Sunday, May 31, 2009

Amanda and Anna

Our new pastor has been talking about how much Amanda reminds him of his granddaughter, Anna. We finally got to meet her.
They are just like two little peas in a pod.
Even though Anna lives in a neighboring state, I hope we get to see her often. Anna is a ball of fun and it's so cute to see them together.




Friday, May 29, 2009

I'm in No Hurry...

Update: It was pointed out to me that Amanda's chest clip is too low and should be level with her armpits. It was noted and appreciated although I don't think I had fully tighten the straps before snapping the picture. She has her butt shifted to one side, too, which means the straps weren't even or tight.
I'm in no hurry to move this sweet, happy, funny little girl to a forward-facing postion despite the fact that she will be two in a little more than two months.

She is safe and comfortable and can make silly faces at her brothers on the way to church. When she falls asleep, she doesn't slump forward uncomfortably.

I had thought I would turn her front-facing in a booster-seat once the new baby outgrew his/her bucket seat, but instead I'm just going to buy another convertible car seat like this one. She may even sit rear facing until she's three.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More of Memorial Day Weekend

Amanda and I had a great weekend visiting my family. Mike and the boys stayed home to catch up on some work at the lumber yard.
My brother has this wonderful field of dandylions which is so beautiful this time of year and a bee haven the rest of the year.
Amanda loved being on the trampoline with her cousins but they were a little rough and I didn't want this to happen to her.
One of Amanda's newest words is "swing!" In the morning she finds her Daddy and begs him to swing her.
She just has gorgeous hair!
Amanda's new word for the weekend was "bike!" My mom is affectionately known as "Biker Grandma." She makes sure all of the cousins have a bike, chaser or buggy to ride. She loves to plan bike adventures and find new trails. Amanda learned quickly that you better perk up and follow Grandma when she says, "Does anybody want to go for a bike ride?"

My mom and Amanda had a great weekend together!

Monday, May 25, 2009

"She speaks Spanish to Me!"

Said soon-to-be three-year-old Mariella to her daddy when asked about her interactions with Amanda, "She speaks Spanish to me!"

That would totally explain why it sounds like Amanda is speaking full sentences but yet no one can understand them!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day Traditions

My mom and I took Grammy to the cemetery today. She likes to visit the graves of her in-laws, her husband and her brother. It always makes her so sad. I know she's anxious to be with them again. It's been almost five years since my grandpa passed away. She often wonders why she is still here, but we are so thankful and realize every visit could be our last with her.

The cemetery is always so beautiful this time of year, especially to veterans area. May we always remember the sacrifices made for us.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

15 Years and Counting!

Today, Mike and I celebrate 15 years together! Hopefully, we will celebrate by traveling to Florida next month!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Smoothies

What do you do when your banana's look like this? Oh, sure there's banana bread, but we do something that's faster, dirties less dishes, and is allergy compatible.

Smoothies!!!
The truth is that I rarely measure or follow recipes so these amounts are a best guess. It's up to you to adjust things as needed.

Smoothies

1-2 cup water in the blender
1 crushed ice (the ice needs to be floating above the blades)
4 ripe bananas
1/3 can frozen orange juice

Blend. Pour. Enjoy.

See? So simple.

We've added fresh pineapple and strawberries and experimented with different kinds frozen juice. The smoothies pictured above are banana coconut. We didn't have any orange juice but Tony said he had wanted to make a banana only smoothie. So we added a bit of sugar, a few drops of vanilla and some freeze dried coconut. They were so good!









Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Recipes

Are you looking for new low allergy, high protien, healthy, whole food recipes? Check out these!

Maybe Baby

Last Friday, we recieved a call from American Adoptions informing us that we had been selected by a birth mom in Tampa, FL. Her baby will be full African American and the gender is unknown. Her expected due date is June 26th. On Monday, we signed our match documents and sent our fees.

Okay, calm down now!

