Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A-Z For Number Three!

Okay, it's finally Beth's turn for her A-Z list!  The baby always has to wait for everything, but good things come to those who wait, saving the best for last, etc, etc.   She's heard all those cutesy quotes before.  Thanks, once again, for you patience, Bethie! 

This could be interesting, so with great caution I now turn this blog over to Beth:

Beth's A-Z

A.  Age: 10

B.  Bed size:  twin

C.  Chore you dislike the most:  cleaning the bathrooms.

D.  Dog:  Archie.  Someday I hope to have either a German Shepherd or a Collie.

E.  Essential start to the day:  eating breakfast.

F.  Favorite color:  blue/green. 

G.  Gold or silver:  silver.

H.  Height:  5 ft. 1 inch.

I.  Instrument you play:  I want to play the clarinet next year.

J.  Job title:  Someday I want to be a veterinarian or a worker at the zoo.

K.  Kids:  If it's a boy I would call him Christian, if it is a girl I'm not sure what I would call her.

L.  Lives:  I want to live in California someday because of the hot weather and the beaches and I hope to have a really nice 2-story house with a pool.

M.  Mom's name:  Leanne.

N.  Nicknames:  pumpkin; Bethie-Boo; sweetheart.  When I was a baby my nickname was Lizzie-Loo.

O.  Overnight hospital stays:  when I was 5 years old at Children's Hospital.

P.  Pet Peeves:  when salad and spaghetti touch; when someone tells me to do something and then I do it and they give me more stuff to do.

Q.  Quote from a movie:  I have never really thought of anything like that.

R.  No R because Katie had no R.  But if I made this it would be "Really fantastic moments" and my R would be going on California Screamin' at California Adventure.

S.  Siblings:  Alex and Brenna

T.  Time you wake up:  7:55 or 8:00 on school mornings.  Maybe 8:30 on the weekends.

U.  Underwear:  polka-dotted underwear.

V.  Vegetables you don't like:  cauliflower, brussel sprouts definitely, lettuce and baby carrots.

W.  What makes you run late:  not having a pair of socks, having to go get something that I forgot, trying to fix my hair.

X.  X-rays you've had:  teeth, my back, my head, lots and lots and lots of chest x-rays when I was in the hospital.

Y.  Yummy food you make:  toast, that's pretty much all I can cook other than cereal.

Z.  Zoo animal favorite:  any type of big cat and I really like watching dolphins but I haven't seen any for real.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tasty Tuesday ~ Lasagna Soup!

A friend gave me this recipe today, and it looked and sounded so good that I tried it tonight.  The result?  Yum, yum, yum.  My appetite is returning, and this was a beautiful bowl to feast on.  It is super quick to make, smells up the house all the way to your driveway, and then tastes even better!  No pictures, because I'm not in the mood to try.

It truly does taste like lasagna.  And I've heard that after a day in the fridge, the pasta soaks up even more liquid and makes it more of a stew.  That sounds good to me too.  That just might be my lunch tomorrow.

Here you go:

Lasagna Soup

2 TBSP olive oil
2 1/2 lbs.-ish Italian sausage (I used 1 package Italian sausage, and 1 package Italian seasoned ground turkey breast.  worked great.  If you want it hotter, use Hot Italian sausage.)
1 medium onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 tsp. dried oregano
4 TBSP tomato paste
2 (28 oz each) cans diced tomatoes.  (I used a 14.5 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes, and the remainder regular diced tomatoes.  If you want it more fire-y, use all fire roasted.)
4 bay leaves
10-12 cups chicken stock (I was going to use 12, and ended up with only 10 and it turned out just great.)
16 oz. pasta (Fusilli or Rotini)
3/4 to 1 cup chopped fresh basil

In large soup pot, heat olive oil.  Add sausage and cook until pink is almost gone.  Add onion and cook for a few minutes, until they start to get soft.  Add garlic and oregano and cook for a minute.  Add tomato paste and cook for a few minutes, stirring the tomato paste to mix in well.  At this point, the smell will be out of this world and you may be tempted to stop right there and eat this with a spoon.  Keep going, you'll be glad you did.

