Monday, November 19, 2012

Eliana Age 7

Dearest Eliana,

I can not believe I am the mommy of a 7 year old. When you woke up and I told you I didn't know how to be a mommy to a big kid, you pragmatically told me "ask Mrs. Amy. She has done it twice". Ahhh yes. You have so many great qualities, child, but the ability to get a joke isn't one of them. I love watching you read the children joke book and having to explain why they are funny.

While jokes my not be your thing, it isn't because you don't like silliness  You love to pretend and explore make believe worlds of your own creation. You creativity is so endless, I am blown away on a daily basis.

I am enjoying this stage of independence and responsibility. I love that you can care for your brother for me when I need your help. You can make your own breakfast, get snacks for your sisters, sort laundry, sweep and mop, clean a bathroom and ride a bike. You are pretty sure you know everything and hate to be wrong.

Little girl, I love your style (even those massive white sunglasses you insist on wearing), your innate sense of justice, the way you care for those littler than you even when it is inconvenient. I am so glad you are my kid, that God saw it fit to entrust you into our care. Love you bunches, Elie bear.

Your Mama

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Birthdays

 This is the fairy birthday cake. I wanted to get these cute little cup cake wrappers with little paper toppers with fairies. Eliana told me that wasn't very creative. She didn't want CUPCAKES but a real CAKE and she wanted me to make the fairies. Right. I will get right on that. Annabelle just nodded.
 Each child who came got fairy wings, a wand, a butterfly hair clip, bright colored fairy hair and a necklace. The were all beautiful.


I think all children's birthday parties should include alcohol  Not for the children. For the poor parents who throw them...and the ones who are forced to attend. This years theme for Eliana and Annabelle's birthday was "Fairy Garden". Of course Matt was in Korea the whole week before the party. And the week before that we were recovering from Sandy. It was a feat to pull off, but we did and the girls seemed to have a lot of fun.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Breast Friend

Some children have imaginary friends. My son has a best friend already, who isn't imaginary, but seems to be along the same lines. My son loves boobs, mine in particular. Yes, I am sure when he is a teen this post will embarrass the crap out of him, its ok, we have a therapy fund set up for all our children. We sort of expect to screw them up and figure the best we can give them is Jesus and a good therapist.

I have happily breast fed all my children. I do this because it is unequivocally best and because I am cheap. Somewhere in my head I once upon a time believed it would help me lose weight. That dream died so I enjoyed another brownie. All of my children have enjoyed nursing, and I pretty much have always enjoyed it too.

My son takes this to a whole new level. At first I would say it was a newborn thing, and then I blamed it on a growth spurt. Now lets just call a spade a spade, it is straight up gluttony  The chunk has fat rolls...on his wrists. We are working on a third chin.

The child loves to nurse to go to sleep, like most babies do. But he also loves to sleep latched on. If I am ninja like sneaky  I can unlatch him and lay him in his crib. He will then wake up and scream like someone is ripping out his toenails because he fell asleep and someone stole his booby. If not sleeping while sucking, he is using my chest as a pillow.

One day, he will outgrow this. I will just be mommy and not dinner. The funny thing is, that almost makes me sad.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Should

Should. This word and I don't get along. Maybe it is my authority issues, or maybe I am lazy or maybe just obstinate  My reaction to "should" is always "Says who?!"

My questioning nature (which sounds so much nicer than "rebellious")  shows up more and more in the way I choose to parent my kids.

First, I must confess, I really like my kids. Not just " love them because they are mine" though that is true, but like them as people. I find my days go so much better when I treat them like that, like people I share a home and a life with, rather than treating them like something that needs to be managed or controlled, or on my worst days, escaped from.

Elie is in the first grade. Actually, it would be far more accurate to say she is first grade age. Because we are not doing first grade. First, I thought it was because I just suck at home schooling. After a bit, I realized I suck because I don't buy it, I dreaded doing it and it felt...fake.

I don't believe that a child SHOULD know a specific list of things by a certain age. Who made that list?! Not me, and I am pretty sure whom ever made it didn't know my kid. I can understand why a traditional school might have to follow that list, but isn't the whole reason Eliana stays home with me that I don't believe traditional school is a good fit?

