i have this dream…

Dreams.

I would definitely consider myself a dreamer.  I like to think about things. I like to dream about things that will probably never happen.  I like to just sit in the fantasy of “what if”.

We have a small stream on our property that empties into a little pond.  The pond is only 8 feet deep, but it’s waters are dark and murky and still.  As I would sit in my living room and look over at the pond on a cool fall day, I would see something different.

Lazy River poolsFBimage from Kuykendall – Lazy Rivers

 A lazy river. You know, the kind that are in fancy waterparks?  With people on big inner-tubes just relaxing and going round and round, moved lazily along by the jets in the water.  The river would be small, but it would empty into a perfectly round pool (that was the former pond), similar to the image above.

I know in my heart of hearts that we will never be putting a lazy river on our property.  We live in Minnesota.  We are not millionaires.  And lazy rivers are pretty darn impractical for many reasons.

It’s safe to say that I have no hope of that BIG HUGE CRAZY idea becoming a reality.

But I still love to dream about it.

audrey-backyard

 

I am reminded of how much God wants to give me the desires of my heart, but so thankful that He already knows what I need.

Maybe He already knows that many memories will be made on the long winding trails by adventurous little kids with endless imaginations and courage. That clubs will be formed and pacts made and discoveries of nests and bugs and new flowers will create far more lasting reflections than concrete and chlorine.

I love that He can see beyond worldly (and sometimes selfish) desires.  That He doesn’t provide something simply because I ask.  That all things, good and bad, will be used to strengthen our relationship and bond.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28

He created me.  He knows me better than I know myself.  And He knows exactly what will truly fulfill me.

I have another dream.  And that is that someday the desires of my heart will be in line with God’s will.

Now that is a worthy dream.

 

life

Life has been crazy.

I have been stressed and calm and happy and sad and excited and dejected and that was just today.

Since updating my mommy blog has been something I have been wanting to do forever but have been woefully negligent in doing so, I am just going FULL BOAR on it tonight.

eddie

 

This little man is growing up.  In less than a month he will be 3 and I cant handle it.  He is my snuggle bear and so stinking cute and makes us all laugh on a daily basis.

I have started taking our sweet Eddie to speech therapy once a week.  It was a tough choice because he is so small and because it’s quite expensive and our deductible is very, very high so we pay for most everything!  But he is worth it and I am hoping to see some improvement soon.  He seems to have a hard time with “sm” words and “pr” words.  He also drops words and doesn’t care to identify ‘he’ and ‘she’ correctly.  All fixable, and the prognosis is very good.

audrey-sassy

 

This sassy malassy is a stinker winker bear.  My sweet Audrey.  Full of spirit and words and energy, I find that she is my greatest challenge everyday.  Not only does she love to get dressed up as a princess (every.single.day.) but she is now obsessed with Elsa from Frozen and is constantly asking for us to tie blankets around her so she can have a long cape.  Not that the cold bothers her, that is.

parker-image

Cookies on Blue Plate by Parker

colton-image

 Cookies on Red Plate by Colton

I have been trying to teach Colton and Parker photography basics.  So far we have started on food photography, and they are LOVING it.

The above assignment was for the kids to pick any props they wanted and they had to “style” the shoot.  Once they got everything laid out they way they wanted, we put the camera on a tri-pod and talked about lighting.  How light bounces and reflects and shadows and natural vs. artificial.

This has been challenging because I am always learning as well!, but youtube has some great tutorials.

Secretly I am hoping one of them really has a passion for photography and I can start asking them to take all my blog pictures for me!

Intentional Parenting

 

I started writing a series on Intentional Parenting.  I have two weeks done now, and its really making a difference in my life!  Just hoping to do some more research and get some life experience before I share it.  Hoping it will help others as much as me!

I have also started running.  As in, running.  I know that is hard to believe as anyone who knows me knows I HATE RUNNING.  One day I just woke up and said, “I think I need to like running.”  And I did.

treadmill

 

This was the first time I ran over 2 miles.  I think I had a permagrin that whole night.  It felt SO good to reach that goal!

Tonight I ran 4 miles in 52 minutes.  That actually equals out to be a slow jog, like a 13 minute mile, but its a big deal for me.  A BIG deal.  The night before last I ran for one hour straight.  No stopping.  An hour!

