A whole lotta turkey

After taking a quick look back at all my facebook status entries since I joined a few weeks ago, I am amused that so many have to do with food.  But really, as a mother who is at home with little people, a large part of my life involves food.  Learning about food, trying not to eat unhealthy food (like the peanut M&M’s on my desk here),  menu planning, grocery shopping, teaching about food/cooking to whoever wants to help, providing nourishing choices for our household to eat, snack breaks, sitting for meals…you get the idea.  A tremendous part of the day is related to food.  So I suppose it is not too strange that I blog or talk about it often.

I am not sure how it happened but I feel like I’ve turned into a ‘hippie’ in so many ways.  I used to think it so strange that people ate anything but cereal for breakfast every day, that there were wives who actually cooked real dinner every night of the week, that it was possible to ‘plan’ meals for weeks at a time, that people actually used freshly ground flour, that people could make anything tasty that had whole wheat in it, that using fresh garlic really tasted better than garlic powder-but now, I understand those and many other strange things and realize although I did not inherit a cooking ‘gene’ as my mother informed me more than once, it is possible to immensely enjoy whole foods, cooking, recipes and (duh!) eating too.

Since some of my favorite posts to read are about people’s tips, shortcuts and food ideas, here are a few I thought I’d share today.  I thawed a turkey last weekend to cook up (but it took longer than I expected so we had to serve pizza to our guests which was LAME compared to a full Thanksgiving dinner like I’d planned).  In case you too have a gigantic turkey hiding in your freezer that your neighbor gave you when you already had 3 from the holidays, here’s what my 20 pound turkey provided:

1 turkey dinner Sunday night (with potatoes, gravy and salad)

1 enormous batch of turkey brown rice veggie soup (enormous as in two dinners worth frozen in my freezer and dinner for my neighbors on both sides)

1 large batch of creamed lentil, pea, turkey and veggie soup (tonight’s dinner along with enough to freeze for another meal)

6 cups (individually frozen in 1 cup bags) of chopped turkey meat for random use in casseroles or salads

I figure that is roughly about 8 dinners.  That’s a pretty good return and pretty healthy too.  My last turkey made a big turkey dinner and then 4 trays of turkey tetrazini for the freezer.  Not so healthy but nice to have.  I’m personally sick of tetrazini.  Everytime I get to have a night off and need to leave dinner for Christopher and the kids, they get a tetrazini.  They all dig it, so it works out all right.

So here are a few ‘recipes’ if you could call them that,  to share, and one important note.  Instead of using canned broth which I cannot stand and besides it’s expensive, I always, always use “Better than Boullion“.  It is like concentrated paste and stays in the fridge for a long while.  It does not have extra yuckies like boullion often does such as MSG.  And 1 tsp mixed with 1 cup boiling water makes a cup of great broth.  Obviously not like homemade but my much prefered second choice.

Also, so that my kids cannot pick them out, I personally mince quite small veggies that go in soups.  This works best for my kids, you could surely do them bigger.

Creamed Veggie Soup (with turkey) – all this is is Bob’s Red Mill’s package of dried lentils, peas, barley and pasta.

I cooked a heaping cup of the legume/grain mix with several cups broth, a finely minced onion, 4 large carrots, a zuchinni, a red bell pepper and a few celery sticks (I put these all in the food processor together till they were tiny).

After it was all soft (about 40 minutes) I pureed it in my blender.  I then added a few cups of shredded, diced leftover turkey and a cup of milk to make it creamy-that was optional of course.  Heat it back up in the pot then serve.

Even my picky 3 year old ate his whole bowl.  This is shocking.

Turkey Brown Rice Soup –

After dinner tonight, in my (favorite, heavy, seasoned, still-dirty-from-the-previous-soup) large cast iron dutch oven that Kim just gave me, I tossed in:

a bit of olive oil

a huge pile of finely food processed veggies (same ones as above)

8-10 cups of broth as described above the first recipe

4-5 cups of chopped turkey

a cup of brown rice and another heaping cup of a grain mixture (Israeli couscous, orzo and red quinoa)

I put on the lid, went for a half an hour walk, came back and remembered the leftover gravy in the fridge, tossed that in too then 15 minutes later added a few grinds of fresh pepper and a tad bit of salt and turned off the stove.

This made about 4 or 5 dinner’s worth of soup.  My pot was all the way full.  And the kids had some for snack after our walk.

