Friday, June 17, 2011

Where you come from

My great-great grandparents settled into a small south Georgia town in the early 1900s. My family would live there until 1981, when my parents moved us to north Georgia (and for many reasons, I'm so glad that they did). Now, none of the family lives there, although my grandmother is buried there, and my grandfather will be buried there, too.

Recently, we went camping nearby, so we drove over so that I could show Mike what I remembered from childhood.

And, we drove past this beauty. I have no actual memories of this house, only stories passed along. It was the McDowell house, built by those great-great grandparents. My second son is named McDowell, specifically to honor the great-grandmother who grew up here.

I was struck by both the beauty and size of the house, but also the realization that in the end, stuff is just stuff. What gets passed along to the next generation sometimes involves stuff (but for my family, it didn't include the house--someone else owns it now), but more importantly? It involves family legacies. It involves the feelings and memories of our childhoods. The values and priorities that were and are important. The importance of a relationship with Jesus. These are the things that stick after 30 or 40 or more years.

These are the things I want to pass along. So, when I look at this beautiful picture of an old house, I hope that I'm reminded to concentrate on the things that will last. To pour into the hearts of three little boys and make them as full as I can. Cause that's the legacy that will stand the test of time.

I recently read Danny Silk's Loving our Kids on Purpose. It was just what I needed to remind me of the high calling that God has given me when he blessed me with these little hearts. I highly recommend it.

No matter what your intentions or goals are as a parent, the fact is that you are cultivating a loving or fearful spiritual environment in your home, and that is what is really influencing your children.--Danny Silk

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cheap Fun

Our town hosted a wonderful event, Touch a Truck, this spring. For my little boys (and I think my husband, too), this was 2 hours of straight heaven.

We got to sit in the front seat of fire trucks.

Try to operate these cool little mini-dump trucks that empty the trash around the center of the town.

And hold on to the sides of the trash truck like our beloved Tuesday morning visitors.

There were street sweepers, this neat truck with a giant vacuum to clean out the water drains, police motorcycles, ambulances, and more. It was a great morning, and my boys have talked about it ever since. I couldn't ask for more!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Family Photos

Many, many thanks to Lesley at Sweet Peas and Sprouts Photography for patiently capturing our family recently. We love the way the pictures turned out!

And here's the backstory. These are our very first family pictures. My oldest went through a terrible (awful, very bad!) stage of running away in public from about 11 months old to age 3 or so. And, really, running away just makes it sound cute. It was more like "bolt from your arms, not use any sense, and run as fast as you can". Almost every picture I have of him from those ages is in his high chair or in the stroller. We didn't think that would make for great formal pictures. Just sayin'.

And, then number 2 came along. From a very, very early age, if a stranger so much as looked at him, he cried. And, again, that's a cute way to say "he hid his head and sobbed gut-wrenching, horrid cries until you picked him up and hid him under your skirt". Yeah. Fun times.

But, then, happy Sir Squishy was born. He is the grace that tells me I might not be doing everything wrong after all. He is definitely one that pulls us together and let me know we could handle family pictures. I'm so glad! I love the way they turned out. I can't wait to do it again.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wedding Date Night

This date night was several weeks ago, but I somehow forgot to post it. What do you know? Life gets in the way!

When the royal wedding was televised, I knew it'd make a perfect date night. My husband will indulge me by watching pretty much anything on television, but I knew that he has a sweet spot for BBC. When I found out that PBS was televising the BBC feed about the wedding, I knew I had him. It was fun to see the coverage straight from Britain, without the American spin on things.

And what to eat while watching a wedding? Why, wedding food, of course!

We're from Georgia. In the last ten years or so, things have gotten fancier, but the weddings of my childhood memories all take place in the afternoon, with reception to follow in the fellowship hall of the church. No drinking, no dancing. No big meals, just heavy hors d'oeuvres
. So, that's the sort of meal I went with. So good!

Every wedding starts with punch, right? I served two kinds. Strawberry vanilla on the left, and for my sweet husband, redneck punch. Aka Mountain Dew. I forgive him. He was a good sport about the wedding!

We had a veggie plate, chips, open-faced chicken salad finger sandwiches, and some meats and cheeses.

And, since, well, there has to be something fried at any good wedding, and well, I didn't want to do the frying, I opted for samosas. You know. Multi-ethnic surprises and all. I justified this because I know that Indian food and curry houses are crazy popular in England.

More veggies. One of my favorite parts of any party food.

And, because it was a wedding after all.... Dessert!! We shared three different kinds from our local bakery.

Many, many thanks to my sweet husband for indulging my wedding love on this Saturday night. I think he enjoyed it, too. What's not to love about a true-life love story?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Menu Planning

I find summer menu planning hard. It's hot. I don't really want to cook come late afternoon. I don't really want to eat come late afternoon. The swimming pool beckons us until closing time at 6. But, by then, everyone is a crazy starving mess (except me, it seems, cause when it's hot, I'd just as soon pass on eating). My almost-5 year old (can't believe he's so big!) has really blossomed into a big boy this year. And, with that, he EATS. He used to be happy with a few bits of nothing thrown at him. We joked for years that he survived on air and chocolate milk. But, now? The boy wants a meal, as do his two younger brothers.

I'm only at the beginning of my motherhood journey, and now I totally get why so many empty-nesters spend the first several years eating out 5 nights a week. This every day thing gets to you!

But, hey, maybe it's just summer talking. And, I can totally conquer this!! cause, really, what's my other option? So, this week's plan is to find as many make-ahead, cool, foods as possible. We'll see if it works, and I can get back in the game.

