Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Thursday: "How Not to Have to [Wash] the Dishes"

This week, I am thankful that my daughter has been so helpful, as we have had so much going on lately and it has been hard for all of us to keep up with the housework, especially the dishes.  

Yesterday specifically, in the midst of trying to get the kitchen in order for all the last-minute baking we had to do, she pulled a chair up to the sink and started washing the dishes and loading them into the dishwasher.  I was amazed at how proficient she was at getting things scrubbed, and that she was careful with the glass pieces, asking for help to put them into the dishwasher so she didn't drop anything.

I am so proud, not only of how well she did, completely filling the dishwasher for us while I cleaned up the counter-tops, but also that she took the initiative in the first place.

What are you thankful for today?  Leave a comment, then check out some other Thankful Thursday posts here

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Loved and Lovely

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: "when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."

"We can only be said to be alive in those moments
when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."
~Thornton Wilder

In light of the Thanksgiving holiday approaching at the end of this week, I decided to focus my top ten on the food I am looking forward to both making and eating.  You can read more about part of the family tradition on my father-in-law's cooking blog There's a Hippy in the Kitchen.

1. Apple Pie - This pie I make myself, and was lovingly dubbed "Christmas pie" by a friend when I attempted to make a traditional 4th of July apple pie.  Instead of a fresh apple flavor, I managed to recreate Christmas in  a bite, though it is not necessarily a bad thing.

2. Cherry Pie - This is the pie my mom makes that is her grandmother's recipe, and has been something I look forward to every year since I was very young.

3. Bread - My brother-in-law has a knack for baking bread and whichever recipe he brings to our feast will be absolutely delicious.

4. Mom's School Rolls - Yes, these are the rolls you remember from the elementary school hot lunch line.  My mom has worked in a school cafeteria since my brother and I were in elementary school and this is one of the great recipes she has brought home with her.  There is nothing like these fluffy rolls.

5.  Butter - Last year at Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law brought out a butter churn from her mother's house, something they used to do all the time on the farm.  We had a blast passing it around, whipping heavy cream until it turned into butter.  It was delicious. This year, I plan on bringing butter to dinner, but I will be using my Kitchenaid mixer instead of doing it by hand.

6. Turkey Gravy - I am not a gravy fan at all, unless it is turkey gravy.  I love it on my potatoes, but not so much on my turkey.

7. Mashed Potatoes - AC makes the best creamy mashed potatoes, and I am looking forward to sampling them before we head to my in-laws house.

8. Cranberry Mousse - This is my father-in-law's famous recipe and Thanksgiving would not be the same without small bowls of this pink deliciousness decorating the table.  Here is the recipe if anyone wants to try it on their table this year!

9. Green Beans - There is nothing special about these, but they are my favorite vegetable.

10. Turkey - I am a dark meat eater, because I typically find that the white meat is too dry (even when it really isn't). Yes, I know this is last on the list.  It just doesn't compare to all the other foods.

I asked SC what she was looking forward to eating for Thanksgiving and she said "mac 'n' cheese."  Somehow, if the message gets passed along, I bet BOTH grandmothers will have this offering, just for her.

What are you looking forward to eating on Thursday?  Leave a comment, then check out other top ten lists at:
Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful Thursday:
" you did it to one of the least of these..."

"And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, 
as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’" 
-Matthew 25:40

This week for Thankful Thursday, I am thankful that our sponsor information packet arrived from Compassion International.  AC and I have actually been talking about sponsoring a child for a while, because though we both have a heart for adoption, it just isn't in the cards for us at this moment.  Sponsoring a child was the next logical step, but neither of us actually went out and signed up.  

In the last few weeks, we have been dealing with SC being a product of the technology generation and have really taken a hard look at what we have compared to what so much of the world has, and how we can express to SC that she is so blessed.  We do not want to raise an entitled child, who demands to be entertained during dinner, in the car or when she is "bored" at home.  In fact, we thought we would never be those parents who hand over a phone or other device at a restaurant or have movies playing in the car.  Things have changed quite a bit in the past four and a half years since she was born.  

