To Read on the Journey

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Mr. Presidents

Brownie waffles topped with vanilla ice cream, sliced strawberries, and caramel syrup...
Happy Birthday Mr. Presidents!

These are SO INCREDIBLY EASY to make.

However,  I understand some one of you might be baking impaired (like me), so to make this as simple as it was to use your Easy Bake Oven  I'm giving you a paint  bake by numbers recipe.

#1. Get a box of this stuff (makes 9 individual waffle brownies).

#2. Follow the directions on the box to make brownie batter (goofy family members not a requirement for tasty results. "No Josie, egg whites hanging from your nose do not make this dessert more appetizing).

#3. Spray waffle iron with pam (you MUST spray iron each time you add batter), add brownie batter, wait 4-5 minutes, then remove waffle (seriously 4-5 minuets! No more waiting 40 minuets for the whole batch to be done. I love instant brownie gratification).

#4 Top with ice cream (if you're lactarded like me do not forget to take your lactose pills), sliced strawberries, caramel or chocolate drizzle, and ENJOY!

This lover of everything brownies was skeptical at first of whether or not I'd like the Brownie Waffle, but these did not disappoint,  I LOOOOOOOVVVEEDDDD it!  It was better than your standard brownie; moist and airy with just a bit of crunch on the edge.

I tried capturing a photo of Brownie Waffle consumption but I failed... they go FAST!

  Brownies in the waffle iron have left us wondering what else to make in the waffle iron...chocolate chip cookie waffles, pizza waffles, grilled cheese sandwich waffles, french toast waffles???
What do you think? 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Joy, Sugar, Josie, Celebrating

Joining Kristen with another week of joys! 

We've been in celebrating mode this past week, woot woot!

With just 4 days between Josie's birthday and Valentine's Day we've been doping up on sugar in excess.

As a result I have spent the past 3 days in detox, forbidding myself from sugary hits.  My recovery is going well (liar).  I have not snuck any Valentine's day candy (well just 2x), dipped into the horror moan chocolate (just 3x.. a day), or had.... who am I kidding!  I need re-hab! A 12 step program (which doesn't consist of the 12 steps it takes me to get from my seat to my secret stash of  mouthwatering sugary goodness).

Please Help (but not really)!

To kicked the week of sugar joy off with the usual birthday breakfast. 

Birthdays at our house always include a birthday breakfast. Birthday fairies (Michael and I) decorate the dining room the night before, after the kiddos have hit the sack.  These birthday fairies use to get up in the wee hours of the morning to make a delicious breakfast, until last year when this fairy had a the brilliant idea of serving  donuts and junk cereal for birthday breakfasts!

Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Puffs, Cap'n Crunch and sprinkle donuts are the sure fire way the to a 9 yr old's heart (I'll weasel my way into my kids' hearts any and every way I can).

(l-r: b-fast, Josie's b-day plate made in 2002, Spinner's recycled b-day decorations).

To continue Josie's birthday festivities she invited her favoritest friends Emma, Abby and Ginger for dinner at Chevy's followed by ROLLERSKATING!
(I love roller skating.  I have my own roller skates; a gift on my 34th birthday. I know I'm cool).
Watching Josie light up as she danced and sang and giggled with her friends blessed Michael and I.
Nothing satisfies a parent like seeing your kids be delighted in and live delighted.

Around here we don't go with the traditional birthday cake for birthday desserts. Instead the birthday queen or king gets to choose their dessert of choice. 

For the past 6 months Josie has informed us she wanted S'more Egg-rolls (which she made at cooking camp last summer) for her birthday dessert.

 Josie had me at S'mores (oh i loveydovedove s'mores).  Her dessert choice was DELICIOUS and has officially moved her into the favorite child position in this household (sorry Noah and Emilie).

According to Michael, S'more eggrolls are incredibly easy to make (yep, he made'm with Josie. He is the dessert man in these parts- and the breakfast man, bbq'r, salsa maker, tamale maker... yeah, I do very little).

So run don't walk to the store to get all the ingredients for your man to make you some S'more Egg-roll goodness.

