Monday, November 22, 2010

Day Tree of Thanks

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name."

Psalm 100:4

There are a lot of Bible verses about giving thanks to God. Obviously, God's trying to tell us something - He wants us to be thankful. This year we started implementing a tree of thanks in our house. Being grateful for our blessings is something that we want to teach our kids early on and we believe this is a tangible way to do that. We want to have thankful hearts year round but especially this time of year. So, in the month of November, everyone is assigned a color leaf. We each fill out our color leaf at dinnertime with something that we're thankful for. Collin is yellow, I am orange, and Cayden is red. The leaves vary greatly from things like Mickey Mouse to a loving & supportive family and Christ's blood shed for us. We tape the leaves up on the tree and thank God for everything He has done for us. Having the tree up on our backdoor (which happens to be a central location in our house) has been a great visual reminder of the faithfulness of our God. It's a meaningful tradition that I hope our children will one day look forward to each November.

I thought this would be a good idea for the whole family but really had the idea in mind for our kids over the next several years. I thought this would be a great tool to use to foster thankfulness in their little hearts. God used it more to speak to me this year, though. We had a crazy week last week. It was one of those weeks where I just felt hammered. We were both trying to get over being sick. We were trying to prepare to go out of town on top of our normal busy schedule and we received several bouts of bad news from people that we love. One cancer diagnosis, one major financial struggle, one hurting friend, one possible miscarriage. Yucky stuff. I felt heartbroken for these people that I care about. I found myself sitting at dinner one night, struggling to think of something to write on my leaf. I feel ashamed to even type that but it's truth. So many people around me were hurting and I was feeling desperate and overwhelmed. God used our tree of thanks to slap some sense into me and to renew my hope. I have so much to be thankful for and I have a back door full of leaves to prove it! Even amidst trials, I am so thankful for the hope we have in Jesus, my blessed Redeemer!!

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."

Colossians 2:6-7

Friday, November 19, 2010

Momma said there'd be days like this...

I blogged about 5 months ago about how I was not going to get Cayden's haircut professionally until he was at least 2 years old. It's a horrible experience that I wouldn't wish on anyone. I dread it so much that I space his haircuts out really far just because I don't want to have to do it. I let it get way longer than I like. I decided that he had to have a haircut before this weekend so I tried to cut it myself yesterday evening. I had bought scissors and clippers and psyched myself up. I'm not sure why I started cutting it at the top first but I did. I felt like I was doing a decent job with my professional hair cutting scissors and I think I got a little carried away. When I laid the scissors down and ran my fingers through it, it was short. Like really short. And when I stepped back and looked at it, I hadn't done that great of a job. The very front was too short and the middle was longer than it should be and since I hadn't touched the back or done much to the sides, it looked a little....uuummmmmm.....he had a mullet. I was so upset about it that I stopped immediately. I was scared to continue for fear that I would damage it beyond repair. With encouragement (and a little laughter!) from Collin, I began psyching myself up for the dreaded Cool Cuts for Kids visit that I knew needed to happen this morning. This is Cayden on the way to Cool Cuts this morning.

Business in the front, party in the back! Aagghhh! That's what I kept telling Collin last night that was going through my head. It's the mullet motto. Ick.

We talked all the way there about how he was going to get his hair cut and he was a big boy and needed to be brave. I bonded with another mom there this morning who said that her son was that way until he was 3 years old. You mean I have another 1+ years of this?! I was armed with suckers and all sorts of things but when it came time, nothing worked. He actually liked to sit in the little car this time and loved turning the wheel and pretending he was driving, but once she put the cape on him, it was all over. Kicking, screaming, throwing his arms and body all directions. He was one big snotty mess. He was thrashing around so much that he banged his head on the steering wheel. We went through 3 suckers. Nothing worked. He wouldn't hold still so I was having to forcibly hold his head still for the girl, which of course made it worse. It was awful. Here's the finished product.

