February 28, 2011

Let the Games Begin

Six am, here on the East coast, the proverbial starting gun was fired.  
World Maths Day has officially gotten underway.
The team is focused and dedicated.
Some of us are really stretching our minds.
Some of us are here for moral support.
Everyone has moved on to Level 4 and some are wrapping up Level 5
Things are really adding up!
20 Ribbons
6,624 problems computed
And the clock is still ticking!

February 25, 2011

Popcorn

Popcorn is one of our family's favorite snacks.  A few months ago our popper stopped working and we have had to resort to microwave pop corn.  Not nearly as good as the real stuff.  We have not had time to get the necessary replacement parts from the Old Fashioned Popcorn company.  (Be honest now.  Am I the only person in the world having trouble getting things done these days?)

Again, the Lord blessed us by giving us the desire of our heart when we never even got around to asking.  The other day a friend of ours stopped by to drop off some clothing for the girls.  She asked if we would possibly have need for a popcorn maker?  Would we ever!

Last night you would have thought something amazing was happening when we pulled it out to pop up a few batches before bed.  All the kids gathered around to watch.
Elisabeth got so excited she actually put her arms around the machine and gave it a hug.
I thought that was the funniest thing I'd ever seen until I walked around the other side of the counter and saw this.
What can I say?  Simple minds.  Simple pleasures.  Life is good.

A great big Wachter thank you to Mark and Terri!

February 24, 2011

I Wish That Just Once

... Last night I had the pleasure of sitting and visiting with a friend for several hours over a home cooked meal and dessert.  I knew, when she asked to get together, something was on her mind and I had a pretty good guess where it was going.

It didn't take long for me to sadly realize, I was right on target with my assumption.

As so often is the case when a mother comes to me for counseling, my friend was desperate for some way to reach her child... who has gone astray from everything they set out for when he was born... leading to poor decisions and self-destructive behaviors... that have left them fearing for his life.

I offered her what little bit of advice I could:  Get back to church, show God is real in your life, cut off the friends who have so poorly influenced him, spend time with him, get rid of television and worldly music and most of all let him know through your words and actions that you love him above all else in this world.  I sent her home with referrals to some good resources and the promise to pray for their family.  If only I thought any of it would truly help at this late stage of the game.

I wish that just once,while their children were still young and pliable, before they were on drugs, in jail, pregnant or worse that mothers would ask me how to keep their children's hearts and lead them to a life full of loving and serving the Lord above all else.

I would tell them to firmly figure out what they believe and never waiver from it.

I would tell them to LOVE the Word.

Then I would tell them to LIVE the Word.

I would tell them that there is nothing greater they can do for their children than to just spend time with them.  Even if it means sacrificing their own will, desire, and goals.  Sometimes it might mean being poor or nothing more than a housewife or home school mom.  I would tell them that nothing will bring them greater joy than the results of such a "sacrifice".

I would tell them to get into a good church where their children can see you aren't the only parent who thinks this way or that.  I would tell them not to just accept the youth group or Sunday school class as the right place for your child.  I would make sure they knew that the influences there can sometimes be as destructive as those in the world.  I would tell them to scrutinize the friends their children keep at church just as carefully as they would friends from school.  

I would tell them your kids DON'T NEED FRIENDS.  That lie is straight from the devil himself and, for the most part, friends are the cause of the most destructive behaviors and attitudes our children will ever struggle with.

I would tell them, that it might not be "YOUR" thing.  It might not be easy.  It might take a lot of time.  It might mean living in a smaller house.  Wearing clothes from good will and eating the discounted chicken night after night.  I wouldn't stop talking until they knew there is no greater gift you could give to your children than to follow the Bible's command to bring them home from school, teach them and raise them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord... away from the lies of the world and the negative influences that are destroying entire generations, even within the Christian community.

I would tell them, even though it is unfortunately common, rebellion is not normal, acceptable or an inevitable part of the teenage years.

I would tell them to love their husband with all their heart.  To honor and obey him with all their fiber.  To stop whining.  To stop complaining.  To grow up and accept life, no matter what, with joy.

Just for a start, that's what I would tell them.  If only once someone would ask... before it was too late.

February 22, 2011

18 Weeks and Counting


I am joining Brianna in life defined.  You can click here to read more about it and here to join in the latest.

Excitement... is learning the news that a baby is on the way.

Nervous... is learning that baby may not make it.

Relief... is learning that God has graciously allowed life to continue.

Sorrow... is learning that while we rejoice a friend's baby has gone home to Heaven.

Tired... is sleepy no matter how many hours of rest you get.

Nausea... is sick 24/7.

