Something So Big

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Measure of a Man

What is the Measure of a Man? Some might say wealth, business acumen, health, fitness, philanthropy, success. As it was pointed out to me yesterday in the sermon, Jesus' Measure of a Man was verbalized in his Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, the Beatitudes. I call them the "Blessed are you's". Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth...blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy....blessed are the peacemakers, etc.

I have often read that men tend to measure their success in terms of financial security, especially if they have a family. Their ability to provide for their family is paramount to them, and everything else comes after. I would have to say that I believe my husband takes this responsibility very seriously, and he works very hard to provide and keep improving the home in which we live.

I really like what Jesus said in verse 3, "blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven". As our student pastor pointed out yesterday, this doesn't mean that Jesus wants us to be poor-spirited, but humble. "Poor in spirit" means that you know that you have spiritual needs, and that you search for the One who can fill those needs. I would definitely describe the man I'm married to as humble. There is much he could brag about, but he does not. He is a man of few words, and that has always served him well. He lets his actions speak for themselves.

Jesus goes on to say "blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." I am thankful to be married to a man who has a good heart and (fairly!)pure thinking, not clouding up his mind and heart with base images/thoughts/things of this world. Mark has been called "Grandpa" for his old-fashioned beliefs, and I am so proud of him for standing tall and true to his ideals among other men who are much weaker in that regard!

Now he's going to come on here and read this and ask me to erase it, but I won't. He just had a birthday, and I'm going to take a few minutes to celebrate what God is doing in his life. Granted, a saint he ain't, but I love this Work-in-progress!

His children adore him. His wife loves and admires him more each day. There is respect, a bit of awe, and a whole lot of love and laughter when we share time with this man. Now THAT is the Measure of a Man!

1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
He said:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. --Matthew 5:1-11 NIV

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cute Things They Say, Mixed Edition

"Now these pants are 'IN', Amy!" --my husband, (age !turning this weekend!) upon observing what happened when I tried returning the tractor battery to Farm & Fleet last week
"That's okay; you're older than those guys, Mom." --Paige, age 7.5, watching me struggle to keep up with the 8-Minute Abs video on Youtube
"I'm a good little Mommy, right Mom!" --Wynne, age 4.5, when she helped me wash bricks and do other chores around the house

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday

- didn't get pulled over by a county patrolman on Sunday morning, enroute to Sunday School/church (65 in a 55 zone!!oops)

- understanding, friendly waitress at Pizza Hut last Saturday (gave us our drinks free due to their mistake on the kids' free pizzas)

- all 5 kids cavity - free on Wednesday morning!

- Packers

- hubs:)(hasn't been too mean about his team losing to the Pack)

In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.--1 Thessalonians 5:18 NASB

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Surprise Scrimmage

Yesterday afternoon we drove over to Prairie du Chien for a game with their 5th and 6th grade girls. The referees were there; the athletic director was there; our team was there, but guess what? The home team was not there. Apparently there was a communications mix-up with them, so our girls were practicing on a floor, all by themselves.

Then someone had a wonderful idea. Why not let these girls scrimmage the boys sitting in the bleachers? And so, the game was on!

I wasn't sure who cheer for, because see that guy in the black shirt? That's my son. And #25, of course, is my daughter!

The clock was continuous, and the scrimmage was a bit intense...

...some of the boys were taller/older and could stuff it in the girls' face whenever they shot...

...while others were little guys who made it interesting!

The boys ranged in age from 1st grade to 6th grade, while the girls were 5th & 6th grade. All in all, it was a pretty fun match-up!

It was a semi-friendly competition. There were lots of smiles all around, as there was no pressure to "win". But my daughter and her friend, of course, made sure that the formal "team" won by 2 points. Just in case anyone was keeping score :)

This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.--1 John 5:4b

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Our Daily Bread, Part 2

On Friday night I made some more bread, this time using Victoria Ries' recipe, "Homemade Bread--Easy as Pie!" The title did not sell me; after all, how easy is pie? Not very easy, in my opinion. It doesn't take much to ruin a pie crust, and the fillings--well, unless they're from a can (which I consider a waste of calories)--they're not very easy, either. But upon further reading, "my 10-year-old made it" and "virtually foolproof" sold me.

