Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This is it!

I believe that I have to come to the end of my search...for the perfect granola bar recipe.

Last Friday I stumbled across this site: www.makeandtakes.com. Here you will find all sorts of sweet, little crafty things that are wonderful for kids to make.

The recipe for chewy granola bars caught my eye. Over the past couple of weeks, I have tried to make a few different granola bars and none of them were quite right...until now - this one is totally fantastic! It's not too hard or too crumbly, it holds together beautifully and is just, well, darn near perfect. I have made them twice since finding the recipe and may have to make it again this week because these bars are LOVED here at our house.

Friday, January 23, 2009

It's a Fabulous Friday...

We are grateful for a FABULOUS day here at our house.
Here are 5 reasons why:

  • Zoe had cereal for the FIRST time today. By the end, she was actually accepting the spoon before letting the cereal dribble out.
  • These two always enjoy a good bowl of oatmeal, which makes Mama happy 'cuz it's cheap and easy.
  • We are going to be enjoying guacamole for lunch...delicious!
  • There is only 1 week left until Jeremy and I get to go to the Chris Tomlin/Israel & New Breed concert - I'm so EXCITED!

  • And lastly, it's my baby sister's 23rd birthday TODAY. Happy Birthday, Meg! We love you and hope that you have a FABULOUS FRIDAY!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Think About It Thursday

"When Jesus is asked, 'what's the most important thing?' Jesus' response is to love, love God with everything that you have and then love those around you in the same kind of way. Jesus doesn't separate loving God and loving others. For Jesus, everything hangs on these two. And so the defining mark of a Christian is love." - Rob Bell

Loving God usually comes pretty easy. It's the loving your neighbor that is a little bit harder, and yet without doing that we don't fulfill the second greatest commandment (Mark 12:29-31). The word love in this passage can be translated in the Greek - agapao, a verb meaning to welcome, to entertain, to be fond of, to love dearly (this is in regard to people).

Last night at church, we were discussing the issue of how the world views Jesus and how we as Christians help them to see Jesus. The world doesn't actually KNOW Him like we do. To most of them Jesus is just a good man who died for what He believed in. But to KNOW Him is to have relationship with Him and to personify Him in all that we do.

As it says above, "the defining mark of a Christian is love." You can have so many things, but without LOVE you are nothing but a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal (1 Cor. 13:1). People will know that you are a Christian by the love that you show toward them - the love of Christ - the love that sees beyond a person's choices and looks to their heart to embrace who they really are: a child of the Most High God.

Also, note that in the verse from Mark that says the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself, the word love is a verb - AN ACTION is required here. To complete this commandment requires that you actually DO something.

As followers of Christ, we are known by the love that we show to believers and non-believers alike. It truly is the "defining mark" that shows who we are.

Think About It...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chocolate lovers this is for YOU!

Last Saturday night, we had some friends over and I made dessert. The recipe that I chose was called extreme chocolate brownies. I made them and decided to go all the way and top them with chocolate buttercream frosting.

Let me tell you...extreme is in no way an understatement. A restaurant would probably call this death by chocolate or something. The intensity of this chocolate delight could be due to the 2 bags of chocolate chips that you use to make it with. These brownies are definitely intense and oh so delicious.

I assure you, if you need a REAL chocolate fix, take the time to whip these up. You won't be disappointed!

The ART of not listening

In our family gift exchange for Christmas, we decided to give something that we from around the house to the person we had, the kids were included in this. Part of Hosanna's present was nail polish (thank you Aunt Kate!).

Well, she had asked to paint her nails and it just wasn't the right time. One day I caught her with it during nap time, I told her very firmly - you do not paint your nails by yourself, that's a job for mommy. She had gotten it open but hadn't really painted anything...until last Thursday.

It was nap time again, I was in the living room and I could smell what was cooking in the crockpot, but there was something else that I smelled - something strong and familiar. I went upstairs to check around. Hosanna was jumping back under the covers. On the bedside table were two bottles of nail polish, they were both open. There was pink paint on the table, on the sheet and the pillow case. I took a deep breath and marched her into the bathroom and stood her on the toilet, where I proceeded to remove all of the polish from her hands. I grabbed another cotton ball and told her she was going to take this and clean up the paint on the table.

