Thursday, February 4, 2016

A wife and mommy-in-the-making*

*One of my plans for the blog this year is to repost some older posts from the archives.  I've been writing here since 2006, so there's a lot of material there, and it's fun for me to re-read posts from those years, too.  :)

My four-year old daughter is a wife and mommy in-the-making. Not much makes me happier. Two things happened over the weekend to remind me of this:

We were all in the van, on our way to the Good Friday service, and from the back, this:

"When I get bigger I get to be a mommy!" (this said joyfully)

Mark and I smiled, and I turned back to smile at our daughter and said, "That's right, honey. You do! What made you think of that right now?"

She said, "I was just thinking it!"

Me: "That's a really fun thought, sweetheart. You are going to be such a wonderful mommy someday."

And that was that. But I have thought of it several times since. I can't tell you how delighted I am that my sweet little girl is excited to "get to be a mommy" someday! :)
Then yesterday we came home from church and ate a light lunch (more like a snack) before naps, because we were scheduled to be at my moms for lunch at 1:30. The boys went to sleep, and my husband passed through the kitchen (where my daughter and I were) and mentioned, "Boy, I am hungry, though..." I turned to do something at the table and my little girl comes up to me, holding a tupperware from the fridge, and says, "Mommy. This is chicken. Do you know if there is rice in here, too?" And I said, (not knowing where this was going yet), "Um, no, sweetie. That's just chicken." I watched her then turn, walk over to the fridge and pull out another tupperware. She said to me, pleased with herself, "I found the rice!" And then I asked her, "What are you doing, honey?" And she said, very matter-of-factly, "Daddy just said he was hungry. I'm just going to cook him some lunch." And she set both containers near the microwave. I told her that was so sweet of her to be taking such good care of her daddy, and then reminded her that we were having lunch at Grandma's house and that daddy would just have to wait a bit!

I was touched by her service and her industriousness: she saw a need and was moving to meet it. I am so grateful for these things I see in her! :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Valentine's Day buckets: a tradition


Yesterday morning I announced to the kids at the breakfast table that: Hooray! It's February (!) which means we're two weeks from Valentine's Day.

It's not that I particularly love Valentine's Day, but I do appreciate an excuse to celebrate.  And when the whole idea is to express love- and most often through cards and notes?  Well, that's right up our alley.  :)  Everyone at my house loves to make cards and notes.


These seven buckets--- one for each of us-- are now hanging on our fireplace mantel to be filled over the next couple of weeks with notes, cards, or treats (or any other such small thing that may fit in these buckets). 

I recently purchased a few sheets of Valentine's-Day-themed-paper at our local scrapbooking store-- (the large sheet beneath the bin in the photo above is my favorite-- all sorts of tiny messages that I cut out that the kids will love to get their hands on) and then just some other pink and red papers with hearts and sprinkled donuts. :)  I tucked some blue and yellow and white little scraps in there, too, just in case the boys are completely adverse to all the pink.  ;) 

I filled a little bin with some card-making supplies (scrapbook paper scraps, heart stickers, scissors and glue) and set it in the living room in a visible spot so that we all have easy access to make a card and slip it into someone's bucket. 

Hooray for cute bins all filled up with cheery notes to one another!  I love this kind of thing!  :)  

Any Valentine's Day traditions you do with your kids?

Previous Valentine's Day posts here on the blog: 
Valentine's Day, 2013- in which I get little gifts for the kids, bring Mark goodies on his route, and made heart-shaped pretzels.
Happy Valentine's Day (2011)- in which I make heart-shaped yogurt coffee cake for breakfast and we make treats.  :)
Valentine's Day recap (2008)- in which I make heart-shaped everything for the kids and plan a fancy dinner for just Mark and I.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Book recommendation: Maggie Bright

[Eeee!  (that's me, squealing).  I love recommending good books, and I can't wait to tell you about the book I just finished.]

The book is called Maggie Bright.  This is the cover:

I picked this book up blindly off the library shelves, and I am so delighted to have discovered this story and this new-to-me author, Tracy Groot.