Gladness... is a day without nausea.

Resignation... is remembering all that pregnancy is about as a diabetic.

Ouch... is 10 needles a day to keep everyone healthy.

Frustration... is eating a perfect diet and gaining 18 pounds in a month.

Full... is having to eat every three hours around the clock even when you aren't hungry.

Miraculous... is feeling a little life begin to move within you.

Joy... is knowing that in a few short months, that little lamb will be in our arms.  


February 21, 2011

Red Velvet Pancakes

I had a number of emails requesting this recipe after my Valentine's Day post.  I can take no credit because I got the recipe off of the internet... somewhere.  I am sorry to say, I have no clue where so I can give proper credit where credit is due.  I can tell you, I was shock at how delicious they were and super easy.  They would make an elegant dessert if, like me, you find red velvet anything is a little too much for breakfast.


3/4 cup dried cherries (about 5 ounces), 
3 Tbsp Orange Juice
3 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp sugar 
1/2 of an 18.25 oz box Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Red Velvet cake mix (about 2 cups lightly filled)
2 large eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp oil
1/4 cup + 1 tsp water
3 Tbsp butter
Dark chocolate, shaved or grated 
Whipped cream (optional)
Powdered sugar (optional)
Coarsely chop about 1/4 cup of the cherries and set aside. In a small saucepan, simmer the orange juice, water and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar, add the whole and chopped cherries, and cook for a few minutes until the cherries soften and plump up a bit. Remove from heat and set aside.
Combine the cake mix, eggs, oil and water in a mixing bowl until just thoroughly blended (don't overmix). If batter seems too thick, add another tablespoon of water. Cook the pancakes in a non-stick pan over medium heat. You want to cook these a little slower than regular pancakes because you don't want them to brown too much. Keep them warm in a low oven.
When ready to serve, reheat the cherries and whisk in the 3 tablespoons of butter. Spoon the cherry butter over the pancakes and shave or grate some dark chocolate over the top. Decorate with whipped cream or powdered sugar, if desired.
Makes about 8 pancakes (about 5 inches across)

February 20, 2011

Cranberry Walnut Salad

This is one of my favorite recipes to throw together for a quick meal or side dish.  I usually have all the ingredients right in the kitchen, the recipe is flexible if you don't, it looks elegant and everyone always loves it-kids included.

I like to start with baby spinach or a nice spring mix of greens but any type of lettuce or greens in your fridge works great.  Add some chopped walnuts (or pecans, sliced or slivered almonds.... whatever you like) and dried cranberries.  Mandarin oranges are a beautiful addition to this salad bowl.  Top with Feta or Blue Cheese and toss with balsamic vinegar or a vinaigrette of your choice.  To make this salad more substantial as a main course, add some cooked chicken.

There you have it, beautiful, fast, delicious and nutritious... all in one bowl.  

February 18, 2011

Bureaucracy

I think, as much as I hate to admit it, I might be getting old.  I am starting to think like my parents and in-laws.  For example, when I was younger, I never got why they always made such a huge fuss about having to deal with government offices.

Now, after years of experiences, I cringe at the idea of having to call anyone with a government extension on their phone number.

Our house rests on a piece of land which used to be an open field with a stream and an old cabin with no road access.  The shack is long since gone.  The creek is a favorite play spot for my kids.   There is now a road running through the center of the property which we call home.

For some odd reason, when they ran the road, the powers that be made several decisions which make sense only to the bureaucrats.  One being underline power lines were run down most of the street but our little section still has the archaic overhead lines which tend to go down with every storm that happens through.

Another issue being why the parcel of land across the street is still part of our property.  Two houses stand on the land on either side of it, but the plot in the middle belongs to yours truly.  We pay taxes on it, even though we have never stepped foot on it except to pick up trash tossed out of cars speeding past.

When we bought our house the land was overrun with wild trees and scrub.  As I mentioned, there are two  houses adjacent to it which sit up on a hill.  It boils down to our neighbors looking directly into our windows and their exterior lights, which they keep on all night, shining into our bedrooms and disturbing our sleep.  We decided to leave the trees and scrub as a way to provide us with more privacy.  Everyone was happy with this arrangement.

Until the residents of both houses passed on a few years ago.  The new residents, both from the city, decided to clear cut the whole mess, leaving the debris laying on the hill side as if there was someone else to come behind them and clean it up.  Never mind that no one asked our opinion, even though we are the ones stuck untangling the tax bill every year.

