Monday, August 31, 2009

Good practice.

If you're my friend on Facebook, you may have noticed my post/link about the cake you see in the pictures here. We woke up to such a cool morning here in Michigan, and after taking the kids to a park and picnic to play with their classmates for this upcoming school year I was ready to warm up inside for the afternoon. Rather than turn on the heat, I looked up a recipe for Chocolate Zucchini cake and I baked instead. It did warm the house and it made the kids happy too. I had enough Reddi-wip on hand to top this cake off and even give Crew a few mouthfuls straight from the can. The cake, we decided, just might be the one we make for Crew's first birthday, which is just around the corner. I know, I know. It's hard to believe he's going to turn one. But the calendar doesn't lie.
I have a feeling, based on his happy squeals and hand-clapping after some morsels of cake, that he will be more than ready for a party and piece of cake all his own.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A peek at our week...

From the church picnic to a trip to the Country Dairy Farm and lots of fun including some golf, fresh food from the farmer's market, dinner at a fondue restaurant, walking and biking in the neighborhood, coloring pictures together, making beaded jewelry and baking cream puffs and cleaning closets and staying up late watching the Powerpuff Girls together, these are just some of the things we will remember about our week with Grandpa and Grandma here with us.
It's been lousy as far as weather goes, but enough sunshine to pack in plenty of fun regardless of the autumn-like temps. We've all eaten a lot, laughed a lot and not gotten enough sleep. Three ingredients that add up to truly enjoyable memories. Well, maybe not the lack of sleep part of the equation, but it's been fun just the same.
We've got one or two meals to share together before it's time to say our good-byes. It'll be hard, for sure, but we're grateful for the memories we've made this week. The kids have been loved on and spoiled and hugged a whole bunch. I've been spoiled to laundry being done- washed AND folded and put away- as well as having most of the meals cooked and cleaned up after too. Still, it's not the way they help lift the daily burdens that I'll miss most, but their presence that just makes our house feel more like home. Thanks for coming to visit, Mom and Dad! It's been a pleasure and joy and treat to have you here all week. Come back soon! We love you.
Note: Chip won the cream pie category with the pie pictured here at our church picnic. I'll see if he's up for sharing his recipe with all of you. Maybe he'll even guest post for me again. That's always fun too!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Midsummer funk.

I've not been an avid blogger because I've been in a bad mood. Do you ever get that way? I mean, a seriously bad mood. So bad that I even chewed Chip out for buying me flowers for our anniversary last week! I admit it here and apologize for it too. I wish I could say that I've got it all together all the time. But the truth is I don't. In fact I can hardly think of a time when I have had it all together.
It's not that there's been any one big thing, but more little stuff that just takes the fun out of living each day. Once you let one day drag you down, it seems like it's just easier to let the small stuff pile up. Or is that just me?!
Wyndham's surgical consult went okay. Her surgery won't be until sometime into January now, and she may have some pre-casting to go through prior to her re-allignment surgery. The surgeons are leaning toward doing a bone graft procedure- which is better than bone fusion- so that's a good thing. But it will still require double casts (up over the knees) and her immobility for upwards of at least 3 months. So it will be a big deal when it all plays itself out. We still appreciate your prayers for that as the time approaches.
Little Crew man turned 11 months this week. In between being crabby (both me and him!), Bella happened to snap these photos of the two of us together. =) He's weighing in at 19.5 lbs and measuring 28.5 inches, which puts him in the 11% and 24% brackets respectively. In addition to those stats, I find that at this age he's about 50% handful and 50% charmer. I can't help but love that he's lovable at least half the time. Sometimes he's lovable much more than that. I love those moments the best.
Today we're all sitting inside with rain pouring down- the type of day that could put one into a funk. But we're in luck! My parents (Grandma Genie and Grandpa Floyd) are expected to arrive from Minnesota any minute. We're all very excited about that. If there's anything that could put me in a good mood, it's laughing and being hugged on and doing life with family. Well that, and a really good buttercream! I have a feeling there will be lots of fun things to blog about. Soon.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

She's got spunk and other stuff...

