Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The end

Every time I think about 2008 there are a few things that stand out in my mind. Lessons learned, decisions made, steps taken and relationships that grew. Lots of great memories and certainly some that bring a pang of regret and disappointment.

It's been a year of big decisions for Cale and me. We finally began the adoption process after almost 9 months of waiting. We realized that the Lord was leading us to a new place and so we left what had been our church home for over 5 years. We sent Haven off to preschool one day a week and simultaneously began our home schooling journey with her.

2008 has been a year of growth, both personally and in our marriage. Cale and I have worked through a lot of difficult things in our 6+ years of marriage and this year has been no different. We've made decisions that no one else agreed with and pressed on together, confident that we were following the direction that the Lord gave us. We were reminded oh so frequently just how hard marriage can be. But we also have tasted and seen just how good is, too.

This year has been full of blessings, truly beyond what we could have ever imagined. I haven't said much about it here, but the mom's Bible study that I've been a part of all year has been invaluable. These women have walked alongside me through some hard times and have been a constant encouragement and support. When I think of 2008 I will definitely remember the way the Lord brought this small group of women together. I am so thankful for each of them!

And then there's Haven...she is amazing. Cale and I are constantly in awe of this wonderful little girl. It amazes me to think back on all she's learned this past year and how we have seen her develop and experience endless new things. Her soft little heart, her encouraging words, her grasp of concepts and language, her enthusiasm for pretty much anything and let's not forget her sassy little attitude. The Lord has used this past year to further grow Cale and I as parents and what a refining process that is! We are savoring these closing days of having one child, but can hardly wait til we have 2. If ever a child were made to be an older sibling, it's Haven!

And so it ends. The final hours of 2008 are here and I'm ready to say goodbye. It hasn't been a bad year; it hasn't been a great year. It's just been life; really high highs and terribly low lows and a whole lot of in betweens. But we have always had The Faithful One leading us through, moment-by-moment. He alone carries us into a new year and I can't wait to see it unfold!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas 2008

Christmas morning at our house was great fun this year! Haven was delighted with all her gifts and repeatedly exclaimed, "I always wanted one of these for my own self!"

Her first look at the tree and all the gifts that await us.

One of the gifts I knew she would be very excited about- a carrier for her baby dolls. She is all about being a mommy and taking great care of her babies.

Our budding musician playing both her new "pean-o" and horn (AKA a Saxoflute) at the same time. There is video of this moment, but it's a little hard on the ears so I decided to spare you!

Haven also received a box of dress-up clothes. Her first order of business with the clothes was to "get wedded" to Papa so here she is walking down the aisle. She was adamant that she needed pom-poms to "get wedded". I love this picture because it is such a perfect snapshot of the exuberance and excitement that Haven takes into just about everything she does!

And now it's the Monday after Christmas. We returned home from Nashville last night where we spent the last few days with our family. We spent lots of time hanging out, playing games (we got a new one called Imagniff- really fun!), and trying to keep tabs on 6 kids who were so excited to be together. My sister-in-law took us around the greater Nashville area on Friday to several different thrift stores and we all scored some major deals. We ate a lot of good food prepared by my brothers- both great cooks. They just have quantity issues and make waaay too much of everything.

I'm glad to be home today. We decided to put off returning to normal one more day and Cale took the day off and we went out to breakfast and did some shopping. Tonight will find us ordering pizza, playing High-Ho Cherry-o and watching "Annie" with Haven. Maybe a trip to the library, too, since it is one of Haven's favorite places. I can't think of a better way to end our Christmas celebrating!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas prep

The last few weeks have found us busy in the kitchen. Haven absolutely loves to help me and here she is mixing together some sugar cookie dough.

Here's the face of a happy kitchen helper enjoying the perks.

This morning found us all home together for breakfast and some buttermilk that needed to be used up. So I whipped up a batch of these pancakes and then recalled seeing Rudolph on the Little Nummies site (which is so fun to browse through and get great ideas on making everyday food a little more fun!) Here's my attempt. Haven loved it! She thought it was so silly to eat M&M's for breakfast!

The next few days will find us hanging out with friends, playing, eating, travelling, enjoying our little family and our extended one, too, and celebrating the One who makes it all possible!

