Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Corner Office and Chicago

IMG_8669.jpgThe cold weather seemed like it was never going to end. It was so dreary that my lovely husband decided we should go and see a show since it had been awhile. Chicago was in town for just a few days, so off we went. We invited some friends to join us and had a fabulous evening out. We popped in to The Corner Office for Happy Hour and an early dinner. I would definitely recommend I Love Juicy or the Prosecco that Mandy ordered. They did not disappoint. If I wasn't such a lightweight I probably would have had another. 
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The Crab Fritters and Hummus plate were inhaled quite quickly, so you know they had to be good.
IMG_8673.jpgWe ladies also got to sneak out and do a little shopping after dinner. Mandy and Sherry had never been shopping downtown, so it had to happen.
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We ladies all ordered the same thing. The Bibimbap was incredibly flavorful with the perfect amount of spice. Gary had the Kung Pao chicken which look great too.
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Here are our handsome dates!
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My Lutheran Stud ordered the Chicken and Waffles, while Seth had the Lobster Mac  n' Cheese. They went American and the rest of us were a bit more exotic. ;)
IMG_8686.jpgThe Denver Center for Performing Arts is such a fun area. We love coming to watch a show here.
IMG_8692.jpgWe didn't have the best seats in the house, and the binoculars sure came in handy, but we had great time. 
IMG_8696.jpgLittle did we know that John O'Hurley played Billy Flynn. He was a hoot and well remembered from his days on Seinfeld as J.Peterman.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Birthday at the Zoo

_MG_5292.jpgWe spent the afternoon of David's birthday wandering around the Denver Zoo. It's always an adventure when we go. You never know what you'll get to see. Can you see the African wild dog blending in with his surroundings?
_MG_5299.jpgThese two reminded me of the Lion King, yes?
_MG_5306.jpgGiraffes are always fascinating to my children. Why? Is it their height or the way that they chew their food? For me, my fascination lies with that guy in the navy sweater. 
_MG_5318.jpgWe stopped by to check out the polar bear just as he was taking off on a mission.
_MG_5320.jpgPerhaps, that is his afternoon snack, or maybe he's on a diet. Personally, if I were him, I'd be thinking that I was getting jipped on my lunch.
_MG_5325.jpgHis meal disappeared in two bites. Can you tell that's he's searching the crowd for more food?
_MG_5327.jpgThe Tropical Discovery area is one of kids' favorite areas. I think it helps that there are massive tanks right at their eye level.
_MG_5329.jpgIf you're not careful these lizards will just jump out from nowhere, or so you think they came from nowhere.
_MG_5332.jpgIt's pretty difficult to lay around soaking up the heat all day, don't you think?
_MG_5342.jpgElizabeth had a thing for the Komodo dragon and it liked her too. His head followed every move she made.
_MG_5349.jpgThe birthday boy received a free ice cream cone. He said it was the best ice cream he's ever had because it was in cone.
_MG_5354.jpgI'm not sure we've ever witnessed the hippos outside of the water standing up, so this was a treat, I think. David said, "Look at the hippo's _______." I'll let you fill in the blank there.
_MG_5359.jpgHe was getting his teeth cleaned, but once they finished him up he was all about getting back into the water.
_MG_5360.jpgThen it was on to the hippo next door.
_MG_5363.jpgI guess they can perform tricks if you ask nicely.
_MG_5383.jpgAlong with the free ice cream came a free ride on the carousel. Little did we know that children under 46 inches get a free ride. All of the little ones got to join David on the carousel. Somehow I ended up on this thing, but wish I hadn't. Riding around in circles can make one dizzy and throw off a person's equilibrium for the rest of the afternoon. Whoops!_MG_5364.jpgMy Lutheran Stud volunteered to be in charge of the camera and thought y'all would like to see my most recent favorie boots. They're the most comfortable boots I own and have shearling on the bottom as well as fur up the side of the boot.
IMG_8781As we were leaving the zoo we got quite a show from this gorgeous peacock. One of my foster boys commented, "That bird has a lot of eyes!" The zoo is always full of interesting sights whenever we visit. Perhaps, that's why we go there often.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

