Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Valentine Jello Cookies

This year, I've been extra excited about Valentine's Day. I think my view of the holiday has changed. Instead of seeing it as one day where we're expected to celebrate the people we love, I'm seeing it as a season of choosing to celebrate the people we love.

Around our house, we have a few Valentine's decorations up and for the next few weeks, I'm planning on intentionally focusing in on showering my children with a little extra love, encouraging them to show love towards others and of course, trying to be more intentional about showing my husband love.

Yesterday, the kids and I made a batch of these Valentine Jello Cookies. A batch of these cookies is on the smaller side, perfect for a few snacks with your kids and a couple days worth of sneaking into your hubby's lunch box.

         Valentine Jello Cookies                   
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 6oz package Jello mix (any flavor you like)
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla


In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and Jello mix and then set aside. In a medium sized bowl, beat butter and sugar together until creamy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla. Gradually blend in flour mixture. 

Chill dough for at least a half hour and then roll out with floured rolling pin, on a generously floured surface. Dough will be on the sticky side so, adding extra flour might be necessary. 

Cut the dough with cookie cutters and then place cookies on an un-greased cookie sheet.

Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, or until edges barely brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to completely cool.

Yield: Approx. 2 dozen small heart shaped cookies.

Angela

Linking up here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

In Which Judah Asks Jesus Into His Heart

Sunday January 27, 2013
Dear Judah,
For a while now, out of the blue, you've been asking me if Jesus is in your heart. I've always wanted to answer you honestly but, not put any pressure on you. That important decision needs to be completely your own. When you've asked if Jesus is in your heart, I've been opening up the conversation by telling you that if you want Jesus in your heart, all you need to do is ask Him and then He'll be with you, forever and ever. He'll help you make good choices, comfort you when you're sad or scared and He always hears you when you pray. Normally the conversation moves on but, Sunday afternoon it continued.....

We laid in your bed before nap time and as I started to sing you a song, you interrupted with "Mommy? Is Jesus in my heart?" Like usual, I said "Well honey, Jesus will come into your heart when you ask Him to. Whenever you want that, all you have to do is pray and ask. Then He'll be in your heart forever and ever."  I expected for you to have me continue my song but, instead you started praying out.....

"Jesus, will you please come into my heart and be with me forever and ever? I'm so blessed and I want you to be in my heart." Amen.

As your Mommy, hearing you say those words was one of the sweetest sounds in my life. You've been thinking about this for awhile and I wanted the decision to be completely up to you, at your timing. You prayed out so confidently and it was the most beautiful and precious thing. I'm so proud of you. 
Love,
Mommy

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As a Mom, I fall short on a daily basis. I don't read the Bible enough with my kids, I loose my patience. I should probably play with them more. I mess it up....all the time.

Thankfully, I can see that when we plant tiny seeds into our kids, God is faithful to bring other people along side of us to water those little seeds, provide them with good soil and give them the sunshine they need to grow.

I've often wondered if I'm doing enough to cultivate my children's faith. It seems like so many Mother's do so much more than me. After Judah asked Jesus into his heart (completely on his own!), I could hear God telling me that I'm enough. The tools I need are right here, He's given them to me. He's here with me, helping me because He knows I so desperately need Him. There are so many things I don't know, so many unanswered questions that I have. And even though I mess up all the time, He's telling me that I'm enough. With Him, I'm enough to teach my kids. With Him, YOU'RE enough to teach your kids.

Proverbs 22:6
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
♥ Angela

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Our Week and Weekend Links

This week hasn't been my favorite. My lists and my mind have been telling me to do-do-do and my body has been telling me to stop, to slow, to enjoy, to simplify. I've said yes to the things that have felt right and a few times, I've had to say no to the things that didn't seem to fit. Saying no isn't fun, especially for those of us who don't want to feel left out. But, the "no" wins and then peace follows. Peace that sometimes looks like sitting on the couch in my sweats with my kids, looking through photo albums. They point out "Baby Judah! Baby Paisley!" and I notice our reflection. I'm smiling, they're smiling. I'm present and that's where I want to be. It's simple, but that's been the flavor of this week. 

