Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thoughts on Trick or Treating and My Care Bears

The slightly crazy mom in me wanted the girls to be co-ordinated Trick or Treaters.

I also didn't want to pay lots of money for their costumes.

Then I saw this and my problem was solved.

Care Bears for the win!

I didn't totally follow the tutorial, but I think the costumes were super cute!  The main differences were...

  • I couldn't find white hooded sweatshirts, so I used crew neck.  
  • I put the bear ears (which were cut from marker colored index cards) on headbands, because there wasn't a hood.
  • I decorated the white felt tummy circle with just puffy paint (I didn't use any other felt).
  • I didn't want to make pompom tails, so I literally colored a white felt circle with markers and called it good.


My favorite part is the heart on the back!



That, and using washable markers to draw on my daughters' faces. 



That was oddly really fun!

So, as you peruse these adorable pictures, I'm going to share with you our decision making in having our girls go Trick or Treating.  I had a friend ask me to blog about it, so here we go!

To be honest, I don't think Aaron and I gave trick or treating much thought at all when Leah was little.  We both went trick or treating when we were little, so it was natural for us to take Leah trick or treating.

Because, when it comes down to it, isn't trick or treating just dressing up for fun and getting free candy?



Now, I realize that I've never done any research into the genesis of Halloween.  But, I know that some people say that it's occult-ish at its roots, and others (like mi madre) said that it was from All Hallow's Eve which is the evening before All Saints Day.  I feel like she learned this in Catholic grade school.

Like lots of things we do now, there's probably bits and pieces from various traditions that comprise the way observe a celebration.

Aaron and I look at it a little differently now than we did when Leah was little, though.



We look at Trick or Treating as an opportunity.

We don't know our neighbors very well at all.  The exception being our wonderful next door neighbors.  We let their dog out for them sometimes and then Betty brings us delicious shrimp and avocado salsa that Gracie and I eat for lunch.  I give them a cup of sugar and Betty brings us beer cheese dip!  I feel like I'm coming out ahead in this relationship :)  We visit when we are outside...friendly things like that!  And there's sweet John and Margaret from our church who love our girls and let them pick their beautiful flowers and have them over to bake cookies!  But, aside from those 2 houses, we don't know many other neighbors.



BUT, when it's Trick or Treat time, we go right up to our neighbors' houses and can talk to them if they are there.  I don't know about you, but there isn't a lot of random walking up to people's houses and talking to them...aside from Trick or Treating (and the shady people trying to get me to buy vacuums or books...talk about tricks!).  It isn't much, but starting simple conversations with someone is how relationships start!

When we mosey around Trick or Treating, we run into Leah's friends from school and get a chance to talk to them and meet their parents.  If you've read this post, you know that's something I really care about!



I feel like it would be different if the average everyday person associated Trick or Treating with evil things.  Our approach would probably be different if that was the case.  

But, as it is now, people don't see us Trick or Treating with the girls and say to themselves, "Hmm, I never knew that Aaron and Becky supported the occult and witchcraft until now."

No!  Because that would be ridiculous! 

They probably think, "Look at those cute little girls dressed like Care Bears!  I remember Care Bears!  What was with Grumpy Bear anyway?  He really needed to chillax.  Wait, are those tails just white felt colored with markers?  I wish I had a reason to draw on my child's face with markers.  That would be fun!"



Or something like that!  

As Christians, we want to be actively getting to know people in our community!  We want to demonstrate the love of Jesus to others.  It's hard to do that if you don't know anybody.  Trick or Treating can be an avenue to that.

A couple of random thoughts:

  • If you are a Christian, please, please, please don't only hand out tracks/religious papers.  If that's something you're into doing (that's not our thing), give out A LOT of really good candy with it.  
  • We don't get into the scary end of stuff.  Our girls have really sensitive hearts towards scary things (even non-scary things like barn cats), and we see no need to toughen them up...to the scary things, that is.  We would like them to not be afraid of kittens.