So, when I signed up to sponsor a child, I wanted to choose a girl who is the same age as SC, because I think as SC grows, it will be easier for her to compare her life with that of a child her own age.  I was really excited that one of the first girls I was shown was born only two days after SC.  I immediately selected her, and tried to wait patiently for the packet to arrive.

Our little girl's name is Oneydi, and lives in El Salvador.  SC cannot wait until we get back from our next tag-along trip with AC to start making her cards (stamped with both girls' names) and send her some small gifts, like stickers.  We have also already been able to talk about how her life might be different from SC's, as well as what things might be the same (they both care for animals as a chore, though I imagine Oneydi's animals are much larger).

Now, we are not doing this so we can say "there are starving children in third-world countries, so you have to eat your dinner" or in any way threaten her to feel guilty about what she does have.  We want her to see how blessed she is, and to raise up a child who loves to give to those who need in the same way that we have been given to cover our needs.  We want to educate her that not everyone lives the way we do, but show her that God's love extends to the deepest, darkest reaches of the Earth, and that He can use us to spread His love.  We want her to feel that giving is so much better than receiving.  We want SC to, hopefully, be able to develop a friendship with Oneydi rather than simply think of her as someone "less than" us who needs our help - to really know that we are all equal in the eyes of God/love.

Do you sponsor any children through Compassion or another organization?  What type of gifts have you found to be the best/most liked/easiest to send?  Leave a comment, then check out what some others are thankful for at:

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Loved and Lovely

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: "Autumn is a second spring ..."

"Autumn is a second spring
where every leaf is a flower.”
Albert Camus


Last weekend we traveled to the Seattle area, specifically Tacoma, as well as traveled south to Portland to visit my aunt, cousins and their children.  Before the trip I assumed Tacoma and Seattle were very close and traveling between the two cities would be simple.  However, upon arrival we learned that it is about forty miles from one to the other and we did not enter Seattle city limits even once.  Nonetheless, we had a marvelous time.

The first thing we noticed when we arrived was the vibrancy of the leaves on the trees as autumn really set in there.  In North Texas, we have maybe a week of autumn before winter arrives, which results in only a handful of leaves turning any colors at all before they brown and the wind blows them off.  I was amazed at the bright yellows (see above), the deep reds, and the shockingly pink leaves that abounded.  SC and I traveled to a local city park called Wright Park where she was able to run around, play on the playground and collect "treasures" like leaves, acorns and moss.  (I found some of these treasures in my washing machine after we returned home, forgetting she had placed them in her pocket!)  Here are some of the pictures of Wright Park.




SC and I also went to the Tacoma Children's Museum, which was located right across the street from our hotel.  It was the perfect museum for her age, and had many things to climb on, move, touch and interact with.  She played in the water area for quite some time before being urged to move on to other areas.


One of the play areas was fashioned into an fort with an area that had a telephone to talk to someone on the other end in another area, plus buckets that went up and down a pulley system and stuffed animals and other toys to place into them.


The other area SC really wanted to spend time was the art area.  The day we went, they had large fish and leaf rubber stamps the kids could paint on, and then press onto blank sheets of paper.  SC completed three works of art before it was time to go home.

7 & 8.  

Finally, on the day before we were scheduled to head home, AC decided he wanted to take a drive.  He looked up scenic drives and found one that was recommended and we headed toward Ocean Shores, WA.  It was absolutely beautiful, and when we arrived at sunset at the seashore, we couldn't help but watch the sun go down.



As much fun as we had in Washington, we had an even better time visiting family in Portland.  However, we were so busy catching up (and SC playing with her newly-found cousins), that I only remembered to take a few pictures.  Here is one I did get with all of the cousins (all the great-grandchildren of my mother's mother).

Where are your favorite Washington/Oregon spots to visit?  Leave a comment, then check out some other top ten posts here:

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday: "I like to listen."

