14 Years Ago Today…..

….I was nine months pregnant and nine days overdue and painting and wallpapering Robert’s office at the church that afternoon. (Yes, up on a ladder and all….) I started to not feel so well, and decided it was time to quit for the day. When I got home, I rested on the couch watching Oprah (probably the last time I ever did that) and noticed that my belly was tightening every 20 minutes or so. Could it possibly be contractions? At nine days overdue, you are pretty conditioned to the reality that “this is NOT IT.”
Robert came home, and by this time I was pretty convinced that “This IS IT!” even though the contractions were still consistently 15 to 20 minutes apart. Robert was now frantically trying to decide what to do about the fact that we, along with our church youth group (he was the youth minister) were supposed to travel to another church that evening and have our youth lead their youth in music, skits, games, and teaching. I said to not do a thing – I would pack my bag just in case, and go along with the group as planned. (The contractions were uncomfortable, but not yet very painful.) We went to church, told a few chosen folks that we thought I was in labor, loaded up a bunch of teenagers in the church vans, and headed across town to the other church.
Somehow, I made it through that entire evening – the contractions getting closer and more intense. And somehow, I was able to keep that fact from the many people I was surrounded by that night. We finally made it home around 9 or 10pm and the contractions were still not consistently 5 minutes apart – which was the golden figure for calling the doctor and heading to the hospital. THAT didn’t happen until 2am! I was trying to do all the tricks we learned in childbirth class, even soaking in the large tub of the home we were housesitting/renting at the time to pass the time and find some relief. I won’t tell you what Robert was doing….but it didn’t involve running my bath water. I woke him up 🙂 when the golden 5 minute rule applied, and we called the doctor and headed to the hospital – about a 30 minute drive – in a thunderstorm.
We arrived around 3am, and 12 hours later I gave birth to Kory. That’s right…12 hours later which equals 24 hours since the contractions had begun! And I’m not sure it’s fair to say that I GAVE birth. I tried, but in the end, Kory had to be extracted via forceps which was quite unpleasant to say the least….felt like the doctor reached up and pulled everything out from my brain on down. I will spare you the rest of the gory details, but they were just that. Now, after years of pondering, and the need for 2 subsequent C-sections, I’m not sure this was the best decision, but I didn’t know enough myself to request anything different or question the doctor’s leadership. And I definitely don’t qualify for Sorta Crunchy’s feature on non-intrusive home births…but you should really pop over there and be encouraged after this frightening story I have just told!
And NOW look at this first baby of mine! He has become a man of 14 years, and one that I am so proud of! I told him in his birthday card today that I count on his wisdom, maturity, and strength every day. I really don’t know how I would make it without him – he is so faithful, reliable, hard-working, and thoughtful – asking how he can be of help, anticipating needs, and taking on more and more responsibility in our family. And many of you know that he holds down a job outside of the family as well – a daily 6am paper route! This has given him some financial know-how and freedom – i.e. making purchases online with his very own debit card! Favorite places…. iTunes and ESPN! 🙂 But, I have also noticed a weekly check being written to our church which was “parentally unprompted.” He’s a giver in many ways, too.
And two important milestones occurred today as he turned 14: he mastered the “front flip” on our new trampoline, and he passed mom up in the height category! We’ve been checking every couple of weeks or so, and today it became official!

Happy Birthday, Kory!
You are a joy and blessing to our family!

(And yes, that is grey hair on my head with which the color battle is no longer being fought. Guess that’s what happens when you are old enough to have a 14 year old! I hope to wear it proudly – or at least until an overwhelming attack of vanity occurs. They occur…just not overwhelmingly, yet. But then again I haven’t been south lately…..)

Gluten Free Friday – Pan-Roasted Granola & Homemade Lemonade

I have enjoyed eating granola for a long time – even before moving to this “crunchy” and “granola” part of the country! But oats are a very questionable thing to eat on the gluten free diet. Oats themselves do not contain gluten, but they are almost always grown and processed right alongside wheat, so to be on the safe side, it’s best to avoid them. Fortunately, a few companies have recently come out with “gluten free oats” meaning that they are grown on dedicated oat farms, hauled in dedicated trucks and tractors, and processed in a dedicated facility to avoid cross contamination. Unfortunately, as you can imagine, they are quite expensive. One company offers a 2 lb. bag for $15.95! I can get the 2 lb. bag from Bob’s Red Mill here at several different stores for right under $10.00. Kayla loves to eat hot cereal for breakfast as well as granola, so we indulge in this purchase at times and make a few of our favorite treats!

