Sunday, February 28, 2010

Menu Monday 3/1-3/7

Breakfast: Yogurt and bananas
Lunch: Sandwiches, fruit, salad
Dinner:Pizza Pinwheels, steamed asparagus

Breakfast: Oatmeal and apples
Lunch: Sandwiches, Greek Veggie Salad, fruit, string cheese
Dinner: Tatertot Casserole, cooked carrots, homemade applesauce

Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Sandwiches, salad
Dinner: Aztec Chicken, veggies

Breakfast: Orange Smoothies
Lunch: Quesadillas, salad
Dinner:Taco Salad

Friday-Sunday: out of town with mom
Leaving for Hubby and the kids:
Pasta E Fagoili
Homemade Pizza
Spaghetti and french bread
Yogurt and Fruit
Sandwich Fixin's

7-Up salad for friend's party
Sugar and spice twists
Veggie dippers and easy bean dip
Fruit jello

Link Love

A few weeks ago, I changed the "Resources I'm Currently Lovin'" section on my front page. In case you're "currently lovin'" those ideas as well, here they are in a Link Love for the Archives.

Best Felt Food Patterns from Around the Web

Freezer Cooking Links

Kitty Themed Birthday Party

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Thursday, February 25, 2010

There's a Party Going On!

You've gotta head over to Just Add Walter's Blogoversary Party. She's got some great prizes and lots of ways to win.


What are you waiting for?

Go check it out!

Yes, your children will eat fish.. and so will you! Part Two

In my 2010 Nutritional Goals, I committed to serving my family fish at least twice a month. Well, it's the end of February, and we're eating fish once a month. Not perfect, but I am discovering that it can be done on a limited budget. And really, my goal was just that... a goal.

This month's recipe comes from Bella @ Lil Daises. Bella and I are friends in "real life." We've known each other since college and see each other at least once a week. She's a great resource for all things "Mom" and I'm lucky to know her. So when I saw Shrimp Quesadillas on her menu a few weeks ago, I had to ask her for the recipe. Here it is:

Shrimp Quesadillas

Shrimp cooked (cut into small pieces)
2 Tbsp of lime (juice & zest)
1 Tbsp chopped green onion
Jalapeno (chopped) --OPTIONAL
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon cumin (toasted and ground)
Salt and pepper
2 medium-sized flour tortillas
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 avocado, sliced (optional)
sour cream (optional)

1. If your shrimp is not cooked you can : cook the shrimp in boiling water, about 1-3 minutes.
2. Rinse the shrimp in cold water to stop the cooking.
3. Mix the lime juice, zest, jalapeno, green onion, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper in a bowl.
4. Add the shrimp and marinate for 10-30 minutes.
5. Melt the butter (or oil) in a pan.
6. Place a tortilla in the pan and rub it around in the butter to coat.
7. Heat the tortilla until air pockets form in it flipping a few times.
8. Repeat 5-7 for the second tortilla and leave it in the pan.
9. Drain the liquid from the shrimp and place the mixture on the tortilla in the pan.
10. Place the cheese on and then top with the other tortilla.
11. Cook the quesadilla until golden brown on both sides and the cheese is melted flipping once.

I didn't have Jalapeno or cilantro so I didn't use them. And we added tomatoes and salsa. My kids wouldn't have a clue what to do with a quesadilla if it didn't have salsa. Also I didn't use butter or oil in my pan. I never do with quesadillas. You won't miss it and it will cut down on the calories.

I personally loved these. They were very flavorful and I had to make myself a second one. I was a pig at dinner tonight. I also marinated and cooked some extra shrimp to go on salad later this week. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

My kids weren't quite as convinced. My four year old has an aversion to anything other than hamburger. It's a texture thing. And since he was in the kitchen with me, he knew what was coming. The two year old ate it happily, but kept saying, "Don't like it," repeating after her brother. As soon as she'd say that, she'd stuff another bite in her mouth so I don't really believe her.

Honestly, I will serve these again. I think the trick will be chopping the shrimp finer and not letting them in the kitchen. Kind of sneak it in on them. What about you? Have you had any success in feeding your kids fish? What do they like?

For January's fish idea, check out Shrimp Stirfry. Kid approved!

Submitted to:
Frugal Friday @ Life as Mom
Market Yourself Monday @ Sumo's Sweet Stuff
Works for Me Wednesday @ Rocks in my Dryer
Tackle it Tuesday @ DIY Day @ A Soft Place to Land
Tasty Tuesday@ Beauty and Bedlam

Ukraine 2003

(Our team and YWAM staff with Street Kids Ministry)

In the summer of 2000, I returned home with thought of returning to Ukraine, but no plans. It was quite a change from my return the year before, knowing I wasn't done. This time I returned home with just a glimmer of returning.

I went back to Simpson College and met my husband. We were young, impulsive, and passionately in love. Less than a year later, we were married. We got caught up in life, finishing degrees, acquiring first jobs, and being married. Still the memory of Ukraine lingered for both us.

Finally, in the summer of 2002, we began planning a return trip. As my husband was finishing his degree in Cross-Cultural Studies, we knew we'd be leading a short term mission somewhere. And Ukraine was, of course, our first choice. So we approached some friends and asked them to join us in working with YWAM for a month. Thus the planning began.

Summer of 2003 rolled around quickly and we were off. Landing in Kiev, we laughed that we had no idea who was meeting us at the airport. We were simply going on faith that the Lord would provide. And He did. All through the process.

We spent the first two weeks working at a street kids camp outside of Kiev. It was very familiar to what Dave (my husband) and I had done before. We spent our days swimming, crafting, in lessons, and playing with the kids. The difference this time was we were working with teenagers. This was a complete change for me. The dynamics were very different. Thankfully, my language skills returned quickly, making it much easier to communicate. And in turn, helping my team with some translation as well. We were quite comfortable there.