Friday--chicken taco salads with black beans and corn (really good!)
Saturday--leftovers (lunch), hamburgers (supper)
Sunday--hummus (lunch), take-out burritos and sno-cones (supper)
Monday--Thai red chicken curry, rice
Tuesday-- hamburger steaks with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes, chard
Wednesday--pasta with basil, walnuts, and maybe something else?, salad
Thursday--Savannah red rice, salad

As always, I'm linked to Menu Plan Monday at Orgjunkie with lots and lots and lots of other bloggers.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Early Spring Ramen

I'm a huge, crazy fan of Ramen. I know, I know. But the cheap, beloved food of college students everywhere is still one of my favorites. With my first pregnancy, I ate the stuff almost every day. These days, I don't eat it THAT often, but sometimes, you just want some ramen.

But how to make it into supper?

Add the ramen to stir-fry. That's how! As always, I just grab whatever is in the fridge, and it somehow works together. This was a few weeks ago, so it was what was growing then. Mostly green. I added some chicken, baby carrots, onions, garlic, ginger, and then, the greens. This was a mixture of broccoli, bok choy, spinach, and scallions. Mixed with a sauce and cooked ramen, it's the perfect easy meal for a warm night.

Stir-fry sauce
4 T soy sauce
2 T rice wine vinegar
1 T brown sugar

Mix well and pour over stir fry just as it finishes cooking. Let everything cook together for an additional 1-2 minutes to thicken. Squeeze lime wedges over individual servings and top with Siracha hot sauce to taste.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Much Anticipated Cheap Fun

We've had a zoo membership to our local zoo for the last year (it just expired last week). And every time, we would go, my boys would look longingly at the kiddie rides at the end of the zoo. There was a train, a carousel, and a rock climbing wall. We rode the train a few times, but I tried to set up the expectation that we were there for the *zoo*, and the (extra cost) rides were just that. Extra. For special occasions. And, mostly, this attitude worked well for us all year.

My big boys was really, really enthralled with that rock climbing wall, though. Thought it was the coolest thing he'd ever seen. So, when his tooth fell out, and he got some money, he knew exactly where he was going to spend it.

He suited up, and he was ready to climb.

And climb he did! He made it about 2/3 up the wall. Not bad for a not-quite-5-year-old.

Then, he got to rappel down the side of the rock. Lots of fun (and I think a little scary!).

I'm so proud of him for both climbing and learning the lesson of doing fun, extra stuff as a special extra, not an everyday. He's a great kid.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Perfect Meal for Monday

We love red beans and rice here. So good it makes your heart sing. My whole life I've heard that you eat red beans and rice on Mondays, so that's what we do. (It's a good, slow cooking, not much attention, meal for washday.) And, don't let it fool you. This sounds (and might look) like a winter dish, but it's completely appropriate in the summer, too. Just use your crockpot for the beans (or buy canned).

First, you cook the beans. These were cooked with a ham bone, so that's why you can see some of the fat in the broth. If you aren't a fan, you can chill the beans, then take the chilled fat off the top. Or be lazy like me. It's all good.

Beans take 2-3 hours to cook stovetop. Or like I said, use your crockpot. I do all day on low, half a day on high (how's that for exact?). Once the beans are cooked, use a wooden spoon to mash about 1/4 of them into the broth. It'll make the whole bean dish thicker.

I prefer the contrasting texture of smooth beans and vegetables that still have some body, so I add everything else at the end. This is 1/2 lb andouille, onions, a bell pepper, and celery (the trinity). Cook all that up, then dump it into the pot of beans.

Serve over white rice (and don't be like me--at least take the time to wipe off the rim of the bowl). The perfect slow cooked Monday dish while you do laundry (you do your laundry on Monday, right??).

I'm linked to Tasty Tuesday over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam today!

Menu Plan June 6

My menu plan always starts on Friday (it's when I generally shop, and it's always payday), and this week is no exception. Except that my husband and my two older boys went on their very first road trip this weekend, so much of the weekend was solo. Ah, the quiet. And the no/little cooking. It was an awesome break!

Summer has hit us very, very full force. It's been in the mid 90s for over a week. We've harvested our very first cherry tomatoes (but no real tomatoes yet), the garden is growing gang-busters (but still limited crops), and we're hitting the pool every afternoon. So, there is a focus on make-ahead, easy, but very filling suppers right now. Swimming makes my boys ravenous! And easy to talk into eating lots of fruits and vegetables right when we get home. I love it!

Friday--free Krispy Kreme for doughnut day plus a Snoball (very, very healthy dinner here!)
Saturday--liverwurst and crackers (lunch), egg and olive (supper), and a bit of dairy free ice cream, too (!)
Sunday--chicken salad (lunch), seafood (crab, shrimp, oysters--yay!) gumbo over rice, salad with tiny pickled beets (local)(supper)
Monday--fresh local (thanks, Mom!) potatoes, mixed greens (kale, chard, beet, turnip), lentil soup, and green salad (veggie plate)
Wednesday--kofta kabobs, hummus, pita, cucumbers
Thursday--simple pasta with basil and tomatoes, salad

As always, I'm linked up to Orgjunkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


picture courtesy of my cool mom. Aren't her lilies beautiful?

This week's date night was solo, a very rare thing indeed. My husband took my two older boys to visit his parents for the weekend. This was the first time he's taken them on a road trip, one of the first times the younger has spent the night away from me, and certainly the first time in a VERY long time that I've had two nights in a row all alone.

Ah, the quiet.

It's been a great weekend! I feel so refreshed and ready to jump back into the fray of parenting three sweet little boys who have more energy than anyone should be allowed. And a weekend of no cooking, a long window shopping trip, three farmers' markets to explore, and a huge big thick book. Hey, honey, don't you need to take the boys to your parents again soon??
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