Friday, May 31, 2013

8th Grade Graduation

My dad asked me to speak at the 8th Grade Graduation Ceremony at Vineyard Christian School this year. Here is the message that I shared with the kids, (I am sharing it here because I feel it is applicable to everyone at any age):

Congratulations on successfully completing the 8th grade. I say Congratulations because you are already more successful than a large majority of other children around the world. You are blessed with the opportunity to go to school, especially one where your teachers care about you. You are blessed with many opportunities. Opportunities to dream and make plans. Opportunities to experience new things and to expand your horizons.

When you start to look around you and see all of the opportunities you have, be excited. Be adventurous and be courageous. At my 8th grade graduation (where I was blessed with the opportunity of receiving my certificate of completion from my dad), one of my teachers told me, "never stop asking why." It wasn't meant in the obnoxious way of pestering my parents about why they wouldn't let me do something, it was meant to ask myself, to ask deep inside myself. To look at a situation and really ask myself, why. Why am I doing this? Why do I need to finish what I started? And perhaps most importantly, why not?

Chris Tomlin has a song that says,
 "I want to live like there’s no tomorrow
I want to dance like no one’s around
I want to sing like nobody’s listening
Before I lay my body down

I want to give like I have plenty
I want to love like I’m not afraid
I want to be the man I was meant to be
I want to be the way I was made"

 So why not try a new hobby? Why not try out for a sport you've never played? Why not continue to persevere? In the society we live in, there are so many voices you will hear talking to you. Voices coming at you from all directions and it is important to know which ones to listen to. Some will tell you how you need to talk or dress. Some will tell you what should be important to you. Some will encourage you and others will make you feel bad about yourself. You get to choose which ones to listen to! Don't turn into someone you aren't just so you have friends or are viewed well in the world's eyes. The world's voices will tell you you aren't pretty, strong, smart or talented enough to try new things. When you hear voices telling you that, ask yourself, "why not?"

You've probably heard people say things like "you only live once", and its true. You get one chance at life, its all or nothing. So why not? Why not make the most of it? Why not try something new just because it sounds like fun? Why not be the person to stand up for what is right, even when everyone else around you is doing the wrong thing? Why not let your light shine so brightly around you that people will see Jesus when they look at you?

Be yourself, be who God made you to be. You are a gift, there is only one you. Only one you in this crazy sea of 7 billion people on earth. Don't settle for being part of crowd, don't just go with the flow because it is easier. Why not be the person who changes the world?
And tonight, as you move from middle school into high school, dare to dream. Feel inspired. Get creative. Stand up and make a difference. Love with everything inside of you. And most of all, never stop asking why.

Me and Gabriella on our way home. She really wanted to go with me and did a great job. I love hanging out with my favorite little girlie!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Just a few Normal Days

Sunday we finally made it to church (we've had a rough couple weeks). Gabriella wore my mom's vest most of the time. 

Sunday night Xander put on a Dora pull-up like Gabriella had on. It was so cute! They ran around the house together with Gabriella yelling, "we are twinsies!"

Gabriella was very happy to wake up Monday morning and see that daddy was still home! 

Matt working on networking all my computers (for couponing!). Xander was "helping" him. 

My two favorite kiddos!!

Gabriella is still having fun playing with her flags she got at the parade Saturday. 

Matt put Josie into the kids' stroller. They were very excited to take her for a ride.

Xander pushing her around. 

He kept stopping to pet her. It was so cute!! 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Saturday Fun Day

Yesterday was the annual Memorial Weekend Parade so we headed down to where my parents had been sitting for a couple hours to secure us a spot right up front. 
Xander's first parade. He LOVED it!

Gabriella and James had a great time waving their little flags and laughing together. 

Aunt Linda even got in the holiday spirit. It has been so fun having her up lately. They use to come up every year for the parade and all us kiddos would run around together. I miss that! 

Gabriella yelled, "Jamesey! Look at the giant ducky!!"

April and Gramma were having fun too!

Dutch Bros handed out free Rebel drinks. So awesome!!

Watching the parade with Gramma again. 

Enjoying an organic sucker. 

Xander popped Gabriella's balloon on the way home. I love how he is like, "what? What's the big deal?"

Luckily some free lemonade from Dutch Bros cheered Gabriella up. 

Mmmmmm, blended lemonade!!

After a quick lunch and nap at home, we headed out to my parent's house for dinner. 

James is working on doing headstands. So fun!



Jonathan working on some headstands too. 