In this novel we're introduced to Clare, a young woman who has just inherited a boat.  When a vicar from America is discovered prowling on her boat, Clare is puzzled.  What could he have been looking for?  She searches the boat herself and comes up empty, but cannot seem to put the incident out of her mind. Clare is intrigued enough to find out, and when she goes to question the imprisoned vicar, she finds herself in the middle of a Scotland Yard investigation.

At the same time, the British army is in full retreat and heading to the beaches of Dunkirk.

The story line bounces between a group of British soldiers trying to get to Dunkirk safely and Clare's discoveries of the secrets held on her boat, as well as the people she meets along the way. (A retired schoolteacher who is a boarder on Clare's boat, another American who comes to the vicar's rescue, and the two detectives who are determined that the hidden documents on Clare's boat don't fall into enemy hands.) 

Groot's characters are full of personality and the dialogue is excellent, with bits of humor scattered throughout.  It's also a powerful story of the British people propelled to action as time runs out on the shores of Dunkirk and every available ship, boat or sailing vessel is sent to rescue the soldiers.

This was an excellent book.  (You know it's a good historical fiction book when it makes you want to check out other books on the topic and learn more!  And: all of Tracy Groot's other books.  ;)) 

As I was reading, I recalled a picture book I read with the kids years ago covering this very topic, called The Little Ships.

I put it on hold again at the library to remind my kids of this remarkable piece of history.  I also handed Maggie Bright to Ella (14) and told her she'd love it (she did), and now Mark is reading it.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

What is it with boys?*

*One of my plans for the blog this year is to repost some older posts from the archives.  I've been writing here since 2006, so there's a lot of material there, and it's fun for me to re-read posts from those years, too.  :)  This post today was originally from April of 2006, and it features Ella and Isaac, ten whole years ago. ~sob~

What is it with boys and their inability to find things?! Today I was on the phone with- who else?- Amy, and she got interrupted at least twice with the request from her boys to find something (“Mama, where is the bat?” Her response: “I don’t know. I haven’t played with your bat.”) I get a real kick out of this since Amy is the only woman amongst her four, so she is asked this question MANY more times than I am in any given day!

It really is a gender thing. I can ask my four-year old daughter to find something and she promptly finds it and brings it to me. Tada! Mission accomplished.
I adored (and so miss!) these dress-up years.

I will ask my son (who is two and a half) to pick up the crayon right in front of his feet and he will spin around dazed and confused, like, “Huh? Where?” while my daughter and I are pointing and hollering, “Right there! No. Turn and face us. Now look at your feet. Your feet! Where are your feet? Point to your feet. Now: see the crayon?” And he stares at the ground in bewilderment. We all end up laughing and inevitably I get up, walk over to him, pick up the crayon and put it away.

My little guy also does this: I will say, holding an item, “Will you please take this into the kitchen?” He will take it and head to the kitchen, stop in the doorway, and then turn and ask, “This kitchen?” Um. Yep! (We only have the one!) He is the same with any room in the house. If you ask him to go anywhere in the house, he’ll stop and clarify: “This living room?”, or "This front door?"

I’m not really sure why he does this. Or why he can’t locate anything. But I sure love him. He is the cheeriest, sweetest, most affectionate, dearest little boy. And I could weep for the thought he will ever leave me. Okay, I can have that thought no longer. I will seriously start to cry.


2016 note: I was completely amused as I read this post to realize that the sweetly clueless two-year-old Isaac has now, at twelve, become my go-to person when something in the house has gone missing.  He catalogs all details in his brain and is always the one I ask (or tell the other kids to ask) when something needs to be found.  He always remembers where it last was. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Favorite meal of the week (it might surprise you!)

One of my favorite times of the day is when we gather around our table and eat dinner together.  Often we'll all tell our "best" or "favorite" parts of the day.  The kids love this.  The other night Ella asked each of us what made us laugh that day, and so we all shared what had made us laugh, and then Ella finished with what had made her laugh--- something God said to Joshua about getting up off his face.  :)  I treasure these times. 