The mornings have been dark this week. I open the shades and the daylight seems nearly nonexistent. I've been on a candle kick lately. They seem to shift the atmosphere in our house and when it's dark outside, they help motivate me. 
When I suggest heading to the library, the kids get ecstatic and that makes me smile. I realize that when baby #3 comes, the library trips won't be as easy as they are now but, we'll adjust. Library trips have to happen.
Post-library, a blanket is spread out on the floor and the kids look through their books. Everyone wins.
One major event that I haven't written about is how my Mom is getting married. It's good. She's happy and so, I'm happy. Paisley will be the flower girl and her dress came this week. When she laid eyes on it, she immediately wanted it on. 
 Her face tells the whole story. She's totally tickled.

Baking. 
 Baking with my girl equals huge messes. Turns out, flour sweeps up super easily. We stir, we sprinkle, we splash, we sweep and then we move on. No biggie.
 To bring a little Valentine's Day into our house, I had the kids paint lots of papers with red and pink. After the papers were dry, I cut their paintings into hearts and then hot glued the hearts onto twine.

And some of the best stuff that I've read this week.......
This should be my new motto:

One of my favorite blog posts, possibly ever, from Ann @ A Holy Experience
Go read the entire post, it's worth it. 
Quilts that are so cute I could cry, from Honey Bear Lane. If I sewed well, I'd make one of these. 
Unfortunately, I do not. 

Angela

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies, Terrible Two's and a Field Trip

Just a couple of weeks ago, we rooted for the Seahawks while they played the game that should've taken them to the Superbowl. We cheered. We had our hopes up. In the first couple of quarters, we thought we'd lose. Later in the game, we thought we'd win. During the last few seconds, we lost. Boo. 

Thankfully, I made these cookies for the game and my husband swears they're the best he's ever had. Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies seem to make everything just a little better. Have a bad day? Make these. Need to say you're sorry? Make these. Coming to visit me? Make these. 
Relax....I'm kidding. 

The calories, sugar and fat in these babies should make them illegal but, if you are planning on eating something totally delicious and unhealthy, these are so worth it. 
Today I shared the recipe for these cookies over on 5 Minutes for Mom. Go check it out and while you're there, link up one of your favorite recipes!

Besides making giant cookies and watching football, we've been at the Fire Station quite a bit lately! First we had Judah's party there and then today I got to go on his FIRST EVER field trip with him. It was really fun to see him with his class and see him in that different element. There's something about watching your child listen to their teacher and hangout with their friends that makes your Mommy heart smile. It's new for me to see him like that so, I even get a tiny thrill from seeing him stand in line well and take turns. 
Paisley came with us to the fire station and she did alright, besides kicking off her shoes 1000 times. That girl and shoes....it's a whole other post in and of itself. She's been helping me remember to pray extra lately. Two with Judah was easy peasy but, three with him was hard. Two with Paisley is NOT easy. She's beyond precious, sweet and loving but, she's also as sassy as sassy can be. She randomly says things like "Mommy, don't touch my chair.....Mommy, no more talking to me.....Mommy, you get up. I sit there." Like, I'm going to haul my big pregnant self up off the couch, because she told me too. Um, no.

One day, I came into her room and she asked me to leave! I'm like...excuse me, what??? She comes up with this stuff all on her own and in her tiny cute voice, her demands are maybe a tinsie-tiny bit cute (especially to the folks that aren't her Mom). Her attitude, however, is not cute and neither are the fits. Naptime fits and bedtime fits, another new phase that we've entered. Thankfully, I know all of this is truly just a phase and when she does say something sweet, I melt. I love that girl, even though she might be giving me gray hair.

Angela

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Brother and Sister

For Judah's Birthday, art supplies-specifically from the Grandparents, were received by the bag full. My husband and I were actually cracking up while putting the gifts away because it literally looks like I'm opening a preschool. It's not a bad thing though because coloring and painting have become pretty popular around here lately.

