Friday, April 29, 2011

Princesses and Easter

We had such a great Easter weekend! We drove over the mountains to spend Easter with Jared's family. Jared was able to get off work early on Friday, and we had a beautiful sunny day for driving. I had found out about a local "Cinderella Tea Party" that was going to happen on Saturday, and made reservations for Ellie. I wanted it to be a surprise for her, so I didn't tell her anything about it until Saturday morning, when I gave her a hint: "You get to dress up as a princess for something today." She was very curious, and got a few other hints out of people throughout the day.

After lunch she got into her Belle dress and I curled her hair. She got to wear Grandma's pearl necklace, which made her feel even more special! We drove into town, and by then she knew that she was going to some kind of princess party. We went into the tea house, and it was decorated beautifully. There ended up being 17 girls at the party, all dressed up! They got to meet Cinderella when they arrived. Then they all went into the "ballroom," where Cinderella told them the story of how she met her prince. Next the girls had a treasure hunt, and then they danced to some of the Disney princess songs. After that they came inside and decorated their own cupcakes and drank their tea (Ellie put about 5 cubes of sugar, plus sprinkles and frosting in her tea!). They played another game and danced some more, and then the party came to an end. Ellie said that it was the best surprise ever. She had such a wonderful time!

Ellie with a few of the other girls

Ellie dancing with Cinderella

I had to get a picture with my beautiful princess:)

The rest of the weekend was a lot of fun, too. We had an Easter egg hunt at Grandma and Grandpa's house and went to another one at church. We had a yummy Easter dinner. And best of all, we got to spend a lot of family time together:)

Parker and Ellie had perfect weather for searching for eggs in Grandpa and Grandma's yard!

They had fun opening their Easter baskets, which were full of goodies.

We got to the church Easter egg hunt late, but they each still found a few eggs.

Grandpa helped Parker a little!

It was a great Easter!

I always love Easter time! Although I believe we should remember Christ and His death and resurrection all throughout the year, Easter is a wonderful time to set aside time to remember. We have a loving God. A God who sent His only son to die a horrible death, so that you and I could spend eternity in Heaven with Him, rather than in hell. I hope you believe this. I hope you have accepted His gift of eternal life. He is risen!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter Party!

We had such a fun morning this morning! For a couple weeks now we've been planning our Easter party, and today was the day! Several of Ellie and Parker's friends came over and we colored Easter pictures, decorated eggs, ate lots of yummy snacks, had an Easter egg hunt and played a lot! We had a wonderful time!

Ellie and Parker wore their Easter clothes. They looked so great!

So many yummy things to eat (there are LOTS of left-overs to enjoy for the next few days)!

I made little Easter baskets for party favors, and the kids helped me paint a bunch of coffee filters, which we put chocolates in and tucked in the baskets.

I think the kids all had fun decorating Easter eggs! They colored them with crayons and then dyed them.

"Mmm! Good cupcakes, Mom!"

Parker enjoyed all his snacks!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Some highlights from our trip to Oregon

Last Friday the kids and I returned home from a 12-day trip to Oregon. We had a wonderful time, visiting with family. So here are some of our highlights from the trip: My mom recently got three lambs. It's been a long time since she's had sheep, and she's really enjoying them. For about a month the kids looked forward to getting to bottle-feed the lambs when we went to Oregon. And they had so much fun with them! Parker wasn't very into feeding them, but he enjoyed playing with them. It was so cute! The lambs were the perfect size for playing with the kids. They would follow them around everywhere, when they were let out of their pen.

We met up with my dad at the park one day, and the kids had a lot of fun playing on the playground and visiting with Grandpa. The Lord provided just the right weather, too. It had been raining pretty much non-stop the past few days, and the rain stopped while we were at the park (the sun even came out for a few minutes)!

The reason we went to Oregon was for a birthday party and a baby shower. Parker was sick the day of the birthday party and stayed home with Grandma Kathy. But Ellie and I had a great time! It was a birthday party for one of Ellie's cousins (my niece) who was turning 13. Since we live in Washington we don't make it to many of the birthday parties, and it was so much fun to be able to go to this one!

The baby shower was for one of my nieces. In the morning I helped Mom decorate the cake, to match the invitations and party decorations. This is something I have come to really enjoy in the past couple of years - decorating cakes. For a long time my mom has made/decorated cakes for weddings, baby showers, bridal showers, etc. Recently I have started helping her decorate them when I'm around. It is a lot of fun, and I've learned so much from her! The baby shower had a great turn out, and was really a lot of fun! Ellie enjoyed it a lot, and was a big helper.

