Monday, June 27, 2011

No More Computers

Yet another computer in our house has aquired an infectiuos disease.

So if you do not hear from me it is because I no longer have a working computer. Nor do I have a smart phone.

I just have a cute red phone. A texting phone.

To whoever creates computer viruses, it simply is not nice. I NEVER did anything to you.

And I do not know why my Security guy didn't catch this . . .twice.

OK enough texting.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Warrior Prayers: A Surprise Attack

The day started out calmly.  Followed by church.  Quiet Times.  And a short  nap.


But that solitude – it was only the calm before the storm . . . I mean water fight.


It was an unusual gift.  But it was a gift that made everyone happy, provided afternoon entertainment, could be reused,  gave the perfect excuse for purchasing such a frivolous gift being that it was Father’s Day, and most importantly was a toy.  

Boys men like toys.


At least, mine do. 

Let the games begin.


May Gabe go out in joy and be led forth in peace.  (Isaiah 55:12)




My our sons be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love and in steadfastness.  (Titus 2:2)



May our sons know that a gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.  (Proverbs 15:4)




May Ezra discipline his body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others he himself should be disqualified.  (1 Corinthians 9:27)



May Asher, Ezra, Gabe (and Naomi) fear not, stand firm , and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for them today.  (Exodus 14:13)



May our sons not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.  (1 John 3:18)



May our sons turn away from evil and do good; let them seek peace and pursue it.  (1 Peter 3:11)



May our children believe in the God who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.  (2 Timothy 1:9)

It was a good day.  A fun day.  The calm before the storm actually.

Because then things got rough.  I got rough.  Mean.  Angry.  With my words and voice, I acted like a machine gun.  Rapid fire.  Hot.  Stinging bullets. 

However, I asked for forgiveness.  I’m not saying that makes my actions this week ok . . . what I am saying is that if  you mess up . . . if you load the gun of your mouth – get on your knees and apologize to your children. 

Don’t just say, “Hey buddy, I messed up,” and move on.

Say, “Hey buddy can I talk with you?  I want you to know that I love you very much, but I made a big mistake today.  I didn’t show you love or treat you as Christ wants you to be treated.  I am sorry.  I ask for  your forgiveness for _______________.  I was wrong and I want you to know that I understand that I sinned.  Will you pray with me as I talk with God about it?  Do you have anything else that you want to talk about?”

Restore the relationship.  Yea, they might remember the day your mouth spewed hot lava . . . but they will also remember how you humbled yourself and asked for forgiveness.  Not just sorry . . . .


Warrior Prayers . . . how is it changing your life?

Like last week . . . leave a comment (and a link if you blogged about your week doing Warrior Prayer!)

Ummm . . . there are 74 of you and I only heard from a few . . . and even if you aren’t one of my 74 ladies . . . leave a comment if you are praying for your children!

A Play Silk for Naomi

I’ve always wanted a play silk

Well, ever since I saw one of my friends pull several colors out of her magical mom bag to entertain her children during a meeting a few years back.

But back then, we were investing in some heavy duty boy toys.

Now we are diversifying. 


Next week, I’ll show you how you can use a play silk as a learning toy with your baby thanks to the Baby Timberdoodle Core Curriculum Package



Check out more things to do with your Baby and Toddler over at Because Mom Said!


Because Mom Said

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

More Please

More . . . I’d like more of you please. 

And you would like more cherries.  You’ll eat anything so long as it contains cherries.


One day that tooth . . . that lone tooth . . .


Will extract the pit from the cherry as you sit alongside your daddy – both of you eating your favorite fruit.

Today was Aunt Nicole’s birthday . . . which meant Chick-Fil-A on your 243rd day of life.


Followed by a long nap.

And a pleasant family walk, with you in the Moby.  See – I told you I would hold you more today!

Fraction Action Board and Fraction Cups: Review and Giveaway

I almost feel silly writing this post, because Mama Jenn has blown this math toy and this math toy out of the water with great activities to do with it. 

Introducing Guidecraft’s Fraction Action Board and Fraction Action Cups (also found on Amazon) . . .


Seriously.  I have nothing more to add . . . other than I actually used it as a baby toy, too!  I encouraged Naomi to play with the larger parts of this wood toy.  No toxic stuff to worry about as it is made from Eco-friendly rubberwood and stained with low VOC aniline dyes.



Like I was saying, Mama Jenn has come up with the way to play with Guidecraft’s latest creative wood toy (a big whoop for wood toys!).  Using Education Cubes she has created a great learning game that you can learn more about here.  (Maybe she will let me try it out . . . hint . . . hint . . .hint.)

