Monthly Archives: June 2011

Family and Fun, pt 2

Family walks are the best!  …the more grandparents there are, the more fun the walk is …

Love this picture more than I can say … Chase between his two grandmothers.

Being a kid is the best!

I might miss it …

From,

The Overgrown Kid

**stay tuned for our zoo adventures**

Family and Fun

This last weekend, we welcomed Bob’s parents back to Chicago.  They are visiting us from Jos, Nigeria where they serve as missionaries with Oasis International.

Over the weekend, Bob and his dad took Darcy and Aidan camping.  Stay tuned for a post from Bob on this topic.  I’m still unfolding the stories myself.  I think the kids were bribed to not tell Mommy everything.  No further comment at this time.

Sunday, we finally got some gorgeous weather and a little picnic action going.  Plus, a gigantic bouncy-house-thingy (do these things even have a technical name?) … Check it out!

Darcy loved her some “air time”, as did Chase, although he was only comfortable as long as his dad held on to him.  I never get tired of watching my husband with the kids … have I mentioned this?  [Melt]

Oddly enough, Aid, the general adventurer/wanderer/climber was completely out on this strange bouncing concept and would only ever watch distrustingly from the sidelines with his Grandpa Ewoldt.

[Please note the spectacular safari-style head gear.  This is one of my father-in-law’s trademarks … for which I love him dearly.  He even threatened to wear it to my wedding.  True story.]

More from our week’s adventures soon – even if my kids are getting sick of the camera –

The Mom-arazzi

Friends

This week, I’m on a cleaning rampage.  As I was cleaning, I came across this …

Special memory, special friendships … We’ve known each other for years and know each other still.

I should have some classy quote on friendship or a beautiful poem.  But I don’t.  These are some of my friends.  Good friendships are precious.

That’s all.

Pizza Rice

Last week, I got a text from a good friend asking for a recipe.  The recipe was in a book that I’ve had and loved for years, but had never really noticed.  I’ve noticed it now.  It’s 100% super kid friendly (that’s super friendly, not necessarily super kids, but you can interpret it as you’d like), low in gluten, and … oh yeah, DELICIOUS.

PIZZA RICE CASSEROLE
(serves 10)

4 cups cooked rice
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
dash pepper
1/4 tsp oregano
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup diced onion
2 Tbsp butter
2-8 oz cans tomato sauce
1/4 tsp garlic

Cook rice according to package directions.  Brown beef with onion in melted butter in a large skillet.  Drain off fat.  Add tomato sauce and seasonings; cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Combine cottage cheese and cooked rice.  Put 1/3 of the mixture in a buttered 2 quart casserole.  Top with 1/3 of meat tomato sauce.  Continue to alternate layers, ending with tomato sauce.  Sprinkle with grated cheese.  Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

**I made a couple substitutions … 1) I used ground turkey instead of ground beef, 2) I cooked the meat and onions sans butter (they turned out fine), much as I love butter, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, and 3) I used some agave (lower glycemic index) in place of the sugar**

VOILA!

Okay, scratch that … much as I’d like to, I just don’t think I can pull of saying “VOILA!”  Anyway, and no matter, here it is.  Make it.  It’s good.  Your kids will like it.  So will your husband’s inner child who still wishes you made macaroni and cheese.

**Hey, this part is last on the recipe, but do it first, okay?  The Pizza Rice recipe is actually courtesy of a beautiful woman named Connie.  She is serving alongside her husband Dave with Josiah Venture in the Czech Republic.  To learn more about Josiah Venture, click here.  Or, check out Connie’s blog here!  You won’t regret it.  :) **

A Father

I loved my husband first because of his love for my child.  I love him now even more and for so many more reasons, but today, I mention this one.

He laughs with them …

He listens to them …

They rest in his love for them …

He leads, teaches, and guides …

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

Week @ Large (the tree and garden edition)

Time for another Week @ Large moment!

The majority of this week is something I have no picture documentation of … primarily because my hands were otherwise engaged … in hand motions … teaching 150+ kids songs at our church’s Vacation Bible School all week.  Stay tuned though … I’m sure some crazy “hands in the air” pictures will emerge sooner or later.

I did take some other pictures though!

Look at these roses.  Aren’t they gorgeous? 

This is my parents’ front yard, by the way.  We were over there this week and the roses were just so beautiful that I couldn’t help myself and had to snap a few pics despite the fact that I have NO idea how to photograph landscapes. 

We also (finally!) made use of one of the kid’s Christmas presents (yes, I said “Christmas presents” … don’t judge me) – a membership to Morton Arboretum this week.  In semi-unrelated news … hey, the mosquitos are back! 