If you cannot, in good conscience, allow your children to go Trick or Treating, we can still be friends!  I'm not sitting here judging you, so please don't be sitting there judging me!  Trick or Treating is certainly a gray area issue, and I think God gives us a lot of grace for this kind of thing.

I love that God can redeem something as silly as a cultural celebration and use it to further the work He is doing.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Brownie Batter Dip

I feel like Brownie Batter Dip (adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe) deserves a recipe category all its own.


Brownie Batter Dip


Like dessertatizer.

Or appessert.

You know, the ever popular appetizer + dessert combination.

You can categorize this however you want...as long as you make it!

Super simple!

You need:

8 oz cream cheese, softened (I used the 1/3 less fat kind to make it health food ;))
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
5 tablespoons flour
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
optional:  chocolate chips for garnish
Something for dipping:  I used honey wheat pretzels, but graham crackers, animal crackers, strawberries or apples would be good, too!

In a large bowl, whip together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.  That'll take a minute or 2.  Add the powdered sugar and mix well.  Add the flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, vanilla, and milk.  Mix until fluffy and smooth.  You can add milk or powdered sugar if you need to change the consistency.  You should be able to easily dip a pretzel in it and have it hold it's shape like a fluffy cloud :)

Like this:

Brownie Batter Dip

Yummmmmmm...the ultimate salty and sweet combination.  Plus, the equally important smooth and crunchy combination.

I hope you'll try it some time!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Up Front!

Maggie and Gracie were SO excited to say their Bible verse in front of church on Sunday!

Dressed as super heroes, of course!


You can see Lexi and Tina up there with them.

Lexi is a high school-er/local celebrity in our house.  Lexi's knee has been bugging her and Maggie often prays for her.  So sweet!

Tina is also a local celebrity in our house!  After Sunday school, it's always, "Miss Tina this, Miss Tina that," which I love!  Oh, Tina is the one that the ER doctor reminded me of when Gracie hurt her forehead.

I love how these 2 stick together <3



Here's a short video of all the kids saying their verse (Deuteronomy 31:6)!


After the kids came down from the stage, Maggie told me, "I want to go up there again!"

I love that she's not afraid!

I hope you have a great day...being strong and courageous because Jesus is strong and courageous for you!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pumpkin Patch

Saturday was a really big day for us!  

We went trick or treating downtown in the morning, headed to a wedding in the afternoon, and ended up at the pumpkin patch for a fun church activity.

It was cold at the pumpkin patch.

Maybe not so much cold as windy.

Does that makes it bone chillingly cold?

I don't know.

Either way, I should have had the girls, oh, you know, wear winter coats!

I was all, "Girls, no need to wear winter coats.  You'll be fine in a fleece."

Mommy fail.

Anyway, we started out strong.

There's a corncob de-kerneling spinning thing.



That's obviously fun, as long as you keep your fingers from being smushed!

Then, they moved over to the sensory table with all of those kernels!



They were having a great ol' time...until Maggie noticed a monster.

And by monster I mean a small barn cat minding its own business.

She was crying and crying and could not be reasoned with.

That's always fun.

We left the comparative warmth of the barn building and headed out to play some games and hunt for pumpkins.  

That was when things got cold.  

Pumpkin patches are, well, in patches and not in forests.  

The girls were troopers!  

We got pumpkins, but not pictures of the pumpkins, because I was busy keeping Gracie from tripping over pumpkin vines.

We did manage to get our family picture taken in an over-sized chair before the girls turned into icicles.



I feel like you can see how cold Maggie and Gracie are.  

Poor little things!

What's with their mom not having them wear winter coats?!

Sheesh!

The little girls cuddled with Aaron, while I watched Leah in the barn as she played with monsters barn kittens.

When Leah and I came out from the barn, Aaron told me that Maggie was crying because she wanted to go home and Gracie was shivering the whole time.

Yeah, it was time to go...by way of a beautiful sunset!



The girls were warm and cozy in bed by 7:15.

And now we have pumpkins to carve...a warm, inside activity, of course :)

I'm linking up with Blair at Wild and Precious!

Friday, October 25, 2013

I Will Save Her

Maggie bumped her head the other night.