Yesterday, the kids sat and painted for almost an hour. Judah painted 4 or 5 pictures and Paisley really enjoyed it also. As they sat and painted, Judah looked at me and said "Mommy, I love painting with my sister. She's my sister and she's my friend."

His sweet comment made me think about the corner we've turned lately. We've turned from the page of my kids not getting along, hardly ever, to the page of  treating each other with love, kindness and as friends. This new page that we're on is such a blessing to me, as their Mom.

No family is perfect and if you saw us in the grocery store, you might see them pulling each other's hair or poking each other in the face. But, at other times, you might see Judah gently holding his sister's hand, proudly leading her through the store. He's started to take great pride in watching out for her. He greets her with a hug after MOPS and he consoles her when she cries.
Today Judah was asking me about who he's going to marry when he grows up. To answer his question simply, I told him that God will pick out the perfect wife for him. He was quiet and then he told me that he'd like to marry Paisley. Of course, he doesn't understand that marrying his sister is totally not an option but, I'm thankful that he not only loves her but, he also likes her.

As a Mom, it's these sweet new phases that give me so much hope during the hard times. Our kids go through different phases, some of them harder than others and while the hard times seem like they'll last forever, they never do.

Now I think we'll go do some more painting.....ha!
Angela 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Enjoying: 4th Birthday Weekend

This weekend was marked mainly by the 4th Birthday of our sweet boy. Since the day that little pregnancy test turned positive, in Target of all places, that boy has truly blessed our lives. When I think of him and his gentle, caring personality, I'm lost for words. It's just one of those things that I can't help but praise God for on a daily basis. He is truly a gift and I'm so privileged to be his Mom.

For his 4th Birthday party, I wanted to switch things up and go "outside of the box" and so we asked our local fire station if they'd let us host the party there. We go to church with a few of the guys and I might be partial but, I think everyone that works there is so exceptionally nice. From letting us host our party there, to wanting to help us unload all of our party gear from the car, to giving each child a fire hat....they blew me away. Such an awesome group of guys!

The party was filled with some of our very favorite friends, some we've known for a long time and some that we're so excited to be getting to know better. And of course family, that we also call friends. We toured the fire station, played Pin the Tail on the Dalmatian and Musical Chairs, ate lunch, had cupcakes and opened presents.

It was fun but, I'm going to go out on the transparent limb here and write from my heart. After the party was over, I felt like I totally missed the mark. Judah had fun but, he wasn't really into the games and at certain times I could sense that all of the activity was overwhelming to him. As his Mom, it was hard to see him not having the best time ever. I'm a Mom, I plan my tail off and I want nothing more than to see my son smiling, laughing and having a blast. Because, isn't that what we all want---to see our kids filled with complete joy? And when that doesn't happen, the feeling of failure creeps in. It's hard when you've done your best and afterwards, your best feels like it might not have been adequate.

I've had some time to process and even though I feel like I might have missed the mark, I'm realizing that he did have fun and that it wasn't all bad. He was smiling and laughing and even though he might have been overwhelmed at times, it certainly wasn't all bad. We are so incredibly blessed to have a great group of friends and family and I'm so glad he was able to celebrate with them!

This weekend, I've been humbled over and over again. I'm so human. Some of my ideas are great, others are not. I try. Sometimes my efforts are good, sometimes I chalk it up as a learning experience. And when I sit down to write, it's like therapy. I write from my heart and I hope that it comes across as genuine.

A few photos from the party:
 Personalized "Happy 4th Birthday Judah!!!" water bottles. 

 Chocolate cake pops with vanilla coating, and a number 4 sign that I made from a picket fence board.

 Chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and cherry gum drops. 


Opening presents with some of our sweet friends. 

And a few photos from the rest of our weekend..................................
Sidewalk chalk and pretend snow angels
Bubbles at sunset.