Add in the tomatoes, bay leaves and chicken stock.  Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add pasta and cook just to al dente.  Do not overcook this or you'll have all kinds of mush for pasta.  Stir in the basil, add salt and pepper if needed.

While the pasta is cooking in the soup, make this cheesey goodness:

1 (16 oz.) tub ricotta cheese
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan
little salt and pepper

mix to combine well.

To serve, scoop a dollop of the ricotta mixture into a soup bowl.  Ladle the hot soup on top of the ricotta, then sprinkle with some mozzarella.

My preference would be to leave the mozzarella off, because it gets kind of glompy in the soup.  But everyone else seemed quite smitten with a glomp of cheese in their soup, so to each their own.  My daughter has requested this for a birthday meal (and her birthday is over 7 months away).  Her review?  "This is MUCH better than lasagna!  When it's a soup, you don't have to eat a salad with it!"  Well...

Anyway, serve it with some hot, buttered French bread and you'll be glad you sat down for a hot meal.

This obviously has nothing to do with Lasagna Soup.  But I've been looking at pictures of my babies when they were babies, and it makes me want a baby.  Brad told me no, so gazing at pictures will have to do.  But can't you just almost physically feel that warm cheek against your neck?  And can't you almost physically SMELL that freshly bathed, fuzzy-headed baby???  Okay, I think I'll go stir up some sibling rivalry and see if I can get a good fight going to snap me back to my senses.  Or maybe I'll just go write out that check to the orthodontist.  Or go check to see how much food is left from my grocery store run today.  Or go look at the pile of laundry waiting to be done.  Or go set my alarm for the morning and know that I can sleep until it goes off.  There.  I feel better now.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Multitudes on Monday ~ So Thankful For Special Memories

My goodness, Mondays sure roll in quickly, don't they?  I love that I am starting a new week.  A normal schedule.  I think a less busy week, too.

Today most of my list is dedicated to my sweet grandma.  Today is her birthday, and I miss her.  I'm so thankful to have had a grandma that made me feel so special and so loved.  She never had to try hard to do that, she never had to try to make memories or try to teach.  She just let her living and her love make an impression.  And she let me be me.  I adored her when she was with us, and I still do.  I'm so very thankful for the way she loved, and for all the memories I can keep with me forever. 

276.  The sound of the rain on the car's sunroof.
277.  Texts from my hubby.
278.  Food magazines.
279.  New mercies in the morning.
280.  That long nights end.
281.  A new book.
282.  The anticipation of a vacation.
283.  Listening to my daughter making plans with friends.
284.  Memories of summer days on my grandparents farm.
285.  My grandma's homemade ice cream.
286.  The way my grandma drank her coffee out of a china cup, and the little "tink" sound that would wake us when she put her cup on the saucer after each sip.
287.  Hugs from my grandma....she was so soft.
288.  The huge amount of love grandma could express just by patting your cheek while she smiled.
289.  The way my grandma loved simple, pretty things.
290.  Being able to hear my grandma, in my mind, saying "Oh, horse feathers!"
291.  Picking strawberries with my grandma.
292.  Grandma's rose garden.
293.  The way grandma loved to read "Women's World" magazine.
294.  The way grandma loved her "Blue Hawaii" perfume on the heavy side.
295.  All the time spent gazing at, and rearranging, grandma's collection of tiny perfume sample bottles.
296.  The way grandma loved my babies.

297.  The way grandma loved my mom.
298.  The way my grandma loved me.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A - Z For Brenna Kay

Alrighty, it is Little Miss Brenna' turn to take over the blog and share her A-Z.  Perfect for me because (insert whiny voice here) I'm sick, my chest and back hurt, I'm sick, I have no appetite, which you know means I'm sick, and Brad is working all weekend.  And I'm sick.  So make sure to Lysol your computer screen really well after you read this in case any of these germs try to jump out at you.  Cause I'm sick.  Enough about goes Brenna:

Brenna's A - Z:

A.  Age: 13

B.  Bed size:  twin

C.  Chore you dislike the most:  cleaning the toilets.

D.  Dog:  Archie, Golden Retriever

E.  Essential start to the day:  waking up to my alarm.

F.  Favorite color: hot pink or blue.

G.  Gold or silver:  Gold.

H.  Height:  like 5' 3" or 4" or something.

I.  Instruments you play:  flute.

J.  Job title:  student

K.  Kids:  hopefully at least 2.

L.  Lives:  with my family at my cozy home.

M.  Mom's name:  Mommy or Leanne

N.  Nickname:  I used to be Cindy-Lu-Who, but nobody calls me a nickname anymore.

O.  No.

P.  Pet peeves:  When I have a plate of rice and the rice doesn't stay all clumped together, there are a lot of things but I can't think of anymore right now.

