Friday, January 29, 2010

Pink and White Watch Dog

It's frigid here. The HIGH for the day is supposed to get to 29. But with the wind chills, it's likely not going to feel warmer than the mid-teens. So I'm hunkered in, cuppa' joe in hand, and I've decided to sort through some old family videos from this past year.

When I say sort, I really mean that I'm watching them, misty-eyed and "gaaaaahing" over how much my Gang has grown up in the 16 months since Li'l Empress has come home. I live my normal life in "Sap-ville" but this morning, the sticky, gooey sweet sentimentality is ooozing everywhere. My goodness, could these kids o' mine get ANY cuter? Any sweeter? Any more wonderful and hilarious? Yeah, I'm super sappy today.

I found this particular gem that I mean to share a few weeks ago and time got away from me. Before you watch it, here's the back-story . . .

Over Christmas, we went to share a couple days with my folks. While we were packing up and organizing the loot of 7 folks, Li'l Empress was apparently unpacking behind our backs. She has this favorite little toy, appropriately named "Doggy." We didn't discover his absence from our travel bags until we had arrived home. We put a call in to my folks, asking them to be on the look-out for Doggy. I reminded them about her propensity for putting things INSIDE of things and waited to hear from them. He was found the next day and Grandpa promised to get him packaged and sent home soon.

I guess she was particularly concerned that Grandma and Grandpa would have no one to keep an eagle-eye on the yummy Christmas treats. Because they found Doggy in the snack cabinet. Perched in a watch-dog stance over the boxes of Christmas cookies and snack crackers. Smart girl! She knew that in her absence, Grandpa might eat all the treats we left behind! :)

So, here's a clip of Doggy's arrival home. Back where he belongs.

video


"Dee Doo, Boppa and Momma!"
We love you!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Who Knew?

Who knew that the mere mention on Tuesday night of a certain purple dinosaur's upcoming guest appearance on American Idol would incite such glee?

Who knew that a 15 second glimpse of said purple dinosaur would create such joy?

Who knew that this purple dinosaur would keep Li'l Empress from settling down at her normal bed time?

Not me, or I surely would have whisked her off to bed 15 minutes early!

video

"Belah" is Li'l Empress' speak for "Barney."
And for her big brother, Dr. D's real name.
Mmmm, I wonder about that . . .

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ambushed!

On Saturday, the six of us spent a couple hours cleaning and organizing our basement while Li'l Empress took her nap. It was a lovely high for me, to see piles of clothes being sorted for donations and piles of things being carried out to the trash. The Boss got rid of a good number of mostly empty paint cans, some miscellaneous stuff that he was hanging onto for "someday" and lots of other garbage. I purged our storage shelves, organized our extra "pantry" space, and parted with some old borders that I'll never use. I'm not sure why I had them, but apparently The Boss isn't the only one who squirrels stuff for a "someday." Frankly, I didn't even remember that they were still down there!

When we were done, the kids had lots of energy to burn. We sent them out to play in the sunshine. But I got wind of a little plot, orchestrated by Dr. D, to ambush LadyBug with Silly String when she came out to join them. So I snuck off to inform her of the plot and re-orchestrated things a little bit. You know us girls gotta stick together around here. We're still outnumbered, in numbers and in abilities of warfare.

I gave the boys the "heads up" that she was on her way out, and gave The Boss the camera. They were laughing at catching this prank on camera and I don't think they suspected me at all. LadyBug and I snuck out the front door and came around the garage behind them - allowing her a moment of glorious surprise all her own.

Then the little bugger turned on me.
And yes, I'm outside in my huuuuge sweatshirt,
slippers and flannel pants
Sue me. I was working in the cold dirty basement.

video

So much for sticking together.
Is anyone else bothered by the fact
that I was completely unarmed?!

Monday, January 25, 2010

You Gotta Try This One!

I've been making this dish for a couple years now. I created it on one of those nights that I was trying frantically to pull something interesting together for dinner. Mostly because I hadn't really planned any further than thawing a package of chicken thighs. I was also trying to use what was on hand - thereby putting off that awful trip to the grocery store one more night!