Who is the better, happier, person: Monet, Shakespeare, or Bill Gates? SHOULD they all be painters? I don't know for sure, but I am guessing ol' Bill might be miserable with brush in hand. Why? Because he was created in the image of a unfathomably imaginative God who didn't make him to be Monet. At no other time in our lives do we suffer the belief that all people should be equally good at all things except in the school years.

So, I guess this is the announcement that we are officially "unschooling". I am making the choice to actively "do life" with my children. Trusting that my children are born learners, that subject matter is best learned when not artificially divorced from the world, a belief that there is no hierarchy of learning and a knowledge that learning is life long and there is no "best" time to know something. I choose to pursue joy, learning and relationship.

I don't pretend to have all my quackers lined up on this one, but I am ok with that. I guess you can expect to hear a lot more of my ramblings on this as I get it all sorted out in my head. Here is a great site from a lady who is way more on her game than I am, and explains what it means to choose not to "school" your children.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

5 months...whoa





Extra credit given to those of you who said "whoa..." in Joey from Blossoms voice in your head :)

Alright, who can tell me which kid is which?!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mother of 4

I am not sure who is in your circle, who you hang with, and how much you might or might not know about them. Let me give you some insight into the life of a mother of four children 6 and under. Buckle in and put on a bib, it is bound to get messy.

I can pretty well guarantee any mother in your life, and certainly the mother of four, is lacking sleep. So when she says the baby did pretty well last night, it means he was only up 3 times. If she rolls her eyes at you when you gripe about an early meeting or night spent up late for a client dinner, it is only because she can't even remember the last time she slept, uninterrupted, for more than a few hours.

You might notice that said mother is often wearing cotton knit. This isn't because she is absolutely clueless of what is in fashion. It is because she doesn't give a rip, this was clean and comfortable and she didn't care if the baby puked on it. If you do happen to catch her in denim or dress shoes, please politely ignore the spit up stains, because, damn it, if I worked this hard to fit into a pair of jeans to leave the house you better bet your buttons I am wearing them all day, spit up or not!

If you run into this harried mother, please offer her a large cup of coffee and offer to hold the baby while she drinks it. I can pretty much bet she never gets a chance to drink hot coffee at home, despite the fact she desperately needs it and has rewarmed it 3 times. If you really care for this mother, offer her a muffin to go with the coffee. Her diet is most likely made up of things scavenged off of small peoples plates that have been left un-eaten.

If you see her out in public with all her children, smile. Comments about being a "walking circus" (thank you, dad) or "are they all yours" are not necessary. Despite how she appears, she is well aware of the madness she brings with her and is not crazy enough to collect more, random children, making you sound like a complete asshat for asking if they all belong to her. Of course they do.

Complementing a mother of 4, whos first 3 are female, on finally getting a boy can also come acrosed differently than you mean it too. We did not keep trying until we got it right, we would have been thrilled to pieces with another girl. Are we done? Can't say my sex life is any of your business, thanks, and we are trying to tempt God's sense of humor. Being shocked at how well behaved her children are can also be a bit insulting, as if I procreate but really being able to deal with my kids is such a shock!

And most of all, give the mother of four small children in your life a little grace. She is snarky because she is beat, she is rumpled and chubby because her life is slightly insane. Give her grace, she is doing her best, and if you wish to befriend this mama for life, pair that grace with a large glass of wine and some chocolate. Then offer to watch her kids so she can nap.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Baking Naked



I am a big fan of food. I like to eat. I put high value on family meals, sitting down together to enjoy good food and sharing about our day. I also have a new born. This is one of the times in my life I am trying to reconcile my "wants" with my reality. Some days, my kids survive on string cheese foraged from the fridge and apples stolen from the the fruit basket. Not exactly the type of sit down, balanced fair that I had pictured in my mind.

My life gets crazier as the day progresses, with peak insanity striking my home about 5:30. Poor Matt, who usually find himself walking through the door at a bit before 6, is rarely greeted by the smell of cooking dinner , the sight of a clean home with children quietly playing. More often he has to shove the train track out of the way with one foot while opening the door, try and find at least one of the children' pants and help himself to a string cheese to prevent starvation.