April Fool's Day

D.jpg7 years ago, on April Fool's Day, the joke was on us because this little boy wasn't due until April 15th. That wasn't the only joke on me. If you know me well enough you know that I've always longed to have a child with blonde hair and blue eyes. The nurse had a huge grin on her face when she noticed that this adorable little boy stopped by the hair salon before he was born and had blonde highlights put in his hair to please his mother. I just remember her saying, "I know a lot of women who pay a lot of money to get highlights like that, and he was born with them." I dreaded every day after his birth because I knew his hair would grow, and eventually, I'd have to cut those beautiful highlights off. Anyway, April Fool's day is not just for fools, but a wonderful day of the year to celebrate David's birthday. IMG_8757
He whizzed through his schoolwork because he couldn't wait to get to his birthday festivities. Yes, we made him finish his schoolwork and he got it all done in record time. I wish it was that easy everyday. After we finished things up we packed up the Tank and headed to the zoo, of course! Did you know that if you bring your child to the zoo on their birthday they receive a souvenir pin, free ice cream,
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and a free ride on the carousel? Children under 46 inches also get to ride for free on the carousel, so David was able to have his little sisters join him.

IMG_8771I still can't believe he's 7 years old. I know it's so cliche, but really, where does the time go? More zoo adventures later. (I know you're probably dreading more zoo photos, huh?)
  IMG_8783David requested chicken and sticky rice for dinner and we threw in some dumplings for good measure. Who doesn't love this stuff? It's David's favorite meal, and there rest of the children's favorite too.
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When I asked David what kind of cake he wanted and he replied by saying that he just wanted Peanut Butter Chocolate cupcakes. Well, who doesn't love chocolate and peanut butter together right?
_MG_5414.jpgI was going to put all the candles into one cupcake, but. . .  _MG_5416.jpgThat would make it too easy. He'd blow them out with just one puff. We wanted to challenge him.  _MG_5404.jpgThis guy really wanted to play baseball, so guess what he's doing now? Not only does he love playing ball, but he's also great at telling his throwing partner that he's throwing wrong. This 7 year old knows everything. _MG_5410.jpgHe and Thomas have really enjoyed playing chess together, so this chess board was a great gift for him. They can total school me in chess since I haven't a clue on how to play the game. We had a pretty fun filled day this April Fool's Day and have enjoyed watching this funny, clever little boy grow into a great kid. Happy birthday, David!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Irish Soda Bread

_MG_5261.jpgWhere have you been all of my life? I suppose I'm a day late and a dollar short on sharing this bread, but who needs St. Patrick's Day to make it? Just go ahead and make it, now! I've never had Irish Soda bread, so when St. Patrick's Day came I decided to make it to go with our Corned Beef and Cabbage meal. It turned out perfectly!
_MG_5249.jpgYou'll never believe how easy it is to make this bread. It was shockingly easy because there's no rising of dough or yeast involved. Your baking soda is where you get your bubbles to make the dough rise when baking. Still, why has no one told me how awesome this bread is? I know have a ton of friends that love bread just as much as I do.
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All I did was mix all the ingredients together and knead it into a loaf. I don't think anyone can mess that up, right? With a hint of orange beside the dried cherries I used, because I couldn't find any currants, your family will be asking you to make this bread again. I think this will be perfect for my older girls to make since they're really enjoying baking and cooking at the moment.
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The recipe is from The Food Network. Who doesn't love Ina? You probably even have most of the ingredients in your home already, so what's keeping you from trying this out?  


Irish Soda Bread
Ingredients:

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup dried currants

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

 
Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Why Foster Care?

Because of the fall into sin we live in a broken world.  Children are born out of wedlock, divorce has become prevalent in our society, addictions to drugs or alcohol are out of control, and the 5th commandment gets broken daily through the abortion of innocent babies. Watching the news or reading about it on the internet is becoming unbearable. From hit and runs to the murder of innocent people the news, these days, is just heartbreaking.

I often watch the news wishing there was something I could do. I once told my husband that I wish we could go to all the pregnant women in the world, considering an abortion, and tell them that would adopt their baby if they would just carry that sweet life to term. Obviously that isn’t an option because over 1 million babies are killed each year through abortion. My husband and I believe that life begins at conception. Our Lord has already formed that life and that little tiny baby has a heartbeat often before you even know you’re pregnant. To kill that small baby growing inside of you is just devastating to us.
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While we can’t save those aborted babies there is something else we are able to do. We can help children that weren’t aborted, but have parents that are struggling to care for them; we can be foster parents, and that is precisely what my husband and I have chosen to do. In my head I can judge parents all day about they way they parent or care for their children. I can sit around and wonder why some people have children when they don’t actually interact with them or feed and cloth them properly. Rather than judge these parents for their shortcomings we can thank them for not killing their children in utero and help the children in ways that their parents have fallen short.