( Lisa, with the baby blanket I made for her.)

Ellie had not one, but two slumber parties with two of her cousins. This is something she always looks forward to and enjoys! This time she had her cousins over to Grandma's house one night and then she went and stayed the night at their house the next night. After two nights in a row she was pretty tired, but I'm glad she was able to have that special time!

Grandma Kathy had been reading "The Little Red Hen" to the kids and decided that they should grind some wheat and make their own bread. They had such a great time! Grandma Kathy is so patient, and let them help with every step of the process (something I don't always do). They ground the wheat, made the dough, shaped the bread (and some rolls), baked the bread, and ate the bread. It was a great learning experience for the kids, and something they'll remember for a long time! The bread was delicious!

We spent one of days going to the beach with my mom. Most of our day was spent in the car, and the weather at the beach was very cold, rainy and windy, but we had a great time! We ate at Mo's, played on the beach for about 10 minutes, and did some shopping at the outlet mall. The kids watched Tangled in the car on the way to the beach, and slept on the way back. We LOVE the beach, no matter what the weather!

We spent our last night in Oregon with one of Jared's sisters, who lives only about an hour from my mom. The kids had so much fun playing with their cousin (the only cousin who's close to their age!). And I had a great time visiting with my wonderful sister-in-law.

There were lots of other fun things we did in Oregon. Many I don't have pictures of. The kids got their pictures taken (by my sister, who's a great photographer). We had dinners with family members. Lots of great memories were made. I am always so thankful for our time in Oregon. And I'm always SO thankful to be home with my wonderful husband!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

He provides everything I need

This morning I woke up feeling low. Well, actually I was depressed. And probably I've been getting that way for a couple weeks now, but I just recognized it this morning. I am fairly prone to depression, and the winter months tend to bring it on. I haven't been disciplined in exercising the past couple weeks, and the sun has been quite shy. These two things are pretty good ingredients for depression, especially when they're combined. Now I know that I am very blessed. I have so much to be thankful for, and yet the depression comes. So this morning all I could think of was how much I wanted some sunshine. And of course when I looked out the window I saw not only clouds, but snow covering the plants that I had just planted yesterday. But, I serve a God who provides for my needs. And today I believe He saw that I couldn't handle much more rain. So He sent sunshine! Yes, shortly before lunch the clouds parted and the sun came out! It was a wonderful sight. I quickly fed the kids lunch and bundled them up for a walk. I knew that the sun might not stick around for long, and I needed to soak up as much as possible! We walked about 2 miles, then did some raking (yes, there was still some snow on the ground) before going inside for naptime. That sun (and the walk) did so much for my mood. All I needed was a little bit of sunshine, and God knew that. And He provided just what I needed, just when I needed it! Just another example of my God loving me!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A simple truth

God is good. Do you believe that? I mean really, truly, all-the-time believe that? As a Christian, this seems like such a basic, simple truth. And yet I didn't always believe it fully. It's a little humbling to admit that, but most of my life I have believed that God is good when things were going well. When it was easy to believe. When circumstances were just right. And then the rest of the time...I'm not sure what I thought, but it wasn't this fundamental truth. Sure, I knew it - in my head. But I didn't truly believe it in my heart. This past year I feel like God has taught me so much. He has been refining me, molding me into more of the person He wants me to be. He has revealed more of Himself to me, and helped me to really believe this simple truth. I feel like I have been falling more in love with God every day lately. I want to know Him more. And more. And more. And you know what? When I search for Him, I find Him! It's a promise He's made to me (and you), and it always holds true. And in searching for Him, and knowing Him more, I believe that it has finally sunk in - He really is ALWAYS good. He doesn't change. No matter what the circumstances, He is good. He is in control. I may not always understand why things happen - and that's okay. But I do know that I have this truth to hold dear to, to cling to; in good times and in bad I know that my God is good. And that He loves me. And you. And really, compared to that, what else matters?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pesto Shrimp Pasta

Ok, I've found another super yummy new recipe!

Pesto Shrimp Pasta

8 oz. uncooked spaghetti (I used angel hair)
1 C. loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 C. lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, peeled
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
3/4 lb. uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Cook asparagus according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, combine the basil, lemon juice, garlic, 1 Tbsp. oil and salt; cover and process until smooth.

