Wednesday, February 22, 2012

sick days

I wouldn't have chosen the past days to go as they have, especially having to leave this 

to spend the night throwing up more than I have in the last 12+ years combined... Such has been our week. An unfortunate series of events that included a stomach virus taking us all out. At one point, I was helping Jude while he was vomiting, holding my own trash can to catch mine. At another, Jack tells me "I saw my lunch on the wall!" And, that's all I need to say about that. But, somewhere in the middle of fevers and viruses and CT-scans and gatorade and rice cakes and up all night with sick kids and up all night sick myself, 
I see how very blessed we are.
~For parents who don't wince at the germs and come anyway, to stay and play. For their prayers and calls and texts and care.
~For friends who offer to run to the store for us, drop off a meal, help my hubby find the organic apples, ask to come stay with our kids when a trip to the ER is a possibility (not minding the germs), and keep checking up on us, wanting to help.
~For our family man, and all the ways he serves and loves and serves and loves...
~For a God who hears. When we are at the absolute end of all we can do, listening to the cries of our son in pain and his own prayers: "You calmed the sea and healed men from leprosy. Would you please heal me?" What helplessness, yet such faith are in those words. We can't demand He give the answer we think is best. He is the Almighty God. But He hears, and continues to meet us, shining His light in our darkest moments.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts.
~ 2 Corinthians 4.6 {NIV}

Our little earth trembling beneath us has been a gentle reminder that we are so very frail. And so, we cling to the Almighty, hold close those we love, try to bless others they way they have us. Continuing to learn to grab hold of the important things in this life. To cherish the imperishable. 

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. 
They must be felt with the heart.
~Helen Keller

Friday, February 17, 2012

grain-free breakfasts

Can't even believe these words are coming out of my mouth:
I'm going back to work. 
Almost nine years ago, I became a full-time mama to our 3 boys (well, one at a time :) I am so so thankful to have been able to do that. I wonder where the time has gone, how we got here so fast. Our older 2 are now in school and my li'l sidekick has been in "scribbling grade" with his teacher: "mama." I would freeze time right here if I could, often thinking these days have been such a gift.
But this opportunity came, and it seems like a good fit for us. So...starting next week, I will be taking over a morning preschool class. Jude will be in a class right across the hall, then we will still have our afternoons together. We are very excited, but it may be a bit of an adjustment. By 8.15 in the morning, I need to be out the door with 3 kids, dressed and ready to welcome a class-full of 4-5 year olds. Ok, forget adjustment, we may need a miracle :) Hence, pulling together some super-fast breakfasts we can eat. 

Breakfasts have always been my "challenge meal." The brazilians over here would much rather crusty, fresh bread over cereal for breakfast.  But man cannot live by gluten alone.  Now that we've cut out wheat, oats, and rice {a.k.a. crusty-fresh-bread, doughnuts, scones, muffins, oatmeal, pretty much any cereal except corn chex}...well, let's just say it's been a bit of a challenge.  But, one with a happy ending I now share with you! {btw, the kids still eat slices of gluten and regular cereal once in awhile, but they are happy with the below too.}

You may be able to stomach the typical American breakfast grains, but after reading this article, if you want to reconsider...
Here are our favefasthealthykid-friendlygrain-free breakfasts!!!

Piña Colada Protein Smoothie
Just one sip of this and you're basically transported to a tropical island.  It is a dream of flavors - coconut, pineapple, orange, subtle banana, and a punch of protein.  Oh man, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
1 cup frozen pineapple*
1 banana
1 scoop protein powder
*If you're not using frozen pineapple, add some ice cubes.
Blend and enjoy!  Makes 1 adult- and 3 kid-size drinks OR 2 adult-size drinks.

