Tuesday, December 23, 2008

An Early Proposal

During a visit with some dear friends yesterday, the oldest boy who is Liv's age, rushed to the door on my way out to ask me a question. It went something like this:

Um..Jen, I wanted to ask you something!
Ok, what is it?
Um, when I get older, if I can't find someone I love more, I was hoping that I could marry Liv.

Of course, I told him that I would run it by Mr. Wieber.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Snow Day

Kids are different in the snow. More daring. More excitable. More creative. And in Holland's case: More cold. She is not a huge fan of being cold and is quite miserable every time we venture out in the Winter. Nonetheless, she did seem to have fun this year building a snowman in front of our home. Liv, on the other hand, LOVES to be cold and has ever since she was a baby. We got chastised so many times while touring Europe with her in December 2003. She was 2 months old and though clothed and blanketed, she was not wrapped up enough to bystander's expectations. In my head, I remember thinking..."Ok....I'll wrap this little one up like a mummy, and you can enjoy the aftermath: wild, uncontained screams, and thrashy kicks that could knock your lights out. Liv is still this way. We have a rule where she must wear clothes to the dinner table. And it's written on a sign. In the car, if it's too hot from the heater blaring, she pants like a dog and can barely get out the words, "my mouth needs air! My breath is so hot!", as she frantically attempts to roll down her window. In the bathtub, a common argument is: Mo-om! It's too co-old! No it's no-ot! It's too HO-OT!!!!

So, snow days can be challenging. Liv wants to run out with sandals and a t-shirt, while you can't get enough clothes on Holland.

Even when you do, the poor thing will be holding up the side of the garage door, seeking some sort of sheltered solace, while looking at Liv and all her friends play in the snow. Not sad. But glad that it's not her out there.

Last weekend, the girls got to play with their friend Mary at Maddie and Jake's house. They had a ball. Well, Liv did. :o) What we learned from this snow day: Cookie sheets and snow shovels can successfully lead double lives as snow sleds!

And yesterday, we played in our own front yard. I call this our first successful snow day...Holland is smiling!

And here is Grandma, placing the ninja cap upon our snowman's head. I've never met a ninja yet who wears suspenders. Well, at least I've never met one who would admit to such a fashionable accessory choice.

Merry Christmas week to you all!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Healthy Crockpot Soup

I have very few soups that I love to make and my favorites all happen to be cream-based. This is unfortunate, as I have to stay pretty clear of milk most days, so I don't make them very often. I haven't been able to find a healthy soup I really love. Finally, though, I have found one! And the bonus is that it's super easy and quick to make. It also features my most favorite vegetable of all: Green Chiles, or Pablano Peppers. This is not a spicy soup, though you can make it so by choosing hot chiles instead of mild. Brian spiced his portion with his usual half cup of Tabasco. I added some cilantro to my soup as a garnish. And the ultimate test: The girls even liked it! This was found in my Southern Living: Our Best Easy Weeknight Favorites Cookbook.

Green Chile Soup
1-1/2 lbs skinned and boned chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 (4.5) cans chopped green chiles, undrained
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, undrained
1 (14.5 oz.) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
2 C. water
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed

Toppings: sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped avocado, sliced green onions.

Place first 10 ingredients in your slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 4-6 hours, or LOW 8 hours. Serve soup with desired toppings. Yield: 10 cups.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thanksgiving Adventures

We headed to Birch Bay, Washington for Thanksgiving. We got a late start, as Brian ruptured his bicep tendon and we had to get MRI's and doc appointments done before we could go. He also fixed our Blazer's intake manifold gasket with a left hand and the help of his priceless friend, Scott. Once there, we had a great weekend visiting with Brian's sister and her family, Grandma Jan, Aunt Charlie, and Grandpa Phil. The girls logged in some much needed "cousin-time". We pulled into their driveway at 3am...this is usual for us to keep plowing through the drive. Well, actually, it's normal for Brian to do so. I get to rest my eyes in the passenger seat. I know...I'm spoiled. Anyhow, we pull in and tell the girls where we are. Now, normally, we would need about 5 whole minutes to get the groggies out, stretch, and then begin to comprehend our surroundings. Not this time. Giggling erupted and shouts of, "There here! There here!" could be heard from Holland. Inside, the house, a celebration enused. At Mark and Tami's house, EVERYONE celebrates at 3am when you arrive. It's really a very nice way to enter into a visit.

While there, we:

Snuggled with bunnies.

Went on a nature hike.

Got Clean.

and Went sledding. Without snow.

I also got trounced 3 whole times while playing board games with my nephews. Be afraid boys. I will come back to redeem myself and get back my honor.

