Saturday, October 24, 2009

Krazy Cake (Balls)

Thanks to my sister, the incredible internet information finder, I am now crazy about making cake balls. She sent me the link to an article about them. Did you know people write articles about cake? In that article was a link to a baking site called Bakerella. Go there and be amazed. No matter how hard I try, my baking will never look that pretty.

So I began to make cake balls. First, I made a strawberry cake mix and added cream cheese frosting. Those were okay. But I realized I am kind of a cake snob. I don’t like cake from a box. I tried using two family famous recipes and came up with my own version.

I started by making a Kraze Cake. This recipe is from my Grandma, my own personal Betty Crocker. It’s “Krazy” because it doesn’t have any eggs.

Krazy Cake ( Do not grease pan)

3 cups of flour

2 cups of sugar

1/3 cup of cocoa

2 tsp. soda

1 tsp. salt

3/4 cup salad oil

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups of water

Sift all dry ingredients together. Make 3 wells in the flour mixture and put vinegar in one, salad oil in another, and vanilla in the last hole. It looks a little like a creepy mask.

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Pour water over all and mix with a fork or wooden spoon. Do not beat, but be sure it’s well mixed. Bake in a 9x13 pan at 350 for 30 – 35 minutes.

Let the cake cool and break it up.

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Add my mother-in-laws peanut butter frosting recipe. This is doubled because I didn’t think it made as much as a can of frosting.

4 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons vanilla

6 tablespoons peanut butter

4 cups powdered sugar

Beat ingredients and add one tablespoon of milk at a time until you get the consistency you want. I think I added 6.

(By the way, for vanilla frosting, omit peanut butter. For chocolate frosting, add 6 Tablespoons of cocoa.)

Add the frosting into the broken up cake. This part is fun to help with.

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Mix it up with your hands.

Roll into balls.

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Freeze for a while. Then dip in almond bark.

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It makes a lot of cake balls. A lot. And if your husband doesn’t like them because they are too chocolatey, start packing them up in the little tins you bought at the dollar spot that you didn’t know what to do with. Tie some Raffia on them and give them away while pretending to be Martha Stewart.

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Some of Abby’s friends tried them at school and asked if we could have them at cheerleading. Since I’m already caving to all 2nd grade girl demands I figured I could grant this request too.

They are pretty fun to make and it doesn’t actually take that long but it will mess up your entire kitchen. It is not as big of a mess as when your crockpot full of soup overturns in your trunk on the way home from a potluck. Now that’s messy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cheerleader Training

From time to time our school has a mini-cheerleading camp where the high school cheerleaders teach the elementary girls cheers for a week . After the camp, the little girls get to cheer at a pep fest and a varsity game. They get a T-shirt. This is one of the great things about a K-12 school and is a very, very big deal to my girls. They love it. This fall they had to cancel it because we had no varsity football team in our town.

Apparently, my Abby has decided to take over. I was informed last night by another parent that she announced this to the whole class. She came home yesterday and spent all afternoon feverishly making these.

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Page 1: I’m having cheerleading on M, T, W, TH, or F and the time is after school. I will get the food set up.

Page 2: Things You Need: Sweat pants, soft shoes and you need to clean your hands. I have cleaning stuff for cleaning hands. (The school has done an excellent job teaching good hand washing.)

I was never a cheerleader but Abby says she is going to teach it all by herself in her room. When I was at school today, at least five of her little classmates asked me if they was invited to cheerleading. I assured each one of them IF we did it, they would definitely be invited. And there will be cake balls, more on that tomorrow.

What can I say now? I guess I’ll just have to get my sweat pants and soft shoes out along with my hand sanitizer and get ready for a party!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

So It’s You That They See

I try to teach my kids to go the extra mile in kindness. I hope they will be friends with the one no one wants to be friends with, tell the truth when it could get them in trouble, stay back to help someone when you’d rather run ahead, work hard when they’d rather goof off. It’s a message that doesn’t have a place in our world. We are supposed to work hard to be all that we can be, whatever it takes to get ahead. Only do good things when someone is watching or it will benefit you.

