plate full and then nibbled out of the leftovers.  I just couldn't get enough.  

Definitely a do over.  Preferably with guests for dinner so I don't feel compelled to eat all of them. . . 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

Thirteen years ago this weekend, I sat in my mom's church attending the Mother's Day service.  And I was in tears.  With a heavy, heavy heart.  I remember thinking, as I saw the mothers being recognized with their families, that I would never have the joy of being a parent, being a mom, having a baby.  The thoughts at that moment in time were devastating.

The Friday before Mother's Day, I had traveled down to visit my mom and to go to an appointment with a woman's specialist.  My hubby and I had been trying to become pregnant for over a year.  The specialist told me and my mom, after I gave him my symptoms, that in order for me to have a baby I would have to harvest, my then 14 year old sister's eggs and blah, blah, blah.  I knew right then and there, that wasn't going to happen.

My husband and I wanted children, but we also knew that we would never go to extremes to have them.  For many different reasons.  Needless to say I was devastated.  And on that Mother's Day morning I was so sad, thinking about my childless future.

The following week or so, the specialist's office called and said that my blood work had been normal.  But, by then, the damage had been done.  I stopped taking fake hormones or whatever they doctor likes to put woman on to help them get pregnant and I just called my pastor and asked him to pray for us.  We really had no choice but to carry on life as normal.

We had hobbies and friends and jobs.  We started thinking about things we would do, not having children.  I honestly don't remember being super depressed.  I am sure I was.  But, I just don't remember it.  Probably because about 3 months later, I found out I was pregnant!

We joke to this day, that we were just about ready to buy the old-man-down-the-streets fishing boat when I found out I was pregnant.  We were stunned to say the least.  I remember waking hubby up and trying to explain what was happening (at the time he was working night shift.)  I remember calling the doc's office and desperately wanting to come in and have them verify it.  Which they graciously did.

I remember people saying "that specialist had no idea what he was taking about."  And that may be true.  But, I know that my babies are a gift straight from God.  And His timing and His plan, on looking back, had a purpose for me and my husband.  Oddly enough, we never had a problem after that.  Ha, ha!

As I get older and my childbearing years are drawing to a close and as I celebrate, yet another wonderful Mother's Day, I cannot be thankful and grateful enough to the Creator of all things, to have blessed me so richly.

There is no greater joy that I have had and will continue to have, then being a wife and a mother to my precious family that God has so graciously given me . . .

Friday, May 10, 2013

Bike Trip Update

For the last week we have been searching for just the right bike for Nature Girl.  We wanted to give her every advantage for her 172 mile bike trip coming up the first of June.  We were suppose to go camping this past weekend so we figured we had two weeks to find a bike before her next long training ride.

But, camping got canceled because of a lot of rain (we were going to go snorkeling and canoeing in some local springs.)  So, the need for a bike became a huge dilemma.  We looked on Craigslist, talked with friends, looked into borrowing one, went to a couple different bike shops but were coming up empty.  Either the bikes didn't work or they were too expensive.  Time was running out.

Her training ride was on Saturday and Friday we were to meet a guy from Craigslist and he had a bunch of different bikes.  He thought one would surely fit her.  We got there and the one bike we thought was perfect, she just didn't feel comfortable on.  The bike was a bargain.

So, our last effort was to go to the bike shop we had been to the past Sunday and get the bike she wanted which was more than we had really planned on spending.  But, we had explored every other possible option.  When we got to the bike shop, they day before they had had a trade in of a type of bike that we had been looking at.  It happened to be less expenses then the one we were there to buy.

NG rode it and loved it and hubby haggled a little and we bought it.  It was perfect.

That Saturday morning hubby and I woke up and we both started thinking about the bike off of Craiglist and how it was a fabulous bike and a really great deal.  So, that morning hubby went and bought that bike as well.   We essentially got two bikes for the price we were going to pay for one.  The second bike will work for both of us.  And it is so awesome to ride.  There is such a difference between a department store bike and a bike from a bike shop.  I hate to say it.

