Life in Lape Haven

Archive - August 2015

Better than a Fairy Tale

Life in Lape Haven: Better than a Fairy Tale - Mom on the rock

Once upon a time, a 13-year-old girl walked into the high school band room after a football game, searching for her older brother. Little did she know that that night would change her life, for that night she would meet a friend of her brother’s, a guy who was immediately taken with her and would one day be her husband.

At first meeting, however, he did not appear to her to be Prince Charming. She actually considered him more of a frog than a prince, and over the next year or so, that’s how it remained. However, at some point, she softened toward the skinny, shy guy, and they began dating.

By the time she was 16, they both knew that God had brought them together. In fact, at a revival meeting, the pastor called them forward and joined their hands, confirming what they had both already felt. Their lives had intersected, and now their paths would merge into one.

Life in Lape Haven: Better than a Fairy Tale - Cindy and Jerry on his graduation day

However, all was not well in their kingdom. While this girl loved her prince, she loved her God more and served Him wholeheartedly as she had done since childhood. She began to sense that her prince, while truly loving God, was placing her in the position that could only be filled by the Most High.

With an aching heart, she let him go and broke up with him, so that he might solidify his relationship with God. She knew that she could not trust him with her heart until his was completely God’s.

After a few months of separation, the Holy Spirit brought them back together, stronger and more founded in Him. And yet, their troubles were not over.

Being young as they were, not all were supportive of their plans to marry once the girl graduated high school. Her father was among them. This was probably due in part to the fact that her prince had proclaimed arrogantly that once they married, he intended to be a missionary in Africa and take his bride with him. Thankfully, that was NOT God’s plan for them.

Despite hardships and heartache, the girl planned her wedding, made her dress and veil, and decorated the church, and God guided them to their wedding day, where the two became one.

Now while most fairy tales would end here, quite prettily tied up with a sparkly bow and declare, “And they all lived happily ever after,” this was not the end of the story for the girl and her prince, but rather the barely-beginning.

The beginning was important, though, because the next few years, and the years after that, and the years following those, would all require the same confidence and trust in God’s plan, the same determination to keep Him as the center of their relationship, the same willingness to be honest with and accountable to each other.

Life In Lape Haven: Better than a Fairy Tale - A love story in reality that has brought my parents to their 40th anniversary. Wedding picture

That barely-beginning belonged to my parents, Jerry and Cindy, who are now celebrating 40 years of marriage. Forty years that have included better and worse, richer and poorer, and sickness and health, but also always included having, holding, loving, and cherishing. During those forty years, they have lived in five different states (and various cities within those states); worked many jobs; served in ministry in some way pretty much constantly, often ministering together (My father has been in music ministry, a youth minister, a home group leader, an elder, and a pastor, with my mother right there beside him all the way); and raised four children, adored nine grandchildren (8 grandsons and a granddaughter by marriage), and welcomed one great-granddaughter.

Some might look at their lives and say it has been nowhere near a fairy tale, and they would be right.

Fairy tales aren’t reality. What fairy tale do you know that actually goes beyond the wild, exciting, romantic first year of meeting (and that’s being generous…most fairy tale princesses are married within a few months or even days of meeting their prince) and the big, beautiful, perfect wedding? Do any ever show the actual marriage??? No. Because while married life is wonderful, lovely, and blissful, it is also about self-sacrifice, commitment, hard work, giving, and forgiving. (My mother says, “Without forgiveness, we would not have made it 40 years.”)

And yet, what is truly more beautiful? A story that ends with the couple riding off in a grand carriage, accompanied by rice-throwing mice and ribbon-draping songbirds, but never shows them triumphing through struggle, growing together, or giving more of him/herself daily for their spouse?

Or one that tells it all? Where the couple honeymoons in a fishing cabin with no running water (true story – my mom is a saint!), where they share years of laughter and tears, arguing and making-up, where they experience the joy and frustration of raising a family, and where every day, they rely on God through it all and He comes through every time.

I’ll take the “tell it all” version any day because it’s real. It’s life. And it’s the story I’ve read in my parents throughout all of their “happily ever after.”

Life in Lape Haven: Better than a Fairy Tale - Jerry and Cindy in 2014.

 

Happy anniversary, Mom & Dad! Thank you for living a beautiful example of all God created marriage to be. I love you both!

