Sunday, March 31, 2013

Jesus is Four!

The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said." Matthew 28: 5-6.

Happy Easter! If there was ever a day of hope and celebration, Easter has to be it. We took the kiddos to church this morning fully expecting to drop Emma Mae and Jake off in their Sunday school classes while we went to teach our 3 year old class. However, when we got there we were told that regular classes were not happening due to Easter and that only children ages 2 and under were going to be provided childcare. Mike and I didn't even need to teach our 3 year old class. I guess I missed that memo! While it was nice to know we could go straight to Easter services I realized the implication of not being able to drop Em off at her class.

What I said out loud was "oh, you mean we all get to go into big church together? How fun!" But what I was really thinking was "oh man, would it be bad if we just turned around and went home?" Because keeping Emma Mae quiet and still and entertained for an hour in a room full of adults seemed impossible. But just like Jesus did so many years ago he performed a miracle in church. Emma was a little bit squirmy but she really didn't embarrass us. In fact, I think she did pretty well for her first time in big church. She really enjoyed the music. We have a pastor of music who is very passionate about what he does. So music is a great big event each Sunday. Today was no different. Emma was clapping and dancing and having a good old time. During the last song she wanted me to hold her so I did. I don't know the name of the song we were singing but the words Jesus is Lord kept repeating. When it was over Emma took her little hands and put them on my face and said "MAMA! JESUS IS FOUR! JESUS IS FOUR!" And I said "huh?" As she repeated herself I realized she was mishearing the word "Lord" and thinking we were singing "four".  So I tried to explain to her the real word and what it meant. But she was not having it. In her mind, Jesus is Four. And you know what? That's ok. I figure Jesus meets us all right where we're at in life. And if it makes Emma more excited about Jesus right now to think that he is the same age as her then so be it.

Especially since last night she had a total meltdown when I was trying to explain heaven to her and how we could all go there when we die to live with Jesus. She started bawling. Heaving, heavy sobs of sadness. Turns out Emma Mae does not want to live in heaven. She wants to live with us in our house forever. Also, she is afraid that her toys won't be in heaven. And she really likes her toys. But maybe, if she thinks Jesus is Four then she will also realize that heaven should have toys that four year olds like to play with. We can only hope.

I took the kids to our town's big egg fest yesterday. Enjoy the pictures!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Make your own Graham Crackers

For Christmas Mike gave me several cook books. My favorite one is called Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila. It is full of kid friendly recipes. I especially love the make it yourself snack items. These graham crackers are a favorite around here. Jake actually asked me to make this for his class snack a few weeks ago. The kids helped me make some today which is why the cinnamon sugar is all gooped up in the middle. Here is the recipe:

Makes 45-50 2x3-inch crackers
  • 1cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rye flour, plus additional for rolling
  • 1/2teaspoon salt
  • 1/4teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4tablespoons non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (I use Earth Balance brand), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4tablespoons honey
  • 2teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1teaspoon granulated sugar
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the all-purpose, whole-wheat, and rye flours with the salt, baking soda, baking powder, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and brown sugar. Mix for 10 seconds using the paddle attachment, then add the butter and shortening. Mix on medium speed for 30 seconds.
  2. Combine the honey and vanilla with 1/4 cup cold water in a liquid measuring cup and stir to combine until the honey is mostly dissolved. With the mixer running on medium- low speed, slowly pour the honey mixture into the bowl, giving the mixture time to absorb the liquid. Continue to mix for another 20 seconds, or until the dough comes together. It will still be slightly crumbly. Push the dough into a ball, wrap it in wax paper, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 3 days. The dough can be wrapped and frozen at this point.
  3. Take the dough out of the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you are ready to bake. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the dough in half, and lay one half between two sheets of wax or parchment paper dusted with rye flour. Roll the dough as thin as you can get it, ideally 1/8 inch. It will still be slightly crumbly, but just press it back together and keep rolling. Use a pizza wheel, or knife to cut 2x3-inch rectangles. Use a spatula to separate the rectangles from the wax paper and set them on a lightly greased baking sheet. The crackers won'’t spread, so they can be quite close. Re-roll any scraps and repeat. Then repeat again with the second half of the dough.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with the granulated sugar. Sprinkle the crackers with the cinnamon mixture and prick the dough several times with a fork. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until just starting to brown at the edges. Cool on a wire rack. The crackers are great out of the oven, but their flavor and texture improves the next day.                

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Un-Process your food. Seriously.

We've been rethinking our attitudes about food around here lately. I have tried to give up sugar and white flour. Let me tell you this. It doesn't work for me. I can reduce the amount I eat but I have not been successful giving it up for more than a week or two. I really think I would be less tired all the time if I could give up the sugar but it just doesn't seem to be in the stars for me right now.

