A few of my favorite recipes

For my friends who’ve asked for recipes lately, these are some of my super easy things I love to make and my kids love to eat.

Meatballs

1 lb ground beef
½ cup dry breadcrumbs
¼ cup milk
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp pepper
1 small chopped onion
1 egg

Mix all ingredients and form
balls. Bake at 400 for about
15-20 minutes or until browned.
These freeze well, double or triple depending on how many hungry kids you have!

*Note* I serve these three ways, with BBQ sauce over rice, with sweet and sour sauce over rice and with spaghetti sauce over noodles.

Tina’s Taco Soup

1 pound ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
1 chopped onion
1-28 oz can V-8 juice
2 cans beans (any kind)
1 can corn
1 small can chopped olives
Small can diced green chilies
Tabasco sauce (to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)

1. Brown ground beef, taco seasoning and onion – drain fat
2. Add everything else
3. Simmer for 20 minutes then serve
4. Top with sour cream, chips or cheese if desired
(I double this and freeze half)

Sesame Noodles (Rachel Ray)

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 T tahini
2 T sesame oil
2 pinches cayenne pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
1 inch gingeroot, grated (or 2 pinches ground ginger)
1 pound angel hair pasta (I use whole wheat)
3 green onions, sliced
1 large carrot grated or chopped

Combine soy sauce, tahini, sesame oil, cayenne, garlic and gingeroot in a bowl. Whisk till smooth. Drain cooked pasta, run under cold water to chill. Drain very well.

Toss noodles with dressing then add veggies and transfer to serving dish, garnish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and/or red pepper flakes.

*Note* I sometimes add shredded, roasted chicken breast if I have some leftover.

Kristin’s Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups flour (freshly ground if possible, or whole wheat pastry flour is 2nd best)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt

2/3 cup combined fat (butter and/or oil)
3/4 cup liquid sweetener (honey and/or maple syrup)
2 eggs
1-2 tsp vanilla
2 cups oats (or other flaked grain or a combination)
1 cup raisins (or chocolate chips!)
nuts optional

I just mix all the dry separately (including oats & raisins), then mix the liquid ingredients including fat, then mix them all together. Cook 8-12 minutes @ 350. This dough freezes well…if you can manage not to eat it all.

Berry Cobbler
(I make this all summer with whatever fresh berries we have)

4 cups fresh berries (can use frozen)
½-¾ cup sugar depending on sweetness of berries
3 T cornstarch (more if needed to thicken)
Mix above ingredients on stovetop for 15 minutes or till starting to thicken

For biscuit topping:
Mix 1 cup flour, 2 T sugar, 1 ½ t baking powder & ¼ t salt
Cut in ¼ cup butter
Combine ¼ cup milk and 1 egg – add to dry mixture

Place berry mix in 8×8 pan, drop spoonfuls of topping onto berries
Bake at 400º for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown on top
.

31 years ago…

On this day, a darling little baby boy was born. He would become a teenager of the 1990’s, one who dated several girls in high school (each a friend of mine), broke their hearts (or so they thought!) and said yes to me late one night in February of 1995 when I asked him to be my date for Tolo. April 1 of that same year, not knowing each other too well at all, we ice skated, held hands for the first time and spent the night away talking (truly, just talking) until 5 AM the next morning. By April 9, we were officially an item (whatever that meant then). It was our junior year of high school. Not long after that, I knew in my heart this was the boy I was going to marry.

That was 13 years ago. There are a lot of things that I love about Christopher. The first that comes to mind is that he has always been more free to be himself that me, I admire that quality a great deal. I also am deeply grateful for his quick and genuine forgiveness of me. When we were 19 and at separate colleges, I made some poor choices. He drove across the Canadian border in the middle of the night to tell me he forgave me and that he still loved me with all his heart. As if I were not in love with him enough already, that sealed my heart to his in ways I can’t quite describe. That is still one of his most endearing qualities, probably because it is an area where I personally am greatly lacking.

He constantly would lay his own desires and needs down on my behalf. Lacking the money to get a plane ticket to my friend’s wedding in the mountains of British Columbia, he drove me there in his old Geo Prism, stopping only for gas 9 hours straight then he turned around and drove home the same day.

I love his honesty and integrity. You won’t find him talking about people behind their backs, he always aims to address people if he has a problem. He speaks the truth, even when it is unpopular.