Energy Bars
In the past, I have made these mainly when we were taking a break from sugar {a much cheaper, homemade version of the LÄRABAR}.  Then I started keeping them in my purse for a mid-zumba boost or a morning pre-K teacher snack :)  Now they're pretty much regulars 'round here.  Pair them with a smoothie, yogurt (or, bacon!) and you have an energy-packed start to your day.
2 packages pitted dates
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup coconut
1 T. vanilla
Mix in a food processor until it starts forming into a ball.  Pat into a greased 8x10 inch pan, cut into bars.  Wrap and refrigerate until use.

To make quick omelets, I dice up a whole onion and pepper on the weekend to use throughout the week, or throw in leftovers {like above}. We eat lots of, I try to spice it up now and then. Here is our latest creation:
{photo by Jack}

Picture of Mini Frittatas Recipe
These can be made and frozen, to then pop in the microwave or toaster oven for a super-fast breakfast.

Made this, and found out quinoa flakes are so very different than quinoa. After 1 hour and 1 1/2 cups of wasted quinoa, I pulled from the oven an inedible cake.  {Delicious taste, but now know that uncooked quinoa does not digest. at all.}  However, I made it again with proper ingredients, cut it into bars, wrapped in foil and froze. It is a yummy, quick breakfast to heat up and go.

Yogurt with Homemade Gluten-Free Granola
I have finally found a homemade gluten-free granola I love!!!  It costs $1 for a pound AND takes under 10 minutes to make.  But, that's a whole other post...

Until then, happy weekending!  
Cheers! to another new adventure...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

happy valentimes

Valentine's Day came and went, and we celebrated it up! 
Date night! Valentines. Heart-shaped bacon and homemade pumpkin donuts. Parties. {A.K.A. Obscene amounts of candy exchanged.} 3 Crushes (just the pop, for now :) Fires and fondue with the fam. 
Last night, the kids were all nestled snug in their beds, visions of conversation hearts and toilet paper-snowmen dancing in their heads. I had plans to write this, as the house was quiet and the hubs was at class, but my head was pounding. As I drifted off to sleep, praying for my boys and for my life to count and to know Him more, the lyrics sang in my mind: Oh how He loves...   

How fitting that on a day we set aside to celebrate love, from the morning greeting us with a fresh blanket of snow to my last stream of consciousness, and everything in between are just gifts of the Everlasting Love Himself.

No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. 
I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. ~ Isaiah 1.18 {NLT}

You, my friend, are so very loved. More than we could ever imagine...

I pray you, being rooted and established in love, may have the power to grasp 
how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge... 
~ Eph. 3.17b-19a

May we know this love. This patient, kind, sacrificial, gentle, freeing, mercy-full, protecting, joyful, trustworthy, always-hoping, always-enduring, never-letting go, making-a way kind of LOVE.

 But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 
~ Romans 5.8 {NLT}

Oh, how He loves, 
on valentime's* day and every other in between...
*yet another phrase of Jude's that is too cute to correct :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

DIY: new jeans

Last June, I committed another year to not buy clothes. It's less about swearing off buying clothes, more about loosening the grip, focusing on what is truly needed. So, we were in the mall recently, browsing the sale racks. I almost talked myself into buying a new pair of jeans, comparing them with my faded ole' pair. 
Then, I remembered this li'l trick.
Faded-ole' jeans + Black Rit Dye = "New" jeans!
That's right, my favorite pair of old jeans thrown in the washer with a packet of black rit dye {$1.78 at Wal-Mart}, and they come out looking as good as new!  
(You all have to thank my friend Brooke for this sheer brilliance. I take no credit, besides appreciating the brilliance :)  
Meet faded-ole'-jeans #1, before:
Pair #2, before:
It seems a little personal to post pics of my jeans. You now know I'm not one to iron jeans, or iron much of anything, really. Pardon our wrinkles :) 
And, I'm horrible at remembering to check the pockets. Which is bad when your kids stick crayons in their pockets. But fun when you pull out a freshly-dyed kleenex:
Follow the package directions, and here are some tips:
- I have thrown in some of the boys' shirts before with a pair of jeans. Bright yellow dyed in black turns a neat-dark-mustard color. White turns a purplish-blueish-gray shade, like the above kleenex. It works well if you have a kids' shirt that has a stain that won't come out - just dye the whole shirt!
I use 1/2 a bottle for 2 pairs of jeans (what I did for the above 2 pairs) OR 1 packet per pair of jeans (you could add a few kids' shirts in the load too).
- Be sure to use hot water, and dissolve the dye in the water before adding the jeans.
- Start the washing cycle, then stop it to let the jeans sit in the water for 1 hour total, starting and stopping now and then to mix it up so that it dyes evenly.
- If it leaves your washer with a blackish tint, wash a load of darks or rags next. It will come out. I haven't ever had a problem with the dye rubbing off on the next load.
Cost breakdown:
bottle of black rit dye = $2.99 {will dye 3-4 pairs of jeans}
packet of black rit dye = $1.71 {will dye 1 pair of jeans and some shirts}