My oven was made some time during the Carter administration. It cooks food just fine while heating up my kitchen to almost unbearable temperatures. It gets so hot on the OUTSIDE that my children are not allowed in my kitchen while I am cooking. This is nice in the winter, when the temperature of the kitchen tiles turns my toes into 10 little ice cubes. Now, during the heat of the summer, I have to wait until a rare cool day to bake or be forced to bake naked to keep from getting heat stroke.

Enter the CROCK POT. This has been my answer, along with my grill, to keeping my family fed at least part of the time. My friend Heather Stock posted this list and I thought I  would share it with anyone else who might find themselves relating to the madness that hits a home around. Each one makes 2 dinners and goes straight from freezer into pot. Pair with a salad and call it a meal. After all, you don't want it getting around that mommy bakes naked.


Freezer to Crockpot Dinners

Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches
8 chicken breasts
2 cups chicken broth
2 cans pineapple rings
2 red peppers thinly sliced
1 large onion thinly sliced
provolone cheese
buns or lettuce wraps

Directions: divide all contents evenly between two bags (except cheese and buns).  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Serve chicken/pepper/onion mixture with melted provolone on buns or in lettuce wraps.


BBQ Chicken
6-8 chicken breasts
2 bottles favorite bbq sauce
1/2 cup vinegar
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 t. garlic powder

Directions: Divide all ingredients evenly between 2 freezer bags.  Cook  on low 4-6 hours.


Thai Pork w/ Peanut Sauce
4 lbs boneless pork loin, fat trimmed cut into large pieces
4 red peppers, cut into strips
1 cup prepared Teriyaki sauce
4 T. rice vinegar
2 t. red pepper flakes
garlic head, chopped
4-6 T creamy peanut butter
optional garnishes: chopped green onions, chopped peanuts, lime slices.

Directions: Divide all ingredients evenly into 2 freezer bags (EXCEPT peanut butter!).  Cook on low 8-9 hours.  Before serving remove pork and shred.  Add peanut butter and stir to dissolve.  Add pork back in slow cooker.  Serve over rice with garnishes.


Savory Pepper Steak
3 lbs round steak cut into 1/2 inch thick strips
1 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper
1 large onion roughly chopped
head of garlic chopped
1-2 red peppers sliced
1-2 green peppers sliced
2 16 oz cans italian style tomatoes
2 T. beef bouillon
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T steak seasoning
1/2 cup steak sauce
Directions: Toss steak in seasoned flour mixture.  Divide evenly into the two bags.  Mix seasoning, sauces and bouillon in small bowl.  Divide evenly between two bags.  Add can of tomatoes in each bag.  Divide onions and peppers between two bags.  Cook on low for 7 or 8 hours.


Salsa Verde Pork
4 lbs pork sirloin or loin roast
kosher salt and pepper to taste
2 16 oz jar Salsa Verde
2 4 oz cans diced green chilies
2 t. ground cumin

Directions: Combine ingredients and divide evenly between two freezer bags.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours.  Shred pork and stir back in the sauce.  Serve with tortillas or shells.  Top with cheese, sour cream, guacamole, etc.

Fiesta Chicken
6-8 chicken breasts
1 envelope taco seasoning
2 cans corn drained or large bag frozen corn
2 cans black beans drained and rinsed
2 small jars salsa or 2 cans of Rotel
2 cans cream of chicken soup (add later!)

Directions: Divide chicken, corn, beans, salsa and taco seasoning evenly between two bags.  Freeze.  Place contents of bag in crockpot and add cream of chicken soup.  Cook on low 7-8 hours.  Serve over brown rice.  Top with cheese.


Teriyaki Chicken
2 small bags baby carrots
1 onion roughly chopped
2 large cans pineapples (undrained)
head of garlic chopped
6-8 chicken breasts
2 cups teriyaki sauce

Directions: Split between two freezer bags.  Cook on low 6-7 hours.  Serve over brown rice or quinoa.


Sausage and Peppers
8 turkey or chicken sausages
1 red pepper sliced
1 green pepper sliced
1 large onion sliced
head of garlic chopped
2 cans italian diced tomatoes
2 T Italian seasoning

Directions: Split between 2 bags.  Cook on low for 6 hours.  Serve over hot noodles or fresh french bread with mozzarella cheese.