Q.  Quote from a movie: I don't have any that I can think of.

R.  Katie had no "R". 

S.  Siblings:  Alex and Beth.

T.  Time you wake up: 6:20.

U.  Underwear:  I prefer colorful and polka-dots.
V.  Vegetables you don't like: Carrots, broccoli, spinach.

W.  What makes you run late:  I don't usually run late.  I don't like to be late.
X.  X-rays you've had:  teeth and chest.

Y.  Yummy food you make:  Chocolate Chip Cookies.  A bowl of mini-wheats.  Top Ramen.

Z.  Zoo animal favorite:  Lions and monkeys.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A-Z for ABC

Katie recently did an A-Z post on her blog, and it was a lot of fun to read.  And I thought it would be fun to interview my kids and see what they would have to say about their own A-Z.

First up is the firstborn, my own ABC.  His honest to goodness real initials.  And, no, we didn't do it because we thought it would be cute.  Just worked out that way.

So I now turn this over to Alex for the A-Z:

A.  Age: 15

B.  Bed size:  full.

C.  Chore you dislike the most:  Pruning fruit trees.

D.  Dog:  Archie, golden retriever.

E.  Essential start to the day:  a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats.

F.  Favorite color:  blue and brown M&M's.  (He insisted on that answer.)

G.  Gold or silver:  No preference.

H.  Height:  Just barely taller than my dad.

I.  Instruments you play:  bassoon, tenor saxophone, piano, and 5th clarinet and baritone saxophone for pit orchestra.

J.  Job title:  student.

K.  Kids:  someday in the distant, far-away future.

L.  Lives:  happily, carefree, optimistic, in Olympia

M.  Mom's name:  Mom.

N.  Nicknames:  ALEX BRADLEY!!!!!!!

O.  Overnight hospital stays:  (he thinks this is stretching it for "O").  No.

P.  Pet peeves:  Oh, man, this is going to be a long list.  There can't be any stringy things on a banana, and they have to be about 75% yellow and 25% green; I have to have a towel under my bowl on the kitchen counter when I eat cereal; a chair scooted all the way up to my desk; not having any milk left over in my bowl when I'm done eating my cereal; Brenna's strands of hair in the shower; my sisters clothes on the bathroom floor; reading a paperback book that has too stiff of a cover to see the words on the very inside and not being able to hold the book open with one hand.  That's enough for now.  Oh!  And being able to remember pieces of a dream but not remembering the whole story.

Q.  Quote from a movie:  "Somethin' ...tsk... reaaaaaal nice."  ~ Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation.

R.  Katie had no "R". 

S.  Siblings:  Brenna and Beth.

T.  Time you wake up:  6:15 but my clock is 8 minutes ahead so I can sleep in 8 minutes after my alarm.

U.  Underwear:  (Mom is answering this one for him to preserve his dignity.  My favorite pair was the Winnie the Pooh and Piglet pair he wore at age 2.  He was potty training, so he always ran around the house in nothin' but a t-shirt and Pooh underpants.)

V.  Vegetables you don't like:  Brussell sprouts are disgusting.  Scalloped Potatoes.  The little shreds of carrots and red things in a salad.  Cabbage.

W.  What makes you run late:  Procrastinating.

X.  X-rays you've had:  Teeth and ankle and an ultrasound of my heart.

Y.  Yummy food you make:  Scrambled eggs and Spam breakfast burritos.

Z.  Zoo animal favorite:  The tropical fish aquariums.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Psalm 30:5, The Costco/Tasty Tuesday Version

I've been harboring some anger at Costco.  They caused me frustration and inconvenience.  Someone wearing a red vest and a Costco nametag was rude to me.  And I decided to stay a little irked.  It's the coupon issue.  It's the way the lady handled the coupon issue.

