Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Ones God Gave Me

 Motherhood can be a little strange. Sometimes it feels like I would give my right arm to be alone in my own house for a few hours. Then, if I actually do get out of the house, I find myself thinking about the kids or missing them.

Dave and I will sometimes drive to Starbucks for a coffee and then run into a store and look around. For some odd reason, when we go into one particular store, I feel this melancholy feeling. I suddenly start thinking about the kids as if I haven't seen them in days. It's not a store designed for kids. It's mostly curtains, dishes, and miscellaneous items for your home. So you wouldn't think it would trigger any feeling like that. But I feel sort of sad as I'm walking around. When I get into the car again to leave, I think I may even smile.

I think that even though days as a mom can be so monotonous, they are actually creating our fondest memories. A few months ago I wrote about this on another blog I had, so if you've read this before, please bear with me:)

When our son was little, we never knew when we woke up in the morning if this would be a day that he would end up back in the hospital. It was very stressful living in that environment day in and day out. On the days that he was in the hospital, I would find myself staring out the hospital window, feeling very torn. Of course, I wanted to be with him, but I also had other little ones at home. When we were finally back home again, I found the greatest joy in just washing the dishes and looking out the window of our home at Teen Challenge. The smallest, most mundane tasks were wonderful to me. It's what I call "beautiful monotony".

 We as moms do tend to wipe down the same counters, wash the same loads of laundry, load the dishwasher with the same dishes, pick up the same toys...the list goes on and on. But how wonderful! That means you have a family to care for and little people there that need you. They are the ones God has given you to care for. No one can take your place.

On the terrible day that we took our son, Alex, to the hospital and he did not come home again, I went into his room that I had left just hours before. I stood in front of his closet and looked at his clothes. His clothes still smelled like him. I realized I had been living a lovely life. No, things weren't perfect. If your child's health is not good, then it can never be perfect. But we had our life together - both good times and bad times, all under one roof together. Our time with each other had been a gift.

That's why I encourage you to never take any of your days for granted. I remember what it is like when all your children are small. Take a break when you can, of course. Take a walk or browse around Target, but remember - these days when they are small, or age 12, or age 15, 18, 20, 21 - these days will never come back again. The time to enjoy it is now. These days are the ones God has given you.

I reminded myself of this just this morning as I watched our 12 year old son leave for school. I was fine until I watched him from my kitchen window. I watched as he walked up the sidewalk to the bus stop and then I burst into tears.  Next summer, he won't be 12 years old anymore. That was only for this summer. The way his hair looks right now, his sun tanned skin, his smile, all those things may look slightly different next summer. Next summer, he will be thirteen! There is only one 12th summer.

Too often, I want to hurry something up. I want summer to hurry up, so that it can be my favorite season of fall. But I was reminded this morning not to hurry things up. Because then I am hurrying up their childhood.

These beautiful children are the ones that God has given me and I thank Him so much. I am very, very rich.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Favorite Pioneer Woman Recipe

If you have never heard of The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, then you are in for a treat. She has a website, two cookbooks, and a cooking show on The Food Network. I found her through her website a year or so ago, and have tried several of her recipes. We have loved everything that we have tried thus far such as her Restaurant Style Salsa, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Best Ever Chocolate Sheet Cake recipe, but my favorite is this one.

 Grilled Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Panini

The ingredients she lists are:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts ( I use more because I have a bigger family)
8 whole sundried tomatoes, packed in oil (I found these on the tomato sauce aisle)
3 T. prepared Basil Pesto (I found this near the spaghetti sauce)
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 c. mayo
2 whole red bell peppers
8 whole slies provolone or mozzarella
8 slices good whole grain sandwich bread
4 T. butter, softened

Marinating Chicken in sun dried tomato/pesto mixture

In a blender or food processor, puree the sundried tomatoes, pesto, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add half of this mixture to a large ziplock bag with the chicken breasts. Smush around to coat the chicken, then refrigerate several hours or overnight. After marinating, either grill or cook in heavy skillet til done. Slice chicken into strips. I actually reverse this a bit. I cut up the chicken first, then cook in a skillet until done.

Spread:  In a small bowl, combine mayo and 3 T. of the sundried tomato mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate til needed.

Roasted Red Peppers: In your oven broiler, completely blacken peppers on all sides, then immediately seal in ziplock bag. Allow peppers to sit, sealed, in the bag for 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove from bag and use fingers to slip off the blackened skin. Lop off the top cut in half, then seed and slice into strips.

To Assemble: To make the panini, spread generous amounts of the tomato/pesto spread on one side of all the pieces of bread. On four of the pieces, arrange 1/4 of the chicken slices, 1/4 of the pepper, and two pieces of provolone. Top with the other pieces of bread with the spread face down. Butter both sides and grill in panini maker. ( I do not have a panini maker, so I improvise by putting in a 400 degree oven). Or, she says that you can put in a skillet and place a heavy pan on top of the sandwich as each side browns.

This is the finished product and they are so good! My daughter asks that I only give her half of one as they are so filling. The sun dried tomatoes and pesto give so much flavor.

The Pioneer Woman comes on The Food Network at 9:30 a.m. and her website is  Her recipes are very easy to follow. Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

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