Friday, September 30, 2011

Send 'em over!


The kids each had a friend over today.


The boys played with fire.



and the girls


made sugary, salty treats.





Doesn't that just make you want to
send your kids to my house?


P.S.  I have no idea what the jump rope was being used for.


Maybe to keep the leaves in one place.
I make it a point not to micromanage. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Strawberry Daiquiri Salad

Time for another recipe!!


There are certain recipes I make enough times that I need to put them in one easy place.  This is one of them.  I love to take it to gatherings because it's so tasty and pretty.  It's about time I got around to posting it!


1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. dijon mustard

1 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar

1 (10 oz.) bag baby spinach, rinsed and dried
2 pints sliced, fresh strawberries
1 cup toasted flaked coconut
1/2 red onion, chopped (I use green onion)

1.  Whisk the lime juice, honey, oil and mustard together in a bowl.
2.  Combine the almonds, salt and sugar in a large skillet.  Still constantly over medium-low heat, until almonds are light golden brown and coated.  Remove from skillet and set aside to cool.
3.  Toss the spinach, strawberries, coconut, onions and cooled almonds in a large bowl.  Top with prepared dressing and toss to coat.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A hop, skip and a jump


Teachinfourth  (a.k.a. Jason or Mr. Z) over at Adventures and Misadventures of Daily Living is a fabulous photographer and master storyteller.  Not to mention, he is a teacher.  I smile every time I go over there, and usually laugh pretty hard too.  His "Moments With Joey" posts almost make me want to go back to the classroom. Almost.  He uses his "Weekly Kodachrome" to encourage people to post pictures from the last week that make them smile.  A great excuse for this photo, I thought.

Fridays are family outing nights for us.  This is a perfect example of why I love them. Fridays, that is.  And my family.  Both.

Click the button for more smile makers!

Adventures & Misadventures of Daily Living

Monday, September 26, 2011

Too close to call


This week at iheartfaces they are asking participants to post their favorite face photo from summer.  That is hilarious!  My favorite faces were quite available this summer and gave me way too many options to choose from.  But this one jumps out at me because it is my friend Jennifer's beautiful smile, and this particular spot in our adventure with our kids at the sculpture garden provided such a deep and fascinating frame.  So to me it spells the fun, exploration, and friendship that characterized our summer. 

If you want to hang onto summer for a few more minutes, 
go check out these great shots!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Serenade to Autumn


It was such a beautiful evening in our world yesterday.  
Sun shining, nothing on the schedule.  
It just doesn't get any better.



I coaxed my family into walking around the lake.


Or, in the case of Ben and Bethany, scooting.


When we got there, this guy got out of his van right in front of ours 
and headed down to the pier with his guitar.  
I hoped he would still be there after we made our way around.


Which we did.





We even took time for mom to try out a couple of portrait backdrops.


Ben was so helpful.
He just knew I would want a picture
with both of my kids.
He's perceptive that way.


Finally we made it back to where we started
so I could find out if our musician friend
was still there.

And he was.


And sure enough, he was happy to let me snap away







as he waited to usher in the sunset


with his beautiful song.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The log in my own eye

On more than one occasion I have taken part in conversations with people who I would roughly consider my age group peers, in which there was a collective lament over the "entitlement" mentality of the generations following ours.

A couple of these conversations replayed themselves this morning in my head as I groggily opened Facebook to see what kind of a start the day was off to.  (It's my traditional way of deciding whether to go back to bed or not.)  If you are on Facebook, you probably know what I discovered.  NO, I didn't go back to bed.  It was kind of fascinating to see what people were saying--if you could get your screen to hold still long enough to see it.  If you are not on Facebook, I'll just summarize by saying there is (another) new "new Facebook".

You know what struck me?  It was not the "entitlement" generation that was commenting about the new changes.  I suspect they were too busy figuring it out and dealing with it.  Some of the others of us were a little offended that  Facebook would make unsolicited changes to OUR pages, WITHOUT our permission--you know the pages that they provide free of charge to us, with the obvious understanding that we are making ourselves the object of their sponsors' marketing schemes.  The pages that have helped me keep up in real time with loved ones all over the world and reconnect with numerous people that I could NEVER have found with out them.

Oh, I was right there feeling a little frustrated too.  But this picture came to my mind as I thought of all the younger people who were not complaining.


