30 January 2015

the big game and my affinity for sports movies.

Not sure if you know this, but there's a big football game coming up this weekend. My boys are slightly excited about it. We love our Hawks.

Some people say we are a city filled with bandwagon fans. That may or may not be true, but I know one thing for sure: my husband is a tried and true diehard. He has been faithful since he was a boy, and his love for his team even changed my heart toward football.

He took me to a game on our second date, back in October of 2003. He picked me up wearing a much too big for him team jersey, excited to share something so special with me. I was pretty skeptical, having never paid one minute of attention to football, and now here was this boy on my doorstep in a jersey? I wasn't sure there'd be a third date. I guess we all know how that turned out.

nick and caleb at the game in NJ
nick and lute at the victory parade last february (in vintage seahawks, because he's my kid)
Nick has gone to games over the years, watched all the others on tv, and analyzed every play and match up more than I realized possible. He's passed his love onto our boys, and I doubt the girls are far behind. We listen to Seahawks rap songs in the car to and from school, and I have even geared up for Sunday in my own way. 

We're ready for you, Super Bowl. We are so proud to be 12's!

In addition to my love for the Seahawks, I've also become so sappy when it comes to sports movies. I don't even know who I am, but that goes to show the influence my cutie husband has had on me. My favorite show of all time is Friday Night Lights (well, tied with Parenthood, may it rest in peace), I love Rudy and The Perfect Game. All of which you can stream on Netflix. And if you haven't watch FNL, please commence the binge watching ASAP. Coach Taylor 4EVER. Or if you're fancy and you get Netflix at your door: Hoosiers, Moneyball, Trouble with the Curve. Each may have made me cry a little bit. So even if you're not crazy into sports, I promise these are worth your time. 

And now, the countdown begins.

23 January 2015

easy and amazing loaded brownies

I think it was probably five years ago that I discovered that making brownies from scratch was just as easy as making them from a box. Easier, really, because I didn't have to go to the store and let's all be honest: if you don't have to go to the store, you're already winning.

These brownies are so quick and easy and delicious, but here's the beauty - it's a small batch. Obviously you can double or triple them if you need to feed the masses, but nobody needs extra brownies laying around, amiright? Now don't read "small batch" as "light". Because these are by no means a health food. But when you need a chocolate fix, or you have the urge to bake, or both, these are your new best friend.

These are the richest, fudgiest, BEST brownies of life. Promise.

Easy and Amazing Loaded Brownies
makes 6 reasonably sized brownies
or one big chocolate fix
1/2 cup butter, melted
scant cup white sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cups chopped walnuts

Whisk together butter, sugar, and cocoa. Add in eggs until well blended. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour mixture into a 6x10 baking dish (or 8x8 if you don't have one). Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. Allow to cool for a bit, then cut and serve!

14 January 2015

a letter of love and gratitude

The way that we have seen God move in our family over the last eight weeks is nothing short of remarkable. When we got the call that one of our birthmothers was seeking us out for another adoption, it seemed impossible. Not because we couldn't imagine adding a sixth to the mix - we happen to be crazy enough to love a house full of loud and lively kids all around - but because the reality of adoption is that it is expensive and tedious in preparing for it. Doctors visits, background checks, fingerprints taken, references, everything needing to be notarized, signing a thousand contracts, more references, more doctors visits, more meetings, financial statements. But mostly, the money. It's a sad thing that the cost of adoption can throw so many people off of the thought. It certainly did for us when we got that call just a couple of months ago.

But when we prayed about it, and felt an overwhelming peace that our answer should be yes, I knew this was our chance to see God move mountains in our family. Right in front of our eyes. And He has. 

When we first told some of our friends what was going on, people showed up at our doorstep with donations. Sacrificial amounts of money. Believing for this baby, for our family, for our birthmother. Wanting to show support. To those who have stood with us from the moment this began, thank you.

We started getting donations through PayPal almost immediately. From our family members near and far, from friends and acquaintances, from people we've never met face to face. Some big, some small - every single penny making a difference. Every amount of help one step closer to our baby. To each of you, thank you.

When I asked if people could support us by donating items for an instagram auction, I was overwhelmed at the response. 137 items. More offered. An entire day spent posting with bid after bid, supporting us, helping us, bit by bit. To those of you who donated, to those of you who purchased an item or two or ten, thank you. 

Every time I had doubts, every time I asked God, so quietly in the still of my heart, if we were making the right decision, another donation would come in. Usually from a stranger, out of the blue. A clear nudge to keep going.

