December 4, 2012

How we celebrate Christmas

This is a collection of some of our favorite ways to celebrate and prepare our hearts for "the coming" of Jesus at Christmas during Advent.

If you click on each picture, it will take you to the post where I've previously blogged about it over the years. I hope your family will enjoy these as you expectantly await the celebration of our Savior's birth!

Handprint Nativity Animals
Christmas Book Countdown (includes list of books)

Our favorite Christmas album (kid-approved, but not really made for "kids")

Shepherd's Pouches
A list of Advent Activities
(Another list of advent activities.)

And a few others we'll be doing this year:

KatherineMarie is the best!

November 30, 2012

Friday Funnies: My little "men"

Me: What are you boys doing?

Asher: Don't worry, Momma, I'm just teaching him how to be a man.

October 22, 2012

Full Hands.

This is the announcement we used to share our "big" news with the Facebook World. While I really liked my boots in the picture below, I thought the above pic more clearly communicated the message. But back to the boots...I mean, who even knows how much long I'll be able to squeeze my unavoidably growing ankles into those cute boots? So, I will keep this picture and dream about the days when my pregnant body will once be manageable vain, I know. 

This is how we told the older two. They were SO delighted to hear about their new baby. So much so that the next morning, as soon as McKlayne saw me she ran up to me and started kissing my baby belly as she gushed, "I just can't believe it, we're having another baby..." Followed by Asher who told me, "When I was laying in bed last night I just couldn't sleep...and tears were even coming out of my eyes because I'm so excited." McKlayne has told me no less than 6 times in the last 24 hours, "Oh, Mommy, your belly is getting BIGGER!!!" Yes. Yes, it is. And, it will continue to for the next 30 weeks...I have already begun warning her that it will also take a while to get "small" again after the baby is here.

Okay, this is a long video, but I thought that at least the grandparents might want to see it:

Speaking of did this two get so big? It just seemed like they were making this video. But  it's already been over two years!

September 30, 2012

Daddy Daughter Date

McKlayne is a great date. If you're ever around McKlayne it wouldn't take much of your imagination to understand this. The girl is never at loss for words. The questions are endless ... which is great for a daddy who is a bit below average on the conversational spectrum. But I did have plenty of questions for my girl on our overdue date. And I did have to wait occasionally to fit in those questions.

We had dinner with the family and then set out for the mall. I wanted to allow for some major talking time with my girl as we walked around. I also love McKlayne's imagination. I think it's one of her greatest assets and I'm not sure that I've seen anyone use theirs as much as she does. I wanted to see it take off as we wandered around. 

The mall didn't disappoint. The somewhat unsightly construction left us with my many X's (designating broken tiles) on the floor that marked all of the mall's buried treasure. We stopped at kiosks and stores and tried on glasses, masks and more. We squeezed into a kids' ride and went on a rollercoaster together. I'm telling you — the girl is F-U-N. 

Our first scheduled stop was the pet store. It's really the puppy store as that's all that they sell. But, it's where we take our kids to get their pet-fix as we are a "No Pet Zone." And McKlayne — the little mommy and animal lover — lights up when you mention going. She could spend hours there holding those creatures. I let her stay as long as I can stand the smell and the gushing pet lovers' "goo goo" talk and then give her an additional 10 minutes. 

McKlayne holding "Adelae"
She told me what she'd name the pup and then what Mommy, Daddy and Asher might name it. And when I asked, she quickly informed me that Oliver couldn't name pets yet — like it was a crazy question. I didn't ask about L. She told me about what she'd do, where they'd go and the tricks that she'd teach it. And then we switched out dogs and repeated. 

We walked back through the mall to pick up a cookie for Asher both lamenting the removal of the giant playplace in the food court. We split a peanut butter cookie (one of her favorites) and were off to Spoons. 