That's when I looked down and saw the child's feet. I almost laughed out loud, her toes were absolutely covered in bright pink sparkly nail polish. Oh the joys of motherhood! I went to grab my camera, I just had to get a picture of this one.

Then I removed the polish from her toes and sent her back to nap time, once again reiterating that she DOES NOT use nail polish by herself. I then proceeded to put it up very high on the closet shelf.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Snow time like the present

The winter days are long...especially for children that love the outdoors. But the only thing keeping us inside today are the extremely cold temperatures here in the Midwest (the windchill today was -14 degrees!). So when Hosanna asked if she could change out of her dress to other clothes and go outside, I had to tell her that it was much too cold to venture outside today or tomorrow. Hopefully by this weekend the temps will be in the 20s or 30s.

She was stoked about the snow pile that Jeremy had made the other day for them to play on outside. She was at Grandma's house when this snow pile was created, so she missed out on the first day of it.

Judah had a wonderful time climbing up and sliding down. It was great fun for him. He also enjoyed it when Jeremy put him on the inflatable sled at the top of the pile and pulled him down the pile and across the yard, over and over and over.

For a fun winter activity, look no further than your own backyard. There you will find a FREE way for kids to enjoy the cold months and burn off their energy in a winter wonderland.

Don't worry Jeremy made the tunnel through the snow pile big enough for him to squeeze through himself!

Monday, January 12, 2009

What are we going to eat today?

This past weekend we stayed home, out of necessity not choice...like Hosanna told her Aunt Emily, "Our cars are broke, we need a new van." We are experiencing car issues and dealing with those the best we know how. Meanwhile, we haven't gone far, so it gives me plenty of time to spend in the kitchen. I know that having a 'plan' for meals isn't always easy, so I want to share with you a few ideas from our 'menu' this past weekend.


Saturday evening for dinner, we enjoyed Crockpot Sausage and Potato Soup. This turned out pretty well and there wasn't a lot of effort involved thanks to the good ole crockpot. I even had time to make some rolls to go along with the soup.


Sunday's breakfast was exceptional -
blueberry pancakes, absolutely phenomenal if you ask me. This was a first for me, actually making pancakes from scratch - I was very pleased with the results. Judah enjoyed the leftovers for breakfast this morning, it is funny to hear him say pancakes.

For lunch, we had leftover soup.

Supper included two of our faves - nachos and guacamole. To me, nachos are taco meat and whatever other fixin's you have to pile on tortilla chips.

Guacamole is simple to make, here's what I do:

Peel and dice 2 avocados. Place them in a bowl and mash them. Chop 2 roma tomatoes and as much onion as you like. Add to avocados, then add a clove of finely chopped garlic, a finely chopped jalepeno (seeds removed) and some chopped cilantro. Lastly, add the juice of one lime and salt to taste. Stir everything together and enjoy.
This doesn't last long at our house!

I made dessert -
chocolate chip cookie pie - to celebrate the return of 24, welcome back Jack Bauer!


While Judah enjoyed his pancakes, Jeremy and I had granola for breakfast. Jeremy likes his with fruit and yogurt and I had mine with milk. Making your own granola is very budget friendly, I made a batch from staple items that I already had - at the store, you would probably pay about $12 or so for the same amount of pre-made granola. It is easy to make and store and the kids like it too.

Lunch was turkey sandwiches and salad.

You can never have enough ways to make chicken, that said, for supper I made a wonderful
garlic chicken that I really love and is quite simple to make. I have never made sweet potato oven fries...until tonight. They were absolutely delicious. I saw Rachael Ray make them on her show the other day and I thought I might give them a try. All you do is cut the sweet potatoes into wedges, toss them with olive oil and salt and bake them on a baking sheet. Roasting them gives them a whole new taste. The chicken and sweet potatoes were accompanied by corn and rolls.