As much as we would love to start imagining our life with this new little person, it is important for us to keep the proper prospective. Being selected and now in a match means there is a mother in Florida who feels that she is unable to parent her baby at this point in her life. She has decided that she likes our family because we have a positive attitude toward adoption and have already adopted a child of another race. We have told her, through her birth parent specialist, that we are willing to joyfully welcome her baby into our family.

We have told her that we are willing to prepare and be ready to travel when she goes into labor or delivers the baby so that we can be there if she needs us. If, when she is discharged from the hospital, she decides that she still would like us to parent her child, she would sign consent papers and we would be responsible for the care and nurturing of this precious little person. In Florida, consent is binding upon signing, so once the papers are signed they are sent to the states for interstate approval.

Then we would wait 7-14 days for clearance to travel home.

Florida is a great place for us to travel, as we have friends in both Tampa and Orlando, but we don't know if this is the child God has chosen for us. Mike explained to the boys that is was like being called up from the minor leagues. Being chosen doesn't mean we will see any playing time, or that it will amount to a full-time career, but we are ready to do our best when we are asked.

Should we sent back down to the minors, the most of the funds would be rolled-over within American Adoptions and we go back to waiting for a match.

Please pray for this mom as she is making decisions for her baby. May she be granted peace and assurance and that God would be guiding her steps.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cultured Pancakes

Cultured Pancakes

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups yogurt, buttermilk or kefir

Soak flour and yogurt 6-8 hours. The live yogurt will help break down the whole wheat flour and release more nutrition. You can leave it on the counter or put it in the fridge.

2 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
Flavoring- vanilla, cinnamon, sugar, be creative

Mix the rest of the ingredients with the flour and yogurt and cook on a warm griddle. Thin the batter with left over butter milk. They take a little longer to cook then other pancakes. I make a large batch and freeze them for the boys. It's a great on-the-go snack for Amanda, too.I've been making these pancakes for years, but just began making them every week in order to avoid buying breakfast cereal. By avoiding breakfast cereal, we have improved nutrition, cut costs and reduced waste. All things that make me happy!

To break up the monotony, the boys experiment with different toppings; honeybutter, jelly, peanut butter, yogurt, syrup and the recently, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar frosting.



Amanda is finicky about her pancakes. She will eat three fresh pancakes off the griddle but she doesn't like them in her high chair. She will eat one or two pancakes in church but she doesn't like them at homeschool co-op. I just keep them handy and if she's hungry enough, she'll eat them!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Trying New Things

Amanda is getting more comfortable at the park and is starting to venture out on her own and try new things. On previous trips, she would just watch the other kids and want me to walk around and hold her hand. I spent time encouraging her to try some of the activities.

It's so fun to watch her personality blossom and to learn what things she really enjoys, like the merry-go-round. She wants to get up and walk around while it is spinning.
I love the baby stage, but this is so much fun, too!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Home Fries

Home Fries

6-8 Medium Potatoes
1/4 Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Herbs (Dill or rosemary are our favorites)

Preheat you oven to 450 degrees F. Scrub potatoes and the remove eyes and bad spots. Slice into fries and place into a 9 x 13 baking dish or bar pan. We used to use the Pampered Chef Stoneware Bar Pan but mine was broken by my kitchen helper recently. Keep your cell-phone close by if you are expecting and important call.
Drizzle olive oil over the fries and turn them to make sure all the fries are coated with oil. Dust with sea salt and sprinkle on the herbs. A couple tablespoons of dill is fine. Half a tablespoon of rosemary is plenty. We like to chop up our rosemary in a food chopper. Garlic and onion powders are good, but they burn easily so put them after the fries have finish cooking.

If you're like Amanda, you'll pop that handful of dill into your mouth when you think your mother isn't looking. You'll also have tried celery seed, garlic and onion in this manner.
Put the fries in the oven and bake for 15-30 minutes until they are browned and crispy. We turn on the convection option to make them cook faster.
Enjoy! Don't eat too many! The left-overs can be refrigerated and reheated in the stove.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mi esposo vende madera!