Garlic and Brown Sugar Chicken
6-8 chicken breasts
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/3 cup vinegar
1/2 cup lemon-lime soda
head of garlic, chopped
4 T. soy sauce
2 t. ground pepper
rice or noodles, cooked
red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions: Combine chicken and all spices and liquids.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.    Remove chicken.  Transfer liquid to sauce pan, add 2 T. cornstarch mixed with 2 T water) boil for 2-3 minutes or until juice thickens.  Serve glazed sauce over chicken.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.


French Dip Sandwiches
2 lb boneless round roast, trimmed
2 envelopes onion soup mix
2 cans beef broth
french bread and sliced or shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions: Divide roasts, soup mix and beef broth in two freezer bags.  Cook on low 6-8 hours.  Remove roast and shred.  Slice a loaf of french bread in half, lengthwise.  Layer beef, then cheese. Close, cover in foil.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Slice and serve with bowls of dipping sauce from crockpot.    


Sweet and Tangy Meatballs
2 bags frozen turkey meatballs
2 jars grape jelly (natural fruit spread if possible)
2 bottles bbq sauce

Directions: Split between 2 bags and freeze.  Cook on low 2-4 hours.

Chicken Taco Soup
2 onions diced
2 cans chili beans
2 cans black beans
2 cans corn, drained (or frozen)
2 cans tomato sauce
2 cans chicken broth
4 cans Rotel undrained
6 chicken breasts
cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips (for toppings)

Directions: Split all ingredients into two bags.  Cook on low for 7-8 hours.


Shredded Pork Tacos:
3-4 lb pork roast, cut into chunks
2 onions chopped
6 T olive oil
2 serrano chilies
head garlic chopped
salt and pepper
2 cups water
taco shells or tortillas, taco seasonings

Directions: Divide all ingredients into 2 freezer bags.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Serve in taco shells or tortillas.


Beef Stroganoff
4 lbs cubed stew meat
4 cans condensed golden mushroom soup
2 onions diced
6 T Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
2 blocks 8 oz cream cheese (add later!)
2 small containers mushrooms (add later!)
2 t. garlic powder
2 t. paprika
Directions: Combine all ingredients (except cream cheese and mushrooms).  Divide evenly between 2 freezer bags.  Cook on low for 6 hours.  Add mushrooms.  Cook 1 more hour.  Add 8 oz. cubed cream cheese. Stir to combine, turn to high for 10-15 minutes until ready.  Serve over noodles or mashed potatoes.


Creamy Chicken Chili
2 cans black beans, drained
2 cans corn, drained (or frozen)
2 cans Rotel, undrained
1 onion, chopped
2 pkgs ranch dressing mix
2 t. cumin
2 T. chili powder
4 chicken breasts
2 blocks 8 oz. cream cheese (add later!)

Directions: Combine all ingredients (EXCEPT cream cheese!) and divide evenly into 2 freezer bags.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Remove chicken and shred.  Add block of cream cheese, stir to combine.  Return chicken to pot.  Cook on high until well combined.


Ground Beef-Italian Style
2 lb ground chuck (whatever is on sale)
1 large chopped onion
2 shredded carrots
salt, pepper, Italian seasoning

Directions: brown and drain.  Cool and transfer into freezer bag.  Ready to use for spaghetti, casseroles, etc.

Ground Beef- Mexican Style
2 lb ground chuck (whatever is on sale)
1 large chopped onion
2 shedded carrots
salt, pepper, taco seasoning and cumin

Directions: brown and drain.  Cool and transfer into freezer bag.  Ready for tacos, enchiladas, taco soup, etc.


Shredded Chicken
whole chicken fryer
2 large onions sliced
3-4 large carrots
4-5 stalks of celery
salt and pepper

Directions:  Throw all together into a large stock pot of boiling water.  Cook until chicken in completely done.  Remove chicken and shred.  Remove veggies by draining liquid.  Freeze chicken in bag for ready-use.  Freeze chicken stock.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Breakfast Cookies


*Picture stolen from a blog who had a similar recipe to this*

I have discussed before that is have an intense dislike for mornings. It was bad before kids bad has gotten progressively worse. I feel like every morning the sun greats me mockingly, reminding me of how little sleep I managed to get the night before. Enter the breakfast cookie.

