Sunday, May 30, 2010

May with the kiddos

Yeah, he is stinkin' cute. I know. He has such a good demeanor. He is rolling over, laying on his belly to play, eating 3 meals a day of solids, and loving to watch his crazy big sister as he just turned 5 months already!!
It was so nice to have such warm weather EARLY this year. Last year was brutal in Chicago, and we waited forever for warm weather. This year, Maddy was playing at the beach in March, and in the freezing cold water, thinking it was summer already.

Yes, Maddy is always crazy with him. He has survived being stood on, run into, hit, moved, picked up, bit, a sticker over his mouth, a princess tea party, bracelets, pink blankets, dolls, and being called Judy, all by his well-meaning big sissy.
Maddy got hives from head to toe, so we were inside a couple days. She was still in good spirits so we had to find some projects to do. My grandma got me this herb kit for Mother's Day, so we planted those. And Maddy's Aunt Anna sent her some seeds to plant in an egg carton. So we did our planting projects and we have been having our "bible time" on the balcony in the mornings while Judah takes his morning nap. It's fun to spend time together and some time "outside" finally!!
"Look at me touch my toes!!"
We went to visit my really good friend, Emily, out in the suburbs. She has 4 kids, 4, 2, and newborn twins who were born in March. Boy are they cute!! So our playdates consist of 3 toddlers and 3 newborns, ration = 6 to 2. Their names are Lydia and William. William's expression here and hands on his hips are priceless. "Don't mess with me!" And Lydia is like, "Get me out of the middle of these boys!" And Judah says, "Hey look at me! I'm bigger than both of them put together!!"
About to go out of the city for an outing. Didn't make it far. Decided to go to the beach. It was way too cold that day. Ended up nursing Judah in the car in the parking lot while Tad and Maddy played at the playground for 5 minutes before they decided it was too cold!!
Who needs a stroller when dad can skateboard the kid around the city?? Classic Tad.
Maddy loves art projects!! This is her making art projects for the doormen and security guards in our building. Today she told me, "I'm going to bring my coloring books to Oklahoma because I'm an artist just like Lydia (Tad's sister) and I like to color and she likes to paint." So cute!!

Hope your May was wonderful!! It flew by! Can't believe it is already almost June!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mixed Berry Shortcakes

Thank you, Weight Watchers, for a light, healthy dessert. I have to admit, I have a sweet tooth. Losing weight is so hard when every night I crave something sweet to end my crazy day, something that is satisfying but not too heavy. Well, that's what my weight tells me. And in this amazing dessert, I have found that. It was totally satisfying, but I knew I wasn't eating my days calories while consuming this. And since I went for my first 3 mile run in 3 years today, and the second 3 mile run ever, I really didn't want to ruin what I had already accomplished.
There is 1/4 cup sugar in the biscuits, and 1/4 cup sugar in the berries. Other than that, there really isn't anything else that is too bad. You just add the non-fat whipped cream, and you're good to go! And decaf coffee doesn't hurt either!!
So I will post the recipe as it appears in my Weight Watchers cookbook, so that if you are concerned about calories, you can measure accordingly. But if you aren't as concerned, you can add as many berries, as much whipped cream, and as many biscuits as you want!

Mixed Berry Shortcakes Weight Watchers From Pantry to Plate: Easy Meals from Foods You Keep on Hand

1 (16 oz) bag frozen unsweetened mixed berries, thawed (I used fresh strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries!)
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbs. cold, unsalted butter, diced
2/3 cup fat-free milk
3/4 cup fat-free nondairy whipped topping (I used Light whipped cream)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
2. Combine the berries, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of the sugar and set aside.
3. Combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar, flour, baking powder, ginger, and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives (I always use a whisk, and it works just fine), cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles course crumbs. With a rubber spatula or spoon, stir in the milk until the mixture is just moistened. With your hands, gather the dough into a ball and knead once or twice until it just holds together.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Press the dough out until it is about 1/2 inch thick. with a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter (I used a big cookie cutter), cut out 8 shortcakes; press the dough scraps together to cut more biscuits if you need to. Move the shortcakes to the baking sheet and bake until golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Cool on a rack at least 5 minutes. (Biscuits can be cooled completely and stored in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.)
5. To serve, cut the shortcakes in half horizontally and fill each with 1/4 cup of the berries and 1 1/2 Tbs. of the whipped topping. (What??? You need more whipped topping here, people. But if you are a Weight Watchers people, I guess we will give you a break.)

