Monday, April 23, 2012

Beginner (aka EASY) Delicious Kale Smoothie!

I bought a big bag of already chopped Kale at Trader Joes a couple weeks ago ($2), planning to make Kale chips but I just haven't had time. Then I saw something somewhere about green smoothies and I thought maybe I ought to give it a try! I read a bunch of recipes and decided to make my own based on what I thought sounded best and what I had in my kitchen at the time. And yes, that all arguably took just as long as simply making kale chips.....anywho....

Diana's Kale Smoothie


1 ripe banana
1 seedless peeled orange
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp real maple syrup (or agave)
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce ( I used homemade)
2 cups kale (you can do stalk and all)

Blend WELL. Should be a beautiful green color with only tiny specks of the kale, not leafy pieces. Then add some crushed ice and blend again to make it the smoothie consistency you want.

Blender piled full and ready to go! I often add more kale once it's blended some and I can cram more in :)
Green goodness! You won't even know there is kale in it other than the green color. If you have it at my house you'll be fighting one freakishly strong 16 month old for your share!



Thursday, April 12, 2012

Today was a good day...

Today was a good day. Elly woke me up at 6am (again) but I decided I'd push on without caffeine :) Jake finished school early, we used some of our colored Easter eggs to make egg salad for lunch....and then it was nap time for Evie Bug (now 16 months). I decided to let Eliana skip her nap today, as seems to happen more often than not lately, so that I could make cookies with her and Jake. I quickly realized I was out of any kind of chocolate, even white! Oh the tragedy! I found a recipe that worked with my dwindling baker's pantry and we went for it. Eliana loves to stir. Jake likes to read the recipe and tell me what step is next. Eliana said several times, "this is the best day ever!!!" It's so special how something as simple as baking some cookies can make her world feel so wonderful.


After cookies Jake and I decided we'd teach Eliana to play Candy Land. We played 3 times and she won twice :) It was actually really fun and she loved playing the game. She was particularly happy when she got the card for Queen Frostine. We heard a few more of, "this is the best day ever!!!" Well worth skipping nap and mommy not getting any quiet or slightly alone time.


Days like today are peaceful, simple, and what life is about. Making memories and spending time experiencing life with our children. As you know, I've had a rough 6 months, so I'm trying to make days like today happen more often. The kids and I both need it.


After my last blog post I felt a little exposed. Like maybe I should've just posted a recipe and called it good. But for whatever reason I just wanted to be more real. I received several messages from friends who appreciated the post, could identify with it, were glad they weren't alone, or had been there and offered me love and acceptance. Thank you! I truly love it when women can come alongside and encourage each other in a Red Tent atmosphere (this refers to the tent in which women of Jacob's tribe must, according to ancient law, take refuge while menstruating or giving birth, and in which they find mutual support and encouragement from their mothers, sisters, and aunts). Living life together and helping each other as sisters. Obviously, I wasn't menstruating as you might remember I have PCOS and don't ever menstruate. Blessing and a curse!


Anywho, thank you dear friends who were brave enough to share pieces of your struggles with me. You encouraged me and validated me.


Since that post some pretty awesome things have happened. A friend of mine and her church took the initiative to bless us with oil for our heater. It couldn't have come at a better time! We had run out of oil a month before and I knew we'd just have to pray for sun and wear layers. But it turned out to be a cold first month of spring and our house was around 56/57 degrees, at most, all the time. My hands were always white and cold and slippers couldn't keep our feet warm. I was kissing my baby's very cold cheeks and wanting to cry almost every day. We put money aside every month for heating oil, but with the very high cost of oil it just doesn't go far these days. We had spent $450 a few months ago, but it ran out quickly even with our thermostat only set to 62. We were out of money for oil and just had to wait it out. We ran 3 space heaters but then our electricity bill took a big jump and I knew we couldn't really do that either.
 The night before my friend told me about this gift I had just been talking to Craig about the cold saying, "we're OK, I just wish we had oil and a little more for groceries. In my perfect world. But we'll survive." And then the next day we get oil for the furnace and even grocery cards (really cool surprise)! To see God act so quickly on our behalf was amazing and humbling. And then for it to be from a church and people we don't even know? So incredible. It's hard to take gifts like that. I know that so many people are living on a little right now and to take from others is hard. Craig work very hard to provide for us and he does a great job. It has, however, been tough having no health insurance for Craig and I, and dealing with the very high oil costs. 
When the oil was delivered and I turned the heat on to 63 and we all warmed up, it was so nice. I didn't truly realize how very cold we were until we weren't anymore. The gifts spoke to me again about how much God loves us and that He desires to take care of us and provide for us.
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:26

I shared with Jacob and Eliana about this verse and how much God loves us and that He gave us oil and food. We could look out our window and see the robins hopping about in our yard and know that they are taken care of by the same God who loves us and yet He loves us even more. 