We get a lot of comments and questions about foster care. A comment we hear quite often is, “Oh, I could never do foster care. It would be so hard to give the children back,” or “I’d just want to adopt all of them and we just can’t do that.” 
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Of course it’s hard when they leave. And yes, I want to adopt all of them, but guess what? It’s not about me. It’s about them. I can’t fix or change their parents, but I can help the children. I can teach them their shapes and colors or how to ride a bike. These might seem like small things, but in the big picture we are able to care for these children like they are our own. Even if it’s just for a short time, hopefully they will remember the time they are with us, and maybe it will have a small impact in their lives when they leave.

My friend, Edie, recently wrote an article in the March issue of The Lutheran Witness on vocation. Like her I was a Christian in the evangelical church movement. I always felt like I needed to be an overseas missionary and save the world to serve God, but then again, is that enough good works? Being Lutheran I’ve learned that just serving others around you is how God works through me to bless and serve others. Edie nails it when she says, “God is at work through you, meeting the needs of those around!” I don’t have to be missionary overseas and save the world to please God! My vocation, while sometimes mundane, is in my home taking care of my family, and now 3 foster children, and those are the people who need me. “He doesn’t need your good works, your neighbor does.” 

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Becoming foster parents is Lord’s way of using us to serve our neighbors. While our time with them may only be a year, more or less, we’ll cherish the time we have with them, watching them grow and learn new things alongside our own children, and thank the Lord for placing them in our home and continue to pray that the Lord blesses them and keeps them in His care.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Beautiful Zoo Day!

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Like the rest of the country, this winter is beginning to wear on us. Thankfully, with all of that cold and snow that we've been getting, we've also gotten a few spurts of sunshine and warm weather. That's one of the reasons I love Colorado. While you expect to have the cold temperatures in the winter, Colorado likes to give you a little respite from the cold with a sprinkle of sunshine and maybe a day or two with temperatures in the 60s. When this happens we try and take advantage by getting outside. This particular day we headed to, guess where? 
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Along with what seemed like the whole city of Denver, we made the trek to the Denver Zoo! Having 9 children and winning a family pass to the zoo has proved to be quite the win for our family! My oldest, age 12, is now 5'5" and pretty much towers over me. See why I can often be seen wearing 5 inch heels? ;)

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The sea lion demonstration always draws quite a crowd.

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Our foster children have never been to the zoo and were in awe of all of the animals that they saw. It was pretty adorable.
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The sea lions at this zoo are able to perform many tricks such as jumping out of the water.

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Given the correct reward the sea lion can leap 6 feet out of the water and touch a ball!
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My children love to visit the Komodo dragon. I'm not sure what the draw is for them, but I think it has to do with the way he slithers along the ground and makes eye contact with them.
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The elephants have a new home as of last year. It's a beautiful wide open area for them to roam, and as visitors we can see them a little better.
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The elephants also share their home with this Gibbon and his brother. I've been lectured that Gibbons are not monkeys because they do not have tails. They are however, cousins, in case you were wondering.
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These Parakeets have to be my most favorite birds in the Tropical Discovery exhibit. I just love how their gorgeous colors pop!
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Have you ever seen a Sloth? Well, now you have. This is the closest I have come to seeing this guy's face and body. Normally, he's hiding so high in the tree that he goes completely unnoticed.
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This guy figured it was a beautiful day to come down the mountain.
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Most of the time the mountain goats lay around soaking in the sun.
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The Black Bears decided to stare at the visitors the way we stare at them. How does it feel to have someone staring at you?
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The children love checking out the reptiles, snakes, and creepy crawling creatures. I would just stay out of this area if it was up to me.
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I'm pretty sure this water tortoise is bigger than most of my children.
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Silverbacks are fun to watch. You never know what kind of show they'll put on for you.
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It was a lounging around kind of day for the zoo animals. I think they were enjoying the warm weather like we were.
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