On the way back, we stopped in Yakima to surprise my parents with a quick visit. They are there for a brief stint while my dad fills in as a P.T.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Thank you Lord, for providing...for also helping us realize that all we truly need is YOU. All other is extra, and for that we greatly praise!

“Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling so that we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as… served the company almost a week… Many of the Indians came amongst us and… their greatest King, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought… And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God we are…far from want.”

~ Edward Winslow, Plymouth, Massachusetts, December, 1621
Christian, Pilgrim

and now...on to a subject quite scrumptious:


I have an enormous sweet tooth....and cookies are my enemy during the holidays. I often have a bad attitude towards them because I can't stop eating them! However, I do realize that cookies are without a heart, and therefore a conscience, so I am trying to put my grudge aside and indulge a bit...and try on moderation this season...as it may actually be the first time ever that I accomplished something so difficult for me! I'm going to try reverse psychology and decide to let myself have some, and in doing so, hopefully I will get my fill after only one helping. :o)

That said, I want to share my absolute favorite cookie with you. (Actually, it's a tie with my other fave, snowball cookies....which I received one year from my sweet friend Shannon...four perfect snowballs tucked between sugar scented tissue, waiting for the indulger to, well, indulge. The indulger was myself, and I did consume them before any of my other family got a whiff of what was happening. And, no, I do not feel the smallest tinge of guilt...only glee. They were that good.) :o)

I received this recipe a long while ago from my friend, Jade. We met at the Outback 11 years ago where we were both waitresses. She is an amazing person, full of triumph over life and human struggles, hard-earned wisdom, and humorous honesty. She no longer lives close, so now I am especially fond of these cookies, as I remember her sweet hospitality. You couldn't be in her kitchen without being offered a bite of something...some elegant quiche, peach cobbler, or on one particular day, ginger cookies.

If you love ginger snaps, you will love these. If you don't love ginger snaps, you will love these. AND each year, in anticipation of making these, I mistakenly buy shortening, because they stay soft for DAYS. I am quite shocked each year, to be reminded that they are made with all butter, and not an ounce of shortening! Rich and caramel-y, I like to make the dough and keep it in the fridge during the holiday weeks, to pull out and make an impromptu batch. Even my husband, who is a cookie connoisseur and who once wooed me with a whole batch of the most amazing chocolate chip/butterscotch chip/oatmeal cookies and sent them across 2 states, agrees that these are some amazing cookies!

Ginger Cookies

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine dry, then set aside:

4-1/2 C flour

4 tsp ginger

2 tsp baking soda

1-1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp salt

Cream Together:

2 C sugar (I use half white/half brown)

2 eggs

1/2 C molasses

1-1/2 C butter

Then, add 1/2 of the flour mixture at a time. Mix well.

Roll in 3/4 C coarse (or Raw) sugar before baking. (This is a must! Do not substitute the raw sugar!)

Bake for 10-12 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet. Do not overbake.

Makes 4 dozen.

Enjoy! And put praise at the forefront of your lips!

Monday, November 17, 2008

My brother, the artist

That's how he's referred to in our family. My brother, Tim is an artist in every form. And a talented one at that. People: real and imagined, as well inanimate objects and photographs take on mathematical shapes in his mind and his paintings clearly illustrate this view. His style has changed throughout the years. I really dig his new line of paintings! These are a few of my recent faves.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Lobsters: More Than Just Pretty Faces

We took a small trip last weekend to Twin Falls to visit with our sweet friends, Mauricio and Anna. While there, they treated us to Chinese food. As you know, the girls do have a skewed opinion about fish and all other marine animals since Brian keeps up quite the tank in our home, but this even caught us off guard:

As soon as we walked in, the girls spotted the tank in the front, filled with lobsters. Holland ran as fast as her little legs would carry her, hopped up on the stool, and breathed, "Look at the lobsters!" Their GORGEOUS!!!!" Then Liv hopped up and began explaining that people actually eat those gorgeous lobsters.

"......., then they take them out and make them delicious. Then you eat them!"

This reminds me of another time, while dining at the Olive Garden, when Liv exclaimed, "There are a lot of waitresses here!" I was just about ready to explain to her that the word "waitress" is reserved for female servers only, when she finished her exclamation: "I saw some with beards!"

Kids make life so much fun.