So, naturally, there was some crying.

I pulled Maggie onto my lap, held her, and patted her back.

But, then Gracie came to the rescue!

She put her blanket around her neck like a cape


and said, "Mommy, I will save her!"

I am not a theologian, nor am I an expert in child development.

But, at around 3 years old, all of our girls have been very interested in rescuing or saving people.

I can't help but think that is a way that we are image bearers of Christ.

After all, rescuing and saving are pretty much Jesus' job description!


For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Luke 19:10


Naturally, Sally Lloyd-Jones puts is more eloquently than I ever could as she is talking about the Bible being a story of redemption...


The Bible is most of all a Story.  It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure.  It's a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne--everything--to rescue the one he loves.
Jesus Storybook Bible pg. 17, emphasis mine


I love it when God uses my sweet little lady to show me a glimpse of His heart.

I encourage you to rest in the knowledge that you are the treasure Jesus came to rescue.  He died in your place, took your punishment, paid your debt simply because He loves you.  More than anything, He wants you to turn to Him.  He literally died and rose again so that He wouldn't have to live without you.

That makes any day good!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Super Supper and Broiled Bruschetta

I made a super yummy supper for our small group on Tuesday and I even made up a recipe.

I hardy ever make anything up, so that was fun!

We had lasagna soup!



It is seriously so delicious and really fun!  You put a dollop of a ricotta cheese mixture in the bowl first before topping with pasta, the soup, and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.

The soup has the same savory richness and string-y cheese and regular lasagna.  

Totally make this!  I've made it a few times, and it's always a hit!

I made cheesy garlic bread to go with it.  

And for something a little different, I made broiled bruschetta.

Broiled Bruschetta

Super easy!

Mix 2 cloves of garlic with a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Let it sit for a few hours.

Brush the bread (french or italian) with the garlic infused oil.  Bake in an oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and top with shredded fresh mozzarella cheese.  And maybe a little freshly shredded parmesan.

Shredding fresh mozzarella seemed a little difficult so I popped it in the freezer for 30 minutes before shredding it.  That helped a lot!  It won't be pretty, but that's ok :)

Spread the fresh mozzarella on the bread.  Top with chopped and seeded roma tomatoes.

Bake for another 5 minutes.  If it isn't melting the way you want, set the oven to broil and broil it for a few minutes.

When the cheese looks melted and the edges of the bread look crusty, pull it out.  

Sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper and a little drizzle of olive oil.

Yummy yum yum!

And to finish the meal off, we had Salted Caramel Mocha Bundt Cake.



It was really good!  I enjoyed the contrast between the hardened white chocolate and the softness of the cake.  You can taste the coffee in the cake, but it certainly wasn't overwhelming.

I enjoy a salty and sweet combination as much as the next girl, but the caramel was a little salty for me.  I didn't even add as much as the recipe called for.  The next time I make this, I'll leave the salt out of the caramel and just sprinkle a bit on top.

What have you made lately that I should try?  I love getting new recipe ideas, so boss me around a little!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Happy Sigh

Nothing quite warms my mommy heart


like the sight of sisters


enjoying a book together


or counting teeth!


Love love double love!


<3

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

He Holds My Hand

The other day, I was walking in a parking lot with Gracie.  

I'm that mom who holds her children's hands at all times in the parking lot.  

Even Leah.

Call me psychotic or overprotective or just plain safe...whatever it is, that's just how I roll.

Anyway, obviously Gracie and I were holding hands on our way into the store.


She tripped over something and totally would have face planted on the asphalt if I wouldn't have been holding her hand.  

I pulled her up before she could really even fall.

That's happened several times with each of the girls, and without fail, these verses pop into my head:


The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way.  When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.
Psalm 37:23-24

I will fall.  I will have a hard time.  I will encounter difficulties.  I will struggle.

But, just as I, the imperfect mommy, won't let my little girl face plant on the ground, my loving Heavenly Father won't let me be hurled headlong, either.

What a beautiful promise.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

It was a Good Weekend to be Leah

Yes, it was a good weekend to be Leah...and the other girls, too, but Leah had some special things!