It was a big hit and I've tweaked it a bit here and there over time. It's super easy and I LOVE that I can make it as soon as I put Li'l Empress down for a nap and it's done long before anyone comes home from school. It sure cuts down on that "w!tch!ng hour" chaos that all us moms love. {snort!}

Maple Mustard Chicken Thighs

Whisk together equal parts of Dijon mustard and maple syrup. Press 2-3 cloves of garlic into it and mix well.

Lay boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped onions, and any combo of potatoes you like into a shallow baking dish or roasting pan that's been sprayed really well. This week, I used 12 chicken thighs, 1/2 of a huge Vidalia onion, 4 large sweet potatoes and 6 white.

It helps to toss the potatoes and onions in just a bit of olive oil whisked with Dijon first to coat them well. Make sure the ck. and veggies are mixed up well in pan - especially if the thighs have been well skinned and trimmed of all fat.

Pour mustard mixture over all and bake at 300 for 1 1/2 hours. or until largest potatoes are tender. Only turn or mix up once or twice in that 1 1/2 hour, being careful not to tear chicken while doing so.

Turn heat up to 375 for another 20 minutes till all starts to brown up nicely. I like it slightly darker than lightly browned - it makes the flavors stronger.

It's also great with carrots and/or butternut in the mix.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Haiti: Adoption And Other Complex Thoughts

I've been trying all week to formulate my thoughts and feelings on the issues surrounding the devastating earthquakes suffered in Haiti recently. I've been poring over news stories, blogs written by folks well-versed in the complexities of International Adoption, and even some of the press releases from the State Dept. and offices at Customs and Immigration. I've gotten lots of questions from folks about "how to help those poor kids" and what we can DO besides send money. I don't even know what to say or where to start.

So, I'm sending you HERE.

(A bit of background for those of you who haven't been reading here long: next to Stefanie from Ni Hao Y'all, Tonggu Mommy is one of my favoritest rockstars in the world of International Adoption. You should read her blog, often. This post is super-informative, and many weeks I find tons of links and resources to help me understand more and more about the layers within the adoption community. Pretty frequently, I also find myself chuckling out loud over the hilarious stories and outrageous predicaments that find their way to her blog. All in a delightful, funny, sometimes sarcastic and even snarky tone. All in fun. All in great fun.)

But before you get hooked into all the fun stuff, seriously, head over HERE. It's really good stuff and if nothing else will help you understand the complex issues that the adoption program in Haiti is and will be facing in the months and even years to come.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Johnny Appleseed in the House!

This morning, I got to peek in on history. Johnny Appleseed came to visit the second grade and tell his story. It was delightful, and the chorus of Johnny's "brothers and sisters" did an exceptional job of moving the story along. I freely admit, I'm a tad biased when it comes to my opinion of the amazing chorus of siblings . . .

Here's one of Johnny's well-dressed and oh, so handsome brothers. With his Appleseed sister, and best bud, V.


Here's the momma bear whose rest was disturbed when Johnny was looking for a place to rest his weary, itchy feet. (By the way, isn't that just the cutest way to describe Johnny Appleseed's quest for adventure? "Itchy feet!")


And here is the cutest of the Appleseed brothers, loving on his Li'l Empress, who just HAD to get in on the camera action.

"Take pichoo, Mommy."
Take pichoo, indeed.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Holding the Answer in My Hands

Many years ago, The Boss and I were blessed to host a small group in our home for single folks in their 20's and 30's. They met for weekly teaching, encouragement and fellowship. We loved having them every Sunday night. They hung out in our family room, prayed together, worshipped together, and grew tremendously in their faith. I gave birth to LadyBug and to Baby BlueEyes during those years and this crowd took wonderful care of us by bringing meals, babysitting, loving on my babies, and playing with the older boys. Some of them formed wonderful, doting relationships with my children. Many of them came and went with a good deal of sporadic attendance, which we expected from that age and stage of life.

However, a couple of them really dug in to those regular connection times. And in doing so, burrowed their way deeply into our hearts. Relationships formed with these few that continue on today. In fact, a couple of the gals that I was particularly close to came to visit last weekend and my whole home felt refreshed and anointed from their time with us. These gals have grown in the Lord and in His power and they both are treasures in my life.