One of my favorite memories from the weekend:
After Judah woke up on his Birthday morning and confirmed with us that it really was his Birthday, he said "Ok, I'll be right back!" and immediately ran down to his bedroom. Moments later, his voice rang out with "Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday dear ME, Happy Birthday to me!!!" When he walked out, it was like nothing happened. 

How was your weekend???
Angela

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Creating and Mothering

{My friend Sarah posted this on Instagram and it was too good to not share. 
From the Etsy shop of EchoesofMercy}

This morning, I laughed with another Momma about how we sometimes leave our kids in their jammies all day. Often, my kids just don't want to change into "daytime" clothes and sometimes, I feel like this is such a small battle, one that's way too small for me to worry about. Don't get me wrong, you won't always find us in our PJ's but, sometimes you just might and trust me, it isn't because they lack plenty of non-jammie clothes. 

The other day, we needed to run around to a few thrift stores and search for some props for a party. As we left the house, the kids wanted to wear rubber boots and footie jammies and so, that's what they tromped around the thrift store in. As they held my hands and we wandered down the aisles, I realized that a few years ago, prior to this new'ish Mommy title that I now possess, I probably would have felt sorry for them...those poor kids in the thrift store, wearing jammies........
Blah. I had no clue. 
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Lately, I've been completely blown away with the creativity and uniqueness of women. Each woman, created in such a beautiful and complete way, mother's differently. She shapes lives and her style of who she is flows out of her. She has her unique struggles, her unique gifts, her unique interests and it's something to be celebrated. I'm guilty of thinking that I know everything about someone and then when I've gotten to know them better, I'm like "What?? You do that?? Goodness sakes, that's awesome!"

One of my favorite bloggers shared a Bill Cosby quote recently. This hit me like a brick and it's stuck with me ever since.
I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everybody.
~Bill Cosby
Last year, there were many times when I considered not blogging anymore. Finding a balance that suited me regarding how much or how little I share about my kid's lives was tough. 
For many different reasons, I've come to a place now where I have complete peace with the fact that I love writing. I've realized that I need to write and that it fits hand in hand with where my life is at right now. I've realized that art comes in all different shapes and forms. Some people's art is widely recognized, while other's is never known. Your art looks different than mine and that's how it was intended to be. And how widely it's recognized? Well, that has nothing to do with it's value. 
We are women- complicated and amazing.  We need to own the unique gifts that we've been given and when we forget what our gifts are, maybe it's because we've been too busy focusing on someone else's gift.
Creativity and Mothering- they go hand in hand. Right now, I'm loving being a mom, growing babies, typing words and taking photos. It suits me and I'm ready to own that. One of the best parts is the peace that I have with doing both. This little blog was started when Judah was 3 months old. Blogging might seem like it's time consuming but, I'm so used to it that it really isn't. For this season, it just works. 
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For the next few days, we'll be in celebration mode. This little guy is about to turn 4! Today he got to bring a special snack to preschool to celebrate his special day. He chose donuts and apparently, the kids liked them!
Angela

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers


It's been one of those strange sorts of days. The kind where everything seems normal and smooth, until your kids start saying the most random and embarrassing things to strangers. That happens to you too, right? Right???

Everything was going great....we got into the check out line at JoAnn Fabrics and the nice elderly lady who was working smiled at us and said hello to the kids. 95% of the time, Paisley has one volume and that volume is set far above medium. Her voice is sweet, and loud. When the nice lady smiled and said "hello", Paisley smiled back and then responded with "I go poop!". Of course, Judah thought this was absolutely hilarious and so, he started laughing hysterically and joined in with "I go poop! I go poop! I go poop". At this point, the quiet store echoed with both of my kids laughter and their continuous exclamations of  "I go poop!". I stood there, hushing them, telling them to get up off of the floor and threatening to throw away the suckers that the lady from the bank had just given them. Threatening the demise of their suckers finally worked and once again, silence and peace fell over the store.
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Among many random and strange moments today, fell the big question before nap time. Once again, everything was normal. I was singing him songs and we were cruising along to a place of sleep and a few moments of peace for this tired Momma. Silent Night ended (I know Christmas is over, he just likes it), and out of nowhere, Judah said "So, how do babies get into a Mommy's tummy?" I'm not going to ramble out my entire answer here on the blog but, for now, let's just say that babies are made from a tiny piece of a Daddy and a tiny piece of a Mommy. God puts them in there and then they grow big.