Terminator Munch

Cousins climbing a tree together. I'm sure in a few years they will be climbing without Matt's help. 

Wrestling with Uncle Matt, another favorite activity. 

Gramma and Aunt Linda enjoying watching the antics in the front yard. 

More fun with daddy

Me and my favorite girlie!!

Dinner was delicious!! We had chicken legs, roasted potatoes, strawberry-spinach salad, and chips. 

Silly James!!

Almost twinsies ;)

From the back. According to April, we have the same "head dent" and "hair swirl"

Having some of mom's "All Done with Chemo" cake! (Black bean cake with coconut milk whipped topping). So fun to celebrate!!

Three of my favorite guys outside around the campfire. 

Snuggles with my little man!

At home we were getting cleaned up before bed (someone came to look at our house today) and Xander was having fun hugging the paper towels. 

Xander and Munch having fun in their bedroom. Xander is quite the little daredevil!!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Take That, Martha Stewart!

I found an awesome looking recipe in my most recent issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine.
It looked super yummy, I love pistachio and strawberry! Mmmmm! But after reading the recipe and looking around my kitchen, I knew I would have to get creative to make it. 
Also, I had no idea what "semifreddo" meant. So I had to look it up! Apparently it means a semi-frozen dessert. Plus I did not have most of the fancy kitchen tools it called for, so I improvised!

Here is how I made it:

1/2 dry roasted pistachios, shelled
8 ounces strawberries (I bought and used a whole pint sized container)
1/2 cup plus 3 T turbinado sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Line a standard sized bread pan (9x5) with plastic wrap (I used Glad Cling Wrap), so that it overhangs on all the sides. 

Pulse the pistachios in a food processor or Magic Bullet (what I used) just so they are coarsely chopped. Dump them in a small bowl and set aside. Next, wash and cut the tops off of all the strawberries. Put them in the Magic Bullet along with 3 T turbinado sugar. Puree them until they are completely liquid. 

Combine the egg yolks with the 1/2 cup of turbinado sugar in a small metal bowl. Place it over a pan of simmering water on your stove and beat on high speed (I used my electric handheld beaters) until it about triples in volume and turns a pale yellow color (with the turbinado sugar it turns sort of a Grey Poupon color and took about 3 minutes). Immediately remove the bowl from the heat and put it into a larger bowl of ice water. Stir for about 3 minutes until it is completely cooled. Be sure to scrape the sides as the mixture tends to stick to the sides of the bowl. 

Beat together the heavy cream and vanilla in a large bowl until soft peaks form (think Cool Whip texture). Whisk 1/3 of it into the cooled egg mixture (scrape the sides of the bowl) until it is smooth (I had Matt do this part!), then fold all of that back into the remaining cream mixture with a rubber spatula until it is just mixed, do not over mix!!

Pour 1/2 of the cream mixture into the strawberries that you pureed earlier. Gently fold it together until just mixed, then pour it into your plastic lined bread pan. Smooth down the top. Take the pistachios and gently stir them into the remaining cream. Spoon it gently on top of the strawberry cream already in the pan and smooth down the top. Cover it by folding over the plastic wrap that is hanging down the sides. Freeze at least 12 hours, then enjoy!!

We sliced it into about 3/4 inch sized slices. It was amazing!!!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Weekend Fun!

We had a great weekend! Here are some of the highlights. 

Gabriella being herself!

Xander had a poopy diaper so Matt plopped him on the toilet while I was getting the wipes. Xander wanted to go ahead and wipe himself. 

We went and visited Grampa Ace. Xander was pointing to Grampa's sandwich because he wanted Grampa to share another bite with him!

One of the many ways Gabriella sleeps. 

Saturday evening Gabriella insisted on wearing the cap I wear under my wigs. She wore it inside of Walmart and Fred Meyer. When Matt told her that he liked her hat hat she responded, "It is a tan hat, daddy, so you cannot see it."

My dad gave the kids some money to get a treat with and Gabriella picked smoothies from Dutch Brothers. Xander did not complain about her choice!

The kids loved their treat! Thanks, dad!!

Xander wearing some ear muffs. The kids loves accessories! He loves to wear hats, scarves, gloves, etc. 

We took Gabriella to watch Iron Man 3 in 3D on Sunday afternoon. It was her first time in the theater. She LOVED it! It was so fun!! I am so enjoying doing more big kid things with her!! She is a delight to be with!!

Mommy's future NBA star???