You know what they say...if you point one finger at someone else, you've got three more pointing right back atcha.

If my kids adopt an attitude of entitlement, which they very well may, I will not need to look past my own front door or into any screens for the culprit.

Lord, thank you for showing me the log in my own eye this morning.  And please remind me that the generations after me are now seeing every single word I write on Facebook, including the ones I post and then take back.

P.S. to the generations after me:  You've been inspiring me for a long, long time.  Thank you!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Moms in Touch Monday: He is before all things

Today is a Moms in Touch Monday.  Every week I start thinking ahead of time about an attribute of God to use as the focus of our time of prayer for our kids.  Sometimes it is obvious to me well in advance, and other times really not until I sit down to put my plan on paper in the day or so beforehand.  I love the fact that many times they sort of "come out of the blue"--because it is then that I realize once again that God is active in my life, speaking to me in many moments and ways if I will just pay attention.

Last week I knew I had the verse for the week when I was trying to help Ben work through the middle school transition of carrying everything--EVERYTHING!--from class to class with him.  There is NO time for them to go back to lockers, so they have to have everything for the day in their binders. If you had seen his desk the last few years, you would know he was not the very best candidate for this task.  Honestly, I can't quite imagine how I would do it myself.  But he is the one who must.


As I looked with concern at his binder, the beast of burden, bulging with its contents, I thought of this verse:

"He (Jesus) is before all things, 
and in him all things hold together." 
 Colossians 1:17

So that is what we praised God for today.

Do you have a lot of things that you are trying to hold together?  Maybe this week's ACTS outline will help you take them to the Lord so he can do the job for you.

Adoration (praising God for who he is)  Key passage:  "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created:  things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."  Colossians 1:15-17

Today we praised God for the fact that in this new season of life, he went before our kids, knowing who their teachers would be and what their schedules would be.  He planned all along to take care of them, determining who the authorities in their lives would be.  He holds all of the pieces of our families' lives together--each personality, each relationship, each need.  We praised him for these and other things that came to mind as we thought about his pre-existent nature.

Confession  In light of those verses, we asked him to show us if there are any aspects of our lives where all things didn't seem to be holding together, so that we could take note of places where we might not be putting him before everything else, our where our priorities might not be "in him".  After all, sometimes we are guilty of thinking we can do it all ourselves, of thinking we must be the ones to hold everything together for each of our family members, or of crowding our schedules with things that might be desirable but not necessary or best for us. Or maybe that's just me.  ;-)  This was a time to quietly admit these things, to ask him to give us wisdom in our choices, and to help us trust him to hold things together for us and those we love.

Thanksgiving  We thanked God for the ways he has taken care of our kids in many of the details of their school start, through teachers that are good fits, evidence of their maturation in certain areas, and other things specific to each of us and our families.

Supplication (requests)  Key verses:  "My (Paul talking here) purpose is that they (a group of Christians) may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.  I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.  For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is."  Colossians 2:2-5

This section came just a handful of verses after the passage above.  Really, we could have spent all day praying some of the different specifics of this passage for certain ones of our children.  Some of them needed to be encouraged in heart;  some needed to learn to be more orderly;  all of them need a firm faith in Christ, in order to allow him to be before everything else and trust him to hold their lives together.  And so on.  So we prayed for them.

This is how we pray at Moms in Touch.  Do you see anything in these passages that reminds you of something to be praying in praise, or on behalf of yourself or those you love?

Saturday, September 17, 2011



Ahh...sweet peace.  The kids have gone back to school, and finally there is space to clear out the cobwebs in my mind.  To be refreshed for their arrival home each day.  I love summer, but oh, fall is good too!

If you have known me long, you know that my back to school routine always includes Moms in Touch. These women have kids that go to the same schools as mine, and we meet each week to pray for them and the staff and other students.  It is a privilege beyond words.

There are four components of our prayer time each week (described at the link), known as the ACTS model of prayer:

Adoration (praising God for some attribute of who he is)
Supplication (asking)

The greatest challenge for me has always been to get my head around the concept of confession. During our meetings we have a time of silent confession, never spoken.  Honestly, when I started in Moms in Touch, when we came to confession, all I could really ever think about was the times I yelled at my kids during the previous week. I would pray to do better. Of course I STILL pray to do better.  But pretty soon I started thinking, confession has to be more than this.