The second half of our trip found us staying in the city. Kiev is a very large city. Much bigger than I'm used to. We stayed in an apartment on the lsland, making our "world" just a little bit smaller and more manageable. Located near our apartment was a couple of great outdoor markets, a grocery store, some small restaurants, and a beloved McDonald's (no, I hate McDonald's, but in a foreign country... heaven).

During these two weeks, we stayed busy volunteering at a children's hospital, helping at a local church plant, working at a small orphanage, and continuing to work with the street kids as well. My personal favorite was working at the children's hospital. We were very limited in what we could do. We were told to feed babies and change diapers. Period. But looking at those little ones, left alone in their beds, we had to touch them. We had to hold them. We had to snuggle them. We had to whisper that they were loved.

Behind the nurses backs, we'd pick up babies, stand them up, and allow them to move their legs. Encourage them to take steps. Applaud their every effort. The long ride there and changing of metro, buses, and taxis made the entire thing worth it. My greatest joy while there.

This was our team of four, Steve, Tamy, Dave, and I standing in front of the Friendship Arch. This is a large landmark in Kiev, symbolizing the connection between Russia and Ukraine. We spent most weekends in the city, sightseeing and team building. I loved being in such a historical city.

Sonya was my baby at the orphanage. Tamy and I would go play with the little ones first and she was always there to great us. The biggest hugs came from her, the biggest smiles she gave us. She absolutely captured Dave and I's hearts. When I think of adopting, this is the face that I turn back to. I pray that someone has given her hope.

This is St. Andrew's at the top of our tourist shopping spot. The whole street is known for its local artisans. Wood work, Matrishkas, textiles,... it was a shopping mecca. Pictured here is Natasha (the head of the street kids ministry), Tamy, and myself. This trip was a great experience in our relationship with Steve and Tamy. We've been forever bonded by our memories there.

Finally, we had a two day layover in Vienna on the way home. After the stress of working so hard for a month, it was a wonderful time of being with friends and my husband exploring a beautiful city. And it was a bit of culture shock. As much as I love Ukraine, it's an underdeveloped country. And walking into Austria, everything was prestine. Clean, perfect, shocking. It was a beautiful place to seal our trip. And we finished off our last night with a filling meal at Figamueller's, a must see if you're ever in Vienna.

Again, I returned, my heart there, but not sure when I'll return. It's been nearly seven years. Dave and I still talk about taking the kids to visit when they're older. It's become such a part of us; we can't imagine not sharing it with them. We've been very lucky to do the traveling that we've done. Not only have we seen a very unique part of the world, but we've also been touched by some wonderful people.

For photos and stories from 1999, click here.
For photos and stories from 2000, click here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

LOST (6x5)--Let's Recap

Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers for last night's episode (and the illogical ramblings of a LOST fan). Read at your own risk.

Still moving sideways and yet something is amiss with a scar on Jack's side. It triggers a memory of his father. A memory that shows his father loved him, but didn't know how to show it. And as we flash to Jack's son (didn't see that one coming), we find that Jack's relationship with the boy is a mirror for his relationship with Christian. A pattern that is repeating itself. Christian has a hold on Jack that extends beyond the grave. Not only is Christian affecting Jack's relationship with David, Jack's own anger toward his father caused him to smash the coffin when it was empty on the Island.

It seems as though Jack tried to change this destructive pattern when his father died. The message he left on David's phone... Jack actually tried to reach out and stop the cycle. We find that David has been hiding his talent from his father so as to alleviate the pressure that Jack exerts upon him. The conversation in the parking lot is very heartfelt and seems to bring healing. One has to wonder is moving sideways wouldn't have been better for Jack. Especially when he mentions to Hurley that he returned to the Island because he was "broken."

Hurley has replaced Locke as the Man of Faith. That's why Jacob appears to him. That's why he could see Charlie and possibly Libby. Hurley is a man that believes in the Island and will act as a recruiter for Jacob.

Jack is our Man of Science, still. That's why he can't see Jacob, and why Jacob can't just tell him what he need to know. Jack has to work it out for himself. However, we still see predestination working it self out as Jacob manipulates them in going to the lighthouse and Jack discovering the picture of his boyhood home.

David was reading Annotated Alice- is being on the Island like going through the Rabbit Hole? If this whole things turns out to be a dream....?

And here we are back to Claire. Very Rousseau like. What happened after Christian? Claire mentions infection in Jin, and we see him being "recruited," unintentionally by Claire and Smokie. Iana said that Smokie can't take other forms now that he's in Locke's body so why doesn't Claire recognize him? It leads me to believe that he was Christian before and that's how Claire became "infected." But if he switched to Locke, why couldn't he switch again?

The lighthouse... Hugo says, "Guess we weren't looking for it." Have the LOSTIES been looking for the wrong thing? Not looking for the light. They turn the wheel to 108 degrees, the number of minutes every time Desmond pushed the button. Till Jack changes it to 123 degrees. There we see Jack's house in the mirrors. When Jack breaks the mirrors, I'm frustrated to see we'll never learn WHAT was at 108 degrees. Could it have been the destruction of the Island? Then again, if Hurley's number is 8, could the 108 have been insight into Hurley's character?

This idea of 108 continues to intrigue me. Must they all come together, forming 108 with their numbers, in order to save the Island?

What's the significance of "You have what it takes?" It's what Jack's been waiting to hear from his father his whole life. Calling David from Sydney was the first step in stopping that cycle that his father started. And the next step was reaching out to David after his audition. But back on the Island, Jack is still waiting to have that conversation with David. He's still waiting to be healed.