Turkey Tetrazini-

I didn’t do this tonight but last turkey I did, everyone loves it but me.  I’ve had it too much.  And it’s not super healthy.  It’s adapted from my friend Deb’s recipe.

Cook 10 oz of whole wheat spaghetti noodles, drain.

While they are cooking chop and saute one onion in a bit of butter.

In a big bowl, toss in the noddles, the onion, a few cups of chopped turkey leftover, a good pinch of fresh rosemary (or other favorite herb), 2 cans cream of chicken (or celery) soup, 1 soup can full of milk, 3-4 cups of shredded monterey jack or mozzarella or parmesan cheese, a cup or so of frozen peas and/or a 1/2 cup cooked chopped broccoli.

Stir it all up.  Pour it in a 9×13 dish.  Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees.  Till it’s all bubbly and hot.

This freezes awesome, I often make it triple or quadrupled.

I realize we aren’t really in turkey eating season, but thought I’d share anyway.  Happy cooking!

Our week in pictures

So fun to see our friends Nate and Monica (who are expecting their first baby, Melissa Jane in July!)
So fun to see our friends Nate and Monica (who are expecting their first baby, Melissa Jane in July!)
The boys dressed Audrey in their favorite vest!
The boys dressed Audrey in their favorite vest!
I went to pick up Audrey-she felt 'bulky', Kyler had kindly stuffed her jammies with legos
I went to pick up Audrey-she felt 'bulky', Kyler had kindly stuffed her jammies with legos
Kyler's very first family bike ride last night
Kyler's very first family bike ride last night
Even our dinos are hungry-now I know where the rest of Caleb's toast went...
Even our dinos are hungry-now I know where the rest of Caleb's toast went...
Rylee gave Maggie a fur trim-Maggie was in heaven (so was Rylee!)
Rylee gave Maggie a fur trim-Maggie was in heaven (so was Rylee!)
Caleb has found a new love for Audrey, it melts my heart-he is so protective
Caleb has found a new love for Audrey, it melts my heart-he is so protective

What's not to love about this girl?
What's not to love about this girl?
A rare moment-no tongue sticking out and no squinty eyes
A rare moment-no tongue sticking out and no squinty eyes
My new fav pic of litte Audie Rose
My new fav pic of little Audie Rose
Best Daddy picture ever!!
Sheer delight times two!

Grandma, Steph, Aunt Barb, Aunt Mar-I mainly do this for you!  I never manage to print photos out and send them so at least you can get a glimpse here of what we’re up to.  I realize 10 pictures is a bit overboard, but I couldn’t help it.  It was a fun week with sunshine and outdoors and we loved it.

Book review – “Loving our Kids on Purpose” by Danny Silk

I just finished reading “Loving our Kids on Purpose” by Danny Silk thanks to a review that Judi wrote last week.  It took me 3 days .  I haven’t read a book in three days since college.  I just sent a copy to my friend Kristin to read it with me….sorry Kristin I couldn’t wait!  It was powerful. For many reasons. But the most being this, as I read and this morning as I prayed for God to transform my mothering into His ways, one thing came to the surface and moved me to weeping in my chair with my coffee.

God chooses to love me, He chooses relationship with me over rules and regulation of my life. He allows consequences to come. He allows me to reap what I sow. But He loves me, extravagantly so, every day of my life. This overwhelmed me. I know it, have always heard about it, but many people in my life have (intentionally or not) put stipulations and conditions on their love and approval of me. I have always struggled with earning God’s love, with measuring up, with making enough right choices for Him to love me. He’s done so much work on this. He’s peeled away layer after painful layer and continued to show me the truth.

Nothing I do can earn that love. Nothing will make Him love me more perfectly than He already does. And in the same way, NOTHING I do can take it away.

Last year I was in a bad place. My heart was broken in pieces. Disillusioned on many levels. Marriage, parenting, ministry, friendships-to name a few. In my mind, I made a lot of bad choices. I allowed my heart and thoughts to wander where God could not go. All the while working hard to keep it looking like I had things under control. Nothing could have been farther from the truth.

Instead of resting under His protection and letting Him be my refuge, I walked away. I could scarcely hear His voice calling me back, I had gone so far. He was calling for me to come back from the cliff, telling me I was headed into danger, beckoning me back to abide in the love He (had always) had for me.

