Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mexican Pantry Soup

(notice the paper bowl? Brian's installing our countertops, so I am sinkless, for a while. He's doing such a great job! :o)

It may be Spring, but it's still Soup Season in my book, with this snow, hail, and frigidness! I call this recipe "Pantry Soup" because it was my attempt to make dinner with only a moment's notice, using what we had in the pantry, and the fridge. It is actually my first attempt at making soup without a recipe, and I am so happy with how it turned out. It was healthy, tasty, and purposeful. I despise wasted leftovers! Feel free to omit or add certain ingredients....using your own leftovers. Some other ingredients I thought would be tasty: corn, garbanzo beans, beef. OR, to make a tasty seafood stew: clam juice/clams to replace the chicken and broth; white wine to replace the beer; old bay seasoning instead of cumin).

1 can 99% fat free chicken broth (or home-made stock with chicken pieces)
1 beer
1 C. water (optional...depends on how thick you like it)
1 7 oz. can of diced chiles
A can or less of diced tomatoes (I used part of the can the day before on our pizza)
1/2 can or so of black beans
1 C. cooked rice
1 can of shredded chicken (or 1 chicken breast cooked and diced)
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients into a pot and bring to boil. Simmer for 20 minutes or so. Garnish with any combination of the following: cilantro, tabasco, crackers/tortillas, sour cream.

Green Garden Thumbs

Since I am due with our little gal in August, I pretty much counted on no garden this year. I had visions of me planting and gardening while balancing on my belly, and then harvesting veggies in between feedings and life adjustment and decided to throw in the towel. That is, before the towel was before me. :o)

My wonderful mom-in-law, Jan, has come to live with us and I am ecstatic! Not only because of the more frequent runs I get to take along the greenbelt, the vacuuming I no longer have to do, the regular Friday date nights with Bri, or the help I get with household chores and the girls when Brian is under the weather. I am also ecstatic because the garden is tilled, fertilized, mapped out, and after yesterday, early veggies have been planted!

We took a trip to our favorite greenhouse last weekend and picked up spinach, radicchio, romaine, butterleaf, Sweet spanish onions, red onions, garlic, angelica, mint, asparagus, fingerling potatoes, red potatoes, and bakers. We planted them all yesterday and it feels so good to have the color green again in our garden. We also planted our blueberry bushes (inside still) and our indoor (for now) herb garden of angelica, morrocan mint, and Roman chamomile. Brian gets migraines at times, and Chamomile is known for their prevention.

Here is a pic of Liv and Jan posing with their green thumbs in front of our progress.

Here is a picture of Liv's garden. She loves to plant and dig. She also stuck in some pussy willows from our tree by the side. Did you know that pussy willows are the earliest signs of Spring? Hear that cold weather? I said, Spring!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cute Little Guy

There were a few requests to see Brian's kid pictures. I do have to say that he was an adorable boy (oh, okay...he STILL is). While I do think that Liv looks a lot like he did as a youngster, I was pretty blown away a couple months ago when I saw pictures of Brian's little sister Amy when she was a toddler. I'll have to steal some of those to post, because they look so much like Liv!

Here's Brian in elementary school. His mom always made sure he was fashionably dressed (just check out those suspenders!) and even pressed his jeans to create a nice little crease in the front. Thank goodness I don't have to live up to that! :o)

And this picture was taken by Brian's late Gramma Phyllis. She was such a sweet Grandma.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Coconut-Lime Chicken Soup

Ever since Brian and I tried the Chef-Special at Happy Fish (the chef creates whatever is his fancy) where the sushi was topped with slivered lime wedge paired with jalapeno, I've had lime on the brain. So when I found this soup recipe in The Better Homes and Gardens magazine while visiting the dentist, I just had to have it. So I began to tear out the page. Have you ever noticed how loud magazine pages actually are? I didn't. Not until I was alone in an empty waiting room, sitting 5 feet away from the receptionist, who glanced my way with every little agonizing tear. I did complete the task, even filled with a guilty conscience....I was, in fact, robbing every other person who came waltzing into the dentist after me, of a very delicious opportunity.

I'm happy to say that my white thievery did pay out in the end, as this soup is FABULOUS!

I had a very happy husband who immediately asked me to make it again. What made me even happier, is that it's extremely easy and fast to make.


