Saturday, February 27, 2016

Squash Recipes

I've been meaning to post some squash recipes since fall.  This past summer was the first time I branched out from the traditional pumpkin and zucchini.  I added about 8 varieties of squash; with butternut, buttercup, and spaghetti squash being the ones that produced the most.  I didn't have the brain power or energy to try to figure out how to dry them in the sun so that I could store them in our root cellar all winter. (I'll definitely be trying that next fall).  So I baked and pureed most of my squash.
My all time favourite recipe so far is this one...
Southwest Squash Soup
1 medium butternut squash
1 medium onion
2 tbsp. butter
6-8 cups chicken broth (I prefer to use the drippings left over from turkey or chicken)
3 tsp Chili Powder
2 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (I don't add this because a few of my littles don't like it too hot)
dash of pepper
sour cream to garnish.
Clean and cut squash in half.  Discard seeds.  Place face down on tinfoil lined baking sheet.  Bake at 350 till soft.  Puree in blender with a bit of water, until smooth. Saute onion in butter (I use my soup pot...less dishes to wash!) and add remaining ingredients.  Cook for 30 minutes.  Garnish with sour cream and a dash of cayenne pepper!

My kids love this version of Mac n' Cheese and so do I...not only because it's nutritious!  It's super moist and delicious!  I prefer to use real cheese rather than Cheez Whiz or some other processed cheese.  However, if your family is accustomed to eating it that way, I'd probably stick with it.  They may find the slight squash flavour overwhelming.  My kids didn't notice it until I told them it had squash in it! 

Mac n' Cheese With Butternut Squash
1 small butternut squash
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cups milk
pinch of grated nutmeg
3/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 pound macaroni
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
4 tbsp. parmesan cheese
Bread Crumb Topping
1/2 -1 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
enough olive oil to moisten bread crumbs
Prep squash as mentioned above.   Add chicken stock, milk, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and squash in a pot.  Then cook macaroni in a separate pot as per instructions and add to squash mixture. Add both cheeses.  Transfer to a baking dish.  Mix bread crumb toppings in a separate bowl and sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.  Bake until crumbs are lightly browned.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Village - with Francis Chan

If you haven't already watched the above video, please do!  It is powerful!

It's been a rough month.  Not because of appointments or kids.  But because of sin in my heart.  I'm going to take a stab in the dark and guess that I'm not the only one that has ever struggled with bitterness.  I've had a bitter heart before, but never to this point or for this long.

 I'm going to be vulnerably honest.  Not because I want or need sympathy, but because I wholeheartedly believe that it's high time for Christians to quit hiding behind the mask of "everything is good!"  It is one of the reasons we stay in a rut and don't grow spiritually.

I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about why I've been struggling with bitterness...but I will say this...It's a result of the injustices we face on a regular basis...everything from people ignoring our kids, to the idea of what is defined as being worthy of support (financial and other).  We face a lot of ignorance and plain out hate.  Some wouldn't call it that.  They'd say it's too harsh a word to use.  It's the only word that is somewhat appropriate.  From a human perspective, I am justified in my bitterness.  It's not like we've encountered these things once or twice.  They keep happening...over, and over, and over again...and it gets harder to deal with each time.  So, really, I could leave it at that and justify my bitterness.

However, that's not what I believe.  Bitterness is ugly.  Bitterness eats you up from the inside.  Bitterness causes a lot of unnecessary stress.  Bitterness leaves you wanting peace. 

And so, I am at this point...instead of praying for peoples hearts to be changed...I am praying for God to take hold of my heart and change it to reflect His love and peace.  That's not to say I don't still struggle.  I do.  And I'm going to guess I will for some time. 

I've shared with a few people what I am struggling with...even an acquaintance I ran into at the grocery sorry A for talking your ear off and sharing more than you wanted to hear...but I know you have prayed and for that I thank you!

Scripture tells us to confess our sins to each other...for the purpose of being held accountable and so we can pray for each other.  It's amazing how doing this can be the catalyst in changing our hearts. how does the above video relate to what I just shared?  Well, it hit me square in the heart! THIS is what it's all about!  It's about loving others as Christ loves us!

It doesn't mean that you should go and adopt a child this instant...what it means is that if you haven't already found something that makes you wake up in the morning thinking of someone other than yourself (or the precious little family that surrounds you), than it's high time to figure out how and where you can love others as Christ has loved you.  It's time to quit storing up treasures on earth.  It's time to store treasures in heaven! 

I live in the Bible Belt of my province...but for the most part, us Christians are known for being critical, judgemental, and picky about who we hang out with.  We're known for shouting louder about the evils of sexual orientation than we are known for shouting about the rights of the destitute, the poor, the fatherless.  We're known for being very well to do.  We're a rich community.  Let's change this into being known as the Love Belt of our province!  Let's quit saving for our retirement, for our next vacation, for that new car, for that beautiful house....and let's start being lavish in our giving of our money and selves to others!  He cares for the birds.  Why wouldn't He care for us just as lavishly?!?