Then there were the guys. A couple of them became my special prayer focus. I'm not sure exactly why, but from the early days of forming relationship with them, the Lord gave me a strong desire to pray for their future. I knew them well enough to know how deeply they desired to be husbands and fathers. So that's how I prayed. For many years, I prayed for loving wives and fruitful homes while I rocked my babies and listened to their praise and worship floating up from the family room below me. I prayed for walls that echoed with laughter and giggles while I watched them run around the back yard with my little ones. While cleaning up the kitchen after the last goodnight on our Sundays together, I prayed blessing and favor over their relationships. I prayed when I saw them holding my baby girl (and shamelessly spoiling her, I might add!). I prayed and I prayed.

This Sunday, I got to wrap my arms around a dear friend, known to many of you as Classic Mama. I've told her this before, but I was reminded yet again of the hours spent praying for her before I even knew she existed. I prayed for years and years for God to send a wonderful, loving, passionate, godly woman to my dear friend, Not-So-Classic. He felt like a brother to me, and I knew he had it inside of him to be a husband and daddy of excellence. I wasn't wrong, was I? And this Sunday, I got to hug (again) an answer to some of my most treasured prayers.

And later after the service, I got the honor of holding in my arms this beautiful little bundle of chubby cheeks and answered prayers. When my dear friend handed me his new baby girl, the floodgates opened and I could hardly see her sweet little face for the tears that filled my eyes. The only words I could speak over her were these, "You are a blessing from the Lord. You are an answer to my prayers. I have prayed for you a long, long time." (This friend didn't know it, but back on the day that he married his sweetheart, I was a similar wreck of tears and grateful praise!)

This Sunday morning, I held an answer to my prayers in my hands. And she was beyond beautiful.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Li'l Empress, one year ago today.

What a difference a year makes!

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This Is A Big Week

Okay, time to get your follow on. There's some seriously exciting happenings going on this week for some of my favorite bloggers.

Love, Laughter and Laundry has left the country. They are winging their way to Ethiopia to add two more precious baskets to their already huge laundry room, in the persons of little Amelia and Levi. Please, head over and give them some big congrats and pray for their attachment and bonding to be smooth and blessed by God.

Bushel and a Peck just got another sweet little apple to add to their bushel basket. Little Keira is adjusting, but slowly; and is grieving heavily over the changes she's experienced these last two days. Please pray for them, as they are also physically sick with bronchitis and other respiratory stuff. It's a hard way to travel, and they are weary. (Note: this is a Shutterfly-hosted travel blog, so you may not get to comment on the site if you don't have a Shutterfly account. I haven't totally figured it out yet. But to see pics of the darling new Keira, you can stop by their regular blog, here.)

Finally, one of my most faithful readers and commenters, known to you all around these parts as Aus, is leaving first thing (by that I mean ridiculously, un-earthly early!) tomorrow morning to finish their chase to little Chase. These folks are traveling with two of their daughters, also adopted from Korea and China. They are also hosting a separate blog aimed at kids who wish to follow the journey and get in on the adoption and travel fun.

So click away. Pray for their first days to be full of grace and compassion and love. Pray for strong, secure attachment. Leave a comment encouraging their hearts and spurring them on to continue even in the hard times. Follow their journeys. Visit the beautiful lands of China and Ethiopia, vicariously from the comfort of your own chair. Through the eyes of families longing to welcome these precious ones into their hearts and their homes.

Please bless them with your comments - you'll never know how much the comments and kind words encouraged us on the days we were most homesick and weary of being away from all that was familiar.

And Pray.

Friday, January 15, 2010

There's No I In Team.

I'm a pretty organized woman. Sure, I have junk drawers that need my attention. Yes, I have a never-ending pile of paperwork generated by my local elementary school. And my mailbox contributes to the creeping slide across my counter that the never-ending pile does on a semi-regular basis. But on the whole, I'm pretty organized. I'm very intentional in the manner by which I accomplish this in our home.