I can, however, limit the amount of processed food we buy at the grocery store. And just by doing that I think we are cutting back on sugar and white flour. Except for an occasional bag of tortilla chips or goldfish crackers I completely skip the snack aisle now. I'm looking for real food we can eat or prepare at home that has five ingredients or less and that doesn't list sugar in any form as one of the first ingredients. This is really hard. Read labels. There is sugar in everything! So, I am attempting to make our own stuff at home now. Hence, homemade peanut butter. Oh. My. Peanutty-goodness.

I have always been a Jif girl. And I really like the creamy Jif  natural peanut butter. So if I have to buy it that is my go to brand. But I really enjoy making our own now. You may have to rethink peanut butter as you know it to like the homemade version. Homemade (at least mine) is not as creamy and easily spreadable as store bought. But it tastes so good. Go ahead and make some. Here's how.

1 cup of peanuts
peanut or vegetable oil if desired

Isn't that the cutest little jar you have ever seen? I only had about 1/2 cup of peanuts for this batch.
All of the recipes for peanut butter that I have seen say it only takes about five minutes to make it. I've decided that these people must have really good food processors. I only have a little mini chopper and it takes longer and I also have to add a tablespoon or two of Canola oil to make it creamy. Kind of defeats the purpose I know but at least I know how much oil is in there. So anyhow, I'm thinking about buying a big girl food processor so I can really get the job done with no added oil. You can also add some chocolate chips to make chocolate peanut butter which sounds like a really good idea to me!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Baseball Days

Oh. My. Word. When you put a baseball hat on the boy his cuteness factor multiplies. I didn't even think it was possible!

Well, we have officially entered t-ball season around here. Jake couldn't be more excited. This morning the Red Sox played their second game of the season. Jake woke up and immediately put on his uniform even though the game wasn't until 10am. That uniform is extra small mind you. And it still hangs on him! Since he has never played before, we decided to register him in the non-competitive league. He is on a team with 4 to 6 year olds. We also thought it might be helpful if he was one of the older kids on the team.

I think we made the right decision. He's having fun without being stressed out. In fact, in game one he actually laid down for a couple minutes on second base after running the long distance from first to second. The kid needs a break every now and then. He's not fighting as many super hero battles on the field as he did when he played soccer two years ago. But today he was doing something indeterminate while playing short stop. Looked like he was swatting/shooting at bugs or something.

I am working very hard at taming my competitive nature and just letting him have fun. Even when he sits down in the outfield to play in the dirt. The outfield is boring after all.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spring Break part 2

On Emma's actual birthday we celebrated by having her favorite pancake breakfast with her grandparents. My mom and dad left to go back home afterwards. So we took Mike's parents and the kiddos to one of their favorite places in Austin-the Botanical Gardens. There just happened to be a new exhibit there of fairy houses. Guess who loves fairies? Emma Mae. Both kids loved hunting for fairy houses along the trail.

After the gardens we went out to eat at the Hula Hut in Austin. We surprised/embarrassed little girl with a plate of birthday nachos at the end. She crawled under the table when the waitress brought them out because she doesn't like people looking at her. Then she refused to eat any of them because they had whip cream on them. The rest of the week was filled with more birthday parties and trips to the park. It was a great break from school and I'm hoping it was just what we all needed to finish out the rest of this school year.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring Break 2013

I've been in a bit of a blogging slump lately. But when I realized that I hadn't even documented one of the most special days of the year I knew it had to stop. We had a lovely spring break which I will go into more detail about later but first let's talk Emma Mae. Sister turned four over spring break. In the blink of an eye, she has gone from the cutest, baldest, sweetest baby girl to the cutest, boldest, sassiest four year old ever!

We had her dream My Little Pony birthday party on Sunday the 10th. Both my parents and Mike's parents traveled far distances to be here. My sister and niece came as well. As did nine of Emma's closest preschool and neighborhood friends. A good time was had by all. The thing I noticed about this party was how well the little girls participated in the activities I planned. In the past for Jake's party's I've planned things for the boys to do only to discover that boys don't like to do "planned activities." Instead, they just want to run around your house screaming for two hours. Not the girls though. They made Froot Loop necklaces. They let me paint their fingernails. They shared toys. They even played Pin the Tail on the Pony. It was a birthday miracle.

They even whacked the Pinky Pie piƱata.

They ate rainbow cake and helped Emma Mae open her gifts.

Even Brady had a good time. Do you see him trying to camouflage himself as the floor? I think he was hoping some cake would fall on his tongue.

Thank you to everyone who came and made Emma Mae feel special turning four! Her birthday's always bring to mind the song that kept running through my mind the day she came into the world~"Isn't she lovely? Isn't she wonderful? Isn't she precious? (Already 4 years old!) I never thought through love that we'd, be making someone lovely as she. But isn't she lovely made from love?" Peace out Stevie Wonder! That's my girl's song now!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Night Writing

God bless the kindergarten teacher. If these kind souls experience 1/10th of the frustration I do during journaling night homework they surely deserve a new car. Or a big pile of money. Or both.