This granola recipe is made by dry-roasting the ingredients in a skillet on the stove. It is inspired by a recipe from Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Cafe cookbook. (Hers has several gluten containing ingredients which I omitted.) It contains no oil, honey, or syrup but is sweetened by adding a bit of brown sugar at the end of the roasting time. And it is full of nuts which make it a very satisfying breakfast or snack – especially on top of yogurt!

Pan-Roasted Granola

2 cups gluten free oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup chopped raw almonds
1/2 cup chopped raw pecans
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup brown sugar

In a large skillet, spread oats and cook over medium low heat stirring to roast evenly. (Use two skillets if you need to!) While oats are roasting, add chopped nuts and continue stirring and roasting until all ingredients are a light to medium brown – about 15-20 minutes. Add brown sugar and stir until sugar is melted and lightly and evenly coats the oat and nut mixture. Spread on a baking sheet to cool. Store in a quart sized mason jar. Keep in pantry – or freezer if storing longer.

And one more this week……

In an attempt to stop using those little Kool-Aid packages with their artificial colorings and preservatives, I came across a recipe for “real” lemonade somewhere – can’t quite remember where. Imagine that – real lemon juice, real water, and sugar – that’s it. May take the kids a few sips to get used to the “real” taste, but it’s sweet and more natural than the powdered stuff. Our recipe is taped to the inside of a kitchen cabinet, and the kids asked to make a batch by themselves this week prior to some of their friends coming over for a playdate. I added the peanut butter cookies and we had the perfect summer afternoon treat!

Homemade Lemonade

8 cups water
2 cups lemon juice – bottled or fresh squeezed
1 1/3 cups sugar

Stir until sugar is completely dissolved and enjoy!

(I haven’t tried substituting the sugar with something less processed, but I bet you could use some maple syrup or stevia or agave to lessen the white sugar content!)

Older than McDonalds

While yawning after reading Kayla a bedtime story….

Kayla: Mama, you have some black stuff on your teeth.

Me: Yes, those are fillings from cavities when I was a little girl.

Kayla: Will I have to get those sometime?

Me: Not if you take good care of your teeth and eat healthy food.

Kayla: Really? If I eat good food, I won’t get cavities?

Me: Really. Eating healthy food makes your teeth nice and strong.

Kayla: Mom, did you not eat healthy food when you were growing up?

Me: No, I didn’t.

Kayla: What did you eat?

Me: Oh…you know…chips, candy, Burger King, McDonalds….

Kayla: They had McDonalds when you were a little girl!!!???

Me: Kayla! Mommy is not THAT old!

Kayla: Did they have McDonalds when Daddy was little?

Me: No, I don’t think so…… 😉

Colorado in The Spirit

(One of the most spectacular sights on our hike to Mills Lake was a Bighorn Goat. It was moving slowly through the trees when I spotted it, and at first I thought it was a mini-van! I was highly discouraged that we had hiked all that way only to find that there was a road making this area much more accessible than I thought! There was, of course, NO road, and it was NOT a mini-van 🙂 , but a beautiful lone goat meandering along the side of the mountain directly across a steep precipice from the trail where we were hiking. Tears sprang to my eyes as I remembered some of the words from a wonderful book I have recently been re-reading. I read it in college, but it means so much more to me now.)

He looked at her most kindly, but answered quietly, “Much-Afraid, I could do what you wish. I could carry you all the way up to the high places myself, instead of leaving you to climb there. But if I did, you would never be able to develop hinds’ feet and become my companion and go where I go. If you will climb to the heights this once with the companions I have chosen for you, (Her companions were Sorrow and Suffering. Sigh….) even though it may seem a very long, and in some places a very difficult journey, I promise you that you will develop hinds’ feet.”