Monday, December 22, 2008

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas

During the first 22 Christmases of my life we had exactly one Christmas without at least a few inches of snow on the ground. Christmas was white, period. It was not something I thought much about and certainly took for granted. Then I moved here. Snow is not a given during winter months and is actually more of a rare occurrence then anything else. I find that disheartening. I enjoy the snow. And I long to see a snow covered ground on Christmas morning. We have had exactly zero white Christmases since Cale and I moved here 7 falls ago. (Well, one of them was white, but wouldn't you know it- we weren't here! We were living in Namibia! And it was oh about, 110 degrees there!)

It's not looking likely that there will be any snow on the ground come Christmas morning. But what do those weather people know anyways! I'm still holding out hope (and yes, even praying a small prayer or two) that my dreams will come true. And if they don't, I have mastered the art of delusion regarding this matter. The blinds and curtains will remain closed for the duration and we'll just pretend that the glow from outside is just the sun reflecting off the new fallen (imaginary) snow.

I'm so not kidding.

Here's to hoping for a white Christmas- one way or another!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

She understands more then she knows

The other night we were driving home from a friend's house and I was telling Haven a story about something that happened to her Nana several years ago, before Haven was born. We were trying to explain to her when that was and Haven said, "Oh, um, yeah, I know. That was back when I was still in God's heart."

Cale and I looked at each other and were marvelling over the sweetness of her answer when she interrupted and said, "Oh, no. I mean that was back when I was still in God's belly, right?"

How right she was with the first answer!

Monday, December 15, 2008

BooMama's Christmas Tour of Homes 2008

Welcome! So glad you stopped by for BooMama's Christmas Tour of Homes and arrived here at our happy home! Come on in and check out our tree. We are so happy with our "little" Fraser fir that we found this year. It's full of ornaments from all over the world and tells the story of our family. I love it! A few presents have found their way under the tree, but the wrapping is slow going just yet.

Our nativity and one of my favorite things- perched atop the entertainment armoire.

This is kind of an odd picture but shows off our advent calendar that my mom made. It's very similar to the one that we used growing up and is a treasured part of our Christmas traditions.

The sideboard is home to our Jesse Tree which is a new tradition we started last year. Our stockings are hung on the banister with care. I can't wait til there are four stocking to hang next year!

I have recessed shelving in my kitchen that always houses a variety of objects from vases, pictures to cookbooks and candles. Christmas finds it filled with another nativity, my favorite giant hot cocoa mugs and various Christmas-y odds and ends.

And since we're in the kitchen, how about a recipe? We made these treats this weekend and oh my, they are good!

Sweet Spiced Rosemary Pecans

2 cups pecan halves
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
a few drops hot sauce
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

Toss everything in bowl to coat well. Bake at 325F for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pale golden and fragrant. Cool completely. Makes about 2 cups. (Recipe courtesy of Dinner with Julie.)

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed seeing our home. I know I love sharing it all the time, but especially at Christmas!
May your home be filled with joy as we celebrate our Savior's birth! Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Just a little off

Tiny little snowflakes are falling out the window and I'm curled up on the couch, with a book, a blanket and a box of kleenex. It's been an off week at our house. I'm more aware today, then ever, that I set the tone for our home and when I'm off my game, we all are. I haven't felt well all week and today the results of that are everywhere I look; a load of laundry in the dryer from Tuesday that I still haven't folded, a dishwasher that needs emptied so another load can go in, floors that need vacuumed and a stack of Christmas projects that Haven and I have yet do. Cale has been unusually swamped with work so like I already said, it's been an off week.

I haven't been so happy to see a Saturday looming in front of me in quite some time. I've got a long list of things I hope to accomplish for the weekend, but for today, for this afternoon, I'm going to watch these little snowflakes trying hard to be classified as "snowing" and enjoy my book.

I know I mentioned this book before, but it's worth repeating! Go here and read Noel Piper's thoughts on "Especially Christmas". Gentle reminders on why we celebrate and helpful ideas on sharing that with our kids.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A poem and a song

I've walked around all day with a heaviness in my heart. I couldn't put my finger on what it was, but I just felt off. It's a rainy day, but certain errands needed to be done and it was one of those days where everything took longer then I thought it should; which it turn causes my patience to become shorter, shorter...short.


I had been dragging my feet all afternoon over the tasks I needed to accomplish and didn't feel much like making an effort to have a quiet time. But I knew I needed to- I always need to! So I did something I haven't done in far too long; poetry and music. I laid down on the couch, turned on my new favorite Christmas music and read some selected poems from "Miracle on 10th Street and Other Christmas Writings" by Madeleine L'Engle. Her writings are like old friends and I read through several short poems before the tears came. I laid there, in the moment; just being.

