One year with Elijah, a New Kitchen, and a trip to Mexico!

This month has been nutty enough that this poor little blog is pretty neglected lately.  If there is anyone still out there in cyber land who cares about our severely mundane yet odd life here's a little update.

It's been a crazy sort of month.  Reminiscent of last January where we were rushing around getting all the last minute stuff done for our trip to China.

A year ago we were busy dropping off kids and making our way to the airport.  Three days from now will be the "Gotcha" day anniversary.  It's a bit mind blowing to think that after feeling like the process would NEVER end, that it's already been a year since it ended...or began, depends on how you look at it I guess.

On the other hand it feels as if this little guy has been a part of our family for ages.  He has just meshed in so incredibly well.  I don't take that for granted because I know that is not the "norm" with adoption.  Don't get me wrong, we definitely have our challenging moments, but over all he just "fits".

He has made so much progress this year and is getting stronger every day has he continues to recover from surgery.  He lost muscle strength during his time in casts, but he gained SO much.  Straight legs that he can actually balance on!

(one year ago, gotcha day.  He was such a brave little guy)

I really feel like I owe the bit one year anniversary a better blog post than this, but this is all I've got right now.  My creativity, deep thoughts, and wit is hidden beneath thoughts like "my house is torn apart", "we haven't started packing for Mexico!", "Insurance...we need insurance!", and "What's for supper?."

This month my husband took advantage of the slow season on the farm, and a harvest bonus check, to build me a new kitchen.  It's been one of those "someday" sort of projects that I honestly didn't expect to ever happen. We have lived in this house 11 years and have slowly plugged away on little remodel jobs.  It honestly hasn't been top on my list of priorities and any time I begin to feel grumbly about 60 year old grungy cupboards, duct tape holding things together, and drawers that fill with sawdust I remember that my kitchen is pretty snazzy compared to what most of the world uses to prepare food.  It has been more than adequate. Despite my (mostly successful) effort to be content with my kitchen my husband decided he loves me enough to give me something beautiful.

Out with the old.

I happen to be married to a journeyman cabinet maker, which is pretty handy if you need a kitchen built.  He's also super handy at plumbing, wiring, etc.  

It looks amazing now...and is so functional.  I love it! I spend so much time in this room it feels good to be in a space that looks so nice and fresh.

(adaptable =microwaved burritos in the living room)

It was difficult to have the kitchen torn apart for a week though! No sink, no dishwasher, and no stove.  The dining room and living room were also a mess filled with everything that used to be in the kitchen.  It' was nut bar factor 10...but we made it.  It was worth the chaos.

Almost there.  Check out my nice new huge drawers!


All done except the tile backsplash.  We'll tackle that this spring when we get back from Baja.

Both sides of my kitchen match now!
I can hardly believe that it's mine.
My Husband is a rockstar.

I love the new counter top.  I'm so indecisive and it was scary trying to pick a pattern based on tiny samples.  In the end Silas picked this one, and I think he did a great job.  
p.s my kitchen well never again look so uncluttered and clean. 

Now for the next project.
The Hubster dug the trailer out of snow drifts today.  It was a beautiful day, and it was actually warm enough that snow was melting and sticky (+2).

Nothing says "lets go camping!" like snow drifts.

Now to get it packed!
Only a few more days until the calender says we're going to pull out of here and head south.  Of course, what the weather network says may trump the calender but we have a goal to shoot for.

Since this is a meandering sort of post, here are some pics from one year ago..taken in China.

He had this serious look on his face a lot back then.  Now that I really know him, looking back at the pics kind of makes me sad.  He does terrified in a strange way...sometime he even plasters on a goofy smile.  If you didn't know him well you'd maybe even think he was happy.  

It was a good trip though.  We have such great memories from our time in China, and we'd go back there in a heart beat.  

I don't really notice how much he's grown up this year, until I look back at the pictures and see his clothes.  Those jeans barely fit him now and are nearly too short..and that coat just covers his wrists this winter.  He hasn't grown a ton, but he clearly has grown.  His teeth have changed so much this year too. 
Oh my heart, I love this boy.