Matt has been traveling again. This means I am up with the kids. On mornings he is home, he gets everyone breakfast before leaving for work. When he is gone, I stumble down the stairs, cheery babe in arms, and growl a greeting of  'morning' to any small person I happen to pass. My kids learned while they were quite little not to bug mommy before her morning coffee.

These cookies buy me time to make a real breakfast. It holds over small tummies until my eyeballs stop rolling into the back of my head. I suppose they could be a meal if you are on the run bright and early. I refuse to commit to being anywhere with 4 children before the respectable hour of 9 a.m. These are also healthy snacks for kids to be able to serve themselves on the days that baby J decides he needs to nurse THE ENTIRE DAY. No one starves.
So if you find yourself to be less than plesent company when the sun arises, or if you are forced to be anywhere at the early and ungodly hours, this is something you should tuck into your pocket. The recipe, not the cookie, although the cookie would fit into your pocket nicely as long as you don't mind eating a little lint.


Peanut butter Banana Breakfast Cookies

  • 4  very ripe bananas, mashed until smooth & creamy
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter ~ creamy or chunky 
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups quick oatmeal  ~ uncooked  
  • 1/2 cup raisins or crasins
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips 
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix mashed banana & peanut butter until completely combined then add in the applesauce, dump in everything else ~ mix again until all are completely combined. 

Let dough rest for 10 minutes This keeps you from having soupy cookies.

Drop cookie dough, by spoonfuls, onto a cookie sheet & flatten cookies into rounds. Bake for 20ish minutes or until lightly brown and totally set. Cool for a few minutes before removing from cookies sheet. ENJOY!! (With or without pocket lint)


Friday, August 17, 2012

The act of serving

Often when I sit down at my laptop, I have a blog post pretty much written out in my head. I am an internal processor who refines with the written word. Forgive me, this time, for that isn't the case.

I have such a heart for "the least of these". Not "least" because they matter the least, but because that is how they are treated. Even our government throws money at the problem, when love and knowing a new way of life is more the cure. Conceptually, my heart bleeds for the broken and disenfranchised. The old, the orphans, the sick tug at everything from my heart to spirit. I talk to others about them, I blog about it. I even give money to causes. I feel so frustrated by myself when my actions struggle to line up with my heart.

Yesterday, baby boy was being high needs. He isn't, usually. Pretty chill for a babe of not yet 3 months, content to watch his sister, nurse and nap, snuggle with whomever has a free arm. Not yesterday. He wanted to be held, not happy in a sling, won't be entertained by sisters silly antics or songs. And not just in my arms, but interacted with, talked to, tickled and sung to. He wanted to eat for all of 2 minutes before deciding he was done only to be convinced he was surly going to STARVE if he wasn't immanently  fed 30 minutes later. It was exhausting.

I our house we have an on going expectation of service. Annabelle is to little to turn the water on to wash her hands so a big sis is expected to help. Not just expected to help, but have a good attitude about it. There are things we all need help with, I need Matt to lift heavy things because he is stronger than me. Eliana needs me to make her pancakes because it isn't safe for her to use the stove yet. Addilyn needs Elie to help her cut out picture and tear off tape. We serve each other, it is a culture I try had to cultivate in our home, an attitude that we meet needs for others to the best of our ability. It is what love looks like when used as a verb.

Some days I find myself just doing things to keep the kids busy and out of my hair. Even as I type that it seems so cold. I am not called to find ways to make my life easier, not that I should intentionally go out of my way to make it hard. When my focus becomes my comfort, my lack of irritation, my ability to check things off my list, I am not living in love or service. God gave me my children and gave them to me with needs. Needs that I can meet, the need for my attention, my snuggles, my choosing to play with them and there fore making them feel important.

Children are not convenient, nor were they supposed to be. There is nothing like a child to make you see how selfish you are. Dying to yourself to make way for something bigger and better is uncomfortable, painful even, but so necessary. You can't be filled up with love when you are filled up with your own need for comfort, there just isn't room. I have written of love before, how it is less emotion and more endurance. I feel like just when I start to grasp what love might look like, I am again struck with how very little I get it.