Per Serving (1 filled shortcake): 241 Cal, 6 g Fat, 2 g Fiber, 5 Points Value.
Well hello, evening.

Baby woke up at 5:30 am.
Tad woke up with baby.
I "slept in" until 8:30 am.
Went for a 3 mile run.
Listened to Maddy fuss the whole way home.
Tried to take a nap.
10 minutes later, Judah wakes up.
Finally get him to sleep after 1 1/2 hours of nursing, feeding, playing.
He wakes up crying after an hour.
Clean house, take shower, make dinner.
Listen to kids fuss, cry, whine.
Get kids to bed.
Mixed Berry Shortcakes - Glorious end to a Crazy Day!!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Butter Almond Crusted Fishwiches

These were so good!!! Let me tell you!! If you like fish, you will love this!! And chances are, even if you don't, you will love this!! The fish is so mild, that it doesn't taste fishy, and it is delicious!! If you are looking for a quick, easy meal that tastes awesome, and can be served for lunch or dinner, then here is a great meal to try!! Sorry, that was a lot of exclamation points. I must be really excited about this one!!
At this crazy point in my life with 2 small kids, I love meals that are not too hard, don't take much time, and don't require lots of steps with tons of ingredients!! I started making these fish sandwiches a little late, and didn't have much time before Tad's softball practice to make them. But I got them done quickly, and Tad raved about these for the rest of the day!!! He said I could make them once a week!!
There are three main components: good quality white bread (and don't skimp here. that could probably make or break the sandwich. well, maybe), the crusted fish fillets, and the amazing slaw. Pairs great with salt and vinegar potato chips!!!
And as always, let me give credit where credit is due: Rachel Ray!!! I love the Rachel Ray magazine! Each magazine is filled with so many diverse recipes, each magazine is like its own cookbook!! I always save them and go back and make new recipes!! And my good friend Jess just got me the subscription for Mother's Day!! Thanks Jess! So there will probably be more Rachel Ray recipes coming your way!

Butter-Almond-Crusted Fishwiches

2 Tbs. dijon mustard
2 Tbs. pickle relish (I used dill relish)
1 Tbs. honey
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
1/2 head small cabbage or 1/2 pound shredded slaw mix
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
Flour, for coating
2 eggs, beaten
4 fillets tilapia
3 Tbs. butter
Juice of 1 lemon
8 slices good-quality white bread, or split rolls of your choice, toasted
Salt and Vinegar or black pepper potato chips

In a medium bowl, whisk the mustard, relish, and honey. Whisk in 1/4 cup oil. Add the cabbage and season with salt and pepper; toss.
Using a food processor, grind the almonds. Stir in the breadcrumbs and thyme. Place in a shallow bowl. Place the flour and beaten eggs in 2 other shallow bowls. Halve the tilapia fillets crosswise, making 8 small pieces of fish. Pat the fish dry and season with salt. Dip the fish first in the flour, then in the beaten egg, then in the breadcrumb mixture.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 Tbs of oil over medium heat. Add the butter to melt. Add the coated fish and cook, turning once, until brown and crisp, 3 minutes per side. Douse the fish with the lemon juice. Stack 2 pieces of fish and a big pile of the slaw on the toast. Halve the sammies and serve with the potato chips.