So, we are a bike or two closer to become a biking family.  Sunday hubby had to run to the store to get one thing.  He decided just to go to the convenience store and he took the bike.  And two of the four kids.  They had a blast.  And, it seemed they got back even quicker than if they would have taken the van.

We are very blessed in that the majority of the things we need, we are able to get.  That doesn't go unnoticed by me.  I think a lot about why we are so blessed.  That weekend hubby said that if there is any kid who wants to go on the bike trip but can't because they don't have a bike, they can use our "new" one.  He is also planning on bringing the extra bike along on the week long tip in case someone has a need during the trip.  I can't help but think that is one of the reasons we are so blessed, we are willing to share.  Not just keep our blessing to ourselves.

Who knows?  But, I am thankful and grateful and will continue to pass the blessings on . . .

Sunday, May 5, 2013

NG Birthday Party Number 2

Nature Girl really wanted a friends birthday party and got an idea out of the American Girl birthday party book that was so cute.  It was a 50s theme and it gave a lot of really neat ideas on games and food and decor.  We decorated with red and black and bought plastic diner baskets from a local store.  

Because we decided so late to have a birthday party, I ended up just emailing our close friends for invitations.  But, there were a couple girls that I didn't know their moms' really well so I felt an actual invitation was needed.

I didn't take a picture of the invite, but it was a black circle cut out of card stock and in the middle was a record album label where the invite info was.  The end result look like a 45 record.  Of course, none of the kids new what it was and I had to explain!

She invited about 10 girls.  When the guests arrived they were directed to a pony tail station where the girls but their hair up in pony tails and tied ribbons in their hair.  Then they went to another station where they each cut out the initial of their first name and pinned it on their shirt.  (Like Lavern from Lavern and Shirley)

The girls were divided up into two groups and played a little restaurant game.  Each "customer" at the table had to give their order to the waitress.  At the end of taking 5 or 6 orders they had to repeat the orders back with no mistakes.  They couldn't use pens or paper.  They laughed and laughed and had a blast.

Next we had a malt station.  The girls could come up to the counter and order from daddy a choice either a vanilla malt, chocolate malt or a root beer float.  They all went outside and drank them and chatted while daddy made the burgers and fries.

Last was presents and a cake that had musical notes and a phonograph on it.  

The girls all seemed to have a great time!  I enjoyed listening to them and watching them.  It was a great group of girls.  I am thankful that Nature Girl has such a wonderful group of friends. . . .

Thursday, May 2, 2013

PW: Pork Tenderloin

I think this Pioneer Woman recipe was a little bit of a disappointment.  I am not so sure it was because of the recipe but maybe just because of timing and, once again, not being real comfortable in the kitchen.  I did a pork tenderloin with roasted veggies and a fried cornbread.

I had timing issues.  The pork took longer than I thought which was really my fault for not realizing how big the tenderloin was.  So, the veggies were done way before the meat.  In fact, the whole dinner was suppose to be presented all pretty on a plate with the bread on the bottom, then 3 slices of pork on top of that with the veggies scattered around.  We ended up eating the vegetables while they were still hot, while waiting on the meat to cook!

The veggies were awesome.  Drizzled in olive oil and roasted.  The recipe called for carrots (white and orange), parsnips and celery root.  I couldn't find celery root or white carrots so I substituted a zucchini we had in the fridge.  I could have eaten a whole meal of just the vegetables they were so good.  I don't ever remember having parsnips before and they were delicious.  The veggies we will do again.

Making the cornbread from scratch using my chicken broth made from a whole chicken we had cooked early in the month.

Yummy roasted veggies.

I am certain the cornbread was operator error.  I don't fry well and this was very new to me.  Placing the cornbread dough on a baking sheet, letting it cool and then cutting into triangles and frying.  Taste and consistency wise, it just wasn't my thing.  Or the kids either.  Hubby liked it but said I should have fried it a little longer.

Because the timing of the meal was totally off, I never did get a picture of the pork tenderloin.  It was coated with some fancy herb.  It was pretty good.  Although, I think I over cooked it.

Well, all of my adventures can't always turn out perfect.  Cook and learn.  And that is what I am doing. . . .