 S'more Egg-roll  recipe by Guy Fieri (a man, and yet another reason why men should make them.  Your welcome).

Not included in the recipe, but a vital component is the consideration taken in attire being worn by the sous chef while preparing S'more Egg-rolls.  Sous Chef Josie is modeling the finest in S'more Egg-roll apparel ; pink tutu, little miss matched socks (i heart the guitar sock), and a spunky attitude to boot!  
Topping off our sugar coma week was
Valentine's Day.
We don't make a big fuss out of Valentine's Day.  We prefer to make a big fuss out of loving each other every day of the year.
However, I came across a lollipop recipe that looked easy enough for this not-dessert-making-mommy to attempt in the 2011 February issue of Family Fun magazine (added bonus was I already had all the ingredients).  These Sweetheart pops were painless to make, Josie was glad to give them out to her BSF friends.
Not quiet sure what to do for the 7th grade boy (to Valentine or not to Valentine that is the question),  I stole a Valentine's Day 2010 idea from my s.i.l. Lindsey (The Pleated Poppy Lindsey...uh huh I'm related to blog royalty), and cut some fabric (which Noah selected) squares, filled them with candy and tied them with ribbon for my Jr. Higher to hand out to his classmates. 

Finally another picture of Josie (told you she is my favorite...this week anyway)
This girl.  She is the definition of joy, from head to all 10 of her toes.

So there you have it my week of  joys.

Stay tuned for next week's joys which I'm anticipating will be interesting what with all the celebrating commencing (unless of course we go all out and throw a bash for George and Abe's birthdays) and the great sugar crash of February 2011 (yeah, they are monthly).

 What sugar yumminess have you consumed this week? 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Horror Moans"

It was Saturday a.m. and we were all cleaning the house. 
Emilie was on dusting duty when I discovered her in tears.  Was it the Pine Sol that had brought on the tears?  It couldn't be.  Of all three kids Emilie actually enjoys cleaning. The old saying "the way to my heart is through my stomach the vacuum cleaner" applies to both Emilie and I.
So why the tears?
"Emilie, why are you crying?"
She sobs.
Looks at me.
Then says the words I understand
"I'm just hormonal."

In that moment I ached for her; she's 11 for crying out loud.
She's barely begun to swing on the estrogen/progesterone/testosterone pendulum!
However,  one of us had to remain calm. Steady. SANE!!
This wasn't time for me to hop on the "woe is me" hormonal pendulum with her.
I had to think fast.
I needed to offer her a way out from being another casualty on this amusement-of-nobody hormonal ride. 
'Think Denise! Think....

I immediately lead her to my stash of Giradelli chocolate chips.
"Take a few" I said.
She took 3.
"No Emilie, 3 won't even take the edge off.  You must take half a handful, no more no less."
She looked at me puzzled.

"Listen closely Grasshopper, you must be wise with your chocolate consumption."
As she munched on her chocolate pieces and the attack of the hormones were subsiding I continued...
"Emilieson, a half a handful will take the edge off and make you feel giddy,
Do not.
Under any circumstances.
consume a whole handful of chocolate!"
She looked at me confused as the chocolaty sweetness eased her hormone induced sadness.
I imparted my wisdom from too many years of experience.
"Emilie, a whole handful of chocolate is deceptive.  You think you will feel good, but you will cross over to the hormonal dark side and feel worse than you did before!"
 You'll think 'I shouldn't have,' feel chocolate bloated (which is the most terrorizing kind of bloated), and more hormonal than you did before!"
Emilie looked at me, and shook her head in understanding (though she probably tuned me out some where between "a half a handful and Grasshopper," struck by the miracle that I was actually sharing my chocolate stash with her rather than taking in my great words/years of hormonal wisdom).

Ahhhh, time will tell. In the meantime it's time to stock up on CHOCOLATE!

Later that evening we girls were curled up on the couch together, watching some teeny-bopper show off Net-Flix when Emilie brought up the hormone saga from earlier that day.  Josie and I both thought we heard Emilie say, "horror moans."  We busted up laughing right there in the middle of  Sonny With A Chance..."baahahahaha horror moans!"  "Horror Moans, bahahahhaha" we wailed some more.