If they are doing all those things just to be “good”, they are going to get quickly frustrated because it’s hard. They will get hurt. They will feel left behind. Jesus wants us to be humble and put others first. It’s a tough lesson to learn. I know because I keep having to learn it over and over again! How many times am I going to have to learn humility? Apparently a lot.

There’s a story in the Bible about this. It’s in Luke 14:7-11.

When he[Jesus] noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable. When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do no take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

I was kind of hurting today. I thought I’d try to escape by going on some errands with the girls which is about as good of an escape as jumping into a pit of quick sand. I was hurting because sometimes I try to take the best seat, the place of honor. Handing that seat out isn’t my job, it’s God’s. The thing is that I don’t want to be humble. It doesn’t feel good. I want to look good and have it all together and meet people’s needs and raise good kids. Why? So people will like me, think I’m a good parent and wonder how I have it all together with five kids.

When I’m doing things for the wrong reasons it leaves me feeling forgotten, frustrated, hurt and sad. Why am I doing the stuff I’m doing? Is it for the right reason?

The ultimate reason for anything I do should be to lift Jesus up. He is great, not me. He has the answers, not me. Doing things for selfish gain leaves me flat and cold. It can be frustrating to feel like you don’t get the recognition you deserve. It can be hard to watch someone else come in and sweep away your hard work.

But God’s way is not my selfish, prideful way.

Luke 6:35-36

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Matthew 18:4

Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.

And you know what? It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if I’m not recognized. Not if I am doing things for the Lord. Not for recognition, money, or to get ahead. It’s all about Him and for His glory. Is it still hard? Definitely. As I realize my need for praise from people I don’t need to look far to hear love from God. He knows. He cares.

Luke 12:7

Indeed, the very hairs of you head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Psalm 32:10

Many are the woes of the wicked,

but the Lord’s unfailing love

surrounds the man who trusts in him.

When I’m humble, he is exalted. When I’m weak, He is strong. When I’m tired, He carries me. That hurt and frustration send me right to humbleness and I land at the feet of Jesus. I’ve got to do things for Him, no one else. When I do, I’ll never be disappointed because He loves me and is my only audience.

Hopefully I’m close to learning this lesson. Hopefully my kids will learn it younger and better than I.

Some sports players have rituals they do before big games. They might wear a certain shirt or pound the wall or listen to music. My new ritual for the big game of everyday needs to be to listen to this song. The version I have is sung by Michael W. Smith which makes it extra awesome.

Be Lifted High

by Leeland Moorling

Sin and its ways grow old,

all of my heart turns to stone.

And I’m left with no strength to arise,

I need to be lifted high.

Sin and its ways lead to pain,

left here with hurt and with shame.

So no longer will I leave Your side,

Jesus, You be lifted high.

You be lifted high,

You be lifted high,

You be lifted high in my life, oh God.

And I fall to my knees so it’s You that they see, not I,

Jesus, You be lifted high.

And even now that I’m inside Your hands.

help me not to grow prideful again,

Don’t let me forsake sacrifice,

Jesus You be lifted high.

And if I’m blessed with the riches of kings

how could I ever think that it was me?

For you brought me from darkness to light,

Jesus, You be lifted high.

Philippians 2:3

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Don’t Want to be That Mom

As we were clamoring out of our van this morning at the library, there was another woman getting her perfectly coiffed boy and girl out of her new SUV.  She was telling them not to step in the puddles and fixing the girls skirt and the boys hair.  She did not look happy.  It was raining and some people don’t have a naturally chipper look so I shrugged it off.


When we got into Storytime she sat along the back wall away from where the kids were. She looked miserable the whole time.  While the other moms and kids were interacting and playing, she sat there and looked annoyed.  When everyone was coloring, she sat and played on her cell phone.  When the kids wanted to get got books, she begrudgingly got her stuff and followed them.