Over the years, I've found that consistent attention to the smaller, daily details of keeping things in their place is my best tool in the war against clutter. You know, "a place for everything, and everything in its place," kind of thinking and living. Additionally, training my little Gang members to take individual responsibility for their "stuff" really helps the overall atmosphere of organization here. Soooo much of my time over the years has been spent focusing on that training. "Take responsibility for your stuff," is a constant refrain around here. And by stuff, I rarely mean just their material belongings!

However, I've found more recently that I really need to step up the training of the "we" mentality here to balance out the individual responsibility message. For example, when we're all packing for a trip, just taking out MY coat and putting it in the van serves no one but me. If I know that all 7 of us need a coat for said trip, then taking out all 7 coats isn't just efficient. It's thoughtful and serving of the others. Another example I know you moms will gimme a strong "Amen!" for: when you go upstairs and see a pile on the stairs of belongings, don't just root through and take your stuff. See if you can drop off your brother's stuff on the way. It's team work.

There's a lot of emphasis in our culture on individuality. On taking personal responsibility for our thoughts, our actions, our behaviors. And in these years of training our kids, it's a good emphasis. But I'm starting to think we're missing a whole chunk of the picture.

I think we spend too much time training ourselves
and our children for individual independence.

I know. That's a tough one to think about. I've been thinking about it for a long time, so it's a little easier for me to say it now.

So much of what we have learned as a family over this last year, in our journey to help Li'l Empress attach and bond in a healthy, forward-motion manner has frankly been quite counter-intuitive to those around us who are parenting children of similar ages. I mean, really. By the time your toddler is 2 1/2, you likely have reached many milestones of independence. And likely, you are enjoying a bit of the freedom that you both gain from that. Instead, we intentionally took away a lot of the "developmentally appropriate" independences. (Yes, I made that word up. I can do that, this is my blog!) You can read about it in my series on attachment if you start here and move through the next three or four posts . . .

But over this past year, I've begun to notice many many areas of our life in which too much individual independence has been rooted in my home. Granted, with a house full of teens and tweens, some of it is natural and must be allowed. But it's showing up in a couple areas that concern me. The first is in the attitude of service toward one another. Like the coat example. Or like this morning. One of my little Gang members got out cereal for themselves, got out one spoon and one bowl. That doesn't work for me. There are 5 other bodies in the morning who all have to eat too. Get out all 6 bowls and spoons at one time. SERVE one another.

Another area which I've got my eye on is in the "work" part of team work. We all have regularly assigned chores, on a neat and spiffy chore chart. However, among my oldest four Gang members, there has developed an attitude that says, "Well, this week, that's not my job." And the mess gets left. It's been showing up a LOT in the realm of dishes. And in the mess left in the bathroom after all the kids have finished their morning toilette. I'm really going after it lately. If you use the bathroom and there's a mess on the counter (Four kids generate a lot of hair, toothpaste drops, and other lovely ick in a bathroom sink!), then just clean it up, even if you didn't make it all by yourself. I don't really care if it's not your week to clean upstairs bathrooms. If you make yourself a snack and there are crumbs on the counter, clean them up. I don't care if the kitchen isn't your job till tomorrow.

I'm not angry about this. Well, right now I'm not. I admit to being really frustrated by it when I come upon the mess and "It's not my day," is the reason given for leaving a mess behind. I might even cop to hollering and screeching about it. But I am convinced that it's a natural progression of my focus on the "Take responsibilty for your own stuff," mentality. At least in part.

Finally, the third area which I'm keying in on is the isolation that comes with successfully having taken care of one's own stuff. By that I mean this: when LadyBug finishes all her jobs and fills out her daily checklist of tasks and practices, she often disappears into her room to read. Alone. When Dr. D (Really, I gotta get this kid a new blog name. He's sooo over that one!) finishes school and gets his physical fitness minutes in for the day, he disappears to his room to listen to his music. With his headphones on. Shaggy buries his nose in a book somewhere around the house, also with his headphones on. You get the picture.

On the one hand, it's kinda nice. After a long busy day, I'm almost always garunteed a bit of peaceful quiet in the hour before The Boss walks in. But I get a little antsy when it continues too long. When it's been 2 or 3 hours since I've seen LadyBug playing with Li'l Empress's hair. Or when I haven't heard Baby BlueEyes giggles as he wrestles with Dr. D. Or when I walk around upstairs while Li'l Empress takes in some B@rney time, only to find all four of the older kids in their rooms. Individually. Plugged into headphones or building L*go houses in solitude. It doesn't often sit right with me.