I look forward to my run everyday and have thankfully avoided injury thus far.  My biggest challenge to date is mental.  I get bored.  I get distracted.  I get tired. (da)  So hubby downloaded The Biggest Loser and I watch that.  It’s been REALLY helpful and inspirational.  (I tried running without it and was only able to go a mile… that goes to show how mentally weak I am!)

Just hoping I can stick with it and get healthy (er).

Surprise Inside Cakes Cover1

image credit susan powers

Last but not least is this guy.  Officially on the book store shelves in 2 days.  Talk about a labor of love!  I have developed such a huge respect for the people in this industry.  The literary agents and publicists and publishers and editors and copyeditors.  Wow.  Those folks are such a talented and creative and AMAZING bunch.  I hope to have the opportunity to know them more in the future.

That being said, if you have not purchased the book do it NOW! (please)  I want to share this experience with you and read it with you and bake cakes together!

Amazon: http://goo.gl/zX1V9k

And with that I am headed to bed.  (And I didnt even talk about homeschooling!  I have some big changes to report on that front.  Hopefully soon!)

Be blessed!

Rainbow Birthday Cake

My little girl turned five this past week.  Five!  In the midst of extensive Christmas baking, I took a break from all this green and red and peppermint and made a perfectly perfect girly girl cake.

With Audrey’s help of course!  The last couple years I have let her “design” her cake;  she tells me what colors and themes she wants and I do my best to make it happen.

Like this Rose Cake.  And this Neapolitan Cake.

Swirly Rainbow Cake (Inside and Out!) #rainbow #cake #birthdaycake

 Her requests were pretty simple:

1. Lots of flowers

2. Every color in the rainbow.

3. Lots of frosting. (but no chocolate cake because her brother doesn’t like chocolate and she is very thoughtful like that)

Swirly Rainbow Cake (Inside and Out!) #rainbow #cake #birthdaycake

 

I even let her pick the cake stand, which just happens to be one of my all time favorites.  I found it in a specialty shop near our new home.  The owner of the shop did not want to let it go!  Even though there was a price tag on it, they had been using it for display for so long it had become part of the ambiance.  I tried so hard to not show my desperation, but in my head I was screaming, “I HAVE TO HAVE THAT CAKE STAND!”

I think her soul heard my souls cries.

Do you think I am being too dramatic?  Let’s see… what do most women love?

Ah yes.  Shoes.  Pretend I was talking about a pair of Jimmy Choo’s.

Swirly Rainbow Cake (Inside and Out!) #rainbow #cake #birthdaycake

 

Back to the cake.  Audrey did request a Rosette Cake, but… and this is hard for me to admit… sometimes I get tired of making that cake!  So I asked her if it would be ok to change things up a little tiny bit.

She refused.

I asked sweetly.  She said no.  She crossed her arms and stood up tall and looked me in the eye.

“I promise I will still try to make it pretty!” I pleaded.

“Oh sure mom!  Whatever you want.” And she happily flounced away in her princess dress.

Swirly Rainbow Cake (Inside and Out!) #rainbow #cake #birthdaycake

 

So this is my “compromise”.  I didn’t make the full on rosette shape, but still tried to make it “flowery”.  And it has every color in the rainbow.  Except Indigo.

Cause like, I prefer my rainbows with six colors ok?

Swirly Rainbow Cake (Inside and Out!) #rainbow #cake #birthdaycake

 Audrey loved her cake and loved being a princess for a whole day.

She loved the attention and the gifts.

But most of all, I hope she loved the love.

Swirly Rainbow Cake (Inside and Out!) #rainbow #cake #birthdaycake

 Happy Birthday Sweety!

Here is a recipe for How to Make a Rainbow Cake.

I shared a picture of Audrey blowing out the candles on this cake on my Instagram account.  I am iambaker.

The Giving Cookie

 

I have the amazing privilege and honor to be able to homeschool my kids.  I have spent hours going over curriculum and studying learning styles and trying to determine the best ways to teach my little ones everything they need to know about english, math and science.

But as any parent knows, we teach our kids so much more than history and literature. We are fortunate enough to be a part in the growing of their hearts.

This past Saturday sweet little 4 year old Audrey and I were hanging out in the kitchen.  I was making a grocery list and she was lamenting over not having anything to do.