 

Tried It Tuesday: Kings Island Blue Ice Cream Copycat Recipe

Life in Lape Haven: Tried It Tuesday - Kings Island Blue Ice Cream Copycat Recipe

Every year the company that Brad works for rewards their employees with tickets for them and their families to different special events. When we were first engaged, in fact the day after we got engaged, we had passes to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio (the BEST amusement park EVER). I spent the day staring at my ring, getting used to the feel of it, and answering congratulatory texts from friends and family while waiting in line to face down some epic roller coasters (Millennium Force, anyone?)

Over the next few years, we got to pick between either Cedar Point or Kings Island (since both parks are owned by the same company. When Elijah was a little over two, we decided to use our tickets for a family day and introduce him to one of the parks. Since Kings Island was closer to home, and since we knew we’d be in the kiddie area all day (Planet Snoopy features all the Peanuts characters, and Elijah has ALWAYS loved Charlie Brown), we headed to Cincinnatti for a little getaway. We spent the morning at the park, then checked into a hotel in the afternoon so that our little guy could get a good nap before we went back to Kings Island for the evening. The next morning, after time in the pool, we headed home, taking our time and finding a few other adventures along the way.

It became an instant tradition for our family, and when Josiah was all of four months old, he enjoyed the sights and sounds of Kings Island from his stroller or being snuggled up to mommy in his carrier.

Then last year, Brad’s company changed plans, hosting their employee outings at the zoo instead. It was still a great event, but Elijah missed our tradition.

So this year, we made sure to set aside a day to visit Kings Island. Elijah even saved up his birthday money to pay for his own ticket because he REALLY wanted to go (and we were trying to teach him that if you spend a dollar here and a dollar there, you don’t get to do anything big with it).

Having grown up in Ohio, I remember going to Kings Island when I was about Elijah’s age, and it was something special to see my little guys smiling at the fountains at the entrance and leaning way back to look up at the Eiffel Tower. With two boys big enough to enjoy the park, or at least their portion of the park, we knew it would be a wonderful day.

And it was…even when it stormed. And it did, as in thunder and lightning and downpours stormed. After hanging out in a gift shop until the rain let up, we wandered out to see what rides were open. That was when I noticed the blue ice cream.

Even though I’d been to Kings Island often in my lifetime, I’d never paid any attention to the blue ice cream sold in the park. However, a few days before this year’s trip, someone mentioned it on Facebook. So when I saw it, I was curious. What does blue ice cream taste like? Why are there so many people in line for it? Have I been missing out on something all these years???

I had to know. I suggested we have some ice cream while we waited for the rides to dry off. Hubby requires very little coaxing about that kind of thing, so that’s what we did.

One bite, and the long lines made sense: Creamy and sweet with a subtle blueberry flavor. Yum!

We were all pleasantly surprised and immediately hooked, and it was declared that blue ice cream would become part of our Kings Island tradition from that day forward.

Only I didn’t want to wait until next year, so a few days after our trip, I was on Pinterest, looking for a copycat recipe for Kings Island’s blue ice cream, or blueberry ice cream, or Smurf ice cream (The blue ice cream was originally created in 1982, when the kiddie area was all Hanna-Barbera, and they introduced a Smurf ride – That was my favorite ride when I was a little girl).

However, if someone has a copycat recipe for this blue ice cream, they aren’t sharing it. After Pinterest, I tried Google. The only thing I learned was that there is a small ice cream shop near Cincinnatti that buys the same mix that Kings Island uses, and they serve it year-round. Nice for them, but no recipe for me.

I went back to Pinterest and pulled the recipes for any blue ice cream I could find, even though none of them said anything about Kings Island. One did mention Smurf ice cream and used raspberry extract, so that’s the one I tried.

In case you’re wondering, here’s a link to the ice cream maker that we use. (It is an affiliate link which means that at no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission when you purchase something through the link.) —> ICE CREAM MAKER

 

The first time around I followed the recipe exactly and was rewarded with a blue ice cream that tasted like Froot Loops milk. Boo. The boys liked it, but eh…not me. The lemon oil really takes over.

The second time around I left out the lemon completely, hoping that the raspberry would shine through more but still be subtle.