Shortly after all this Jacob went to Chicago for a week to visit his mom. That was hard emotionally for me. I prayed a lot and worried about him and felt like the house was way too quiet. He ended up having a great time and came back happy and glad to be home. I wanted him to visit his mom and have a wonderful time with her, it's just hard to have kids going back and forth. He's been here for a whole year and I'm with him all day, every day. It was an adjustment to have him gone.

The weekend after he left another miracle happened. We sold our car! We'd been trying to sell it since last summer. Basically Jacob got here and we knew right away we'd need a new car. He was squished between two car seats all the time, it was less than ideal. We sold the car for a great price and felt so blessed. Walking around Target after we sold it with a purse full of cash it was SO tempting to spend a couple hundred dollars like we used to and buy some new clothes or music or just something. You know? But we didn't. I bought Jake something using $8 out of our Dave Ramsey envelopes and kept the car cash safe and sound in my purse. When we got home I made Craig put it somewhere safe and away from our cash envelopes. Then the hunt for a minivan began!

I had seen a Honda Odyssey on Craigslist about a month before we sold our Durango. I figured it'd be sold already, but it wasn't! It was still listed and down $1k in price also. We made an appointment to go see it a couple days later. With cash in hand and only one child along we test drove the car, asked a million questions, read over all the 9 years of service records, and fell in love with the car. We told the guy we needed to think about it and we'd call him later (first time we'd EVER done that car shopping). We went to McDonald's, drank some sweet tea, and shared some chicken nuggets. Side note- Evie apparently LOVES sweet tea, hehe. It was about 6:30pm and we both realized we hadn't eaten anything at all that day. I told Craig I felt like Donald Trump would say, "never make a deal on a empty stomach." Or maybe only I would say that. At any rate, I might have to title a book that someday. We ate our processed, fake, and totally tasty food and talked some more about the car. We knew it was meant to be ours. The guy was already asking about $4k less than any dealers wanted for it, but we planned to negotiate a bit. We called the guy, drove to his house, met his family and his chickens (anyone with chickens is legit), and handed over nearly all our cash.

Now, let me just say, Big Blue is amazing. This van is so beautiful. Leather interiors, automatic sliding doors, heated seats, seats 7, tons of trunk space, roomy interior, pretty blue color, rear climate controls, you name it! We felt like God honored us for waiting til our car sold, not blowing any of the cash, and for researching and reading ( I do this to a fault) about vans until we found the right one. And for paying cash, no auto loan! Then the next day I went to the DOL to get it registered in our name and I kid you not the taxes were only $17 more than the rest of the cash I had left. So, we sold our car, got a new rockin' van and only had to pay $17 out of pocket TOTAL. What a God thing!
"You're my boy Blue!!!"

Between all these blessings and me working very hard to not make it all about ME (aka being self-focused), the days are feeling easier. I still have moments probably everyday where I feel myself going inward, getting frustrated, wanting to run and find a hole somewhere, but I'm working hard to not stay in that space. Turning off the TV/computer/whatever, getting on the floor with my kids, getting outside, wandering around Central Market, whatever. Making sure my kids are laughing, getting hugs and kisses, and feeling special helps me feel better, too. The heating oil and grocery cards and minivan, well yeah I'm definitely feeling heard by my Lord (and a very kind friend). I don't think it works like: pay your tithe=get whatever you want immediately. BUT, I do think it's really spectacular to be diligent in what we know is right even when it's hard and to see God come through for us in such tangible ways. It encourages our faith and I hope encourages my friends and family to do what is right even when it's hard. Like I tell Jake, we're not only giving God 10%, He's giving us 90%!
Truth be told we started praying for a minivan a year ago. It didn't happen overnight, but God made it happen perfectly. 

This week I've been working to take mental notes of how great the kids are during the day, to try and savor the moments instead of being so far in my head that I miss them entirely.
The day after Jake got home we made mini-cupcakes. Elly missed 'her Jake' so much!

He spelled Happy Easter with his.

Jake got to color Easter eggs for the first time ever!

We had one hot and beautiful day....I got to line dry Evie's diapers :)

My beautiful Eliana. 

You can't really look at this without smiling. Right?

I look at this and wish I'd brushed my hair and put on at least a tiny bit of makeup....but Evie is so perfect, so who cares :)

Perfect.

Look, they're holding hands!

So tall! 3 1/2 years old 

Playing Bananagrams tonight after batting practice.
And yes, I just sang Gwen Stefani's 'It's Bananas' in my head to make sure I spelled Bananas right :)