But I just am incapable of staying angry with them.  Incapable.  Because today I saw evidence of their value.  They showed me the love.

A day when things were back-to-back.  A day that gave me an hour and a half of a quiet house with a choice:  use the time to get everything in motion for this evening, or get my 5-mile run in.  (Did you know if you mistype the letters in "run" you can spell "urn"?  I think there is a message in that.)

So my choice was to run.  I ran and got cleaned up in time to get Beth to the pool.  Then came home with ten minutes to get some dinner on the table before Alex left for his lesson and then straight to a concert.  Dinner?  That's where my love of Costco was renewed.  I keep one of these in the freezer for these occasions:

Two hours in the oven and the house smells like dinner, food that everybody happily eats is ready, and I spend next to no time in the kitchen.  Perfect.

So there's my Tasty Tuesday suggestion for you.  Grab one of these sweet things and keep it in your freezer.  When you have a "what-am-I-going-to-feed-these-creatures-that-are-perpetually-hungry-when-I-can't-be-in-the-kitchen-today" moment, you've got yourself something to fall back on.
And with that, I give you Psalm 30:5, the Costco way:

"For my anger lasted only a few days, but this flavor lasts a lifetime; weeping over new coupon rules may remain for a night (or a few), but lasagna-rejoicing comes in the hurried evening."


And now off to another concert.

***I've got to add this:  When you publish a post, it shows you a Successfully Published! page, and on that page are some links to ads that they think you may be interested based on some key words in your post.  This post?  An ad for anger management popped up!  I think that's just hysterical.  I'll consider it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Multitudes on Monday ~ So Much Thanks, So Little Time

Wacky day today, and just the briefest of windows to hop on here and list some gift of thanks!  Happy Monday!!

271.  A person's willingness to step outside of a comfort zone and away from where she would rather be in order to shine the light on hope.
272.  Holding my husband's hand in church.
273.  That my husband's job is one that allows us to see each other everyday.
274.  Initiated conversations.
275.  The promise that hope does not disappoint:  Romans 5:5.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lookin' Cute and Playin' Flutes

This weekend was Brenna's much-anticipated solo/ensemble festival.  She has been working tirelessly on a duet with her very dear friend.  Those two have practiced and practiced and practiced this song.  Over and over and over.  And over again.

They went to the mall on Friday to find matching skirts for the occasion.  And they looked mighty adorable, if I do say so myself.  (It is so funny to me to watch the different approaches that Alex and Brenna take to these.  I have to look Alex over head to toe, ask him if he has white socks on with his dress shoes, etc.  With Brenna, I have to do nothing but offer the occasional assistance with hair curling.) 

Friday night also brought a dress rehearsal for all the parents.  They were able to practice playing for an audience, playing through distractions, and containing the nervous giggles.

It all paid off on performance day.  No nerves, and they did a stellar job.  One thing that made the adjudicator chuckle was that there were a couple places where they were out of tune, but they were perfectly out of tune together.  Yep, they stick together, these two.  Even in the sharps and flats.

Way to go, Brenna!!  You once again let hard work lead you straight to success!  I'm so proud of you!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Katie Sharing Her Hope

If you have been following Katie's journey from her blog, you may just be interested in actually hearing the physical voice behind the amazing written words of this sweet lady.  She is back in Washington sharing her story this weekend at church.  It's not easy to get up in front of a gazillion people, and Katie has done this twice now with such grace and composure.  Go onto her blog and she has posted the link to watch the services live.  You'll be blessed, your gratitude for LIFE will be renewed, and you will be inspired to live with HOPE!

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Conversation I Want To Remember

I'm waiting patiently to be taken out for dinner.  Pizza is in the oven for the kids, we are waiting to retrieve one more so we can go out alone.  While the pizza is baking, we started the back and forth conversation of where to go eat.  Food is secondary, I really just want time alone.  But as Brad threw out options, I told him where I most wanted to go, the simplest of simple places, almost always my pick.  He happily agreed to take me there.  I sat down to squeeze in a few minutes of reading my book to help the time pass. 

As he stood in the kitchen thinning out the receipts in his wallet, I threw out a simple question:

Me:  "Aren't you glad you married such a simple girl?" (Referring to my dining choice.)