Being still. Being quiet. Being broken. Being open and available to whatever the Lord had for me.

"O Come, O Come Emmanuel" was the soundtrack for the moment and the tears flowed without me understanding why. And they just kept coming. In those moments, there was a release of things I didn't know I was holding on to and a filling of His peace that I knew I was missing. I've tried so hard to enjoy this celebration of Advent the last week. I've made every effort to be in the moment, not trying to create the perfect one. But today the Lord knew I needed something more. And He met me right where I was at, and let me just be.

"The ordinary so extraordinary"

He came, quietly impossible,

Out of a young girl's womb,

A love as amazingly marvelous

As his bursting from the tomb.

This child was fully human,

This child was wholly God.

The hands of All Love fashioned him

Of mortal flesh and bone and blood,

The ordinary so extraordinary

The stars shook in the sky

As the Lord of all the universe

Was born to live, to love, to die.

He came, quietly impossible:

Nothing will ever be the same:

Jesus, the Light of every heart-

The God we know by Name.

-Madeleine L'Engle-

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Making a list and checking it twice...and crossing everything off it!

Haven attended a Very Veggie Christmas program at a local church this morning. It's a great idea and she had a wonderful time. The church had the kids divided into age appropriate groups and they did crafts, had a puppet show, watched a Veggie Tales Christmas movie, ate lunch and got to "shop" for 2 people at the church store. She came home full of stories of what she'd done, a candy cane ornament to hang on the tree and presents for me and Cale, wrapped up and ready to go under the tree.

The whole idea of the Veggie Tale Christmas is to provide parents time to get some Christmas shopping done and even passed out coupons to parents as they left the building. So we did just that! It had been snowing all day long and provided the perfect backdrop for us to finish up our Christmas shopping. We ventured out to the local outlets and had a good morning shopping and just being together.

After one more stop this evening I am delighted to report that I AM DONE Christmas shopping! Honestly it isn't that great of an accomplishment because we didn't have that many presents to buy, but it still makes me feel good to have everything crossed off my list. I am also happy to say that we have stayed within budget and have made every effort to get thoughtful gifts, not just bought stuff to buy it. Know what I mean? That fills me with peace on earth (well at least my home!) and goodwill toward men!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

O tannenbaum

There are not many things that smell better then a fresh cut Christmas tree. That's how my house smells tonight and it makes me feel cozy and settled and incredibly nostalgic. Actually the nostalgia probably results from the decorating of the tree. You won't find some matchy-matchy "themed" tree at our house. It's a hodge podge of our lives and I can honestly say that I can tell you where each ornament came from. I love it.

I love our big colored lights that so many people think are tacky. I love the star on top that is too heavy to ever stand straight. I love our square tree skirt that (gasp!) Cale designed and my mom and I sewed our first Christmas together. I love the old blue glass ornament with silver stars that once hung on my grandfather's tree. A grandfather I only met through stories my dad told. In my mind I can still see my dad smile when he would pull that ball out of the ornament box and thoughtfully find a place for it on our tree growing up. There was always a great sigh of relief that it had survived another year. Now I'm the one pulling it out and remembering, not one, but two dads who are gone.

I am so glad that Cale and I started collecting Christmas ornaments on our honeymoon and have added to our collection each year when we celebrate our anniversary. So many ornaments, and so many memories...Haven's first Christmas and her little hand print ornament, the peach that graced our tree in Namibia, the cross stitched ornaments my mom made for me growing up, the ornament a thoughtful friend had made for us of our wedding day, the glass and wooden hand painted balls from places all over the world...