Today is a special day because it’s my beautiful mom’s birthday!  However, this event is often overshadowed by Father’s Day in our household.  Don’t believe me?  I found this in my local Starbuck’s this morning … (have I ever mentioned that my dad, a retired educator, works at Starbuck’s?  He does.)

Yes, it’s a couple days behind … but it’s actually up on the wall over the coffee bar.  This is my father’s sense of humor.  Speaking of humor, I also received an email inviting my family to a Father’s Day celebration along with several high-ranking politicians and A-list actors and actresses stating that Dad had “taken the liberty of inviting several other close friends” to his “celebration“.  In addition, the email stated that all of his “gifts” could be parked on the street until he has more room in the driveway.  Haha … my dad is such a joker … as if you could drive a Father’s Day card. 

So, there’s just a bit of our week with a taste of the weekend thrown in for extra flair. 

And don’t worry, I will definitely update this blog if I end up having lunch with Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, and the Pope on Sunday.

The Politics of The Parking Lot

One of my original ideas about this blog was to share a little of our lives as a family of five (soon to be six) in a two-bedroom condo.  Hence the e-family tagline: “1100 square feet and counting…”

I’ve been more concerned with the inhabitants of said square footage up until now, but last week, something happened that really got my goat.  It was the straw that broke this camel’s back, so to speak.

Since we live in a building complex made of one and two bedroom condos, we are clearly (CLEARLY) the largest population in any one unit.  Side note: God bless our neighbors.

Most of my neighbors are single professionals or older retired couples.  Because of the second category, there are several who (deservedly) have walking restrictions which have led to some handicapped signage in our parking lot.  It started last Fall.  A dear lady moved in upstairs and due to her walker, the association handicapped two spaces (one for her car and the cross hatched secondary space for room to move her walker – because yes, she still drives).  Okay, cool.  She’s really sweet.  Then, within a week or two, up went another handicapped sign for the couple that lives above me (I know this because they put up the sign and then put the condo number on it so everyone knows it’s only for specific people).  And then there was a new lady who moved in down the hall and she got her numbered space, and then an older couple on the third floor, and this last week, another couple on my floor.  This officially takes the reserved spaces up to SIX.  Also, my neighbor on one side just started walking with a cane and the neighbor on the other side has a handicapped thing he hangs on his mirror, so I don’t think we’re stopping at six.  Stay tuned …

Do I sound stingy?  I’m sure.  Probably because I am.  Let me be very clear: I have no problem with handicapped people.  I love them.  Why does this particular situation bother me?  For this reason: out of the five people who have handicapped spaces, only two have any appearance of handicapping in a way to demand building-side parking.  In fact, the couple who got a handicapped space last week were the same people who were beside me performing rather intense labor as we unburried cars after the blizzard this winter.  I really don’t want to judge my neighbors, there are plenty of things that could be wrong and just not be apparent, but let’s just say that I’m definitely confused.

Here’s my hypothesis: due to a massive parking problem (our building has 28 spaces and 56 cars), people are applying to their physicians for “handicapped access”.  And physicians, not realizing that there could be more at hand than a sweet parking spot at the mall are signing off.

Which is why I have to park here:  in front of a building that is not my own …and walk back at least a mile (up hill both ways) to my building.  [please note the super cool “mom mobile”] Okay, in all honesty, this isn’t bad, and it certainly isn’t a mile.  It only gets uncomfortable when I have groceries, or when it’s winter, or raining, or it’s late at night, or there is more than one child that needs to be carried.  And in truth, we are more blessed than many in regards to the groceries because being in the first floor means that I can often drop off bags on my porch.

Isn’t it pretty?  I’d like to take zero credit for the landscaping.

I never realized how utterly spoiled I was ’til this point in my driveway-rich life.  Those with driveways, I urge you enjoy them.  Revel in every shoveling, black-topping, general maintenance moment!  Those like me whose lives revolve around parking lot politics … I need some input.  Is this normal?  How far do you have to walk from your car to your dwelling?

Craving perspective,

The Self-Appointed Fairness Police

Friday Five as the Saturday Six

I was thinking about the “Friday Five” yesterday … I really was!  Somehow the day got away from me though. 

