My Girlie

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I missed posting for Anna’s first birthday. Bad mama! Honestly, there are a lot of other things in my life that take priority over blogging. I like writing here, storing up memories for our family and sharing God’s goodness with you all, but it is something that fits in the extra spaces of my life. Anyway, I wanted to take a moment to share Anna, as she is now, before I blink and she grows up.

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My Anna-girl is 14 months old. She’s walking (forwards and backwards), fearlessly climbing everything, and gibbering at us, with a few words thrown in here and there. She is feisty, funny, and sweet. She loves her family, animals, her milk, and blankie. Most of her words are animal sounds or animal names, and she is almost always carrying about a kitty or puppy stuffed animal. She likes to do things that she thinks are funny, and if someone laughs at her, you can guarantee that she’ll do that again. Anna loves to dance and clap, play peek-a-boo, get tickles, and build with blocks. 

It has been so much fun to have added girl to our family. And she is a girly girl: she brushes her hair, and loves shoes, and likes to help me clean. She is also the messiest child I’ve had. She loves to get in dirt, and can’t eat a meal without some sort of food getting in her hair.  She laughs easily and often, and usually makes all the rest of us laugh with her. I am so thankful to God to get to be her mother. Thankful too to get to watch Bret be a daddy to a girl, and the boys be big brothers. 

July Garden Update (or Why No Tomatoes?!?!)

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Our garden continues to grow like crazy. The plants are getting bigger and bigger, but not producing very many vegetables. The herbs are doing great, so we’re enjoying those quite a lot! I love running out and grabbing some fresh herbs to add to whatever I’m cooking. And the flavor is so delicious!

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The tomato plants don’t look very healthy anymore. And their few flowers have mostly fallen off without forming any fruit. Sad days! I wanted fresh cherry tomatoes most of everything we planted. I’m not sure what’s wrong with them, so if anyone has suggestions, please share!

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A few yellow cherry tomatoes have grown, and Luke particularly loves to pick and eat them.
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The zuchinni has produced some squash and we have very much enjoyed eating them. Anna even likes sauteed zuchinni.

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The cucumber plant has a lot of pretty flowers, but no fruit. It struggled desperately to survive our strange spring weather, so I’m glad to at least see the flowers. But I wonder if it will get too hot for the plant.

I was thinking this year would be a learning year, and so I’m not too disappointed that we haven’t had great production. I still really enjoy the garden, and like checking it and trying to figure out how to grow vegetables out of the dirt. Its pretty amazing that the Lord produces edible and delicious food out of dirt.

Rhythm

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Five Minute Friday
Today is my grandmother’s 89th birthday and we share a birthday, just 60 years apart. We are here celebrating with her. She is towards the end of her days, and I’m in the middle of mine; my kids are at the beginning of theirs (Lord willing). I am so thankful for the rhythm of faith and joyful service that has been passed down from my grandmother and pray that the Lord continues His grace to my children. My grandmother has loved her Lord most of the days of her life; her life has been a song of praise to her God.  In laboring to raise my own children and live led by the Spirit, I am increasingly thankful for the patterns that have been passed down to me. As the pace of her days slows, I am so blessed to realize how the rhythms of a life well-lived continue even to effect even my own children, 4 generations later

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Alloco

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IMG_4658Most people do not get super excited when they see fruit like this in the store. But I do!! These are not just old, bruised bananas, these are plantains, and they are just perfect for frying. Plantains look like bananas on steroids, but you can’t eat them raw. They are delicious cooked. I like them best when the skins are getting black and the fruit inside is turning golden. When they look like that, I have to fry them up! Where I grew up in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, fried plantains are called alloco, and you can buy them on the side of the road for a tasty snack.

So to make fried plantain, you peel the fruit by cutting off one end and pulling the skin off. Then cut the fruit across to make chunks that are about 4 inches long. The slice the chunks up lengthwise so it looks like this. Don’t slice too thinly, or you’ll get crunchy plantain, which is ok, just not as delicious. The fruit may be very slippery, so be careful. IMG_4659As you’re getting towards the end of slicing, start heating some vegetable oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. You want the oil to be about an eighth inch deep. When the oil is nice and hot, put your slices in the skillet. If the oil sizzles when you put the plantain in, then it’s hot enough. IMG_4663Let it cook on that side until the edges turn golden and flip over. Cook on that side until the fruit is turning a dark gold color. Take out and place on paper towel covered plate. Let cool! Plantains retain a lot of heat, so really make sure they’re cool enough to eat before taking a bite. Molten plantain in your mouth is not so pleasant!