You know what I do all day long, but have you ever wondered about my husband? Here's a little hint: He actually spends more time in an office with paperwork and a computer because he's the manager, but that wouldn't make a very interesting picture.

Mike began working for this national building supply company right after high school as a yard hand. He worked his way up through driver, head driver, sales and began managing in 1998 as one of the youngest managers in the company. He was 24 years old. His first management position was in a small town in south eastern North Dakota.

Two years later, we moved back to Minnesota and three years after that we moved farther north. He's been managing this store for over five and a half years now and the time has gone by so quickly.

I'm so proud of you, Babe!

Spring Training

Amanda has been requesting to be "wrapped up" lately especially when I am running around trying to get the house picked before Mike gets home or company comes over. She gets frustrated because she can't keep up with me. Everybody is happier once she's on my back. The house gets (and stays) clean and I get an extra work-out.

It is a good thing, too, because I will need to be in shape when we travel. I will be wearing Amanda on my back through the airport when we travel to meet our baby. When we travel home, I will be wearing Amanda on my back and the new baby in a pouch in front. That configuration will also be helpful if Amanda and the baby are needing some Mommy-time.
In a week or so, I will get the practice this arrangement. Another one of my cousins is expecting a little boy within the next week! I can't wait to see this little guy!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Home-Made Tortillas- So EASY!

We're always trying to find ways to eat healthy and cut out processed foods. Everything we can make by hand increases nutrition, reduces waste and saves money(so we can adopt more children, of course!!!) My family really loves tortillas or wraps. They will wrap anything- chicken, roast beef, eggs, taco and beans, spaghetti meat, peanut butter and jelly and cheese.

I finally decided to give them a try this weekend. I searched a few recipes online and found the simplest one. Flour, oil, salt and water. Roll out and fry. They were a bit too crumbly and didn't hold together well with the wheat flour. I wondered if soaking the flour in yogurt overnight would help them be more pliable. It did and they were much better. I made a huge batch and froze some of them but here's a starter recipe for you.

Cultured Whole Wheat Tortillas

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup plain yogurt

Mix flour and yogurt together until all the flour is wet and sticky. Refrigerate overnight or leave on the counter for four to six hours.

1 dash of salt
1-2 cups additional flour
1/4 cup olive oil

Knead the olive oil and salt into the flour and yogurt mixture. Then begin adding additional flour until you can form dough balls. A 2-3 inch ball will make a good-sized tortilla. Flour your counter surface and keep flouring the dough, roller and your fingers as you roll your tortilla to the desired thickness. Heat your dry pan or griddle to high.
I was using a small pizza roller and kept getting the centers to thin. A full-sized roller would have been better but I was cramped for space. I used a flat spatula to slide the tortilla onto the griddle.

Tortillas cook very quickly and everything should be moving pretty fast. A helper would be handy. I mean a real helper, not just Amanda! You want to flip the tortilla as soon as you see bubbles. It's less than thirty seconds during which time you are quickly rolling out the next tortillas (and if you're like me, talking on the phone to your cousin and snapping pictures.) Then you flip them back over and cook for about 30 more seconds.
Then you stack them on a paper towel. After I had cooked up the whole batch, I sorted through and took out the ones that were not flexible. I brushed those with olive oil, sprinkled them with salt, cut them into triangles and baked them for a few minutes at 350 degrees to make chips. I put the rest into two gallon-sized Zip-loc bags and put one in the fridge and one in the freezer.
High fiber, high protein, super nutritious and home-made. What more can you ask for?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!


We are so thankful for the mothers in our lives. Women who have made great and different sacrifices all for the love of their children. Our church celebrated by passing our these sweet little plants to each of the mothers in our church.

Amanda is so proud of her daddy playing music up in front. Sometimes she doesn't understand why he can't pick her up when he's got that big ol' guitar in his hands!
Lester and Amanda- the oldest and youngest members of our congregation. Lester will be 91 years old this summer and Amanda will be two.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Meanwhile...