This recipe called for a bit of fat (shortening) and a small bag of flour. We said goodbye to Kia, as she had faithfully completed her duties as Ally's "baby" for health class.

As usual, my eager assistant was on hand to do the stirring.

I threw out the yeast mixture and started over, as it got too hot sitting on the oven (and I think I killed the yeast! Fungi-cide!). A moment of panic set in when I realized the recipe didn't give a specific amount of flour to be put into the dough. Victoria just said "add enough flour to keep your hands from sticking to the won't need to use the whole bag". Uh, what?? So I did what Victoria said to do, hoping that I wasn't adding too much flour (which equals poor taste and hard dough).
*Shout-out to Deb: Thanks so much for the Pampered Chef Bamboo Spoons! I use them all of the time. (Well, not all of the time. That would be awkward. But any time I prepare food in the kitchen!) They are magNIFicent!!*

My favorite part of the recipe was the fact that you don't have to knead on a counter. I love kneading, but if I can keep the dough in the bowl, that is a win-win for me. She says knead for seven minutes, I'll go eight for good measure. I'm an over-achiever like that.

After the first raising, an hour later. I cheat and put the bowl on top of a 250 degree oven.

After the second raising. Those are supposed to be loaves. LOL

Four hundred degrees and 22 minutes later, we have bread, my friends!

My taste-testers give it an A. They say, "It looks so professional!" "Tastes great, Mom!" and "Can I have another piece?"

I'll give it an A-. Compared to the last recipe, it is a bit more involved, but it does have a better consistency to it (a little less gummy). A few days later, it is a bit dry, but that's probably my over-flouring, right? It's just not quite as soft as I'd like, but the crust is perfect.

It's a tough job, this bread-tasting, but someone has to do it!
Give us this day our daily bread--Matthew 6:11

Monday, January 24, 2011

Girls Weekend Craft Project

The boys went to Father-Son Weekend at Living Waters Bible Camp, so I tried to put together a fun-filled weekend for us girls, too!

Friday afternoon we went to McDonald's Playland and did a little shopping. We watched a movie & popped popcorn on Friday night, and woke up early on Saturday morning for the twins' basketball practice. (They get to play Little Chieftains on the Saturday mornings in January. It is a HIT with my girls!) After basketball, we took a tractor battery back to Farm & Fleet for Dad (see I told you we had FUN!) and ate lunch at Pizza Hut. The bonus at Pizza Hut was that the entire meal was free, thanks to the girls' Book-it slips and the restaurant screwing up our order. Our local Pizza Hut is very gracious about such things, and so I was proud of Paige when she put her own $5 on the table to tip the nice waitress. (I have challenged our children to spend $5 of their Christmas gift money from Grandpa on someone else in need. And waitresses at family restaurants are, in my opinion, very deserving!!)

We spent all Saturday afternoon shopping. I had to pick up a few groceries, but most of the time was devoted to letting the girls look at whatever they wanted, which is a special treat in itself. I let each of the girls pick out a top from my favorite store, and they also got to pick out their favorite scrapbook paper at Ben Franklin for a craft project. Again, we hit the jackpot this weekend for bargains, as all of the paper was 70% off. I haven't done formal scrapbooking in years, but I know how expensive that stuff can get!
On Saturday night we tackled the big craft project, magnetic photo boards. I was originally going to have the girls make these as Christmas gifts, but we ran out of time so I saved it for this Girls Weekend. And I'm so glad I did! We had a blast making these!

The thought of magnetic boards first came to me as we were browsing at the Galena Country Fair in October. Ally and her cousin picked up fabric-covered ones there, but they were a bit on the smallish side. Great for your locker, but not big enough to hold more than a few pictures or notes. So when I saw these burner covers at the local thrift shop, I snatched them up for a few quarters.
Step one: Drilling the holes for hanging.
Prior to the weekend, Mark drilled a few holes in the rim of one side, I sanded down the sharp edges, and they were ready for the project. I bought some clear stones at Dollar Tree, some heavy-duty craft magnets, Mod Podge, and Clear Tacky Craft Glue at Walmart (with adhesive on one side), and we were all set!
Step two: Covering the metal. I decided to use paper instead of fabric, because I was afraid that it would be difficult to get the fabric taut enough, let alone ensure that it would stay "stuck" to the burner covers. I'm so glad we decided to use paper instead! The paper was very easy to work with, and I think it turned out great with the mod podge "matte" finish.