Here are some recent pictures of Wyndham. She's been having a great summer. She has done great with her new bike and has had some fun outings with her friends at therapy (Hope Network) as well as with our family. It's hard to explain some of her issues sometimes because to us she is just Wyndham. We treat her as 'normal' as the rest of the kids as much as possible and we all love her so much. She's got the best personality and has even gotten a little bit "sassy" the past few months. In the last picture here, she snapped her fingers using the sign "no" to me when I asked for a smile for the camera. I was actually just as happy to catch her signing no! =)
Funny girl.
Anyway, as many of you know, she faces extensive surgery for realignment in her feet/ankles. It's something that has come as sort of a surprise to us when it was first mentioned after an orthopedic consult last spring. Tomorrow (Monday morning) Wyndham has her second surgical consult. It's sort of a second opionion/clarify/make analysis based on some of the procedures she's already done in gearing up for surgery. We appreciate your prayers for her and our family as we get yet one step closer toward what needs to be done. It's not an easy thing, especially since she is healthy and doing so well right now.
I'm praying that whatever she has to endure next won't break her sweet spirit. Everything else is sort of "fixable". Still, it's scary to think of what she will go through and harder yet to imagine what it will demand from her and all of us. Thankfully we feel as though we are in good hands and feel comfortable with her surgeon so far. We feel even more calm knowing we're in God's hands...the greatest Physican of all.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Then & Now.

Our wedding day~ August 12, 1995 Fourteen years ago Chip and I were laughing, saying "I do", enjoying the company of lots of friends and family members, trying to stay cool (literally!), eating carrot cake and taking in our wedding day. It was wonderful.
Today I am wishing him a Happy Anniversary in person and on my blog.
Back then, I didn't even know what a blog was or that I would keep one in my life. Now I can't imagine how my life would be different without one.
In light of these 14 years that have passed and as I look back at our wedding photos I find myself in a reflective mood. I thought it would be fun to do a little list of comparisons, so in no specific order, and mostly off the top of my head, here they are:
Then: Had hours of "free time" and embroidered all the bridal party namecards.
Now: Can't imagine having time to embroider anything, let alone placecards!
Then: Spent a lot of money on our honeymoon to Kauai and didn't care nearly enough about the photographer/photos.
Now: I would be obsessive about the photographer and photos and not really care about the honeymoon destination- as long as we were together and ALONE! =)
Then: I rarely went a day without fixing my hair and make-up.
Now: It's rare when I actually have a day to fix my hair and do my make-up.
Then: I spent more time and money on hair/hair product.
Now: Chip spends more time/$ on hair and hair product. =)
Then: I had a specific number I wanted my weight to be at.
Now: As long as I stay under my top pregnancy weight, I'm fairly happy with the number.
Then: LOVED carrot cake.
Now: Still LOVE carrot cake. Some things don't ever change!
Then: Washed about 2-3 loads of laundry every 7 days.
Now: Wash 7 loads of laundry every 2-3 days.
Then: Never, ever wanted to have kids in our future.
Now: Have 6 kids and would adopt 6 more if I could talk Chip into it. {wink}
Then: Never dreamed how quickly 14 years could fly by.
Now: Have a feeling the next 14 years are going to fly by too quickly!
Then: Was madly and desperately in love with my husband and best friend, Chip.
Now: I am more in love with Chip than I ever imagined I could be and I hope he knows that.
I love you, Chip. Then and now. It's been amazing and wonderful and challenging and still is all those things- sometimes all within the same day. I'm so grateful and honored to be by your side after all these years and look forward to whatever the future holds for not just us anymore, but our whole family.
Happy 14th Anniversary!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Storm of a lifetime

Sunday night our family (minus Chip who was out of town) was just finishing dinner when the sky got VERY dark. In a matter of minutes I determined it would be best to get all of the kids downstairs and check the weather on my cellphone as the power flashed off a couple of times. By the time I got us to the bottom of the staircase I could see out our patio door that the rain was starting to come down in sheets and the wind was growing strong. We grabbed lots of blankets and a flashlight and closed ourselves in the bathroom.
The kids weren't all that scared, and I wasn't either as I checked for a local weather update. I told them if they heard sirens we would know that the storm was dangerous, but until then, it was just a wild thunderstorm. Well, we never did hear sirens and in about 10 minutes time, our neighborhood landscape changed dramatically. The photos here are pictures of next door, and just across the street, and our backyard. There were straight line winds that down hundreds of trees in our community and as you can see, some damaged homes and rooftops. Our house was spared. We were without electricty from 7pm Sunday night until 9pm last night. The kids cheered when it came back on. We had been warned it could be up to a week before the power would be back on in our neighborhood.
We're so grateful to have stayed safe and other than losing most of the food in our fridge and freezer, we are back to normal. We're doing our best to help our friends and are watching kids and making extra food and lemonade to just help out a bit. It was all so sudden and unexpected, but could have been much worse. It sure puts things into perspective once again.
As the kids said, "This is the biggest storm in our whole lifetime"! They were happy to have their nightlights back last night and a toaster working when we woke up today.
Also, Chip's grandma, our dear Grandma Rose passed away on Saturday. She was such a sweet grandma and we are sad and will miss her very much. She lived in Minnesota, and due to Wyndham's upcoming surgical consult this next week, we will miss being able to make the trip home for her funeral. Seems our summer just keeps us on our toes. Never a dull moment, and when there is a dull moment, we're all just as happy about that too.