Him, with a grin, "Mmm-hmmm."

Me: "But then I guess you wouldn't have fallen in love with me if I wasn't a simple girl."

Him:  "I would still have fall in love with you."

Me:  "I am a simple girl, aren't I??"

Him, with eyebrow raised, "Not necessarily."

There is a volume of information on marriage in that conversation.  Simple to one, oftentimes perplexing to the other.

Now off for an evening of hand-holding, uninterrupted conversation, eye contact, and simple food.  Perfect.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tasty Tuesday ~ Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

My, oh, my...this is a mighty fine pie!  Did you celebrate Pie Day yesterday?  Pi Day.  March 14, 3-14, 3.14159whatever, whatever, whatever.  All a good enough reason for me to eat pie!  I was looking for an easy one for Alex to make for his chemistry class.  They got extra points of some sort if they brought in a pie on 3-14.  That's my kind of teacher!  I found this one, and it, of course, shouted out to me and begged me to give it a try.  So he made one and I made one.  Yummy. 

A giant chocolate chip cookie held up by a pie crust?  Yes, please.  What's not to love???

My only issue with it is that my chocolate chips all settled to the bottom during baking.  It wasn't an issue that prevented me from loving this in any way at all.  I will eat this with sunken chips any day.  But I did talk to my very wise baking friend, who even is part of a pie guild (!), and her advice was to beat the heck out of the batter before adding the chips which creates a lot more air in the batter which should hold the chips in place better.  Or something like that.  I tend to disregard unnecessary information the older I get.  I think my memory card is getting full or something.  So I stopped absorbing the information at the point that she suggested beating the heck out of the batter.  Can do.  Will do next time.  And there will be a next time for baking this pie.  It has officially made it into the regular rotation of foods my brain craves.

And I will add this important breaking news:  buying your chocolate chips at Costco?  (NO?  Well, you should be!)  There is a current coupon for Nestle chips in the coupon book.  Today I went to Costco and bought my chips, as well as several other items from their coupon book.  And after checking out, my total came up and I asked her if she could scan in the coupon book.  And ya know what?  They no longer will do that.  Unless you bring in the coupons yourself, you are out of luck.  I had no idea.  I stopped bringing mine long ago because they told me I didn't need to.  As she swiped my card through she told me I could bring my coupons back and get a price adjustment.  Well that's nice of you.  You'd think there would be a little learning curve grace period, but apparently not.  When I told her I had no idea that was now required, she said, "Well, we got in trouble for doing it that way and now we are required to collect your coupons.  The fact that the coupon is required is written in the small print on the back of your coupon."  It took everything within me to not be sarcastic and rude.  So, if you haven't encountered the new policy yet, I hope I've saved you some trouble.  Bring your coupons.

Did you think this was a post about a pie recipe?  Me too.  I guess I better get to it...

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

9-inch deep dish pie shell
2 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cups butter, softened
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup nuts (optional, walnuts or pecans)

Beat together butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla, beat well.  Add flour and "beat the heck out of it".  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.  Spoon into the crust and spread evenly.

Place on a cookie sheet covered with foil if you want to save your oven from potential overflow stickiness.  Bake pie at 325 for about 60 minutes.  I had to go about another 5 minutes to get it where I wanted it.  There should be no jiggle left in the middle when it's done.  That's my goal too.  I wish all it took for me was 5 more minutes.

sunken chips and all, I love you.

This pie is best when it's a little warm.  Mmm.

This picture was not intended for this post, but it sure does fit.  Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie is JOY in a crust.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Out of the Fullness of My Heart ~ Multitudes on Monday

Yesterday I wrote a long post all about how full my heart is.  Filled up.  Filled with compassion for all the tragedy that has happened, and all the suffering and uncertainty that continues.  Full of fresh wisdom.  Full of friendship love.  Full of awe at what the Lord is doing in people I love.  Full of so much, and every single thing fills me further with gratitude.  So thankful that I am submitted to a God that is full of compassion and love and mercy.

So very much to be thankful for, especially at a time like this.