I also discovered in reading up on this episode, a viewer mentioned the scene from Season 3 when Ben is discussing the possibility of Jack operating on him, an other says, "But he's not even on Jacob's list." If Jack isn't the one on Jacob's list, who is Shepard? Christian? A future Kate Shepard? David? Claire, even?

For more intelligent conversation about LOST, check out Rocks in My Dryer.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tackle it Tuesday

For some reason it seems like our Master Bedroom becomes the dumping ground of the house. Dirty laundry? Mom and Dad's room. Mountains of preschool artwork? Mom and Dad's room. Half wrapped birthday party presents waiting for a card? Mom and Dad's room. Office stuff, scrapbook stuff, library books, unpacked suitcases.... ok, well a few things I should probably take care of myself.

Actually I took care of all of it myself. With all of the teaching we do with our 4 and 2 year olds about picking up... well sometimes Mama just needs to get in there herself and take care of business. And now that I have I feel so much better. Not quite worrying so much about overdue library books or looking for those photos I promised my mom.

Here's what I came up with:

I even got photos hung on the wall. I've been trying to get that done since we moved in eight months ago.

A highlight of the room for me. This was one of our engagement photos that we framed and used as our guest book at our wedding. I love it.

And one of hubby's favorite items in the room: a wall hanging he bought in India in 2006. Great rich colors.

Since our home is small, I'll always be looking for space. I'll always be fighting the clutter. But just having things picked up... being able to see the floor when I walk into the room... it's like a breath of fresh air. And being one of only two rooms in our house with a lock, this is truly my haven.

I think it's important to have a place to call your own, especially as a mom of little ones. So often it feels like your life is consumed by their every need. And while I love being a stay at home mom, I need those moments of peace and quiet.

Just as important, I want to have a room to get away with my husband. A room where we can both feel comfortable and remember that it's our relationship that sets the tone for our family. So although I could have certainly done more tidying and more primping, I want this to be a room that he also feels comfortable in. Sticking that balance will give us both a place to relax.

Submitted to:
Tackle it Tuesday @ 5 Minutes for Mom

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Menu Monday 2/22-2/28

Breakfast: Oatmeal and apples
Lunch: Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, string cheese, applesauce
Dinner: Roasted Veggie Sandwiches, salad

Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Sandwiches, apples, string cheese, crackers
Dinner: Black beans, corn and shrimp quesadillas, fruit

Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Peanut Butter and Jelly, salads
Dinner: Pizza Pinwheels, salad

Breakfast: Smoothies
Lunch: Sandwiches, fruit,
Dinner: Aztec chicken, sauteed zucchini

Breakfast: chocolate chip muffins
Lunch: Sandwiches, cheese, crackers
Dinner: Chicken Stirfry

Breakfast: Muffins
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Italian wedding soup, breadsticks

Breakfast: Muffins
Lunch: Sandwiches, and leftovers
Dinner: Leftover stirfry eggrolls and plum sauce

Link Love

Birthday Edition...

I've been bookmarking tons of birthday ideas lately so I thought I'd share some with you. Enjoy!

Check out this cute Raggedy Ann Party (@ Kara's Party Ideas). Note the chocolate boxes. So sweet!

I'm taking special note of this Minnie Mouse Party (@ Whimsy and Wise). I'm hoping to pull off a special, fun Minnie Mouse Party next December. Do you think Baby Girl would love it?

Cute ideas for a fun Cowboy/Cowgirl Birthday Party (@ Frost Me Blog). Could easily adapt this to a My Little Pony Party as well.

Here's both a Fairy Garden Party and a Carnival Party (@ Creative Party Place). Both of which I'd love to throw in the future. Trying to sway Big Boy to a Carnival in the fall. If not, maybe I'll throw my own.

This Buzz Lightyear Party (@Home Sweet Home) is another one I'd like to do for Big Boy. I think it would be so much fun to play off this space idea.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Olympic Friends

I've got a few things planned to do with the kids over the next couple of weeks while the Olympics are on. Hopefully I'll have a post up for you some time next week with more ideas. But for now, this is the project we worked on tonight. Big Boy asked for a "project" to do and what could be more fun to creating Olympic athletes?

Now I have a four year old and a two year old so you have to use your imagination a little. I have one green athlete and one multi-colored athlete. I'm assuming the green one is representing Mars in our Olympic games. And the other, well... who knows. Fun nonetheless and it gave us chance to talk about why they have an Olympic flame and what the different color metals mean.

Check them out. They're super cute and would make a fun afternoon activity.

Olympic Friends

Submitted to:
Frugal Friday @ Life as Mom

Ukraine TEAM working with Special Needs

As you know I've been journaling in my Ukraine 2003 scrapbook this month. It's been a wonderful time for reliving memories, remembering friends, and praying for a country to has long had a place in my heart. I'm very thankful for the time I've had there and can't wait to pass on these memories to my children one day.

I'd planned on posting photos from 2003 this week, but instead I came across a post that I'd like to share with you instead. There is a team from Arkansas going to Ukraine in April which will be working with special needs children. Now all orphans in Ukraine are at high risk of becoming institutionalized. But special needs children are essentially ostracized from society.

Special needs children are misunderstood. They are thought to be unteachable, throw aways. The Ukrainian view of special needs is limited and in need of development.

So here is a group who understands that much of the mistreatment is due to lack of knowledge. And they are offering their experience and education to help. From reading the post, past trips such as this one have brought many improvements in the children's way of life and how they are treated. But it all takes time. And each trip is a necessary step in the right direction.

Please consider supporting them by whatever means possible. On the site, they have several needs listened as well as how to donate monetarily. Please take the time to just consider: consider a world outside our own, consider children apart from our own, consider ...