The hardest part of this project is probably measuring and cutting the paper to fit the burner covers. Since the covers were 20 by 11", each one took two 12" by 12" sheets of scrapbook paper. We pushed the paper over the edges of the burner cover, creasing it where it needed to be cut. (We discovered that creasing was easier than measuring/drawing the cut line with a pencil.) We overlapped the two pieces of paper to make sure that the entire surface was covered.

Step three: Modpodging!! Pour some glue onto paper plates, give each girl a brush, and let them go to town. The beautiful thing about modpodge is that you really can't screw it up. But you do have to work fairly quickly, to make sure that the glue doesn't dry. After "painting" the back of the papers, flip them over and set them into position on the burner covers. Then paint over the top (pretty side) of the paper, as well.

Hold your mouth right, Shae! (as Grandpa E. would say!)

The faster you modpodge, the less "wet" it gets and the less bubbles, it seems.

Since Ally's paper was thicker and shiny/metallic, she did not apply modpodge to the front of her paper. We just put her entire board under some heavy books overnight, to make sure that the paper would stay attached.

Step four: Decorating the magnets. (My favorite part!) Take your clear stones and trace them onto your favorite scraps of paper. (We used contrasting papers from an old stash I keep.) Step four-and-a-half: kiss your daughter's chubby little fingers!!

Squirt a few dabs of clear craft glue onto the paper, and attach to the back of a clear stone. Then attach a magnet (I bought adhesive ones, but we ran out so we just glued some old refrigerator magnet strips to the back of some)...wa-la!

Ally's magnets turned out exquisitely. I just love the colors she picked, and see how the stones magnify the patterns on the paper?

Step five: Making the hanger. Cut a long strip of ribbon (also from my stash), thread it through the holes, and tie it in a knot.

Now your board is ready to hang! Paige seems to be in most of these pictures because she was the one who worked the quickest. I was amazed at how she sailed through this project!

Step six: Add photos and notes! You could also glue on more ribbons, bows, rick-rack or whatever you wanted to enhance your bulletin boards. The great thing is: no pins, no pin-holes, and you can custom-design to match the colors in your room.

Of course, you could make the boards hang horizontally instead of vertically, but I didn't want to take up too much horizontal wall space in the girls' bedrooms. You could also use cookie sheets; just make sure they're the magnetic kind!

The girls were excited to do a bigtime craft project like this. We had our nerve-wracking moments, but their boards really did turn out beautifully. Great job, ladies!
Let all that you do be done with love.--1Corinthians 16:14

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Our Daily Bread, Part 1

Whenever it snows, I just want to stay inside and BAKE! This week I am on a bread kick, searching to find an easy bread recipe that doesn't land me an overly-crusty bread. Granted, Mark and I love crust, but the majority of our team would rather skip to the chewy insides. Since I already have gained X amount of weight eating what the kids toss aside as inedible (I hate to be wasteful! but now I am WAIST-full), I am on the look-out for a soft bread that is fairly easy to put together. I don't mind kneading--in fact, there is something therapeutic about it--but I gravitate toward recipes with few ingredients and few steps. So I landed upon Keri Lyn's blog and her recipe for Homemade Easy Bread and gave it a whirl yesterday.

Sorry I don't have any pictures--camera battery is currently recharging--but I wouldn't have been patient enough to clean the flour and dough off of my fingers to take step-by-step photos, anyway.

Why is she posting about this? you are probably thinking. Well, I'm not sure why, except maybe to keep my posting numbers up for the month of January. Actually, the real reason I'm posting is two-fold: to record my search for the perfect bread, and to write down my children's comments before I forget them!