Now, since it’s been a few weeks since we’ve had the original ice cream at the park, it’s hard to say for exactly sure that it’s a 100% copy of that ice cream, but it was close enough and tasty enough that my household was happy. This recipe will definitely work for us to satisfy those blue ice cream cravings until we can get back to the park next summer.

Note: If I weren’t making this to show others that it tastes like the blue ice cream at Kings Island, I would not have added any blue food coloring. It really isn’t necessary. Also, I might play around with how much raspberry extract I add the next time I make it. I’m just wondering how a little more would taste…

If blue ice cream isn’t your thing, you can always check out my recipe for homemade Vanilla Ice Cream, too. 🙂

 

Kings Island Blue Ice Cream Copycat Recipe

Yield: 1 quart

Kings Island Blue Ice Cream Copycat Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 1 teaspoon Raspberry Extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Blue Food Coloring (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolks. Add 1/4 cup Sugar. Whisk together and set aside. (I put mine right by the stove, so it's close when I need it)
  2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together cream, milk, and remaining sugar. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbles begin to form along the edge of the pan. (I use a candy thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature. You don't want to boil the cream or overheat the mixture. I tend to stay around 150-160 degrees, just to be safe.)
  3. Remove the cream from the heat.
  4. A spoonful at a time, add the hot cream to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. You are tempering the eggs, bringing them up to temperature slowly. If you add the cream without whisking, you risk scrambled eggs in your ice cream. Not good. Tip: I put a towel under the egg bowl to keep it still while I'm whisking with one hand and ladling with the other.
  5. Once you have added at least half of the cream to the eggs, then whisk the egg mixture into the remaining cream and return the saucepan to the heat.
  6. Heat over medium-low, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to about 170 to 175 degrees. The mixture will coat the back of your spoon, and if you draw your finger through it, it will leave a distinct trail. Do not overheat the mixture, or you'll end up with thick custard.
  7. Pour mixture into a metal bowl and whisk in the pudding mix until combined.
  8. Whisk in the raspberry and vanilla extracts and food coloring, if using, and mix thoroughly. (You can use as much or as little food coloring to get the color you prefer. Since you use yellow yolks, the initial addition of the blue coloring will produce a more greenish blue. It still tastes yummy).
  9. Place bowl into an ice bath (a larger bowl filled with ice and water).
  10. Let mixture cool for a while (the recipe said an hour, but I did less).
  11. Pour mixture through a strainer into a bowl or dish with a lid. Straining will get out any accidental little bits of scrambled egg. (It happens sometimes.)
  12. Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to overnight.
  13. Churn the chilled custard according to your ice maker's instructions.
  14. Transfer ice cream to a bowl or container that holds at least 1 quart (I always just use the same glass bowl that I refrigerated it in). Cover and freeze for at least 3 hours to fully set to serve. (Or if you like it more "soft serve," or you're as impatient as we are, you can enjoy it earlier.)
http://lifeinlapehaven.com/2015/08/25/tried-it-tuesday-kings-island-blue-ice-cream-copycat-recipe/

 

Making Grandma’s Lime Pickles

Growing up, family gatherings at my maternal grandparents’ farm were always packed-house events with plenty of love, laughter, food, and volleyball (it’s kind of our family sport).

Grandpa and Grandma raised five children in their three-bedroom, one-bath home, and with addition of spouses and grandchildren (which numbered 14 when I was young teen), dinner time meant a main table in the kitchen and a kids’ table in the utility room (when there were just 6 to 8 of us grandkids) and/or in the living room. It also meant that you wanted to get in line for food before the older grandsons. Thankfully Grandma made sure she always had plenty of her most coveted homemade offerings: mashed potatoes, green beans, yeast rolls, and a type of sweet and tangy pickle that my Great-Grandma Leora (Grandpa’s mother) use to make, called “lime pickles.”

I cannot remember a single “everybody’s here” family dinner where we didn’t have all three of those items on the menu. After church on Sunday, they were there. Every Christmastime, they were there. Easter, there. Birthdays, there. Always, there.

As I got older, I helped out in the kitchen prep for some of those meals, so I learned how to make mashed potatoes, green beans, and yeast rolls just like my grandma. I was only missing one part of that nostalgic culinary quartet. Even though I’ve opened countless jars of her pickles over the years, filling bowls and setting them on the table, it wasn’t until last week that I finally had the chance to learn how to make my grandma’s (and great-grandma’s) lime pickles.