(Makes you wonder if the word hormones actually originated from "horror moans."
Horror: something horrible; strong fear, dread, or dislike.  Moan: a long low sound indicating pain or grief... I'm just say'n).

Turns out a good dose of laughter and a half a handful of chocolate is the perfect prescription for dealing with "horror moans!" 

For those of you with girls entering this wonderful dreaded season of life,  I highly recommend American Girl's Care & Keeping of You   which carefully leads and equips young girls who are maturing (totally beats being corralled in the gymnasium with sixty 5th grade girls to watch "the movie," followed  by receiving the brown paper bag filled with unmentionables that the 5th grade boys pester you about for the remainder of the school day.  Oh! the trama). 

For those of you who curl up in a ball in your closet and rock yourselves while  uncontrollable tears pour from the core of your mommy heart (this was me for  3 years at just the mention of my kids maturing or discussion of having "the talk") I recommend you start reading this book.

Monday, February 14, 2011

HaPpY VaLeNtInE's DaY!

plain white tees from old navy- $5
1 yard of valentine's material from jo-ann's fabric- $3
1 yard of iron-on backing for applique- $3
knee high socks (for sleeves), 40% off at jo-ann's fabric- $ 2.50 each pair
How stink'n 
aDoRaBlE my girls look in their Valentine's Day shirts- PRICELESS!

v-day collage

learn how to make your own here!

(originally posted February 2010.  Tip make the shirt(s) one size too big so they will fit for 2 years!) 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"God Planned Me"

(Revised from this post originally posted Oct 15th, 2010)

10 years ago today on Saturday, February 10th, 2001 I was at a 4 day retreat, 'The Walk to Emmaus."
My husband, Michael, had joined men from all over central California the weekend before on "The Walk," and on this weekend it was my turn to join 60 unfamiliar women, at an unfamiliar church,  in an unfamiliar small town, in hopes to (like the disciples on the "Road to Emmaus") come face to face with Jesus.

To be honest, I didn't think I would see Jesus.... really, I didn't want to.
I was mad at Him.
It had been almost 5 months since He took Caleb home.
I was sad.
I wanted my baby back.
In my belly.
I wanted to be looking forward to the month ahead when Caleb was due with joyful anticipation.  Instead I was dreading it; mourning every single day without my son.

During the afternoon on this day of "The Walk,"  all the ladies on the retreat were lead into a sanctuary.  There we were given the opportunity to meet with a pastor for counsel.  After counsel and prayer we would be anointed with oil (freedom).  We could sit in the pews for as long as we needed, but we could not leave the sanctuary until we met with the pastor.

I sat there alone for what seemed like hours.

I watched one woman after another get up and walk, but I would not.

 I sat in that pew and ignored God.
He did not ignore me.
He spoke.
Teary eyed I pretended to ignore Him.
He cradled me.
I wrestled Him to release me from His arms.
Still, He held me.
He cupped my tearful face in His hands.
I closed my eyes.
He spoke, "Beloved."
I cried..."Why? Why did you take my son? I want him back"
He listened.
Still unable to look at Him, I asked, "Will I always feel such grief?"
He whispered, "Your life will look different a year from now."
"What?" I asked confused.
He spoke again, "Your life will look different a year from now."

I sat and took in His words.

Finally, the last one in the sanctuary, I made my way to the altar.  There Wonderful Counselor spoke words of Comfort, Truth, Peace and Hope through the pastor, and I was anointed with oil. 

I returned home from "The Walk" assuming God meant my grief would change within the next year.  I  didn't think God meant for me to take His words literally.

Fast forward to a year later and the Wednesday before Sunday, February 10th, 2002.  I was 38 weeks pregnant with a little girl.  Michael and I met with our o.b. for a routine check-up and asked about being induced (something I'd never done or considered before).  The o.b. agreed. He scheduled us for the upcoming Sunday.

As we drove home, Michael and I discussed how odd it was that the dr. had chosen Sunday. We knew that was his day off?