A few stops at the mall

If you ask McKlayne where she wants to go on a date, you may get a few different places or ideas, but "Spoons" is always the first one. We tried a few flavors with our stack of sample cups and then got our usuals. McKlayne mixed her gummy bears, yellow mystery gusher balls, chocoate chips and sprinkles into her strawberry-cheesecake swirl yogurt. Yumm, right? We had a lot more to talk about and then she dared me to take a bite of her concoction. Well ... she sweetly and generously asked me if I wanted to try hers. But, it felt like a dare. Either way I ate that stuff ... and lied to her face and said it was delicious. 

I scooted around next to her in order to hold out the camera and snap a pic of our date. After we got a good one that included both of our heads, two smiles and our yogurts in the same shot, I decided to stay close and do some "same side sitting." She politely asked me to move back across the table. I proceeded to let her know how Mommy and I would sit close on our dates while we talked. She nodded and pointed to the other side of the table. I chuckled and compliantly scooted my chair back around. McKlayne, may you always be so firm and keep all of your future dates honest.

We love Spoons!

And that was it. McKlayne was such a treat. The way I laughed with her, gushed over her and just stared from time-to-time at her beauty reminded me of other dates with a girl that actually shares a resemblance (and a lot of personality) with my Klayney. So we headed back home, delivered our cookie and wondered what the phrase "awkward silence" even meant. 

Here's to many more dates with you McKlayne. Love, Daddy.

Chicken Fajita Wraps

with oven-roasted okra.

Our friends, Joe and Melissa, made Fajita Wraps with all the fixings for us when we were over for dinner one night. It was a hit with my family, so I knew I had to add this to the rotation!  (Now I think of you wonderful Terry's every time we eat this meal and for all the ways we're thankful for how God has used you two to shape us.)

I based my marinade off of this recipe.

Fajita Marinade

1/4 cup lime juice
 1/3 cup water
 2 tablespoons olive oil
 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
 2 teaspoons salt
 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

I usually let the marinade sit for 1-2 nights in the fridge, but it can marinate for just a few hours if you need to eat them sooner. The longer, the better, though.

Grill or cook on stovetop in skillet.  Serve in lettuce wraps with grilled mushrooms and onions, salsa and guacamole.

September 13, 2012

Roasted Veggie Medley

This recipe originated with my friend, Rachel. I may have made a few changes over the years, I really can't remember.  I like making this at the beginning of the week and eating off of it for a few meals or making it when we need to contribute to some sort of large-group meal.  It makes a very large portion, so you may need to, at least, half it.

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into thirds
1 red onion, cut into large slices
1 whole red, orange, or yellow bell pepper (or 1/2 of each), sliced
a few handfuls of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1-2 zucchini, cut into bite size pieces
4-6 cups of broccoli
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 teaspoons minced garlic
salt and pepper
(and sometimes a couple dashes of Tony's seasoning)

Mix veggies in a huge bowl. Add oil and seasonings. Toss to coat. Roast in the oven at 400 for 20-25 minutes.

You can also grill them: Heat grill over high heat. Toss veggies into a grill basket (or an aluminum pan with holes poked in the bottom) and grill for 8-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

September 4, 2012

Book-nook, baby.

Lately, after one of those panicked moments of realizing that Oliver has been quiet for way too long, and  nervous about where and what I may find him doing...I've found him here:

He'll skillfully pull the box of board books off the third shelf on careful tippytoes...

And quietly sit, reading to himself in his booknook.  This has become his favorite place of retreat.  He's proud that he can pull himself up on the ottoman all by himself (high enough up and away from L who can't quite get up on her own) so he can have some alone time.

He'll sit here for up to 20 minutes at a time...getting lost in the illustrations and reciting animal sounds to himself.

And after he's done with each one, he tosses them on the floor.

September 3, 2012

Mercy Project

Hello?! Is anyone even out there? This has become a sleepy little blog to the public...behind the scenes I've still be blogging away. I actually have quite a few posts that I haven't published since February when we were placed with our foster daughter who is just 7 weeks younger than Oliver (more on that to come) but I'm an all-or-nothing kinda gal. Oliver is now 1 1/2 years old and according to my blog header, he didn't (and still doesn't) exist.  So, since I'd didn't have time to update my blog, I quit publishing posts.  Silly, I know. 