I guess our tree does have a theme. It tells a story of our life and the places that we've been and the people that we've loved. Memories that belong just to us; it's the story of us.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Haven's Christmas Program

Haven has been singing "Away in the Manger" since the end of September; that is when they started working on her school's Christmas program. Sunday night we finally got to see her in action with the rest of her classmates at their "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" Program. We weren't sure how Haven would react to being in front of such a large crowd, but she was wonderful! All the students walked in playing their drums to "Little Drummer Boy." Since Haven's class has the youngest kids, she was the last group to walk in, and because she stopped to give Cale a kiss and a high-five on the way, she was the last child up on stage. She ended up front row center! Which meant she was right in front of her music teacher which probably helped her to stay on task. She sang all her songs, made all the motions and smiled on cue. We were so proud of her!
Playing her drum, making an entrance
Smiling during the Parent Photo-Opp that they had scheduled into the program

My two favorites, after the big show!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Whirlwind weekend

The last few days have been a whirlwind! We had a wonderful Thanksgiving day with my family and ate more than our fair share of turkey. In fact, we are still eating it! (Tonight it is morphing into this.) It's always crazy being at my mom's house with 6 kids under 7, with 7 adults as well. This year we threw in a foreign exchange student, too. It was a fun, loud, food-filled day!

Friday morning, my mom, sister-in-law (who is 7 months pregnant) and I were just a few of the crazy people out shopping early. I picked them up at 5am and we were on our way! We have done this together the last few years and it is always so much fun. We went to 6 different stores and stopped for some nourishment and we're still back by 11am. We actually had to stop shopping because the back of my mom's SUV was filled with gifts! We got some amazing deals and made some great memories.

Saturday was probably the highlight of the weekend for me. Growing up my grandpa and his wife used to take our entire family on a sleigh ride at Christmas. By whole family I mean, my grandpa's six kids and spouses and his 10 grandkids. Some of my favorite childhood memories of Christmas are riding around their small western NY town singing Christmas carols and laughing with my cousins.

As our Christmas present to my brothers' and their families, Cale and I arranged a horse drawn sleigh ride for everyone. We found a place that could accommodate all of us and we rode out through the snow filled woods on a beautiful, crisp afternoon. We also rented a small cabin on the property and each of our nieces and nephews got to "drive" the horses as we rode out on the sleigh to the cabin. We brought snacks and hot chocolate and warmed up at the cabin while singing some Christmas songs. It was wonderful and everything I hoped it would be. I think that we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. My seven year old niece gave me a note when we got home thanking us for the gift. She said it was "the awesomest thing I have ever done in my whole life!"

Here's our little family on the sleigh (not that you can tell where we are!). Yes, I look like a dork wearing my sunglasses with my hat, but it was bright out in the woods!

We ended our holiday weekend with a loooong drive home, but we had an important engagement last night: Haven's Christmas Program! More about that tomorrow!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, from our little (slightly disgruntled) Pilgrim!

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.

Psalm 107:1

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The new room: In pictures

The new room is done! Well, almost. There are a few little things we need to finish up, but it is fully functioning and looking cute.

The new big bed

Haven had to be in a picture! Her cute little name sign I embroidered. You can't see it very well, but it turned out nicely.
Her bookcase is still a work in progress, but you get the idea. Bookcases are not that exciting.

The tree branch that looks like it's growing out of the door. It doesn't look that cool in pictures, but I love it in person. (And you can see the star on top of her little Christmas tree we decorated!)

The newly refurbished dresser (a $10 garage sale purchase 8 years ago!) and the artwork I made. Her favorite thing on the dresser is her new purple Tinkerbell alarm clock.

All snuggled in for her first night in her new room! I think she likes it!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Cale and I have been busy this weekend. We have been on a mission all month long to get several house projects done before the end of the month. Since we are leaving town Tuesday, our end of the month is coming quick. We made the most of a weekend at home and got a ton of things accomplished. Basement cleaned? Check. Windows washed? Done. Dresser painted? Yes, and full of clothes. Haven's new bedroom? Completed- including all the artwork made and hanging on the wall, a closet shelf and rod installed, and everything moved down the hall. (She's sleeping in it tonight as a matter of fact!). Gutters cleaned, carpets and furniture shampooed, woodwork washed, laundry done, Christmas presents purchased and worked on. All D-O-N-E.

Tonight, I will fall asleep lightening fast, thankful for a home to care for and the exhaustion that comes with working hard.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Learning curve

I always knew that the Lord would use any children I had to teach me more about myself and about Him. This has happened in abundance over the last 3 years and some of the same lessons keep popping up. Hmmm...I wonder why? Lately, there have been many of those moments with Haven. Today was no exception, but perhaps the most profound in recent memory.

