Thursday, September 29, 2011


I went in to tuck William in, and he grabbed the sleeve of my robe and said, "I want this blanket!"

Joy has a favorite now.  I was rocking her, and she started crying and scrambling to get down.  I let her down, and she walked over to her crib, crying and reaching for a fat stuffed blue pony inside.  I got it out for her, we sat back down in the rocking chair, and she squished her face into the pony and went to sleep.

Leaving daycare, William saw one of the other kids' mom walking in.  He told me, "That's Ashton's mom.  That's not my mommy.  You're my mommy.  I don't want her to be my mommy."

William started to run off in the grocery store, and I called him back and told him no running in the store.  His response: "But I neeeeeed to!"

I put some honey mustard on Joy's french fry.  She didn't like it.  She gagged a little bit, then grabbed a napkin and wiped off her fry.

Coming downstairs one morning, William saw his empty dinner plate from the night before sitting on the dinner table, and he told me, "I ate all my chicken nuggets!  I listened to Daddy!"

I had to be out and missed bedtime one night.  Omar told me that Joy had missed me and was crying for me.  When I got home, she was asleep, but I went in and rubbed her back lightly.  She peeked open one eye and looke at me, then closed her eyes, snuggled down and did her "happy kicks."

We had pancakes for dinner one night.  Joy loves pancakes, so at the end of dinner when she was full, she kept putting pancake pieces in her mouth, sucking off the syrup, then pulling the pancake out and throwing it on the floor.

I told William to drink his milk so he can grow big and strong like dinner.  His response: "Daddy is big, and he doesn't drink milk!" (Omar is lactose intolerant.)

I was trying to get Joy to say "bye bye" for Omar to hear, but she wouldn't do it.  I went into the kitchen to clean up while Omar stayed with the kids in the living room.  After a bit, I heard Joy saying, "bye bye, bye bye!" I looked in and saw Omar sitting with his back to the stairs, but he had left the gate open and Joy was halfway up the stairs waving through the banisters!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Apple Coffee Cake

My first photo recipe blog!  I always thought these looked like fun, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I've really been into baking lately.  I was going to try a blog with my noodle hot dogs, but I didn't like how they came out. Yesterday afternoon, I made Apple Coffee Cake.  I got the recipe from Betty Crocker. I had a few problems with the assembly, but you can learn from my mistakes.

I've started writing my recipes on 4x6 cards, in preparation for the recipe box that I will one day own.  Since I've had a history of forgetting to turn on the oven until I'm ready to put the pan in (come on, you know you've done this), I write the oven temperature right next to the name of the recipe at the top of the card.  So my recipe title reads "Apple Coffee Cake 400F."  Helps me to remember to turn on my oven to preheat while I assemble my recipe.  I thumbtack the recipe to the wall next to my mixing area.

Here's the start: Bisquick, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg, just mixed together with a wooden spoon.  After reviewing the recipe (always read the whole recipe through a couple times before starting), I decided the Kitchenaide wasn't necessary, all the mixing can easily be done by hand.

This made me a little excited.  I don't often get to use my pastry knife. =)

I cut the butter into pats, and started cutting it in until crumbly (bottom).  It didn't take long.  The pastry knife got gummed up some, and I stopped a couple times to clean it off, but found that if I just kept going, it cleaned itself off. I set my crumb mixture off to the side, and started on my batter.

I was out of milk, so I borrowed some of Omar's Lactaid Milk.

Look!  I can crack an egg with one hand. 
I learned it from Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina. "It's all in the wrist."

On the left is the batter just stirred together, to the right, after I beat it "vigorously for 30 seconds with spoon."

 Got my greased 9x9" pan.  Don't you hate it when you put the batter in (this is half the batter), and it looks like there's no way it will cover the whole pan?  All it takes is a little patience, though.  Notice I ditched the wooden spoon for a spatula.  It's a pretty sticky batter, so the spatula was much better for spreading.

 Apples!  I have always been horrible peeling apples by hand. The day I realized I could use the vegetable peeler was a Eureka! moment for me.

Apples layered on top of the batter, then sprinkled with half the crumb mixture from above. I've tried various methods of sprinkling crumb mixtures like this (using a spoon, gently shaking it out of the bowl), but I've found that the best method is just to use my clean hands.  Grab a handful and sprinkle!  This method gives me the most control.

Seeing as how the batter was so sticky, I knew the crumbs would stick to it.  My strategy was to put little blops all over, and then gently smooth out and connect the blops.  It didn't work.  Not only did the crumbs stick into the batter, the apples did too!  I was about ready to give up, I was so frustrated.  But I just kept trying, and ended up with the last photo on the bottom.  Please, if anyone has a better way to do this, let me know!

Luckily, there were more crumbs to sprinkle over the top and hide the imperfections! Also, chopped pecans.  The recipe said 2 Tbsp of chopped nuts, but that didn't look like enough to me.  So I added a little more.

While the coffee cake was in the oven, I cleaned up my kitchen, and gave the leftover apple bits to the kids for a snack.

Cake is done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean!

I love my little whisk! It's perfect for these small jobs like the glaze (also good for scrambling a couple eggs for the kids).  I started with 2tsp milk at the top right, but that was way too thick for drizzling.  I added the entire 3rd tsp, and that was perfect (bottom picture).

A couple practice drizzles in the bowl with my spoon, and then all over the cake!  Go faster for a thinner line, slower for a thicker line, but don't really worry about it too much, it looks beautiful in the end.