And then it occurred to me.  Go back to the adoration part.  Look at God for who He is--his divinity, or "Godness"--and use him as a mirror.  

Let's say the attribute of the week is God's wisdom.  We would look at a verse or verses describing the nature of his wisdom.  It wouldn't take much reflection to realize that God's understanding is far--infinitely far--beyond our own.  When we look at the needs we bring with us as prayer concerns for our children, we quickly see that sometimes we are overwhelmed because we think the solution to each of our parenting challenges must come from our own wisdom and resources, and we are left feeling woefully inadequate. When we look at God's wisdom, my confession sounds something like this:

God, my own wisdom falls short when it comes to this issue we have with ________ about ________.  You are her Creator, loving her more than I ever could, and you have the perfect wisdom for helping her through this situation.  I confess that I am in need, and you have an abundant supply.  Forgive me for trusting in my own wisdom, and for worrying when it didn't seem enough.  Only you are enough.  Help me to see YOUR wisdom guiding us through like a light in the dark.  Help me relax and let you lead us.

MAYBE my confession wouldn't have any words at all!  Maybe the image of a light would be enough!  Maybe visualizing his wisdom guiding our way, is an adequate expression of my weakness and dependence on his strength.

You see, confession typically boils down to this:  acknowledging to God that he is God and I am not.  No matter what facet of God's nature provides our focus during the adoration time, it also provides illumination about my nature.  Confession gives perspective.  I am not him, so I need him. His intent isn't to hand out a punishment, or worse, condemnation. (We may actually deserve that, but it's already taken care of.)  It's to help me.  But I have to let him.

Our group has a number of women whose commitments prevent them from attending every week.  I am hoping this year to post our scriptures and a few reflections at least some of the time.  If you are a mom, I hope you will join us and use them as a springboard to pray for your own kids.  If you are a mom who might be able to join a group of others who pray (you don't have to pray out loud, but you can!), I urge you to check the Moms in Touch website to see if there is a group for you.  It is invariably one of the most treasured hours of my week.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sweets for the Sweet


I had a baby a few days ago.


At my house.


With her mom.


And obviously, that was a cause for celebration!

So I made a pastry ring. Well. A pastry heart. It's more girly.

And SO easy!! But that can be our little secret.

I knew you would want the recipe.

Scandinavian Pastry

2 cups flour, divided
1 cup margarine, divided
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
2 eggs (3 for more of a meringue-like texture)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract, divided
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon butter, softened
3-4 tablespoons orange juice

Preheat oven to 425ºF.  Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl using a pastry blender or 2 forks combine 1 cup of the flour and 1/2 cup of the margarine until crumbly.  Add 1 tablespoon of water and stir together until dough forms.  Roll portions of dough between palms of hands to form ropes, joining ropes together end-to-end to form one long rope about 18  to 20 inches long.  Carefully place rope on baking sheet in desired shape.  Flatten dough to a uniform width, about 3 inches wide.

NOTE:  I am a total rule breaker when it comes to recipes.  The recipe is good as is, but depends on that orange juice up there for flavor.  I skip the orange juice and use milk in the icing, and then fill the ring with my secret ingredient:


Ginny's Jam (see her picture?)

Ginny is a sweet friend of mine who won the blue ribbon at the state fair many years ago now for her triple berry jam, and Gedney has been selling it ever since.  It's YUM.  But so are raspberry preserves, pumpkin butter, you get the picture.  My no-nonsense Scandihuvian ancestry has been tainted by modern culture.  What can I say?  Use filling.

But keep it away from the edges because it will want to ooze.


OK.  Back to the real recipe.

In a medium saucepan bring to a boil remaining 1/2 cup margarine and remaining 1 cup water.  Remove from heat and add remaining 1 cup flour all at once, stirring until well mixed.  Add eggs, one at a time, stirring until each is incorporated.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla.  Spoon on top of dough.  If you use filling, you can use your fingers to try to seal the edges and prevent most of the oozing.


Bake 30 minutes.  In a medium mixing bowl combine confectioners' sugar, butter, remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla, and enough orange juice (or milk) to be of icing consistency.  Drizzle over warm ring.

Move to serving platter after loosening with spatula, if desired.  Cut and serve!

If you are planning to use the leftovers for tomorrow's breakfast,


I hope you have some cereal in your pantry.