Haven and I spent the morning at the chiropractor and running a few errands. We had a great time shopping and talking together, which was a gift because that is not always the case. At our second stop this morning, Hobby Lobby, their was a large nativity set up in the entrance area. We hadn't quite gotten inside the doors when Haven spotted it. She pulled free of my hand and took off running. I heard her sharp intake of breath and she said, "Oh!...Baby Jesus!" She literally fell on the floor in front of him and began stroking his face.

I stopped walking and just watched her, overwhelmed at first by her soft, tender heart. Then came the great moment of clarity. When was the last time I pulled free of all the things that steal my attention or hold me back to run and sit at the Lord's feet? When did I last find myself so overcome by Him I had no choice but to just sit and be in His presence? When was I so taken by Him that I couldn't say anything but, "Oh, Jesus!"?

I'm thankful that the Lord gently uses the heart of my sweet daughter to remind me what's important.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Steelers 11, Chargers 10

Cale and I had so much fun on Sunday afternoon at the Steelers game. It was cold, snowy and an absolute perfect day for Steelers football. Our seats were unbelievable and the only time we couldn't see was when the tv cameras rolled in front of us. We were surrounded by super friendly and nice people; the Steelers' fans can't be beat and we cheered, shouted and high fived with the best of them. Some picture high-lights for you (because I know you care!)...

Some over priced snacks, but we don't care because we're just happy to be there!

Starting to snow about 40 minutes before kick-off

There was just a little accumulation! (and this wet snow is what made me freeze during the first half!)

Lining up right in front of us...literally!

Some of our offense getting ready to go in. They had a rough go of it on Sunday.

Bundled up in our Steelers gear- trying to stay warm at half-time.

Big Ben ready to go for it.

One of our favorites, Troy Polamalou and his hair. There was a heater right in front of us that the players kept coming over to use to warm themselves up. Not sure what Jeff Reed is doing (the guy bending over). Warming up his behind? Who cares- he was the high scorer and won the game for us with a field goal!

Everything about the night was great. Yes, even the snow! Well, the refs weren't great (quite the opposite actually), but we won and that was what we wanted to see. It is just such a fun to be at the stadium cheering along with everyone else. I went to the bathroom at the start of the 3rd quarter and when I came back in to the field, 60,000 people were waving their Terrible Towels around. It almost made me dizzy as I was walking down the steps to our seats, but it was amazing to see. We loved it and can't wait to go again! Although, that will probably be awhile...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's game time

People. Today is THE day. I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve last night; I had a difficult time getting to sleep I was so excited! It has been a group effort getting us ready for the game- hats and scarves borrowed from one friend, blankets and hand warmers from another, tickets passing hands 3 times to make their way to ours and a helpful Nana to watch Haven.

Here's where I'll be come mid afternoon. See the star? Those are the seats! Six rows up from the field. We are going to get their early so we don't miss a thing. You can bet their will be pictures galore tomorrow. Although we will not be recognizable bundled up under our various layers. The forecast today for Pittsburgh- high of 37 degrees. That's chilly to stand out in for several hours. But it will be worth it!

PS- It's starting to snow! I could not be happier!

Friday, November 14, 2008

A new room

Haven is about to move down the hall into a new bedroom. Her current room will remain the nursery and will be re-done to make way for our new little guy (p.s.- I want him to come home SOON!). We've been dragging our feet and slowly making progress on her big girl room. I realized a few weeks ago why I am so hesitant to finally make the switch. Her new room has been our guest room for the last 3.5 years. We are used to it being empty. But the nursery has been full of light and life for the last three years. When Haven moves into her new room the nursery is going to be very, very empty. It will be physically apparent that we are waiting for someone. And while I know in my heart that we've been waiting, to have the tangible reminder has been enough to make me drag my feet about moving rooms. But it needs to happen and we are finally wrapping up the major projects.

I saw this idea at Pottery Barn Kids and decided to make my own rendition for Haven's new room. A little scrapbook paper, some fabric, buttons and mod podge and here you go:

So my bird is a little goofy looking, but Cale told me he liked it and I kept cutting it down and tweaking it and finally had to stop or I was going to run out of fabric. Overall, I am really happy with how they turned out, save a few cursed air bubbles. You can't see the cute rick rack and ribbon I wrapped the edges of the canvas with so you'll just have to take my word for it that they are there. We painted her walls the palest of lavenders and these look great against the color. I will post pictures in a few weeks when we get it all done and ready for our big girl.