Like being in ANOTHER parade!



Leah and her friend, Brian, were randomly selected to carry the banner for their class!  They were so excited!  

On Friday afternoon, Maggie, Gracie, Aaron and I went to the parade, which was only about 20 minutes long, so the little girls were able to still get in an afternoon nap...

...also known as a win for mommy ;)



After school, Leah "did the dishes."



I was internally cheering and patting myself on the back for having a daughter so eager to serve the family by taking care of the dishes.  

Then, I realized that by "doing the dishes," Leah really meant "playing with the water."  

For the record, I was quite happy about that, too!  I enjoy her creative play.

Yes, she washed 3 dishes in 30 minutes.  But, she also very thoroughly rinsed out the empty milk jug you see in the picture :)



On Saturday morning, Leah picked out Maggie's clothes.



She if full of love with all of those hearts!  

Maggie got the small flute/recorder/whistle in a goody bag from school and she asked Leah to give her lessons!



The girls and I went to Hobby Lobby on Saturday morning.  Our friend, Lori, and her 4 daughters came with us.  

Here's how excited my girls were when I told them their friends were coming!



Lots of little girl squealing and jumping up and down!

All of the girls did great at Hobby Lobby!  After Lori and I got what we needed, we wandered up and down the Christmas aisles and the girls looked at beautiful things.  It was pretty fun watching the expressions of other shoppers as our little posse of girls made their way through the store :)

I wish I wouldn't have forgotten my camera!


And, lastly, on Sunday afternoon, we cuddled on the couch while watching a little House Hunters on hgtv.



We love trying to figure out which house they are going to choose!

I also enjoy the opportunity to talk about contentment and not needing to have fancy things to be happy.

I mean, seriously!  Some of the people on that show are ridiculous!  As if you couldn't possibly live in a house without 2 sinks in the bathroom or obviously not being able to cook unless you have granite counters.

Silly, silly.

Not that there's anything wrong with those things, but some people really need to pull themselves together :)



I hope your weekend was great, too, even if you weren't in a parade!



I'm linking up with Blair on Wild and Precious.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Apple Cider Floats aka Apple Pie in a Glass

You know how when you're eating an apple and then take a drink of milk and you kind of want to spit it out?  

Milk + Apples = GROSS

However...

Ice Cream + Apple Cider + Soda = AMAZING-NESS!!!

It's almost counter-intuitive to put this combination together, but believe me, your taste buds will thank you!


Apple Cider Float or Apple Pie in a Glass

You don't need much to make these:



Apple Cider (the cloudy kind is definitely better, but I'm not the apple cider police, so use whatever your little heart desires)
Clear Soda (lemon lime soda or ginger ale)
Vanilla Ice Cream

That's it!

Are you ready for the very complicated directions?  Oh, and please excuse the cloudiness of the glass...sometimes I think jet dry is a scam.



Then...


Lastly,


aaaaaaaand...


Sharing with an adorable 3 year old is optional.


Oh, and lest you think I am a recipe creating genius, I adapted this from Mel's Kitchen Cafe who adapted it from Our Best Bites!

These are a fun, easy, seasonal way to end a meal!

If I was in junior high, I would start chanting "Do it!  Do it!  Do it!" to encourage you to make this....

But, I'm obviously much too mature for that sort of thing :)

Give these a try AND have a great weekend!

I'm linking up with A Southern Fairytale for Mouthwatering Monday!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ice Packs and Bandaids

What in the world do ice packs and bandaids have in common?

They are magical.

(obviously)

They cut off at least 75% of the crying.

That's magical in my mommy book!

So, it doesn't take much for me to give my girls a bandaid (or 8) or an ice pack.

Every now and then, Leah will very lightly bump her head on the bunk bed (she's on the top bunk, so I'm not really sure how that happens) as she's getting settled in for the night. 

Because it's night time, everything is more dramatic, so she cries and cries.  

Naturally, I want her to stop crying so she'll go to sleep I want to nurture and care for her, so I get her an ice pack.