It's the shortest haircut that he's ever had. The girl was like, "I had to cut it really short to get it to look right." Ha! Yeah, thanks lady :) She fixed it silly and put this stuff in it that lacquered it to his head. I think I'll be able to fix it cuter myself.

So, after that was over, helmet head and I ran over to Discount Tire to have the tires rotated. We checked in, they told me the wait was 45 minutes and then we ran into the restroom. While I am washing my hands in the sink, Cayden decides that he wants to wash his hands too and sticks his hand in the toilet and starts moving it around. I just about died. I washed his hands in the sink really well and then used antibacterial about 4 times on him. So gross!

Tonight is a girls night for me and I am SO ready for it! Momma needs a night off :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Our dinners for this week

Because I love it when people post recipes, I thought I'd post what we're having/have had for dinner this week in hopes that it might help some other ladies out. I usually feel like I make the same things over and over so maybe this will give some other people some new recipes. And I would love it if you would post recipes on your blog too and then let me know about it! :)

Monday Night (Recipes Below)
Swiss Stuffing Chicken
Acorn Squash Halves
Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

4 large skinless boneless chicken breasts
6 oz. Mozerella or Swiss cheese slices
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1/4 cup white cooking wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup herb-flavored crushed up Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix
1/2 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place uncooked chicken in shallow buttered casserole dish. Layer cheese on top. Mix soup, wine, salt, pepper; pour over cheese. Sprinkle stuffing mix on top and drizzle with melted butter. Bake for 1 hour.

1 (or more depending on family size) acorn squash
1-2 T butter for each squash half
Brown sugar
Maple Syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut acorn squash in half from top to bottom and scoop out the insides. Place on deep baking pan and sprinkle each one with a little salt. Fill each half with your butter (when it comes to butter, more is always better), and then sprinkle with brown sugar - I usually do about 2-3 tablespoons. The amount is up to you. Then drizzle brown sugar over the top. I add a little water to the pan to give it some moist heat while it's baking. Then I pop it in the oven, loosely covered with foil for about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook it 30-45 minutes more or until tender.

Tuesday Night (Recipe Below)
Caesar Salad
Garlic Bread

1 lb lean ground meat
1 t oregano
1 t garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 T dried parsley
2 T worcestershire
Onion flakes (you can cut up 1/3 an onion if you want but we are an onion loathing household so I use flakes instead to give it a hint of flavor)
1/3 t black pepper
1 t basil
1 bay leaf (or a little less)
30 oz tomato sauce

Brown meat; drain. Add spices. Add tomato sauce. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. Cook your spaghetti noodles, throw together a caesar salad, and cook your garlic toast and you're good to go!

Wednesday Night (Recipe Below)
Tortilla Soup

We each lead a college Bible study at TCU on Wednesday nights so we're always in a rush to get out the door. I usually do something quick and easy for dinner on Wednesday nights.

2 T vegetable oil
Onion flakes (or 1 c chopped onion)
2 garlic cloves
1 (8 oz) can of tomatoes with green chilies
4 c chicken stock
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
2 t chili powder
1 t ground cumin
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
2 c cooked chicken (shredded or diced)
Grated Cheese
Sour Cream
Tortilla chips

Heat oil in large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, cook until soft. Add tomatoes with green chilies, stock, and tomato sauce. Stir in chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Add chicken to soup and bring liquid to boil. Remove from heat and serve immediately. We load ours up with crushed tortilla chips (you can fry corn tortillas if you want but I just use tortilla chips because it's quicker), cheese, lots of avocados, and Collin likes sour cream in his. Yum!

Thursday Night (Recipes Below)
Lemon Herb Chicken
Green Bean Bundles
Mashed Potatoes
Hawaiian Sweet Rolls

Juice from 2 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
2 T chopped fresh basil or 2 t dried basil
1 T chopped fresh oregano or 1 t dried oregano
4 t chopped garlic
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 T plus 1/2 c olive oil

Mix lemon juice, basil, oregano, and garlic. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil over medium heat in large skillet. Cook chicken for about 8 minutes and then flip and cook for about 5 minutes on the opposite side. Add lemon juice mixture and stir up anything stuck to the skillet. Reduce heat and cover; simmer until cooked through - about 6 minutes.

