Thursday, June 27, 2013

What Alice Forgot

I just can't seem to forget about Alice.

She's a friend of mine.

Sort of.

I mean, I think she and I would be friends.

That is, if we'd ever met one another.

Which we can never really do, exactly, because...

Alice lives in Australia and mostly because...

Alice isn't real.

She seems real to me though, because she's the main character in one of the most wonderful books I've read this year. I finished reading What Alice Forgot way back in April and I'm still thinking about Alice and her family.

From the back cover:
Alice love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, Nick, and pregnant with their first child. So imagine Alice's surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (she HATES the gym!) and is whisked off to the hospital, where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over:  She is actually thirty-nine years old, has three kids, and is getting divorced.
That knock on her head has misplaced ten years. Now Alice must piece together the events of the lost decade and find out if it's possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She needs to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her and how it is that she's become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse--and how to start over... 
What Alice Forgot kept popping up in my sights last summer and when Tsh Oxenrider of listed it as one of her favorite books, I added it to my "To Be Read in 2013" list. I thought that it was going to be a fun, light read with a playful tone and on the surface it was until it became an out-loud-snicker-inducer and then ole Alice and her life and it's pitfalls and ponderings became very real to me. It turned out to be a very funny, very thoughtfully written, perfect for summer, perspective setting book and I think everyone or maybe every woman or at least every mother should have a go at it.

I handed Alice to a friend the day after I'd finished reading it because I needed to talk about it with someone and because I knew she'd like it as much as I did.

After beginning the book my friend texted "There are some bad words in this book." And there are, but not many, and they are for the purpose of establishing the characters in the early pages of the book...but do be forewarned. My friend said she'd just hold her ears when she read over the offending language which I thought that was a super idea.

A couple of days later, I was thinking about Alice and her family and I began wondering just how things were going for them just now and naturally, I reached for the phone and then laughed. I'd been about to text my friend and ask her how Alice was getting along, figuring of course, that my friend would know since she now possessed the book.

It's that good.

"Alice's journey of reconciling herself to how her life came to be what it is, and her slowly building understanding of how the threads of her marriage began to unravel, is moving, well-paced, and thoroughly pleasurable." ~ Publishers Weekly

"You won't be able to put this fun read down...It's about everything that matters: family, friends, marriage--and did I mention it's really funny?" ~Woman's World

Happy Reading!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Out-the-Door Quesadillas

Dinner in a hurry was the order of business tonight at The Wright Place. We'd been out most of the afternoon gathering VBS games gear and some household necessities and we screeched into the garage with an hour and a half before VBS was to begin. No left overs in the fridge and hungry kids were circling. An hour later we were seated around the kitchen island eating and chatting and learning our memory verses for VBS...we always like to wait until the last minute to cram food and Scripture into our bodies before church...good for digestion.

Our dinner-in-a-hurry was chicken quesadillas. A paired down version of the full-on taco night we celebrate almost weekly.  There was a time when, quite honestly, we were quesadilla-ed out. I made them every other day for lunch one winter, or so it seemed and since then I just couldn't get jazzed about a half circle of meat and cheese and tortilla.

Desperate times though...AND I found a way to jazz things up just a bit...cilantro sour cream sauce!

Quesadilla Ingredients:
{printable recipe here}
8 large flour tortillas
2 cups cheese (your choice, we used cheddar), divided
2 chicken breasts
1 12 oz. bag frozen corn or about 2 cups fresh (more or less to your liking)
taco sauce (optional...Molly and I do NOT add this to ours, everyone else does)

How to get out the door quickly:

Put a skillet on the burner and let it get good and hot. If the chicken breasts are frozen you can add them straight from the freezer and what a sizzle they make. If they are not frozen, like my chicken was, reduce the cooking time a little.  Cook for about 4 minutes on each side to get that golden brown color and the yummy grilled flavor adding salt and pepper to each side as they cook. Then one at a time, pull the chicken from the skillet and slice each piece into half inch strips which will still be pink in the middle, add it back to the skillet to finish cooking until there is no pink left, but while chicken is still juicy.

Remove the chicken to a plate and to the same hot skillet add fresh or frozen corn. Stir the corn about so it cooks evenly and maybe even browns a bit.

While the corn is cooking, tear or cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and place the cheese in an easy-to-reach-into dish. Also uncap the taco sauce. You are going appreciate having everything handy for the next part.