251.  Police, firefighters, military personnel and volunteers...all the emergency responders who rush in during a tragedy.
252.  Survivors
253.  Technology that allows us to have knowledge, images that let us share the tiniest piece of grief.
254.  Images and technology that spur us to give, no matter how big or small, to help the hurting.
255.  My home, with in tact electricity, water, heat, safety.
256.  My pillow.
257.  Taking home a word.
258.  Old words made new again.
259.  Confirmation.
260.  The excitement of knowing that He is directing my thoughts and plans.
261.  A friend that has travelled the road with me a long time.  (That sounds better than "old friend", right?)

262.  A new friend.
263.  My children praying for each other.
264.  Hope renewed.
265.  Doing practical things is much more than just doing practical things.
266.  Significant moments are just as significant as significant events.
267.  Peace and power combined.  They go together beautifully.
268.  I can "Go in peace", regardless of my circumstances.
269.  "You sure have been cooking good food this week!"  A comment from a 10-year old that made me grin from the inside out.
270.  Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie.  Yum.  On Pie Day.  Well, Pi Day.  Happy 3-14...go bake a pie today!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Heart Is Full

What a whirlwind these last few days have been.  So much happening simultaneously, I don't even know where to begin.

I guess the most appropriate place would be acknowledging the horrific destruction in Japan.  Unimaginable as a reality.  The images are just too much to take in, and it's heartbreaking to think of people living and dying in the midst of that.  An earthquake powerful enough to shift the earth on it's axis?  Puts a lot of things into perspective, doesn't it?  Say and prayer and give.  Give.

I had the great pleasure of going to hear Beth Moore teach on Friday and Saturday.  Good friend time, good worship time, good learning time, good hearing time.  I have yet to process and absorb everything, but it was so impactful.  I heard confirmation in truckloads.  Things that have been stirring around in me were addressed specifically.  Even my last blog post about significance?  All that was just the Lord tuning my ear to the right pitch for this weekend.  Because I heard some things loud and clear.  I was primed and ready to hear.  At one point, I looked at Marlece with big tears in my eyes and said, "I think I could go home now and feel quite filled up!"  And that was in the first hour.  If you've never read anything from her or done one of her Bible studies, you really would be blessed to do that.  She is hysterically funny and passionate and just a lovely, lovely lady.  She's my second favorite Beth.  My third favorite would be Laura Ingalls, who of course you remember was called "Beth" by Almonzo.  There I go again on a tangent....I haven't the energy to fight it.

Home Saturday for an hour and a half of the most glorious mid-day sleep I have had since the last time I enjoyed mid-day sleep.  And that was....I can't even remember when.  It was just what I needed, complete with a cat curled up beside me.  As soon as I was up from the nap, before even the cobwebs had cleared, Brad and I left for a run.  And let me tell you, Spring is truly in the air!!  Granted this was late afternoon, but there was no cold bit to the air!  We had some rain, but it was not stinging cold!!  We even saw a beautiful, full rainbow.  And a first occurred.  A FIRST that I will not soon forget.  We were almost 4 miles in when I had to use the facilities.  Urgently.  I've often wondered what would happen in this situation.  We were prepared to run down to the closest business, about a mile away, and I wasn't so sure I would make it.  And then....a sight I NEVER DREAMED would thrill me:  a PORTA-POTTY!!  I have had porta-potty issues as far back as I can remember.  Don't even get me started.  Some in my life know how serious I am about avoiding porta-potties for myself and everyone I care about.  But on this run?  It truly was a blessing from heaven.  I gave no thoughts as to who had been there before me.  I gave no thoughts as to any germ or disease or anything that I may encounter upon opening the door.  Nope.  I was as glad to see that porta-potty as I am glad to see that there's a coupon for chocolate chips at Costco right now.  Thrilled.

Home for showers and some dinner and then off to Repossess.  What a full way to end the day.  A day that started with 6300 women singing "How He Loves".  I was really struck by how many silver and white haired ladies were there this weekend.  It was so sweet.  I love that at that age they are still desiring to learn, grow, and receive more and more of the love of God.  And during that particular song, I was thinking about those ladies.  They must each have such a story of a lifetime of experiences, loss, and loves.  And to watch them scattered throughout this crowd, singing about being personally loved by their God.  It was a beautiful moment.

Good times with sweet friends, Rachel & Marlece

The other Beth in my life.