Saturday, August 08, 2009


Baked Caramel French of my favorite foods! {Photo by my friend, Corinne- miss you!} I've blogged the recipe for this somewhere in my hundreds of posts here, but figured it was a good a day as any to post the recipe again. I posted it at Facebook too. It's that good. We'll be eating a double batch of it soon. Perfect for a rainy day dinner. =)
The thing about this French Toast is that you can make it the day before you want to eat it. The bad thing about this dish is you want to eat it all the time! I've made it as is, but also subsituted any kind of milk for the cream, and they all seem to work well in this recipe. For toppings, we usually eat it as is too. But it's great with sauteed cinnamon apples, as you see here with sliced bananas and a drizzle of syrup, and of course, it would be great with fresh berries smashed with a dash of sugar and poured over top.
You really can't mess this one up. It's that great.
Enjoy and have a great weekend too!
Recipe for Baked Caramel French Toast
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons margarine or butter
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
8-12 (1/2-inch-thick) diagonal slices French bread
Spray 13x9-inch pan or (3-quart) glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In medium saucepan, combine all topping ingredients; mix well. Cook over medium heat until smooth, stirring constantly. DO NOT BOIL. Pour topping into sprayed baking dish.
Beat eggs in shallow bowl. Add milk, vanilla and salt; beat well. Dip each bread slice in egg mixture, making sure all egg mixture is absorbed. Place bread slices over topping in sprayed baking dish. Cover; refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
To serve, heat oven to 400°F. Uncover baking dish; bake 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and toast is golden brown. Let stand 3 minutes. To serve, use a spatula and place slice on plate, turning it 'upside-down' (caramel will be on top). Top with various toppings if desired.


Friday, August 07, 2009

A little bit of love...

A little bit of love goes a long way, wouldn't you agree?! Yet I'm the first to admit it is hard to do so often! I'm trying to live and learn and figure life out like the rest of you. I have found with 5 kids in my care around the clock that love doesn't have to be a grand display for it to still impact the people around me in a big way. Sometimes, in fact, the littlest displays or acts oflove actually speak volumes!
Sometimes love means I let them splash for a few more minutes in the tub and I don't worry about the water that is soaking me or the floor around me. Sometimes it means blowing kisses into the pockets of their jammies and telling them to save them for later when they want an extra kiss from me. Other times it's as simple as cutting the crusts off their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And then taking it even a step further- by using a heart-shaped cookie cutter.
Something so small and literally took mere seconds for me to do totally made the day better for 4 out of 5 of my kids. =) Our little picnic was planned for the deck just off our kitchen. But one of the kids spotted a bee out there and after last summer's bee fiasco, the picnic got moved to the edge of the garage. How quaint, huh?! I sort of felt like insisting that they get over their fear of bees and have their picnic where I wanted it, but then as I looked at their plated heart sandwiches I just felt like that would sort of take away from the love I had just put into their lunch. So I let them set up lunch in the "grunge" of the garage and look at them... their all smiles, like it's the finest picnic ever!
It's true. A little love goes a long way. I'm working on not making it so hard all the time. It's not always easy to go that extra step, but it sure has great reward.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Speaking of wild rides...

{Click on the photo to enlarge for detail.}
Chip snapped this picture with his Blackberry when he and Ava were on the ferris wheel last week at Coast Guard Fest. It was Ava's first time on one. She loved it! She called me when they were at the top of the ride. It's just one reason I love technology these days.
The journaling on this reads:
Number of times she asked to go on this ride: 10
Cost of 2 tickets: $6
Hearing the excitement in her voice when she called me on Daddy's cellphone from the top: Priceless.
Hope you enjoy the last month of summer...Happy August!