Having never canned anything ever, I admit that I was a little intimidated by the idea. But Grandma was, as she always is, remarkably encouraging and patient, “Honey, if I can do it, you can it.”

Since making lime pickles requires a 24-hour soaking of the sliced cucumbers in the lime solution, Grandma had done all the prep work the day before, bless her heart. She sliced the cucumbers from her garden and ones I’d sent down to her from ours, and she mixed up the lime solution and put the slices in the mix to soak.

As we started the process of transferring the soaked cucumbers slices to the sink for a good rinsing off, Grandma gave me a little history on this recipe. She learned how to make lime pickles from her mother-in-law, my Great-Grandma Leora. (I’d always figured it was something passed down to her from her own mother).

The first time she went to help Great-Grandma make the pickles, Grandma realized that Leora was using lime, as in calcium hydroxide. She asked her mother-in-law, “Are you sure?” All Grandma knew about lime was that it was something that they dumped a cup of down their “backhouse” (outhouse) every so often, to keep the outhouse from smelling. Great-Grandma assured her that lime was what they needed to use.

Leora got her lime at the feed supply store back in the day, but we used a package of “pickling lime” from the grocery store. The pickling lime helps to maintain the “crunchiness” of the cucumber, but since it is alkaline, it can neutralize the acidity in your pickles, leading to sickness, if you don’t rinse them thoroughly enough. We rinsed ours in four changes of water in the sink, until the water was clear.

Life in Lape Haven: Making Grandma's Lime Pickles

Once the cucumber slices were rinsed well, they got to sit in a clean bath of rinse water for a few hours, during which time Josiah (who was with me) and I got to share lunch with my grandparents and just visit. Any meal at my grandparents includes “visiting,” that time after everyone’s finished eating, but no one gets up from the table because you’re sharing and talking and laughing together. It’s almost sacred time, and there have been so many visiting sessions that I wish I could have recorded so that I would have my grandpa’s stories and silly jokes and Grandma’s laughter and comments to share with my children for years to come.

Three hours later, the lunch dishes were cleared from the table, Josiah was off to explore with his great-grandpa, and Grandma and I were ready to get to pickling. She had the canning jars cleaned and waiting in the oven, and she set the temperature to 200° to sterilize them as we cooked the cucumbers on the stove. Also on the stove, she had the jar lids and rings in a pan with water (about ¾ of the way full). Once they came to a near boil, she turned the burner down to a low simmer. Grandma explained that lowering the temperature kept the lids’ seals from sticking together.

Following Great-Grandma Leora’s recipe, we mixed up the brine in a large stock pot and created a “bag” of all the spices. (Grandma used an old kitchen washcloth, cut off a strip to tie it up, and then cut off the excess. You could use cheesecloth or a clean linen cloth.) Once the brine was stirred well and the bag of spices tossed in to float around, we filled the pot with our rinsed cucumbers slices. We actually had so many cucumbers that we had to make extra brine and spices to have enough to come up close to the top of the pot.

Setting the heat to medium-high and stirring occasionally, it was just a matter of time (about 15 minutes) before the first few slices started to become clear or translucent, meaning they were ready to go into a jar. Using a slotted spoon and a funnel, I ladled the first few slices into a waiting, very warm jar fresh from the oven. Once I’d found enough “clear” pickles to fill about half of the jar, Grandma used a towel to hold and cover the top of the jar, giving it a good shake or three, before allowing me to continue to fill it. When the pickle reached almost to the top of the jar, and after another good shake to make sure we couldn’t fit any more in, Grandma used a ladle and tiny strainer to add brine to the jar, filling it up to just where the neck of the jar starts. She gave the mouth of the jar a good wiping off and then using tongs, I carefully place a lid on the top, followed by screwing on the ring. (Note from my first experience: Don’t leave the tongs too close to the small pan on simmer. Metal gets warm there.)

