Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sweet Sixteen

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Today, my first born turns sixteen. It amazes me how time flies by!

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It is so easy to talk about how sweet this girl is. She is strong, athletic, outgoing, beautiful, mature and funny. She is one of the few people that make me laugh until I cry and this truly is an almost daily occurrence in our home.

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Abby, these first sixteen years with you have been a true blessing and I can't imagine my life without you. I am so blessed to have you as my daughter and I can hardly wait to see where you will go in the next sixteen years!

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We had her favorite friends over for supper, movies and a sleepover. Abby requested Knoephla and Sauerkraut for her dinner, with a pretty cake for dessert. A lot of candy, pop and chips and some good movies... even a very special fairytale wedding to watch!

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Her friends also wanted to do another photo shoot this year. They are all beautiful and amazing girls, so how could I say no? Even though it does feel like a lot of pressure. This year the theme is Natural Beauty.

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This summer Abby will be going to Germany with her friend Meike, who is an exchange student. After a couple of weeks there, she will fly to Vienna and join up with two other friends (one of their dad's has a conference) and she will spend five days there.

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Abby is blessed with some beautiful and amazing friends!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Zoe's 4th Birthday

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Today, Zoe turns four years old! What a blessing it is to have her as a daughter.

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*the crown is from Baby Be Blessed.

We had to celebrate last night, because our Wednesday's are a little crazy and we are not all home at the same time. We will be heading to West Edmonton Mall to the Disney Store for a special shopping trip this morning...

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There are so many unknowns regarding Zoe's past. Is this even her true birthday? Unlikely. No one knows. We have so little information from her first 3 1/2 years. Not even a photo.

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All I know is that my heart goes out to her Chinese family at this time of year. Her birth mother must be thinking about her and wondering where she is. How I wish she could know how loved she is, that she has every opportunity available to her, that she has the best health care in the world, that she has five siblings who love and adore her, that she will be seeing much of the world, that she lives in a big, beautiful house and has the prettiest clothes. That she has parents who love her with all their hearts. That she is safe.

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Zoe loved all of her gifts. She got a pedal-less bike, a Baby Be Blessed doll with her life verse on it, some farm animals and some calico critter toys.

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Zoe said "Mommy, I love my birthday!"

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Lilah and Zoe will be having a joint birthday party in two weeks (Lilah's birthday is May 16th). We also have Abby turning Sweet Sixteen on Friday and Josiah turning 13 on Monday. It is a crazy week.

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This verse is stitched on the Baby Be Blessed Doll. It is the verse that God gave me during our wait for Zoe.

"I rejoice in your strength Lord. How great is my Joy in the victories You give! You have granted me my heart's desire and have not withheld the requests of my lips. You came to greet me with rich blessings and placed a crown of pure gold on my head. I asked you for LIFE and You gave HER to me. I trust in You, through Your unfailing love I will not be shaken. Be exalted in your strength, Lord I will sing and praise your might." -- Psalm 21

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Weekend

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Finally... it feels as though Spring has arrived! This weekend we headed to my parents house in Southern Alberta, where the weather is always warmer!

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The kids spent their entire weekend outside. Zoe was especially in her glory, to finally be playing outside. The boys spent most of the weekend at the skate park with Tim.

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Zoe had many firsts this weekend. First time at Grandma and Grandpa's house. First time meeting her Oma and Opa. Her first Easter.

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Zoe was very determined to ride this tricycle. When she did it, she laughed. When it wasn't quite going her way, she cried. But she kept trying.

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There is nothing like going "home". Even when you are all grown up!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Some New Favorite Recipes

Spicy Tomato Soup {with a hint of blue cheese}:

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You’ll need these ingredients:

a few splashes of olive oil

1 small onion

2-3 cloves of garlic

1 28 ounce can of tomatoes

1 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes

1 cup chicken broth

2 T. honey

1 small squirt of sriracha (more if you like really spicy–but start small)

handful of basil leaves

about an ounce of blue cheese (or your favorite easy melt cheese)

1/3 cup of cream

kosher salt and pepper to taste

You’ll also need a submersion blender!