Speaking of love.
Do you remember these kids?
I cannot wait to see them again.

(these pics were taken by my friend Amber last spring)

These last few pics were taken by Amber a few days ago

I can't believe how much big brother Alvaro has grown up! I really do have a huge soft spot in my heart for this kid.  He's had his "Tia" smitten since the time he was a little boy who colored me a heart picture.

Big sister Minerva is now living about an hour away from the others and has started her own little family.  Looking forward to meeting this sweet baby girl!

We are also planning to spend a good deal of time with this family once again.  They are now directors of Welcome Home Outreach in Baja.  They have been serving with this ministry for about 4 months now and we're excited to see how we can give them a hand and check out what God's doing through them. 

Please pray that our trip down would go smoothly, and that our time there would be used to encourage others in practical ways, and put Jesus' love on display. Also we've run into a bit of mechanical trouble with our van that we hope to have fixed by the time we leave...without too much expense.  I'm also not sure how Elijah will react to this sort of a trip.  Stability, and routine is very important to him so this may throw him off a little.  One benefit of taking the trailer is that we spent a lot of time this past summer camping and he understands the "camping" concept now. As far as he's concerned we're about to go camping in the snow ;)  The trailer should provide some security and continuity for him as we travel at least.  

 Soli Deo Gloria,


Granola Grinder

I don't know why I've never made granola before now.  I guess I just didn't have a tried and true recipe and it never occurred to me to find one.  Maybe I'm just not "crunchy" enough.

We go through a lot of store bought cereal in our house...which translates to a lot of money spent.  Only two of my children and myself enjoy oatmeal and the rest despise it...so the suggestion of porridge for everyone is generally met with groans (or gagging).

We also go through a ton of baking.  Homemade cookies, loaves, and muffins are lucky to last a couple days.

 Breakfasts, snacks, lunch box treats, it's hard to keep the supply up to the demand.  I really needed something that I could whip up in a couple minutes, with minimal effort and mess...but that will actually keep kids satisfied, and provide some nutrition.  We rarely snack on store bought goodies, cookies, or crackers which would be convenient...but once again too much money, too much packaging, and too much unhealthy junk.

Along came a easy, yummy, fast, granola recipe that fills up hungry tummies and has some decent nutritional value.

I've been tweaking the recipe and trying all kinds of new things.  So here it is, my slightly customized granola recipe, that you can feel free to further customize to your tastes. As long as you have the oat/syrup base you can try adding all kinds of other morsels of goodness.

Homemade Granola Cereal:

4 tbsp vegi oil (or coconut oil works great too)
3/4 cup corn syrup (or honey)...I also like to add an extra drizzle of maple syrup
4 cups oats
1/4 pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup coconut
1/4 cup ground flax

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix oats, seeds, flax, coconut, and nuts into a bowl (everything but the dried fruits).  Heat the oil and corn syrup (or honey) in a saucepan over low heat.  Pour syrup over the oat mixture and mix together well.  Place the mixture onto a baking sheet and spread it out.  Bake it in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until it turns a golden brown.  Let the mixture cool for a couple minutes and then pour it back into the bowl.  Add the dried fruit/ and raisins to the mixture and stir well.  After it's completely cool transfer into a storage container, jar, or bag.

Once you get the hang of it, it literally takes a few minutes to prepare.

It makes a great snack, or a hearty breakfast that actually sticks with you for a while.  I buy my oats in enormous bulk bags, so I have plenty on hand.   If you can find the other ingredients for a reasonable price (or bulk) this healthy, homemade treat is much cheaper than boxes full of store bought cereal...and you know exactly what's in it.

I'm planning on stocking up on this before our upcoming road trip to Mexico!!

p.s  two weeks left! (and way too much to get done before we hit the road)

Soli Deo Gloria,



We've been doing some more juicing in my house but this time instead of just a summertime treat, the Hubster and I wanted to try juicing as a meal replacement for a few days.  I know of people, and personally know someone, who did this for weeks (or months) but since this is my husbands first stroll down deprivation lane we thought we'd keep it short.  