Mauri and Anna are so hospitable each time we visit. The girls get to sleep in their bunk beds and are convinced, and have told people, that they built the beds just for them. A lunch, a treat and a craft is always waiting for them when we arrive and one time, there was even a lunch menu and the girls got to circle their choice. They are expecting their first child, a girl named Isabel, on December 31st. Please pray for a healthy delivery, and for continued health until then. Anna is the happiest expectant mom, ever. She is so positive and so nurturing to her baby already! They are going to be wonderful parents. Here are some pics of our time with Mauri and Anna:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thanksgiving Jello

For the past 4 Thanksgivings, we have joined our dear friends Troy and Chelsea, and Damie and Stephanie and their children to give thanks. It's an open invite, so some years there are other families who join in the fun. And it's topped off with games like cranium, or Twister. We look forward to it every year and have such a grand time. But there is something I must confess: Our Thanksgiving fun is somewhat marred by the rigid rules enforced by our friend (let's use the letter T, to protect his name), T.

T is very adamant that the Thanksgiving menu be traditional, pure and simple. No spin-offs on the traditional pumpkin pie...no gluten free stuffing (thank goodness for that one!), and definitely NO replacing the turkey. It doesn't even matter when we tell him that the first Thanksgiving table was adorned with not turkey, but venison or wild fowl. It went further last year, as the place cards featured the traditional pilgrim attire for each man and woman. I think we were actually asking ourselves: Are we supposed to go home and change? Even so, I must say, this "rule" makes Thanksgiving even more fun for a couple of different reasons:

1. We get to tease him.

2. I've always liked the challenge of perfecting a certain dish, and having set parameters to go by.

Even so, I have to admit to feelings of smugness, as I have subtly added in a family favorite to this feast for 2 years in a row now...and thus, it is now considered part of the Traditional Thanksgiving Feast. I've even tricked myself into believing that The pilgrims were smitten with jello. Is it really that far-fetched?

This recipe is from my sister-in-law Tami. I'm not sure when she created it, but she did! She amazes me with her culinary creativity. In fact, one of my favorite gifts from our wedding, was a stack of 30+ handwritten recipes from her! This one was included:

Thanksgiving Jello

1 .6oz package of cranberry jello (raspberry is great if you can't find cranberry)
1 small bag of fresh cranberries, crushed in a blender or food processor
1 small can of mandarin oranges
2 C. cool whip

Directions: Add 2 cups of boiling water to jello. Stir until dissolved. Add 1/2 C. mandarin orange juice (drained from can), and 1-1/4 C. cold water to jello. Let it sit in fridge until syrupy, not quite set. Then add 2 cups coolwhip, oranges, and 1 cup (or to taste) of the crushed cranberries. Stir well and pour into bowl. Refrigerate until set.

Go now and get the ingredients!!! This is a MUST. It's so good and kids love it, too. It's also a great replacement for the traditional cranberries. :o) Try it this Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 10, 2008

1 Corinthians 13

God's message on Love. It's such a well known passage. Many of us can recite it. I often times will become desensitized by hearing the same passage over and over, and sometimes I feel like I've been given a breath of fresh air, to hear a well-loved passage read in a different translation. In this translation, I felt it was easier to find the ways in which I wasn't showing love. For that reason, I feel the need to reread it often, as sort of a self-check.

Here it is:

1 Corinthians 13, The Message:

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.

Love doesn't strut.

Doesn't Have a swelled head,

Doesn't force itself on others.

Isn't always "me first,"

Doesn't fly off the handle,

Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn't revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always.

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.

May God be with you today as you strive to be God's love to others!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

First Field Trip

This is a pic of our first field trip EVER! We went with a group from our church to the Botanical Gardens. As you can see, we biked there. It was a very sweet time with just the two of us. We had special lunches packed and we had a great time enjoying the scenery on the way.

Brian and I have decided to home school our girls. Liv is in Kindergarten this year. I never thought I would be a homeschool mom...but this year has been so exciting and I am loving every minute of it! I adore this picture because it trumps my earliest impressions of homeschooling. Home schooling is not about "dry" learning while being held captive at home. It's about learning and exploring and finding answers together. The sky's the limit! Who better to have a motivated interest in the education of our girls, than us? We have so many fun learning opportunities thanks to the library being less than a mile away, and being able to collaborate with several close friends of ours who are also homeschooling. I look forward to more treasured learning moments with my girls.

William Wordsworth

For years I've been captivated by the poetic meanderings of William Wordsworth. I think it may have started several years ago when I watched the movie, "Splendor in the Grass."
What though the radiance
which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass,
of glory in the flower,
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

-- William Wordsworth
It is named after one of Wordworth's famous poems. His words often leave you silenced at the end. His words flow effortlessly and resound in the heart. I usually find myself dissecting his poetry and finding my favorite stanzas or lines.