With the jar filled, lidded, and ringed, we set it aside on the counter to begin cooling. (I was quite proud of the first jar.) Then it was on to Jar Number Two. By the time the cucumbers had been cooking for about 30 minutes, all of them were clear and ready to be canned, so Grandma and I worked out a good system of me filling a jar halfway, and then while she shook it down, I worked to fill a second jar. We went back and forth between them until one was filled, brined, sealed, and set on the counter to cool. Then we pulled new jar from the oven.

Life in Lape Haven: Making Grandma's Lime Pickles

We took turns spooning the pickles out of the brine because the hot vinegar in it can be potent and stings the eyes. However, while we worked, we talked and enjoyed our time together. I would ask her questions about making the pickles, and she would try to answer, but she laughed and told me, “I’ve never taught anyone how to make them. But I’ve made them enough that I should be able to tell someone how to do it!”

At the end of the day, we had 12 jars (10 of pickles and 2 of pickle brine), which we split between us since, as my grandma explained, she’d used mostly my cucumbers while she had supplied the items for the brine. (I would have been happy with just learning…and maybe one jar of pickles) Grandma said they were ready to enjoy as soon as they’d cooled, or the next day, or a couple of years later (as long as they aren’t soft and don’t smell or taste funny). She also instructed me to remove the rings from the jars in the next day or two. Apparently my grandpa had once left some rings on and found out how hard it can be to remove them after they’ve been screwed on so tightly for a few years. He said, “You might need a crowbar.”

As we sat at the kitchen table, listening for the jar lids to “pop,” signaling that the jars had cooled enough and sealed properly, she shared some additional family recipes with me, including recipes from my great-great grandmas, both of my maternal great-grandmas, and even one from a great-great aunt. I definitely plan to try them out and share them with you some time. These recipes, like the one for my Great-Grandma Leora’s Lime Pickles, are part of my inheritance, and they are something I will share with my children throughout the years. Maybe someday I’ll get to teach them to my own grandchildren.

Life in Lape Haven: Making Grandma's Lime Pickles

It might sound silly to some, but I felt so privileged to be able to learn from my grandma how to make her pickles. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, and I know I have cousins who would have loved to have shared the experience, too. Grandpa told me later that my grandma had been “really looking forward to doing this with you.” It almost made me cry. It made my day to know that it was important and special to her, too. Setting aside this time to allow my grandma to pass on her knowledge, recipes, and stories brought us both tremendous joy and beautiful new memories to cherish together…oh, and five jars of lime pickles each.

 

Great-Grandma Leora's Lime Pickles

Great-Grandma Leora's Lime Pickles

Homemade sweet and tangy lime pickles from my great-grandma's recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 large Cucumbers
  • 2 cups Pickling Lime
  • 2 gallons Water
  • 2 quarts Vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons Salt
  • 10 cups Sugar
    For the Bag of Spices
  • 1 Tablespoon Pickling Spice
  • 1 teaspoon Celery Seed
  • 1 teaspoon Whole Cloves