In the midst of my not doing things God’s way, His love still permeated my heart. His love drew me back and restored broken places in ways I thought impossible. That is the key truth that I pulled away from this book. We are meant to parent our children in this way. Regardless of the faulty models we’ve had in our lives, regardless of our own shortcomings or immaturity, the way of Jesus is ultimately one of LOVE.

I have failed in many ways and succeeded in others as a mother so far. I recently read “Grace Based Parenting” by Ted Kimmel and sobbed through the whole book. I felt so overwhelmed at what wasn’t there but not equipped on what else to do. I finished the book with sadness, longing and more questions-seeing the need for more grace but still not knowing how to implement it.

After reading “Loving our Kids on Purpose”, I felt thrilled. I felt excited and ready to chart new territory. I had ideas. I had inspiration. I had a better handle on what I knew was truth. The truth is God calls me to love. Above and beyond all else, LOVE. I have confused love with harsh words, yelling, a ton of spanking (that never works) and anger that seems to come out of no where. Most of my mom friends who are honest with me, have the same struggles. I want more than that, I think we all do.

So, here’s to a new chapter on the journey. One with more choices, more questions, more connection with my children and more love.  I am full of gratitude that even when I make wrong choices, God doesn’t kick me in the rear and tell me I should know better, ask when I’m going to get my act together then tell me He needs a break from me for a few while He cools off (yes I’m exaggerating, but you get the idea right?) .

His forgiveness and patience with me are beyond my understanding.  And the love?  I have felt it like warm rain on my face today.  I adore that.

Just Heard Thursday

jht-logo1

I couldn’t wait until Thursday for this one…Enjoy.

It’s Thursday again and we have been collecting some of the funny things we heard our kids say this week.  We would also love to read about what your kids are saying too.  We just get such a kick out of posts like these.  Here is some of what made us smile this week:

Caleb: (9:00pm after he’s been in bed for about an hour)” Mom…can you make me some sausage and panpapes, with syrup for dipping my sausage and syrup for my panpapes and to dip my sausage with?”

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Kyler: (with a rising fist to the air) “Rock on Dad!” (a new Kyler catch phrase)

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Kyler:  “Mama, look, raisins!”  (Not too funny until you realize he was looking at the rabbits in their cage at the farm!)

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Daddy:  What are you looking forward to most about having chickens?

Rylee:  They are going to be chickies first!

Caleb:  We’re all going to be feeding them and we could look for the eggs to see if they have a crack every day.  And we can hold the baby chickens and put them by the heater.

Kyler:  I like chickies!

___________________________________________________________________________________________

And now, we have the first ever Just Seen Thursday!

kyler-on-rope1

Okay, this picture of Kyler on our newly installed rope swing is screaming for a caption contest.  So get your creative hats on and let me know what you think the caption should be.

What have your kids been saying lately?  Leave some quotes in the comments below, or post them on your own blog and link back here.
Happy Thursday!

Inspiration from the North

We have dear friends who live North of us.  With four boys, there is always something exciting going on at their place.  You can read about their adventures here.  It seems like we are always about a year and at least one baby behind them.  Lately we have adopted a few fun ideas from them.  Pictured below is some of the craziness that ensued with the most recent idea we stole from our friends:

The Little Man
The Little Man
The Princess
The Princess
The Big Man
The Big Man

The rope swing was super easy to install in the family room.  I think it cost a total of $13 from Lowes and will be totally worth the investment as the kids grow stronger and more agile as they swing, climb, and do tricks on the rope.  Parts included an eye hook, a l0cking carabiner, and 16 feet of rope.

We have also been inspired to begin to raise egg laying chickens.  Our friends have had chickens for over a year now and it has been a great learning experience for the boys as well as a great source of eggs.  They told us that the only place to get chickens is from Murray McMurray Hatchery.  We are so excited to get the chickens.  They come through the mail if you would believe that.  You get them when they are two days old.  How fun for the kids.  I am pretty sure Rylee will de overwhelmed with delight.  Just recently we heard that we are getting chickens from the same place that Martha Stewart got her chickens.  If you don’t believe me, you can read about it here.  Who knows, maybe our chicks will be related to her chicks (we are even getting some of the same kids – Cuckoo Marans).  Martha is not the only one doing this, apparently free range chickens in your own backyard is a growing trend in the Seattle area.  On our way home from Pikes Place Market, we picked up a magazine called Conscious Choice Seattle.  In this issue there is a story all about this new phenomena.  Well, we are always a bit behind the trend, but we are definitely enjoying these new additions to the house.  We don’t get our chickens until the week of April 13th.  I can tell you that our little ones are as excited for the 13th of April as they are for the 25th of December right now.  How fun, Christmas in April!  By the way, if you are interested in having chickens of your very own, now is the time to order as the supplies are getting a bit limited already.  I will leave you with a picture of a few Cuckoo Marans.  We can’t wait until these guys show up at the Post Office!