Side note:  And if you think that is something... get this.  Because the property is listed as a separate parcel, there seems to be a constant problem with our payment actually getting applied to our account.  One year, although we had made the payment, they city threatened us left and right as tax delinquents even suggesting that they would be listing our name in our local paper with the unpaid tax bills!  It took a number of phone calls, threats and a trip to city hall to get the whole thing straightened out... for a bill that was less than $10!

Which was annoying enough.  Then, last year, in moves the county.  Now you have all this debris clogging up the drainage ditch causing water to flood the road.  That's what they say anyway.  I've lived here for 9 years during both drought and flood and never seen this SLOPING road flood, but hey what do I care if they want to clean it up instead up me?

But here's the thing.  That wasn't enough.  While they were at it, the workers decided to cut down the rest of the trees that our new neighbor had spared.  Leaving them behind for me and the kids to haul off.  I was getting really irritated at this point.  Would it be too much to ask for someone to respect our property rights?  But it was done, they went away, we cleaned up and forgot about the whole situation.

Until last week, when they showed up again.  Cut.  Cut.  Cut.  Just as we were started to regain some privacy again, up show a bunch of guys with chain saws in hand and cigarettes hanging out of their mouths.  Down came a bunch of the trees.  Which, at this point, we are resigned to never having privacy again, so who cares, right?  But what do they do?  Leave the whole mess!  I was now furious.  If they want to cut the things down, at least they could clean up!

We waited a few days wondering if maybe they would come back and tidy up after themselves.  Which they didn't.  So here comes the moment I was dreading.  Having to call the county and get them to take care of it.

Thank God for teenagers.  I assigned Kaitlin to the task.  She spoke with a few offices who transferred her to a few offices until she ended up with Tony.

Tony said they couldn't clean it up because their office doesn't own a chipper.  And the only crew that does have one loaned it out to another department and they don't know when it will come back.  The call ended with Tony agreeing to come out sometime and take a look at it.  Yeah, right.  Like I believed they would actually show up in this century.

An hour later there was a knock at our door and sure enough if it wasn't Tony.  Who agreed it was a mess and needed to be taken care of.  Imagine that!  He claimed that they would be out by the end of the week or first thing next week to clean it up.  I didn't actually believe that would happen.  It would be too much to expect that they would show up so quickly and come back to do something about it, too.  But hey, what did we have to lose.  At best someone else cleaned it up.  At the worst, we already had a half a day of cleaning and hauling trees and trimmings ahead of us.

As we sat doing school this morning, I wondered what the loud noise was coming from outside.  Tony's promise came back to me, after a few minutes, and I  told the boys to run up and look out the front window.   When they never came back, I knew I must be right and there must be a big vehicle out front.

For once, the bureaucrats came through!  Go figure.

February 17, 2011

Sunshine

We were visiting a friend last Saturday.
As the kids played us bigger people sat chatting at the kitchen table.  
Ellie sat with us looking at stories.
We haven't seen the sun way too much the last few weeks so a sunny Saturday was a real blessing.
At one point I looked up and Elisabeth looked so beautiful with the sun shining in on her.
I grabbed my camera and sat down beside her snapping a few pictures.
She couldn't help showing off after a while.
Just living is not enough.  One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.  ~Hans Christian Anderson

February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Around here, Valentine's Day is a family affair with some quiet romantic moment stuck in there somewhere.

Typically, we all pitch in to make a fancy dress up dinner, light some candles and open a few jars of sparkling cider.  With appointments through the afternoon and our class tonight we mixed things up a bit and began the day with a little family time celebration.

A fancy breakfast, for a Monday morning, anyway was the order of the day.  I found this great recipe for red velvet pancakes.  Those of you who've been paying attention might remember red velvet cake is one of my hubby's favorite things... although, not really mine.  Lately, I've been exploring other red velvet treats.  We recently had red velvet brownies, which I thought were incredible and definitely better than their cake counter part.  Last year I made a recipe for red velvet cookies that were equally tempting.  After trying this pancake recipe, I might have to alter my opinion to say, ,,I like red velvet after all, maybe just not red velvet cake so much.
They are so easy, too.  You start with a red velvet cake mix, add a few basics like oil and eggs, top it with a simple compote made of dried cherries, fresh whipped cream and some shaved chocolate.