While Amanda's working on her climbing skills the boys are usually playing ball tag. Tyler would prefer to play basketball but he can keep the younger kids interested for only so long.
For some reason, Tony is pretty elusive when it comes time for photos. He's also very fast and tricky to capture. He is a man always in motion.
I love seeing them running around yelling, having a great time and free from the constaints of indoor expectations of quiet and calm. There's is only so much of that sort of thing a boy can handle.

Whoo Hoo!

Friday, May 8, 2009

What a difference a week makes!

We've been going to the park many afternoons, but it had been a week since we had gone to the school park where this climbing wall is located. Last week, when she saw wood chips on the steps, she said, "Dirty." Funny girl! Here she is signing "dirty."I had to show her every time she took a step to use alternating feet and alternating steps. She was trying to climb up on only one side and but she couldn't do it. This week, she remembered right away and began climbing up with wonderful form.I am so proud of my little girl!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Peanut Butter Power Balls

Mike brought me home a recipe card and ask me to make these for him. I'm always happy to oblige especially when it involves a new way to use the 25 pounds of oats we keep on hand.

2-3 cups of rolled oats
2 cups of natural peanut butter, give or take
1 cup of honey or agave nectar
A bit of freeze-dried coconut and powdered sugar
In the blender, grind the oats on high into coarse flour. Blend peanut butter and honey in a large bowl. Add oat flour and stir. Form 2 inch balls and roll in the coconut and powdered sugar. Refridgerate. They will keep for up to a week. They never last that long at our house.
This is a great project to make with Amanda because it's quick, simple and there are no raw eggs involved!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Foody Photos = How I Spent My Afternoon

Apparently it is a blogging faux pas to post recipes and not include pictures of the deliciously inspiring food. My apologies! This is what Amanda and I did this afternoon.
Our milk comes in sealed plastic bags, so I just poke a hole in the bottom and drain a 1/2 gallon for drinking, 2 quarts for yogurt and the rest is about 2 cups worth of cream that goes into the blender to make butter (there is a little bit more than a gallon in each bag). After dividing up the milk, we began to heat the yogurt up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
This the cream shortly before becoming butter.
The butter has formed after only a few minutes in the blender. It's so magical! Can some one tell me, is the change from cream to butter chemical or physical?
I drained the buttermilk and continued to press the liquid from the butter. You can add cool water to the butter to "wash" it, but I usually just freeze it in these jars and don't mind a little extra liquid. One gallon of milk gives me about 1/2 cup of butter. I will melt the butter in the microwave and use it in my pancakes.
Then I added the remaining buttermilk to this double batch of biscuits.
The biscuits are rolled and cut out with a large glass. Because I use olive oil instead of shortening, these biscuits aren't very sticky. The roll out very nicely. The yogurt is almost to 180 degrees.
For dinner, Mike and the boys had cheese and tuna fish spread on their biscuits. The biscuits are very crumbly because of using whole wheat flour. The yogurt was cooling in the sink. Before taking the boys to youth group, I added the yogurt cultures and put the jars in water in the crock pot.
Four hours since I began incubating the yogurt, the yogurt is sealed and ready to be put in the fridge to cool overnight. The boys arrive home from youth group as I am photographing my yogurt.
You can see how the whey has formed near the top. When I use the freeze-dried yogurt starter, there is only a little bit of whey around the top. The packets are carefully measured for one quart. I am only guessing when I add fresh yogurt. I prefer the watery yogurt for making pancakes and drain the extra liquid into the batter. I also soak rolled oats in the watery yogurt and top with maple syrup and coconut. For mixing with salsa or topping potatoes, I tip the jar on it's side and use the yogurt that is more firm.
Amanda and I also made Peanut Butter Power Balls this afternoon between starting the yogurt and making the butter, but since I haven't posted that recipe yet, I won't tempt you with the photos. Maybe tomorrow!