Friday, April 25, 2014

Pampered Chef, Aunt Jemima and Some Really Good Cornbread

I love some good cornbread, especially if it's slathered in butter and honey.  Love it even more if it's a slightly sweet cornbread with a crunchy exterior.  I think I've finally figured out the secret to achieving that.  The recipe is actually the one off of the back of the Aunt Jemima corn meal container.  But the sneaky part involves a Pampered Chef stoneware baker.  (Or any other similar baker or cast iron baker.)  That and melted butter.

How so?  A preheated stoneware or cast iron pan creates an almost griddle like surface when you heat a few tablespoons of butter in it and then pour the batter onto the hot butter.  Hot griddle surface=crunchy exterior.

Anyway, here's the recipe:

1 cAunt Jemima enriched yellow corn meal
1 call purpose flour
2 to 4 Tbspsugar
4 tspbaking powder
1/2 tspsalt
1 cmilk
1/4 c
2 T. 
vegetable oil


 Preheat oven to 400.  Place 2 T. butter in stoneware and set in oven as it preheats.  I have an old Pampered Chef baker that is 11 inches round by 2 inches deep and this fills that perfectly, but it does fill it pretty full.
 In a large bow, combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
 Add milk, egg, and oil. Beat until fairly smooth, about 1 minute.
 Remove stoneware from oven.  Pour cornbread batter into hot stoneware.  Bake for 30-35  minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
A few caveats-You should be able to mix together the batter while the butter melts with no problems.  But you do want to watch so that your butter doesn't burn.  (Especially important if you are starting with a softened butter or if you have kids who distract you while you are in the middle of stuff.)  I've also seen recipes where people salt the butter before they put the batter in so that the crust is a salty crust.  I tried that but didn't really think it made that much difference.  I mix the dry ingredients up ahead of time (enough for 3 or 4 batches of cornbread) and then store it in a canister so it's like having my own boxed cornbread mix that I just have to add the wet ingredients to.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Linky Love: 10 Things Adoptive Parents of Medical Needs Kids Want You To Know

We certainly don't consider our family one who is parenting a child with significant medical needs.  Nevertheless, there was a lot to like in this post on No Hands But Ours titled Ten Things Adoptive Parents of Medical Needs Kids Want You To Know.  The pieces that relate to medical needs are so relevant to any family, adoptive or not, who has medical issues invading their lives-a great reminder to me to reach out to those who I know are in the middle of some tough, medical related stuff.   Medical needs aside, so much is applicable of adoptive families too.  Here are a few gems:

"Sometimes people praise us for adopting a child with medical needs, or they praise us for caring for them.  Know that we didn’t say yes to a diagnosis, we said yes to our child. Most parents wake up each day and meet their child’s needs. Please don’t see us, because we are weak, grumpy, and utterly insufficient. See a God who meets needs for His children. See a God whose heart beats for the least of these. Don’t praise our messy selves, praise God for work that is so evidently only Him."

"Often we are told that God doesn’t “give us more than we can handle”, but we are finding the very opposite. This is way more than we can handle. We are far outside the borders of our own capacity, but every morning God meets us where we are, replacing our weakness with His strength, our fear with His hope. Experiencing what it feels like to take steps forward only because of God is the greatest blessing of this journey."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Today, I quit.  I quit doing what I thought I ought to do and instead just did what I thought might make life easier.

It all comes on the heels of the perfect storm, an intense grouping of situations that were bound to send this mom into meltdown mode.  A week of no school due to Easter.  Multiple days of house guests.  Hosting Easter dinner.  Lots of sugar.  A spring schedule that has meant way too many nights out past bedtime.  A husband who has a soccer tourneyment and jury duty over our Easter break.  Did I mention lots of sugar?

Then add in some specific behaviors.  A balloon experiment that involved a bathroom sink full of water.  (And a counter full of water.)  A child who thought her new squirt gun should be played with in her bedroom.  (Again, water, water, everywhere.)  A baby who has decided his naptimes should be proceeded by 30 minutes of crying.  Visits from Bil Keane's famous cartoon characters "Not Me" and "I Don't Know."  Overtired, fussy kids who scream at everything and everyone, who cry over a Lego being placed into the -wrong storage container or being asked to drink the last inch of milk that's in the glass.

By Monday, this lady was over it all.  (I probably should have known when I woke up to dog pee on the carpet and then within 30 minutes proceeded to clean up 2 spit ups and one cup of spilled orange juice.)  But oh how I tried to hang onto the belief that my kids could play together without fighting, that they could have a lot of unstructured time and stay out of trouble, that it was worth arguing over the little things.  I suppose I tried a bit to lower my expectations.  (We did start out Monday morning with a movie.)  But I still ended up being the mom who I don't really like, the one who yells and rants and raves a bit, and just in general doesn't help the situation.

Tuesday was a bit better.  But still not what I would call a stellar day.

So today, I put aside all of my normal "mom rules" and went against the grain.  In short, I quit being the mom who is a bit high maintenance, the mom who has high expectations and lofty plans.  We went to the zoo...despite the rain.  We ate lunch out...instead of packing a lunch.  And when we got home, I told all the kids to go play in the huge puddle at the end of our street.  And then we watched a movie.  The day isn't over but we might watch another...despite my usual thoughts that 30-60 minutes of tv time is plenty for a day.

Guess what?  Today has been better by far.  I think I've only yelled once.  (Over the already mentioned, misplaced Lego situation that caused the 3 year old to freak out.)  I probably ought to quit more often.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

My Blessing, Christ's Curse

"He is risen.  He is risen indeed."

Words that offer hope to Christians everywhere, words that matter much.  Because without a resurrection, Jesus is just foolishness, the Bible just babble.