But, today, I have something very important to share with you. Heather asked me, along with 99 other bloggers, to be a part of getting the word out about Mercy Project, which was started by a sweet couple in our church that many in our body our involved in. Mercy Project is currently working in Ghana to help end child slavery and trafficking. Go read for yourselves about how you may get involved:
There’s an estimated 7,000 children who work in the Ghana fishing industry. Some of
these children are as young as 5 and 6 years old.  All of these children are slaves.

Today many in our country will take a day off from our jobs to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers.  No matter if we’re celebrating at home or at the beach, we’re entering into a tradition that has largely been shaped by Labor Unions - organizations that are dedicated to protecting workers’ interests and improving their wages, hours, and working conditions.  Today as we lounge around or hang out with friends and family, we’re not only celebrating hard work, we’re honoring fair, ethical working practices and the laws that prevent discrimination, abuse, and child labor in our country.  Without these laws in place (and enforced), the most vulnerable members of society suffer.  Who are the most vulnerable? Children. 

"God does not want us to merely give the poor perfunctory help, but to ponder long and hard about how to improve their entire situation." -- Tim Keller in Generous Justice  

Today as we’re celebrating the systems in our own country that strive to prevent injustices like child trafficking and child labor, we’re mindful of the many child slaves around the world who are unprotected and the organizations, like Mercy Project, who are working to free them.

"If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong." -- Abraham Lincoln

As a mother, it’s difficult for me to imagine my children working 14 hours a day, 7 days a week.  I’m unable to wrap my brain around the thought of my children engaged in long, hard days of physical labor, eating one meal a day, and then falling asleep at night on a dirt floor filled with other slave children.  Yet this is the daily reality for kids who have been trafficked into the fishing industry in Ghana, Africa.  As with much of Africa, there is a great deal of poverty in Ghana. Unfortunately, this leaves many mothers in an unimaginable position: sell their children to someone who can take better care of them or watch them starve to death. Most of the mothers are told their children will be given food, housing, and an education. Instead, the kids are often taken to Lake Volta where they become child slaves and their mothers never see them again.  Thankfully, Mercy Project is working to break the cycles of trafficking around Lake Volta by providing alternate, more efficient, sustainable, fishing methods for villagers – ultimately eliminating the need for child slaves.  Because of the work Mercy Project is doing in Ghana, the first group of children will be freed this month from Lake Volta.

We invite you to watch this moving, 10 minute documentary about the issues surrounding child labor and trafficking in Ghana and most importantly the hope Mercy Project is bringing to children and entire communities in Africa.  Mercy Project is the only NGO working on Lake Volta addressing the injustice of child labor and child trafficking at its root - by strengthening the Ghanaian economy and eliminating the structures that cause the demand for trafficked children.

Whether these ideas of child labor, child trafficking, and modern-day slavery are new to you or you’re aware of these injustices, but need to hear some good news every once in awhile, we invite you to become a part of what Mercy Project is doing in Ghana.  When Mercy Project frees their first group of children this month, we can all celebrate together.

Learn more and get involved by:

Watching Mercy Project’s short documentary. 

Following Mercy Project on Facebook.

Connecting with Mercy Project via Twitter.  [link provided below]

• Spending some time on Mercy Project’s website.  [link provided below]

• Sharing about Mercy Project’s work in Ghana with your friends. 

Although child trafficking, child labor, and the unstable economies that result in these injustices are a tragedy, we’re grateful for what Mercy Project is doing to protect the vulnerable and for allowing us to be a part of this story.   While we’re commemorating labor laws and ethical work in our own country today, we invite you to follow along on this journey with Mercy Project to protect and free children in Ghana.

August 15, 2012

And we have a reader...

Hey there, Mr. Too-Big-for-Your-Britches,

Who told you that you could get so big?...Or start reading for that matter?  We are not supposed to start Kindergarten for another TWO weeks and teaching you to read just happened to be one of my goals for this year.