If you're unsure, test it on something you're throwing out anyway. Hey, it's worth a try! You just might get your favorite ole' jeans back for less than a buck!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

living a life

Instructions for living a life: 
Pay attention. 
Be astonished.
Tell about it. 
~ Mary Oliver

I took 2 pictures this week. Several times I wished my camera was around, but instead decided to soak it in as best as I know. I didn't think I had much to show, but found these on the boys' cameras tonight and just love what they captured. Life, through little eyes.

Here are my two...

And the memories that are too precious to forget... 
- Going to visit dear T-ma, who is recovering from open heart surgery.  I can still see Miles holding a pink rose, Jack and Jude with cards, standing at the foot of her hospital bed.  All of them quiet, hating to see one so deeply loved in so much pain.  Jude finally tries to put words to what he feels, and says: "Sorry you're not better yet."  
- Chipotle for dinner.  Miles and Jack decided they wanted to sit at a table by themselves.  They had the best time, off on their own (well, a table away).  I couldn't help but think all too soon Jack will be bumming a ride from Miles to take him to Taco Bell.  I could almost picture it as I watched the 2 of them, wondering how we got here so fast.  
- 2 hours in Barnes & Noble, looking at books.  There was something so new, yet nostalgic about it all.  Andy and I used to go there lots, pre-kids.  Then it morphed into flipping through magazines near the Thomas table.  And now...the boys nudging me to show me a different lego set, bug fact or shark picture; Andy pointing out a backyard idea.  I would have loved to stop time at that round table next to the fireplace, all of us with our warm drinks and stack of books.  
- Jude's first Payton Manning shirt, although he calls his "Pee-king Mayonaise Shirt."  And, I don't correct such cute-ness.
- Tiny Thumbelina with the fam, and friends.  Jude clapping after every scene. Jack leaning his head on my arm.   Miles softening to the fact there probably wouldn't be any lightsaber battles.  Meeting the characters afterward, and our boys enamored with the "stars," especially Miss Thumbelina herself.  
Thumbalina: "What was your favorite part of the play?"  Miles: "You." 
- Our church gathered for worship, remembrance and communion.  {Miles' little lego club he started to meet in dad's office after service.}
- Friends gathered to share and care, laugh and cry, coffee and dip.
- Boys cuddled up for the Superbowl.  After wanting so bad to just order a pizza, I broke down and made one {don't have much of a choice when we can't have wheat or rice}.  Would you know it was the best GF one I've made yet?!  Mama John's Pizza is back in bizzness :)

I have tried to sear these moments into my memory. I just don't want to forget. But, I also fear that someone reading this would long for something different than their weekend.  Been there. Done that. This keeps coming to mind:
You will show me the way of life, 
granting me joy in Your presence 
and the pleasures of living with You forever.  
~ psalm 16.11 {NLT}

How far too easily we can settle for a way of life that may not be what the Author intended.  How quickly we look to something or someone for our joy rather than the never-ending-joy-Giver.  The good news?  It's not too late.  And, He is so gracious. 
Wishing you the joy of HIS presence, pleasures of life in HIM!
Happy almost-Monday!  A brand new day, another week, a second chance to:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Live your life!