If you make this recipe, let me know what you think!!! As with any other of the recipes I've posted!!
FYI: I changed my settings and now anyone can comment on blog posts. I didn't know there was a default setting that didn't allow that before. Your welcome, Briana!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Jess' Visit

My very good friend, Jess. We met in Women's Concert Choir. We were roommates on tour. She lived in our same apartment building here in Chicago but she pretty much lived with us. She would come over almost every night, endure my cooking, and watch shows with us. She would take Maddy out, we would go out and do things, and her and Tad would talk sports. For the last year she has been a short-term missionary in South Africa. Oh, how we missed her!!! But we enjoyed Skyping with her while she was gone, and were excited for her return!! She just came to Chicago and stayed with us for 2 weeks while she visited friends and college people in the city. We had such a blast, and it was so good to catch up!!
She insisted that Tad and I go on a date and she would watch the kids, and then Tad would watch the kids while we went out. We went to Diversey Rock 'N Bowl and had such a fun time!!
This picture was in a previous post, but it was one of the things we did. Lizeth Alba had her senior organ recital, and we got to go and watch. While we were there we got a Women's Choir pic of some previous WCCers. Fun times!!
Of course we had fun at Molly's Cupcakes. We have too many pictures of us eating.
We went out with Dr. Hong (the new conductor of Women's Choir) and Katie Barkman to our favorite Moody Thai place, Panang. Got some good noodle dishes and then headed back to Dr. Hong's place for ice cream and Jess' Africa slide show.
Panang. And Yes, I took this and actually got us all in the shot. Yeah, you heard me Jess.
Jess had some of her friends in town from Michigan so they stayed with us. We went to Ghiradannos for dinner, a favorite Chicago past time, for Chicago style pizza.
This is how my dear friend spent her very first night in Chicago. Folding like 18 millions loads of my laundry. While I was busy cooking a meal that needed to be prepped for the following day, Jess and I caught up while she folded an obsene amount of my laundry that never should have gotten so out of control. Hey, what are good friends for??

Jess, we had such a blast with you. Maddy still prays for you at night, and we can't wait to see you in June in Ohio!!! Glad you are back in the States, but excited for what God has for you in the future, possibly back in South Africa. We love you, and hope you have a great summer in Michigan. And as always, you are always welcome for a visit here!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010


First time bringing both kids to a Moody recital. Boy, that was fun. Especially at the end when Maddy loudly announced, "All done!!!" This is a Women's Concert Choir pic!! Well, those of us who were there!

First time Judah was in Maddy's little princess stroller. Too bad I didn't get the pics on my camera of him at her tea party, with a headband on. And did I mention that Maddy calls him "Judy?" The little sister she always wanted. . .

First time at Molly's Cupcakes. Didn't know what I was missing. Yum.

These are some of their seats. Which Maddy loved. She wouldn't sit anywhere else.

I tried the Strawberry Shortcake cupcake. And I have had the Tiramisu cupcake. Love it.

But there are tons to choose from.

First time Maddy got to hold a bird.

And first time a bird was on her head!!!

First group picture of my EWACH group (Entrusted With A Child's Heart). LOVE these ladies!! This ends my 2nd year in my small group at Moody Church with these women. So glad I decided to get involved in this group!!

Just ended Maddy's first year in AWANA!! The cutest Cubbie ever!!!

She did so good memorizing her verses!!!

Maddy's first pet!! Poor thing, she really wants a dog, but she sadly tells people that she can't have one in her apartment!! So her first pet is a Beta fish, which she calls a Potato fish. She named it Tweety. You can kind of see it in there. She picked out the pink rocks herself!!

First real food. Judah was only 4 months and ready for food. He is now going on 5 months and eating solids 3 times a day!! A big growing boy!!! These are pics of his first bites!!

He ate that first little bowl of food right down!! You think he's big in these pics?? Just wait a few more weeks with all this food he's eating!!
Thanks for sharing in all our "firsts" with us!! The kids are growing up fast, and hopefully I can get more pics up of them soon!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wasting Time

Lately I have been reading a blog called Passionate Homemaking. If you haven't ever read it, you should check it out. The blog is written by a woman who is about my age, and has 2 young kids. She has great ideas about eating healthy, growing in your faith, strenthening your marriage, making the most of your time, and encouragement for stay at home moms. It is very encouraging and there is tons of great information!!