My sweet Jake brings home a writing journal every Monday and Wednesday. I have come to dread the writing journal. His teacher gives them a writing prompt which they write down at school. Then he is supposed to use that prompt to write three sentences. Then he is supposed to draw a picture of each sentence. This takes him approximately 2 1/2 hours.

Tonight it took him a good ten minutes just to find the journal and bring it to the dining table. Even though I told him where the journal was located and actually pointed at it for him. Then he had to find the perfect pencil which of course was not sharpened yet. So he spent the next ten minutes trying to sharpen it in my crappy electric pencil sharpener. By this time I was getting Emma out of the bathtub and he yells at me, "MOM! I opened up the pencil sharpener and all of the stuff came tumbling out of it all over the floor. My brain told me I shouldn't do that. But then my bad brain told me to go ahead and do it. So I did. And I'm sorry mom." Keep in mind the child still has yet to write a single word.

Finally, we get the pencil situation sorted out. I ask him what he's writing about tonight. He tells me his three words. I can find ____. So I say ok, what can you find? And he says "I can find my crabby." I say great! Write that down. So of course he puts his pencil down and proceeds to show me different scenarios where he might have to find his crabby. Like if he hid it under the television. And he's acting all of this out. But he is definitely not writing it down.

So I remind him that he needs to focus on writing his three sentences. He sits down and writes "I can find my crabby." Then he asks me what else he can write about. So I suggest his shoes. Because in real life he spends a lot of time looking for but not actually finding his shoes. I thought writing about it might somehow make it come true. But he rejected my idea. And asked me for another one. So I told him it was his homework and if he didn't want to find his shoes then he could come up with something on his own. And he complained that that might take forever. So I told him that forever had already come and gone and he still only had one sentence written down. So then he said "how about I find you?" Great! Write. It. Down.

Two sentences down. One to go. Thirty minutes of my life I will never get back. By this time I had distracted myself by checking facebook so I wouldn't lose all self control watching him struggle to come up with a third thing he could find. Then I glanced over and saw the boy with two pencils in his hands stacking them on top of each other. I said "Jake. What are you doing?" And he said "look what I can do with my pencils mom, this is awesome!" Then I wished I was Catholic so I could say some prayer that starts with "dear mother of Jesus, come to me in my time of trouble." I'm not even sure if Catholics pray like that but I think maybe so.

Anyhow, finally he came up with a third sentence. Don't ask me what it was. I've wiped it from my memory. Five minutes later he was done with his drawings and life could go back to normal. I can't wait for tomorrow night when he brings home the blessed reader and all we have to do is sit on the couch together while he reads me a book about animals. I love Tuesdays and Thursdays!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dino Tales and Brownie Wails

Today I took both kids out for a special surprise. We went in to the big city to the performing arts center and saw a Dinosaur petting zoo show straight from Australia! The kids had a big time. They kept commenting on the giant skyscrapers in downtown Austin. They are hilarious. The dino show was a big hit. Here they are right before the show sitting down in front on a hay bale. No parents allowed on the hay bale. I predicted they would last down there about five minutes.

I was wrong. They kept leaving the hay to come up and kiss me and tell me they loved me before the show even started. Pretty sweet. The dinosaurs were all very life like puppets and costumes. The first ones to come out were baby something a sauruses.

Pretty cute. The kids all got to go up and pet these guys. Jake was over the moon. Emma Mae was crying because she said the lady told her to go back and sit down before she got to touch it. So that's when she left the haybale area and came to sit/squirm on my lap for the next 45 minutes. Jake followed her shortly after. No worries, they could still see everything quite well.

This was the next one. I don't remember it's name either. But it had great night vision and the humans of the show spent the next ten minutes trying to give it drops for pink eye.

This was the star of the show. A juvenile feathered t-rex. She was pretty scary. I'm actually surprised there wasn't a stampede or something because of how excited the kids all were to see her. Jake was in little boy heaven. He even told me that today was the best day of his whole life and I was the best mama ever. I hope he still remembers this day when he's a teenager.

We ended our adventure with a trip to the concession stand where I bought a big $3 brownie and stuffed it into my purse so I could eat it tonight after the kids went to sleep. Controversial, I know. But I did not want to share my brownie with the offspring. I did buy them their very own cotton candy however so don't worry, they got their own empty calories today.

When we got home I took the brownie out of my purse and put it on my night stand. I intentionally only had a banana for dinner so I could enjoy my brownie to its fullest before watching an episode of the Walking Dead. Because after watching an episode of the Walking Dead I don't want to eat anything. Even brownies. Anyway, I got the kids in bed. Finally! Took forever. Then I went to retrieve my brownie only to find that I could not find it. My brownie is MIA. I have searched high and low in this house and cannot locate it. I even turned on the kitchen light to search the pantry (big mistake) because both kids started yelling things like "it's too bright!" "is it morning now?" "can we get up?" To which I replied, "you can only get up if you know where my brownie is!" And also, I made a grim discovery in the pantry. Stay tuned tomorrow for further developments. As for now, I guess I'll be watching Walking Dead on an empty stomach now. Wish me luck.