"Why Sunday?" I asked. 

Then I heard a promise made to me almost a year earlier, "Your life is going to look different a year from now."

One year later
Sunday, February 10th, 2002 
at 2:58 p.m., 
(Josefine, "May God Add")
was born.  

How precious to me are your thoughts, 
O God! 
How vast is the sum of them! 
Psalm 139:17

Josie was not intended to be a replacement for Caleb, but the joy she has added to our lives has  replaced our grief.  
God was so generous to write her into our lives. 

Today, 10 yrs after seeing God on my "Walk to Emmaus" I am reminded that God is faithful.  OH, SO FAITHFUL!  That God is good.  SO INCREDIBLY GOOD. 
And I wrap my arms around my 9yr old Josie, and I tell her her story.  I read to her Luke 24- the  story of the "Road to Emmaus."  I tell her about tangible, real, living, moving God.   After I tell her her beautiful green eyes widen; I watch her embrace the Author, Who so wonder-fully wrote her into being... "God planned me,"  she says joyfully.   With tears I say,  "Yes, Josie, He had you planned all along." 

Shout for joy to the LORD,  all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. 
Psalm 100: 1-4
Happy 9th Birthday Josefine! 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

That's What It's All About

I'm joining blog friend Kristen and sharing my week of joys.  
I'm being intentional about  "entering His gates with thanksgiving in my heart, entering His courts with praise."
I've gotta get in there! 
Wednesday 2/02
Dinner with my God-sisters.

Thursday 2/03
Me: Josie, come sit with me, let me hold you for a while.
(Josie crawls up in my lap and I cradle my baby who is one week away from her 9th birthday.
I kiss her soft cheeks, close my eyes, press rewind on the years, and imagine us in a rocker almost 9 yrs ago).
Me: Your birthday is in a week.
Josie: I know.
Me: Don't grow up.
Josie: I have to.  You wanted to grow up when you were little.
Me:  Yes I did... but I had to grow up so I could be your mommy.
Josie: {pulls me close and whispers} I have to grow up so I can be "Elise Denise's" mommy.
Me:  Yes.  I hope you will feel about your children as I do about you.
Josie: {smiles} I will.
Me: You will love them so much it feels like your heart will explode.
Josie: {smiles} I know I will.

Friday 2/04
A much needed 1hr 42 minuet phone conversation with blog friend turned real life friend, Kristen.  She loves me.  I love her.

Watching videos from when the kids were little (birthdays always make me sappy). 

Friday Evening
Me: (after playing my guitar and singing for a bit) I love playing my guitar and singing.
Noah: It's your medicine, your "mommy medicine."
Me: How did you know?
Noah: I just know.

Later this message from Emilie was left for me on my cup of vanilla chai tea.

Saturday 2/05
Saturday morning breakfast and cartoons at the Hilliard's new home (so glad to finally have friends that live near by)! 

Getting acquainted with a new neighbor who found herself in our yard chasing her new dog.  I asked what brought her and her husband to live here in "the middle of no where."  She shared that her parents live up the road in one direction, and her sister (whose home she described) down the road in the other (I know this is a dull story, but I have a purpose for sharing it).

Sunday 2/06
After church (which is 45 min. from our home) we traveled to another town (another 25 min) to pick up a traction table we found on Craigslist (the traction table is for my back (woot woot!).  I used one in physical therapy and it brought me incredible relief).  We arrived at the home of an adorable  newlywed couple, Nick and Nicole (too cute) to purchase the traction table, and got to talking.  We discovered the sweet couple loves Jesus too (always a delight), and then got to talking about where we are from.  We mentioned that we lived outside of Oakhurst (not giving detail where because it is in "the middle of no where" and would be pointless).   Nicole mentioned her parents live near a lake by "the middle of no where. "  We discovered they live on our road!  CRAZY.   Nicole went on to describe her parent's home... SHUT UP!  That is when Michael and I looked at each other and said, "NO WAY!"   Are you putting two and two together blog friend??  Nicole's mother is the sister of the neighbor we just talked to YESTERDAY!  Of course we told Nick and Nicole all about the conversation we had the day before with her AUNT!  Nicole was  thrilled to discover we are her aunt and uncle's neighbors, and shared that they pray for them to come into an intimate relationship with Jesus.