Please don't hear what I am NOT saying. And please don't assume that I have the answer to the questions that are raised by these observations. I am still searching for the balance of it. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this tendency towards individual isolation is NOT how I want my gang to know their teen years. I don't want this pulling away to be the sole goal of their downtime, the reward of their free time. I do know that it's healthy to have solitude. I'm not talking about that kind of isolation. I agree that it's useful for refreshing and recharging, for all of us.

But put ALL THREE of these elements together (cuz that's how I think!) and I am restless with the status quo. I am sensing another bit of "counter-culture" coming on. I'm seeking God's balance for this issue. For me and for my Gang.

There's no I in Team. And there's no I in Gang either.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pray for Haiti!

Here's a link to a quick way to flood the American Red Cross with the funds they need to start the relief efforts.


Here's a blog written by a couple who lives and ministers in Haiti. It's a hard read, as it's so personal and raw, but it's good stuff. I've read them off and on for a few years, and have been blessed by their stories.



Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

For more Wordless Wednesday fun,
head over to 5 Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Are You Ready?!

Well, it's here. The day that millions of tweens (and slightly shame-faced middle-aged women) have been waiting for, for close to 9 months now.

Are you ready? Will you be watching? What do you think of all the conversations that are going on in the media about the new season? What do you think about the changes they've made?

Maybe a better question is whether or not you will even admit that you are a fan of what has become classic American reality television?




I'm a little bit of a fan of 2008's winner. Just a teensy. . . weensy bit.


Edited to add: I do enjoy the show, but only after the real talents have been put through to the finals. I just cannot get on board with wasting, I mean watching, hours of folks getting mocked or humiliated on national television. Being embarrassed in that way is one of my worst nightmares, so I cannot sit through even a moment of the early parts of the season. Even if the contestant has no clue how bad he or she really is. . .

Monday, January 11, 2010

God Knew. He KNEW!

Yesterday, our church began a corporate fast and prayer season. Our ladies' Bible study group is currently reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan and it's hitting hard. Good, but hard. Let's just say that I'm not nearly as crazy as I'd like to be. And I certainly don't understand or live like I "get" how truly crazy HE is for me.

Today I began a series of readings called Seeds of Change from Show Hope, the ministry started by Steven and MaryBeth Chapman. It's been sitting in my Bible for a couple years, and I'd peruse it occasionally. But I never actually read through all 30 readings in sequence, as a commitment to acting on what I believe HE has called me to be. What HE has put in me, fanning and sparking faithfully no matter how unfaithful or complacent or un-crazy I've been in my daily living of my (or is it our collective?) version of American Christianity. Putting this series of readings together with my study group's walk through Crazy Love might just be a tad dangerous.

Imagine my delight and my surprise when I opened the devotional today and saw one of my all-time favorite verses, smack-center on the inside cover of the book. Like I said, I've skimmed through this devotional book a couple times off and on (more "on" during our long wait for Li'l Empress, more "off" since I became Momma to five little Gang members). Until today, I never saw this verse printed on the inside cover.

Ephesians 2:8-10
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,

which God prepared in advance
for us to do."

(italics and bolding mine)

God knew. HE KNEW!

Bear with me, please. This is not a new revelation to me, and likely not to you either. But it hit me quite differently today than in all my years of reading the book of Ephesians.

In the past, I've always camped on the "not by works" segment of the verse. As a "do-er" and a gal who struggles with perfectionist, people-pleasing tendencies, I've had a hard time "getting" that my salvation, and the "working it out in fear and trembling" daily commitment of that salvation, is a gift. With no strings attached. Given with unconditional love. The old acronym, God's Riches At Christ's Expense, has always been a hard one for me to embrace. I get stuck on the working part. The "doing stuff" part. I'm not inviting suggestions or judgment for this; it's the journey that keeps me searching and keeps me seeking Him above my understanding. I am guessing that there are plenty of you, my dear readers, that also struggle to understand this great mystery with me!