And then, late in the day watching hundreds of teens singing the same song?  It was very full-circle, very touching.  A love that spans generations.

Finally home, my son then sat and told us story after story of all he'd experienced during the day.  We were up until 1:30 in the morning, hearing stories of a young man learning to reach out to people who need some hope.  He walked around downtown with three others and just talked to people, reached out to them, let them know they were loved by God.  One man was a recovering addict who was only 7 months sober, navigating a brand new life.  Alex was able to pray for him, and that story was a precious one.  And another young homeless man, who Alex had three conversation with.  He had left to go back to meet his group and decided to turn around and go have one more conversation.  So he approached him again, called him by name, and asked if he wanted to invite Christ into his life.  The man eagerly said he did, and Alex prayed with him again.  He then sprinted the 2 blocks back to his bus to get this young man a Bible.  Just hearing Alex describe the look on this man's face when he received the Bible, the way he clutched it to his chest, the way he makes me so thankful for a young man that is learning to truly see every person for who they are:  and individual that is dearly loved by God.  All the other stuff is just stuff.  At our core, we are all the same.  We all just need His love.

And then that doggone lost hour of sleep?  I was good for nothing today. Nothing but reflecting on so much goodness crammed into one weekend.  My heart is full.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Significance Factor

Oh, significance and the question of its presence.  Why does this topic always seem to float back through me from time to time?  I know why.  But I am quite irritated by it today.  I don't even want to give it the dignity of my thoughts, much less my words.  I do know, however, that my thoughts seem to focus when I get my thoughts out and turn them to words.

The questions come out in the flood of thoughts when I am scrubbing pots from last night's dinner.  It was 8:00 in the morning.  First load of laundry on, lunches packed, 2 kids off for the day, 1 sitting at the table eating scrambled eggs.  The packed dishwasher had been unloaded and was already being refilled.  The pans that had been soaking all night were on their way to being clean.  A bit of a "spinning my wheels" moment. 

Then off to the bus stop in the driving rain and wind.  Huddled under an umbrella with my daughter, holding onto the outside of the umbrella so it doesn't blow inside out, the umbrella doing a less than effective job at keeping the rain off.  The bus was late, compliments of the construction.  When the bus finally drove off, I hurried home to warm back up.

As I was battling through the rain, I was making a mental list of all I had to finish before I left for work:  getting dinner started so I could get it done easily tonight, squished between hosting extra kids after school today and getting off to a concert tonight, finishing the laundry and putting it away, cleaning toilets, bake off the last of the cookie dough for the kids to devour when they get home, vacuum....basically as much as I can cram in. 

From there my thoughts went to people I know who are doing really grand things.  Really grand.  Humbling grand.  And thus rose up the significance factor.  What am I doing?  I have the hopes of grandness, but in the meantime, I'm just doing the daily.  And my thoughts, of course, started in with all the things I am not.  Friends who have fallen away.  Family members that have rejected.  Things I'd love to finish, but can't even seem to start.  All reinforcing to me that I'm not enough.

And then, through that cloud of crap (I apologize, but I sat here and tried and couldn't come up with a more appropriate word), I started forcing those thoughts to submit to the truth.  The Truth. 

Everything I do in the "daily" is significant in the lives of those I love the most.  Even if it's just cooking their food and cleaning their clothes.  Throw on top of that my love, my support, my encouragement, my anything-I-can-offer-to-make-your-day-better, and I matter. 

And here's the truth that spoke so loud:  sometimes significance comes in events, and sometimes it comes in moments.   My significance is in moments.  Lots of little moments sprinkled through the daily.

Maybe it's just cooking a meal, just trying to keep my daughter sheltered from the rain at the bus stop, just the extra long hug at bedtime, just the hug and kiss as one hurries out the door, just the encouraging word spoken to a little one at school, just telling a little person who seems to really need to hear it that she's beautiful, just looking out for someone who may not be bringing lunch to school, just being positive and friendly to people who need it, just supporting my husband and doing my best to make him feel loved and respected and cherished...I could just keep going.

But maybe it's a lot more than "just".  Maybe all those moments of being significant add up to a whole lot of significance.  In my life, they do.