Last Sunday afternoon you came up to me and said, "Hey, Momma, I can spell 'hat'." Then, you spelled it as you sounded it out. I quizzed you on about 12 more three letter words and you got them all right. And,  then it occurred to me...if you could visualize these words in your head, then surely you could read them on paper! So, I pulled out the first of the five sets of BOB books that I'd snatched up at a garage sale at the beginning of the summer, and you read through the first set of 12 books in two days! I was in total shock.

And, then the Mommy-guilt started to creep in.  How long had you been able to do this? I know you're often overlooked these days because of the babies...but could you have been reading all summer, had we just tried? I know it's not a race. I just never imagined that reading would come so easy for you.  (Now, I'm feeling pretty foolish for all the time I'd spent agonizing over selecting the perfect reading curriculum. Sheesh!)

You've been showing off your reading and spelling skills ever since. You are so proud of yourself. Realizing you could read was a bittersweet moment for proud of and excited for you, yet slightly (okay, maybe a little more than slightly) annoyed that you didn't "need" me to help teach you...or maybe irritated that you couldn't just hold off a couple weeks and let me think that you did, indeed, need me? I did make you promise that you would still allow me to hold your big five year old self in my lap, every now and then, to read to you. You sweetly obliged to my request.

I give all the credit to Letter Factory for teaching you your letter sounds in combination with the brilliant mind that God has given you...that mind that can't stop trying in invent, create, and figure things out on your own. May the Lord use that brilliant mind for His glory one day, smart boy. I have a feeling I'm going to continue to be shocked a bunch in my life, as I discover all the things that you can do.

All My Love to you, Smartie Pants,

Your Super Proud Momma

August 9, 2012

Your Daddy...

This picture pretty much sums up how I feel most days, these days:

...until about 5:10 p.m. when Daddy walks through the door and each of you break out in screams of excitement and giggles as you race to the front door. You kids almost communicate the relief and gratitude I feel when I see that handsome man walk in.

At 5:11 p.m. Daddy jumps in, holding at least a baby on one hip for the next two hours until bedtime.

I love when we're able to spend our evenings after dinner like this. I usually feel too exhausted to join, but I love taking you all in. It's in these moments that my realization of how precious you all are is renewed. I am so thankful to get to be your Mommy But, I am even more thankful to be married to your Daddy.

That Daddy. After a long day at work he pours out his entire heart and soul, chasing, tickling, building block towers, wrestling, impersonating, playing, reading books, bathing naked hineys--all with careful love you four with a rich and elaborate kind of love.

No one else makes each of you laugh as hard as your Daddy--not even close. Each of you love that Daddy with all that you are...but not as much as I do--not even close.

August 8, 2012

Double Take...

  You two share everything. 

Toys...most of the time.

Food...especially when one of you doesn't like what's on your tray. 

Sippy cups..which sometimes later leads to sharing a runny nose.
Yep. Crocs, too.  (Oliver doesn't seem to mind the subtle, light pink.)

And, have I mentioned that you two share the same habits?

When one of you learns a new trick, you're eager to pass it on to the other.

Yet your little personalities are oh, so different. One of you is a bit cautious, the other  a bit adventurous.

August 7, 2012

Crispy Chicken, "Faux"tatoes and Roasted Zucchini

(Crispy chicken, "faux"tatoes, and roasted zucchini)

This is what my kids like to call Crispy Chicken.

I altered this recipe a little bit. If you're using a whole chicken, you can follow the basics of PW's recipe by stuffing the chicken, but it's cheaper for us to buy the chicken hindquarters from here rather than a whole bird. (And, up until recently, one package of hindquarters was enough to feed our family. Now that the two babies are eating what we eat, I make two packages and we have leftover for lunch or for chicken salad.)

Alright, here's what you need:

Crispy Chicken

chicken hindquarters, rinsed (get pasture-raised if you can)
1 teaspoon of Basil
1 teaspoon of Oregano
1 teaspoon of Parsley
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 Tablespoon of salt
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

In a small bowl, mix together all the spices and seasonings and add the olive oil until combined well.

