Monday, March 29, 2010

Wild and free...

Time indoors can be sweet, it really can. I loved watching them concentrate on these little peg stackers together yesterday...

I love watching them play with all of their animals and trains and make nests and play with play-doh, etc.
But there is nothing I love more than seeing them run and play in the outdoors. Their little bodies and spirits wild and free, it just seems the way they are meant to be...

Feeling thankful this afternoon for wonderful places like Wheeler Farm, places to set them free and just sit back and watch (okay , not really, it still takes vigilance and parenting, but still:) ,

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Some songs and silliness for you...

Boy, is it hard to get their songs and rhymes on film!! They sing all day and then I try to get it recorded and they just clam up! I wish I could catch them in action when they don't know I'm watching, but the camera/children never seem to be in the right place at the right time! Anyway, I wanted to remember how cute Sammy is saying and singing little songs and poems. He always surprises me with how he memorizes things. He'll be laying in bed and just start reciting something we read in their Mother Goose book that day or a song we sang...I just love it and want to gobble him and his sweet voice up. Here are a few I was able to capture...

Then there is Amelia. If Sammy is our perfectionist, Amelia is our...expressionist:) She really likes to combine songs, make up songs, and when the video camera is on she prefers to just watch herself make faces on the screen. Here are my attempts at having her sing her favorite song, "Hush Little Baby..."

All for now,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Beautiful boy...

Almost three years later and he still chooses to curl up next to Joel when he sleeps in our bed. Most nights he walks in, dragging his two blankets and a big quilt and stands at Joel's side with his little hand on Joel's arm until he wakes up and pulls him into bed . I still love the sight of them curled up next to each other. I remember when when people would hear that we co-slept with Sam and Amelia and they would tell us "horror" stories about 5 year olds still wanting to sleep with their parents. We would both look at each other thinking, "Is that really all that horrid?!"

Joel finished reading the book "Beautiful Boy" a few weeks ago and now I am about to finish it as well. He would try to read me excerpts of it, but his chin would start to tremble and his eyes fill up with tears and he would hardly be able to get through it. You see, it's a fathers heartbreaking tale of having a son addicted to meth. And as I was reading it last night, Sammy stumbled in weeping and feverish and climbed up into bed beside Joel. I put the book down, grabbed a cold wash cloth to put on his head, and then took a picture. To capture this moment with our beautiful boy. To remember how thankful I am to have such a tender husband. To acknowledge that this almost three year old will grow up before we know it, and we will long for the days when he stood quietly beside our bed waiting to be pulled into the safe arms of his daddy.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I will go get some hot tea and cry for a while, Jen

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Signs of Spring...(mostly) indoors edition.

*Winter book basket out, Spring book basket in...

*Planting seeds...grow seeds, grow!

*A bit of spring cleaning and purging, getting ready for a big Spring yard sale/ adoption fundraiser.
*A bit of thrifting to collect canning jars for late summer. I have heard that you have to thrift them now in SLC, because by canning season they are gone! I am hoping to can tomato sauce, applesauce, pesto, and some pinto/black/red beans. I'll try to keep it simple or it won't happen at all! Oh, also. See that mason jar full of yummy quinoa chili? See that plastic lid? I love those things! They make it so easy to use jars as food storage w/out keeping up with two metal lids, etc. I got mine on amazon.

*Festivity stand ready to display Spring goodness...

*Making strawberry bread from the Spring section of my beloved Simply in Season cookbook:)

What is Spring looking like in your home?
All for now,

* Also, a little disclaimer. Seasonal decorating has always stressed me out. I seem to think of my ideas too early and then miss out on celebrating the current season, or think of ideas too late and finally get some creative thing done as the season comes to a's ridiculous. So, I have limited myself to my festivity stand and a book basket.End of story. Easy to get out, easy to put away. Dare I admit that I finally scraped a rotten pumpkin off of my porch table only last month? You see my problem. So, don't think "Oh Jenny, look how seasonal she is, " or whatever.Or maybe I am the only one to envy people's seasonalness. Like " Hi, it's the first day of spring and here is our perfect felt spring banner, and wool felted eggs, and a few spring skirts I sewed last night for my little girl." Grrrr. This is my first season to get it "right" in my book, and "right" for me is usually incredibly simple.