On a hot griddle or in the hot skillet you cooked the chicken and corn in, place one flour tortilla on half of that add 1/4 cup cheese (more or less to your liking) add to the top of the cheese add a hefty sprinkle of the chicken and then about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of corn. If you want, drizzle with taco sauce and fold the empty half of the tortilla shell over the food-covered half.

Allow that to cook for a minute or two, peeking inside to check if the cheese has melted then gently turn the quesadilla over to crisp the other side for one to two minutes. Remove to a plate and cut into four wedges with a serrated knife.

Repeat process with the remaining 7 tortilla shells adding or removing ingredients as your family's tastes dictate. Serve with cilantro sour cream (recipe below) or just plain ole sour cream and a pile of salsa if you're feeling really fancy.

There are approximately seven thousand variations on the quesadilla theme you can create. Some of our past favorites have even included squash! No kidding, but I'm certain that meal was a Daddy's Gone Dinner if ever there was one!

Other options include chicken with barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese, black beans and cheese and green onions, left over pork chops and rice, rice and beans and peppers...and so forth. Basically, you need melted cheese, meat or beans, and something to add a pop of flavor like grilled corn or chopped onion or red pepper. Your options are limitless.

An easy meal that fills busy bellies AND gets you to Bible School on time! Hope you enjoy.

Cilantro Sour Cream Sauce
Ingredients: {printable recipe here}
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped green scallion
1 tablespoon buttermilk (or regular milk)

Mix all ingredients together and serve with quesadillas, burritos, on salad, over tomatoes and's so very wonderful!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

It's today...

Today was full of...

...our sweet Thursday girl,

...transport to Theater Camp,

{Meg, second from left, in last year's production of Hansel & Gretel. This year's production is Pinocchio!}

...a picnic dinner

{tortilla shells, green leaf lettuce, chipped ham, carrot peels, cucumber peels, honey mustard dressing, dried cranberries and shredded cheese. Fold in sides and roll from bottom. Fits perfectly in a sandwich baggie. Best when chilled a bit before eating.}

...and dessert

{Chia Power Balls!  No-bake goodness! Here is the recipe.}

... an evening at the ball field

{A win for Kate's team! 16-2 in the first round of tournaments!}

...and good nights with stories and snuggles.

“What day is it?"
It's today," squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day," said Pooh.” 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

To Grill A Peach...

It was way too early in the season for peaches, but there they were, grinning at me from their bin at the produce store. They were small, and I vowed to forsake them if they were as hard and unripe as I expected them to be but they were not...the flesh yielded to a gentle poke in a way that hinted at ripeness and so, into the bag they dropped.

Once home they lingered in the fruit basket for a while as I couldn't decide just what to do with them. I hadn't purchased quite enough for a cobbler or a pie, we'd already made muffins for the week, scones...I wasn't in the scone making zone so...they waited.

Until...after church last Sunday when the girls and I in an effort to stay occupied until our men returned from their mission trip decided to venture into some of our favorite territory which Molly has named, "The Turfff". The Turfff lies perfectly situated between our favorite Barnes & Noble and a huge R.E.I. store and a Panera Bread which boasts umbrella covered tables on its front porch.

Our family has spent MANY an hour relaxing and resting after killer bookstore shopping sessions on The Turfff while sipping fruit flavored tea from Panera. Sunday was no different, except that we were missing our men AND except that because I'd driven, I'd forgotten to take a book to enjoy while the girls played AND except that we'd forgotten to bring a ball for the girls to play with. Other than that, things were EXACTLY the same.

Happily, a book and a ball were purchased with ease and Turfff time was thoroughly enjoyed.

We decided against eating dinner out, choosing to save our nickels and dimes for other endeavors and Kate decided a cookout on our porch was in order and single-handedly made the thirteen trips from kitchen to porch to make our little al fresco meal happen. I tossed some burgers together and looked about quickly for something sweet to fit our evening's outdoor theme.

Those peaches waiting patiently in the fruit basket would be just the thing. Here's what we did with them.

What you'll need:

Peaches, halved and pitted
1/4 c butter, melted
Whipped cream, Cool Whip or Homemade
1/4-1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Here's what to do:
Brush peaches with butter on both sides.

With tongs, place peaches cut side down on a hot grill.