IMG_4668We enjoy lots of international food around here, and I love the opportunity to expose my kids to the flavors of many of different cultures. I think it’s a great way to begin encouraging a global world view, as well as giving my kids some connectors as we pray for people all over God’s world. If you’re wanting to do the same, this is an easy recipe to use for much of West Africa and even the Caribbean.

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Ice Smashing

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Don't Just Pin It - DO it!
One of my favorite aspects of pinterest is access to fun ideas for activities for my kiddos. I like activities that are simple to set up, cheap, and fun for my boys. I had seen this pin for a huge ice block a while ago, and saved it up for the hot days of Texas summer. Since the temperature broke 100 this week, I decided to create one of my own. I basically followed her directions, except I took a few days to make the enormous ice cube, just adding water and little bugs and animals whenever I thought about it. One afternoon we were playing outside, and the boys started complaining about being hot, so I grabbed the ice block from the freezer, ran some warm water over it to pop it out of the container, and took it outside.
IMG_7063Hammers were procured and the boys went to town!
IMG_7067 IMG_7068It didn’t last very long, but they had a lot of fun whacking the ice and finding the treasures inside.
IMG_7077 IMG_7074We will for sure do this again! It’s basically free, so easy to set up, and the mess is outside! Best of all, my boys enjoyed it so much! Of course, they like anything that involves hammers and smashing stuff, and the ice is good for cooling off.

{5} Years

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My first son turned FIVE this week! I can’t believe it’s been five years since we went into the hospital as a couple and came out parents. Five years since I was shocked that they would let me go home with that little life, five years that we’ve been learning how to be a family together, five years of seeing the Lord growing Luke from a tiny baby into a strong, smart, funny boy.

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We were so blessed to get to celebrate this birthday with family and friends! Luke really enjoys the Richard Scarry Busytown books, so we had a Busytown Birthday. I had so much fun setting it up for him!

IMG_7102 IMG_7100We had animal masks for the boys and their friends, along with birthday bunting, a cardboard and peg people Busytown, and a sneaky Goldbug hiding all over the house.

IMG_7114Luke and his friends played outside. Turns out soccer is even better with animal masks! IMG_7107 They colored and hunted Goldbug, and laughed and enjoyed hotdogs and dirt cake. We are so very thankful for these young friends! We are also so thankful that Grammy and Grandpa got to come celebrate with us. What a blessing to get to share our joy together!

IMG_7116Grandaddy and Mumsi skyped from across the ocean to wish Luke a happy birthday, and he was so happy to talk to them, and very thankful for his new cowboy stuff!

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IMG_7147Luke ended his birthday exploring his new legos and enjoying time with our family.

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Luke is a wonderful big brother, he loves Levi and adores Anna. He is fast-moving and busy. He likes to be using his mind whether that’s in building something “ingenious” or doing a puzzle or learning letters and counting. He is certainly not lazy! He has been growing a lot recently in obeying and likes to help me with cleaning or putting away the dishes. He is a great memorizer! I’m always amazed at how quickly he can tuck something away in his memory! He loves spaghetti, his blankie, reading, working with Daddy, and going places or seeing friends.

Somehow, five seems like such a BIG number! Like my Luke is all of a sudden a big boy. It’s a hard reality to wrap my mind around, really. He is so precious to me, and it is such a joy to watch him learning and growing. I can get to caught up in the busy, and the crazy energy and the million questions that the days fly past, and all of sudden, he’s five and reading and riding a bike, and BIG! Some days and seasons have been really hard, but the Lord has been so gracious to bring us this far, and to teach our family so much of Himself, His forgiveness, and gracious provision!

 

Fall

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Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
~Isaiah 40:28-31

I’m just sharing this today, from one of my favorite Bible chapters. I’m encouraged that even as I may fall exhausted, the Lord, the everlasting God does not grow weary, and He alone renews my strength.

Five Minute Friday

This is a prompt from the Gypsy Mama. Go check out her blog, and the other Five Minute Friday posts.