Beans and Rice: Week 3: Crash and Burn

Okay, so we didn't really crash and burn, but our enthusiasm dipped and we did "cheat" a couple of nights. One night I walked  in on Joelie eating chocolate cheerios (of all things) for dinner! A couple of nights I ate Eden beans and rice in a can (which are actually pretty tasty with some salsa  mixed in). The rest of the nights we ate black beans and rice with Lizano hot sauce mixed in. Its a Costa Rican hot sauce that a friend gave us and it really helped! Anyway, onwards we go to our last week, though I do hope to eat beans and rice at least one night a week from now on. For simplicity and health and budget and yes, to keep present in my mind the many who eat beans and rice for every meal of every day. 

Tonight I made Red Beans and Quinoa chili from Feeding the Whole Family. I wanted to share the recipe because it's really yummy! 

1 cup dried kidney beans, soaked and drained
3 cups water, divided
2 tsp ground cumin, divided
1 TBLS extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp sea salt, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne
2/3 cup quinoa, rinsed in warm water and drained
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 to 2 cups organic tomato sauce
grated cheese for garnish

Place beans in a large pot w/ 2 cups of the water and 1 tsp of the cumin; bring water to a boil. Simmer over low heat, covered, until tender (50 or 60 minutes).

Heat oil in a 4 qt pot on medium heat. Add onion, 1 tsp of the salt, garlic, green pepper, the remaining 1 tsp of cumin, and the rest of the spices and saute for 5-10 min. Add quinoa and stir in. Add corn, tomato sauce, and the remaining cup of  water to tomato, onion mixture. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add cooked beans and second teaspoon of salt; simmer another 10 minutes. Top each bowl with grated cheese. 

As a side note, Amelia asked what I was cooking and I said, "Red bean and quinoa chili", and she said, "Oh good, I love neon chickadees." :) :) 

Oh, and happy happy happy first day of Spring!!!! Here is a picture of us in the back yard eating (summery) blueberries and reading blueberry books and just loving the warmish weather. We LOVE the book Peter in Blueberry Land. You should get it for summer reading with your little ones, Mamas. or your local library! 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fun in our own back yard...

Our house across town had lots of back yard nooks and crannies for the babes to play in. Trees for shade, vines that made natural forts, bushes to hide was so great and provided lots of fun hours right out our back door. This house has a nice sized, fenced in yard and for that I am very thankful. However, it is a blank slate. No trees, one bush, no vines or nooks or crannies to speak of. I am known to complain about this as I envision my dream yard with fruit trees and garden, chickens and lots of areas to explore.

Of course, children can find things to explore wherever they may be and Sam and Amelia prove that to me every time we go out there.
They sit at the one bush and look for bugs forever. Patiently they sit side by side and watch for the bugs to come and quickly snatch them up to put in Sam's bug "house".

They sit underneath the porch in the shade and play out scenarios like this one:
The rabbit is telling the bear that she wants some more clover to eat.

Dutiful Sam goes to gather the clover:

The bunny politely says thank you for all of the clover (after a reminder from the mama taking pictures:):

The bear decides he would like to eat some bugs:

Dutiful Sam goes to find some. And the play continues.....they roll down the little slope in the yard, they play chase, we sit on blankets and read books.

And as I watch I think about how thankful I am to be in a city that has such wonderful outdoor spaces to take Sam and Amelia, like the gardens, the mountains, the farm, etc. but how much more thankful I am that children are able to bloom where the are planted so easily. Thanks for teaching me little ones. Every day I learn something new from you, when I am mindful to learn.

P.S. Thank you God for creating Spring. Thank you for for this barefoot, sun on our faces, bug hunting weather.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Beans and Rice: Week 2

So, this week I just used two recipes and we ate leftovers the rest of the evenings. It is all starting to taste the same anyway:) The babes and I did take one evening off and ate eggs and cereal:) I do feel like it has been such a good thing for Joel and I. Besides being able to share some money with Lahash, it truly has impressed upon us how many zillions of choices we usually have with our evening meal. It also makes my afternoon cooking much more simple. The beans are usually in the crockpot and then I just add seasoning/make the rice/ add veggies (if we do). It has also made us eat. at. home. All good things. It is getting more difficult to get the babes to eat much in the evening. I added lots of butter and some honey to their rice the other night and Amelia called it "rice candy" and gobbled it up:) Sam isn't quite so easy to convince w/ sweetness. Anyway, I think they have done great overall. Here are my recipes from last week:

Mexican Brown Rice with Pinto Beans from Feeding the Whole Family:
1 TBLS extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup long grain brown rice, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
1 TBLS tomato paste or sauce
3 cups cooked pinto beans

Heat oil in 2 quart pot. Add cumin and chili powder and saute for a few seconds. Add onion and salt and cook until onion is soft. Add rice and stir well to coat. Add water and tomato paste, bringing to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, until all of the water is absorbed (about 40 minutes).
Serve alongside pinto beans.

Vegetarian Chili
from Simply in Season

2 pounds any combo of dried beans; Rinse and soak in water overnight. Drain water. Cook in fresh water until soft, 45-60 minutes or longer.
1 cup red sweet pepper, chopped.
1 cup green pepper, chopped.
1 onion, chopped.
3 cloves garlic, minced.
In large soup pot, saute in 1 TBLS oil.

8 cups tomatoes, chopped (I used canned)
1 TBLS salt
1 TBLS honey
Add and heat to boiling. Add beans and seasoning listed below.Simmer 45 min. Serve with rice.

1 Butternut squash (peeled, seedes, and chopped)
1 chipotle pepper
1 TBLS chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin

All for now, Jen

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Oh, lots of things...

Joel has started hiding the computer from me again. It's this thing we do when I realize I am relying to much on this little piece of equipment too often during my days. I simply say, "Joel, hide the computer." So, at night before he goes to bed he hides the lap top and I wake up in the morning and *poof*, this wonderful-horrible internet is out of my life for the day. Anyway, this is why I haven't been posting as often.

Most of my "babies are asleep time" lately has been spent reading Beverly Lewis books. Fiction books about Amish culture. I think I am on my 9th novel in about three or four weeks. Wow, really? Yep. They are not great literature, but I find Amish culture fascinating. I've always thought that maybe I was meant to be Amish, but now I am changing that to Mennonite. Or maybe Quaker. Mom says that I just haven't embraced the hippie part of me that runs in my family blood:) Really, I just long for God and simplicity and productiveness and community.

Let's see, what else?

When we put the babes to bed we always turn on music for them. Lately we have been listening to someone new and when a certain song of theirs comes on I instantly get an image in my head of Joel and I in Ethiopia, meeting out baby boy for the first time. Every single time I hear the song. It is such a sweet, welcome image that I usually play the song three or four times. I'll save sharing the name of it until I can share it accompanied by pictures of that wonderful day to come.

We got some new (to us) books in the mail from (thanks Diana for telling me about this site--I love it a little too much!). I saw the package in the mailbox when we drove up the driveway from story time and I literally jumped out of the car and ripped them open. I'm like that when it comes to mail. And books. We read Blueberries for Sal at least four times tonight:) We also got a Brambly Hedge book and I fell in love.

When we first introduced Sam and Amelia to "Thomas the Train", she thought I said "Hummus the Train" and hasn't been able to let go of the name since. Several times a day I hear some variation of this conversation:
Amelia: Sam, there's Hummus!
Sam: It's not HUmmus, it's THomas.
Amelia: Right, it's Hummus the train.
Sam: THomas.
Amelia: I know. Hummus.
He just looks at her with a blank face and drops the subject. It makes me laugh every time.

Beige, beige, beige, beige. We need some colors on the walls of this house or I am going to go coo coo.

The other day it was so sunny and warmish and we went into the back yard and went on a bug hunt. We flipped over big rocks and watched as the worms tried to slither under the ground. The babes squeled with delight and caught many worms and Amelia kept saying, " I love you worms. I really, really love you." Then she would proceed to hold them and "love" them to death. Poor wormies.

I guess that's all the randomness I have for now. Back to my Amish love stories, Jen

A couple of favorite pictures from this week:

Friday, March 05, 2010

Rice and Beans: Week One

So, we are eating rice and beans every night for the month of March! The purpose?
See this great video here to get a better explanation than I could probably give:)

So far it has been great. We love simplifying around here and this is a great way to eat simply for a month and share the excess! I thought I'd share the recipes I'm using so that you guys could join in if you'd like or choose a month down the road to do it, or just get some new recipes!