We had watched a Netflix documentary a while ago called "sick, fat, and nearly dead".  It's pretty inspiring, and interesting.  It's all about a guy who needs to lose weight, and who goes on a juicing diet.  I'm pretty sure if my husband hadn't watched it, there would have been no way he would have tried a juicing diet. 

Before you get in a snit about a "skinny" girl on a diet....I should clarify that my goal isn't to lose weight, although after a few months of sitting on my duff with a broken leg and a month of Christmas binging the jeans are a little snug.  Even "skinny" girls can benefit from some concentrated nutrition. 

 The main reason I'm juicing is to encourage my husband who has been working to lose weight.  In fact he has lost about 30 lbs in the past several months and wants to lose about 10 more.  The holiday season (and some added late fall stressors) kind of kicked him off the wagon for a bit so with the season of gluttony over with he wanted to hit reset.  

A juice fast for 3 days is that "reset" button.  We're not doing a "fast" in the spiritual sense, just simply on a liquid diet for health and self discipline. 

My husband was raised in a family that revolved around food, and as a result obesity related problems and inconveniences.  

My husbands parents had childhoods filled with a lot of neglect, abuse, deprivation, and abandonment.  This led to the typical emotional and physiological issues that result from those things.  One being food issues.  Irrational fear of hunger, food addiction, and food hoarding.   My mother-in-law struggled with extreme obesity, and major health issues her entire adult life.  The emotional and psychological damage from her painful childhood was deep, toxic, and was mostly hidden from the outside world but one outward symptom was her food addiction. 

Many adoptive and foster parents have witnessed this type of behavior in their children who came from traumatic pasts.  Food issues are very common and when the underlying hurts are left untreated it creates an ongoing master/slave relationship to food.

That is the legacy that was past onto my husband and his 5 siblings.  They learned by example.
It's been hard cycle to break, and involves a heart deep reorienting.

Our goal was three days of juicing and we're now at the tail end of that.  My husband just announced he's going for another day.  I'm so proud of my husband, who has never missed a meal in his life, for taking on this challenge.  It hasn't been easy for him but I think it's been a good starting place for some healthier eating.  

After a few days of nothing but liquid, a big salad seems like a feast and a fruit and yogurt smoothie a delicious treat. 

I actually really enjoy the juice, and much to his surprise so does the Hubster.  He's commented quite a few times how good it is.     Maybe that's just his hunger and survival mechanisms kicking in though.  As soon as I start prepping the fruits and vegi's the kids all come swarming too.  It's been a bit annoying because everyone wants to "help", and then everyone wants to drink our juice.  I try to make extra so everyone gets a taste....but that takes a lot of produce. 
That's part of the reason we're doing three days.  We live too far from a grocery store and have too many mouths.

Cece loves fresh juice.  I'm glad because it's great for her immune system, and because she's a pretty picky eater. 

For those who are curious this was our kickstart a healthy month "diet" plan.

Smoothie (we aren't juice purists and I wanted to keep some protein in our diet)
milk, yogurt, frozen berries, banana, protein powder, a few drops of flax seed oil, chia seeds 
(which are high in protein, omega 3, fiber, and iron) 

We also cut out the coffee (which is a biggie for us).

big glass of juice.

big glass of juice

Lots and lots of various tea throughout the day. 

Our juicing arsenal consists of Granny Smith apples, pineapple, oranges, carrots, cucumber, kale, beets (a little goes a long way with those), lemon (which cuts the bitterness of the greens).   I also like to use a little fresh ginger but I forgot to buy it.  

The main challenge for me was making and serving three full meals (plus snacks) to five hungry kids while also preparing the juice for us adults. 

Sometimes our houses need a de-clutter and deep cleaning.  I kind of feel like a juice fast for a few days does that for my body.  I am glad to be done now though...
my body feels great, and I have a lot of energy despite fighting off a cold, but my mind and stomach are screaming "Nachos stat!"

Another not so noble reason for our healthy eating month  in January, is that by February we'll be gorging ourselves on Mexican food in Baja!  Gotta make room for all those tacos.