The boys “tolerated” me teaching them about fractions . . . but the real fun began when I just let them play.

  • They created Cair Paravel (from The Chronicles of Narnia, which we are reading as a family.)


  • letters


  • sorted by color


  • discussed and decided which shape was larger (Yes, that’s my dog’s paw.)


  • built towers


  • made music



Basically we turned this math toy into an everything toy!  In fact, it is so pretty, you could use it as a decoration for your house.  (Kind of.)  Just kidding.  (Kind of.)



And now you have the chance to go win and receive both the Fraction Action Board and a set of Fraction Cups over at guess who’s website?  Mama Jenn!



As a Guidecraft Mom blogger, this product was given to me for review purposes. I do not have to return the product to Guidecraft and I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How to Kiss Starbucks Good-bye

What you are about to read is a collaboration. 

A collaboration  between a coffee addict and her spouse, also known as the Engineer.  This Engineer graciously tolerates aforementioned coffee addict’s quest for the perfect cup and often creates the most amazing cocoa concoctions of a Saturday morning. 

If you are familiar with my writing . . . trust me then . . . you will be able to tell when the Engineer is interjecting.  And I love him for it. 

I receive a lot of questions about my espresso maker (which currently happens to be on sale and has a $20 rebate attached to it, not to mention FREE SHIPPING!).



That little deal . . . is how I purchased my workhorse several months ago.  Sale + Rebate = Deal. 



Some of my friends have already purchased the Retro DeLonghiThey have been saving a lot of money with me.  When you have the DeLonghi . . . your cravings for Starbucks will diminish (and it’s a lot cheaper than rehab). 

You already know that I am a book and toy snob.  Let’s add coffee to the list, too.  We would rather have a hand-crafted java drink passionately created in our own kitchen than a mass produced mocha cranked out by an apathetic bore-ista drone at the Starbucks (or should I (meaning the Engineer} say Fourbucks) around the corner.) 

(Dear Starbucks employee . . . I still appreciate you.  Don’t worry . . . I will visit you when I have my next mommy-blogging hour.  I must admit, I haven’t visited you nearly so much since purchasing my machine. But I also don’t have the ability to come alone so much anymore.  Will you please still serve me a coffee? or tea?)

In my kitchen, I can use raw milk, raw honey, organic Dutch-pressed cocoa, and organic espresso beans . . . all from the comforts of my own home.  I like knowing exactly where the ingredients that I consume come from.  Not to mention I can make my kids some steamers for a special treat as we each spend time with Jesus.  (For ideas on adult quiet times and children's quiet times, click on the provided links). 

I am so attached to my espresso maker, that I may even pack my DeLonghi and take it to Relevant.  What do you think Sarah and Maureen?

So . . . just how do the Engineer and I craft a mocha?  Easy.  Not exactly by the espresso book . . . but we think our way makes a mean brewed concoction.



  • Local, raw honey (preferably)
  • Raw milk (or organic whole milk – the extra cream gives a rich taste)
  • Organic espresso beans (because non-organic espresso beans are heavily sprayed with pesticides)
  • Dutch-pressed cocoa powder (unsweetened)

The Tool Box




Start by making sure your reservoir is filled with water and then turn the machine on to let it warm up. 

Take your espresso beans out of the freezer (which is a no-no by most coffee snob standards), and grind them.  You should only grind what you need.  BUT being the lazy person that I am, I grind several ounces at once and use it for the week. 


Grind the beans until they resemble a fine powder (at least 80% passing a number 200 sieve).  Espresso is meant to be a finer grind than drip coffee.  Know that your coffee will taste better IF it is ground immediately before you make your mocha.  If you leave your ground beans exposed to air, you will find that the coffee will taste stale. 



Fill your espresso basket.  We use the two-cupper, instead of the single serving basket (both came with the machine). This translates to about 2 generous scoops of ground espresso beans. 


Don't press too hard on the tamper attached to your machine, or your coffee will taste burned and lack a robust flavor, not to mention the prized crema on the top of the brewed espresso will be thin. 

You also don’t want to tamp the espresso too lightly or the steam will flow through the beans too quickly and the shot will taste weak. 

How does one know how densely to compact the grounds with the tamper? 


Good question. 

I don’t know.  I have learned by experience and what makes my taste buds happy. 

But if you really want to know . . . visit this coffee website.  If you are an engineer, the espresso should be 85% Standard Proctor at –8% of optimum moisture content placed in a single lift. 

Lock the basket into the espresso maker but don’t brew the dry grounds yet.



Then, you should measure the milk . . . which I never do . . . but for you . . . anything. 