When Nick called a few close friends in the very beginning of this process, seeking counsel as we made the decision to move forward, we received nothing but support and encouragement. One friend in particular not only said that he thought we should move forward, he emailed us just a few days later with a clear and concise plan to raise the rest of the money that we needed. Doug Strauss was going to throw us an auction, and he really believed that we'd raise what we needed. 

Fast forward two months. We had our auction last Friday at our church. 125 people from every circle we've been a part of - from Nick's work, to our families, to Young Life, to high school and college, our kids school, preschool, neighbors, church community and friends - all gathered together in the most humbling outpouring of support I've ever experienced. Not only did we reach our goal at the end of the night, we raised more than we needed. Which means we will be able to travel to pick up our boy without worry. We have money to pay for our homestudy and all the follow up visits.

He has moved the mountain that seemed insurmountable just eight weeks ago. 

I don't even know how to say thank you. To Doug and his family, who have become so dear to us. For believing in our family, and standing with us as we stand with our birthmom, as we hope to be an outpouring of love as best we can, as we welcome our sixth little miracle. I am so grateful.

I don't know how to express my thanks to my dear friends, and our amazing family, as they have walked beside us and supported us in a million ways as we walk this path. For the community that we are a part of here at home, and for the people who have given us the boost we need even though they don't even know us. My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude.

So thank you. To all of you. You are our miracle.

31 December 2014

how we're doing new years

I confess I am not someone who needs a crazy New Years celebration to finish out the year. Cozy jammies and a comfy couch and I am set. We're staying home tonight, snuggling up on the couch and probably watching a movie because we are cah-razy. We'll pause it at midnight to make a toast and give the midnight kiss, because like I said - crazy animals.

Nick actually forgot it was New Years Eve and when I reminded him, he asked "what are we doing with the kids? are they staying up until midnight?" When I finished laughing, I said, "Eastern time, I guess." Which means they'll be in bed by 9 because no matter how late my boys are up, they are awake by 6:30am without fail. It's a sad state of affairs. The girls, on the other hand, sleep in until 9 every day, and so they win.

This year we have a new party plan. I am sad it took me seven years to figure this out, but I think it'll be a hit. Since I live in a house of early risers (Lord, help), we are going to have a New Years party that is actually on New Years! In the morning! Welcome to the world, 2015, the noisemakers are coming out at 7am and we are going to party with pancakes and movies in the morning.

It just makes sense. 

The good folks at Netflix even sent us a fun basket of party supplies - noisemakers and party hats, silly glasses, streamers and balloons, all celebrating 2015 and the premiere of King Julien, which is a Netflix kids series. We're gonna party in style around 8:45 tonight and again in the morning. AND, as if that was awesome enough, they have a four minute New Years countdown that you can play anytime! So basically, feel free to trick your kids tonight if you need to. 

Happy New Year, dear readers - I hope your night is just as festive and wild as you'd like it to be and there are lots of good treats involved!

21 December 2014

salted chocolate peanut butter truffles

I am slightly obsessed with all things chocolate peanut butter. It is the best combination in the history of combining, in my opinion. So, these truffles are one of my new favorite treats, without a doubt. And perfect to share with your favorite people this Christmas!

One of the best parts is that there is no baking involved, and they come together with a few easy ingredients. 

Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles
makes about 50
inspired by this recipe
2 cups creamy peanut butter*
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt, + more for sprinkling
3 cups powdered sugar
3 cups rice crispy cereal
3 cups dark chocolate chips
3 tablespoons coconut oil

Using a mixer, or handheld beaters, mix together peanut butter and butter until smooth. Add in salt and powdered sugar and mix on medium speed. With a wooden spoon or spatula, gently mix in cereal. Form dough into balls and place on a cookie sheet. Put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes to firm up.

Place chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl, and melt for 45 seconds. Stir. Heat for another 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until chocolate is completely melted. Using a wooden skewer, dip peanut butter balls into the chocolate, tap gently to remove excess chocolate and set on parchment paper to harden. While the chocolate is still soft, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.

Repeat with remaining truffles until complete. Store in the refrigerator to keep them firm. Try not to eat 10 in one sitting. Not that I know anyone who would ever do that. Enjoy!

*I used all natural, no sugar, creamy peanut butter. It's nice and soft and easy to mix. If your peanut butter already has sugar added, taste along the way as you add in the powdered sugar or the mixture may be way too sweet.