The directions:

In a large dutch oven, add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Don’t measure, just swirl a few times. Then add the chopped onion and garlic and salt to taste and then saute for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes in their juice. Then add the rest of the ingredients except the cream and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Use your submersion blender to achieve the consistency you’d like and then add cream. Taste it and reseason as necessary. I almost always have to add more salt and more honey. And if you accidentally go heavy on the sriracha, add a little more cream to balance the heat. Serve with artisan bread or crackers.

Garnish with basil and enjoy!



Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork:

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(This recipe is from The Pioneer Woman)

You will need:

1 whole Large Onion

1 whole Pork Shoulder ("pork Butt") - 5 To 7 Pounds

Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 can (11 Ounce) Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce (use less if you don't like spicy)

2 cans Dr. Pepper

2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

Preparation Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Peel the onion and cut it into wedges. Lay them in the bottom of a large dutch oven.
Generously salt and pepper the pork roast, then set it on top of the onions in the pan.
Pour the can of chipotle peppers over the pork (include the sauce.) Pour in both cans of Dr Pepper. Add brown sugar to the juice and stir in.
Place lid tightly on pot, then set pot in the oven. Cook for at least six hours, turning roast two or three times during the cooking process. Check meat after six hours; it should be absolutely falling apart (use two forks to test.) If it’s not falling apart, return to the oven for another hour.
Remove meat from pot and place on a cutting board or other work surface. Use two forks to shred meat, discarding large pieces of fat. Strain as much of the fat off the top of the cooking liquid as you can and discard it. Return the shredded meat to the cooking liquid, and keep warm until ready to serve. (You can also refrigerate the meat and liquid separately, then remove hardened fat once it’s cold. Then heat up the liquid on the stovetop and return the meat to the liquid to warm up.
Serve on warm flour tortillas. Top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, grated cheese, avocado slices, salsa, and whatever else you’d like.



Five Spice Noodle Bowls:

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(This recipe is from the Clean Eating Magazine)

You will need:

2 tsp. grape seed oil

1 white onion, thinly sliced

2 tsp. chinese five spice powder

4 cups low sodium beef broth

3 cups chopped bok choy

7 oz. rice vermicelli noodles, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes

8 oz. top sirloin beef, trimmed of fat and very thinly sliced

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup cilantro sprigs

1/2 tsp. sesame oil

2 tsp. low sodium tamari soy sauce

1 tsp. sambal oelek or Sriracha hot chile sauce, optional

Instructions:

Heat oil in large pot. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add five spice powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add bok choy.

Drain noodles well and discard water. Divide noodles evenly among four bowls. Top each bowl with 2 oz. of raw beef.

To serve, ladle broth-bok-choy mixture into each bowl over beef, dividing evenly. The heat of the broth will cook the beef to medium-well, about 30 seconds. Garnish each bowl with green onions, cilantro and a few drops of sesame oil. If desired, drizzle 1/2 tsp. soy sauce and 1/4 tsp. hot chile sauce over top of each bowl. Serve immediately.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Snapshot: {Micah}

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Oh, how I love this boy of mine.

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I could stare in amazement at him all day.

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At night, I sneak into his room to kiss his soft cheek and inhale his sweet little boy smell.

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He makes me laugh everyday.

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"The world is as many times new as there are children in our lives." ~Robert Brault

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Sunday Snapshot

Friday, April 15, 2011

Getting Ready for Easter

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It sure doesn't feel like Easter. We are in the midst of a spring blizzard, it looks like we should be preparing for Christmas and not Easter!

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I have been baking Paska once a day (two loaves each time!). We colored some eggs and decorated them with many Dora stickers. We have been talking about why we celebrate Easter.

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And if you have been wondering where the Easter Bunny lives... he lives in our backyard!

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This rabbit has been living in our yard for a couple of years... at least we assume it is the same one. He has carved a nice little niche in one of my bushes. He and his many friends have eaten all of the bark off of all the trees in the neighborhood. My kids have named him Fatty McFatfat.

On another note... Lilah had another fill last night. This time done at home by Daddy. It didn't seem any more traumatic for her to have Tim do the fill, and it makes my life much easier! She is halfway there! But I do think that we are now at the point where we will try to stay home as much as possible, not because I care what people think... but because people stare.

And I want to protect her from that.

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