Coconut-Lime Chicken Soup

1- 2.5 lb. deli-roasted chicken (I chose the lemon herb variety)
1-15 oz. can of unsweetened coconut milk
2 C. water
1/4 C lime juice (2 medium limes)
3 medium carrots, thin-sliced diagonally (about 1-1/2 C.)
1 T. soy sauce
2 tsp. Thai Seasoning blend (I didn't have this; see note below)
1/4 tsp. salt

Garnish ingredients:
Thai seasoning blend (optional)
Fresh cilantro
Lime wedges

1. Remove and discard skin and bones from chicken. Shred chicken. In a large saucepan combine shredded chicken with coconut milk, water, lime juice, sliced carrots, soy sauce, the 2 tsp. Thai seasoning, and salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, covered, 8 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender. To serve, sprinkle bowls of soup with additional Thai seasoning and cilantro. Pass the lime wedges.

Note: I did not have Thai Seasoning, but I do have a cupboard full of seasonings, so I decided to make do. Armed with google pages that outlined the ingredients for Thai spices, and the help of my Thai-food connoisseur friend, Steph, I managed to throw in some things that tasted great!

Here is my very unspecific ingredient list to use in place of the Thai Seasoning:
2 dashes coriander
2 dashes cardamom
3 dashes cumin
4 dashes red pepper
3 dashes cinnamon
2 dashes dill

Being a rule follower, I was very happy with myself for improvising the ingredient list. It makes me feel a little more fearless in the kitchen. :o)

Happy Birthday, Aunt Amy!

It doesn't matter that Amy's birthday was all the way back in January. Life has been busy for both our families, so we finally got around to celebrating it two weeks ago. I loved these pictures of Amy with her nieces.

Baby Name Adventure

So we are on the hunt (again) for the perfect girl name. We haven't been struck with one we love yet.

Liv and I were having a conversation the other day about names. I teased her by saying, "I know! We can name our new baby, Liv!" I thought she would pick up on the jest, but alas, she took the idea to heart and LOVED the idea.

Yes! That's a great idea, she exclaimed with a squeal.


Oh, honey....we CAN'T name her Liv! There is only one Liv in this family and your name is very special--just for you. Anyhow, how would I call you girls when I needed to speak with you?

Easy, mom! Just say this: "Liv! Liv! Holland!" and we will all come.

(Simple, right?)

Sweetie, that just wouldn't work.

(Apparently, Liv liked this idea better than I thought she would.)

Arms folded, Liv told me: I don't care what you and daddy name her, I'm still calling her Liv.


Only Liv.


Picking up Holland from Awana's a couple weeks ago was an enlightening experience. (remember, we did not know we were having a girl at this point in the game).

At the door, her teacher was so excited because Holland had told her that her baby was a girl. Laughing, Brian and I explained that we still hadn't found out if that were true or not and that we wouldn't know till later in the week.

The teacher said, "Well, Holland said you had already named her. She said her name was...."

"Cup Water?" We both said in unison, as the teacher looked in amazement.


She was a little more than disturbed when we told her that it was the name of the baby in Holland's tummy.


The ultrasound was such a fun experience. I didn't realize till later that the girls all thought that we were going to get to take the baby home that day. So...the ultrasound wasn't as exciting for them as we had anticipated. However, Liv did comment on how she could already see baby girl's ponytail in the ultrasound. She also told the ultrasound tech that daddy needed to shave the fur off his legs.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Christmas 1978

My friend Shannon was over a month or so ago and asked me if the girls looked like my baby pictures. I hadn't even looked at them in over a year, and so we took a peak. Check out this picture of myself in 1978. It looks just like Holland! Here I am pictured with my older brother, John and my younger sister Becky. Tim hadn't yet been born.


Original Art by: Liv

Friday, March 20, 2009

How Many....

...girls are in the picture below? (scroll down for answer)



Yep, 45% of you were correct! This morning at our ultrasound, we found out that our precious baby #3 is indeed a little girl! Even better, she is healthy and growing right on time. Here below, you can see the girls celebrating this fact with sprinkly donuts from Krispy Kremes. Liv had just finished praying.."Dear Jesus, thank you for these donuts, and thank you for a wonderful mom and dad and please keep the baby growing inside mommy's tummy healthy. And Jesus, thank you for making our baby a girl. Amen."

And here we are as a fam, celebrating our baby's gender with pink peeps from Chelsea. :o)

I am so humbled by God's grace....for a healthy baby so far; for another little girl to love and snuggle and enjoy life with. We are so grateful and thankful for His goodness!