I am challenged and encouraged by the community in this video.  Seventy families caring and loving and being family for 160 special needs kids....and China is known, at least in my community, as being a heathen country.   Hmmm....something to think about!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Our Mini Vacation

I'm sitting at my computer, wearing an extra cozy hoodie (or bunnyhug as we say SK!), my warm slippers, and sipping on my second cup of mocha.  It's that kinda day!  I'm tired!  Ha!  What's new about that?!? lol!  Really, though...I am REALLY tired!  Perhaps I shouldn't have pretended I was a teenager and stayed up till past midnight watching my favourite show, knowing the boys would be up at 4 am to go choring!  Or perhaps it's the little guy crying a few times at night.  Or the boys coming home at 6:30, waking me again. 
The boys are choring all week, so it will be an early bedtime tonight!  It was suppose to be our week off of school, but we'll wait till the boys are done the early morning chore time so we can sleep in and be lazy!
In my last post I mentioned how very tired we are.  It's not a wonder!  It is the stage of life we are in right now and I can't see it changing for a while.   I hope I'm wrong about that!  As I'm writing, I'm dictating Morgun's spelling words to him...trying to form wonder my head is tired! 
 So we decided to take a spur of the moment mini vacation at Elk Ridge Resort.  It's about a 2 hour drive from our place, so it was easy to get there without too many "are we there yet?!?"
The cabin we stayed it was well used, but cozy. We booked at the last minute and got a very reasonable rate, which included access to the pool, skating, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and tobogganing.  The weather was perfect! Not too cold, and not too warm, with fluffy snow falling several days.  I was in my glory!  I LOVE soft falling snow!
We went tobogganing...
And some of us may have had time out cause our bad attitudes simply can not be left at home! 
And the two of us try to keep on smiling!  What would a vacation be like without temper tantrums, snarky remarks, cooking, and restless nights?!?  I can only dream.....


We went skating...Elk Ridge has the best ice surface.  It's a pond that has the perimeter cleared and spots in the middle cleared for individual spaces to skate and play hockey.  On this day, it was snowing so there was a fair bit of snow on the ice which made it difficult to skate...but it was so beautiful!

I love how my kids make the effort to include Wren.  The youngest two are constantly arguing about who gets to push her in her wheelchair.


We sorted and graphed Valentine candy...and ate far too many!

 We played outside...

Or more like...sat around bored out of our minds!  Well, at least some of us!  I was just grateful the teens humoured us and joined us!


A certain someone may have fallen off the swing...
...and laughed and laughed!  :)

And we went swimming a lot!




Our kids all love the water...including Wren.  She'd swim in the pool until she was shaking and had blue lips.  Then she'd go to the hot tub to warm up.  She's definitely tougher than I am!  I'd spend all my time in the hot tub if my circulation was as poor as hers is!
Wren really wanted to wear goggles.  I happen to hate constantly adjusting goggles and figured it would simply be more work for me, so I told her she really didn't need goggles cause she wasn't putting her face in the water, but if she did, I would certainly help her with her goggles.  Long story short...she was soon wearing goggles, showing off to her siblings how she could put her entire face in the water!
Wren was game to go on the waterslide with her Daddy.  Well, at first she was!  Their first ride down was the most hilarious thing!  Marty was too tall to sit up in order to slow down.  They ended up whizzing down that slide in a few seconds, with Marty losing his balance in the pool and both going under the water!  It was only a second that Wren was under water, and she didn't swallow any water...BUT...she was NOT impressed!  She came out of the water with the most hilarious disgusted look on her face...and all we could do was split our guts laughing!  Needless to say, Wren only wanted to go down with mommy after that! :)
And I cooked...a lot!  We planned a menu and took enough food for each meal.  However, the plan was to eat out at least a few times.  Once we saw the menu we changed our minds.  Take 8 meals times by $15 = $120!  Multiply that by two...that's $240 plus a tip!  Not to mention, most of the meals were not meals that would appeal to our kids.  The view, the meals, and the wine certainly did appeal to Marty and I! 
So I adjusted my attitude, determined to take this time to enjoy cooking.  I really do enjoy cooking if I'm not in a hurry or don't have a million things to do.  We had baked potatoes one day, and having forgotten the tin foil, I opted to use the roaster.  It still had the sticker on it!  After at least 15 years!  Apparently, most people don't need a roaster on their vacation! lol!

We arrived home to some cold weather, but the following days have been warm, with lots of fluffy snow.  I LOVE snowy days!  It's so beautiful!  Not much can make me feel cozier and warmer than soft falling snow and the beautiful view!

We took these snowy days to do some crafts.  We made igloos our of milk jugs and the kids are now using them with their Littlest Pet Shop!  And we made popsicle stick snowmen. 
 I've also started a project that is kinda cool.  I'll try to post it in the next few days...if I get around to completing it!
We had a fairly calm Family Day.  I actually took about an hour to myself in a sort of quiet house.  How did I manage that?  Well, the boys went to chore, and I sent the littlest four outside to play while Marty was outside working.  And I actually got about 45 mins of uninterrupted time!!! Yah!!  That automatically makes for a great day! 
Here's to hoping that all you busy, tired moms can have a few minutes of quiet bliss today!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

When a $15 Gift is HUGE!

