Friday, November 30, 2012

Thanksgiving with the Hickoks part 1

Since I just got my internet hooked up, I'm a little late in my Thanksgiving review.  I have so many pictures of our visit with the Hickoks that I'll need three posts to get them all up!  Here's the first glimpse.

We had the best time over Thanksgiving!  Our Super Duper Ooper Schmooper {thanks, Sid the Science Kid} dear friends, the Hickoks, came to share the long weekend and visit our new digs.  Even amongst boxes and moving-in chaos, it was the greatest way to spend the holiday weekend.

We made a cardboard box castle from some of the leftover boxes.  The girls loved it.

Is it possible they have grown this fast?

How beautiful these young ladies have become!

I still remember this:

The girls' first Easter {much maternal sighing going on}

Little Addie, who was tiny when I last saw her, was a fireball of sweetness.  She's like candy with hot sauce.

And Jack, well, he's cool.  He's mellow like Jello with a car in his hand.

Our Besties, Steve Daddy {Handsome Hero is Bill Daddy to their girls} and Miss Lydia, and baby girl number three, were just what we needed.  It was such a blessing having them around and encouraging each other in the Lord.  And playing games.  They love games.  Games with strategy.  I am HORRIBLE at games like that, but I love the company, so I play.  And you know what?  I even won once.  I think it surprised everyone, including me.  I haven't won a game in seven and a half years.  It's my trademark.  It's what I'm known for.  

Nate just hung out with whoever would hold him.  He's the most content child you have ever met.  No. doubt.

We trekked down to my parents' house for Thanksgiving.  It was lovely, as always.  The Hickoks fit in like they'd always been there.  They tend to do that.  It's one of the things that make them special.

Now bear with me for some family portraits.  The Lewis family.

The kids with their Great Grandmother.  Jack rarely smiles in pictures, as you can see.  Here he's saying, "cheese," which is what you say when you take pictures and has nothing to do with smiling.

Four generations of Elizabeths {Betty, Betsy, Beth, and Ella}.

It was wonderful spending time with the Hickoks and having them spend time with my family.  I'm telling you, there is nothing like being able to let your hair down and laugh with people who know you so intimately.  And laugh.  And laugh.  And laugh.  My cheeks still hurt!  To see these girls and instantly love them as much as we did the last time we saw them,

To have the kiddos all get along as though they had never been apart,

To spend time with my kindred spirit and encourage eachother as wives and moms and sisters in Christ,

And to see our next generation goofing off and having a great time together just like we were,

My soul was blessed.  We miss you, Hickoks!  Come again very soon!  This big ol' house is empty without you!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The tooth fairy's a-comin'!

It has been a mad house around here, and I have lived without the internet for over two weeks {pat on back!} while getting the house to this as-yet-unfinished-but-coming-along-nicely state.  I have lots of stories of our adventures and pictures to share, but I wanted to show you how a certain little visitor will be welcomed to our house at some point in the next few days.  You know, it's amazing how life goes on even when you are living in a transitional state of chaos.  Ella, my tiny little girl, is going to lose her first tooth.  Actually, her first TEETH.  Both of her bottom teeth are loose and she's getting older and growing up and is really excited about it and it's not okay with me.  But, since I don't have much say in this and she would look really weird being twenty-five and with all baby teeth, I'm rolling with it.  I even made the tooth fairy a little door through which to come to retreive said tooth.  Or teeth.  Whichever.

I found this dollhouse door at Hobby Lobby.

Miniature Carolina Door

A little paint, a little glitter, and now we have this:

A glitsy entrance for the tooth fairy.

When we asked Ella what happens when you lose a tooth, she replied confidently, "I get money.  Nine would be about right."  Dollars?  Is she kidding?  I got fifty cents, if memory serves.

The wee poem on the door says a tooth in the pillow is worth two in the gums.  Thank you, Steve-Daddy, for your contribution {more on that in future posts}.

The door will be hung on Ella's wall {high enough to discourage a certain two-year-old from trying to use it} awaiting the special day, which is the only day the door works.  It's funny to see her enter into the fantasy - she's very excited about the tooth fairy's portal into our dimension.
P.S. I know many of you reading this believe that doing this sort of thing is encouraging a lie, but I do not think so.  Ella is aware that this is a game, and is having a total blast with it.  It is a fun fantasy from someone who loves to play pretend and adores fairies.
P.P.S.  It's the only fantasy we do, but we embrace that the other ones are fun.  For instance, Ella never believed in Santa - she thought he was one of the seven dwarfs {which she called Hi-Ho's} and never thought he was real.  We would have had to work really hard to convince her that he was real and we did not see the value in forcing the issue when the real focus of Christmas should be the birth of Christ.  Instead, we talk about how St. Nicholas was real, and I have no problem reading Santa stories or watching Santa movies, but our focus will always on Christ.
Similarly, the Easter bunny is not something the kids think is even logical {Yes, I have surprisingly logical children}.  They like the Easter egg hunt, but don't associate it with a rabbit.  They know that Easter is the time we celebrate the resurrection of our Saviour.
The nice thing about the Tooth Fairy, as my mom pointed out, is that there is no Christian "equivalent" with which it competes.  It is just a little fairy tale.
P.P.P.S.  My sister believed in the tooth fairy for years.  She named her Jenny and they had a real correspondence going.  She would draw pictures and write letters to Jenny even when she hadn't lot a tooth.  Jenny had handwriting that was suspiciously similar to my dad's.... 
P.P.P.P.S.  Now I'm done.
P.P.P.P.P.S.  You're welome.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Recipe - Pumpkin Bran Muffins