So long story short (in case I lost you) we live in "the middle of no where," and met our also "live in the middle of nowhere" neighbor one day, and had a conversation... then we drove to another "middle of no where" town the next day only to meet the relative of our "middle of no where" neighbor!

And why? WHY?
Here's what I know... God is intimately woven/ intertwined/ and about the details of our lives.      
He has a purpose.
Something is up.
... Use us for your glory God.

Sunday Afternoon
SUPER EATING SUNDAY (a.k.a. Superbowl Sunday)!
The one day a year I can wear my barely used powder-puff jersey (I only signed up to play to get the jersey anyway) and devour...

Sliders, "pigskins" in a blanket, taquitos, tortilla chips w/ black bean salsa and/or guacamole, "don't give me that so so soda..i wanna rock'n rolla" Shasta Soda...followed by chocolate fondue with strawberries, bananas, angel food cake and marshmallows for dipping!

It's been 2 days and I still have a tummy ache.

Monday 2/07
A day with Ginger while the kids skied with daddy and the grandparents.  It is good to have a friend that takes you just as you are; under construction, and sees walls coming down in your soul, new rooms being added on, staircases being demolished.  It is good to have a friend that delights in the building process more than the finished product.

Tuesday 2/08
2 words...ROLLER SKATING!!
I'm anticipating joy as tonight kicks off  Josie's birthday (Feb 10th) festivities!

Let the Hokey Pokey begin!

Friday, February 4, 2011

One Body

We are God-sisters. 

We have the same Father.

We share the same history; "For God so loved the world HE GAVE His only son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life."

(Dinner at El Cid Wed. Feb 2, to Celebrate Tami's 49th birthday, and to honor our beloved sister,  Amy). 

Each one of them part of my body, which is His body.

Each one of us created in His image; created for His glory.

They have His eyes.  They walk by "faith not by sight," embracing the Good Shepherd's mysterious ways.  See in others what they cannot see in themselves- redemption.

They have His ears.  They listen.  Bear with one another.  They hear the beat of His heart, and walk to the rhythm of that beat; metronomes inspiring each other to "tune our hearts to sing God's praise." 

They have His mouth. They open their mouths and let the Lord out.  They speak truth over lives. 

They have His arms.  They draw you in close; wrapping one another in Comforter, Life-Sustainer,  Savior.

They have His hands.  They give what was never theirs.  They hold what is His.
They have His feet; beautiful feet that bring good news. News of hope and grace.

They have His knees.  Knees that fall to the earth in intercession.  Knees that fall to the earth in humility and weakness.  They Exalt the LORD, ask for wisdom from the One who gives generously, and hope in the LORD our God.

Like me, they fail.  Fail themselves, their families, each other.  But Grace never fails them.

We are God-sisters.

The blood of Jesus that was shed for us for the redemption of our sins flows through the veins of each of our souls.

In Him we are one body.

Part of each other.

 As one we feel the anguish that comes from the brutal loss of one of our limbs.

We ache for union with her; our dear God-sister.

We know that part of us will be forever missing this side of heaven.

This grieves us.

But despair does not own us.

We KNOW that "Death has been swallowed up in victory."

Jesus has overcome death!!!

Each one of us is  reconciled to God through the cross. 

We are whole.

We drink in the Spirit.

And our mourning turns to rejoicing.

We fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen.

Together, as one, in the One, we hope in the LORD,

And eagerly wait for the glorious times ahead.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Let This Blessed Assurance Control

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
What ever my lot you have taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though the devil will ruin, though trials may come

Let this blessed assurance control
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And He shed His own blood for my soul

It is well, with my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought

My sin not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul

It is well, with my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul

It is well with my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul

And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight

And the clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend
Even so, it is well with my soul

It is well with my soul

It is well, it is well with my soul