I'm tired!  Tired to the core.  Almost every aspect of my being is tired.  My head is tired.  My heart is tired.  My body is tired.  But my spirit is filled with peace and gratitude!  I'll explain why in a bit...but first a bit of an update on Malia's last surgery.
Two weeks ago Malia had her surgery to release the tongue flap. 
She did an amazing job at being put to sleep.  No screaming.  No yelling.  No thrashing.
We discussed her last surgery; how she responded to being put to sleep.  We talked about how she could better handle it.  We talked about what we (as in mom, the anesthetist, the nurses) could make the whole procedure easier for her.  We came up with a plan.  No lying down.  Just hugging mom as the IVs were put in.  She cried a bit, but aced it!
The surgery went well, but once again it took longer than expected.  Long enough that the surgeon and anesthesiologist agreed it was best for Malia to spend the night in the hospital.
I wasn't prepared.  But I learned something...ALWAYS take your pillow along!  Seriously!  I can fall asleep almost anywhere...eventually...with my pillow!  I did manage to sleep a bit, inspite of housekeeping stomping into the room at midnight and making a loud ruckus as they cleaned the bed they didn't need for anyone!
A few days ago, Malia finally has some real food!  She couldn't keep from smiling!  She's been such a trooper!  For some reason it seems we make the best meals when she's on a liquid diet and can't enjoy the food to the fullest.  In reality, I think it's just that we notice how much she misses out on.
Well, one day we were having noodles, a dish that has a gross texture when blended, and Malia was having some other liquid food I'd prepared previously.  Out of the blue she announces..."Mom!  These noodles are soooo yummy!"  Everyone was quiet.  I was contemplating whether I should tell her the truth about what she was eating.  I decided to let her enjoy what she thought she was eating.  Then, in the complete silence, with a smirk on her face, she says, "Don't anyone ruin my day dream!"  Hahaha!  Love that girl and her wacky sense of humour!!
Today was yet another day spent in the hospital.
This time it was for Wren, to have her dental procedure done.  Our dentist strongly recommended she be put to sleep as the procedure would have been very traumatic for her.  Think 11 years of plague, 2 teeth pulled due to being very infected, filling 3 teeth, scaling, etc. 
It was day surgery, so after 7  hours in the hospital, we went home!
Wren was a star!  She was so worried, but aced it like a pro.  She kept asking if the medical professionals would be "he or her".  She REALLY wanted only females.  Wouldn't you know it...every single person in the OR was male!!  She whimpered as she fell asleep, and I could hardly stand the look of fear in her eyes.  But I was so glad I got to talk to her and do my best to calm her fears as she fell asleep. 
Wren is in a bit of pain, but managed to have a smoothy for supper.  Her lips are very swollen and sore.  She is tired, but happy to be home!  I couldn't be more proud of our precious girl!!
And now onto why my spirit is at peace and oh, so very grateful!
While we were registering at the hospital, I was informed that Wren's health card is inactive.  She has a health number.  It was active a month ago.  Apparently Sk health does not have all the documents they need.  I was extremely annoyed!  I already know to send a copy of EVERY SINGLE DOCUMENT I have!  I did that 2 weeks after arriving home.  Then we got a letter saying they didn't have the necessary documents.  I emailed the necessary documents a few weeks ago.  Checked to make sure the email had gone through.  And assumed Wren's health card would be reactivated.
Well, it's not reactivated.  
So I called Sk Health, only to be told they still didn't have the necessary documents.  I know they have them.  It's a matter of someone taking the time to actually look at the entire document and not simply assume that because some of the pages only contain Chinese characters, that they don't have the document they need!
Anyhow...that meant I had to pay the hospital fee.  I already knew I would be dishing out $1,000-$1,500 for the dental work.  What I didn't know is that I would have to dish out an additional $1,100+ for hospital fees!  My heart sank, but I did what needed to be done, and put it on my visa.
And then....on our way out, I went to pay the $15 for all day parking.  The machine wouldn't take my visa.  In fact it wouldn't take anyone's visa.  I moved aside to let the gentleman behind me pay...a man that happens to be the husband to our local MP.  His card didn't work either, so he paid his $2 with cash.  I decided to try to pay outside as I left the parkade. 
Well, as I left the building, I heard someone call my name.  I turned around to see the same gentleman.  He suggested I take his paid parking stub and he'd take mine.  I shook my head and said no.  I said it didn't make sense for him to pay $15 when his had only been $2 and I didn't have any cash on me.  He argued that he needed to go back into the hospital, and if I didn't take his already paid card, he would have to leave the parkade, come back for another ticket, and pay again.   I shook my head in bewilderment, got all emotional, and we exchanged cards.
I tried to express what his gift meant to me...that he had no way of knowing how much it meant to the tears came.
 I introduced him to our newest daughter and he gave me a big ole hug! 
M. B you may never know how big a gift you gave me today!  But thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
This hospital of ours is a beauty, but here's to hoping we won't see you again for at least another month!!