“Afterward you will be able to go with me, ‘leaping on the mountains,’ and be able to make the ascent and the descent in the twinkling of an eye.”

pp.62-63

“Whenever you are willing to obey me, Much-Afraid, and to follow the path of my choice, you will always be able to hear and recognize my voice, and when you hear it you must obey. Remember also that it is always safe to obey my voice, even if it seems to call you to paths which look impossible or even crazy.”

p. 93

“O Shepherd, you said you would make my feet like hinds’ feet and set me upon mine high places.”

“Well,” he answered cheerily, “the only way to develop hinds’ feet is to go by the paths which the hinds use – like this one.”

Much-Afraid trembled and looked at him shamefacedly. “I don’t think – I want – hinds’ feet if it means I have to go on a path like that,” she said slowly and painfully.

The Shepherd was a very surprising person. Instead of looking either disappointed or disapproving, he actually laughed again. “Oh, yes you do,” he said cheerfully. I know you better than you know yourself, Much-Afraid. You want it very much indeed, and I promise you these hinds’ feet. Indeed, I have brought you on purpose to the back side of the desert, where the mountains are particularly steep and where there are no paths but the tracks of deer and of the mountain goats for you to follow, that the promise may be fulfilled. What did I say to you the last time we met?”

“You said, ‘Now shalt thou see what I will do,'” she answered, and then looking at him reproachfully, added, “But I never dreamed you would do anything like this! Lead me up to an impassable precipice up which nothing can go but deer and goats, when I am no more like a deer or a goat than is a jellyfish. It’s too – It’s too – ” She fumbled for words, and then burst out laughing. “Why it’s too preposterously absurd! It’s crazy! What will you do next?”

The Shepherd laughed too. “I love doing preposterous things,” he replied. “Why, I don’t know anything more exhilarating and delightful than turning weakness into strength, and fear into faith, and that which has been marred into perfection. If there is one thing more than another which I should enjoy doing at this moment it is turning a jellyfish into a mountain goat. That is my special work….”

pp. 126-127
Hinds’ Feet on High Places
by Hannah Hurnard

Gluten Free Friday – Chocolate Chip Cookies

I hardly ever make gluten free cookies, except for the flourless peanut butter ones, because the end result just never seems comparable to the real thing. But….I received a note in the mail this week from my sweet friend Deborah in Stillwater, OK, and she had included a recipe she cut out of their local newspaper for gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, so I decided to try it out. It was unusual in that it called for an interesting mix of flours that I happened to have in the pantry, but hardly ever use for my own GF baking. I had picked up the chickpea flour at a local international foods store for some Indian food recipes. This is usually a less expensive way to get some of these specialty flours. This recipe comes from a bakery and cafe in Poughkeepsie, NY called Soul Dog. You can check it out further here.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

First Make the GF flour mix:

2 1/3 cups chickpea flour (also called besan or gram flour)
2/3 cup corn starch
1/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cream of tartar

Cookie Recipe:

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup butter (Their recipe calls for ALL canola oil)
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/3 cup GF flour mix (I used a bit more than this)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Combine oil and sugar in large bowl and mix on medium high speed. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until creamy. Add vanilla. Gradually add flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons about 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake 10-12 min @ 350*. Cool on wire rack. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

Just like the real thing! Kayla had a bunch of girlfriends over for a playdate this morning and they gobbled them up without noticing any difference from a regular chocolate chip cookie! Success!
🙂

Colorado in Pictures

We were so blessed to travel to Colorado to be a part of Keith and Katrina’s wedding! They are a great couple who met at our church three years ago. Keith was a student and football player at Amherst College, and Katrina a French major at Mt. Holyoke College. They are both from Denver, had friends in common, and even attended the same church for a while there, but never met until they came nearly 2000 miles “back east” to go to college!

After graduation last year, Keith went to work in New York City while Katrina went back home to work in Denver. This made pre-marital counseling kind of tricky, but they ended up doing each session via conference call! Robert wasn’t sure this would work so well, but it ended up being a real delight for all involved – probably due to the dedication and earnestness of this couple who did all of their homework and were ready each week with questions, real life scenarios they had already experienced together to draw from, and lots of authenticity. And of course, Robert is a pro at this wedding stuff – so his guidance made it all the more fruitful.

