Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Gift

God moves.
He transformes.
He grows us.
He brings glory, even in pain.
As our lives change, He remains the same.

Before I can get back to this journey behind the keyboard, let me share what an amazing summer we had.  An unexpected trip and stay with my family was a greater gift than I can ever share.  Our hearts will be forever greatful and treasure these weeks beyond measure....

Grandpa and Cass

This can't be bought or replaced.

Grandpa's Girl

Oh how Aiden loves him

Smiles in their hearts

Three generations and a whole lot of fish!

Like Grandpa, like Uncle, like Aiden.... from the love of rocks to horny toads!

An ongoing Wyoming tradition....from the time a small Charlie and Vanessa smuggled a horny toad home from the blue forrest to the recent release of yet another generation of toads!

Great Grands!

They've only gotten more amazing with time!

Grandma and Grandpa you are such a big place in my heart!

They love their Grandma and Papa

Broter and Sisters

Sister love is passed down to a niece and up to an Aunt

Awww see....I told you so!

Four generations and the three that fill up my heart!

These two....I'm telling ya!

Friendship planted a seed 26 years ago!  Most people will never have the gift I have in my oldest and dearest friend!  And now....our children carry on the gift.....

So much more than friends!  Jayce, Dessa, Gracie, Aiden, Trenten, and Cass was too cool for school that day!
And who would have thought our baby boys could pass as brothers?
Best friends and best friends' daughters
And how appropriate...they are just as crazy as us :)  Except sweeter!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Turkey Enchiladas & Family Tradition

A very special gift!  It came at Christmas this last year from my Mom!  My little sister got one too!  It's one of those priceless, irreplacable, heirloom gifts that I will guard like treasure to give to my own little girl one day!
You see, we grew up in the kitchen with Mom!  I was eating Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie dough before I was even walking if I'm guessing correctly!  I still have and treasure my first cookbooks recieved as a child!  I have many memories of Christmas Cookies and all kinds of other goodies...made with a chair pulled up to Mom's counter.
Added to these memories are the ones we now create in my home, with Mom's Grandbabies.  The same memories, only I've shifted roles and my children have filled the spots in those chairs scooted close to the kitchen counter!
These aren't only lessons in cooking, but lessons in love, in having a great Mom, and in learning to be one.  Recieving the gift or nurturing that I now pass to my own husband and children.  And perhaps the most priceless of all....the joy of family.  Loving my Mom.  Being loved by her.  My children loving me.  And loving them right on back!
So this gift meant so much and is one of my favorite things to ever have recieved.  I wish I could share each and every page with you, but I can at least share the one that preceeds the Turkey Enchilada Recipe!  Each section is filled with family photographs, dated generations back and finally complete with a family photo including my little Gracie with me and both of her Grandma's (and the men too).  Mom has carefully handwritten the captions under each photograph. 
Recipes included are those of my Mom and my Grandma, with blank pages for each generation to add to the collection.  As for me, I know I'll be adding my Pear Preserve recipe and some other carefully chosen dishes.  It takes alot to be inducted into this family recipe hall of fame you see :).  And the recipe below is just one of those!  So I hope you enjoy!
Turkey Enchiladas
This recipe filled one large baking dish-bigger than a 9x13 which we will eat on for several days and I'll share with my co-workers tomorrow.  The second is a disposable pan I happened to have on hand-and it's going right into the freezer, before being cooked.  Perfect for a quick family meal or to share with a friend who may be down or in need of a little help!

And here is the beautiful, scrumptious result!  :)  There's nothing quite like this dish, it's a real treat, and leftovers are even better!  Sure do wish this picture could do it justice!

2-10 oz. cans mild enchilada sauce
2-10 oz. cans hot enchilada sauce
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small can diced green chili's (4oz.)
6 cups chopped left over turkey
24-medium size flour tortillas
1 lb.  Longhorn cheese (Colby, etc.), grated
1 lb.  Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 small can sliced olives-optional

In a large mixing bowl mix all canned ingredients.  Mix half of canned mixture with turkey.  Heat tortillas 1 @ a time on a skilled.  Spread 2 large spoon fulls of turkey mixture on tortilla.  Cover with cheese and roll.  Place in 9x13 pan sprayed with PAM.  Repeat until all tortillas are used up or until all turkey mixture is gone.  If leftover turkey, spread over enchiladas.  Then pour remaining canned mixture over enchiladas and cover with remaining cheese.  Top with olives if desired.  Place in 300 degree oven until cheese has melted and it bubbles around the edged.  (I cover with foil to bake).  Approx 35 minutes

Jen's NOTE:  I had to bake these much longer and kick the heat up towards the end-may be an altitude thing, so just play with the temp and time, watching them closely.  I also remove the foil for the last few minutes to get that crispiness around those tortilla edges that are poking out! :)

Serve with sour cream, lettuce, salad, Spanish rice, refried beans, and/or chips!

