Wednesday, December 31, 2008
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
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!
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.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
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
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
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
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.
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.
Friday, December 12, 2008
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.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
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.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
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
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
My two favorites, after the big show!
Monday, December 1, 2008
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
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
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.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
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
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
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!
Sunday, November 16, 2008
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
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
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
-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!
Thursday, November 6, 2008
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
Friday, October 31, 2008
Demonstration of how her wings work
Thursday, October 30, 2008
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
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
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 reading...my 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 going...to 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
Thursday, October 23, 2008
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
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
Friday, October 17, 2008
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
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
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!