The ceremony was beautiful and Robert got many compliments on his sermon. The inspiration for this particular wedding sermon came from our time on the plane to Denver and the emergency instructions given prior to each take off…..oxygen mask will drop, lights will direct you to nearest exit….seat can be used as a flotation device…..etc. He pointed out that these two would be taking off on a flight that has a 50% crash rate….not good odds at all…..bad enough to make you reconsider the flight altogether….unless, of course, you can choose your Captain based on His crash rate. Thankfully, Keith and Katrina have chosen the Captain who already went down in the plane making a way for them to not have to. We pray that they will continue to seek Christ, the Captain, as their source and example for a lasting marriage.

It was a mid-morning wedding, so Robert reserved us two tickets to see the Denver Rockies play the Seattle Mariners that evening – our first Major League baseball game! Can you believe we’ve lived in Massachusetts 10 years now and have still never been to Fenway Park? Well, the game was great and as you can see, we had pretty good seats – in an upper deck, but right behind home plate. I love being at a baseball game! Takes me back to junior high watching friends Mike and Mike play and argue over who was the more important player – the pitcher or the catcher, attending high school games, and sneaking away (from high school on official newspaper business, of course) with journalism friends Wes, Mike, and Larry to see the Longhorns play in Austin!

Seventh inning stretch above. And we though the game might go into overtime as they were tied up close to the end, but the Rockies pulled it out for their 10th straight win. Very exciting!

The next morning, we headed north to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. We set up camp (Katrina’s very sweet parents loaned us their camping gear!) and then went on a 6 mile hike from our campsite to a place called Cub Lake. Late that night we went out for dinner. We tried to make it to a restaurant called Mama Rose’s whose menu stated they would be happy to make any pasta dish gluten free by shredding zucchini to replace the pasta. We arrived in town too late though, and ended up eating Mexican food yet again! (Usually not a problem, but we had already eaten it A LOT !)

Monday morning, after making it through a rain storm in the tent that night, we cooked a yummy bacon and egg breakfast, packed lunch for the day’s hike and drove to the trail head of some higher elevation hikes in the area. Here we are one mile in at a beautiful waterfall called Alberta Falls.

It was a fun surprise to encounter lots of different wildlife along the way. This elk was just sunning and snacking in a pasture near our campsite.

A Stellar’s Jay and little ground squirrel vied for crumbs from our lunch. We actually had to “shoo” the little squirrel away when he put his head inside our bag of crackers!
Very cute, but very persistent!

3.5 miles of hiking brought us to Mills Lake and the scene depicted on the Colorado state quarter. A park ranger suggested this hike by pulling out the quarter and asking if we’d like to see THAT view. It was enought to convince us, and we were not disappointed. The lake and snowy mountain peaks around us were just beautiful. We even stopped for a minute to read some Psalms declaring the splendor and majesty of the Lord as seen in His creation.

The second part of the hike that day took us a mile further and 1000 ft. higher! This was definitely a more difficult hike: steep, narrow, rocky path and then SNOW! We were not as prepared as other hikers for the snow, and did quite a bit of slipping. Robert found a makeshift hiking pole here in order to traverse the slippery terrain!

And 7 miles into the hike was our final destination – the Loch – elevation 10,180 ft. This is where we had lunch and fought with the animals to keep it to ourselves – right there beside that rock. It was very cold and windy here, so before dessert – a dark chocolate bar – we headed for a cleft in a rock to get out of the chilly weather. The chocolate was fuel for the 2 mile hike back to the trail head!

What a wonderful time! We didn’t want to leave the beauty, solitude, and crisp mountain air, but it was great encouragement and refreshment, and we are so thankful for the creative and abundant ways the Lord provides for us to have these times together. He is so good to us.

Colorado in Numbers

(Inspired by Megan’s “number” posts!)

