Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mayhem in the Kitchen

So yesterday I was determined to be organized (I normally don't like cooking on the weekends), and make a casserole to set on time bake for Sunday lunch. Not only that, but we made hamburgers, beats over salad, and yogurt smoothies for lunch. (and by the way, thank you to vehement flame for the suggestion for cooking beets. DELICIOUS!) So anyway, my kitchen looked like it had exploded by mid-afternoon and my sweet husband was washing dishes while I de-boned my chicken and prepared my casserole. All was going along well and we were talking about how ready we were to get out of the kitchen when I got out my casserole dish and set it on the stove to wait until I had everything ready to go in it. The problem was that I had just finished cooking the rice and had left the burner on without realizing it and set my casserole dish on the hot burner. Matt described the show as spectacular. I didn't see it, but the sound nearly scared me to death. I'm praising the Lord that Benjamin happened to be inside the cabinet playing when it happened. Otherwise he would probably have been cut pretty bad with where he was playing. My foot was hurting pretty bad, but I didn't see anything wrong until a puddle of blood (sorry for those of you who may be squeamish) started forming around my foot. Even I was grossed out by it. The saddest part for me was that my freshly de-boned chicken, my broccoli, and my homemade mushroom soup were all uncovered and had to be thrown away since there were glass shards all around them. I nearly cried. I HATE de-boning chicken. The good news was that my kitchen had been in desperate need of a good cleaning for a few weeks and I just hadn't gotten around to doing it. But in order to clean all the glass up, we had to move the stove and fridge out and clean everything thoroughly. So needless to say, we just got back from eating out for Sunday dinner. :)
Yep, those red spots on the floor are my blood. Ewwww!

Friday, January 23, 2009

More Cuteness

I'm pretty sure I've officially set my own blogging record today. I think this one makes seven. But this video cracks me up. What was even funnier was just now watching Benjamin watch this video and mimic everything he was doing in the video. Then, he started saying things and looking expectantly at the computer screen as if he thought his video would copy him. He's so funny!

Such a Cutie!

Benjamin loves this cabinet. He used to take all the pots and pans out and climb in it. Now he just climbs right in with everything and closes the door on himself. He waits for a while and then throws the door open and says "hi." It's SO cute. He didn't quite get into the dramatic "hi" in this one because he saw the camera, but I still love it.

Pictures with Olana

Last weekend we had pictures done with Olana and Benjamin. I went to Austin with Benjamin while Matt worked and Olana and I had a great time getting pictures done, running some errands and going out to lunch. Once again, I'm so thankful for open adoption and for the blessing of Olana in our lives. Here are some of my favorites from our photo shoot.

Focusing on the Gifts, or the Giver?

I am reading a great book right now by John Piper called "A Hunger for God." The book is about fasting, which I actually didn't know when I got it from the library, but the title looked good, so I decided to read it. It's been super challenging. As I've continued to journey with God in His way of building our family, I've struggled so much with wondering why He has taken us down this particular road. I often feel like it would just be so much easier if we could just have biological children like most of the rest of the world. After going through a failed adoption I have found myself questioning whether God will even allow us to have more children. And then I get frustrated and angry. But I serve such an amazing God because He pursues me even when I have all these questions that tend to make me feel far away from Him. So right now, I feel like He is pursuing me through this book. I have been so struck by the simple concept that God wants us to hunger after Him more than His gifts. I have heard this concept before, but always thought of it in terms of money or material possessions. But as I have read, I have realized children are also His gifts to us. And I'm seeing that He wants me to desire Him above even the precious gift of children. When I write this, it sounds so simple, but living it out day to day is challenging. But I want the kind of Hunger for God that makes me passionate about Him whether He is giving, or taking away, or asking us to wait. Not a hunger for Him so that He will bless me with His gifts, but a hunger for Him alone.

Just for Fun!

Well, I never usually do those little things where you get tagged to tell this or that many things about yourself, but I was in the mood to do it today after I was tagged on Facebook, so I did. Since I spent so much time on it, I thought I would post it here for those of you who are not on Facebook.