The Summerfords: Ukraine Bound

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

LOST (6x4)--Let's Recap

Can I just say I love the Locke episodes? He's such a complex character. Particularly now that we don't really know WHAT he is. Or should I say WHO he is? I think he's great. Whoever came up with the idea for this character sure had it made. And Terry O'Quinn pulls it off so well.

*This Smoke Monster concept is incredible. His ability to draw others in is characteristic of Evil. Seeming to be innocent, appealing, drawing in. How both Ben and Sawyer have trusted him without cause.

*The Candidate Theory is going to get interesting. Sawyer must be a Candidate. Particularly how he can see through Smokie's premise of being Locke. Can only Candidates and people of power see the kids? Sawyer saw him. The rules must apply to "the game." Ben and Widmore were always talking about the rules of play. Which brings me to this thought: if Ben worked for Jacob and was good, therefore Charles must work for Smokie and be bad???

*These Candidates are running all over the place. Running into each other in LA. Destiny plays a huge role in this show. It would seem that although their flight never crashed they still "need" each other, still must find a way to "know" each other to be "saved."

*Love how the Smoke Monster doesn't believe in second chances, but here are all these passengers of the flight that got second chances. Second chances in LA, second chances on the island. Ben is getting a second chance of sorts by turning on Locke. Locke (aka Smokie) is getting a second chance at taking over the island.

*The burial scene is bizarre. Ben's speech was incredible. He comments that Locke was a man of faith. Then we flash to Locke contemplating calling Jack. And yet he doesn't have the faith that Jack can help him. It turns out that Helen has more faith. Locke is LOST. He's gone back to LA and has no faith. It's Helen who has faith, who believes in Destiny. It's her relationship with Locke that is going to "save" him in this alternate reality.

*I always believed that Locke and Ben could be friends in another world. They are too much alike. Deep. Methodical. On a mission. That's what Sawyer is becoming. On a mission.

*And now we see how the numbers are coming into play. Smokie tells Sawyer that he never had a choice after meeting Jacob. Again Destiny.

Quote of the night: "Well, I guess I'd better put some pants on."-- Sawyer

For more LOST Conversation, check out Rocks in my Dryer.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Valentines

For more Wordless Wednesday go to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Amazing Race: Marriage Edition

About six weeks ago, I came across this Amazing Race post at My Insanity. Now if you haven't checked out My Insanity before, you'll have to look around her site. She has so many incredible ideas.

But before you do that, let me share with you how myself and two other wives put our own spin on this idea and sent our husband out for their personalized edition of the Amazing Race.

For those of you who don't know, The Amazing Race is a reality show on CBS. The show follows several teams of two as they travel the world, competing in challenges that test their endurance, minds and bodies. My husband and I haven't missed an episode since it began years ago. We love it. So when I came across this post, I thought, "What a great idea." I instantly knew my husband would love it. I emailed the details to a friend and we started planning.

I was in charge of T-shirts and oh, they gave me a challenge. But for someone who knows nothing about graphics, I'm pretty excited with how they turned out. The boys got theirs at the start of the race, but they didn't know we had shirts until they met us at the end. I actually really like mine and wouldn't mind wearing it once in awhile just to remind my husband I love him.

One of the other girls was in charge of clues and did a great job. We met our husbands at the church and gave them the set up:
Welcome to the Amazing Race. You were each brought here by your lovely, adoring, beautiful, smart, sexy, and talented wives.

I must now take any money and wallets that you have on you. (We left them with their ID's for driving)
Here are your uniforms that you must wear for the entire race. (They were given their t-shirts to wear)

Here are your funds for this leg of the race use them wisely. Using them you must acquire flowers for your wife before completing the race (they were each given $1 plus some change).

Here is your video camera. You must video every task, including reading the clue and completing the challenge. Tape may be turned off in the car, but must be on for all challenges.

Good luck Boys, here’s your first clue.

Clue #1 --complete with scrapbook supplies
Where you're at is your very first stop
We gave you the supplies you'll need
Go on inside and make your wives cards
Then you'll be done with this deed.

When you're done show them to Ali (barista)
And if she thinks they'll do
She get you all on video
Then give you your next clue.

Ali had to approve their work to also make sure they cleaned up their mess. This task was completed in the coffee shop next door to the church. We thought this task would go quick, but they actually spent a lot of time on it.

Clue #2--accompanied by a map
The next place you're going is a bit of a drive
Just let the map be your guide

Once on Deschutes, look for a covered arena
Take a right there, then stay left at the split
Once in the driveway, get your phone
Dial ------ for your next bone

One of the girls' mom had a horse and send the boys on a ride. Nothing too fancy as two of them had only been riding once. But they had to do a pattern (on their own) around the arena.

Clue #3
Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty too
This place is full of baby clothes, mostly "not new"
Baby furniture and toys, located on Hilltop
They even have clothes for your wife when she's ready to pop.

Boys had to figure out this was the used baby store on Hilltop. Once there, they were instructed to change into maternity clothes for their next clue.

Clue #4--given at store
Your next task here is to race one another
To be the first to get their baby in a cloth diaper
Don't forget to video tape the event
Or you'll have to do it all over again!

Once you're done, you can continue on
Get your next clue from the owner and be gone

The owner loved this idea. In fact, she wanted us to plan more for them to do here. She was really hoping the store would be busy during this time. Great business promotion idea if you're trying to get the owner on board.

Clue #5--given form the store owner
Your next stop is in the north part of town
At a home off ----- Drive
Two of you attended Discipleship Group there before
Watch out for the bird--it might dive

Sent them to a friends house

Clue #6--given at the house
Now we're headed back outside
Your next task is in the street
It's a game of leapfrog with each other
Now come on, isn't that sweet?