Then we'll tackle the nursery!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Operation Christmas Child

The holidays are upon us, there is no denying it. And I'm the kind of person that's thrilled about it and has already been planning, shopping and thinking about how we want to celebrate this year. For our family, one of the ways we start off the holiday season is my contributing to Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan's Purse. I have happily shopped for and filled shoe boxes since I was single and the tradition has carried over to now doing it with Haven.

Last night I laid out all my supplies that I've been accumulating for the last several months. Yes, this year I got smart and have been buying small toys and school supplies all year long so it wasn't such a daunting task all at once. I was thrilled to see that I had almost everything I needed. We hit the stores in need of a few more items and the boxes that we needed to fill. Three stores later we had all we needed.

This morning Haven and I laid everything out and proceeded to fill our boxes. We had so much fun! We talked about why we were doing it and about the kids who were going to receive these boxes. She was so thoughtful and such a great helper, counting out candies and making sure each box had a comb, soap and a toothbrush. When we were done she wanted to put some of her toys in the boxes, too. We decided that sharing some stickers would be a good compromise. I love her little innocent heart and how much the Lord uses her to teach me things.

OCC is also near and dear to us because we got to see first hand the way these simple boxes blessed kids lives when we were in Namibia serving with Christ's Hope International. CHI was asked to partner with OCC and coordinate one of their delivery parties which meant signing up kids to receive the boxes. While we actually had to leave before the boxes arrived, though we got to help coordinate this huge event. We know that these boxes make a difference in kids' lives.

National Collection Week
is November 17-24 for the shoe boxes. I hope you will start off your holiday celebrating by packing a shoe box this year!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday's List

Random Friday thoughts...

-We have been working hard at our house this week. Cale and I finally tackled a project that we have been dreading for a year: staining our new windows and trim. It was a huge job that was spread out over 3 days, but it honestly wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. But I can't tell you how thankful I am to have this major task crossed off our to-do list! Go us! And they look good, too!

-I came across the cutest gift idea this week, the I Spy Bags! It is such a clever idea and I love that it doesn't beep or talk or have a bunch of pieces. I ordered one for Haven for Christmas and I think it is going to bring her hours of entertainment. And they are so cute, too!

-We are having friends over for dinner tonight and I pulled out one of my favorite fall dessert recipes: Pumpkin Spice Cake with Honey Frosting. It is found online here on the Everyday Food site. It is soooo good and it makes lots of frosting which is never a bad thing I don't think.

-I am still reeling from the excitement of yesterday! I can't wait!

-But before next weekend, I get to have a great time this weekend. Jess and I are meeting each other for a little girls' getaway tomorrow and Sunday. We have no real agenda other than to spend time together, shop and eat some good food. The perfect weekend I think! Back in our younger years we went on many a road trip together, but since I got married we haven't done anything so I am really looking forward to it. Hopefully without any of the drama that surrounded our previous trips!

-And a favorite picture of Haven from this week. We enjoyed the last beautiful, warm days of fall with leaf pile jumping and just general running around! She is such a silly girl!

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Surprise, surprise!

Sometimes, the best things happen to me on Thursdays. Like today, for example. Despite the fact that my purse, with my phone inside, was sitting on my lap in the car I missed a call from my brother Steve. I was alerted to the missed call when the phone beeped because of a new voice mail. No sooner did I hear, "Kate, call me, " in my ear when Cale's phone started ringing. It was Steve, apparently making every effort to get a hold of us. He spent a few moments with Cale chit-chatting and then the phone passed to me.

The first words out of Steve's mouth are, "Who loves you?" Knowing exactly what he's going for I answer, "Jesus." We play this game for a moment and then he gets serious. He proceeds to tell me that a friend of his offered Steve two tickets to the Steelers vs. Chargers game next Sunday in Pittsburgh. Steve was going to go with my other brother, Mike or an old friend, but then my mom just happened to mention that was the game we tried to get tickets to for our anniversary. (We gave up relatively quickly because the tickets weren't in our price range which means they weren't giving them away for free.) Well, they are free today!!!!

Steve has graciously offered to give us the tickets for the game. And did I mention that they are in the SIXTH row at the 50 yard line, right behind the team?!!!?? WHAT? This is amazing! And you got that they're free, right? Seriously, people, this is so exciting. We just happened to be in a department store when this conversation was taking place and I am not too proud to admit that I was jumping up and down because I was elated. Still am, actually!