The Rules were that I was supposed to post 25 random facts, interests, habits, or goals about myself. So, here they are:

1. I never usually do these things, but just for fun, I am doing this one
2. I love the way the Lord pursues me and teaches me, even when I'm stubborn and proud and that He never lets go of me, but keeps His promise never to leave me.
3. My dream has always been to be a mommy, ever since I was a little girl. God took me on quite a journey to motherhood, but I'm so blessed with my sweet son Benjamin.
4. I love going to the gym - something about being around other people working out is very motivating to me
5. I love to blast music in my house and dance around like a crazy woman with my son, who for now thinks it's the best thing ever.
6. I used to get spring fever every year when we lived in Indiana and the first warm day of the year I would HAVE to be outside as much as possible to soak in the sunshine. Now that we are in Texas, I get fall fever when it finally gets cool enough to enjoy being outside.
7. My idea of a great vacation is somewhere where there are things to do if we want to, but no pressure to do them if we don't. And where there is a great beach and I have lots of good books to read while I sit on it. I also think a cruise would be fun!
8. When I find something I'm interested in, I do it with everything I've got. Unfortunately this often leads to burnout and I get tired of it and give up - guess I need to work on that.
9. The area that has captured my interest at this time is my family's health. I practically live in the kitchen as I'm experimenting with new things. I'm hoping that healthy eating will become a way for life for us, and not just a whim.
10. This past New Years was only my second time to see the ball drop on TV (last year was my first time), and I'm still wondering what all the fuss is about.
11. I love changes of seasons. There's just something so refreshing about them.
12. I played the piano for 10 years and even started college as a piano major, but I hate performing, so I gave it up. Now I wish we had a piano so I could play sometimes just for fun.
13. I still kind of act like a 5 year old when it comes time for my birthday. I get all excited that it's coming and I love getting spoiled by my hubby.
14. I had a crush on Matt when I first met him when I was 15 and I told God he was the one I wanted to marry. I'm so thankful that God gave me what I asked for.
15. I loved Basketball when I was in in high school and since I was homeschooled in a small town, there were no teams for me to play on, so I started a team in our homeschool group. Being the naive and sheltered children that we were, we decided it would be cool to name our team "The Black Panthers." To this day I cannot believe all of our parents allowed us to put felt letters on our uniforms with that name and then go out a play against other teams.
16. I just love watching Benjamin learn and comprehend the world around him. He just gets so excited about it all.
17. One of the coolest airports I have ever been in was in Abu Dhabi. Royal blue mosaic tiles were all over the walls and it was beautiful.
18. I am terrified of heights. My heart pounds and I start to sweat even when I'm several feet away from the edge of something. However, I love flying. Go figure.
19. I love empty spaces. I love walking into a closet or looking in a drawer and seeing room. Even if something is well organized, I hate when it's filled to capacity with stuff.
20. I really wonder what heaven will be like.
21. One of my favorite things about San Antonio is my church. I'm so thankful for good friends there.
22. Sunsets are one of my favorite things to watch - I never get tired of seeing each one.
23. I'm addicted to reading other people's blogs.
24. Bluebell ice cream is definitely my favorite. I will miss it if we ever move back north.
25. Coming up with 25 things about myself was actually really hard to do and I have wasted way too much time doing it. :)

Get Those Veggies In!

Since I naturally tend toward sweet things, getting enough fruit in my diet is never a problem. Veggies however, are often more difficult. Here are a few ways we have been incorporating more veggies in our days:

-Adding chopped spinach or zucchini to our scrambled eggs - this is especially great because Benjamin will eat them without a single complaint. We have also added green peppers and onions before, but since Benjamin usually spits those out, I am really liking the spinach and squash.

- Adding veggies to our rice. Matt found this great recipe for rice that is cooked in the oven with chopped celery, carrots, onions, and cilantro. Delicious and wonderful for you! I have also chopped spinach up very small and thrown it in the rice as soon as it's done so that it's just barely wilted and that was good too.

- veggie sticks to snack on during the day - this is the hardest for me. When I want a snack, the last thing I usually reach for is something like veggies, but carrots and celery dipped in peanut butter makes a great snack and gets in a few more veggies.

- Salad at least once a day - this can be so versatile depending on what you have on hand. Sometimes our salads are just lettuce and cucumbers, but other times we have them with grated carrots, radishes, peppers, avocados, and feta cheese. Yum!

- a side veggie with dinner each night. Along with trying to add veggies to the main dish and having a salad, I usually try to have a side veggie. Sometimes these are simply green beans or broccoli, but this is where I am trying to branch out and have us try something new every once in a while. Interesting vegetables can get expensive, but since we only do something different about once a week, it's not too bad. We tried brussel sprouts last week and they were wonderful. This week we are giving beets a try. We'll see about those. I've never been a fan, but I've also never had them where they weren't pickled out of a can.