How many jumps do you have to do?
We'll you're about to find out
Use this little formula
To determine your leapfrog route

Total the number of months together
That you all have been married
Then divide that number by 6
And get started-- don't tarry!

My original idea had been to tell them to divide the number by those involved (which could be 3/guys or 6/all of us), but the other girls thought that would be too many. Still with being married 8.5 years, just the math was no small task.

Clue #8--given after leapfrog
Hooray, how was leapfrog.. are you sore?
Hopefully not too much because there's more!
Don't worry, you're almost done
Just one more stop and then it's home

We've given you $20 in this clue
To go to the store and buy some booze
We already have wine at the end
So get your favorite, whatever you choose!

And then you're done, hip hip hooray!
Make sure you've got your drinks and bouquets
Then it's time to head home to continue the part-ay!

So have you go your bouquet, your card and your drinks yet?
If not, do it now, or you'll be quite upset
When you reach the finish line and have to turn around.
The race isn't finished till these things have been found.

The finish line, and your fabulous prize
Are waiting at a place familiar to your eyes.
Make your way through the traffic, obey all the signs
And step into the home on ---- Drive.

Our original intent had been for the boys to pick up flowers at the Dollar Tree, but one of the boys snuck extra money out of his wallet before we took it. So they bought a dozen roses at Safeway while they picked up beer. By the way, you can't videotape in Safeway. Weird, huh? Anyways... they said they felt funny. Here they had beer and were waiting in line at the Safeway wrapping counter where they had the guy split their dozen roses three ways. They said they felt cheap with their case of beer their and splitting roses. Comical picture though.

While the boys were off on their adventure, us girls were at home settling things with babysitters and dinner. We laid out lots of candles and set up a lovely green table. I wasn't sure about the green, but it turned out gorgeous. We used a green table cloth with lace over the top to play down the Christmas color. Then added a friends green dishes. On a separate bar table we had appetizers of bread and artichoke dip from Pioneer Woman. Delicious! We had originally planned fondue as well, but ended up with a ton of food.

We stole My Insanity's candy bouquet idea as well. Each girl picked up their guys favorite candy and made a bouquet with tissue paper and ribbon. We figured they'd appreciate candy over anything else and speaking of my husband, boy were we right.

These were our bouquets, cards, and a gorgeous candle piece that a friend brought along. Very romantic!

When the boys arrived, we had dinner. We split the menu between us and somehow ended up with a pretty nice Olive Garden style meal. Complete with both Pasta E Fagioli (my specialty), Zuppa Toscana, and Manicotti. Desert was Lava Cakes and Berry Cheesecake. I swear I ate till I could eat no more. Everything was fantastic and complimented each other so well. The boys were starving and loved it all.

This is my honey and I, grateful to have a babysitter for the evening.

We topped off the evening by watching clips from the video and playing a game called Match Mate. Super fun, but we soon discovered that being married longer didn't help us at all. We kept coming in last place. :-) Who turns to their mate and asks, "What was your favorite cartoon character as a child?"

All in all, we had a great time. And I'd love to do it again. The only thing I didn't like about it was trying to keep it a secret from my husband. I was so excited about it; it was hard to keep a secret during the planning.

Hopefully this will give you some ideas for planning something fun for your mate. get together with a few friends, brainstorm the connections you have, and put some thought into a fun idea for your husband. Who knows what you'll come up with.

Oh, and if you do use this event, let me know. I'd love to see your fun ideas.

Submitted to:
Tackle it Tuesday @ 5 Minutes for Mom
Works for Me Wednesday @ We Are THAT Family
Talented Tuesday @ My Frugal Family
Amazing Dates @ Me and My Insanity
Market Yourself Monday @ Sumo's Sweet Stuff

Monday, February 15, 2010

Menu Monday 2/15-2/21

Breakfast: Oatmeal and apples
Lunch: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, string cheese, fruit
Dinner: Black Bean, Corn, and shrimp quesadillas,

Breakfast: Cottage cheese and fruit
Lunch: Sandwiches, pineapple, carrots and dip
Dinner: Taco Soup

Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Sandwiches and salads
Dinner: Lentil Tacos

Breakfast: Low Fat Raspberry Orange Muffins
Lunch: Sandwiches and salad
Dinner: Spaghetti, salad and bread

At my sister-in-law's
Big Pot Pasta E Fagioli
Something for breakfast
Maybe a desert

Breakfast: Low Fat Raspberry Orange Muffins
Lunch: out with friends
Dinner: Kids at a friends
Us at staff

I've sure been in a rut with dinners lately. Does anyone have something wonderful I need to try? I used to be so adventurous, but I need help. We typically eat on the vegetarian end of things. When we do it meat, it's usually an ingredient and not the main part of the meal. We eat lots of soups in the winter and I try to keep things as healthy as possible. I'd love some ideas.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Link Love

Try these easy last minute Ways to Show Your Children Love @ Lamp unto my Feet, Light unto my Path.

Here's a whole list of Free Valentines (@ Freebies 4 Mom). Print out something cute for your hubby, kids, or best friend.

Need a new sewing project? This Wellness Bag (@Sew Mama Sew) would make a wonderful gift as we finish out this winter/flu season.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Looking for a Romantic Flick

Valentine's Day is just around the corner. I'm so excited. As I mentioned before, we don't usually do much for this holiday, but this year, I may have overextended myself. So you won't be hearing much from me this weekend.

