Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ode to Siblings

Lorelei and Gryffin have always been close. They created their own Sibling Day this month, and celebrated each other with donuts. And at school recently, they each had a special poetry reading in which both kids decided to write poems for one another (this wasn't planned together - they simply both thought of honoring each other).

Parents afterward remarked about their bond, and even their classmates asked for their secret to being so close. I really don't know; they've always been best friends. Sure, they get in little tiffs once in a while. But most of the time, they cooperate, share and champion one another. And as an only child, it's been a joy to behold this incredible love (like tonight, when they were doing a duet mime, with Lorelei pulling Gryffin up the stairs with an invisible rope, heaving and tugging with wild theatrics and laughter on both ends).

Lorelei's poem:
My Brother
He is very kind and sweet, and the best brother you'll ever meet,
He always has a smile, bright, when my day is dark, he is my light.
When I am sad, he always finds a way to make me glad.
He is always there for me,
Especially when I hurt my knee.
He is also very funny,
I love my brother, and he loves me.

Gryffin's poem:
Really nice
Ever caring
Lucky I have her
I love Lorelei

Afterward, we pulled the kids out of school for lunch dates. Lulu chose Chick-Fil-A.

And Gryffy chose Zaxby's.

World's most darling siblings. :)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mark's Chicken Pot Pie

Since we had leftover chicken from yesterday's Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup, Lorelei requested another family favorite, Mark's Chicken Pot Pie. It's a staple dish throughout the cold months, but tastes good any time of year.

And the cast iron skillet goes from this... this, lickety split.
Chicken Pot Pie
1 chicken breast, chopped into cubes (from Sam's Club rotisserie chicken)
2 T olive oil
1 c frozen peas & carrot combo
1 c frozen pearl onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T flour
1 1/2 c chicken stock (low-sodium)
1 c heavy cream
pre-made pie crust

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a 10" cast iron skillet, saute vegetables in oil until onions are tender, approximately 4-5 min. Add garlic, saute 1 more minute. Stir in flour. Add chicken stock, simmer for 10 min, stirring occasionally until thickened. Add cream and chicken. Place pie crust over the top of the pan, sealing the edges. Brush top with beaten egg and cut small slits in top of crust to vent. Bake 20 minutes.
(And be careful, the pan handle is hot!)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup

Lorelei had a sore throat today and requested homemade chicken noodle soup for dinner. I've never written the recipe down - I usually just throw ingredients together - but tonight's combination of flavors hit the spot, so I'm recording the recipe here for future reference. Lorelei devoured it.
Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup
Rotisserie chicken breast, chopped into small cubes (I get ours at Sam's Club and save the rest of the meat for another recipe)
48 oz. low sodium chicken broth
1 small onion, chopped
1 c celery, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped
1 pkg. oriental ramen noodles
2 T butter
pepper to taste
sprig of parsley (optional)

In large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in onion, celery and carrots; saute until onion is clear. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer about 20-30 minutes or until carrots soften.

Spend said 20-30 minutes constructively, like painting your front door a shocking coral-red to match your hanging dala horse.

Break up ramen noodles; add noodles, chicken and 1/4 oriental ramen seasoning packet. Add pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls, garnish with fresh parsley from the herb garden, gather your people, and enjoy!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter 2017

It's Easter, the day when we remember that Christ was resurrected from death to life. This Easter has been hard, because we've lost someone very dear to our hearts. And amidst all the celebrations and traditions, we've had the true meaning of this holy day etched into our hearts and minds: death does not have the final say. 
On Thursday night, I visited the Little Brothers and Sisters of the Lamb (the hitchhiking monks I took to lunch once, who are now my friends) and kept vigil with them from 10:30pm-3am, recounting the events of Jesus' last night in the Garden of Gethsemani, up until his arrest. In my heart, I was also keeping vigil with family far away, as our loved one's life was slipping away. I just knew I had to be in a place of prayer, and it deeply settled my soul. Some photos from that beautiful evening, along with a candlelit procession around a bonfire at 2:30 in the morning.

The rest of Holy Week was less somber. We did our traditional Passover seder, and this year our neighbors joined us, last-minute. The kids helped to set everything up. It's our favorite tradition.

A rose, red for Christ's blood, with thorns for his crown.
This was a special treat this year, because on Monday I had attended a traditional Jewish Passover seder. Ours was a much smaller version, but the experience rekindled the wonderful memories from Monday night.
In our family seder, we recount the days of Holy Week, from Palm Sunday to Christ's Resurrection.
We keep some traditional elements from the Hebrew seder, but then switch up others. It's thick with meaning and the kids look forward to the seder all year long. (They talk about it all the time.)
We make Resurrection Rolls (croissants with a marshmallow and spices that disappear when baked, like Jesus' body from the empty tomb).
Then we open the festivities with palm fronds waving.
Everyone takes turns leading each day, reading Bible verses and sharing its rich symbolism - we tear a napkin to show the temple veil rent in two, and wash one another's hands to recall Pontius Pilate.
Love this tradition so much, especially when shared with friends! (They all said they're coming back next year.) :)
For church, we split our time between two. I went to Resurrection Downtown at the gorgeous Kauffman Center, and heard a deeply meaningful message from Pastor Adam about death and loss that was so timely, given the loss of our dear friend yesterday.
Gotta love that on-screen plug for my class, Live and Let Think!
And the kids wanted to watch Mark play the keys in the band, so we went as a family to Life.Church. Good thing it's practically next door, because a spring broke on our garage door, so the kids and I had to walk to church. 
My hubby's so talented. See him there on keys? (As he was putting away his keyboard after the service, I caught a glimpse of another band mate bowing to him in honor - ha!) It was such a great message, too, about how we need the trial for the testimony, the struggle for the story worth telling.
Next came the traditions the kids were begging for - hunting Easter eggs and following a trail of string to their Easter buckets, chock-full of swimsuits and beach towels and other goodies.
Here they go!

Easter Buckets!
And this year, the kids set up a special Easter egg hunt for Mom & Dad. They stuffed the eggs and even created a prize egg with a "hang out" certificate. Mark won, so he gets to "hang out" with the kids in lawn chairs, chillin' in the front yard.
Happy Resurrection Day! He is risen, indeed!

Missing Tom

Easter is a time when we remember that Jesus triumphed over the grave. This year's Holy Week has been especially poignant, as my old neighbor and my dad's best friend, Tom, passed away on Holy Saturday. I love Tom like a second dad, and words can't describe how much I'll miss him. I'm comforted knowing that my dad was the first to greet Tom in heaven.
We love you, Tom, Laura, Sam, TJ & family!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Neighborhood Egg Hunt

Our annual Neighborhood Egg Hunt was this Sunday, and every holiday like this reminds me of how blessed we are to live in a community that plans so many fun activities for kids. Our cul-de-crew all walked together to the park along the trail for the festivities.
Shannan and I represented in our cul-de-crew tees. And Tony and Mark sported the new neon shoes they got for hiking the mountains of Vail this summer on our upcoming neighbor vacation (Mark's were a gift for his birthday from the kids and me.)

Everyone gathered around the egged park and then set off!
Love this awesome cul-de-crew.
And especially my two great loves.

Life's greatest joy is being their mom! (I think I hatched some pretty awesome kids.)