cuckoo_maran_group

Just Heard Thursday

jht-logo1

It’s Thursday again and we have been collecting some of the funny things we heard our kids say this week.  We would also love to read about what your kids are saying too.  We just get such a kick out of posts like these.  Here is some of what made us smile this week:

(After Kyler went running ahead of Rylee to the van wearing his little man capris pants, no socks, and blue converse)

Rylee:  “Look at him.  He is sooo cute!  I just want to squeeze him!”

___________________________________________________________________________________________

(At the dinner table)

Daddy: “Anyone need a napkin?”

Caleb:  “We don’t need napkins around here.  We just lick ourselves.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Mommy:  “Caleb, what do you want to do special for your birthday?”

Rylee:  “Maybe you want to go to the Space Needle”

Mommy:  “Actually it is Caleb’s birthday, what do YOU want to do Caleb?”

Caleb:  “I want to go to the Space Needle, actually I want to ride an airplane”

(This might be a tough one this year, not quite as cheap easy as a train ride)

___________________________________________________________________________________________

(After Maggie, the family dog, got done licking the dinner plate clean)

Rylee:  “Mama, we can just put this one away now, it is totally clean.  Maggie got it totally clean.”

What have your kids been saying lately?  Leave some quotes in the comments below, or post them on your own blog and link back here.

Happy Thursday!

Spring is coming

During our rough few days with sickies, we made a long and beautiful drive out to Goldbar just because.  We wound up at a park in Monroe and had a nice little stop to play.

Nearly every other picture of him I took he was coughing, poor little guy!
Nearly every other picture of him I took he was coughing, poor little guy!
Contemplative Rylee, always taking everything in
Contemplative Rylee, always taking everything in
Someday it will be warm enough to go wading again...
Someday it will be warm enough to go wading again...
My little wanderer
My little wanderer

The fruit of our labor-part 2 of the story

I tried to write all of this at one time and it was WAY too long. For part one of what I’m sharing about, see this post. Now that it’s clear how much I enjoyed the job I had and the kind of stories that came from it, here’s the rest of my heart on the matter.

I was delighted to help write the client story portion of the fundraiser auction for Step by Step this year. What we did was gather stories of clients lives who were changed then I condensed them to a few words without losing the impact of the testimonies. I also scripted a narrated portion that would be read as each client walked across the stage holding a white sign with their ‘past’ story on front then they flipped it over and on the back was their ‘present’ story. Hard to explain but hopefully that makes sense.

Friday when I went to finalize the signs with new, fully inked markers, I was shocked when the ink bled through the tag board paper. I quit breathing for a minute and nearly had a panic attack. I had already spent hours writing in pencil, carefully spacing each letter, making sure it was large enough to be seen in the back of a room holding 250 people. I grabbed a couple kids, hopped in the van and went to Staples. I found thick, foam board that would work great (not the economical option however!).

I got home to start over. I had to work outside, the smell of the pens indoors had made me horribly sick the first time around. Problem was it was 40 degrees and windy. Christopher set me up with a table and a shop light in our driveway. It was already dark. My next door neighbor saw I was up to something strange and offered to help. Hours went by. Five hours. In the freezing wind trying to keep our hands warm enough to write. It was close to 1 AM when we finished. The signs turned out amazingly.

Point being this, I invested a lot in this project. I could not wait to see it all come together. So imagine my heartbreak when one thing became clear.

Sick children. Fevers. Tears. Coughs. Sore throats. All-I-want-is-mama.

There was no way I could attend the auction last night. I was hopeful but once I woke up Saturday and took a quick survey, I knew I would be trading in a steak dinner for leftover pizza, a nice black dress for snot-covered jeans, a peaceful few hours without children for 7 hours of whining, crying and wiping noses.