Today, I stopped and stared at the "which God prepared in advance for us (me) to do," part. (I try to personalize my readings in the Word by adding my name or personal pronouns when ever applicable.) I have no idea why I stopped and stared. I mean, when I went to my Bible just several moments earlier to read it in greater context to the verses around it, it didn't jump out at me that way. Maybe it did so today because of the way it was printed on the devotional's cover page. That phrase sitting at the bottom of the paragraph all by itself. Kinda like I have it typed above. Maybe because today I needed to see it differently. Maybe because today, I am different.

To be honest, the last time I spent any amount of time really immersed in the book of Ephesians was at the beginning of our adoption journey. Before I felt the call to adopt a child shift to a call to advocate for orphan care & adoption. Before I knew that God was asking me to speak up on behalf of the little ones who can't speak for themselves. Before I knew that this community of those who are passionate about orphan care, and particularly special needs adoption, is infectious, contagious, and addictive. Downright dangerous, one might say.

But today? I've learned a lot along the way. I know more about myself. I know more about what can be done (and should be done!) on behalf of these little ones. I know more about how ONE person can change a life. I know more of the ONE who changed my life. I know more about how He created me and wired me to care about sharing that change with others. I know that HE knit me this way. And to knit me, He had to know me. He had to know that this passion to live a life that would effect change for even just one orphan would ignite in my heart. And burn in a way that I never would have predicted or even welcomed before this season of my life.

All the while, God knew. He KNEW.

How crazy and dangerous is THAT?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Please Pray!

My bloggity crush on the lovely Miss Stefanie from the captivating Ni Hao Y'all has been well-documented here and here. Well, really, in lots of places all over this blog but if you visit me often, you know that by now. (And probably snicker under your breath at my ridiculous fawning. You do, I know you do.)

I'm so excited to share with you all that she is leaving today for China to adopt their sweet little Vivi. You really should follow along. I began reading her blog back when she was in China adopting their adorable little Jude, back in 2007. The in-country posts were amazing to me and I loved seeing the journey through a mom's eyes. It was one of the first adoption blogs I read, where I could follow the whole trip through the beautiful land of China. If you enjoy a good adoption story, you really need to check out this post and follow along with the fun.

Even if you don't follow the whole trip, can you please join me in praying for her whole family? Dad, Chris, is home with the rest of the crew taking care of the daily routine and can certainly use our prayers for health, safety, grace and patience in Mommy's absence. The kids will all be missing their Mommy fiercely, so they certainly need our covering. And Stefanie is thrilled to be traveling their son Asher (how cool is that name?!), so they need prayer for safety, easy flight connections, health while in-country, and smooth paperwork.

Then of course, there's little Vivi.

Recently, Stefanie wrote this amazing post. It says it all better than I could possibly say, so head over there to read about sweet little Vivienne.

Please, pray for little Vivi. Her whole world is about to change. Everything. In the space of about 15 minutes. That's a lot for any one. It's a lot more for a little two year old. Please pray!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Treasure Found!

While spending time purging and cleaning my bookshelves, cupboards, and cabinets, I came across a little gem that I forgot I owned. I mean, it's been sitting on my bookshelf with all the other cookbooks I own. But somehow it's been grossly overlooked in recent years. When I found it, I felt as if I'd come across a long-lost friend. You see, it was my first real cookbook, given as a gift at a wedding shower almost 20 years ago. Gulp. Yeah. An oldie but a goodie. The cookbook, that is. (I know, I know, I see you smirking. I know.)

Tuesday afternoon I flipped through it looking for ideas. I remembered the newly-wed seriousness with which I always cooked ahead for The Boss when I wouldn't be home for dinner because of my work schedule. I remembered choosing complicated, fancy recipes for puttering in the kitchen on my days off. I smiled at my 20-something notes about converting recipes for my little 2.5 qt. slow-cooker. This year, The Boss bought me a 8.5 qt. slow-cooker! How's that for expansion?

I finally settled on one of our early favorites for this Tuesday's dinner. It's super easy and really delivers some delightful flavor. I've written it as I prepared it this week, so this is NOT exactly what is in the cookbook. And of course, I had to double it for The Gang. But it's very close to the original and just as flavorful. Give it a whirl for your family - it'll be a tropical retreat in the midst of this Arctic blast we seem to be experiencing in the northeast lately.