Instructions

  1. Clean cucumbers well. Don't peel.
  2. Slice cucumbers about 1/4 inch thick.
  3. Mix pickling lime with 2 gallons of water in a large, non-reactive pot. (My grandma uses a large crock).
  4. Soak cucumber slices in the lime water for 24 hours.
  5. Thoroughly rinse cucumber slices in clean cold water in at least 3 changes of water until the water is clear. It is very important to rinse the lime completely off the cucumbers. Leaving lime on them will neutralize the acidity of your pickles and could lead to sickness.
  6. After a final rinse, soak the cucumbers for 3 hours in a fresh bath of cold water.
  7. Clean and dry your canning jars. Make sure there are no chips along the mouth of the jar as it will affect the seal.
  8. Place the jars, mouth up (easier to grab), in the oven. Set the oven to 200 degrees.
  9. Place the canning jar lids and rings in a small pan. Fill about 3/4 full with water. Bring to near boiling then reduce the heat to low. (Boiling the water can cause the lid seals to stick together.)
  10. In a large, non-reactive stock pot, mix your brine solution: vinegar, salt, and sugar.
  11. Into a cooking sachet, piece of cheesecloth, or clean washcloth (that's what my grandma uses), add your pickling spice, celery seed, and whole cloves. Tie off the end of your "spice bag."
  12. Add the spice bag to the brine.
  13. Add the cucumbers to the brine. Brine should come up to cover most of the cucumbers, but the cucumbers will cook down so they don't all have to be covered.
  14. Cook cucumbers over medium-high heat until the slices start to become clear. The cucumbers will go from a bright cucumber green to a darker pickle green as the white inside becomes translucent or clear. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking. Depending on the size of your pot, it may take about 30 minutes for all the slices to cook through. However, slices will start to be clear after a 15 minutes, and you can start to fill your jars then.
  15. Use an oven mitt or towel to remove a hot, sterilized jar from the oven.
  16. Place a funnel over the mouth of the jar, and using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked pickles to the jar. Shake the jar occasionally to help the pickles settle.
  17. Once the jar is full of pickles, place a small strainer over the mouth of the jar and ladle brine into the jar, filling it to just where the neck of the jar starts. (The strainer will help keep excess seeds out of the brine).
  18. Wipe the mouth of the jar with a clean cloth.
  19. Using tongs, carefully select a lid from the small pan and place it on the jar. Add a ring, and using a towel or oven mitt to hold it, tighten the ring onto the jar.
  20. Set jar aside to cool. Continue filling jars until all the pickles are canned. You can save the brine also.
  21. Jar lids will "pop" as the jar cools, sealing your jar. Don't push on the top of the lids as you are sealing them or while they are cooling, as this can affect the seal.
  22. Pickles are ready to be eaten after 24 hours.
  23. Make sure you remove the canning rings from the jars within a day or two. Also, you may need to wipe of the jars once they have cooled as the brine is VERY sticky.
http://lifeinlapehaven.com/2015/08/24/making-grandmas-lime-pickles/

 

Honing My Mommy Skills

Life in Lape Haven: Honing My Mommy Skills

On Sunday, I earned a small feather in my “mothering” cap, a little mental badge of “Way to Go, Mommy!” There was a moment Sunday when I was not only surviving, but I was dominating this adventure of parenthood. It felt pretty great.

We were getting ready for church (and not running late, which is another WIN!). I was in the bathroom, finishing my hair and makeup. Brad was checking the diaper bag and helping our boys get their shoes on the right feet.

Suddenly, I heard Josiah half-crying, half-yelling, with a slight edge of panic in his voice.

And I KNEW. I knew with 100 percent certainty what was going on. I knew this cry. Somehow, I just knew exactly what it meant.

“Brad?” I yelled to the kitchen. “Brad, Josiah is stuck in something. What is he stuck in?”

Then I heard Brad, who hadn’t replied to or acknowledged me, ask Josiah, “How did you do that?”

Again, I yelled to the kitchen. “Is he stuck in something?”

Apparently Brad finally heard me over Josiah’s complaints. “Yes. He got his finger stuck.”

I smiled at myself in the mirror, feeling rather impressed with my mother “skills.” I had called it. I knew his “I’m stuck” cry-whimper. It was like leveling-up in my “mommyness”!

When you bring home your newborn baby, you feel like such a “parent” when you finally start to differentiate your baby’s cries for when he’s hungry, tired, or needs changed. You get to know his reactions to everything: you know which toys he loves, what food he’ll eat, what food he’ll throw over the side, and which people will make him cry just by talking to him.

However, lately, I’ve been fine-tuning my “mother’s sixth sense,” that instinct that makes our kids believe that we have eyes in the back of our head, that certain awareness for knowing exactly what your child is doing without having to be right beside him.

I’ve learned the sound of the refrigerator being opened. I know when they’re being TOO quiet (pretty much ANY TIME one or both boys are quiet and not sleeping). I can tell from something in their laughter that they are wrestling and one of them is sitting, standing, or lying on top of the other one (Do you know how often I say, “Get off of him!” in a single day?).

Now, I wish I could say it’s just because I’m awesome that I can tell Josiah’s “I’m stuck” cry-whimper from his “I’m just faking this” cry, but that’s not it.

And it’s not just because I have to, although it does help to prevent certain disasters when I can anticipate or at least catch them doing some things BEFORE they do it.

It’s actually really simple. It’s because I know Josiah. I know Elijah. After spending nearly every single day of their lives with them, including their time in utero, I know my children very, very well.