This week's menu plan:
Monday: Red Beans and Rice from Lickety Split Meals cookbook
1 can kidney beans (I just cooked my own and froze the rest)
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups instant whole grain rice
3/4 cups salsa
1 cup water
4-5 drops tabasco
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
Mix together in a large casserole dish.
Cover and put in oven to bake for 55 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of cheese and enjoy!
*Joel had a work dinner that night but the babes and I thought this was great and ate it up!

Tuesday: Honey Lentils from Make it Fast, Cook it Slow.
You can find the recipe here.
* I did have to bribe the babes w/ dessert to eat this, but once I did they really enjoyed it and so did Joel and I!

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Lentil and Cheese Bake from More-With-Less .
Preheat oven to 375.
Combine in shallow 9x13 baking dish:
1 3/4 c. lentils, rinsed. 2 c water, 1 whole bay leaf , 2 t. salt, 1/4 t pepper, 1/8 t. each marjoram, sage, thyme. 2 large onions, chopped, 2 cloves garlic minced, 2 c. canned tomatoes.
Cover tightly and bake 30 min.
Uncover and stir in:
2 large carrots, sliced 1/8 " thick, 1/2 c. thinly sliced celery
Bake covered 40 minutes until vegetables are tender. Stir in:
1 green pepper, chopped. 2 T. finely chopped parsley.
Sprinkle on top:
3 c. shredded cheddar cheese (or less:)
*I've posted this on the blog before. It is a very loved recipe in this house:) I will say that I am ready to move on from lentils for a while, but we still enjoyed it.

Friday: Out
Yeah, we went to a little Mexican food place tonight.

Saturday: Black Bean and Rice Skillet from Simply in Season:
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 small green or red sweet pepper (chopped)
Saute in 1 TBLS oil until soft
2 cups cooked black beans
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1/4 tsp crushed hot chilies
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 bay leaf
Add and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered until rice is done: 20 min for white rice, 40 for brown. Remove bay leaf. Add 1/2 cup of cheese and serve.
Serves 4.

Sunday: Mexican Black Beans from Lickety Split Meals
* Recipe is wordy and Joel needs the computer so I'll try to add it later:)


Thursday, March 04, 2010

My baby brother...

All grown up now, he is a wonderful papa to his Echo, adoring husband to Tara Bell, and he is also an excellent musician. His band, the Happen-Ins, have their debut CD out today! I am sooo excited and proud for them. So, go have a listen here at Amazon, or if you are in Austin they have the CD's at Waterloo Records.

I always have been such a fan of my brothers throughout our lives, and days like today just make my heart swell.

All for now,
A proud big sister

Monday, March 01, 2010

Make us new...

I love Mondays. To me Mondays feel like a New Years Day that we get to celebrate every week. A new beginning. I really needed that today. Thursday, Friday and Saturday were those "rough and we're just going to make it through" kinda days. It started on Thursday with a new Mama and me dance class. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh. It was terrible. I totally felt like, "Hello. My name is Jenny and these are my wild, disobedient twins that I am completely overwhelmed by right now." While I do feel like the class is way too structured for 2 and 3 year olds and my little ones are not used to having constant direction and having to sit on a dot, it was just embarrassing to my "want to look like I have it all together" self and put me in a major funk. That was followed by a massive meltdown on Sammy's part when we got home, then again on Friday morning, then again on Sat. Whew, it had been a while since he has had meltdowns like that and I had forgotten how exhausting it is, and how terrible (both his meltdown and my reactions to them). So, last night I had a great little planning and prayer time for our week and was determined to start fresh this morning, letting go of the weekend.


We made Blueberry muffins during our Monday baking time and then met Anne and Vera at the park for a morning picnic. There were several time outs during the muffin making process, and yet we kept on:) The park was delightful indeed (that was just for you Anne:) and the babes just ran and ran and screamed and played and came home worn out and promptly went down for a nap.

And so I am sitting here in the rocking chair, just feeling thankful for new beginnings. That He is making us new every day when we let Him. He doesn't want to leave us stuck in the mire and so I hold out my hands in this moment and whisper, "Make me new. Make my weary, impatient, selfish heart new."