Green Beans (as many as your family will eat - you can use fresh or the whole canned green beans)
1 stick of butter
1/2 c Brown Sugar
1 t Garlic Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you're using fresh green beans, wash them and cut the ends. Cut your bacon strips in half and wrap about 4 green beans in a half strip of bacon. Place green beans in a baking dish. Melt butter in saucepan and add brown sugar and garlic salt. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Pour mixture over green beans and cook for 30 minutes.

*I've also seen it done where you mix the 1 stick of butter with 1 cup of brown sugar and 1 t of garlic salt. I haven't done it like this but I imagine it's a little sweeter and really yummy!

5 pounds Russet potatoes
3/4 cups butter
1 lb (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cups (to 3/4 cups) Half-and Half
1/2 t (to 1 t) Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1/2 t (to 1 t) Black Pepper

Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients.

Turn off the stove and add 1 ½ sticks of butter, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and about ½ cup of half-and-half. Mash, mash, mash! Next, add about ½ teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper.

Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through.

Friday Night (Recipe Below)
Homemade Pizza

This is pretty self explanatory and I've written about it before, but I'll write out what I do.

Crust (I buy crust from the bakery at Central Market and it's ah-mazing, but you can make your own in a bread machine or buy the Pillsbury roll out kind)
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Pizza sauce
Pepperoni, Sausage, Canadian Bacon, Basil leaves, tomatoes, mushrooms - whatever toppings your family likes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a little olive oil on the pizza dough. Thinly slice the fresh mozzarella and place them all around the dough to your liking. Pour pizza sauce over the pizza - brush around with a pastry brush. Place your toppings on pizza and cook for about 10-15 minutes until golden and the cheese is melted.

Desserts - With Thanksgiving around the corner, I am trying not to bake too much right now since I know that we'll all be overindulging soon. So, for dessert this week, I am made caramel chocolate covered apples. There's really no recipe - but I'll just write down what I did.

Granny Smith Apples
Bag of caramel bits (you can get these on the baking aisle in your grocery store)
1 bag of semi sweet chocolate chips
1 bag of milk chocolate chips
1/4-1/3 cup milk

Wash apples, remove stems; set aside. In a saucepan, melt caramel on stovetop. Insert sticks in the top of the apples (I used those tongue depresser looking craft sticks). Dip the apples in the caramel. You may have to use a spoon to get caramel covering the apple. Lay the apples down (sticks up) on wax paper. Let them cool and then refrigerate them for at least an hour until they're cold and the caramel is hardened. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (I added about 1/4 cup of milk or so) and then dip the caramel covered apples in it. Again, you may need to use a spoon. Let them cool on wax paper and then refrigerate them for about 30 minutes. Remove them from the refrigerator and pull the sticks out. Cut them into slices and store in the refrigerator. YUM! I could eat an entire caramel chocolate apple in just one sitting. They're SO good!

Hope this helps someone out!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere!

Last month, our little threesome along with my mom went to the Dallas Arboretum. I had heard it was gorgeous and had been wanting to go and we were blessed with beautiful weather. Seriously - the day could not have been more perfect.

From the moment we got in, I couldn't believe how beautiful it was.

There were lots of cute little areas for kids to play. Cayden had a great time exploring.

My nature loving child had the best time looking at everything.

There were pumpkins lining the flower beds everywhere you looked. It was gorgeous. I wish I had the money to do that in my yard - it's beautiful!


They had these beautiful pumpkin houses. It was so cool!

There were 4 of them but I didn't get pictures of all of them.

Cayden enjoying the view from the air as his daddy threw him up.

A little photo op with DeeDee.