I love to change things up when it comes to making meals for our family.  I can't handle eating the same thing all the time.  I need some variety.  And I got a new cookbook for Christmas-- I LOVE getting new cookbooks--- so I've been trying some new recipes, which is always fun.  :)  This past week I tried two new meals out on them.  I told the kids they were allowed to rank them, since I'll need to know if I should ever make them again.

So.  One of the recipes I had on our meal plan for the week was Chow Mein, from The Pioneer Woman's Dinnertime cookbook.

I love Chow Mein and wanted to give it a shot even though I was fairly certain that none of my kids would appreciate it.

Of course, when I was at the grocery store shopping for our weekly meals, I realized I hadn't written down the ingredients for this particular meal, so hurriedly found the recipe online and we shopped off the online recipe.  Then we thought we might never get the chance to try it at all since the recipe calls for "thin lo mein noodles."  And Ella and I spent approximately ten full minutes in the appropriate section of the grocery store looking for the words thin and lo and mein all on the same noodle package and trust me, there is no such package.  There are no thin lo mein noodles.  No lo mein noodles, even.  No thin mein noodles.  Whatever, Ree.  We came home with these:

Because we're smart like that.  Basically, the recipe has you saute some onions and cabbage and carrots in soy sauce and peanut oil (which I didn't have so we went with sesame oil) and then you boil these noodles for 3 minutes and stir fry it all together with soy sauce and voila!  Dinner. (See why I chose this recipe?)  Also, rewind to the onions + cabbage + carrots part.  (See why I thought the kids would hate it?)

I have this little fixation with thinking that every meal I serve must contain meat.  (I'm not sure who I should thank for that.  Probably one of my grandmas or my mom.)  But I genuinely feel like it cannot be a complete and proper meal unless there is meat somewhere, so at the last minute I thawed some chicken breasts and sliced those up and stir fried those, too.  (Bonus points for the kids who were going to have the Ew! look on their faces when I served them up their cooked cabbage and carrots. They could enjoy the chicken, then.  And the noodles.  And just tolerate the rest.)

I was personally super excited about the meal, but told Mark before calling the kids to the table, "I'm sure that none of them are going to like this." He shrugged and said something to the effect of, "They don't have to like it, they just have to eat it."  And we called them to the table and served it up and they all loved it.  Loved it.  As in, wanted seconds and would have asked for thirds if it weren't all already gone.  So there.  Thank you Ree and Sun Luck and my kids.

Here's the official recipe from the book, should you want to give it a try:
1 T peanut oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup julienned carrots
4 green onions, sliced
1/2 head napa cabbage, thinly sliced
8 oz thin Chinese noodles, cooked according to the package directions (aka: thin lo mein noodles, as listed here)
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
My paraphrase of what to do:
Saute the onions first, stir-fry for about 2 minutes or until onions start to soften.
Add in carrots, saute for 2 minutes.
Add cabbage and half the green onions.  2 more minutes.
Then add cooked noodles, soy sauce and sesame oil.  (I added my cooked chicken at this point, too).
Finally, add the rest of the green onions, and there you go.  Dinner is ready.

My notes: I already mentioned that we didn't have peanut oil, so I just sauteed everything in sesame oil.  I doubled the recipe but out of compassion for my kids, I used only half an onion total.  I grated my carrots because I don't have any fancy julienne tool, if there is such a tool.  I used maybe 3/4 head of cabbage, but had two 8 oz packages of the noodles.  And 3 chicken breasts.  Probably less soy sauce since I just drizzled it in-- my guess would be that I used about 1/8 of a cup, total. 

She has all sorts of variations listed in the book, such as adding GROSS mushrooms (which will never ever happen in this house ever because they make me gag.  My apologies to Mark, who loves them.  But he also loves me, so he's very understanding that I won't let mushrooms enter my home.  And he orders mushrooms practically every time we go out to eat, so he's just fine.)  But if you'd like to add them to this recipe, be my guest.  ;)

Did any of you receive cookbooks for Christmas?  What's your favorite cookbook? 

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