So next weekend we are heading to my mom's for part of the weekend and then will leave Haven with her while we GO TO THE GAME. I still can't believe Steve's generousity to us in sharing these tickets. Do I have an awesome big brother or what?!! (And I'm thankful that my mom opening her mouth paid off this time!)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Preschool theology

From the backseat of the car...

"Mama, look at that beautiful sunset God made for us."


"He's such a good God."


Friday, October 31, 2008

My little trickster

Happy Halloween, everyone! Trick-or-treat was last night in our neighborhood so we snapped a few pictures before we headed out.

A lovely, fake smile from my little ladybug

Demonstration of how her wings work

Just plain cute

Cutest ladybug I ever saw!

Practicing "trick-or-treat" before she hit the streets.

Haven was also a ladybug on her first Halloween, two years ago so for the sake of nostalgia, here's pictures from then.

A grouchy ladybug?
A happy ladybug!

She is the sweetest little trickster I know! Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Green Chicken Tortilla Soup


Here's my offering for BooMama's Souptacular Crockpotalooza!

Green Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
3 ears of corn, kernels removed (or used frozen- as much as you think looks good)
tortilla chips for the bottom of your bowl
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1 package (3 pieces) chicken thighs or breasts, cut into small pieces or strips
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated
2 teaspoon cumin
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jar of salsa verde
1 cup fresh cilantro (good without, too)
Zest and juice of 2 limes
2 cups jack cheese, shredded

Preheat a large pot over medium-high heat with the oil, about 2 turns around the pan. Add the chicken, browning on all sides, continue cooking until juices run clear and no pink remains in the center. Once the chicken is done cooking, remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Add the onion, garlic and cumin, and cook till soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the corn kernels along with the jalapeño. Stir in stock, water and jar of salsa verde. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Return chicken to pot and heat through. Remove the soup from the heat and add in the cilantro, lime zest and juice. Crush tortilla chips into bottom of bowl and then ladle soup on top. Garnish with cheese.

*You can easily add some beans to stretch this farther and use less chicken. It's pretty much a no fail recipe!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Scarecrow Cookies

Our little scarecrows turned out pretty cute and were our offering to Haven's Harvest Party at school today. The original idea came from here, but I read about it here. A little time consuming, but I had my best helpers by my side. That Cale knows how to frost a cookie!

Haven was a big fan of the cookies and since I was catering to the three year old crowd, I was happy to hear that she liked them! She came out of her classroom covered in crumbs and frosting. Sugar high, anyone?

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook

Feeling inspired to write something here, but scattered in thought, I came across this today and thought it was a great idea.

Outside my window...the leaves are blowing around under an overcast sky.

I am thinking...that I really love Mondays.

I am thankful for... my husband, who not only sent me off with Amber for the day on Saturday, but also painted Haven's new room while I was gone.

From the kitchen...a new recipe- Creamy Chicken Apple Chili with some fresh bread for dinner.

I am wearing... khakis and my first sweater of the season. Have I grown since last winter because the sleeves seem kind of short!

I am latest issue of World magazine.

I am creating...four loads of fresh laundry ready to be put away. And a fuchsia tutu for a certain little girl's Christmas present.

I am make scarecrow cookies for Haven's Harvest Party at school tomorrow.

I am hoping...for snow! There's a possibility of it and I'm probably the only person who gets excited about snow in October. Especially where we live!

I am hearing...the dryer working away in the basement. The clock ticking reminding me that Haven will only be asleep for a little while longer.

Around the house...the kitchen needs swept and the carpet needs vacuumed. I am resolved to clean a few cupboards this week as well.

One of my favorite things...going to bed on a Sunday night with a thankful heart for a fun, but productive weekend.

Plans for the week...learning about the letter "I" with Haven while making homemade ice cream, Indian vests, and instruments. Taking lots of pictures of our little ladybug for Trick or Treat. Enjoying a meal with good friends on Friday night. Beating Cale at Boggle a few more times.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rainy Friday

It's cool, rainy and overcast here today, which is the kind of weather that just begs of huddling up on the couch with a good book and a mug of cocoa. Yesterday found me very productive and I was able to cross a number of things off my list. So I 'm thinking that today will be the bare minimum to keep things running around here. My daily cleaning is already done and dinner is in the crock-pot. And with that done, I'm pretty sure that come nap time you'll find me curled up on the couch with a book and some cocoa.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Apple pie and a show

It's been an afternoon of baking at our house. Here's my helper making the crumb top for our apple pie.