In a large skillet, saute the asparagus in remaining oil until crisp-tender. Add the shrimp and pepper flakes. Cook and stir until shrimp turn pink. Drain the spaghetti; place in a large bowl. Add basil mixture; toss to coat. Add shrimp mixture and mix well. Yield: 4 servings

This one also came from the 2006 Taste of Home Annual Recipes book. It's delicious!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Learning so much!

As you know, this year I've been homeschooling my 4-year-old daughter for preschool. Because she has a December birthday, she still has another year before kindergarten. We're not sure what next year holds yet - if we'll be sending her to a Christian preschool or if I'll be homeschooling her again. For now, though, I am enjoying (almost) every moment of her schooling. Ellie has always been an amazingly smart little girl with an outstanding vocabulary. It has been wonderful watching how quickly she's learned things in school this year. She has almost all her letters down (recognizing them, writing them, and knowing what sounds they make). She can write and recognize letters up to ten, and can count to 29. She has an AMAZING memory, and learns her Bible verses so quickly and perfectly! She is very artistic, and the difference between her drawings at the start of the year and now is phenomenal! And just last week she began to learn to sound out words. She spelled and wrote three words all by herself! I plan on spending the summer focusing on teaching her to read, while we aren't working on other subjects. And the really great part is, she LOVES to learn! Now, we still are not sure whether we'll homeschool the kids or send them to school once they're kindergarten age. I have very mixed feelings about what would be best, and we are just trying to listen to the Lord and follow His guidance. But so far I love homeschooling, and I think I'd enjoy it for years to come!

Each morning we start school by praying, then saying the "Pledge of Allegiance" and The Lord's Prayer.

Ellie loves doing crafts. It's one of her favorite parts of school.

We are still working hard to get her into the habit of holding her crayons and pencils correctly, but she's always diligent in her work!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Yum! Something new!

I sometimes feel like I get in a rut with food, and that I'm always making the same things. I try to plan dinners a month at a time, and it seems like each month's dinner calender looks pretty much the same. So the last couple months I've tried to incorporate at least a few new recipes each month. It's been fun trying new recipes, and really there haven't been a lot that we haven't liked. Last night I tried one that I think will be a new favorite for Jared and I (the kids weren't thrilled, but that's okay - I can just make side dishes that they will hopefully like). It was a Taste of Home recipe from one of my cookbooks from a few years ago (2006). The recipe was for Stir-Fried Basil Chicken. It calls for bok choy, and I realized yesterday that I had mistakenly bought chinese cabbage instead, but it still turned out really good! I thought I'd share the recipe with you (sorry - I didn't think to take any pictures):

Stir-Fried Basil Chicken

1 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar
1-3/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
3 green onions, sliced
6 tsp. canola oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
6 C. sliced bok choy
1 C. loosely packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

In a large resealable bag, combine the water, soy sauce and sugar; add chicken. Seal bag and turn to cot. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In a wok or skillet, stir-fry the onions in 1 tsp. oil until crisp-tender. Stir in the garlic and pepper flakes; cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove and keep warm.

Drain and discard any marinade from chicken. In the same wok, stir-fry chicken in 3 tsp. oil for 4-5 minutes or until juices run clear. Meanwhile, in another skillet, saute bok choy in remaining oil until crisp-tender. Add onion mixture to chicken. Stir in basil; hear through. Serve over the bok choy.

Yield: 4 servings

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!

P.S. I'm not sure how many people read or follow this blog, but I'm running short of writing ideas lately, and would love your comments about things you'd like me to write about. God bless!

Friday, March 4, 2011

It's Done!!!!

That's right - my painting project is finally done. I have painted all the rooms in the house (except the laundry room, and I don't plan on painting it). We moved here almost 6 months ago, and it's taken me that long, but it's done! No more brown wood panelling or tacky-printed wallpaper. I really like how the rooms with the wood panelling turned out, and I'm not so sure about the rooms with wallpaper. I just painted over the wallpaper, and I think it would have looked better had I taken the time to remove the wallpaper.'s better than it was, and for now it's good enough:) I also got a little redundant with the colors, because I wanted to use up gallons that we had and not have to buy as much paint. But overall I'm very pleased with it. And I'm very happy not to be painting anything else for a long time!!!

Parker's blue room

Ellie's purple room

Our bedroom

The kitchen

The living room

Other end of the living room

The dining room (also the homeschool room)

Kids' bathroom

Our bathroom

Friday, February 25, 2011

Slumber Parties!