We muddled through. My sister brought a casserole-that was the highlight.  It was not a night where any of my sometimes good parenting skills got to shine. We survived. If you’re wondering why my sweet hubby didn’t let me go without him, well he was the M.C. for the night. He was rather irreplaceable and I was not needed technically. I’d already done my part.

As I thought about how it all played out and had a few good cries throughout the day, I felt God telling me several things that He wanted to show me in the midst of my disappointment.

Just as I wanted to see the fruit of my hard work for the auction, I instinctively want to see the fruit of the sacrifices I make or the kindness I share with my children or with others. However, I didn’t get to see it last night. And I don’t always get to see it in life.

Regardless, I still am called to put everything I have into what I’m asked to do. Whether I get to see the end result or not. And as for mothering, the end result is a long ways off! So I need to take each day at a time and do my very best to give, love, teach, and model life while these little sponges soak it in. I’m in this for the (very) long haul.

As for my children, they saw I was sad to miss the night. But when they asked me why I was home with them, they answered their own question before I had the chance. Rylee said “It’s because we’re sick mama, and you know you’re the only person we want to be with. You love us so much and you’d rather be here since you can’t be both places at once.”

Well said. A true statement from my little firstborn. I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Her words were sweetness to my heart.

Just one person: part 1

If you’ve read our blog for long, you’ve heard me talk about my former job that I loved. For seven years I worked as a Behavioral Health Specialist (caseworker) for an organization that helps women through pregnancy and early parenting. Fresh out of college, 23 years old, I started this job. I was so naïve and so excited. Because of the home I’d grown up in, serving such a high need population seemed the perfect job to me. We’d had pregnant women live with us many times growing up, ones with broken lives and no where to go. I jumped right in with very little training and started doing home visits to women who needed help.

In my first month, I met Debbie. She was 15 years older than me. She was weathered and looked beaten down by life. She’d lived the majority of her life addicted to various drugs. I listened to her story in a Denny’s restaurant in Ballard and was left without words. Abuse. Addiction. Pain. Relapse. Loss. Constant struggle. I had never in my life felt so unequipped for the task as I did that afternoon. She’d had two kids removed from her custody before and she was determined to keep this baby she was newly pregnant with.

She was still on some drugs. I didn’t have enough courage to even ask her about which ones and what her plan was to stop using. I was frankly scared to death and was sure I was the wrong person for this job. She went into drug treatment mid-pregnancy. I visited her there. I called her often, did my best to help her find the resources she needed, wrote many reference letters for her. In my lack of skill, I compensated with love. She knew how much I cared for her. We brought Christmas to her that winter, a tree, decorations, gifts and food. All kinds of fun things. Bags of clothes for her baby too.

We kept in touch a long time. She came to Christmas parties. She maintained her sobriety. She kept her daughter in her custody. Year after year. Two years ago, she called one Christmas just to tell me she was still clean, had a great job and to tell me she didn’t know where she’d be if she hadn’t had all the help she received the summer she met me. I cried on the phone with her and told her I was so proud of her. Last fall, at the zoo someone caught my eye. I decided to risk being weird.

“Debbie?”

“Yes? Who are….Karissa?”

“YES! How are you? Are you with all these kids (a group of 8 was with her)?”

“Yes, we are on a school field trip, I took the day off work to come. Look-there’s my daughter there, I’ve never lost her.”

She was beaming and I was about to cry in the middle of the zoo with kids swirling all around our feet. We shared a big long hug then she ran to catch up with her group.

I share all this for a reason. I quit that job 18 months ago when I knew God was asking me to. I still miss it. This month I had the opportunity to write a part of the program for the Step by Step auction fundraiser. I gathered stories from the caseworkers and then condensed them into a few words. That took hours and it was incredible to read through stories and to ponder all the lives that had been changed because of the investment of these women who work for Step by Step. As I was writing the stories onto cardboard signs (long story but part of the program), tears fell onto the paper.

So many of the people who’s lives were impacted just needed one person to stand in the gap for them. They needed one person to say “Yes you can” instead of “Give up”. They needed a glimpse of hope so they could start taking steps forward. They needed a kind word, a listening ear, answers to their many questions, someone to walk beside them. Help navigating the (often unexpected) path of mothering that lay before them.

Whatever your place in life, whatever your ability or inability, my thought to share today is simple.

Everyone is capable of being that one person.

Even a 23 year old girl who knew nearly nothing of the hard things of life-by offering only simple, genuine compassion made a difference in the life of another.

Part two coming soon…….