He possesses a quiet, deep strength that before I had children I saw glimpses of but the day Rylee was born as I endured pitocin-induced labor for seven hours, he is the reason I wasn’t screaming for an epidural. He was so strong and so calm in that hospital room and as he forced my head up to look in his eyes and just breath, I felt like I could do just about anything.

The tender heart that wooed me to him with notes baked secretly into homemade brownies, spent hundreds of hours talking about nothing on the phone until 3 AM, wrote dozens of old-fashioned love letters to me in college, planned day trips and outings time and again to get me away from school-that heart is the part I love the most.

From October 1996 in one of my first college love letters from Christopher-we were 18 years old:

“I am so glad you came up to see me this weekend. Just being able to look deep into your eyes and to hold you tenderly in my arms was incredible. When I first saw you my heart began to race. You affect me so very much.”

“All I can think about is how amazing you are. You make me smile. You allow me to feel, to love, to anticipate life. I want you to know every little thing about me. I want to know everything about you. I would love to just spend the rest of my life learning to love you and learning every detail that makes you the most incredible girl I have ever encountered. I love you so much. You are a part of my very existence.”

What girl in the world doesn’t dream of these kind of letters being penned to her name? I have dozens of envelopes tied up in pink bows. It warms my heart to pull them out again and be reminded of those days. We are many years past that unbridled desire to be together as we toughed it out at our separate schools. Life has bruised and broken us many times over. We have experienced more pain that I imagined possible at this ripe age of 31. That being said, there is no one I would rather be walking the road with than him…..for all the reasons listed above, and many more.

Happy birthday my beloved, my friend.

Things I learned at the aquarium

Today’s trip downtown to the aquarium was my most ambitious adventure thus far with four children 5 and under. Here’s what I learned today:

1. Putting my boys in matching bright orange shirts was a brilliant plan but when they disappear around a dark corner in search of sharks, I still can’t see them.

2. When Caleb says he has to ‘go potty right now’. He means, right now.

3. Breastfeeding on an open-backed bench, while trying to keep my eyes on the other children, even while using my darling hooter hider, is difficult. Not everything remained ‘hidden’.

4. When I tell myself, ‘we need to leave by 1:00’, then let us stay till 1:30-I am signing up for a major meltdown in the car with gum getting spit at me and crying in the carseat and a book getting ripped in half (not by the kids, by me). Going with my initial gut feeling, and leaving while I was still moderately in control, would have been good.

5. Next time when we see a homeless lady on the side of the intersection and the kids ask about her and I explain (more than likely) what her situation is and they ask me why don’t I help her and why can’t she come stay at our house for a few day-in addition to praying for her (as we did), I will give her the bottle of water, the nice sandwich leftover from lunch and whatever small cash I might have with me as we wait at the stop light right where she stands. However cynical some might be tempted to be in this scenario, chances are my life is still a great deal more privileged than hers and I ache to be one who instinctively demonstrates God’s grace and love to others as my children watch my every move.

6. I probably won’t go to the aquarium again without my husband, it was quite a challenge.

7. My kids had a fantastic time, despite the ‘challenge’. They have absolutely no idea that I stayed up till midnight last night trying to get as prepared as possible, packing food, supplies, getting clothes laid out, cleaning out the van….

Bossiness

Me (listening to Rylee be super bossy to her brothers): “Rylee, are you being too bossy?

Rylee: “No mom, I’m just telling them what to do!”

Spoken like a true firstborn (I should know…although truly, Danielle was more bossy than me growing up, mainly because she was more creative and thus had to tell us all what to do!)

One more thought from today-the best part about schooling at home is that I can’t let the day get away and just try and do laundry, dishes, cooking, refereeing, etc. I get to do my best at those things but much more importantly, I am far more intentional about my time with the kids. With that, the days go smoother, I work more on housework late at night and leave my days as more ‘kid time’. It surprises me how wonderful this is to me.

Shaving cream

Since our sunny days are numbered, we ventured outside for our ‘sensory’ experience of the day-good, old fashioned shaving cream on the table. After exploring it’s texture and smell and ‘drawing’ things in it, what followed was the downward progression that I happily watched unfold:

Exploring with the cream…

Cream in the hair…

Cream in the toes…

Getting all the cream hosed off…

Ups and downs

After two great days of school and lots of school excitement, we struggled through two days of a sick daddy at home and didn’t get much of anything done. Here are some pictures of our ‘ups’ this week:

Caleb in his groove during our music time

Artist number 1

Artist number 2

Artist number 3

This picture sums up all of our time spent homeschooling so far…Kyler wanting to be right in the middle of anything and everything his older brother and sister are doing. This will be one of my greatest challenges of the year. Learning to embrace his curiosity and intense desire to be included and allow him to soak up what I am doing with Rylee and Caleb. He already, in the past few days has learned to identify 4 colors, count things (one, two, three) along with dozens of new words from mimicking his siblings and me. I am amazed.