However, that is also true of the cross.  Without the actual cross, without the weight of the world's sins wrapped across the Son's shoulders, the whole Gospel is but a lie.

The work at the cross is one of atonement which simply put is about this amazing redemption that reconciles us to our Creator.  Redemption is actually a word connected to indebtedness.  It is the canceling out of something you are responsible for.  In faith, it means we as man cannot measure up to God's standard of living a perfect, sin free life so God's justice demands we pay this debt.  And yet somehow, on the cross, Jesus says "I'll pay the debt.  I'll take on the curse."  Man is brought near to God and Christ, for a moment, is exiled.

Curse perhaps seems a strange word to use in the Easter story.  For most of us, a curse is something borne in a Disney movie, placed upon a pretty princess by an evil witch.   But for the cross and the resurrection to matter, Easter must be about not just a curse but also about God's blessing.

R.C. Sproul writes about this in The Truth of the Cross.  "If we were to study that [the vision of God, looking God in the face] carefully in all of its ramifications in the Old Testament, we would see that blessedness is related to the proximity of God's presence.  The closer one gets to the immediate presence of God, the greater the blessedness.  The farther a person is from the face of God, the less of the blessedness."
This rings so true for me.  The hard things in my life have provided me with a lot of time to think about God's blessings.  "My God who longs to bless me has allowed the death of both my mother-in-law and my dad.  That's a bit hard to swallow."  My God who is good allowed us to take on the role of caring for an ailing grandparent and walking with her in the last part of her life.  Why us?"  "The God who knows my daughter intimately has been silent while her adoption stalled.  Surely He's not using her waiting to teach us a lesson?  That just seems cruel."  Those are all things that I had to hash out with God, because not hashing them out would surely have pulled me away from Him.  Over time, I came to the realization that my good was not God's good and Sproul's words just reaffirm this.

So then what does this have to do with Good Friday and Easter morning?  It's because as Sproul writes, "A curse is the opposite of blessedness.  The curse of the covenant was to be cut off from the presence of God, to never see the light of His countenance, to be be cast into the outer darkness."

Christ's sacrifice on the cross, while about physical suffering, was perhaps more about spiritual suffering.  His Father saw my sin, your sin, the world's sin, and cursed His Son.  He turned His face away because those sins could never inhabit the same space as God's presence.  It's about the way Paul explains it, in Galatians 3:13, that "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us for it is written 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'"  Christ spent His entire life enjoying the presence of God, savoring His blessing.  But on that day, as the nails were hammered and the tree was sat upright, that blessing was pulled away.  His curse became my blessing, giving me the chance to be near to God.  My blessing, His curse, perhaps that's just as amazing as the resurrection.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Ugliest Marble Run Ever Aka My Big Brother is Awesome

Big brothers matter.  And Kenson is a pretty good one.  He loves babies and generally has a sweet heart towards his siblings.  He spent yesterday and today home sick though.  A rotten tummy ache all day Monday and Tuesday and then by Tuesday around suppertime a fever meant quite a bit of time just laying around.  But come Wednesday morning he seemed to be back to normal.  Since he had had a fever so late in the day on Tuesday, he still stayed home.  While he was waiting for Zeke to come home from preschool, he decided he wanted to build a marble run for Zeke.  (Because he had heard Zeke talking about a marble run that they made at school.)  He started with some cups, some spoons, an empty toilet paper tube, an empty syrup bottle, and the tubes from our xylophone.  I let him do his thing for a bit but eventually helped him settle on rolled up newspapers, the syrup container, a laundry basket, some pillows and quite a bit of packing tape.  He really wanted to have it ready by noon so it would be a surprise when Zeke got home.  It's super ugly but super sweet...

A few snapshots of Kenson with Kai

He adores him and is probably the one who Kai responds most to other than D or myself.  

Sharing a hat with the baby

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Color Fun Run 5K

Our middle school decided to host a color fun run for their fundraiser this year.  Kenson, Conleigh and Mom did it together.  D has been nursing a strained hamstring muscle for several weeks (ask him to see it; it is super ugly looking) plus someone needed to stay back and watch Zeke and Kai.  They did the runners in 3 groups:  sprinters, joggers, and walkers.  That was nice because there was no way I was going to run all of it, plus I needed a way to keep tabs on Kenson and Conleigh who wanted to run and would be ahead of me.    If you haven't done a color fun run, the general idea is that you run and along the course, powdered colors (much like crushed chalk) are thrown at the participants.  Wearing white ensures maxim color coverage.  The organizers do give you some tips prior to running like to cover your car seats before you get in, to oil your hair beforehand to help the color come out, and to wash your color run clothes as a single load when you are done.  I think Kenson's asthma was bothering him, either from all the color dust or just from a bit of an allergy flare up or cold.  He ran quite a bit of the first lap around and walked the second.  Conleigh, on the other hand, ran the whole way.  A 5K is just a bit over 3 miles so for a 7 year old, running the whole way is a pretty good accomplishment.  Sometimes it is hard to find things that she really "shines" at so seeing her do so well was fun.  (She does a lot of things well but isn't really a stand out at any one particular thing.  And while she is in great physical shape, she gets distracted easily during team sports or frustrated because she doesn't understand the rules or doesn't quite have the skill needed for hitting a baseball or shooting a basketball.)

I know all my friends who are mamas of brown babies are looking at this and just shaking their heads.   Really it wasn't too bad.  I did the double French braids to kind of help limit the amount of hair that was exposed to the color.  Then I oiled it with olive oil before we left.  At home, she rinsed once in the tub, then I shampooed it, conditioned it, and reconditioned it under the shower and I think we got most of it out.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How to Go Spying

1.  Find oversized glasses to help you see better
2.  Use a headband to secure your pen to your head (for easy access)
3.  Grab a notebook to record any observations