She also includes ideas for family reading, individual book lists for the year, ideas about having a prayer and planning retreat, making the most of your mornings, and teaching your kids at home. While all these ideas are great, I was finding it difficult to get the motivation or the time to do some more things I wanted to do. And then, God started convicting me about how I was spending my time. I did have time. The great thing about having little ones is that they do sleep!! And if I budgeted my time better, I could get some things done and still get to bed at a reasonable time, and I wasn't really doing either of those things. I would argue that once the kids went to bed, I was too tired to do anything but watch TV or go online, so therefore I couldn't get anything else done. It might be true that once the kids go to bed, I am exhausted, but spending 3 hours each night in front of the tv was definitely not a good use of my time.

I might not have the energy to deep clean my bathroom or get working on a big project, but I could certainly relax on the couch and read, spend time with God, do some planning for homeschooling, fold some laundry, read up on some parenting issues, or a host of other things.

As I was talking to Tad the other night, and talking through these convictions, I said, "It's not like at the end of my life I will look back and be glad that I watched a million hours of TV. There is not one show that is really worth the time that I spent watching it." And while we don't plan on cancelling our cable, and while I'm not saying that all TV is bad, I'm just saying that for me, I don't want to "waste my life away" sitting in front of the TV every night and not be working on other more worthwhile goals.

I long to become a better mother, to take the time to become a better wife, to establish my relationship with God and grow daily, to learn more about how to run my home and teach my children, and to be more organized so that my life can be simpler and run smoother. I realize that with all I want to accomplish, I could be spending my extra time working towards those goals, and not filling my mind with nonsense and going to bed dazed and braindead.

When I wake up in the night to nurse Judah, I want to wake up thinking about positive things, verses, things the Lord is teaching me, praying for others, and not wake up thinking about the show I was watching the previous night because it was the last thing that went into my brain before I went to sleep.

In his book, "Don't waste your life" by John Piper, he says, "Oh, how many lives are wasted by people who believe that the Christian life means simply avoiding badness and providing for the family. So there is no adultery, no stealing, no killing, no embezzlement, no fraud-just lots of hard work during the day, and lots of TV and PG-13 videos in the evening (during quality family time)..."

"No one will ever want to say to the Lord of the universe five minutes after death, I spent every night playing games and watching clean TV with my family because I loved them so much. I think the Lord will say, 'That did not make me look like a treasure in your town. You should have done something besides provide for yourself and your family. And TV, as you should have known, was not a good way to nurture your family or your own soul."

I wish I could put more on here, but it would be more practical for me to just tell you to read the book. It is so good and really drives home the point I am trying to make. As mothers, we want so many things for ourselves and our families. And in my case, I am not going to accomplish any of those things if I am wasting every single evening of every single week watching my "shows." It is a wakeup call and something I desire to cut back on, and replace with good things. Life things. God things.

"Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish it for the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of every pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain."

I don't want to get to the end of my life and realize that I spent $X on cable TV and wasted countless hours of precious time that my family and I could have been spending on more quality things, on things that made a difference for God.

My heart is to become a better person for God and for my family, and wasting my time by watching tons of TV is accomplishing the opposite of that. Instead of filling my mind and heart with God's glory and what He wants in my life, I am filling my mind with the world's philosophies and ideals, becoming more like the world everyday.

I hope this post challenges you and doesn't offend you. I struggle with TV more than anyone, so I'm not here to judge, but to offer what I hope to change over these next few weeks and months, by God's grace. To slowly but surely replace negative time-wasters into positive uses of my time, and to hopefully start becoming more of a disciple of Christ, and not of the world.

"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16

Monday, May 10, 2010

Blackberry Cobbler

"You're doing a great job with weight loss." You're thinking. "You post how much you'd like to lose weight, and then you post a recipe for Blackberry Cobbler."