On a whim, we decided to bake some cookies.

Audrey Helping with Cookies! “And what should we do with all these delicious cookies Audrey?”

“Eat them!”

“Well, we can’t eat all of them.  Do you think we should give some away?”

She got very quiet and I knew she wanted to say no.  I could just see her trying to figure out a way for us to be able to keep all the cookies (and trust me, the thought crossed my mind, they were yummy!).

She finally said, “I guess.” Sensing she needed a little more motivation I said, “How much do you love getting cookies Audrey?”

“I LOVE IT!  Its my favorite thing in the world!”

“Well,” I started slowly, “wouldn’t it be nice to let someone else have the same feeling a joy?  Wouldn’t you love to see a friends face when they realize they get to eat our delicious cookies?” She nodded excitedly. So I decided that we would give our cookies to our local fire department.

Cookies for Random Acts of Kindness

We packaged them up nicely and the kids wrote cards and we all got in the car and drove to the Fire Station.  In the car we talked about acts of kindness, about how giving to others was truly a gift to ourselves, about how we look at and think about the world. (going for a lesson on optimism)

We pulled into the Fire Station.  It was closed.  Not a soul in site.

So we drove miles and miles to the neighboring community and found their Fire Station.  Which was also closed.

I sat in my car in the deserted parking lot and felt my shoulders slump.  Great lesson I was teaching my kids here.  We did all that work and they didn’t get to experience the joy of giving.  I turned the car around and tried to ignore the feelings of failure.

As we were turning on to our road the kids noticed the neighbors outside doing some yard work.  ”Mom, mom, mom!!  Lets give the cookies to them!”

Well, yes!  Of course.  Why didnt I think of that right away? I pulled into the neighbors drive and the kids rushed out of the car cookies and card in hand.  ”We brought you a gift!” Audrey shouted to a woman she had never met. (We just moved here a couple months ago)

Our sweet neighbor came over and accepted the cookies from the kids.   We all introduced ourselves and had a wonderful conversation.  Leigh and her husband were so appreciative of the gift and I could tell that we were going to be fast friends.

When we got home that night the kids told dad all about their experience with giving and how good it felt.  I think they, even more so than me, were able to see the beauty in a random act of kindness.  It has definitely inspired then to want to do more… to give more… to get out and build up relationships with the people around us.  They are excitedly talking about writing cards to friends and baking more treats to bring to Leigh’s and our other neighbors. In the end what I had perceived in a failed lesson was actually a fun and rewarding learning experience for us all!

The Best Part is an online community that’s dedicated to brightening your day—every day. How? By spreading optimism, one share at a time. The Best Part posts inspirational stories, encouraging quotes, good news and other upbeat items on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—and encourages fans and followers to share that optimism with their friends. Because when optimism is shared, it grows, making an even more positive impact on our world. Check out what others are sharing on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

 

Pink Ombre Pancakes with Marshmallow Fluff Frosting

What do you do when your only daughter, the only girl among three boys, isn’t an only daughter anymore?

Pink Ombre Pancakes from iambaker.net

I have been worrying a lot lately.  Our sweet Audrey has spent the last four years as the princess among the boys.  She gets new clothes all the time (hand-me-downs, but new to her), she gets to skip haircut day and she gets mandatory privacy in the bathroom.

She is daddy’s little girl.

Mommy’s little angel.

And doted upon by her brothers.

And seeing as her mom is no girly girl, Audrey wears the Pink Girly Hat in the family.

Pink Ombre Pancakes from iambaker.net

But then it all changed.

Miss Olivia joined our family.  Was the birth of Miss Olivia going to bother Audrey?  Would she feel any less special?

I have stressed and worried excessively.  Would our baby girl, our precious precocious Audrey be emotionally stunted at this pivotal time in her life?

Well.

It occured to me…

Pink Ombre Pancakes with Marshmallow Fluff Frosting

I am looking at this all wrong.

Audrey is not going to lose anything.

Because Audrey is going to gain the most beautiful and precious relationship.

Pink Ombre Pancakes

A sister.

Audrey & Olivia

I made Audrey these pancakes as a special treat.  The pink is simply because she likes it and the marshmallow is an over the top indulgent way to make the treat extra special.