I recommend it served with a cup of Don Francisco's Vanilla Nut Coffee.  My favorite coffee!  The cake was pretty good, a little dry, but good flavor.  Love the cinnamon, brown sugar, and apples.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering and Moving Forward

I was in school, 10th grade.  I was walking back to the classroom from the library with my world history class. A student passing in the hallway told our teacher that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center towers.  Our teacher didn't believe him.  When we got back to the classroom, he turned on the TV, and there it was.  Most of the teachers had the TV on for the rest of the day; very little work got done. I went home and turned on CNN for probably the first time in my life, so that I could keep watching, even though I had no idea who Al Quaida or the Taliban were.

The high school was right across the street from the main entrance to Cherry Point Marine Base. The base was on such high security, a lot of the kids had trouble getting home that day.  For months after, they searched every car going on base. The line backed up for about two miles every morning.  The teachers quit counting tardies; even the buses were late most days.

I remember meeting up with my brother in Spanish class.  He'd been trying to call our dad, but couldn't get through.  Dad was ok.  He told us, later, that he'd gone over to the church, and they went out to the front steps and passed out lemonade to the droves of people just walking to get out of downtown.

But even as I paused this morning to reflect on these things, I was interrupted by a little boy's voice, demanding to have his shoes tightened.  Because even though it seemed like everything stopped that day, life did go on.  And I'm so glad it did, because I have so much to be thankful for today.  Since that day 10 years ago, I graduated college, got married, had two beautiful kids.  And one day, my kids will learn about 9/11 in a history class.  They will learn what a horrible day it was, but it won't be burned in their memories like it is in ours.  But as I remember today, I am proud to be an American, I honor every one who has given their lives for our freedom, and I hug my kids just a little bit tighter.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Parent's Love

As I was buckling Joy into her carseat this Sunday morning, I had one of those moments.  If you're a parent I'm sure you've experienced it: this moment when you are suddenly overwhelmed by how much you love this child.  It amazes me to think how much love my heart holds for my two precious children.

Of course, since it was Sunday, my thoughts must tend towards a religious direction.  I began to think about how God's love is often compared to a parent's love for his child.  I thought, "I love these kids so much, how amazing that God could love me the same way."

But then I realized that I was wrong.  A parent's love is a shabby metaphor for God's love.  Because as a parent, my love is still flawed by human sin.  I am greedy, I am selfish, I lose my temper.  But God's love is perfect (reference 1 Corinthians 13, you know, the "love is patient, love is kind" passage).  Now that really is amazing, probably beyond what my feeble mind can comprehend.

As I am still trying to think this idea through, I go on to church, the service starts, and Jeremy Bell begins to preach.  His passage was Ephesians 6:1-4, and he was talking about parenting.  He was primarily speaking about the need for godly fathers, but there was still room in the message for us mothers.  A key point in his message is that the purpose of discipline is to bring your children closer to God, and when we discipline, our children should see Jesus in us.  We need to be demonstrating God's love to our children.

But wait, I just realized this morning how flawed my parental love is, and how perfect God's love is, how am I suppose to achieve such a high standard?  Just that morning, even, I had lost my temper with William.  There was no godly discipline involved, I was just angry with him when I put him in the bathroom for time out.  How can I demonstrate God's love to my children?

Don't worry, God wasn't done speaking to me yet.

Scene: a little downtime in front of the computer the next morning, perusing Facebook of course.  What's this?  Lindsay and Britney are talking about a Christian author named Rachel Jankovic who writes about motherhood.  I go to check Lindsay's blog, and find a link to an article.

One of my favorite lines in that article, about those moments when we lose control: "And when this happens, our own sinfulness does not detract from the power of the gospel, it illustrates why we need it."

In those moments when we fall so short of showing God's love to our children is when we need to cling to God's love ourselves.  We fall on His gracy and mercy, accept His forgiveness, seek His guidance, and plunge back in to try again in His strength.  And this is how we learn to show His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and yes, His love, to our children.

Dear God,

Thank you for your amazing love, beyond what I can comprehend.  Thank you for your grace and mercy that You shower upon me daily.  Help me to rest in that assurance, to find my strength in You.

Thank you for blessing me through my children.  Thank you for the joy they bring to my life.  Please guide Omar and me as we raise these kids to know You.  Teach us daily, so we can teach them.  Help us to rely on You, so that we can show Your love to our kids.


Friday, September 2, 2011


Dropping William off at daycare one morning, I paused to talk to Faye about his last eye appointment and prognosis.  As we were ending our conversation, we both looked over at William sitting at the breakfast table.  When he saw us looking, he shouted, "Rock and roll!" with appropriate hand gesture.

Joy got her twelve month shots last week. She started crying, and I picked her up as soon as I could, and the nurse quickly scooped up her supplies and left.  After a few minutes, Joy calmed down, looked over at the door where the nurse had exited, and in a firm, angry voice said, "Dah! Ba dah! Ah!" and shook her little fist at the door.

Conversation as I tuck William into bed:
William: "Sleep with me!"
Me: "No, I have to sleep in my bed."
William: "No, your bed is too big for you!"

We went to pastor's house for lunch last Sunday.  Miss Sandy had saved a dead butterfuly for William to look at.  William held it gently in his hands for a few minutes admiring the colors.  Then he sat down on the ground and said, "Here he goes!"  When the butterfly didn't go anywhere, William looked up and announced, "It needs new batteries!"

William did so good getting his flu shot.  He didn't cry at all, just gave a little shout/whine when he got the shot, then said, "I need a lollipop."

Joy was standing at the couch, and I went to take her hand so she could walk to the stairs to go to bed.  But instead of forwards, Joy started walking backwards!  She was so proud of herself.

Joy likes to drape articles of clothing around her neck in an attempt to dress herself.  And her idea of helping with the laundry is to pull all the clothes out of the basket and scatter them across the floor.

William rode his tricycle all the way to the park, played for over half an hour, then rode his tricycle all the way home!  His first complaint when arriving home was, "I'm hungry!"  Then he napped for 2-1/2 hours.