Coat your entire hindquarters with the marinade...front, back, every nook and cranny.  Place them on a large piece of tinfoil-covered baking sheet and roast at 425 for about 40 minutes. We like our skin really brown and crispy, crunchy. Let it cool for about 10-15 minutes before tearing into it, so all the juices aren't immediately released and so your chicken tastes juicy, not dry.

That's it...wasn't that so easy?



1 giant head of organic cauliflower or a bag of frozen, steamed until soft
1/2 stick of butter
1 tsp garlic powder, or fresh garlic, to taste
sea salt and pepper, to taste

Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Keep scraping the sides and everything willl mix together and turn into what looks like mashed potatoes. Taste to see if you need to add anything else...more butter? Salt? Those are usually what I start with...


Roasted Zucchini

3-4 zuchinni, sliced (long, thin slices using a mandoline)
olive oil
sea salt & pepper

Lay out all the zucchini slices on a baking sheet. Use a basting brush to coat the slices with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put these in the oven for about the last 15 minutes of the chicken being roasted...check them after about 5 minutes...I usually end up turning the heat from 425 to 400 at this point. (Your chicken will continue to roast just fine on this temp.) And roast until light, golden brown.

July 27, 2012

A conversation about aging

McKlayne, who had some leftover strawberry on her forehead, was eating her snack.

Asher: What's that on your forehead? Are you bleeding?

McKlayne: Nope, it's probably just a pimple.

Asher: A pimple? Oh dear!

M: Yep, I've got them all over me....even some on my cheeks.

A: It's okay, I've got some under my chin. Just happens as you get older, I guess.

M: Sure does. Must mean I'm getting married soon.

July 23, 2012

Strawberry Summer Salad

My dear mother came up with this salad when I was "vacationing" at her house-- a "vacation" from cooking and cleaning my own. I never would have thought a strawberry-avocado combo could taste so good, but I think it's the blue cheese that brings it together just right. This is refreshingly light and tasty dinner salad...perfect for when the Texas heat reaches 108 unbearable degrees. Or even when it doesn't.

Strawberry Summer Salad
Chicken (I like this recipe.)
Raw Blue Cheese (There's nothing quite like raw blue cheese.)
Red Onion

With a bit of
Maple Dressing:
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon italian seasonings
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup
3/4 cup olive oil

July 20, 2012

Brown Eyed Girl

After the pool one day this week. 

"Take a picture of me, Mommy."

"You got it, Beautiful."

July 13, 2012

Just like twins

McKlayne: L and I are going to be twins today. I have just the perfect plan.

Me: Umm,okay...I can't wait to see this perfect plan.

A little while later she comes out in full costume...

McKlayne: Look, Mom, now we both have our Minnie ears. We look just like twins.

June 29, 2012

The nerve...

I hear all kinds of comments when I have both babies in tow but nothing like the conversation that occurred "around" me earlier this week...

A mother (maybe in her 70's) and daughter (in her 50's) pair were behind me in the checkout line at Hobby Lobby. 

"Wow! Look at her, she's got twins! She is busy." 

"I mean...look at how skinny she is."

"We'd look like that, too, if we had two little ones..."

I looked behind me...wondering who they're talking about but wanting to see this skinny-momma-of-twins for myself.

The daughter says to me, " You are so skinny and you BIRTHED TWINS!! It must be because you're so busy chasing them everywhere..."

I look back down at my double stroller terribly confused. The ladies clearly can't see my two babies inside....they only see the back of it. They may be being raised like twins, but it's quite obvious that I didn't birth one of these babies.

I'm puzzled about how to respond. I smile as I'm beginning to get a bit nervous about how I'm going to put an end to all of the undeserved compliments. 

Still trying to figure out quite what to say, I open my mouth to give a response when the mother cuts me off.  "Yes, she may be skinny but look at the dark circles under her eyes..."