Well, thanks for noticing.

It had been a hard day, with 2 crazy kids, Tad at work, and it was Mother's Day.

It was nice to finally make this cobbler that I had been looking forward to making.

Judah wouldn't sleep, Maddy got bit by a dog (it broke the skin and left teeth marks down her little nose), Maddy threw my cell phone off of the top of the playground equipment, we went to the grocery store and I had to hold Judah, balance my groceries on the stroller and make sure Maddy wasn't running away from me, went home, started making this cobbler, realized I forgot to get milk and it was needed for the cobbler, went back to the store to get milk, came home and made cobbler. Phew!!! And note: Maddy didn't get any since she threw the cell phone off the playground tower.

So don't judge. I'm made this cobbler and there isn't anything you can do about it. Except, maybe make it yourself.

It was ooooh so good. Both kids were in bed, it came warm out of the oven, Jess is here visiting and we just spooned that cold French vanilla ice cream right on top of the warm cobbler with a little crisp on top. My mouth is watering just writing this.

It was divine, and I won't tease you anymore. Here is the recipe! Make it to end your bad day on a good note!!

Pioneer Woman's Blackberry Cobbler

(She calls it Patsy's Blackberry Cobbler and it's in her cookbook)

1/4 pound (1 stick) butter, melted

1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbs. sugar

1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup milk

2 cups fresh (or frozen, I used fresh) blackberries (or other fruit)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 3 quart baking dish with butter. I used a 9 inch baking dish and that worked fine. Didn't know exactly if that was a 3 quart dish but it worked!!

2. Whisk 1 cup of sugar with the flour and milk.

3. Whisk in the melted butter.

4. Pour the batter into the baking dish.

5. Rinse the blackberries and pat dry. Sprinkle the blackberries evenly over the top of the batter.

6. Sprinkly 1/4 cup sugar over the blackberries.

7. Bake for 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown and bubbly. When there are 10 more minutes of cooking time, sprinkle the last 2 Tbs. of sugar over the top. (you might want to cut back on the sugar, it seemed like there was a little too much.)

Beautiful, isn't it?? Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, coffee, etc. Whatever suits your fancy! And beware, it won't last long in your house!!

A Typical Walk in the City

We go out for walks ALL. THE. TIME. In the city, there isn't parking like in other normal neighborhoods. Well, there is if you want to buy and put a city sticker on your car for around $100. Then you can find street parking and pay at a meter, or pay to park in a parking garage for around $25 or so. And then you risk getting your car broken into, towed, bumped while other people try to parallel park, or your windows smashed in.

And plus, walks in the city are fun, and we live in a great location that is close to most of everything fun in downtown Chicago. And so we walk.

We walk to playgrounds, outdoor concerts, museums, the beach, restaurants, the lakefront path, people's houses, coffee shops, the bank, the grocery store, Walgreens, the library...You name it, we walk there.

Our "backyard" is the city.

So here we go!

Diapers, check. Wipes, check. Extra outfit for Judah, check. Blankets, check. Check. Check.

Okay. Ready to go!

This particular walk didn't start out so good. Not in a good mood to pose for the camera. Walked to a restaurant. Closed on Sundays. Walked down by the loop. Everthing is closed in the loop on Sundays. Got stuck in the rain. Judah was fine, everyone else-getting wet. Buy umbrella at Walgreens. Major meltdown in Walgreens when Maddy bugs Judah in the stroller and gets in trouble.

Stop at McDonald's when the Princess gets hungry and whiny. Very unhappy princess.

But the chicken nuggets and a McDonald's toy quickly change the mood!!!

Yeah. Drying off. Better moods. Good times.

Even the little prince was in a better mood once we stopped at McDonald's and got out of the rain.

Finally get home and changed into pjs. This is a weird pic but captures it all so well. Tad trying to make it through the story. Judah is like, "I'm ready for bed." and Maddy, well, is just Maddy.

Goodnight all!