For a three year old, this answer was sufficient and that's the story that we're going with, for now.

And so, now I'm going to share a recipe with you that was recently a huge hit in our home. These crackers have nothing to do with 'birds and the bees' talks or embarrassing moments in JoAnn Fabrics and frankly, I'm so glad. I need simple. And for just a few moments, I'm ready to focus on something that's far from life shaping.

Cheesy Whole Wheat Crackers. These crackers are so good that I'm almost afraid to make them again. All I can say is that they didn't last very long at our house. Before 48 hours had even passed, they were gone. Yum. Double yum.

In a bowl combine, 1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup), 8oz of sharp shredded cheese, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. At our house, we love pepper so, I used a little more than that. With your mixer, blend these ingredients together, until they're well combined.
Add in 1 cup whole wheat flour and 2 tablespoons very cold water. Mix in with your hands, forming the dough into a nice ball. Chill the dough for at least a half hour.
On a floured surface, roll the dough out very thin, about 1/8 of an inch. Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into squares. 
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and bake the crackers in a preheated 375 degree oven for 13-15 minutes, lightly brown and crisp. 

Enjoy fresh out of the oven or store in an air tight container for 2-3 days. 

Whole Wheat Cheese Crackers

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons cold water

In a bowl, mix together butter, cheese, salt and pepper. Add in cold water and flour and knead the dough together with your hands, bringing it together into a ball. 

Chill dough for at least 30 minutes.

While dough chills, place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough very thin, about an eighth of an inch thick. Use a pizza cutter or butter knife to cut the dough into squares. Place crackers on prepared baking sheets. The pieces can be close together as they won’t expand much when baking. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes until golden brown, and crisp.

Enjoy fresh from the oven or store in an airtight container for two or three days.

Angela

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Enjoying/// Us Lately, in Photos

The second week in the new year....a week filled with many, many photos, sweet moments with the kids, late-night deep conversations with friends, preparations and enjoying

It was a week where I remembered that taking random pictures of my kids playing, when they don't know I'm watching is so important. These pictures are the ones that I'll be so glad to have someday, probably more so than the posed ones, where the lighting is better. This is real life. 
"Firefighter tea parties", one of the many ways that they play. 
It was a week filled with lots of jammies, snuggles on the couch with favorite babies and favorite blankies. Not because anyone was sick but, just because.
It was a week of sunshine and cold blue skies. 
A week where flowers bloomed, like little surprises that don't seem to belong.
A week where the anticipation of our new baby grew, especially inside of our oldest. Judah took this baby doll, named him "Cooper" and has taken to wrapping him up and treating him like a real baby. 
 When I found them in the bathroom, Judah said "Cooper is potty training!". No joke.
A week where more pictures of the new baby were drawn and posted on the fridge. 
A week filled with cold mornings and little ones that want nothing more than to play outside in the frost. Double layers of pants, many shirts, hats, jackets and gloves....that's how they play.

This week, Birthday party prep went into full swing. I've been sewing banners, painting vintage signs and then pinching myself when I realize that my baby is about to turn four.
After his Birthday is over, I'll tuck him in and then later I'll go kiss his head before I fall asleep. At that point, my eyes will most likely fill with tears. I'll sit outside his door, pray for him and cry. Why? Because that's what I do on his Birthday. I don't plan it but, it always happens. I love watching him get older but, is it bittersweet? Why yes, it sure is.
It was a  week where we headed to church in our Seahawk gear, cheered for our favorite team and then got a little  lot bummed out when they lost. Oh, the game was SO close. They should have won but, shoulda, coulda, woulda. It's over now and they had a good season. Next year, Seahawks!

I hope you've truly enjoyed your week. 
Angela

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