(I think my mouth was still open at this point.) That's it. I'm completely speechless.  Is there even a response for this? I turn to my cashier.  Her mouth is now open, too, as she gives me an apologetic look. I grabbed my receipt and walked out as fast as I could.

I'm not sure why I am the one, in those moments, that starts getting sweaty and wants to disappear as soon as I can.

This definitely rivals all of those wonderful comments that people make when you're pregnant.

June 11, 2012

Spaghetti Squash & Meatsauce

Boil a large (or two small) spaghetti squash until fork tender.  Slice open. De-seed and scrape out the "spaghetti" with a fork so it's nice and stringy.

1 lb ground meat
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp whole oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 T salt (my tomato sauce usually doesn't have salt added)
1 T dried parsley
1/2  onion 
2 cans Tomato sauce ( 15-oz cans)

Brown meat. Drain well. Stir in flavorings. Add tomato sauce. Simmer at least ½ hour. Stir in spaghetti squash until well-combined.

I like making this meal ahead of time (or at least the meatsauce) b/c Charlie and I agree that it always tastes better when it's had a bit of time to "marry" in the fridge. (Sometimes I'll even make and store it in the fridge for a few days before we eat it. Then, it's an already a prepared, quick dinner option.)  I've also prepared and frozen the meatsauce.  Just let it sit in the kitchen sink for a few house to thaw the day you want to eat it and prepare the spaghetti squash separately.

June 8, 2012

Crazy Caprese Salad

Thanks, Aunt Rachel, for sharing this recipe a few years ago!

Caprese Salad, or "crazy salad", as McKlayne calls it, is the perfect summer side.  I'm sorry that I don't give you the exact measurements. I used to hate cooks like me...but this is all from memory, and depending on the size of the group I'm making it for, it often varies, so here goes:

Tomatoes, diced
Feta or Fresh Mozzarella cheese (both are really great, but I hardly ever have fresh mozzarella...and it's more work to cut on a special occasion I use the real thing.)
Red Onion, diced
Basil, chopped

Dressing: (A little goes a long way, so start small and add more.)
1:2 of olive oil to balsamic vinegar 
Salt & Pepper

May 22, 2012

That Daddy...

He's the kind of Daddy who scoops you up when you're inside the kitchen screaming at him through the window...

and single-handedly maneuvers heavy machinery, just so he can continue to hold you.

I'm sure in love with that Daddy...and his inability to resist that rosey-cheeked boy that just couldn't stand not being in his Daddy's arms.

Swiss Chard

Thanks to Marylou, this is how we like to eat our swiss chard, usually grown from her garden, but you can really use any type of green :

Greens (chard, kale, spinach, etc.)
a few slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
fat of choice, (We love butter around here!)
Lemon juice

While the bacon is cooking, wash and chop or tear the leaves, removing the center "spine". (The chard will cook down a lot, so I always prepare what seems like WAY too much.)

Saute greens in fat of choice until it's really cooked. Toss in broken bacon pieces. S&P to taste and squeeze fresh lemon juice on top. And, if I'm feeling extra naughty, sometimes I'll even sprinkle on a dash of parmesan cheese.

I cannot overstate how much my kids love this. Asher calls this his favorite vegetable and will often go back for third helpings...after two hefty ones. Before this we had never even tasted swiss chard, so I was shocked that we all loved it so much. But, I mean, with a little butter and bacon, how can you go wrong?

May 9, 2012

Chicken pox

The entire month of April we were quarantined to our home with the chicken pox. Calamine lotion every couple hours and oatmeal baths twice a day had become part of our routine.

On April 1st, I noticed some small red marks (some were fluid filled) on Asher's trunk and face as he was getting ready for church.  And then I remembered that two weeks earlier our niece, Elaina, had broken out in chicken pox within 24 hours after we'd seen her. I told Charlie, "I think he has chicken pox!" He thought it was an April Fool's joke.