For instance:

“My heart leaps up when I behold A rainbow in the sky.”

These words remind me of our sweet Holland. Holland sees the world through beautifully colored glasses. In fact, one of her daily chores is to make sure all the shoes are lined up at the front door. She does this without fail, every day, in the shape of a rainbow. This really makes her happy and she can't wait to show me the "rainbow" she has created each day.

Also, Below are some of Holland's thoughts, spoken aloud. Her words never fail to make us smile. She is a giggly, charming, artistic little thing and we are so happy God gifted her to us!

Mom! Who painted our tree? (our tree's leaves had changed color).

Look, the moon is broken! I bet God will fix it. (when noticing a crescent moon)

My feet are dancing! I can't help it! (while listening to music)

God loves me. He paints the sky pink every night.

Mom! Look at my big rainbow! (showing me her rainbow shaped creation using our shoes by the front door).

Another that reminds me of Holland:

"Fluttering and dancing in the breeze".

Every morning, first thing, Holland asks if she can dance with me.

(contented sigh) I love being a mom!!!

I really like this picture of my friend Chelsea and her daughter, Mary. I think this line of Wordworth's captures it perfectly:

“Wisdom is oftentimes nearer when we stoop than when we soar.”

You can bet, by observing this picture, that a lot of learning was taking place on Mary's part :o). I love it that Chelsea got down to look Mary in the eyes and talk quietly with her. Wisdom. Love. Teaching.... Captured. This reminds me to have patience and love while serving. To be a servant, I believe, is God's highest calling. And in being so, we are definitely not promised glamor or riches. But the eternal benefit is priceless. We have so many opportunities to serve others in this life. And many of those opportunities do not require that we even leave our front door!

And me....this is my personal favorite:

"Fill the paper with the breathings of your heart."

So, I did.

Psalm 66:10

For you, Oh God, tested us; you refined us like silver.

Psalm 66:10

Batter my heart, three-personed God;
for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek
to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me,
and bend
Your force, to break, burn and make
me new.

-John Donne (1572-1631)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Lord, Our Sheperd.

Who is it that is your Shepherd? The Lord! Oh, my friends, what a wonderful announcement! The Lord God of heaven and earth, and Almighty Creator of all things, He who holds the universe in His hand as though it were a very little thing. He is your shepherd, and has charged himself with the care and keeping of you, as a shepherd is charged with the care and keeping of his sheep. If your hearts could really take in this thought, you would never have a fear or a care again; for with such a Shepherd how could it be possible for you ever to want any good thing?

Hannah Whitall Smith (1832-1911)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

HP Cubicle Maze

Every year on October 31st, we visit Brian's work to trick-or-treat at the cubicles. It's a clever idea.....it's warm, it's safe, no traffic, the candy comes from reputable sources, and we get to meet Brian's friends at work. Here's a pic of the girls before we head to Starbucks to get Brian his own treat before we meet him.

Here they are at the cubicles:

I think they should have cubicle mazes instead of corn mazes. Every year, I get lost. I seriously don't know how Brian finds his desk each day.

After our adventures at Hp, the girls came home and we got them ready for the Calvary Chapel Harvest Festival at the Fair Grounds. I am always impressed at the lengths Calvary goes to reach out to the community. Not only was the festival free and open to the whole city, but they also had huge bags of candy for each child, as well as tables full of pre-packaged cotton candy, popcorn, and bottles of water. Bibles, free, were stacked on another table. There were at least 4 different jumping/climbing structures and a whole room full of games and prizes. The kids had such fun and we got some much needed socializing in at the same time. Good times.

The best part of the day, though, was some great news we got from our friends, The Hughes. Their baby, Mae Violet came into this world! I can't wait to meet her!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


When attempting to teach youngsters kickball, it's important to remember that it's not all about winning. In fact, kids this age aren't the least bit concerned with who gets the trophy. Liv, Holland, and Mary had a kickball lesson today. Several times, these sweet gals just decided they were done running bases after only second base, and instead veered off to play in the dirt. Even so, I do think they learned a few things today.

For example:

It's definitely cool to play kickball wearing striped socks.

Base location: Make sure players know where the bases are before the start of the game.

They were taught how to run the bases. (yes, this is something that actually has to be shown)

Remember, this is kickball. Make sure the kids know that:

And even if you miss the ball, apparently it's okay to run around the bases anyway:

Kickball is more fun when you smile (even if you sacrifice speed because of that smile):

Always, ALWAYS cheer and comfort your teammates.

It's polite and considerate to wait your turn.

And the dugout is definitely the most fun part of playing kickball.


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