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Monday, October 24, 2011

A Sugarless Birthday Bash?! Say it ain't so!

So, my sweet, tender, quiet Miss G decided being 2 wasn't all that exciting, and she wanted to turn 3. Well, she doesn't technically turn 3 until Friday, but we celebrated this weekend with family. It was an absolutely beautiful day. I love it when the Lord blesses us with perfect weather. Last year, for Miss G's party, it rained like nothing else, and we were all stuck inside. And as fun as making S'mores in the wood stove was, it didn't allow the kids to get all their craziness energy out. 

I was trying to fall asleep a few weeks ago thinking of what type of games to do for her party, when the idea of "Shoot the Tail on the Donkey" came to mind. That was quickly settled. Shooting a BB gun at a birthday party? Heck yes! 

It was a blast. Everyone participated, from my 98-year-old grandpa down to 3-year-old Miss G. 

J-Man ended up taking the prize on that contest. 

Each of the kids made their own boat to race down the "Lazy River" (a.k.a. the irrigation canal that runs through our property): 

And even though we did stray some from our no-grain, no-dairy, no-sugar lifestyle, we didn't throw it all out the window:

Better-for-you-than-some-other-things Popcorn Balls (from Everyday Paleo)

No-grain carrot cake with delicious cream cheese frosting (from Primal Palate).

It was a wonderful, fun day. And these were two of my favorite parts:

Seeing my grandpa enjoying himself!

And this adorable face!!!

Happy birthday, sweet girl. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Shanti's Top Ten Reasons to Adopt

I was thinking this morning that Superman and I have truly been blessed by our children. I can't imagine if we had skirted God's call and avoided adoption in the first place. I mean, it would have been easy. We could have skipped the paperwork, home visits, birth parent visits, court dates, endless paperwork (oh, did I already mention that?) and general pain-in-the-rear-ness that comes with adopting. But it wasn't even a question for us. We knew that was what we were supposed to do; so we did it. Even though I had intense hesitation about adding a fifth child to our brood, the Lord softened my heart and allowed me to experience the joy of having such a beautiful, wonderful girl in our lives. But you know what? That softened heart didn't just happen. I told the Lord that He would have to change my heart because I sure as heck didn't think I was ready to be a mom of five. And I left it at that. I figured if He wanted me to take another kid in, He was going to have to make a miracle happen. And miracle-maker is His middle name. Well, maybe not, but you get the point. 

Can you imagine this picture with one of these kids missing? Me neither. Oh, and that bronzed tall man isn't too shabby, either. 

So, here are my top 10 reasons to adopt: 

10. Stretch marks? No worries! You get to skip that part!
  9. Morning sickness, being uncomfortable and having to use a body pillow to sleep is for the birds!
  8. Seeing a living example of how we are "adopted" into God's family is priceless.
  7. Knowing you are making an actual, real difference in the life of a child is one of the most amazing feelings.
  6. Realizing you can love someone who isn't "from you" just as much as your birth children.
  5. There's always more room in your heart to love than you think.
  4. Passing on your traditions and beliefs to children who may otherwise have never experienced a Christmas   
      morning or Thanksgiving or birthday celebration is incredibly rewarding.
  3. Knowing you are changing the world...even if it's just a small part of it.
  2. You will be stretched and pushed beyond your comfort zone and forced to grow, even if you don't think 
      you want to. 
  1. Joshua, Michael, Naomi, Grace and {insert name here}. 

There are thousands and thousands of kids around the U.S. and the world waiting for a family to love them. Are you being called? 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

My New Favorite App

So, I try to plan my meals each week. Sometimes that doesn't happen, and it gets to be 3:00 and I think, "Shoot! What am I going to make for dinner?" Because of our no-grain, no-dairy, no-sugar diet, everything has to be prepared from {pretty much} scratch. There's no quick box of crackers for a snack or whipping up a pot of pasta. There's always a lot of dicing, cutting, slicing, cooking involved in every meal. And so, if I haven't planned, I can get a little stressed trying to figure out what I can put together quickly. 

Enter my wonderful, helpful iPhone. Now, I'm not a techie. But there are times when I love having an iPhone. I always keep my grocery list on there so it's on hand. My calendar is on there so I can access my plans when needed. I can quickly map directions or Google something or catch up on last week's message if I missed church. And the other day I thought, "It sure would be nice if I could find an App where I could have my meals planned for the week, linked to my grocery list so it automatically adds the needed items to my list." And guess what? Someone else was as brilliant as I am (ha!) and already created it for me! After searching through a couple different ones, I settled on this one, called the "MealBoard" App. It's so perfectly amazing, and exactly what I was looking for. 


I enter the name of my recipe, and can add all the ingredients (or not) and pick which ones I actually need on my grocery list. I am still playing around with it, but right now my meals are planned for the next week, and my grocery list is done and ready to be checked off. Have I mentioned before that I love to check things off? It makes me feel accomplished. 

Here's a link if you want to check it out yourself! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fall Traditions

I love fall. The morning crispness, changing leaves, the soft warm sun or grey-covered sky. The smell of dampness in the air. Cinnamon, baking, scented candles. Cute boots and soft scarves. The anticipation of trick-or-treating and the warmth of Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the bend. Days and nights smothered in traditions, loaded with children's laughter and giggles and wide-eyed wonderment. 

It's a season before the cold of winter, before the leaves fall and dampness turns into wetness. It makes me want to snuggle up, read a book, watch a movie, play a game. Last night we played hide-and-seek in the dark while the clouds covered the early-evening sun for us. As I write, chili bubbles in the crock pot and warm brownies sit on the stove, cooling and waiting for little mouths to gobble them down.

For us, fall means a visit to the pumpkin patch, fresh apples from Apple Hill, watching the turkeys return to our property, shorter days, baking treats, Miss G's birthday (she's turning 3!!), carving pumpkins, roasting pumpkin seeds (see my amazingly delicious, accidentally-discovered recipe below), and just more of a relaxed, slow pace.

So last week, I made a pumpkin pie from scratch. I put all the gunk from the pumpkin into a bowl of water and added a bunch of salt. I figured I would get to separating the gunk from the seeds later that evening. Well, that night, the bowl full of orange gooey-ness stared back at me, and I didn't want to touch it. So, there it sat...for two days. Finally, a brilliant idea came to mind: what else would a 7-year-old boy like to do, but put his hands in a sticky mess and separate seeds from stringy pumpkin? So J-Man and M-Dog did the dirty work for me. After they got them all nice and clean for me, I made the best batch of pumpkin seeds I've ever had: 

Shanti's Accidentally-Delicious Pumpkin Seeds

Seeds from 1 pumpkin
1/4 cup salt
Few tablespoons olive oil
Garlic salt to taste

Dig gunk out of pumpkin. Place into bowl of cold water and stir in 1/4 cup salt. Let sit for 2 days. 
After 2 days, have a child separate out the seeds and get rid of the gunk. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Rinse seeds in colander and toss in bowl with olive oil and garlic salt. Lay out on parchment paper-covered cookie sheet and roast in oven for 15-20 minutes. Take out and enjoy! They WILL go fast! 

So, what are some of your favorite fall traditions?
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