Just like her.

I wanted us to be able to sit down together and talk about how amazing and loved she is.

Seems to me that it would be a super fun, stylish and yummy way to let your angel know they are loved!

Pink Ombre Pancakes with Marshmallow Fluff Frosting

Ingredients

    Pancakes
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • Pink gel food coloring
  • Marshmallow Frosting
  • 1 cup marshmallow fluff or creme
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows

Instructions

  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a big bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together buttermilk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla.
  3. When you are ready to cook, combine the two mixtures. until just blended. Do not overmix.
  4. Separate batter into three bowls. In first bowl add one small drop pink gel food coloring. Stir until coloring is incorporated. In second bowl add 3-4 drops pink gel food coloring. Stir until color is incorporated. Leave last bowl as is.
  5. Pour approximately 1/2 cup batter onto hot skillet and cook until bubbles form around edges and over pancake. Flip pancake and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute more.
  6. Frosting
  7. Place 1 cup of marshmallow fluff into a microwave safe bowl.
  8. Heat for 20-30 seconds.
  9. Add 1-2 tsp. water to get a runnier consistency.
  10. Pour over pancakes.
  11. Top with mini marshmallows and serve immediately.
  12. *If you are stacking the pancakes, I would pour about 1 tbsp fluff frosting over every pancake as you are stacking.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by ZipList Recipe Plugin
http://iambaker.net/pink-ombre-marshmallow-fluffpancakes/

 

 

what i have learned

colton

We are in a constant state of learning around here.

Learning about our new home.  Learning about our neighborhood and surrounding community.

About what grocery store is the best and where is the closest gas station.

IMG_3127.inga

About what window has the best view of the sunrise, and about what trail has the most wild flowers and least amount of deer flies!

But

by far

one of the best things we learned is that when it rains, big puddles form, and they are great for splashing.

Dad and Inga

 

And after some splashing and discovering and exploring…

we learn

that the best thing about our new home

is learning about it together.

Audrey the Stinker Dinker Winker Bear

On Sunday my sweet little angel woke up with a belly ache, which then led to a day of pretty consistent “emptying” of her belly.

On Monday she seemed to feel better, and made a good effort in trying to participate in the families activities.

Audrey

 

As we were homeschooling… “Mom, I feel better!  Can I do my homeschool?”

“Have you eaten anything yet?” I inquired.  ”No, and my tummy only hurts a little.  But I want to do my homeschool!”

“Okay, as soon as you can eat something we will get to work.”

“Yay!”

Audrey

 

“Mom, mom can I help you bake cookies?”

“Sure!  Do you think you can sit on the chair next to me?”

“I can sit real good!”

“Ok, you sit right here and watch mommy.”

*happy smiles*

Audrey

 

“Mom, mom, mom!  Can I play angry birds?  I feel soooooooo much better!”

“Did you eat anything?”

“Yes!  I had a banana!”

“Sure, you can play for 15 minutes.”

“Yay!!!”

The Faces of Audrey

It got to be closer to the time Dad comes home, so I walked to the playroom and asked Audrey,

“Honey, can you please help pick up the floor so its nice and clean when daddy comes home?”

“I cant.  I am way too sick.  I better go lay on the couch.”

Smart kid. ;)

2013

After all the trials and tribulations of 2012, I was determined to embrace hope for 2013.  I desperately hoped that in 2013 there would be no deaths, no heartbreaks, no disappointments, no rejection.

Just. No. More.

Recently I posted a story that I consider life changing.  You know, one of those stories that sticks with you and pops into your head in the most opportune moments.  When I recall it, I am in such awe that someone can put their own baggage and sense of personal loss aside to embrace a greater good moves me in a way that I can only describe as divine.

Its been about five months since my husband lost his father unexpectedly.  For some reason, the pain of losing him has not lessened.  Every new holiday that is our “first” without him, every new circumstance that we must handle without his wisdom and guidance, every memory that brings the most acute and sharp pain to our hearts… I just cant seem to find acceptance in that fact that he is no longer here.

I remember in the immediate aftermath of his passing of being so inspired by his life.  The way that he gave, the sacrifices he made, the impact he had on those around him.  Every story that people told made me realize what a gift I had in just knowing him.  And how blessed my kids were to call him grandpa.