On days where my older children are mostly left to fend for themselves as I care for the littlest member of our family, I have to pray, once again, about the state of my heart. Lord, let me be a servant to the least of these. Let my words be kind and actions be patient, make it not all about me and my comfort. Let my children see joy in care, let me be a model for words in action, love in motion.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The tyranny of STUFF

I have a little exercise for you. Put away your running shoes, it isn't that type of exercise. This one requires a paper and pencil. Quickly jot down the things that fill your time. Things like work, shop, clean, surf the web (damn you FACEBOOK) care for children, talk with husband. Now, write down what percentage of your time you spend doing each activity.

Ok, new sheet of paper.Now write down what you say your priorities are. Compare lists.  Do you see where I am going with this? Of course you do. If your list is like mine God, family and relationships are close to the top of the list of things you believe to be important. Funny how my time doesn't reflect that.

How much of my day is spent caring for stuff, buying stuff, or working so I can pay for my stuff? Driving my kids to activities isn't really the same as being present with them. Occupying the same couch as Matt isn't the same as being invested. Calling my friends for dinner once a week isn't making relationship a priority. The list is pretty ugly in my life.

It came to my attention that I have achieved the "American Dream". House? Check. 2 cars? Check. Mini van full of kids? Check. Husband with a great job? Check. I am so blessed. But you know what? This isn't MY dream. I know everyone says it should be, and I am of course thrilled that I live comfortably, but I don't think that I have "arrived". My dream still feels unfulfilled. It is like being hungry and filling your belly with white rice. Sure, you might be less hungry, but your taste-buds long for more flavor, your body craves more nutrition. You see the variety of succulent fruit, savory herbs and flavorful meats. It isn't that you need MORE to be happy, you just need different.

What if I took the everyone-elses-dream and politely handed it back. What if I said "no thanks" to the life full of "white rice" and chose to live in a small house with very little stuff. What if I chose a plate with less food but more color, texture and flavors. What would people think?  Would they feel bad for my kids, forced to share rooms with less toys? Would they think that Matt just couldn't hold down a good job that allowed us to live big? Do I actually give a rip what they believe?

Do to some possible big changes coming up in our next couple of months, I was thinking of the bare minimum I could have and be happy. How many outfits? Shoes? Pots and pans? How much space do I need? If I could be happy with 10 outfits total, and the same for my kids, how much time would I spend caring for clothing? If we had 1/4 amount of toys as we do now, how much more creatively could my kids play? If I have 1/10th the amount of space to care for, how many more stories would I read to the kids, puzzles would I build, pretend worlds would I discover? Could I give up the plate of filling yet predictably the same, empty carbohydrate rice and go for unknown, less full plate of pallet quenching munchies?

I came across a great blog about a couple who decided to each keep no more than 100 personal items. That  includes things like a toothbrush and underwear. Cell phones. Computer. Could I do that? What would I learn about myself, my children, the condition of my heart?

I am not sure how we got to the place where more stuff or better stuff equals more happiness. Matt spends a lot of time and energy at work, but if we could live on half the money and he could work half as much and we had one quarter amount of the items we have now, could we be more present, more happy? Could  we serve more, give more, love more?

If the American dream, keeping up with the Jones', isn't my dream for our family, what is?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chocolate Beet Cake

So I thought I might loose some baby weight by joining a CSA (community supported agriculture, or a "farm share") but I am thinking it might not be the case. I have made some amazing pesto, both cilantro lime and basil, that is just delish on pasta or chicken. And then there is the mint that just begs for mojitos. Greens are so good cooked up with bacon and onions. Everyone knows that cucumbers taste great with feta.  But the real problem? Beets.

Before I join another CSA, I am going to ask if the farmer has a strange beet fetish. I have received a bunch of beets EVERY WEEK since the summer started. I had never cooked beets before, but always being one to try new things I gave it a go. We roasted them. We steamed them, We grilled them. And as my friend Jen ever so politely put it, the still "taste like dirt". Literally. Huh.

So here I am, a crisper full of beets, greens removed and sauteed. I remembered my friend Jodi telling me about a chocolate beet cake. With nothing to lose, I steamed and mashed a blender full of beets and OH MY WORD...Beet Cake rocks my socks, people!