Yummy Pancakes

This was an absolutely crazy week. I had to go somewhere every day except today which meant that I was more rushed in getting things done in the kitchen and around the house. On top of that, poor Matt is sick and we have not been sleeping well because of it. Yucky Mountain Cedar! We're pretty sure his sickness was spurred on by the cedar allergies. So he's home early today getting some rest and I just put a pot of chicken and veggies on the stove to make a broth that will hopefully be soothing for him later on.

So due to my crazy week, I was super tired last night and didn't feel like cooking anything at all. Unfortunately, whenever I get that tired, what I usually want to do is eat pizza and chocolate chip cookies with a huge scoop of ice cream. But since it was not our splurge night, I had to come up with another plan. Breakfast for dinner. Yay for my husband who loves breakfast any time of day. I had tried some pumpkin pancakes a few months back and they were OK, but not something I would make again. But I had this pumpkin in the freezer that was calling to me, so I decided to use my normal pancake recipe and substitute pumpkin for some of the milk. They were SO good! Topped with some chopped pecans, unsweetened whipping cream, and a smidgen of honey (we were out of maple syrup), and I felt like we were having dessert night after all. Of course I also made us some eggs with grated zucchini and chopped spinach and we had salads on the side, but those pancakes sure hit the spot. Wanna Try em?

This recipe is one that I grew up with that I have adapted to be 100% whole wheat. Now I just need to figure out how to soak them without changing their fluffiness and they will be perfectly healthy!

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Griddle Cakes

1 3/4 Cups + 1 heaping Tablespoon Whole Wheat Flour
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
2 Tablespoon Sucanat or Rapadura
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 Cup Milk
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil or melted butter
3/4 Cup Pureed Pumpkin

Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients together and stir into dry ingredients just until all is moist. Drop by spoonful onto hot griddle. Serve with butter, unsweetened whipped cream, chopped pecans, honey, peanut butter, or real maple syrup and enjoy!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Pictures from the Week

Benjamin is growing up SO fast! This week marks one year since we finalized his adoption. I can hardly believe it. We plan to make this a special time each year and celebrate as a family. Since the actual date of his finalization was the 14th and Matt had to study that night, we will be celebrating tonight by going out for ice cream. As Benjamin grows and begins to understand adoption more, we hope having this little tradition will help him understand how very special he is.

Here are a few pictures from this past week:
I am so thrilled that Benjamin is still such a book lover. Since Matt and I are both big readers, it's so fun to see Benjamin enjoying it too. He's doing great at pointing out the different animals when we say them and naming several of them too.

He loves to color and he's getting better about not putting the crayons in his mouth. I still had to pull some chewed up crayon out of his mouth this time, but he mostly just enjoys coloring. I'm glad that crayons seem to wipe off the table pretty easily. :)
After attempting to cut Benjamin's hair a few times and struggling because he moved so much, I decided to take him to Wal-mart and let them try. I thought it would be cheap. Ha! $12 with the tip is not what I call cheap, but at least now I was able to watch what she did and I can definitely do it myself next time.
I love this picture. Matt was reading his Bible one morning and Benjamin climbed right up and sat beside him reading his own books. So sweet!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Resolutions Part 2

Well life has certainly felt busier since I began in earnest to get us eating healthier. At times I feel like I spend all my time in the kitchen. But after a week I am noticing that I have more energy on most days and well, I just feel better knowing that we are eating better. Last week was a fun week of experimentation and along with making regular meals, I made some homemade whole wheat crackers and made yogurt for the first time. Very fun! Benjamin is such a cracker boy, so it's great to have a healthy alternative for him, especially in the church nursery. Oh and I also made an Asian Sesame salad dressing that is amazing.
This week I will be starting a sour dough starter following the directions given here, as well as trying a new bread recipe that is soaked.

Now on to my other resolutions.

This year in our church is "The Year of the Bible" and we will as a church be reading through the Bible in a year. I have attempted this in the past and usually get bogged down in Numbers and either skip on to Joshua, or stop altogether. But I love accountability and doing it along with our church is just what I need.

I have also set myself a goal to read one Christian non-fiction book a month. One a month doesn't seem like much, but I think it's reasonable for this season of our lives. I am currently reading "A Hunger for God" by John Piper and it's really good. I need to come up with a list of others that I should read. I'd love suggestions on this one. :)

As I've mentioned before, I struggle with taking time to just play with Benjamin. I love spending time with him, but often I get to the end of the day and realize that while I've been with him as he's followed me around the house, I haven't spent time teaching him or playing with him. So my goal is to do this for at least 30 minutes 4 days a week. I'd really like to do more than that, but for now that is my goal. When he gets older, I am truly going to have to be more organized or homeschooling will never work. So I guess I'll start gradually now with the organization.