I put the dough into square baking pans, since I can't seem to find the one loaf pan I thought I had. That's okay; the recipe said it would make 2 loaves, anyway. The dough rose wonderfully, a little too wonderfully. I took the greased saran wrap off of the loaves, and the dough sank down about half-way. My heart sank with it. Did I just ruin that beautiful bread?? After scraping the wayward dough off of the stove top and the sides of the pans, I put them into the oven just a few minutes before the big kids were set to arrive home from school.

"It smells like bread!" Paige exclaimed as she burst in the back door.
"Can I have a snack?" I forgot who said that. Most likely one of the twins, since they are always so famished by the end of their school day. (May have something to do with being too picky to eat half of their lunch at school!)
"When will it be done, Mom?"
"I just checked it. It's still gooey on the inside. Better wait a few more minutes."
"Aww! Come ON!! I'm HUNGRY!!"
"There's a bowl of fruit on the counter."
"But I don't like fruit! I want some BREAD!!!"
A few agonizingly long minutes later, I pulled out the bread. Oops, forgot to slice the tops like the recipe called for. It looked a little too crusty, but oh well--bread is bread, and it smelled fantastic!

The kids dove into it, and one loaf was gone by supper time. We ate it with butter; we ate it with peanut butter. We ate it plain; we ate it with lasagna.

"How come this bread is so good, Mom?" my son asked. I wasn't sure if I should take that as a compliment or a cut! I mean, he said it with such sincerity! Does this mean that most of my cooking is just not very good? Oh, honey child, wait till you are on your own and paying for your own food. THEN you will know just how precious each morsel that goes in your cake-hole really is.

There is something about bread that pulls people together. We all become eaters. I feel really sorry for people who have to be gluten-free or on a special Atkins diet or whatever. Because bread is the great Equalizer. It is so fundamental to our existence--it crosses several cultures and several time periods. "Give us this day our daily bread," we pray. Jesus said it right there! (Okay; He was probably using it metaphorically, but go with me on this.) Picky people eat bread. (Case in point: my little people.) Little people eat bread. Big people eat bread. Really big people probably eat a little too much bread.

Here you go--I just revived my camera and took a picture of the Homemade Easy Bread. What's left of it.

See how chewy and dense it is in the inside? It reminds me of the bread we used to eat back when I was a kid, at our school. It was sort of like French bread, only softer and denser. Smeared with industrially-canned peanut butter, that bread made all painful memories of the occasional hot-lunch-gone-wrong go away. Oh, how I loved that bread.

So this bread gets a B+, I think. Why not an A? Because the dough fell, it only made two small loaves, it used more sugar than most recipes, and I'm sorry-- if we're going to finish off 6 cups of flour in one evening, I need a little more bread to show for. Probably baker's error, but I am going to continue my quest for the perfect bread. It's a good one, but not sure if it's great. Sorry Easy Homemade Bread; I will probably change my mind and come back and give you a better grade. Sort of like that first wedding dress that I left in the store, to go searching for something better and never did. I came back to you, Miss Garden Pink Lovely, didn't I?

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. -- Matthew 6:11

Monday, January 17, 2011

My Baby and Her Babies

I don't care if she's 3 months away from turning 5, she is STILL my BABY!!

But it's hard not to notice just how big she is getting when her little cousins are around. We had a football-watching party the other night (I won't call it a Packer Party because I married a Bear fan), and Wynne was so happy to boss her little charges around. She grabbed her "camera" and took pictures of all "my babies", as she called them! One-year-olds Addie (background) and Hollie had little choice but to comply.

When she wasn't holding her first baby doll Gloria (A.K.A. "Hildegarde", right Uncle Paul?), she was feeding her newest baby doll Ella. Two-year-old Elsie watched with fascination as Wynne proceeded to instruct on the basics of infant care.

Ella poops and pees, and since we are out of diapers (and I REFUSE to buy doll diapers, Santa!!) little Mommy just keeps a few paper towels on her lap to catch any "eliminations".

The good news is that Ella rinses out pretty well when you run her mouth under the tap. (Okay, that isn't standard procedure for babies, but we have to make the necessary adjustments!)
The other good news is that the Packers won and are facing Da Bears next week for the NFC Championship!!!
And the Lord saideth, "GO PACK GO".

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Zumba Caterpillar!!

One of the Christmas Gift Hits for 2010 is Scatterpillar Scramble!