Meals prepared and frozen for kids and sitters: 7
Miles Traveled by plane and car (Amherst to Estes Park and back): 3414
Change in Elevation(Amherst to Denver): 4985 ft.
Highest Elevation Reached on foot: 10,180 ft
Miles Hiked in Rocky Mountains: 15
Animal species spotted: 7
Miles Jogged in Mile High City: 5
Miles shopped in Mile High City: 5
Foot/Toe Blisters: 2
Ibuprofen pills taken: 5
Stores visited in search of wedding jewelry: at least 10
Rental cars used: 2
Discount on rental cars for having to return one: 50%
Percentage of gratitude for GPS in rental cars: 100%
Wedding events attended: 3
Amazing wedding sermons heard: 1
Compliments to the Pastor: countless
Percentage of gratitude and pride in being the pastor’s wife: 110%
Percentage of gratitude for thoughtfulness of bride and groom: 100%
Starbucks Venti Iced Coffees Drunk: 6
Starbucks Venti Iced Coffees spilled on floor of Starbucks: 1
Nights camping: 1
Sinks and showers at campground: 0
Thunderstorms: 6
Sunny days: 6
T-shirts bought: 5
Little League/Babe Ruth games missed: 3
Major League Baseball games attended: 1
Winning streak game #: 10
Bats thrown past third base instead of balls: 1
Mexican Food meals consumed: 4
Slow Dances: 1

“Colorado in Pictures” coming soon!

Spring Means….Baseball Season!

And baseball season means that SEVERAL nights a week we are at the field! This year we’ve had to divide and conquer a bit, since Kory moved up to the Babe Ruth League. No more Little League = no brothers on the same team = no more whole family together at one game!And Robert coaches Cooper’s team, so if Kory has a game at the same time, (which is often!) Kayla and I go to that one and we all report back on the outcomes of each game once we’re all back at home – eating dinner at 8pm and trying to get everyone showered and in bed by 9pm!

Cooper has had a great season – he is one of his team’s best pitchers, hitters and infielders! He played second base at his last game – tagged a runner out there, and then threw one out at first completing his second double play of the season!
Kory is holding his own as well – even while going back to being one of the youngest on the team. Would you believe that he is now playing ball with 14 and 15 year olds? Some of his teammates actually play on the high school team.
He has had some great hits, but the highlight of his season so far was playing second base last week. He made 8 outs there that game, including one double play. He was beaming after his coach told him he was “born to play second base.”
Robert, on the other hand, is not enjoying the season so much. Losing has never been an enjoyable experience for him – this son of a Texas high school football coach – and now it is about to kill him! He is giving the coaching of his Little League team his all, and yet they STILL remain last or second to last in the league. (They were dead last last year.) Several team members have been fondly referred to as “space cadets,” and while there are some great players, they are quite inconsistent and unpredictable! He has a great team of other dad’s helping him out, and they are equally dismayed.
I have been enjoying watching Kory’s games and have even learned a bit more about the sport. Kayla, though, is ready for the whole thing to be over! She has had to sit through so many games and has very little interest. Only about one more week!

Gluten Free Friday – Pesto “Pita” Dinner

I found a week long – 3 meals a day plus snacks – meal plan in Natural Health magazine a few weeks ago. The “recipes” were so creative and yummy looking, that I bought the magazine and followed almost the entire week’s worth of meals. The ingredients are what drew me to the plan – yogurt, fruit, peanut butter, almonds, walnuts, pears, beans, avocados, spinach, goat cheese, fish, and other things I love to eat all put together in new and creative ways. The meal plan could have been a weight loss plan as well – the total calories per day was only 1200, but since I wasn’t trying to lose weight – just try some new food combinations – I ate bigger serving sizes. It’s second goal was to provide meal ideas that are easy on digestion. Many of the meals were already gluten free, or could be altered easily. Below is one of the entrees – tweaked a bit to make it gluten free. It was so delicious and totally satisfying with the beans and nuts included…
Pesto “Pita”Dinner (or lunch!)

Ingredients:

1 brown rice wrap (Food for Life and Trader Joe’s make these)
2 Tbsp jarred pesto
1 cup shredded fresh spinach
1/4 cup chick peas (or any white bean)
2 Tbsp pine nuts
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Spread pesto on top of rice wrap and place directly on middle rack of oven for 5-10 minutes until slightly crispy and lightly browned. Toss together spinach, beans, pine nuts, olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice. Spread this mixture on top of warm wrap and eat like a pizza – whole or cut in half!