Oh, the other hand, if you want to keep it low key and enjoy a night, here are a few ideas:
*Pick up a funny card from the Dollar Store. Most are 2/$1 and you can pick up an All-Occasion card for you gift box.
*Also check them out for flowers. Our store usually stocks flowers for such occasions as Valentine's, Mother's Day, etc.
*Don't forget ice cream. I've been seeing half gallons of Dreyers in these stores. So yummy!
*And boxes of brownie mix where on sale at my grocery store for $.80 this week.
*Papa Murphy's is also running their heart shaped pizzas this weekend. Always a hit with my kids.
*Finally go to your movie store early on Saturday to check out one of these romantic flicks before they're gone. Dramatic or comedic, you're sure to enjoy yourself, snuggling with your honey through one of these romantic movies.

The Notebook

All time favorite... Don't watch it if you're in a casual relationship. You'll cry your eyes out.


One of my favorite Harrison Ford movies, but really with Harrison, can you go wrong?

Sweet Home Alabama

New York meets Redneck... when you can't take the country out of the girl

50 First Dates

I'm not a huge Adam Sandler fan, but this is a must see.

*Submitted to:
Frugal Fridays @ Life as Mom
Round Robin @ Keeping up with the Schultz Family

Ukraine 2000

In the summer of 2000, I returned to Ukraine once again, this time leading a teach of 10. There was a certain comfort in being able to return to same village in which I'd already spent time. Many of the same kids, many of the same staff. In many ways, it felt like going home. I was able to pick the language back up very quickly and old friendships were renewed even quicker.

Some things had changed. My great friend Rouslann had been adopted and was no longer there. There were new presures and responsiblities of being a leader. Some of my team I met on the plane.

We were an interesting group. There were six of us from the college, two alumni, and two moms from the mid-west whom we'd never met before. Not an ideal situation, but we made it work. In fact, we made it more than work. We thrived. We knit together in a way that was surprising.

I look back on this group with the greatest of pride. Nearly 10 years later, from this group of 10, there came a missionary to Japan, a missionary to Russia, a married couple with 3 beautiful children, four teachers, social workers, and two moms who went home and sold out to Christ, completely changing their families' lives.

I look back on this group and still feel highly responsible for them. I keep in touch with nearly all of them. I want to protect them, push them, see them succeed. Nearly 10 years after we've come home, I still want the very best for all of them.

This is Alosha and I. There were three of them in the family: Alosha, Slavic, and Marina. Marina was in my girls' group and Slavic and Alosha were fantastic big brothers. Having such a huge value for family, I loved keeping the three of them together as much as possible.

This was Sasha from '99. One day he was playing in the hallway and our translator told me he was pretending to be Eesus (Jesus). So here's my picture with Jesus.

My old friends Oksana and Natasha were still at the orphanage. Oksana would eventually marry our translator from '99 and relocate to the United States. Today she is a wife and a mom.

Here's the 10 of us:

This was our American team and the Ukrainian staff that we worked with.

Camp was broke into age and gender groups. These were the girls that I worked with over the youngest girls group: Kari, Oksana, and myself.

In 1999, I left Ukraine knowing that I would one day return. I knew it in a way that I never questioned.

When I left in 2000, I had no idea if I'd ever go back. No idea that three years later, I'd not only return, but I'd return with my husband.

For 1999 photos, click here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

LOST (6x3)--Let's Recap

Caution... spoilers ahead...

While I loved last week's episode, this one didn't have nearly as many answers. Still the character development was strong... and after all, that's what keeps me coming back. Here are just a few of my thoughts on last night's episode:

*So now we have a 3rd leader: Smokie, Jacob, and Dagon? How does Dagon's fraction fit into the plan?

*I don't like this Kate in the flash sideways...She's angry, aggressive, self-centered... maybe it's just bringing out more of the truer version of herself than is already present on the island...

*ok, maybe she redeemed herself by going back to pick up Claire... It seems as though she, Claire, and Aaron where always fated to be intertwined...

*And Ethan returns to take Claire's baby... What's so special about Aaron? He seems to WANT to go to The Island... causing them a scare when Claire says she not ready to deliver... Perhaps Ethan was sent to this "reality" to take the baby again

*Is Claire as sick in the "new reality" as they claim she is in the old one? Perhaps that's why Ethan was supposed to take her baby after all. My prediction is that's why she was brought to The Island, Kate as well. So Kate could save Aaron and Aaron could save Kate.

*I find it so ironic that Kate was always meant to be a part of this baby's life. Then again, isn't irony what this show is really all about?

*Does anyone else just feel a need to take care of Sawyer? There'd better be some kind of redeeming storyline in the future for him and Juliette. I do hope the final scene of the show finds them together again. Both realizing that her "sacrifice" worked...

*When Sayid was being tortured, they wanted to make sure he wasn't the smoke monster? Th smoke monster has claimed Christian, Claire, Locke, and is moving on to bigger and better things...

*Who are THE GOOD GUYS? No one? Are there just varying degrees of better selves?

Watching the preview:
So... Smokie wants to destroy everyone that was "touched" by Jacob... he's gotten Locke and now he's after Sawyer... How did he get to Sayid and Claire? It seems as though these LOSTIES are destined to REDEEM The Island.

For more intelligent conversation on LOST, check out What Kate Does @ Rocks in My Dryer.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Raising Mission Minded Children?

Looking for an opportunity to raise mission minded children, but not sure where to start?

Check out this Do It For Others Project @ We Are THAT Family. Kristen is planning a trip to Africa with Compassion and is preparing Sunday School Awards. I'm not sure how we're going to be involved just yet. But I'd like the time to find out. Even if we only get a few done, it should be well worth our time.

How do you help your children see the world outside their own doors?


For more Wordless Wednesday posts, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Love is in the Air... and on the window... and....

Valentine's Day has never really been a big deal in our house. Since Big Boy was born, I've done something small every year, but that usually included just a special hug and maybe a sweet card for the scrapbook. Last year we did a few more things and ended up having friends over for a potluck and game night. But really all in all, it's just been another day that's gone without notice.