“I like to listen. 
I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. 
Most people never listen.”
-Ernest Hemingway

This week I am thankful to the creators of audiobooks, as well as those wonderful people who narrate them.  While on our trip last weekend to Seattle/Tacoma and Portland (more on that later), I had the opportunity to listen to The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.  I was excited to be listening to it, but to be honest, I was also a bit leery.  

My previous experience with audiobooks was listening to both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass on a trip to Nevada before I saw the latest movie.  I really had a hard time paying attention to the story, and every time AC or I wanted to say something I obsessively stopped the recording so I wouldn't miss anything.  I got through both stories with an understanding of the plot, but really didn't "get into" the books in any way.

I expected my experience with The Hobbit to be similar, but really wanted to give it a shot. SC would only request the same five bands over and over on the trip (which I love, but we listen to them daily already), and I wanted to try something different.  

However, I was more than just pleasantly surprised, but absolutely blown away by Rob Inglis' narration of The Hobbit.  He uses different voices for each character.  He SINGS all the songs that Tolkien wrote into the story.  I am so enamored with the story and Inglis' telling of it that not only did I listen on the trip down to Portland and back, but I gave AC a quick recap of the first seven chapters and forced him to listen along with me when we decided to take an impromptu drive to Ocean Shores, WA to see the sunset (see picture below), and I sat in the bathtub last night until the water was cold just to finish the eleven-hour tale.

I found it curious, however, that I could be so completely taken by this one audiobook, and so completely turned off by the others.  AC explained it to me, though.  Rob Inglis read the story in a way that I am not capable, and it was an altogether different experience for me.  See, I do not do voices, or SONGS, and really struggle to stick with stories I read myself that have a long list of characters.  I can do action, adventure and excitement, but I prefer a book with only one or two main characters that (in my head) talk just like me.  AC is the opposite, and I love that when he reads to SC at night each character has a different voice, and I am pleased that she has picked up that art as I hear her playing or telling stories.  So I was really able to "get into" this story because the narrator made it an experience for me, while whichever version of the Alice tales did not go that far, which forced me to listen as I would have read, rather than just listen.

I have decided that if being read aloud to is good for SC, it must be good for me, so I am going to try to find audiobook versions of all the books that I have previously struggled with, started and stopped, and hope that the narrators have what it takes to capture me.  This list includes the remaining Lord of the Rings trilogy books, which I have found narrated by Rob Inglis, as well as The Count of Monte Cristo, War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Jane Eyre, and maybe some James Joyce (but can anyone really make Joyce make sense?).

What audiobooks are you thankful for and would recommend?  Leave a comment, then check out:

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thankful Thursday: "The world is a great book ..."

"The world is a great book,
of which they that never stir from home read only a page."
-St. Augustine of Hippo

This week I am thankful that our trip to Seattle, Washington (pictured above) and Portland, Oregon (pictured below) is finally here.  

We leave today, Thursday, to spend a few days in Seattle and Tacoma, and a few days visiting my aunt, cousins and all their kiddos in Portland.  While we are there we hope to check out the Children's Museum of Tacoma, various Seattle sights, and in Portland we will get to spend two days with family, which will be wonderful.  

I have not seen my aunt and cousins since before SC was born, over five years ago, and there are five little ones that I have not met yet.  What is most exiting is that they are all around SC's age or just younger, so she will have quite a bit of fun getting to know them, plus the two older girls I have had the pleasure of meeting (though five years ago).

The other thing I am excited about is that SC and I will be listening to the audiobook of The Hobbit on the way to and from Portland.  I have never read anything by J.R.R. Tolkien, but I did enjoy the Lord of the Rings movies, so I thought it might be worthwhile to listen to The Hobbit while we drive, since the movie is coming out soon.

Traveling in the upcoming months?  Where are you going and what are you looking forward to doing? Leave a comment, then check out some other Thankful Thursday posts:

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