This recipe was given to my mom when she got married.  She found it again recently and brought it with her when she went to my sister to help her with her new baby, and my sister has made them ever since.  Then she brought it to us.  I'm a big fan, too.

The recipe works because it makes a large amount of batter that can be stored in your fridge for a couple of weeks.  You scoop out what you need at the moment and never have any go stale.  I'm going to give you the original recipe and my alteration.

Original Bran Muffin Recipe
2 cups bran cereal {the twiggy stuff}
2 cups water
1 cup butter
3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 qt. buttermilk
5 cups flour
5 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
4 cups All Bran
1 bag golden raisins

Now, you should always try the original before altering a recipe, but I didn't, and it accidentally turned out fabulously, so I'm sharing my changes in this version.  Any changes I've hi-lighted.  Don't be turned off by the number of ingredients.  I just added any spice that would likely be in a pumpkin pie!

Pumpkin Bran Muffins
2 cups bran cereal
2 cups water
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups sour cream
2 cups milk
1 can pumpkin {NOT pie filling, just straight pumpkin}
2 t. vanilla
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
5 t. baking soda
2 t. salt {I used kosher, a bit less if using table salt}
1 T. cinnamon
1 t. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. ground ginger
4 cups All Bran

Are you familiar with the muffin method of baking?  It simply means mixing your dry and wet ingredients separately and then combining.  We're going to use that here.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

1.  Soak your bran cereal in the water and set aside.

2.  Mix your wet ingredients in a very large bowl - my mixer wasn't large enough for this.  Add your bran cereal.

3.  Mix your dry ingredients in another bowl and combine with your wet ingredients.  It's easiest to add 1/3 of the dry at a time, combine, and then repeat.

4.  Scoop into greased muffin cups or use paper liners.  Fill pretty full - they don't rise much.

5.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out sort of clean.

Add some bacon, eggs, and fruit and you have a very satisfying breakfast!

*In my variation, I didn't measure most of my spices.  I eyeballed it.  Because this recipe makes a large amount, I could have added more and it wouldn't have overpowered.

**My mom has made them omitting the water and said it worked very well.

***A good way to do this recipe is to make the original and then add ingredients only to your batter for the morning.  My mom and sister's favorite is to add some grated carrot and the zest of one orange.  I haven't tried it like this, but it sounds good! 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween 2012 and a walk down memory lane

 This was Nate's first Halloween.  I am glad to say it was a roarin' good time and I ain't lion.

What a cute cub.  My pride abounds.

Jack decided that he wanted to be a fire truck.  Not a fireman, a fire truck. 

A diaper box covered in fabric did the trick, complete with ladder and lights{above}, and a leaky hose {below}.  I am very proud of this, my first real Halloween costume.  You may compliment me.  I will accept graciously.

Ella decided she wanted to be a red flower. I wasn't sure if she looked like a flower, a fairy, or a Christmas elf, so when people could tell what she was I got really excited.  I should have had her carry a watering can for her candy.

Looking at how big they seem this year made us curious for a walk down memory lane.  It is, as always, horrible and beautiful and amazing to see the difference from year to year.
Last year I was newly pregnant and very tired and sick.  I stuck doggy ears on Jack and used eye liner on him to make him a puppy.
Ella was a mommy with a baby in a sling.
2010 was Jack's first Halloween.  Here he is in his first costume {recognize it?}.  Look at those eyes!  They're green now, believe it or not.

Ella was a fairy princess or something.
In 2009, I apparently forgot to take any pictures, and this one from a friend is all I have.  Bad mommy.
Here's our little bumblebee!  2008

She also wore it on her first Halloween, when she was only seven months old. - 2007


Let's look again at this year, shall we?

Can I punish them for getting bigger?
Do you think it would work?
What anazes me most is that next year we will look back on 2012 and think, "How little they are!  When did they get so big?" just like we are doing now.
Perspective and I have a love/hate relationship.