Lastly, my brave sister who after already undergoing a 26 hour labor that ended in a c-section, had to have gallbladder surgery this week as well. The fruit of her labor?

As if he’s not cute enough all by himself, here is him AND his darling cousin Audrey on our grass this evening:

My fav of Audrey from tonight…

Okay, so I lied when I said ‘lastly’ earlier. If you wonder why we have so very many pictures up on our blog, it’s mostly because my little sister Stephanie is in school in Nashville and I know seeing pictures helps her feels more ‘in the loop’ and if I were her, I would want to see lots of pictures too. Posting them here is easier than me mailing them to her….plus, rumor has it my grandma reads our blog in Virginia too (but she’ll be here soon to see her “great-grands” as she calls them, in person in just a few weeks!). This last pic is as close as we’ve been to capturing the 4 together, note Caleb’s hand moving so fast it’s blurry-he’s got a fist full of grass and just after I snapped this, he covered Audrey’s nearly bald little head with it.

Our first day

Despite a rough start (for me) after a night up with Kyler rolling around in my bed since 1AM and the rest of the kids mysteriously getting up at 6:30, very unusual-we had a great first day of school at home. Rylee asked me how long we were going to do ‘school’ and my answer was, as long as we want to and I explained that really all of life is learning and my deepest heart’s desire is for our kids to embrace that truth and enjoy taking in everything that life and the One who gives life, is.. That’s the beauty of what we’re doing, we can do what we want and toss what doesn’t work.

Kyler’s highlight? Calling out bingo letters for consonant bingo as I whispered the letters into his ear-cutest thing ever!

Caleb’s highlight? Decorating his special 3 ring binder that will house all his art and projects in the months to come. He ‘hid’ a car by gluing it behind another picture, called it a sports car…but it was the new Honda Odyssey, oh well.

Yesterday Rylee: “Mom, I wish I could do out and about homeschool. I don’t want you to be my teacher, maybe Dee Dee could be my teacher?”

My thoughts? What in the world is ‘out and about homeschool’ in her 5 year old mind and okay that’s not very good for my fragile ego…

Today Rylee: “Mom, this day has been so fun with you, what’s our next activity?”

My thoughts? So thankful that she gets to ask me that question instead of her kindergarten teacher and so glad for the start of the journey and all the patient and wise answers from my beloved friend Kim as I tried to figure out how we were going to do this. Fully expecting bad days and tears and struggle and lots of imperfection but fully ready to dive in anyway. Isn’t that just the way life works?

Northwest Natives

There is no doubt about it, we are raising full blooded, native to the Northwest children. Friday we went down the local market for the last in a series of BBQ dinners and live music. It poured rain into Rylee’s hood as we huddled under the too-small tent meant to provide shade from the blazing sun not a downpour.

Today, we set out for a free ferry that transports people to a tiny, man made island where we spent the morning enjoying the cloudy, dark day.

Where is Caleb?

Much awaited fun with Nana and Papa

Rylee enjoyed building a princess castle and playing with the horses and knights while Caleb and Kyler enjoyed stomping on her moat, knocking the horses over, trying to run away with the knight and crashing into the castle with a giant monster truck. Poor girl! Thank goodness God gave Audrey to her, they will delight together in all things girl before I know it.

You know you have a few kids when…

You buy a 20 pound box of peaches to can them for winter….and you don’t can them immediately and all the sudden they are almost gone, in 2 days. Kyler kept opening the front door today to ask me for another ‘ball, no peel, please’. Four times over, this happened in the course of just a few hours:

Peach eating, serious business. He never cracked a smile. Just focused on loving the peach and smashing his face into it.

“It’s amazing!”

I was in the driveway and heard the kids screaming, at the top of their little lungs-“It’s amazing, it’s amazing mom, come look!” They came running towards me, to show me the amazing thing.

Caleb ‘caught’ this bee in our lavender in the front yard. He was so proud. It was amazing how beautiful this little creature was and that Caleb held it on his finger for 15 minutes.

He won’t look up at me for the picture, too engaged with the bee!