Caribbean Chicken Breasts with Coconut
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
(I pound them to 1/2" thickness or slice them lengthwise.)
Salt and pepper to taste
6 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/2 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 slivered pimientos
3 Tbsp. raisins
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 c. flaked coconut
3 tsp. dried parsley
  • Preheat oven to 375. Season chicken lightly with salt and pepper. In a large fry pan, melt 4 Tbsp. of the butter over medium heat. Add chicken and cook till breast halves are lightly browned, about 3 minutes a side. Transfer chicken to a 9x9 that has been well sprayed with non-stick spray.
  • Add sliced onions to frying pan and cook till soft, being sure to deglaze the pan with the juices of the cooking onions as you cook them. Add brown sugar, pimientos, raisins, and half of the lemon juice. Stir together well. Pour over the chicken pieces. Cover with foil and bake on 375 for 10-15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 Tbsp. of butter. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, lemon juice, coconut and parsley. After first 10-15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle coconut mixture over the chicken and onion mixture. Return to oven and bake another 10-15 minutes till chicken is cooked through.
  • Serve with noodles or brown rice. Should serve about 6.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ease On Down, Ease On Down The Road!

We've just had one of the busiest holiday seasons that I can ever recall. Between lingering and re-emerging coughs and colds, traveling to be with both sides of our family, and all the hustle required to make the celebrations festive and memorable, I am quite content to be returning to our daily routine. We came home from our final family visit on Saturday evening, expressly for the purpose of being able to ease back into "real life," and I'm so glad we did. It's certainly not original here in the blogosphere to say this, especially this week, but I love our "normal" and am grateful that The Boss and I are united on the way we manage our family pace. Even as an extrovert who thrives on Lots! and Lots! of social interactions, I could not keep that pace up forever!

The Boss took the tree down on Sunday while he stayed home with stuffy, runny Li'l Empress. It's the driest tree we've ever had and my little ones were all tired of blue spruce needles poking their piggies. We've never "de-decorated" our home so early before, but it had to be done. I REVELED in spending Sunday afternoon re-decorating, moving some things around, and sprucing up the main living space. The fun that I had doing that certainly helped lessen the pain of the Eagles big loss to Dallas later that night. Man, that was excruciating. It's a good thing we have another shot at them this coming weekend . . .

This week, I'm focusing my energies on de-cluttering and re-organizing a couple small spaces in our home that have been driving me nuts for several months now. Our former home-school cabinet is being streamlined for household management stuff: bill-paying materials, stationery, desk supplies, etc. My bookshelves FULL of cookbooks and binders crammed with recipes are being purged - most of the recipes I love the most and use frequently are accessible elsewhere. I'm hoping to sort that down enough to stash them in the aforementioned cabinet, which is closer to the kitchen and less accessible to little hands. My two little junk drawers are FINALLY getting the hard-core purge and sort. I have no idea what I'll find when I open them, but I'm gonna be ruthless. I'm also tackling a freezer inventory and menu plan, to get us back on a healthy budget and healthier bent toward eating right. I've got more planned for the physical projects of this new year, but I am enjoying easing into them with some small stuff first.

I'm still brewing over the words from my Dad's sermon two weeks ago, seeking the Lord for a few key areas which He desires for me to surrender. Our church is embarking on a 21-day period of fasting and prayer. They are calling it Breakthrough 2010 and I am anxious to experience some breakthroughs of my own in this season. I love this time of year; seeking a new vision or clarification or expansion of an on-going vision is always so exciting to me. Just as I love the streamlining and re-organizing that I get to dig into every January, I also love that right now the whole Church seems to focus its energies on seeking the Lord and committing the new year to His plans and purposes. More than anything, I want to hear His voice for changes that I can commit to making that will have eternal impact. I'm sensing a couple "no-brainers" right off the bat, but I am also sensing that He has some big things for The Gang in 2010 and want to point my heart in His direction for our family.

What about you? What New Year projects are you tackling this year? What is going on in your house that the Lord desires to hold in His hands? How are you starting off 2010?