And this is my favorite picture. The tech thought it was so cute, because most of the whole ultrasound, our little gal was "reclining" in this position, both legs up.

Now comes the challenge of finding the perfect name!

Love Brian and Jen and the Wieber girls.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Life's Funny Lessons

Holland thinks I want to poison her and Liv thinks I like her to lose. Those are the apparent outcomes of the lessons I have been trying to teach our girls.

Lesson 'O The Year for Holland: Eat your veggies!

Lesson 'O The Month for Liv: Be a good sport and have fun even while losing.

Holland woke up this morning giving me the cold shoulder. Instead of our daily morning snuggles, she went right to Gramma. Once there, I overheard her spill all the gory details of her horrible dream last night. Now, Holland seems to have dreams, often of the nightmarish quality, every night. This can be attributed to her overactive imagination, as she often dreams of the concoctions she and her brain worked up throughout the day. Trust me--this girl can dream up some crazy stuff! This morning, though, her dream worked her into devastation, thus the cold shoulder.

Holland: Gramma, I had a bad dream last night. (Sniff, upside down smile, wrinkled forhead whiny voice.)

Gramma: What happened in your dream, Holland?

Holland: Mom gave me ice cream with salad and all kinds of things on it and made me eat it!

Gramma: stifles laugh. Oh, I am so sorry that there was salad in your ice cream!

Holland: Yah, cause I don't like salad in my ice-cream. (face still wrinkled, sniffles, too.)

(15 minutes pass. Daddy comes downstairs.)

Holland: Daddy, mommy made me eat ice cream with salad and all kinds of things in there! I didn't like it. It tastes yucky!

daddy: That's horrible! You know, daddy would never make you eat ice-cream with salad in it and kinds of other things.

Holland: Yah, but mommy does!

Mommy: Holland, you know I would never make you eat ice-cream with salad in it!

Holland (stifling a shout): Yah, I dreamed it! Mom, I dreamed it!

Which leads me to believe that Holland thinks dreams, or at least this one, are real. It also leads me to believe that I am the dreaded health food enforcer of the family. I also believe that Brian likes it this way.

Liv has been learning how to be a good sport. She is uber-competitive (yes, she still is upset that Colin is 3 weeks older than her. She also does not like Drew to finish his lunch before her, and she often can be seen flexing her biceps with other kids and you know she is telling everyone that she is stronger than they are.) So my goal has been to teach her how to lose with grace and dignity. My approach: play games over and over until we have had adequate chance to lose, and consequently, adequate chance to react appropriately to losing with a sweet handshake and a "Great Job" besides.

So yesterday, Liv and I sat down to play a really cool Old Maid game involving dice. I explained the basic rules but did not tell her about Old Maid...as I did not want to confuse her with too many rules up front. I let her obtain Old Maid first, then I told her the dreaded news: This is one die you do not want in your pile. If stuck with it at the end (da da dada!!!!) you will lose. Oh, the criminality of it all. She was not happy. She almost lost it. I re-explained to her that it did not mean that she will lose...but if I don't happen to grab that die, she may get stuck with it and lose. That was all she needed to hear, apparently, for after a few rounds, I realized that the Old Maid was nowhere to be found. Not in my pile. nope. Not in her pile.

Me: Umm....Liv? Where did the Old Maid go?

Liv:I don't know, mom. You must have it.


Me: Where did you put it, honey.

Liv: (long pause) With a sigh, Liv reaches underneath the table and brings up the inconvenient Old Maid...hastily thrown out of the way. (Nodding her head and said with her best convincing voice) Mom, let's just play without the Old Maid.

She seriously HID the Old Maid! This girl does not like to lose.

This lesson may be harder than I thought.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

In All Things

The quote below gave me great encouragement when I stumbled upon it this week. What would my day look like, how would my loved ones feel, what kind of music would be playing from my heart if I genuinely sought to glorify God in all things I did each day? Wherever we are...whatever we are doing...whatever our circumstance--we can give it our whole heart and God will use it to glorify Him. And the best part is: He doesn't demand perfection. Only obedience.

This quote took me to a different time because of his examples straight from the 18th century. God was with them then, and he is with us now.