Looking for new ideas on a weekly basis is what I constantly find myself doing. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO EAT TODAY? is always the big question in the mind of a mother. I am over being unprepared as to what to feed my family. I will continue to share ideas that have worked for us to help you prepare yourself to answer that big question.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

the latest craze

A couple of weeks ago, my sister, Megan, started talking to me about baking bread. So I went on my favorite site, recipezaar, to look into some recipes and I have been 'experimenting' ever since. This morning I was in the kitchen working on some wheat bread, which I was kneading it by hand (which is a great core workout!). Lately I have been reminded how rewarding it is to MAKE something in the kitchen that didn't come from a box and my family has enjoyed the fresh baked bread.

While I was working on the bread, the kids were busy in the sink. Water play is the latest craze at our house. Judah can't get enough of it. He will stand there on the chair, at the sink, in the kitchen until you MAKE him stop and get down. And that isn't an easy task either. To him, water play ranks up there right after spending time outside and before eating...yep, you read right...before eating! Filling, pouring and dumping, filling pouring and dumping...it's amazing to watch a toddler do a simple task over and over and over. The repetition of a small task like that is crucial to his development. And this morning it was all fun and games until something got broken, like one of my cereal bowls!

Hosanna joined him at the sink today. Her craze for the past few months has been wearing a dress all of the time, usually a summer dress. That is what she lives for, she claims that she can't be a 'princess' without a dress (thank you, disney movies!). Surprisingly, she stays pretty warm and doesn't fight too much when she actually has to wear clothes to leave the house.

Jere's latest craze is drinking pop from a glass bottle, you know, the IBC rootbeer or cream soda. Everytime I go to the store that is what he asks me to get for him. It's a throwback to his childhood when he used to ride around town (a VERY small town) on his bike and get Dr. Pepper in a glass bottle from the pop machine outside the grocery store. Back when it only cost like 25 cents, those were the days!

Lately, Zoe has been spitting bubbles and making a buzz sound while doing it. She can't stop smiling either, she is SO stinking happy most all of the time.

For all of us, our crazes usually change, if they don't then it becomes a hobby. As we go through life, there are certain things that we enjoy more than others, for the kids hopefully, its just ages and stages - all a part of the learning process. The bread, by the way, turned out well. Here's the recipe: traditional wheat bread. It will be fabulous with the pepsi roast that we are having for dinner. I can't wait!

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Today is the day...THE DAY...the first day of a brand new year, a year in which we have decided to BLOG about our family...about our life together. We have been discussing this over the past couple of weeks and have been tossing names back and forth - should it be normal (our name), practical (kids in bed by 8) or silly, but true (loads of fun and laundry)??? Well, after much deliberation we chose - shrieks, leaks and cheeks - which is a very honest description of our day to day life : loud, explosive and slightly exposed.

It is now after 11 pm, but I do feel pretty good about the fact that we did achieve our first goal for 2009...to get this blog going. We look forward to chronicling our year here with this blog - sharing what we enjoy, what drives us crazy and what we find that saves our day and may very well save yours.

New Year!

Looking forward to a new year... HA... those are hardly the words to describe it. I think something Hosanna did Christmas morning is a stark illustration of how I feel about this coming new year. Early Christmas morning Hosanna gets up before mom and dad, makes her way down the stairs & begins to unwrap every present under the tree as if they were all hers. As mom finds her sitting among the wrapping paper which so vehemently kept her from the knowledge of what lay inside each package Hosanna looks at her and declares, "Christmas Is Here!". The avid anticipation which overtook her that morning... that wouldn't allow her to waste another moment wondering "when" or "what if"... that anticipation that compelled her & every other child on Christmas morning to "take action" is what I pray ALL of us feel heading into this new year! To take action... to step out with the confidence, faith and grace that God himself has gifted to ALL of us! To give no notion to thoughts of "what if we fail" or "what will people think if it doesn't go as planned".... absolutely NOT - I'm taking my family into this new year just like Hosanna threw caution to the wind and took what was gifted to her (& then some)... & just like her declare unapologetically "Christmas Is Here!"...... Our New Year Is Here & it's begging us to attack it like we attacked our presents this Christmas! There is no more that can be done about last year - that book has already been written & sealed in our history... learn from it, yes of course, but I'm more interested in what I am able to accomplish today and am gleaming with the avid anticipation of what our family can accomplish tomorrow!