About 3/4 cup of milk needs to be poured into your frothing container, along with a heaping spoon of cocoa and a full spoon of honey. Your milk will double or even triple in volume due to air entrainment from the steam, so don’t overdue the milk. 

I might add that it is recommended that you use {cold} skim or 2% milk.  I disagree as it relates to the fat content.  We are able to obtain great crema from whole milk.  In fact, I often *forget* to shake my milk jug up before creating my morning mocha. 

But you can follow your manual if it suits you better. 



It’s go time.

Turn the dial on your machine to steam.  With the end of the steam nozzle submerged by the milk, fully open the valve for the steam. 

You will notice that the amount of froth (the foamy aerated milk on top of a latte) is inversely proportional to the depth of submergence of the nozzle: the deeper the nozzle, the less foam you get.  So if you are making a true cappuccino (which should consist of about 1/3 froth) you’ll want to leave the nozzle barely submerged the whole time you are frothing. 

For a mocha or latte, we’d suggest doing most of the frothing with the nozzle submerged and then bring it near the surface for the last 10-20 seconds to get the amount of froth to suit your taste.  If you added the cocoa powder and honey before steaming, the steaming process will help to mix the dispersive ingredients so that you end up with a creamy, consistent concoction at the end of the steaming and frothing.  Don’t bother trying to stir the cocoa and honey in before steaming as the milk has to be hot in order to dissolve the cocoa.



You want to bring the milk to a temperature between 140 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit (we prefer the higher end of the spectrum).



Once the milk is to optimum temperature, close the valve and flip the switch to brew mode to fill your patiently waiting demitasse.  As you can see below, we have developed an exact, scientific approach for determining the proper amount of espresso.  We fill my espresso to the top of the yellow tape.  (This is about 1/2 cup of espresso, including crema.)  When the espresso is done, turn the machine to off or to standby if you have an accomplice in your indulgence.



Dump the espresso into the mug.  (I never plan ahead enough to warm my mug . . . but a good barista would.)  Stream the frothy honey-cocoa leche into the mug.  You can use a spoon to hold back the froth and reserve it for the top.



Enjoy your homemade infusion of coffee, milk, and chocolate with your quiet time, on a date night, or with a good friend.



Once you get the process down you’ll see that its not that hard.  A good barista is both an artist and a scientist, so feel free to experiment and vary the recipe based on what works for you.

And let us remind you, we are by no mean experts.  This happens to be how WE make our mochas at home.  We have not been to barista school and only one of us has ever worked in a coffee shop.  But that was in high school . . .

I hope you enjoyed this collaborate effort. 

How do you make your mocha?  Or do you still need to buy an espresso machine

Friday, June 17, 2011

Those Boys

Three times I was asked (in a span of a half hour) if all the children with me were mine.


Yes, they are mine.  I remember well their births.  They. Are. Mine.


The one jumping like a frog in the middle of Trader Joes – he’s mine.  That one who hit you with my rather large collapsible cooler . . . he’s mine.  The short one with all the curls who keeps repeating to you that he is three . . . mine too. 


And this little one (who is in pink) that you thought was a boy . . . she also is mine. 

Typically, the comments don’t stop with, “Are these all yours?”  Nope, people just keep digging their holes.   “Well, you never know.  Boy, you must sure be busy.  Glad you finally got your girl.”



Don’t get me wrong, I am OVER. THE. TOP. EXCITED. ABOUT. HAVING. A. GIRL!!!!

BUT . . . those three little boys are no less important.  And I cringe every time someone says to me, “You finally got your girl.  Poor thing . . . to have all those brothers.”


 Ezra is folding Naomi’s diapers.

To which I reply, “Oh quite the contrary, she is blessed.  Naomi has three boys who protect and defend her.  She is well loved and made to feel special.”

Why do little boys get the bad wrap all the time?  Kind of a rhetorical question.  I know why.  I have three boys. 

DSC_0004Notice how Gabe is tied to Asher’s horse?  Safe.  

I thought that perhaps they were abnormal.  Super energetic.  Maybe even drugged up on honey?

No.  They are boys.  Boys are active.  They jump.  They dare you to challenge their strength.  They gravitate towards danger and chivalry.  They are warriors in training . . . searching for someone to rescue. 


So . . . in short . . . as we enter our second week of praying for our boys, I’m finding that I feel blessed.  Instead of just saying that I am busy blessed, I truly am feeling blessed to have three sons (and one daughter). 

They challenge me.  But they teach me. 

DSC_0001 (Asher just discovered he like to load and unload the dishwasher!)

Wanna share how you have been praying for your sons?  See this original post if you have no clue what I am talking about!

Otherwise, leave a comment with or without a link to your blog post (I was having difficulty getting the link to work).