It is not only prayer that gives God glory but work. Smiting on an anvil, sawing a beam, whitewashing a wall, driving horses, sweeping, scouring, everything gives God glory if being in his grace you do it as your duty. To go to Communion worthily gives God great glory, but to take food in thankfulness and temperance gives him glory too. To lift up the hands in prayer gives God glory, but a man with a dungfork in his hand, a woman with a slop pail, gives him glory, too. He is so great that all things give him glory if you mean they should.

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Martha and Mary

That is how I've come to think of our beloved girls. Liv can often be seen carrying the hefty load, while Holland has her feet up, a glass of water in hand, enjoying a good book. They couldn't be more different, though the Lord has given them such complimentary personalities. They get along so well. There are times, too, they are also around just to sharpen each other, I am sure!

I often have so much to write about our little Holland. But when I start to write about her, I find myself contradicting myself more often than not, so then give up! Her personality is so random and creative, that absolutes are just rare with her. For instance, I used to think she struggled with laziness. That is sometimes the case still, but recently I have discovered her perfectionist side and have since had to encourage her to try things, even though they don't turn out perfectly. So what I used to think was laziness, is sometimes fear of messing up. She loves to draw and paint. She adores music and can even match pitches. And she has a way with movement, too. (I'll share that video in another post! :o)

Here is our artist at work:

A couple of cute stories that highlight the girls' differences:

The last time we took the girls in to get their immunizations, I gave them the heads up the day before. I felt that it would be deceptive to load them in the car and "WHAM" here we are at "The Place of Pain," which is definitely how Liv views the doc. I knew I would get an earful from Liv, but I still chose to give her some time to ingest it all. I couldn't get her to stop whining! For nearly an hour, she begged, pleaded, and sniffled about my decision to visit The Place of Pain. When my ears could barely stand it one minute longer, an-until-now silent Holland piped up, "We HAVE to go LIV!!!" There. Liv quieted down, her shoulders shaking with sobs. Speaking dejectedly, she said, "I know, Holland." I immediately got a glimpse of these two years down the road....Liv having a "moment" while Holland rationally tries to reason with her. The doctor's visit was no better. Our big five-year-old thrashed and kicked on the exam table while I sat upon her. Holland, our small three-year-old, sat still on the table. Her upside down smile a little more upside down than usual. And a simple, "I don't like to get poked" sufficed.

Liv is a straight-laced rule-follower, while Holland views rules as inconvenient obstacles meant to be broken. I made the mistake of telling Liv that cigarette smoke, and even second-hand smoke is not healthy for us. Now, she can't walk by a person smoking without covering her entire face with her shirt, loudly hacking out any air that might make it's way into her mouth, and her making a huge scene by walking as far away from the person as possible. And about 3 years ago, I told her of the dangers of ingesting raw egg. To this day, while making cookies, Liv freaks out if anyone takes a taste of cookie dough. "There's ROTTEN (translation: RAW) egg in there! You're gonna get sick!" she shrieks. Holland calmly looks at her, forehead creased, "It STILL tastes good, Liv!"

These girls make my day. I love them so much. I delight in their differences, for they show the handiwork of God.

Here is a sampling of our Holland's creativity. She often chooses to draw abstract pictures and they usually turn out clean and crisp. She also has a propensity for staying in lines. I thought the two chrysanthemum photos were interesting. As I took a look at them later, I realized they shared the same color pattern.

Abstract Drawing:


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

JW's Cowgirl Cookies

This is my "round 'em up" version of the classic Cowboy cookie. If you like a chewy, nutty, yummy cookie....look no further. Lasso up a batch of these tonight and you won't be sorry.

JW's Cowgirl Cookies

Makes about 5 dozen.

Vegetable cooking spray
2-1/4 C. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 sticks of butter, softened
1/2 C. granulated sugar
1 C. brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 C. old fashioned oats
4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1 C. pecan halves
3/4 C. shredded coconut
approx. 1/2 bag of heath bits


1. Put some Old Willie Nelson in the stereo and don on your cowgirl hat. (if Brian's around, you could ask him to perform his famous rendition of "On the Road Again". It's good. REAL good.) As soon as you start feeling like a real cowgirl, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Stir together flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl.

2. Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each. Beat in vanilla.

3. Add flour mixture and mix just until combined. Add oats, chocolate, heath bits, pecans, and coconut and mix until completely combined.

4. Drop by teaspoon onto prepared sheet. Space about 3 inches apart.

5. Bake until edges are brown, around 8-10 minutes. Watch closely! Transfer sheet to wire rack and let cool.


Only the Fearless Can be Great

"Anyone can cook, but only the fearless can be great." – Chef Auguste Gusteau.