 (Just before you are finished eating your hot dogs or burgers.) Grill peaches for 4-5 minutes on each side with the grill lid closed.

While the peaches are grilling or completely ahead of time for that matter, add the almond extract to the whipped cream stirring gently. Even if you are not a huge fan of almond, I think you should give this a try because that almond flavor goes so wonderfully with the peaches and the cream.

After the peaches have been grilled on both sides, carefully remove them to serving places and, before they have a chance to cool, top them with generous spoonfuls of the almond flavored whipped cream.

The grilled peaches were the perfect ending of our day. 

Our men were far away, we missed them more than a little, and our peaches were not fully ripened...


we played on The Turfff, we cooked out on the porch, and we had dessert topped with whipped cream which was not the only thing about our evening that boasted a comforting sweetness.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Glimpse from Far Away

Instead of waxing poetic about absence making the heart grow fonder and all with my Man and my Boy still out of the country, I was all prepared to post about an easy peach dessert that the girls and I enjoyed tonight, but I've got something way more exciting...a video of my Man and my Boy from ... well, out of the country!!

Earlier this evening a friend who's daughter is on the mission trip texted...

I know that you, dear reader, may not be nearly as over-the-moon thrilled about this 6 minute video as I am but could you possibly indulge a mamma who misses her men? 

The up close picture of Cole that my friend was talking about is somewhere in the middle of the video  {at 3:50} and it really is a good one...I might have taken a screen shot of it...

...and maybe I took one more, cause really...

There's so much more on the video. It's happy and uplifting and you'll want to see me. 
{You'll also want to see it because, Cole isn't the ONLY one in the joking!! There are beautiful children and workers and patients and some very interesting dental clinic shots that will probably make your feet sweat a little...}

How about that! I bet you'll be grinning all day... I sure will be!

“We owe Christ to the world--to the least person and to the greatest person, to the richest person and to the poorest person, to the best person and to the worst person. We are in debt to the nations.” 
― David PlattRadical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Meg and Me

Today finds my men on their way to a village in Honduras to participate in our church's first foreign mission adventure. Today also finds my little girls at Darrin's parent's enjoying many adventures of their own.

And today Meg and I are home with just each other for the second day of some of the most special moments I've had the privilege to spend in some time. I remember hearing a friend, who's family welcomed their fourth child years before ours did, say that one of the most difficult things about having a large family was the challenge of spending enough time with each child. He couldn't have been more right!

It is a daily struggle for my Man and I to eek out a few moments of conversation about the very basics of our family's schedule, let alone those deep conversations that are necessary to maintain a connection necessary for a growing marriage!

To spend time with the kids one-on-one is a luxury neither of us gets very often. That Meg and I get to spend four days together is just about too much to imagine.

We began our first morning together taking turns reading The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas to one another chapter by chapter. Since posting a picture of the book on Instagram, we've gotten a clue or two that this book has the potential to break our hearts, but the voice of the narrator, is too engaging to abandon. So we read on, chapter by chapter.

After knocking off 4 chapters of our book, we went inside and watched The Princess Bride which Meg had never seen and which I'd only seen in my youth. 

I can't wait to show it to our whole gang, first because it was hilarious and wonderful and second because our 4 am Mission Team send-off caught up with me and I missed about half of the movie! 

For dinner, which was early because we totally forgot to eat lunch, we tried a new recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow's new cookbook involving anchovies, olives, capers, tuna and pasta which was delicious but which the rest of our gang would not have enjoyed. Win/win!

We spent some time at the neighborhood coffee shop...

...and headed home to watch another movie.
I've not seen this one for ages and Meg has never seen it. It was a favorite of my family's when my sisters and I were young. Meg and I watched the first half before the sleepy set in, so the rest of it awaits us today!

This morning has been mostly spent on the porch with a quick break for Meg's piano lesson and then a joint blogging session. 

{to read Meg's Blog, iMeg click here}

I'm pretty sure she was blogging...but could it be that she was searching for more mission trips to keep my Man and Cole occupied and the little girls farmed out? One really never knows!! 

What I do know is that this time Meg and I are getting to spend together is such a rare gift for which I am supremely grateful!