I don’t know this woman and maybe she was just having a bad day.  I do know this:  she has delightful children.  They had a great time listening to stories and rolling the Mother Goose Cube and coloring.  I’m glad she didn’t dampen their experience.  I hope it’s not because that’s how she is all the time. 


I don’t want to be that woman, mom or dad (HT:Kevin!)  A mom who is more worried about outward appearance than experience, a mom that would rather sit and pout than enjoy something fun with the kids, a mom that is cranky and irritated with everything, a mom that takes her kids somewhere fun because it’s the right thing to do.


If I got that from our brief encounter, what do you think her kids are getting from her?  That she’d rather be anywhere else than with them?  That she wants them to look perfect?  That her phone is more important than spending time with them?


I am not usually that mom in public.  I’m too much of a people pleaser to do that!  I found myself striking up a conversation with the young mom next to me.  I can’t help myself and I find it highly  irritating (and the woman may have too!) There are times though that I’m sure people have thought the same of me.  Why did this crabby woman have all these children?


I am however that mom at home, a lot.  I am cranky and wish I was elsewhere.  I stay busy with stuff so I can’t play and interact.  There is stuff that must get done, but FaceBook?  Even though I may be that mom in the privacy on my home, the most important One sees me and so do my kids.  Oh, I don’t want to be that mom. 


Just this afternoon the girls were happily piling all the clothes from their drawers into brown paper bags.  I was less than thrilled.  I had just cleaned up all the clothes.  I told them to put them all back.  They obeyed but their faces were devastated.  I remembered that mom and told them they could play if they helped me clean up later. 


I want to laugh and play with my kids.  I want to make messes with them.  I don’t want to be that mom in the corner feeling put out by having to do something with them.


I’m kind of glad I met that mom today.  It showed me exactly what I don’t want to do.  Next time I feel annoyed or irritated I’m going to remember…THAT Mom!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Reading Season

Do you get the itch to read when the weather gets colder?  My kids are great readers and they put me to shame.  If I wasn’t busy 24 hours a day doing their laundry and making their food and cleaning up their messes, I might be able to keep up with them. 

I’m linking up with my new blog friend Jenilee at My Awake Journey today.  I just “met” her this morning and I like her already.  I guess I’m also going to link to the books because that seems like the right thing to do.  I like seeing book covers. 


I just finished reading:

Holiness: The Heart God Purifies by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Rumors of Another World by Philip Yancey.


I am currently reading:

Paul:  A Man of Grace and Grit by Charles Swindoll.  It’s part of his Great Lives From God’s Word Series.  I read David and Esther from that series a few years ago.  Growing up my parents bookshelves were lined with Swindoll books.  His writing is warm and personal and it feels like he’s talking to you over coffee.

After studying 1 and 2 Corinthians last year I wanted to learn more about Paul and piece together the time line of all his writing.  I would not have to do this if I had paid more attention in my Bible classes at college.  My husband is just about to start preaching on the book of Acts so maybe I’ll finally get it!


I am currently reading to my daughters:

By The Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I never read these books as a child.  I didn’t like old-fashioned stories.  Jenna and I started reading them a few years ago and then she took over on her own. I went all crazy and read about 8 biographies on Laura Ingalls.  If you’ve only watched the TV show, you’re missing out.

Last summer we went to Walnut Grove and DeSmet and saw where Laura lived.  And this weekend we saw the Little House on the Prairie Musical.  Who doesn’t  love Little House?  Tonight I was actually fighting back tears while I was reading, lame I know.


Next up on my list:

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.  I’m not sure I’m going to like this but I’m not going to let my ten year old son beat me out.  He breezed through the whole series in no time and loved them.  I’ve been told to start with The Hobbit so that’s what I’m going to do.

Prayer Does It Make Any Difference by Phillip Yancey.  He is my favorite author these days!


All this talk about books has me ready to crank up the fireplace and settle in!  What are you reading?  I’d really love some good kids book suggestions.

Varying Values

I’ve never been very good at math. When I was in High School I called the college I was going to and asked them how much math I needed to get in and took exactly that much. I struggled through Algebra II. So now I am going to attempt to make a table full of values, fortunately there are no numbers involved.