This recipe is great right around the holidays with all of that leftover Turkey.  I made them just today and the kids all loved them and Gobbled them up....haha, yes that's a joke ;).  It works great in a meal planning scheme also.  I baked a Turkey yesterday for dinner.  Today we had these enchiladas, which we'll also have for lunch tomorrow at school.  The next day we'll have Turkey Sandwiches.  Pretty good menu if you ask me! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Oh How I Love Them!

Grandma and Grandpa, two of my favorite people in this whole world. (Three counting my daughter, just a baby in this picture!)  Not everyone has been as blessed as I have, to grow up so close to such wonderful Grandparents!

I came across this picture tonight and it has lifted my heart, as they've been on my mind all day, everday these past couple of weeks!  These two have had a huge role in shaping who I am today, embedding in me the love and sense of family that make my world go 'round!

Just a couple of weeks and I will be able to breathe in the scent of them with many long awaited hugs!  And get to watch them pour these same things into my little ones.  I smile at the years of wonderful memories they've created in my life....

1.   Spending the night at their house.
2.   Home again, home again, jiggety jig!
3.   The always tender words of "This too shall pass".
4.   Many a summer at the Blue Forest.
5.   Treasure after treasure of tenderly guarded rocks, gems, and pieces of wood.
6.   Learning how to cut the iris' down for the winter.
7.   Enjoying the birds in the birdhouses.
8.   'Pet' squirrels just out the window.
9.   Rhubarb fresh from the plant, dipped in little dixie cups filled with sugar.
10. That wonderful smell that only they have, it always means home.
11. Customized haunted houses in the basement, brought to you by Grandpa.
12. The jokes....oh the jokes!
13. Green beards, bellies, and everything in between!
14. Books, always lots of good books.
15. Puzzling
16. The best apple pie on the entire planet!
17. Oh I have to say this one....Grandpa's blue truck meets the pole at the Artic Circle    Drive through :(
18. Roast beef and gravy.  Chicken and dumplings.  Turkey dinners.  Oyster omelets.
19. And ugh....that leads me to Stinky Cheese!!!
20. The organ with books and cassette things to play along.
21. Thomas Kincaid and cottages!
22. Watching him tickle her with jewelry time and time again!
23.  Intarsia and rock saws.
24.  Learning to facet.
25.  Cozy slippers and 'Z' shoes.
25.  Ma-moo from baby Nessie's mouth.
26.  The fold out sofa, with hidden tubes of toothpaste to snack on after bedtime (weird, I know!)
27.  The clean and wonderful smell of the laundry room!
28.  The bees on the bush/tree outside the back door.
29.  Here he lies, cold and hard, the last *-!@ dog that ......
30.  Laying my baby hamsters to rest in the front flower bed.
31.  Baths in the jet tub!
32.  The hamper in the hall closet.
33.  The green carpet that use to live in the office.
34.  Ironing being an art of relaxation.
35.  The best home math tutor you can ask for.
26.  Newspapers and The Enquirer.
27.  Toby Keith and Animal Planet.
28.  The Rainbow Bright movie and stuffed puppy dog!
29.  Around and around the downstairs pole.
30.  The many tours and lessons on the treasures downstairs....I do believe my Grandpa himself has been Green River's best kept Treasure!
31.  Field trips to their house to learn about petrified wood.
32.  The discovery of Rachel Rae.
33.  The room size humidifier and swamp cooler above.
34.  A horny-toad smuggled from the Blue Forrest!

And so many more.  Pieces of treasure that are forever in my heart and more dear to me than I could ever share!  I can't wait to get home this summer get my hands on these two.  Home in my heart will always be with these gifts they've given so freely....even 50 years from now when I hope to be passing these gifts to my own Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren! 

I LOVE YOU GRANDMA & GRANDPA!  Thank you for always being you!  See you soon!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Monumental Milestone!

Four awesome kids, three of whom have been mine since birth.  We are officially, almost, basically potty trained for our little caboose baby!  I'm talking the 'pretty much have it down, Pull-Ups for security and final touches' stage.  That's right, this is it for that nasty D word!  And it hit me the other day, that's been almost 8 (EIGHT) years of diapers!!!!  (Including two in diapers during some of that time).  That's roughly 417 weeks or 2922 days.  WOW!

I've never been one of those Mom's who get down and depressed over my babies growing up.  Sure some moments are bitter sweet, but have never been overly hard for me.  It's very possible that I've simply been so busy changing diapers and such to take the time out to shed those tears.  But now that diapers are no longer on my shopping list, I'm still not in danger of deep depression.  On the contrary...I'm beside myself with a feeling of accomplishment.  I do believe I've earned my way into the way of Mommyhood confidence.

The biggest and best compliment anyone could ever give me is that I'm a great Mom.  When I hear words like this, my heart soars.  Even more, it lifts my spirits which can so easily become overwhelmed with that feeling that I'm not doing good enough, or not getting it right.