A daughter is the happy memories of the past, 
the joyful moments of the present, 
and the hope and promise of the future. 
~Author Unknown

Monday, June 3, 2013

10 Things to Remember Son...{and one more for your Dad}

Thirteen years ago my Man went on a mission trip to Honduras. I stayed home to take care of Cole who would be celebrating his first birthday a few weeks after Darrin returned and because I was 7 months pregnant with Megan. Tomorrow my Man leaves for his third trip to Honduras and this time he's taking the Boy with him. I'm thrilled for both of them and I'm a smidge worried about all of the traveling and about the possible primitive conditions and what if he gets sick or lost or says something funny and I miss it, and what if he just gets sad and misses his mamma {he is only 14 after all}? 

To help with that last concern, tucked snugly into a pocket of his bag is a note with some last minute instructions which probably says something like...

Dear Son, 
I trust this finds you looking toward the adventure that awaits you. When I was about your age, I went on a mission trip with my Dad too. Our trip was to a Hopi Indian reservation in Arizona. Aunt Becky was with us and the trip was 2 weeks long. It was such a long time to be away from home, BUT it was a huge learning and growing opportunity too. I'm so glad you are getting this opportunity. 
All these years later I remember a few things I learned while on mission: 
1.Be aware of your surroundings. For safety's sake, of course, but also so that you don't miss seeing, hearing, doing, or experiencing that other part of the world you are visiting. 
2.Things don't always go as planned and when they don't it's NOT the end of the world - just make the best of it. (You are already VERY good at this.) 
3.Poppy says, "Family First" - What this means for you is to treat your Dad with all kinds of respect. He's the real deal, he's also in a leadership role on your trip (and in life:-) which makes him super easy to pick on in front of others. Resist the urge. Sometimes people love to laugh at a leader - don't make it easy for them. Please have fun and laugh lots, just not at another's expense, you are traveling with your faith family and they deserve respect too! 

4.Be a good team member - go the extra mile. Like when you take out the trash when no one tells you to just because you see that it needs doing. Colossians 3:17 "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." In other words, work like Pappaw and give God glory. 
5.Be a loyal friend - it's the very way to have loyal friends. Use "building up words" when you have a chance. Do it sincerely, no false flattery from you, but when you see something praise-worthy take note! 
6.Look people in the eyes when you are being spoken to OR when you are speaking to them. It pays honor to the other party in the conversation THIS IS IMPORTANT. 

7.You are probably going to see some things that will break your heart. It will be important to talk to Dad or another team member about it. Don't be embarrassed to talk about such things with others~chances are, their hearts will be broken by the same things as well. 
8.PLEASE write faithfully in your journal about everything: what it feels like to be traveling with 30 people from your church family, what do you expect to find in this foreign country, how are you adjusting to the climate, what has the weather been like, what odd thing have you seen that you've never even thought about before, how are your friends faring on mission, what's it like to travel with your Dad, what did you do today that was awful, what was wonderful, what made you laugh, who is funnier than you expected, is God teaching you something...write it all down...when you are 40, you'll be so glad you did. 

9.Be kind to those in charge of feeding you. In my's one of the most challenging jobs in any country. Don't bite the hands that feed you, as the saying goes. It's a saying for a reason! Food prep for a large group is usually a thankless and tireless job and it is to be well appreciated.On the topic of food, remind your Dad to bring me back that Honduran vanilla that makes all of our cookies and muffins so much better.  

10.Remember whose you are. First of all,you belong to Christ...act like the Christian you are. Second, you are privileged to be growing up in a church family that loves you and has watched you grow for the last 10 years. Don't forget that you are no longer just a kid being cared for by your church family but are crossing the threshold on the other side of which you are an active, contributing member of that loving, nurturing church body. Serve them well. Third, you are a wonderful mixture of two dynamic loving families who are also cheering you on in this adventure. These same two families have poured their lives into watching you grow and mature into the boy you are now and into the man you are becoming...honor your family with your actions. Fourth, you are a child of two people who have a ridiculously high expectation that you should be a perfect young man on this trip. Your Dad and I are sorry about those expectations but your best...We'll love you no matter what...probably. Finally, you are your very own person...act out of respect to the young man God has made and has blessed and has given this opportunity.

In my Man's luggage there may or may not be a note that says something like this...

Dear Man,
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE bring my son home safely.

Your Wife

PS Have a nice trip.
PPS PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't forget to bring back the vanilla!

Honduras Mission Team Commissioning Service 

{If you have a moment this week, please pray for these wonderful missionaries and their families and the people whom they will be serving in Honduras...many thanks!}

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