I shared this at our Recipe Club last month thinking that it was an old family recipe. I don't know what I'm talking about apparently. My mom said it came from her an old magazine clipping that she cut out years ago. So it's not my grandma's pie, but I will give credit to my mom. It is hands down my favorite.

We are going to go cut into it right now and watch "that show when you wear that dress and you're dancing and Papa holds onto you" also known as our wedding video. Haven's been asking to watch it since this weekend so we are going to oblige. It's a good way to end our day together.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Weekends just aren't long enough

We travelled to Cleveland with a dual purpose this weekend: celebrate our nephew's second birthday and go away overnight to celebrate our anniversary. We accomplished both in great fashion, but forgot our camera at home so have little proof to offer. Cale took off from work early Friday afternoon so we could get an earlier start which enabled us to meet Jess and Curtis for dinner. Since the rest of our weekend was pretty jam packed, it was so good to squeeze in some extra time with them.

Saturday we went to soccer games, ate Elmo birthday cake and then hit the road for our 20 hours of freedom. We did some shopping here and watched this movie (which we liked). We ate far too much good food at dinner here (a long-time favorite of ours and a place we love to get to whenever we're in Cleveland). We also squeezed in a drive around some of our favorite places and wished for our camera. The fall deliciousness of gorgeous trees, bright blue skies and fond memories is hard to beat.

Sunday morning we took our good old time getting ready and packing up. That in and of itself is a luxury! We stopped to get a shake from Tommy's and then took ourselves on a walking tour around the Case campus. It was fun to talk about various memories that we have of that place and realize how different they are. Mine are all as a visitor, on the fringes and involve my brother as a student or the slew of friends I made through him. Cale was a student there for four years and has tons of everyday life kinds of memories. We remember the same places and some of the same people, but our worlds didn't intersect very much until the fall of 2001.

And in the fall of 2002, our worlds became one and the same. It only seemed appropriate to revisit the spot where we made our vows to one another on the 6th anniversary of that day. So here we are in the one and only picture we took (on Cale's phone) on the steps of Amasa Stone Chapel at Case.

It was beyond good for us to remember and reflect about our six years of marriage in the city where it all started. Old memories, deeply buried, resurfaced as we drove down the streets where we lived and our love began.

The only real problem is that it was just too short of a time. We had to be back to my brother's house around 1pm so we could watch some football and visit with other friends and family that were coming over to see us. The afternoon flew by with a flurry of delicious food, a LOT of small children and the Steelers crushing the Bengals. It was delightful! Haven was so worn out from the weekend that she was asleep a block from my brother's house. We had a long drive home and an unfortunate trip to Sonic, but we eventually made it.

It was a jam packed weekend and I can't imagine that it could have been any better. Well, one thing...longer!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mr and Mrs: Six Years Married

your arms in mine

any time

wouldn't trade anything

you're still my everything

don't worry i'll catch you

don't worry i'll catch you

don't ever worry

-the get up kids-

Friday, October 17, 2008

My new favorite breakfast

I was on a huge smoothie for breakfast kick this summer. Fresh berries and yogurt in a million different combinations; what could be better? I've got out of the habit now that berry season is behind us, but that changed early this week when I got my new issue of Everyday Food. Each month they share a quick and easy breakfast idea and this month's is my new favorite breakfast. Banana-Oat Smoothie anyone? It sounds kind of weird, but trust me, it is good! It was meant to be as I had some yogurt headed rapidly for it's sell by date, a banana that was showing its age and some fresh from the farm honey I was dying to try. Add to the fact that I got to use my favorite kitchen tool, the immersion blender, and I was sold!

Banana-Oat Smoothie
In a blender, combine 1/4 cup regular oats, 1/2 cup low fat yogurt (I used vanilla), 1 banana, 1/2 cup skim milk, 2 tsp honey, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Puree until smooth. Serve immediately.

Everyday Food November 2008

Happy breakfast!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Halloween Votives

Haven and I made a few little pumpkin votives today; one for us and a few to give away.

I think they turned out pretty cute! It was a fun, easy project that we both enjoyed getting messy for. A glass votive (a baby food jar would work equally well), some orange tissue paper, black construction paper and some Mod Podge is all it takes. If you feel like you need some real directions go here (a great site!). Can't wait to see how they look all lit up!