To round out the meal we added some strawberries with chopped walnuts and of course tea and coffee.  What would breakfast be without fresh ground coffee?
 Kaitlin put together this beautiful table setting for us featuring a frosted spray we bought at Joann's for next to nothing on Christmas clearance last year.
 Samuel was definitely ready to eat by the time we finished frying pancakes and gathered the troops to the table.
 The girls and I spent some time trying out a few new chocolate recipes from Southern Mid-Atlantic Living.  These are caramel covered with chocolate, a hint of sea salt and crystallized ginger.  (Terri, I was thinking about you when I saw this recipe featuring the sea salt to accent the chocolate.  Stop by for a sample... but don't wait too long or they may be all gone!)  I am not a big fan of caramel but I love dark chocolate and I am crazy for crystallized ginger and will often pluck a piece out of the jar and suck on it as a treat. With several caramel lovers in the house, I don't think we could miss with this recipe.
 And chocolate covered maraschino cherries.  What more could you possibly say about that?
 These roasted pecans topped with caramel, a hint of sea salt and drizzled with melted chocolate seemed too irresistible to not try out.
 The mail was fun today, too!  Roses from my darling... cards from our friends in Virginia and Texas...
...and a package from our friends in Seattle.  
 Can you believe those adorable little hearts are book marks?  Aren't they sweet?  Oh, really, no pun intended!
And speaking of sweet... check out these sweet hearts!
 And my only-thing-better-than-chocolate Valentine.
One of my favorite Bible verses since I was a child has always been Jeremiah 31:3 "The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee."  Since I gave my life to Jesus, it has always had a deeper meaning than I could have ever imagined before I knew and understood (as much as my feeble human mind and heart can) the love He truly has for me.  


My mom used to sing this verse to us when I was growing up.  It has been stuck in my mind the last few days... which is rather appropriate, don't you think?  Our Pastor preached on the love of God last Sunday and yesterday.  He left us with the question, "Do you really love the Lord?"  What better question is there to contemplate on a day set aside for making sure we show those around us how much they mean to us?


Happy Valentine's Day to all those we know and love (and to those of you we've come to love but have yet to know) from all of us riding a sugar high in Wachter world.


XOXO,


Kat     
 

February 13, 2011

Girlies At Play

My big girls were babysitting some friends last week.  In an unusual turn of events, we had three families from our church ask us to babysit all in the same day.  We had so much fun watching these two toddlers interact with each other.  Kaitlin took a video of them playing together.  I had to bust up laughing at the bit with Samuel's slipper and the way they kept patting the step for the other to have a seat and the two of them content to just sit and suck on their binkies.  There is a bit of extraneous business but I didn't feel like taking the time to edit it out so you can just play along for 3 giggly toddler minutes.

February 8, 2011

Another Year Older - Many Blessings Richer

Nothing can humble a person quicker than a good old fashioned birthday celebration in which I realize how much my family loves me, even though I don't deserve it.

Saturday was the big day, but around here birthdays seem to last for the better part of a week these days.  

The fun started Friday night when Allen and I went to dinner and a show with friends of ours.

For a rare occasion, I slept in Saturday morning.  When I got up the house was beautifully decorated with pink and green streamers and lots of balloons AND the kids had fixed my all time favorite breakfast of lox and home made bagels with all the trimmings.  
I LOVE that they coordinated the crepe paper and wrapping paper... that is so something I would do!  Even though, they maybe don't care at all, they knew I would appreciate it and took the extra effort.
Check out these great candles they used to coordinate with the table setting.  
Elisabeth gave me a great snuggle, and I am sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I had a pink and green happy day she might have wanted to share with me.
Of course there were presents... a new plate for my collection from Aedan.
Home made gift certificates from Emma to fix my snack when my sugar is too low and eat breakfast with me when I don't feel like getting up to eat before the sun.  There were also certificates for a foot rub and other fun Mama and Emma time activities.
 A new charm for my children birthstone necklace
And a kiss from my sweetie
The weather was cold and drizzling all day and my blood sugar was fluctuating too much to feel like doing anything so we opted for a quiet day at home.  We played a game and watched a video.

I know you are going to ask so I will just go ahead and tell you.  Lunch was my grandmother's Italian Wedding soup.  For my pizza and video I chose Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation and South Western Pizza... which I thought looked fabulous on my new plate.
Kaitlin made this incredible new recipe for a grapefruit cake for dessert.   Don't knock it until you try it, it is by far my new very favorite cake.  It is so light and refreshing!  And less than 30 carbs per 1/16th of a cake.  A diabetic birthday girls dream!
I realized how old I am really getting when I saw the kids putting the candles on my cake.  
However, even with asthma, I still managed to blow them all out in one breath!  Not too old just yet.
Okay, so I look like I might faint, but hey, I did it!  

But here's the real thing.  Once again, I am amazed at the outpouring of love from my family.  I am so blessed to have so much unconditional love surrounding me every day of my life, despite all my faults and the constant string of mistakes I make.  Thanks for another special birthday and a very special year.  I am looking forward to the new year ahead with some of the greatest blessings there ever could be.  

Loving you all, too!