This is one of Brian's favorite movie quotes, from "Ratatouille", and one he says often while cooking. He's not too shabby in the kitchen. Oh....okay--he taught me A LOT about getting around in the kitchen--improvising with ingredients in the pantry, identifying and smelling spices, taste tesing at excellent restaurants and then rushing home to recreate and improve upon the same mouth-watering recipe just consumed. If something doesn't turn out right in the kitchen, he doesn't get detoured. Instead of viewing the culinary catastrophe as a failure, he sees it as a challenge. Those who know Brian know that he also approaches life that way. It's easy to look at him and think that everything he attempts comes easy. He tried to tell me that it wasn't true, but it took me being his wife and living under his roof to see that he was, in fact, telling the truth. The guy is downright amazing. I've seen his first attempts at new sports, instruments, wood projects and they hardly ever turn out perfect the first time...and sometimes far from it. I know if I were in his shoes, I would have given up. In our world today, if success is not easy, many see that as some kind of "sign" that they are not to persue that given hobby, path, or skill. But not Brian. With tenacity he pushes forward, with courage he makes himself (and his pride) vulnerable, and with humblness he comes alongside and teaches others. I love that about him. One of his more recent endeavors has been making sushi. I count myself spoiled because I get to taste his creations about every week, and he will cater to my daily whim. As of late, he has also tailored sushi especially for the pregnant version of myself, replacing the raw fish with smoked, etc. He has mastered the seasonings and combinations so well, that after dining at our favorite sushi restaurant here in town, I realized more fully how much culinary creativity Brian has and allows himself...or shall we say it like the Great Gusteau? Fearlessness. I actually enjoy his sushi more than I do sushi at the high-priced establishments.

And it even looks fancy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A buccanneer party! shiver me timbers!

The lasses sailed' t' Victor`s, Arrr. Once thar, they got t' dress th' part o' buccanneer, go on an adventurous scavenger hunt, an' play on th' ship.

Here th' lasses be, lookin' through the'r telescopes. Beware, I think they's lookin' fer YE!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Holland Puts on Her Game Face

Though she didn't show it as a little babe, our Holland can be pretty feisty. Here she is growling at dad. Granted, she is boxing the guy. Maybe a little growling will help her win.

Holland also practices safety by wearing headgear. The headgear weighs as much as her head...so I don't know how safe it is, actually.

And I love how Brian ducks and covers, giving Holland the idea that she is pretty fierce.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Baby Funnies

As soon as my pregnancy began, I noticed a strange phenomenon: I no longer have any words. In conversation, in writing especially, and worse (or better, depending on how you look at it) in my head. No little voices anymore. I seem to have lost my creative side and hope that it will come back soon. Or at least when baby comes.

Speaking of baby...

We find out this month if we will once again be donning our little newbie in pink clothes in August...or if blue clothes will be all the rage. So, you'll have to cast your vote in our poll. Boy or girl?

I have absolutely loved having the interaction of the girls this time around. The fact that they understand that a baby will soon arrive, makes my joy even more complete. The girls have come with me to my ob visits and have even asked the doctor questions. During the initial ultrasound, Liv asked the technician (who happens to be our good friend, Marnie!!!) if she would "let us" have a girl. Ever since, she has told people that "the doctor said" we definitely could have a girl. Now, I am pretty sure that Marnie did not give Liv the green light on having a girl, but whatever the case, this is what came from it. Liv has also announced her plans to share a room with the newborn baby girl. Holland, it seems, will have her own room. But in the "unfortunate" event that the baby turn out to be a boy, Holland will "have to" share a room with baby boy, and Liv will enjoy new spacious surroundings.

Recently, Holland has announced that she will be also having a baby. Her name? Cup Water. Yes, that's right. You can just call her, Cup. When Holland eats too much, she arches her back, screws up her face and says in jagged breathes, "Ouch! Cup...Water... is ...kicking me... SO BAD! She also tells people that Cup Water will come out and play soon. So, please, stay tuned.

As for me, I am enjoying our little 14 week baby.  My belly is officially looking the part of a pregnant belly and I have just started feeling the baby move this week, so I am now embarking on my very favorite part of pregnancy. There is nothing like interacting with your baby before they are even born!  

What a miracle babies are!


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