As I looked at myself in the mirror, feeling excited with my “momtasticness” (I don’t know if that’s a word, but I like it), God dropped a verse in my heart.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.” (Psalm 34:17)

The Bible tells us that when we call out to God, He will answer us and help us, but I’d never really thought about the fact that, just like other parents, God knows what each of our cries mean. He can tell OUR “I’m stuck” cry-whimper from our “I’m just faking this” cry. (Hmmm…)

He hears, and He delivers us from our troubles.

God knows what we need because He knows us (also because He’s God). And while I’ve only been a mother for a little over 5 years, God has been a Father for quite a bit longer. He’s got this parenting thing perfected. He’s known us from before we were born, before we were even conceived, and He knows not only our past, but God has already written out His plans for our future. (Psalm 139:13-16, Jeremiah 29:11).

So while I felt pretty “parenting level: expert” on Sunday morning, as much as I love my boys, pay attention to their intricacies and quirks, and can anticipate to the second when a meltdown is going to hit, God reminded me that my skills are just a drop in the bucket compared to how capable, equipped, and on-it He is when it comes to caring for His children.

Embracing the Moments of “Mommy Sadness”

Life in Lape Haven: Embracing the Moments of Mom Sadness

He held my hand tightly as we walked into the school. Neither of us knew where anything was or where we were supposed to be, but we were on this adventure together: Kindergarten Open House.

How was it that my little guy was big enough to be preparing for kindergarten? (I still remember clearly when I was in kindergarten!) Sitting beside him at a table in his soon-to-be cafeteria while we waited for the parent meeting to start, I felt my heart squeeze tightly, as though it were trying desperately to hold on to this moment, this second in time.

He still seems so little.

Then he nestled closer to me, laying his head against my arm, making my heart tighten further. I blinked back tears when he smiled sweetly up at me.

I thought about what my sister-in-law had said when I asked my friends and family for advice in facing these weeks of transition, “Remember to try to enjoy the moment in your mommy sadness, too.”

Looking at Elijah’s excited little face, seeing the hints of nervousness in his eyes, in his fidgeting, in the solid grip he had on my arm, and the complete trust overwhelming it all, knowing that Mommy was right there with him, I knew I was in that very moment, the double-edged sword of parenthood.

What other experience in life is as bittersweet as watching this precious child, whom you love more than anything, grow, become independent, and flourish as their own person?

There is so much joy and pride in seeing their discoveries, accomplishments, and individual triumphs, mixed with the heartbreaking awareness of how quickly time is passing and how briefly we get to hold so closely these most beautiful gifts of God.

It’s so hard to stand there, slowly letting go, watching them step out from your constant protection and comfort (even knowing that God is with them), and seeing them face potential disappointment or hurt in a fallen world.Life in Lape Haven: Embracing the Moments of Mom Sadness - First day of Kindergarten

While we often say, “This, too, shall pass,” as encouragement on those long, draining days of temper tantrums, potty training, and our every request being questioned, it’s these moments of “mommy sadness” that remind us that those giggly morning snuggles, that tiny hand clinging to yours, the wide-eyed fascination in simply studying a nighttime sky also fall into the category of “This, too, shall pass.”

So there I sat, my wiggly kindergartener anxious to meet his teacher, see his classroom, find his desk, and meet some other children. He was ready for this next chapter, eager to embrace it.

I knew he wouldn’t understand my “mommy sadness.”

None of us do when we’re the kindergartener (I love you, Mom!).

But as the mommy, I held it close, not to wallow in my own pity party, but to revel in the beauty of such an opportunity to love so soul-wrenchingly deeply.

What a gorgeous glimmer of God, dropped right into our hearts!Life in Lape Haven: Embracing the Moments of Mom Sadness - Mommy and Elijah on the First day of Kindergarten

The “mommy sadness” is a result of loving my child. And I’m choosing to embrace it. I could tuck it away, brush it off, or distract myself. With two busy boys, a house to clean, dinner to make, and a new book on my Kindle, I have plenty of ways to ignore my heart.

Amazon.com – Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices

However, I’d rather it challenge and encourage me to cherish each and every minute with my boys, to be present and attentive to truly hear what their little voices are saying, to be quicker to drop housework or outside distractions to play with them, and to love them even more soul-wrenchingly deeply.

Embracing that “mommy sadness” allows me to enjoy the moments more fully because it shows me the true value in that moment.