Something that I love doing with my kids is having slumber parties. The kind where we stay up late, eat snacks, watch movies, make crafts, play with flashlights in the dark, and just have fun. Ellie and I started having slumber parties just after she turned 2. It was a time that I could spend just with her, when most of my time was being consumed with her baby brother. We had our slumber parties about once every couple months (usually on a night when Daddy was working late or busy elsewhere). We often would make necklaces and paint our toenails at some point during the evening. Well, now Parker has begun to join us at our slumber parties. He's been to two of them, I believe. At this point he usually won't go to sleep when it's time, so he ends up in his own bed after lights out, while Ellie and I sleep on the hide-a-bed in the living room. We have had to change our slumber parties a little, to make them a little less girly. But they're still so much fun! The kids look forward to them, and so do I! Tonight we're having the first slumber party in a few months. I am hoping that Parker can stay with us through the night, but we'll see what happens when it's time to calm down and go to sleep. It's going to be a fun night!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Focus

This afternoon I was able to take a walk by myself. My hubby was home today, after working many long hours over the past few days, and so he stayed home with the kids while I took a walk. It had been a somewhat frustrating day, with the kids disobeying and arguing, and I was feeling kind of low. I decided to take my mp3 player with me and listen to my "worship" playlist. Wow, was that a good decision! Listening to the words of the songs, I remembered (again) how all I really need to do is focus on my Saviour. When my focus is on anything else, life isn't as good. When I take my eyes off my Heavenly Father and put them on myself, even for a moment, things start to crumble. Only when I am focused on God, truly focused on him, can I be the wife and mother that my family needs me to be. When I wake up and say, "Lord, what would You have me do with this day?," rather than just getting up and making my own to-do list, my day has balance. It is such a simple truth, but one that I seem to so easily forget. And today I was so thankful for the gently reminder to keep my eyes on the Lord, to focus on Him.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Love Day!

This past Monday was Valentine's Day, and I think it was the best Valentine's Day ever! Jared had worked the Saturday before, so he was able to take Valentine's Day off. In the morning I did school with the kids and we had a little Valentine's Day party at the end of school. They opened their Valentine boxes they had made with their Grandma, which had all the Valentines that people had sent to them inside. We had some cupcakes and a few candies, and played a game. Jared gave me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers, some chocolates, and a card (which he wrote in!). Then I made the kids a lunch (heart-shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches) for them to eat in the car. We dropped the kids off with a friend of ours, and Jared and I went out to lunch. We ate at PF Changs for the first time, and LOVED it! We had amazing conversation and talked about some of our dreams and goals in life. Then we walked around the mall (I even got to buy a whole bunch of new lotions and perfumes), and drove back to pick up the kids. It wasn't probably the most exciting Valentine's Day in the world, but I felt so loved by my hubby (and my kids). For me, it was the best Valentine's Day!

Ellie's Valentine gifts

Parker's Valentine gifts

One of our Valentine pancakes, cooking

The kids opening their Valentines

Friday, February 18, 2011

Winter Projects, Part 5 - The Rest...

Besides the previously described projects, I am also currently working on painting the inside of our house, a few gifts that are secrets at this point, scrapbooks, and several other small projects. There are always several things that I can pick up at any point and work on, if the mood strikes. I love to have projects going, and usually have at least a few unfinished projects at any given time. But for now, that's about it. I guess I'd better think of something else to start blogging about, eh?

Parker's newly-painted blue room (my project this past week,
along with painting our bathroom)

Winter Projects, Part 4 - Placemats

Another thing I've recently decided to make is some placemats. The kids have their plastic placemats, but we don't have anything pretty to make the table look nicer. So, I am making reversible placemats. Like most of my projects, they are not finished yet, but the fabric is cut. I just need to get some batting (for many of my projects) and sew them up. I am also making a few more sets of placemats for gifts.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Winter Projects, Part 3 - knitting

I love to crochet! It is so relaxing, and even therapeutic. And I've made some neat things. But there are some things that are just better knitted, so I decided that I wanted to learn to knit. I looked up a few "how-to" videos on YouTube, and began my journey. At first it was incredibly frustrating. I just couldn't seem to do it right! But then I practiced a little more, and got a few pointers from my mom. I have only knitted a few rows, and it's really slow-going, but I think I am getting the hang of it. I still can't say that I love to knit (or that I'm very good at it), but I am going to continue to try for a while, and I just may change my mind. Now to figure out something I want to make, using my new-found knitting knowledge!

This is my practice knitting so far