Maybe someday in my life I'll have a significant event.  But maybe the sweet spot to be is just living with the awareness of all the significant moments I am blessed to be a part of, daily.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Multitudes on Monday ~ Finishing the First Quarter

I'm going to get straight at it today, screeching into completing the first quarter of my 1000 Gifts:

229.  Quiet
230.  Bright sunshine on one side
231.  Fluffy clouds on another side
232.  Longer daylight
233.  Budding leaves on raspberry bushes
234.  Lingering piles of snow
235.  New recipes for old favorites
236.  Effortless forgiveness
237.  Disciplined forgiveness, daily
238.  Watching little duck bottoms sticking up out of the lake
239.  The sound and ripples of ducks gliding in to land on the lake
240.  A kind "good work" and thumbs-up from a stranger
241.  Dreams that inspire renewed prayer
242.  Watching a child discover the dream of an adventure
243.  Psalm 63:7,8
244.  A child that can make us laugh until our cheeks hurt at the retelling of a story
245.  Finding a perfect new bed for a very big kitty
246.  The smell of the coffee aisle at the grocery store
247.  Turning on the radio in the car and hearing a Mariner's game being announced!
248.  Knowing the truth that people may reject, but God ALWAYS accepts
249.  In every situation, there is something to give thanks for
250.  Sticking your nose inside a chocolate chip bag and taking a long, slow breath.  It truly relaxes me!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Consistently Giving Her Best Effort

I am going to happily shine the spotlight onto my littlest!  At the student recognition assembly earlier this week, Beth received her award for consistently giving her best effort.  Those are some sweet words to hear.  This year has not been a breeze in any way.  Being a fourth grader in a fourth/fifth split with a teacher that has very high expectations has brought its share of challenges.  I have seen this sweet one grow in so many ways.  And I love that, as hard as I've seen her work behind the scenes, she is being noticed by her teacher for that work as well.

This is a trip down memory lane for me:  Mrs. Currie was MY fifth grade teacher, and now my littlest is in her class!  And I swear on my beloved chocolate that this lady looks exactly like she did when she was my teacher!

These were the words written on the back of the certificate!  Lovely words to read about a truly lovely girl.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tasty Tuesday ~ Crock Pot Macaroni-N-Cheese

Here's another yummy (but more importantly easy) recipe for you!  This is a new one I discovered from a friend, and I will be making at again and again.

Yesterday was our first time eating it, and 4 out of 5 Carlsons gave it a big thumbs up.  The 5th?  He prefers macaroni and cheese from a box.  And he also likes Spam, so take his review for what it's worth.  And, while we are on the topic, let's talk about that macaroni and "cheese" in a box.  I'm just feeling a need to say that the sight and smell of that makes me physically gag.  Gag.  Like for real, gag.  Even the color.  That is a color of orange that should not be in a food.  It looks like more chemical than food.  Blech. 

Anyway, this recipe is not that.  But it's yummy, and can be tweaked and added to as much as your little heart desires.  Again, no accompanying pictures, because I was crazy hungry when it was time to eat last night.  And it just didn't seem right to let a 30-second picture stand in the way of me and my dinner.

Crock Pot Macaroni-N-Cheese

8 oz. elbow macaroni, cooked al dente and drained
prefer curly twisty pasta?  live on the wild side and use that!
1 can (12 oz.) Evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
(or use seasoned salt in place of both)
4 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided
as per my usual, I used my favorite cheddar/jack

Spray crock pot with non-stick spray.  Add evaporated milk, milk, eggs, salt and pepper.   Whisk together with a fork.  Add drained pasta and 3 cups of the cheese.  Mix together well.  Top with remaining one cup of cheese.  Cook on low for 5-6 hours.

I added chopped ham to mine and it was delicious.  I have on my radar to try it with chicken, and then with some taco meat.  I think taco mac-n-cheese would be great!

You could also add in some broccoli as it cooks.

Mine seemed a bit dry at the end of the 6 hours, so I heated some milk and added that in.  I may have also added a couple tablespoons of butter, I love the way butter melts into hot pasta.  Makes me happy.  With those additions, it was perfect.  Make sure to not cook your pasta too long, because it's going to be cooking longer in the crock pot and will get too mushy.