Wynne received this funny little guy from her godfather Uncle Doug for Christmas. As you can see, it involves using these tiny tongs to put plastic balls onto the caterpillar's (or should we call him a centepede?) hands from bottom to top. The first one to get all of their marbles on wins. Sounds easy, right? Um....not quite!!

You see, this guy doesn't stop MOVING. He wiggles and twists to the Samba or something. Reminds me of Beto and the girls on Zumba!

I couldn't believe the box said "Ages 4 on up". This game is not your typical preschool game. It is TOUGH!!! And just a wee bit frustrating. But such a great time, and excellent challenge for eye-hand coordination. Wynne has been practicing it every day, and she likes to shut off the music (and Scat's dancing) and put the balls on the hands for an easier variation. We also ditch the tongs sometimes. I think Shae's the family champion so far.

Oh, if we could all have that much flexibility at our waistline! Zumba!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Roughing it in the Wilderness

Last weekend we had Mark's mom's Christmas at the Wilderness Territory in the Wisconsin Dells. Mark had a football coaches' meeting up there, and when that was over we congregated in adjacent 3-bedroom suites for a fun 24 (more or less) hours!
As you can see, the Wilderness is a pretty rough place...

Filled with lots of crazy animals!!

You will notice there are no pictures of the waterparks. WaterPARKS PLURAL. There were FOUR indoor waterparks inside the Wilderness Territory, and you needed a compass or GPS to find them. It was a good workout, walking to all of those places. Once I saw the massive amounts of people at each one of the parks, I didn't bother taking the camera out of my bag. Too very crazy. Let me just sum up the waterpark experience with a little report card.
Wild West....C-....TOO DARN COLD !!
Water Dome with Tidal Wave...B...would have received an A except that 2 of my kids nearly drowned in the wave. Okay, I'm being a bit dramatic, but that tidal wave is relentless and doesn't care if your kid starts gagging on a big gulp of water and can't get to the "beach"!!
Klondike Kavern...A....something for every age, including the very scary (so I'm told, too chicken to find out myself) Hurricane and my personal favorite, the Lazy River. (Notice the word "Lazy" in there. Any correlation to Slacker Mom, hmmm?)
Other waterpark grade because we didn't take the shuttle bus to get there.
Overall waterpark experience...B...again, this is my opinion, but the place is too darn GIGANTIC to really be practical. And you know how much I like to be practical. I mean, it shouldn't take you 30 minutes to walk to the lobby or waterpark from your room. In a FREEZING hallway with a wet swimsuit on. Live and learn: bring everyone a bathrobe or cover-up !! And don't get me started on the signage (or lack thereof). This place was the size of a small state, I kid you not.
Siegert gatherings are known for their overabundance of food. I should have taken a picture of the taco bar on Saturday night. Eleven pounds of taco meat for 11 adults and 12 kids (2 under the age of one). HELLO!! But as always, the food was de-lish. Grandma Jan cooked up this wonderful breakfast on Sunday morning...

...topped off with Marin's 2-ton chocolate tray. (You can interpret the tonnage into the size of the chocolate tray AND/OR the size of the person who can't stop eating them!!)

I made my goddaughter Mady a matching game and used magnetic spray paint to cover this lap board to store the magnets. I turned family pics into magnets for her to play with on long car rides. It didn't turn out as slick as I had hoped, but I hope she gets some use out of it!

You never know what a child is going to get the biggest kick out of when opening presents. The little notepad I put into a crayon roll seemed to win out!

Warning: Cute Baby Alert! Cute Baby Alert!
Tage will be one in early February...

...and Lauren will join him six days later! This little girl can sit contentedly for over an hour on someone's lap. (Why didn't MY kids get this gene? It must be their mother's fault!!)

Now that our kids are out of the have-to-watch-them-24-7 stage, it is fun to sit back and watch the younger parents sweat it out. Uncle Mark couldn't resist teasing his godson (and Tage's poor daddy!) with a plate of butter right in arm's reach!

All in all, it was a very fun weekend and great to spend time with family. Special thanks to our football team family who made our own personal reservation possible!
That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil-this is the gift of God.--Ecclesiastes 3:13