I'm such an imperfect Mom.  I've been known to let my kids eat potato chips for breakfast.  My house is never 'perfect'.  I've put the wrong clothes on the wrong kid before.  Weeks after a time change, I've rushed (and not very nicely) the kids out the door only to arrive at the school an hour early.  I've COMPLETELY dropped the bomb on keeping up on baby books.  I've even forgotten a child's shoes at home or arrived at our destination with a little boy in shorts and camo rubber boots, unknown to me upon departure.  I've had temper tantrums of my own.  I've underestimated my children.  Tonight I don't think there's a pillow case on my sons pillow and the thought of it is driving me crazy.  There's been times there's simply not been enough of me to go around.

Just last summer

And amongst all of my failures, these kids are somehow turning out not just okay, but amazing!  They know and love their God.  At the end of every argument and every day, they are still best friends and each others greatest advocates.  For every breakfast potato chip, there's been too many homemade meals to count.  There are recipes created together with them in the kitchen, and has never been a night they've gone to bed hungry.  They've always had more than enough clothes, even if I've attempted to put them on the wrong child.  They have passed these clothes to other hands with joyful hearts.  In place of perfect baby books, there are priceless and uncountable memories of being together.  When shoes have been left behind, there were always many pairs of the same to keep them company at the house.  When I've lost my composure, they've learned that their actions always effect others, that Mommy too is imperfect and in need of a savior, and how to apologize through example.  Each time I've underestimated one of these babies, I've learned more than I could have ever learned in a classroom.  There may not be a pillowcase on that pillow tonight, but there will be in the morning.  And when I think there's not enough of me to do it all, I'm reminded that in their little eyes, I do everything they need. 

And then there's the huge accomplishments, like surviving 8 years of diapers.  I wouldn't trade it for the world.  I'm not sad, I'm perfectly happy with where our family is today.  I don't get down over milestones like I see other Mom's do at times.  I'm too fulfilled, completed, and happy with who my kids are today to mourn for yesterday.  Each and every day these little ones become even larger than life to me.  With every sunrise I love them more and I cherish kissing their little cheeks every time that same sun sets.  Perhaps one day I'll shed tears over them being grown.  But really, I think I'll be too busy finally arranging the photographs, the memories, and of course....having a perfectly clean house.  For now, today, I'm too tied up loving each and every one of these babies for who they are and where they are in their journey of growing up.

And tomorrow when I think I've fallen short in some way, I get to remember that if I've survived 8 years of diapers-I can tackle just about anything!
And the unsung hero of this household is the Daddy that loves these kids, that holds the pieces together around here, and who sacrifices so much to provide for us.  I love him, these kids love him, and he is there to hold up everything that slips through my grasp and the things I forget to get a grip on in the first place ;).  We love you Tommy!  Oh, and thanks for never complaining about what has seemed like the never ending diaper fund!

Irreplaceable Memories
Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.  As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.  Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. 
                                         Psalm 127:3-5

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Choose The Good Part

Not one, not two, not three, but four.  Four perfect lives entrusted to us.  To love, to nurture, to teach, to protect.  What an amazing gift.  Entrusted to me.  Oh how the Lord reminds me of His love and his gifts through these children. 

Today I will remember.  Today I will love.  Today I will trust.  And today I will praise Him for the life and role I've been given.  Four perfect little hearts. 

And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha thou art careful and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.  Luke 10:41-42

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Our Story In Pictures

We've all heard tell that a picture is worth a thousand words.  So tonight, may my words be few, my pictures be plenty, and God's grace be with you!

PRAISE GOD my little boy gave His life to the Lord!  My first and biggest prayer for Aiden's life has been answered and I am so proud to watch God move in His life and heart!  Here was that perfect quiet moment~he was waiting to be baptized!

Brother Keith shared part of Aiden's story at his baptism.  This little boy gave His life to Jesus on the side of the road and I was so blessed to pray with him that night!

Praying before a ball game!

My two ball players and one in the future!

Baby girl's first big dance recital! 

 Such a beautiful little girl!  She did so good at recital!

And Lil' man is just as wild and amazing as he could be!

The end of another amazing school year for Aiden!  He was awarded for all A's and being an outstanding reader!  He finished his first grade year in the Abeka cirriculum with a 99.3 GPA!!!

Did I mention Gracie LOVED her first year of T-Ball?

First year of pitching machine for Aiden!  He started on 3rd base but found his love playing catcher before the season ended

Gracie's first day of dance camp!

Then there was VBS at Brenty's church!  Fishin' with a mission!

Summer days have settled in around here!

That's how they roll!

                                            Love our boys!  Look at those eyes!

 Yeah, we hunt gators around these here parts...haha, really just a trip to the zoo!

That's about right with these three!

Can I please say LIKE FATHER LIKE SON with these two?!?

That's him, the baby of our babies!!!!

Country livin' usually involves mud ;)

The dog days of summer are here and amongst all of life's seasons I can always say that He is with us.  He hears every prayer of thanks, every plea for healing, and each and every apology for falling short that I have to offer.  And in it all, He has already heard, cared, and answered in ways that are greater than any of my worldly ideas may seem to be.  I LOVE HIM!!!!! Thank you Jesus for being the center of this family, for being in us, and greater than he who is in the world!

Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.  Proverbs 15:3

A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.  Proverbs 15:9