Today, he held my hand tightly as we walked up to the school. He knew where everything was and exactly where he was supposed to be, and we were ready to embrace this adventure together: Kindergarten.

Life in Lape Haven: Embracing the Moments of Mom Sadness - Heading in to school

Update: If you’d like to know how our adventure in Kindergarten was, check out my look back on the year: Trusting God Through Kindergarten.

 

RELATED POSTS:

Why Our Child Goes to Public School

For Such A Time As This: Placing Our Children’s Future in God’s Hands

Elijah and the Bully


Zucchini Pizza in a Pot

Life in Lape Haven: Tried It Tuesday - Zucchini Pizza in a Pot

I love having a garden. Being able to go outside and pick what you’ll have for dinner is awesome and so fun. However, when everything comes on at once, it can be tricky to eat it all up before it goes bad.

This year, hubby, our boys, and I planted a small garden with cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, and yellow summer squash. Our zucchini and summer squash plants were initially feeding the local rabbits, but once we blocked the plants off with chicken wire, we’ve managed to harvest a few vegetables from each plant.

My parents’ garden, however, has flourished with zucchini and squash, so with all that they’ve grown and our own garden’s contribution, we have quite a bit to use up between us.

Life in Lape Haven: Tried It Tuesday - Zucchini Pizza in a Pot

For my family, the go-to recipe for zucchini and/or squash has been zucchini pizzas. (In case you don’t know, zucchini pizzas are made by slicing the zucchini into thick rounds or cutting it in half as “boats” or planks, then topping it with pizza sauce, pepperoni, cheese, and whatever other pizza toppings you want, and baking it.) It’s so yummy, and it gets my guys to eat their veggies.

Well, at least two of my three guys will eat their zucchini or squash. Josiah, who’s 2, just pulls off the toppings and eats those, leaving the sad little zucchini “crust” all alone on his plate.

So last week, as I stared down at a zucchini and squash that needed to be cooked, I had an idea and decided to try it out.

Since there wasn’t enough there to make zucchini pizzas for everyone, I decided to slice them both very thinly then cook it in a pot, adding the sauce and pizza toppings at the end to create the flavors of zucchini pizza, but all mixed together. I hoped this would serve two purposes: it would stretch what I had to work with and maybe, just maybe, Josiah would eat it better.

It was super quick and easy to throw together, and the end result was tasty, just like zucchini pizza, only saucier, which my guys loved.

My experiment worked, at least on one count. It definitely made enough to feed us all. Josiah, however, was not convinced. He actually sat there and picked the toppings out, bit by bit, leaving strips of zucchini and squash behind. *Sigh*

Brad and Elijah loved it, so it has become a new go-to zucchini recipe for us. Since I know we’re not the only ones with an over-abundance of zucchini and squash right now, I thought I’d share my little thrown-together, quick and easy, one-pot meal recipe with you all.

Life in Lape Haven: Tried It Tuesday - Zucchini Pizza in a Pot

Just a note: Feel free to tweak the ingredients to your family’s liking. If I were making this just for myself, I’d use less sauce (maybe even half as much), but my guys love some pasta sauce. (Ours is almost a zucchini pizza soup. Haha) You can add more or less pepperoni and cheese and add whatever other pizza toppings you have on hand.

If you try it out, let me know how it goes over with your crew and if you were able to sneak it past any picky eaters with better luck than I had!

Zucchini Pizza in a Pot

Ingredients

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 medium yellow summer squash
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 (24) ounce jar of Pasta Sauce
  • 2 cups Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1/2 cups diced Pepperoni
  • Pinch of Salt

Instructions

  1. Clean zucchini and squash, then cut off the ends of each one.
  2. Slice zucchini and squash thinly (I used a mandolin, which makes it much faster and more consistent.)
  3. In a large saucepan, add the water and salt. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add the sliced zucchini and squash.
  5. Cover and cook, 6 minutes, or until the zucchini and squash are just tender. Stir it occasionally and be careful not to overcook.
  6. Drain, trying to get as much water out as you can.
  7. Return the zucchini and squash to the pot, and add in the pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni.
  8. Stir gently to combine. If needed, return to the heat for a minute or two, stirring constantly, to allow the cheese to melt.
  9. Serve immediately.
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