This cake is almost healthy. My children love it. I have made it twice and am going to make it again (after all, I keep getting more beets) Yes, I adapted it from its original form, this almost goes without saying. But you must try it. SOOO GOOD!~ I should have taken a "food porn" picture for you all to enjoy, but I couldn't. My fingers were sticky with chocolate.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. coconut oil
  • 1/2 c. greek yogurt 
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 ounce semisweet chocolate
  • 2 cups pureed cooked beets
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (if GF use 1/2 c. each oat, rice and corn starch with 2 tsp xanthan gum)
  • 1/2 c. coco powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • confectioners' sugar

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix  1/2 cup oil and brown sugar. Add eggs; mix well. Melt chocolate; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. Blend chocolate mixture, beets and vanilla into the creamed mixture (mixture will appear separated). Combine flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Pour into a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake at 375 degrees F for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Cool completely. Before serving, dust with confectioners' sugar. Or better yet, top with chocolate chip frosting!!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Remembering

I don't really feel like I have the words to sum up a life, everything I write will fall short. My friend Aimee passed away yesterday. She fought long and hard, but in the end, the cancer won.

You may remember that I wrote about her several years ago. Aimee was in her early 30's when she found out she had stage 4 breast cancer. I didn't understand it then, I still don't today. It seems so unfair, her life cut so short. Just as she should be celebrating her daughter graduating from Kindergarten she is making choices weather to keep fighting or keep comfortable.

I know when her husband Joe stood at the alter and said "Till' death do us part" he was assuming they would be old and gray, rocking in chairs and watching great grandbabies. And that is how it should be. Her husband was her biggest advocate, he has stepped up in every way, and now he is left to parent their kids by himself.

Our kids are the same ages. I remember watching our first borns learn to crawl. I remember being pregnant with our second babies while trying to keep up with our first. I remember sitting in the back yard nursing our new little ones while our girls, who seemed so big them, played on the swings. We talked of life and parenting and marriage. My heart is heavy knowing her kids memories of her will be after she was sick.

So today I will cry. I will morn a life that ended to soon, a husband who had to say goodbye and two children who won't get to snuggle with mommy any more. But Aimee love Jesus. So while my heart is heavy and my eyes are wet here on earth, I will turn to the Great Comforter and know that Aimee and I will one day sit and talk about life, parenting and marriage once again.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana Cake with Chocolate Frosting

I buy bananas at Costco. I buy 6 lbs at a time. This sounds like, and is, a lot of bananas. Strangely enough, rarely do I have one go brown. If I do, the girls are thrilled because it means I will be making bread, muffins or this awesome cake. If you left the frosting off, you could call it breakfast. But if you leave the frosting off, we can't be friends any more. If you want to eat it for breakfast, I won't tell. I will be too busy hiding in the bathroom so my kids don't see me eating cake.


Peanut Butter Banana Sheet Cake

Ingredients:
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup milk
1/2 cup applesauce
2 squished brown bananas
1 1/2 cup  brown sugar
2 cups flour (if GF use 1 c. brown rice, 1/2 c. oat and 1/2 c. sorgum with 2 tsp xanthan gum)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla

Frosting:
3/4 cup butter
6 Tbsp cream cheese
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 c. coco powder 
1 Tbsp vanilla

Sunday, July 29, 2012

All about a Penis

Once upon a time, long ago, we were expecting our first child. Not knowing wither the child was to be male or female and being a first time mom, I devoured any and all information I could. I formed many opinions, most of which I disregarded as the reality of parenting collided with the " and the plan is..."

Three little girls later, we found ourselves with considerably less opinions and more children. When we discovered another child was on the way, and the child was male, we found one opinion yet remained. We would leave our son intact.

Before having babies, I must say I gave very little thought to penises. I am a girl with all sisters and it wasn't exactly a dinner conversation at our house. But when I found myself facing the reality of raising a boy, I just couldn't get my head around loping off a piece of a perfectly healthy child for no good reason except that it exists. The research and science backed my choice and so our son has remained as God crated him.