Honestly in the 8 1/2 years that I've been married, I can only remember going out for Valentine's Day once. Really not much special around here.

But for some reason this year things have been different. Maybe it's because the kids are getting older. Maybe because I feel stuck in a rut. Maybe because the winter's been long and I need some color in this house. Either way, we've been working hard and planning harder. Here are a few of the bright spots in our house these days:

Valentine's Window Clings that the kids put up at the beginning of February

A fun Wood and Fabric Heart Wreath hanging over our mail slot.

Valentine's Bags and Paper Plate Animals... The kids each decorated two paper bags for a total of four (Daddy's, Mommy's, Big Boy's, and Baby Girl's). The tops are folded over and taped to the wall, and there's a slit cut in the front. Each night after dinner we write messages to each other and slip them in. Then after dinner on Valentine's night, we'll open them up and read our messages. Messages focus on what we love to do with the other person or why we like to spend time with them.

I got the idea for this cute "Be Mine" Garland from another blogger, although I apologize as I accidentally deleted the link. Super easy, especially if you have a Cricut.

I need something for a party we're having so I put together this Candle Centerpiece to match my "Be Mine" Garland. The leftover scrapbook paper and Dollar Tree candles worked perfectly. Add an old plate and some pink marbles I used during Baby Girl's Party, and I really like it.

Paper Heart Garland and knew I had to make one. Hearts were free form cut and sewn together. Only word of caution is to slowly push the paper through the sewing machine as the paper is so delicate and the needle could rip. The paper will not guide itself.

Hubby and I are going out for Valentine's Day this year. In fact, I'm planning a HUGE surprise for him. Check back next week for details. This will be the first time in months that we've left the kids with a sitter. I'm excited to spend a night out with just him.

Valentine's night we'll stick close to home with the kids. I plan on letting them make their own french bread pizzas and I want Red Velvet cupcakes. I'll be using the recipe from Pioneer Woman's New Cookbook.

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day in your home? If so, what do you do?

*Submitted to; Tackle it Tuesday @ 5 Minutes for Mom,
Works for Me Wednesday @ We Are That Family
DIY Day @ A Soft Place to Land,
Talented Tuesday @ My Frugal Family
Round Robin @ Keeping Up With the Schultz Family

Menu Monday 2/8-2/14

Breakfast: fruit and yogurt
Lunch: sack lunch: sandwiches, string cheese, fruit
Dinner: Lentil Tacos

Breakfast: Raspberry Orange Muffins
Lunch: Sandwiches and salads, homemade applesauce
Dinner: Chicken Pot Pie with Pioneer Woman's Pie Crust

Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Sandwiches, string cheese, fruit jello
Dinner: Lentil Soup

Breakfast: Raspberry Orange Muffins
Lunch: Sandwiches and salads,
Dinner: Zucchini patties, homemade applesauce

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Grilled Veggie Sandwiches

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Dinner date with friends. Bringing: Artichoke Dip, Pasta E Fagoili, dipped marshmallows, ???
Pizza for the babysitter

Breakfast: Heart shaped pancakes
Lunch: Heart shaped grilled cheese sandwiches
Dinner: French Bread Pizza, fruit jello, red velvet cupcakes

Confetti Yogurt Pops
Mexican Hot Cocoa
White Bean Dip

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Link Love

These Chocolate Biscotti (@Muses of Megret) look fantastic. Maybe Valentines Day!

Check out these great ideas for Homeschooling in the Preschool Years (@Glimpses of Sonshine). These are some ideas I need in front of me all the time. So easy and so true!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Frugal Friday

Did anyone try some of the recipes from January's Cheapest Fruits and Vegetables? How did they turn out? Did you discover something need that you enjoyed? Share it with us.

Well, here's February's Cheapest Fruits and Vegetables:


Here's your family friendly recipe for the month:
Broccoli Salad

1 bag of Broccoli Slaw (or fresh broccoli)
red onion
crumble fried bacon
sunflower seeds
1 c mayo
2Tbsp white vinegar
1/4 c sugar

Mix your mayo, vinegar and sugar to dress your salad. May increase the sugar to your taste.

There's so many variations of this. I don't like nuts in things so I might add water chestnuts instead for the crunch. Some people prefer pecans. Some recipes call for cherry tomatoes as well. Experiment and see what you like best. But honestly any variation of this salad is fantastic.

Oh, and for a second recipe this month, check out the Lemon Bars I posted last month. Huge family hit. So yummy!

All the fruits listed are fantastic and most contain a ton of vitamin C, perfect for fighting off that winter cold.

I also came acrossed this today and was intrigued:Broiled Grapefruit with Honey, Vanilla, and Cardamon.

And is rhubarb in season? Saw this today as well: A Tale of Rhubarb. I may have to make a Raspberry Rhubarb Cobbler if it is.

For more Frugal Friday posts, check out Life as Mom.

Ukraine 1999

One of my tackles this months has been to organize and journal my photos from my last mission trip to Ukraine. I can hardly believe it's been nearly seven years. Seven years since I've visited a country that will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Over the course of four years, I made three trips to Ukraine. Even saying the name seems so inadequate. Ukraine is name that holds numerous emotions, memories, life changing events. And it feels like it was a life time ago.

So as I'm going through photos and reliving memories, and remembering names and re-feeling emotions... I thought I'd share some of my favorite memories with you.

My first trip to Ukraine was in 1999. I was only 19 and taking only my second trip out of the country. Prior to this, I'd spent a week in British Columbia with a college friend, but other than that, I had never traveled out of the country. I had just finished my sophomore year at a small Christian college and was going to spend a month working with orphans. I had no idea what I was in for.