When we were at camp last weekend, I had the chance to sit in on one of my husband’s sessions thanks to the amazing kids program that had my kids busy clowning around and one crying herself to sleep out of fear.

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We were talking about values and he had everyone make a list of what their values were pre-deployment, during deployment and post-deployment. It was really interesting to listen to them as they shared the shift in perspective they experienced.

While everyone was writing, I decided to do my own values list based on my experiences pre-motherhood, during motherhood and post-motherhood. I know I will never truly be post-motherhood, I was thinking empty nest phase.

I already realize that my values have changed from my early years of parenting to now and I know they’ll continue to change. I’m guessing on the post-mommy list since I’m not there yet. Maybe someone has perspective on that? Why does it feel like we don't get the wisdom we need until it's too late?

Pre-Mommy Active Mommy Post-Mommy ?
Education (mine) Physical Safety Immediate Family
Looks: physical and to how I look to others Money: for giving kids stuff and ease of living, nice house Relationships: more about who I am than what I do or look like
Prestige: Money, Car, Job Education (kids) -
school, lessons, sports, religious
Extended Family Extended Family
Friends Prestige: How kids dress, look and act
Wanting to get on with my life Wanting to get on with my life

The first thing that came to my mind was not God. It was all pretty selfish. If God were going to make a list, I’m thinking it would look really different. I want to use this as an opportunity to pray that God will give me the right values, attitudes, heart and perspective in life and mothering. It’s so hard to push out the things my selfish little self wants. The only place I always find what I need is in the loving and faithful arms of my heavenly father.

Trust me, no one needs a better attitude and perspective on the Active Mommy phase than me. Just today it’s been filled with hair-pulling, fighting, talking back, demanding, whining, clingy, crying children. Yep, perspective is desperately needed.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

"For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:37-39

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who love us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Joy in Stages

I really haven’t second guessed our prayerful, well-thought out decision not to have any more belly babies.  But this past month, those thoughts have been creeping back into my head and heart.  I love babies.  I always have.  And I’m glad I have a whole houseful of them.  Except they aren’t babies anymore.


The baby stage is so sweet and special.  The cuddling, the cuteness, the clothes.  I’ve even been missing breastfeeding a little which I swore I never would after breastfeeding the last three well past age one.  For some reason, looking back offers a filtered view.  There were a lot of wonderful and special times but the reality of those years also included sleeplessness, exhaustion, crying, mood swings, weight gain, fatigue.  You know I was just really tired and not myself for 10 years.


It hit home to me this weeks as I was getting ready to go with Jenna and Abby and some friends and their moms on an overnight trip.  We went to see the “Little House on the Prairie” musical at the Ordway, spent the night at my parents and did some shopping on Friday.  It was so much fun.  Did I mention that Melissa Gilbert was “Ma” in the play?  One of my friends almost started hyperventilating when she came on stage!  Although I do not drive an urban vehicle, I handled the big city driving really well and only drove into one parking ramp that I didn’t fit into and had to back out of. 

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We ate at a downtown Italian place where the parking lot attendant let me park in a handicap space.  My sister and her girls joined us for dinner and shopping.  We had our picture taken with the doorman at the Ordway.  But I think they had the most fun at Target.  Go figure.


The Ordway’s season theme is Joy. Centerstage.  I couldn’t help but making the cheesy connection that joy does come in stages.  My parents always told us that they never dreaded having teenagers.  There are good and difficult parts of every stage of parenting.  The key is to find the joy in every stage you are in.


I don’t want to spend these years wishing I could go back or wanting to fast forward.  I need to find the joy in right now before it’s too late.  The joy in taking off for a day with the older kids, being able to get out of the house without a nursing baby, going to camp without a stroller or pack and play and sleeping through the night.

I am glad to be able look back at the baby years with happiness and fondness.  I trust that the future will bring its share of joys and trials.  But I know that now is a very joyful place and I don’t want to miss it.

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Psalm 30:11

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,