Well, those are pretty much my big goals for the year. When I look at them, they don't seem like much, but I still like having a few goals to begin the year with.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Nourishing New Years Resolutions

I just love having a new year in front of me. I love that feeling of a fresh start to life. I love to think of God and how He is not bound by time and never needs a fresh start, but I think He knows that we do. And so as this year gets started (and is already passing far too quickly), I thought I would share a few of my goals for the year.

I struggle with health related goals because I get so excited about a new thing and put my whole being into it only to get tired after a couple of weeks and decide it's not worth the effort. But this year is my fresh start and I really want to stick to the plan. So, here are my goals:

-Cut out refined sugar and flour from our diets completely
-Dessert only once a week made with healthy flours, sweeteners, and fats
-Find ways to include more variety of vegetables in our meals. (get outside the box of carrots, peppers, celery, and lettuce) On this one, we tried eggplant this week and well, I just cannot stand the texture of it, so I will continue my search for other varieties. This will also include learning about what vegetables are in season at particular times in Texas and eating what's in season.
-Learn about cultured veggies and hopefully incorporate them into our regular meals.
-I want to learn more about soaking grains so I can add that step into my baking. I have been making our bread for a while, but currently I purchase WW flour from the store. I would like to do more research on purchasing grain and a mill so I can incorporate different flours into my bread making as well.
-Lastly, this may be a stretch, but I'd love to find a way to get a few fresh eggs and some raw milk so I can begin making our own mayo and yogurt.

This post is part of the Nourishing New Years Resolutions Carnival found on the Nourishing Gourmet website.

I'll try to share some of my spiritual and family related goals in the next few days.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Meeting the family

One of the blessings of open adoption is that often you get more family. Kind of reminds me of when you get married. Suddenly you have another set of parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Well with open adoption, you get that too. We have been blessed to get to know Olana over the past year and a half of Benjamin's life and this past weekend we were blessed again to get to meet Benjamin's birth grandmother, great grandmother, great aunt, first cousin twice removed (actually we had met her before, but hadn't see her in a while, ) and his second cousin once removed. (I'll admit I had to draw myself a diagram to figure out all those firsts and seconds and removed things.) It was really fun to get to meet them and to have them meet sweet little Benjamin. We are so thankful for the blessing of adoption!

Four generations sitting on the couch - Benjamin's birth grandmother, his birthmother Olana, his first cousin twice removed, Benjamin, and his birth great grandmother. (left to right)
Just being silly with new friends
Benjamin quickly warmed up to Eric, his second cousin twice removed when gingersnaps were being offered

You Know you live in Texas when...

It's January 2nd and your son is playing in the sprinkler!

OK, well it was actually only 72, which is a little chilly for the sprinkler, but you also know you live in Texas when your grass is dying because of lack of rain and you have to water it on January 2nd. I turned the sprinkler on in the back and proceeded to the front with Benjamin to pull some of the weeds that were taking over our yard. Since we don't have much of a front yard, keeping Benjamin away from the street was a bit of a challenge. So eventually I opened the back gate and let him into the back to play while I finished up. But, I totally forgot about the sprinkler and a few minutes later when I finished and went to the back, there he was, enjoying himself thoroughly. At least it was a warmish day!

Thank you Grandpa and Grandma Davis and Uncle Joel

Last week we were at our friends Brian and Katie's house and they had a super cool basketball hoop that their son Cale had gotten for Christmas. Benjamin LOVED it! We had been given a couple of gift cards to get things for Benjamin, but we were having a hard time deciding what he would really enjoy. So when we saw him loving playing basketball, we decided that a hoop would be a great idea for him. So far it's been a hit. He loves to bring the ball to us and have us put it in the hoop. He's also getting better at throwing it in himself. For months he has been watching some of the neighborhood kids outside playing basketball and calling out "ball" every time he sees a hoop, so it's fun to see that he likes it. Plus his mommy really likes basketball. :) Thanks to Matt's parents and my brother Joel for the gifts cards!
His first dunk
He's a little confused at times about which part to put the ball through

Oh yes, and the box the hoop came in is tons of fun as well!