His life moved me to the point that I wanted to change mine.

Over the holidays we spent a great deal of time with family.  My kids got used to seeing their grandparents and cousins.  When the New Year started and we didnt have plans to see them immediately, they were visibly saddened.  It was just so normal and so right… being with the people that we love.

While in Fargo we even had family pictures taken.

Looking at them now, I am trying to look past my double chins and huge belly and less than stellar fashion sense and see the family around me.  When I start to feel sad about Dennis I need to remember what his life was about.  He loved people and took care of them and gave them everything he could.  He lived.

My “i am mommy” blog might take a different turn this year, as I start to post more and more about family.  And about my growing family!

About little moments that may not mean anything to others, but mean the world to me.  (Like this one, with my Audrey and one of her namesakes, Grandma Audrey) The pictures and memories in the making that one day will hopefully mean as much to them as it does to me.  I will be sharing my faith, as I truly believe that anything that inspires and moves you deserves to be shared.

I dont have resolutions for 2013.  I know there will be trials and pain and loss just like I have faith that there will be highlights and joy and new life.

And lots and lots of laughter.

 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18  

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Rainbow Ruffle Birthday Cake

Today is my sweet little girls birthday. She is going to be four! And so far, she is the only girl among three boys. So yeah… a little princess to say the least.

Every year I let Audrey pick out what kind of cake she wants.


This is the cake she wanted last year.

And this is the cake she wanted the year before. (Ok, ok. So I may have made that choice on my own. She was only turning two.)

This year she chose a ruffle cake. But then specified that it had to be a rainbow cake. But then told me it had to be chocolate.

So needless to day, I had no idea how I was going to make a rainbow cake made of chocolate.

Which left… the exterior! Except, I had never seen a Rainbow Ruffle cake before, so I had to kinda make it up as I went along.

Getting those sweet little ruffles around a curve was easier said than done, but hopefully Audrey will love the final effect, so I am happy she challenged me!

Two of my favorite recipes were on hand for this cake.

Back to Basic’s Buttercream

The Best Chocolate Cake (I have been relying on my favorite brand for Vanilla lately, McCormick! I can really taste the difference when I use imitation brands. Only the best for the ones I love!)

The top was my oldest sons idea… he insisted I make a rainbow in circles around the top of the cake. Now, you know how much I love white, and leaving it white is exactly what I planned on doing. But seeing his face light up at his “bright” idea, I couldnt bear to say no.

Thanks to Kristen from Dine & Dish for sharing one of her birthday traditions… this is what Audrey will wake up to this morning!

And just in case you want a full tutorial for how to make your own Ruffle Cake, just head on over here and I’ll show you!

The kids all approve. Which is the most important approval there is.

Well, except Audrey! She will get to see it later tonight when we celebrate… but I have a sneaking suspicion she will be happy.

I do have at least one more post before Christmas… in which I might be returning to the red/green. Or not!! Cant wait to share with you! :)


Name That Photo Contest Winner!

So I asked you to name this picture.

And boy did you ever!

Here are some of my favs:

From kookla9 on instagram

“What has two pointing fingers and loves cupcakes?  You do.”

From Tammy

“JESUS wants YOU

From carlasconfections on Instagram

“You will make me a cupcake!” (using the “force”)

From Heather O

“Take that suckas”

From mammarada on Instagram

“Pull them both, I dare you!”

From Mary

“Aint no sunshine when I’m gone.” Brilliant!

From fafabear8 on Instagram

“Hey fongool, I’m Sandra Dee!” 

From msmindy on Instagram

“You’re my honeybunch, sugarplum pumpy-umpy-umpkin, you’re my sweetie pie, you’re my cuppycake, gumdrop, snoogums-boogums, you’re the apple of my eye!”  We LOVE that book!

And my almost favorite:

From Liz

“I’m crushing your head.”  I used to do that ALL the time when I was a kid!  You brought back memories! 

 

And now for the winner.

Its not so much ‘funny’ as much as it is so stinkin perfect for my little girl I cant take it.

 

From hookemhil on Instagram

“And though she be but little, she is fierce.” -Shakespeare

I have never heard that quote and I could not love it more.

Miss ‘hookemhil’ you have won a Kindle.  Please email me at manda2177@aol so I get get you your Kindle!