Playing in the water.

He loved it so much!

And then it was time to go home. It was a fun day and I definitely want to implement this into our fall traditions as a family!

*Disclaimer -- I've been wanting to write this blog for the last week and a half but our house was struck with a nasty cold that had Cayden running high fever and turned into bronchitis for me. Collin was the last one to get it and he seems to be thankfully on the downhill side of it. In other words, stay posted because more blogging is coming!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Flintstones, Meet the Flintstones

Halloween Weekend 2010

I interrupt this weeks blog catch up to show you some of the cutest trick-or-treaters that have ever begged for candy.

Friday night we attended the second annual Poor Family Halloween Party. There was lots of good eats (including some caramel & chocolate covered apples that were ah-mazing...I will be attempting these sometime this month), cute kids, and even a Mickey Mouse bounce house. A fun time was had by all!

Cayden was being Bamm Bamm...

Cayden and adorable Maddie. She was one of three ladybugs at the party - apparently that was the costume of choice this year! They were all precious.

Long gone are the days of posing for pictures - so most of my pictures are just of the kiddos running around.

Jumping with mommy in the bounce house.

Like those baby legs?! Ha! It was kind of cold and I didn't have anything to go with the costume so we improvised!

Jumping with daddy. It was Cayden's first time in a bounce house and he wasn't too sure what to think about it. Thankfully, his daddy makes everything more fun.

Pebbles and Bamm Bamm. I ordered their costumes from a lady on etsy for a good price and then I didn't have to worry about making anything!

Ladybug Rylie showing Bamm Bamm the night light in her hallway. He was totally intrigued.

We had a party to attend on Saturday night but with allergies as bad as they've been lately, we ended up just spending a nice evening at home. Collin and I rented Shutter Island and I actually liked it. Totally not at all what I expected. I am not a scary movie person and I felt like the previews depicted it as a horror movie but it's really not.

So, fast forward to Sunday. We drove out to my parents house around 5:00 that afternoon/evening.

Took some pics of the grandparents with Bamm Bamm.

A cake that my parents made. How cute are they?! They seemed like they really had fun making it together - sweet! They also made us take it home with us and I'm ashamed to say that I've had more of it than I should. I need to send it to work with Collin.

Ignore my ridiculous expression. This is the only one that I got of the four of us looking in the same general area.

My parents live in an awesome secluded neighborhood where everyone has a little land and every Halloween a certain family in the development does dinner at their house and then a hayride around the neighborhood to trick-or-treat for the kiddos. We went for a bit and had a great time. Everyone was SUPER friendly and the kids had a blast.

Cayden's favorite part was spotting this adorable puppy.

He spent the rest of the time we were there chasing the dog around and barking after him. The boy LOVES puppies.

See that smile. Oh gracious. It gets me everytime.

The Simpson's on the hayride

Ignore the weird sun shadow across my face.

They had no idea what they were doing but it didn't take long to figure it out!

After we left my parents neighborhood, we headed over to Clint's parents house so they could see the kids. We did this last year and it was neat to compare how much they'd changed in a years time.

And of course they got more candy.

Cayden and Maylee both ate a sucker for the first time in their short lives while at the Simpson's house and man oh man...they LOVED it! Cayden kept sucking on it and then he would take it out of his mouth and say, "Mmmm, tha's goooo!"

Checking out their loot - they both hit the jackpot!

After we left Clint's parents, we made a few other stops to trick-or-treat at people's houses and then we headed to Cracker Barrel for dinner. Thankfully Cayden was on such a sugar high that he stayed awake until we got home and we were able to put him down easily. Then, Collin and I raided his candy! All in all, it was a fun dress-up, candy filled weekend!

I will try to finish catching the blog up the rest of this week but we're having kind of a rough time at the Day house. Cayden came down with fever Monday afternoon and has had pretty high fever since. We are all running on very little sleep so if the blog is neglected, at least I warned you first :)