The joke got old after it plagued all four kids for the entire month. (And L even ended up getting it a SECOND time which is VERY rare and almost never happens. Her first round was very mild, though.) Asher was first. His lasted about 4-5 days from the first sighting until they were scabbed over.  Calamine lotion and oatmeal baths help them dry out quicker, I learned. And, though they get itchy at this point, if you stay on top of them, you can really quicken the process.

McKlayne broke out exactly two weeks later, as Asher's were just fading. She probably had them the worst out of everyone, yet is the only one who doesn't have any scars from it. (For the most part, McKlayne really enjoyed all the attention of having the pox. Truly. She wore her pink and white polka-dot Minnie costume with the white gloves for a full five days and colored in her new giant coloring book most of the time "to keep her hands busy so she wouldn't scratch.") 

And five days later, as the worst of McKlayne's pox had come to an end, the babies both broke out with their first signs of the pox.  Is anyone really surprised? I mean, why wouldn't they start the same day? They share everything.  I sewed socks to a couple pairs of the babies' long-sleeve jammies to keep them from scratching while they were sleeping. This really seemed to help.

I was hesitant to even post about this because I know this can be a very controversial topic.  And, depending on the which side you fall on...whether to vaccinate for chicken pox or not...both have compelling persuasions. I'd mentioned on facebook, in jest, about having a "pox party" for my other non-vaccinating friends who wanted to expose their children, and it quickly spiraled out of control. I received some ugly comments about it being "child abuse to intentionally expose children to a disease" and even threats about CPS becoming involved. Yikes. The last I'd heard, chicken pox was a virus. Choosing not to vaccinate for chicken pox was a decision that Charlie and I had made in faith, with much prayer and research. (And, as a foster parent, I might be a little more sensitive than the average person about what constitutes child abuse. I want to be gracious, but please, please consider the weight of such words. Whew. I had to tame the Momma Bear rising up in me with all those comments.) Boy, times have changed since we were kids, huh?

I have gotten numerous email about this over the last month, so I'll just answer why we believe it was best, for our generally very healthy kids, to have not received the chicken pox vaccine:

1. The vaccine has the potential to "wear off" in some cases.  Mostly, we reached our decision because we were just not comfortable with the "newness"of the vaccine, which came out in 1995. Because of that, the long-tern effects are still unknown. There is potential that the vaccine may not have lifetime immunity, meaning it may "wear off" after a certain number of years. In some cases it has been reported to wear off as early as 6 years after the vaccine.  So, wouldn't it be better to let our kids get it the old fashion way when they're young and can have true immunity?  We think so. 

2. The severity and potential complications of the chicken pox increase with age...including, sterility in men and often times requiring hospitalization as an adult. This was truly one of the main factors that made me leery of vaccinating our sons, especially.  We have a friend who had a pretty severe case of the chicken pox when he was 19 years old.  Ten years later, after years of his wife unsuccessfully becoming pregnant, he found out he was sterile.  While his doctor said he can't be completely certain it's because of the pox, after looking at family history and sibling fertility, they've concluded it's a good chance it is because he had chicken pox as an adult. 

3. There's still a chance that you can get shingles, even with the vaccine! One of the main arguments for receiving the varicella vaccine is to prevent chicken pox and shingles, but that's not always the case. We also have a friend who vaccinated her little girl with the chicken pox vaccine and less than a year later, she broke out in shingles at the age of two!!  It's nice to know that after a month of enduring chicken pox-ridden children, Char and I were given a month's worth of boosters to help prevent shingles for us, one day.

April 21, 2012

Carnitas Ensalda

Sometimes we'll have leftover pork from making this recipe.  And, if we do, Charlie and I really enjoy eating this for lunch.

Shredded Lettuce (this happened to be iceberg, but we'll use whatever we have on hand)
Red Onion
Sour Cream (optional)

Mix it all together and squeeze some lime juice over the top.

April 20, 2012

Artichoke Pesto Salad

Another salad variation to try:

Mixed Greens
Red Onion
Bell Pepper
Lemon & Cilantro Artichoke Pesto

Maple Dressing:

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon italian seasonings
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup
3/4 cup olive oil