One month, 100 orphans, a language barrier, a definite food barrier, a team crisis, and falling in love. I fell in love with those kids. They became my life.I've always loved working with kids, but living, eating, teaching, playing together 24 hours a day. I became friend, teacher, confidant, big sister, and sometimes mom.

The countless hours swimming, doing crafts, team building, laughing, hauling water from the well, distributing clothes and gifts and toothbrushes,... I fell in love with the people and the kids and a country that's struggling to find it's identity.

This is Me and Sasha at the birthday party we threw for the kids. This was the first time any team had come to this particular orphanage. Many of these kids had never been celebrated on their birthdays. We threw quite a party!

Many of these kids had families. Families that were too poor take care of them. Desperate they turn to the state. And the state, poor as they are, just can't keep up. Sad to see families in such financial crisis that they're ripped apart. Families without the tools to stay together.

This was my friend Vica. She was a great support. She had done countless camps like this one and was a wonderful wealth of knowledge. But the one thing that sticks with me most. She told me that there's nothing like that first group of kids you work with. She was right.
I remember so many kids I've worked with in different settings. But there's nothing like what this first group was.

This was Oksana. She was one of the older girls and I looked on her like a little sister. Going through those teenage years with no one to really guide her. And keeping my fingers crossed that she didn't end up selling herself on the street.

Finally this was my Rouslann. We seemed to have a special bond from the start. I don't even know how it happened. One of the younger boys. He was small, had a crippled leg, big heart, and captured mine. We were together all the time. Of all the kids, if I could have brought him home, I would have. Even now, I'd do anything to see him again.
I remember when I had to say good bye to him. Now nearly 11 years later, there are no words to describe that moment. To describe the way our hearts broke. He was a very special boy. And adopted by the time I was able to return to that orphanage. I pray all the time that he found a good family.

Leaving the orphanage, we had a few days in Kiev (the capital). This was Me, Angela, and Linda at the Monastery Caves in the city. Amazing architecture and history. Our day of debriefing in Kiev was meant to rest, sight see, and reflect on our time with the kids. Cry and seal off our time in the country.

One week before we left the orphanage, our teammate Hillary was evacuated on a medical emergency. An asmatic, she had become too fun down to recover. So in the middle of the night, she left, along with our translator and staff sponsor. We lost half our time in a matter of hours. It was a nice surprise that as we landed in San Francisco, we were all together again (with the exception of one member).

Angela, Linda, Hillary, Me, Bryce, Kostya, and Jason

A time I'll never forget!

Over the next couple of weeks I'll post some photos from 2000 and 2003 as well. Check them out

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Yummy coming this weekend...

Had a trophy wife moment this evening when I prepped these for the freezer...

Pioneer Woman's Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

LOST(6x1-2)--let's recap

Spoilers Ahead... proceed at your own risk.

I'm LOST... what do we call ourselves? Not a trekkie... a LOSTIE? Hum, I feel a nose bleed coming on.

Anyways I digress...

I'm an absolutely LOST freak no matter how you want to put it. As if you couldn't tell by this. Or this. I can dissect an episode in my sleep. Don't laugh. I actually dreamt about LOST last night after watching the season premiere. Sick huh?

There are just a few things that have been going through my head today:

*Really? Did they have to make me relive the death of my favorite character over and over again? How many times did they kill Juliette? Four? And then to make me think she was still alive in the hatch? That's just cruel.

*Who is Richard? This is a question I wanted answered this season. And what did "Locke" mean by "good to see you out of those chains"?

*Can we bring back Walt? I'm wondering if he's going to be the key to defeating the smoke monster. Who are these others that have our friends? They were the ones that originally took Walt I believe. Could he be there on the island in this alternate universe?

*Will Jake and Claire ever realize they're related?

*And where does Christian fit into all this? Is Claire going to become the new man in black with Jack replacing Jacob?

*Is Sayid now inhabited by Jacob's spirit? Weird reserection theme going on here.

*Don't pull Desmond into this drama all over again. The man has been through enough.

*Will the passengers who returned to LAX have repressed memories? Did you see the way Jack grabbed the seat when they hit turbulence?

*Jack told Locke in LAX that nothing is irreversible. Hum....

*And speaking of the LAX Locke, he seemed more confident than the pre-crash Locke. Could he have actually done all those things they said he couldn't do?

*Why does it seem the two groups of "Others" don't seem to know about each other?

Too many questions, but thankfully there were a few answers:

*Island Locke wasn't really ressurected, but rather inhabited by the smoke monster.

*Jin and Sun seem to be headed for reuniting, that is if Sun doesn't leave Jin in the airport.

Ok, now that I'm thinking about... maybe there wasn't many answers.

For some more intelligent posts check out Rocks in My Dryer and this post by Entertainment Weekly (note the videos are not child appropriate).

Monday, February 1, 2010

Are you ready?

I'll post a real Tackle later, but for now, here's my true tackle for the day...

Keeping myself from jumping out of my skin before LOST premieres.


Menu Monday 2/1-2/7

Hastily thrown together this week. I just can't seem to think!

Breakfast: Scrambled Eggs and Cereal
Lunch:Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, carrots and hummus
Dinner: Tomato Soup (& Quesadillas?)

Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Sandwiches and salads
Dinner: Mexican Corn Chowder

Breakfast: Raspberry Orange Muffins
Lunch: Sandwiches and salads
Dinner: Split Pea Soup

Breakfast:Raspberry Orange Muffins
Lunch: Sandwiches and salads
Dinner: Lentil Tacos

At Grandma's

Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: ????

Confetti Yogurt Pops
Crackers and Hummus
Ranch Popcorn
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