This week, it’s a picture kind of Friday Five.  It’s in the air or something.  And because I’m such a blog-crastinator, I give you the “Friday Five: as the Saturday Six edition” …

Bob: this is how you’ll often find my husband.  Deep in news, political, and/or theological thought; even while watching the kids.  The man’s brain is a sponge.   Don’t believe me?  You should check out his blog

Ellie:  because it was a crazy week, and because I was behind the camera and didn’t think about it, and because I’d really love for you to think of me this way and not as the crazed, pony-tail and glasses wearing, covered in throw-up, spit-up or some other kind of body function person … here’s my picture for the week.  This is what I really look like.  Every day.  As a I keep my immaculate house and cook my husband 5-course dinners every night.  [stifling maniacal laughter]  By the way, this is me with my cousin Emily – a gorgeous woman inside and out.  Sorry to wrangle you into this post, Em … I couldn’t find a picture of just me all dolled up. 

Darcy:  On Friday, Darcy’s accomplishment was undoubtedly dressing herself.  Let me just say … she does this by herself with great success in normal wardrobe choices all the time, but yesterday, something happened.  I don’t know what, but it was so completely clothes-tacular that I couldn’t resist documenting it here.  Darcy, I apologize to your 18 year old self in advance.  Here’s the front …

Note:  Yes, those are Christmas socks.  They’re actually adult socks that her grandmother gave to her to use as sock puppets or something and she loves them so much that she wears them year round, hiking them up to her knees with little “this is the place for your ankle” bubbles halfway up the back of her leg. 

And the back …

Truly a proud parenting moment. 

Aidan:  Aid hates the camera.  He loves looking at pictures after they are taken, but he has totally disconnected from the concept that you need to stand in front of the camera if you want to see yourself in a picture.  Which is why over 90% of our pictures look like this …

I *can’t wait* for the Christmas card picture. [please sense the dripping sarcasm]  In other news, Aidan is obsessed with ants.   I could grow a beard walking down the average sidewalk because we have to stop and look at EVERY. SINGLE. ANT.  He especially likes to try poking at them or picking them up.  Although, last night, he informed Bob and I that he was “petting the ant” -wait for it- “with his shoe“.  We laughed even as we heard the sound of future college scholarships getting flushed down the toilet. 

Chase: the big news for Chase is that he had his first hair cut this week!  [you should be both proud of me and relieved that I didn’t subject you to the “my baby’s first hair cut” blog as I’d originally threatened]  As cute as the old-man-hair-over-his-ears-meets-the-mullet look was, it was time … it was time. 

And since it’s the Saturday Six edition this week … here’s a picture of the youngest: clearly just chillin’.  Blissfully unaware of the crazy family he’s about to inhabit …

Have a great picture that defines your week?  Feel free to link to it in the comment section below.

Have a great weekend!

Chocolate Cookie Bark

This is one of my favorite dessert / candy recipes.

I hereby command you: Get chocolate.  Get Oreos.  Make it.  Today, if possible.

You can click here to visit the original recipe (complete with a “how to” video) on the Kraft foods website, but for your general reading convenience, I will also repost it here.

INGREDIENTS

2 Tbsp. PLANTERS Creamy Peanut Butter
1 pkg.  (6 squares) BAKER’S White Chocolate, melted
10 OREO Cookies, coarsely crushed, divided
1 pkg.  (8 squares) BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted
INSTRUCTIONS

ADD peanut butter to white chocolate; mix well. Stir half the crushed cookies into each bowl of melted chocolate.

DROP spoonfuls of the chocolate mixtures onto waxed paper-covered baking sheet, alternating colors of chocolates. Swirl with knife.

REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Couldn’t be easier, right?  Chocolate + lack of cooking labor = YUM.

Enjoy!

[Images are courtesy of a general Google search.  I have no images of my own.  This bark doesn’t last long enough to be documented on film.  True story.]

Something I Read

This summer, I have been reading through Comforts from the Cross: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time, by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick.   Though I’m not finished yet, I wouldn’t hesitate to highly recommend this book.

Here’s a small section from what I read today.  It was so beautiful in it’s intensity and challenging to me that I wanted to share it with you.

“Shake off your boredom and apathy.  God’s love for you is fierce, self-afflicting, white-hot, life-transforming.  The goal of this love is that you may be called God’s daughter, God’s son.  All this pain and grief is bent in on one primary goal: your adoption and His eventual praise.  Your relationship with the Creator of all there is has been secured by the blood and tears of love’s delight.  Your Father is no longer far off, no longer a stranger, no longer a judge.  Now He’s your Father.”

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” 1 John 3:1-3, ESV
If you want to know more about Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and her writing, you can start here.  Please hear my heart on this though …  this isn’t an endorsement, advertising, or a book review.  What I’m sharing  is completely something that was on my own heart and mind from my morning reading.
What is the Lord teaching you?