Here's my issue with ice packs:  They are too COLD!  But, when you wrap them in a towel, they aren't cold enough.

What to do...what to do?

Answer:  a sock!

For example, earlier this week, Maggie legitimately bumped her head on the wooden arm of our futon.

She went to the kitchen, grabbed a gallon sized freezer ziplock bag and filled it with all of the ice packs she could find. 


I'm not going to say that looks real effective ;)

I went to my sock drawer and got a fairly heavy (clean) sock.  

Then, I took ONE ice pack from Maggie's bag o' chilliness.


I simply stuck the ice pack in the sock!


Ta-da!  Easy peasy lemon squeezey!

That's much better!


Now that Maggie had an ice pack, Gracie wanted one.

I told her that Maggie had an ice pack because she bumped her head and Gracie didn't need one because she didn't bump her head.

I kid you not, Gracie proceeded to lightly bump her head on the other wooden arm of the futon on purpose and began to fake cry in order to necessitate an ice pack.

You can't make this stuff up!

I gave her one, too!


And then everyone was happy :)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gender Reveal Party

Even though Gracie is only 3, I feel like the whole being pregnant landscape (maybe due to pinterest) is a little different.  Families have super cute pregnancy announcements!  And the gender reveal parties?!  So cute!

It almost makes me want to have another baby.  

Almost.  

Don't get your hopes up.  We are doner than done.

Anyway, our friends, Brandon and Hannah, are having a baby and when Hannah told me they were going to find out the baby's gender ahead of time, I immediately offered to host a gender reveal party for them!

So fun!

I looked around pinterest to see if there were any cute gender reveal cakes. I got my inspiration from this cake.

Hannah dropped of the envelope with the baby's gender written on a piece of paper!  Yay!

I started out by making a Wacky Cake.  

I let it cool and trimmed the edges.  

Then, I cut it in half the long way.  

I filled the inside with my mom's super easy butter cream frosting.

You need:

3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
milk (or cream) to desired consistency

Blend the first 3 ingredients together.  Add a splash of milk, vanilla, and food coloring.  Whip it with the mixer.  Add more milk until you get the desired consistency.

For chocolate frosting, add in 3 tablespoons of cocoa with the powdered sugar.

This recipe is really easy to divide into thirds or in half.  Super versatile! 

Anyway, I made the frosting for the inside of the cake...dyed the appropriate color, of course!  

I made white cream frosting for the outside of of the cake.

Then it was time for decorating!  

I practiced on a white dinner plate.


While I decorated, Leah combined blue and pink plates, cups, and napkins.


When she was done with that, she and Gracie had a snack of apples and leftover chocolate milk...


on the floor in the kitchen where I was working, of course!

I was slightly obsessed with how well the cake turned out!

Gender Reveal Cake

It was pretty easy!  I mean, I'm going to be putting flowering branches on any cake possible!

I cut the above frosting recipe into thirds and made 1 chocolate, 1 blue, and 1 pink.

I used 3 tips:


The number 3 tip was for the writing and branches.

The number 16 tip was for the little flowers.

The number 21 tip was for the flower-y dot things edging the bottom.

Let's look at the cake again, shall we?!

Gender Reveal Cake

I feel like you can kind of tell how I did it once you see the tips.

Once I was done with the decorating, I let Leah have a try!


She did awesome!


I told her that I'd let her decorate a cake some time soon.  I love how she likes to try creative things!

And, I'd say she's quite good at it!

After supper, I set the table up for the simple party...

Gender Reveal Party and Cake

and added my Fuzzy Navel Mocktail and cups.

Fuzzy Navel Mocktail

Everyone loves the fuzzy navel mocktail.  Seriously.

Oh, I made popcorn on the stove (buttered, of course) for a salty snack.  I'm all about the sweet and salty balance!

Anyway...

Brandon and Hannah and the rest of the guests arrived, and they cut the cake!


Yay!!!


You can never have too many baby girls!  I'm so excited for them and can't wait to meet their sweet daughter in February!

Congratulations, Brandon and Hannah!