If you are interested in the reasoning, feel free to read the below. If you are feeling of strong stomach (and are not at work) watch a video of a baby getting circumcised. If you find yourself completely freaked and blushing about the fact you just read a blog post about a penis, sorry about that.

http://www.thebirthingsite.com/birth/newborn-care/item/320-7-reasons-i-chose-not-to-circumcise-our-son.html

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Meet the (Grand) Parents

 Dad swung by our place on his way to Cairo to check out grandbaby #10
 My mom's folks approve! This is great grand kid #14 for them.
 My mom wasted no time in snuggling baby J, who looks massive in this picture.
 Grandma and Grandpa Ross both said he passed inspection!

 Nana was impressed by how much he had grown since she saw him last
And Grandpa Craig couldn't wait to take J on his very first carousel ride.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Freedom

Once upon a time, I thought the 4th of July was about fire works. I enjoyed the festivity and picnic, the time off work and with family. Sure, being an American, I knew what it was really about; our independence and yada yada yada.

I married into a family of all boys. One of these boys grew up and felt called to be a marine. My grandfather had been in the service, as had a cousin, but this was the first time I had someone close to me commit some of their life to defending the country I called home.

It wasn't long before my little brother was deployed. Oh how we prayed. We talked a few times while he was serving over seas, each time my heart worried I may not get to talk to him again. And I was just a sister, one who married into the family at that, I know his mothers heart was far more troubled. But God saw it fit to bring him home.

This Marine fell in love, married and gave me a sister who I adore. But now I had two people making a sacrifice, because the wives of those in our service are fighting their own battles. There little family remained brave through out another deployment over seas.

Never have I been so struck by the cost of what we have as when those I love were paying the price for what I take for granted. My children can safely play, be schooled, walk down the street because of the time spent by a few serving the many. I can write freely without fear of anything but sticking my foot in my mouth because they said they would keep us safe.

So, on this 4th of July, thank a soldier. Or a husband or wife of one for choosing to put their life at risk so that you can enjoy the freedom that was earned so many years ago on this day. I am not always proud of the behavior of Americans, the choices we as a country make, but I will always be proud of my little brother, because I know the heart of every solider dies a little in war and he chose to do it so our country could remain free.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Date Night

I love those articles that say good couples with healthy marriages have regular date nights. I would like to meet these couples, see if they live a thousand miles away from family, have 4 children 6 and under, and the extra income to toss around to baby sitters for watching said 4 children.

Pardon the snark, but sometime reality gets in the way of date night. I don't exactly have a line of people begging to watch the kids for free and by the time we pay a baby sitter we have enough money to go sit in the parking lot of a nice eatery and drink a slushy from the gas station, and we would have to share the slushy.

So we improvise. Tuesday is the day we pick up our CSA share. We also get our cheese and fresh fruit. So, at the Crocker house, Tuesday is "date night". 


Our girls are in bed by 8:00 or so. Baby boy usually crashes by a little after that. We get a cheap-ish bottle of wine, wash some yummy fresh veggies, pull out some cracker and olives to go with our cheese, and slice up some fresh fruit. We sit at the table, no cell phones or ipads, no tv on, just 2 grown ups having a nice conversation. 

Often our date is interrupted by a little girl with a bad dream or a baby who needs to eat, but that is reality. Maybe one day we will be the happy, healthy couple who wears something other than yoga pant with a t-shirt and a nursing bra on date nights, but for now, this will do. I will be grateful for mediocre wine, really great cheese, fruit and veggies, and a husband who has low standards for date attire.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Kids

 Baby J, asleep in his favorite place, on my chest. Baby boy is happiest in someones, usually my, arms. He is sweet but smiles are hard to come by still.
 Boo Belle. A whole lot of attitude in a pretty small package. She is SUCH a 2 year old, swinging from wanting to make all the choices and having total control to wanting to be the baby and be in my lap.
 Eliana is every bit the big sis. Take charge (sounds so much nicer than "bossy") and over all pretty helpful...if she can remember what it is exactly you asked her to do. Loves to talk. And talk. And talk.
 These two are peas in a pod, becoming such good friends as big sister is sometimes a bit too old to play there games.
Addilyn Joy. Such a character. Most likely to make a mess, and if you look closely at this photo you will see yogurt still smeared on her face. Falls out of chairs at least once a day from being squirly.