Merry Christmas!

Posted on | December 25, 2010 | 3 Comments

And for those who haven’t met her, this is J’s Christmas present, Pumpkin:

She came to us early, on Thanksgiving weekend.

Our day has been blessed so far; may yours be filled with the love of family and friends but most of all love from the One whose birth we celebrate today. Happy birthday, Jesus!

Thanks

Posted on | November 26, 2010 | No Comments

Sometimes God throws you for a loop and  you’re not quite sure why or what it’s for at the time. It’s hard to say thank you for those times.

But say it anyway.

For the short time I had to love my mom while she was living: thank You, Lord. For the trial that was her illness: thank You, Father. For what You taught me through it: thank You. That was grace.

For my Dad’s tenacity and how he kept hard truths from me: thank You, Abba. For his vulnerability and passing away: thank You. In those times You showed me how mercy is a part of Who You are.

For my family and their patience towards me: thank You.

For my family in the Lord, the bounty of their patience and the greatness of their wisdom and loving examples: thanks.

For the wrongs I have done and the punishment I didn’t get: thank You. Your kindness leads me to repentance.

For the times I want to be the greatest when You remind me I am less than the least but You called me anyway: thank You for the love You showed.

You are awesome, beautiful, gracious and tender toward me. And I deserve none of it. I can’t thank You enough.

So How’ve You Been?

Posted on | November 25, 2010 | No Comments

So this blog has been sorely neglected, right? I’ll work on that. Things keep getting updated on Facebook and all that. But it’s Thanksgiving Day, and that is a wonderful thing. I’ll get you up to speed, blog, but in the meantime, enjoy this little poem to help you remember Who we ought to be thankful for.

An English Prayer

For rosy apples, juicy plums,
And yellow pears so sweet,
For hips and haws and bush and hedge,
And flowers at our feet,
For ears of corn all ripe and dry,
And colored leaves on trees,
We thank You, Heavenly Father God,
For such good gifts as these.

- Unknown

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. – Jas. 1:17

XOXOX,

Phisch

So Cal Vacation Summer 2010 – Day One

Posted on | September 4, 2010 | 3 Comments

Just a few to start things off.

Hold on, let me take a moment to let you know that these photos have been delayed because (1) I like to take my time in processing them. School starts soon, we’re finishing the last days of our vacation so Life is taking precedence. (2) I have since had the opportunity to shoot babies. I mean *babies*! I’ll let you see a sneak peak of those soon, ok? In the mean time…These are from our first day out in Orange County. We got together over at one of our old hangouts, the Irvine Spectrum for dinner and just to, well, hang out.


My oldest, enjoying my new phone. What’s he doing? Taking pictures, of course!


This is my middle sister. Hold on, let me introduce you to the rest of her family.

My nephew. Yes, I think he’s cute, too.


My brother in law. There’s a reason for the quirky smile. He was laughing at something he and my hubby were up to. Incidentally, it was hubby who took this one.


So. Much. Fun. You know kids, they don’t care how cold the water is, they just set their hearts on enjoying the experience and they do!


Dad does a great job of drying him off. Here are all three of them!


Later on, we all headed to the Adidas store for the sake of my oldest. The two younger boys got to play catch in the store. It’s ok, they were careful and didn’t break anything.


It’s not hard to tell this is just one of his favorite places to be, is it? I love that gleaming expression.

More photos to come! But let me leave you with this one that my oldest asked me to take:

Vacation CA

Posted on | August 16, 2010 | 1 Comment

Finally, it came! The kids waited so patiently for the day to come.

Tail end of last week was taken up with cleaning and laundr, laundry, laundry.

Thursday was bible study in the afternoon for me and I was so distracted I ran over a skateboard on the way out. So sad, it was brand new, too. That left me frazzled for the rest of the day. Ugh. I’m too easily traumatized and shocked, right? Right.

Friday: packing and laundry. Kids bored because they pack and mom unpacks and washes what was packed and repacks. Off to bed…the boys who said they’d be up all night were out like a light. God is good! They need their sleep.

We get up at 3:30, load up and are on the road in an hour. Dog is excited as are the children but I manage to sleep at some point. This time I get to drive more! As a result, while we’re in El Paso we opt to drive straight throught instead of stop in Tucson, AZ. I only get tailgated once but that was plenty. The I-10 seems to be perpetually under construction. Going 80mph down to 45mph and one lane just HURTS, that is all. I have a close bond with my gas pedal.

Anyway.

We made it around 11:30pm to SIL’s, hale and hearty but tired. Because we drove straight through, we got to go to church with SIL on Sunday, have lunch then in the eve go have cheap n good sushi at Irvine Spectrum. So far, so fun!

God’s Love and Snow Cones

Posted on | August 6, 2010 | No Comments

Last night, our family joined a group from church to witness during Austin’s First Thursday arts, crafts, music and food fair. That was a huge blessing! It’s not often that we are able to serve in ministry as a family. It was also awesome to see the boys in action. They were with a couple of other of our church’s youth and passed out the lion’s share of our tracts.

It’s really hard to resist a polite “would you like one?” from a little kid with puppy dog eyes and a big grin. I do have to admit their follow up statement of “NO FREE HUGS!” got a few grins (and one aghast look that I knew of). Faith of a child, yes? So awesome to see it happen!

It didn’t take long for us to find out that the church across from where we were standing was offering free snow cones. Our boys really wanted them badly, but of course the syrup is loaded with food coloring. They took the plain ice snow cones without too much fuss, though. It was hot so we were thirsty!

To make up for their not being able to have any of the snow cones from last night, this morning we made syrup so we could have our own at home. Here’s what we made…

Cherry Vanilla Syrup
Based on this recipe

1 bag frozen cherries, 16 oz.
1/2 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Pulse the frozen cherries and any bits of frozen juice from the bag in a food processor until the pieces are a consistent, fine size.

Place the cherries in a saucepan with the water and sugar and bring to a boil.  Boil for 5 minutes or until it’s slightly syrupy. If it’s too thick, it might be hard to use for snow cones. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve, pushing the syrup out of the solids.  Allow to cool, then mix in vanilla.

Store in the fridge in an airtight container for later use.

Lemon Syrup
Based on this recipe

1 cup of lemon juice (we used 9 lemons)
Finely grated rind of 5 lemons
2 cups sugar

Put the sugar, lemon rind and lemon juice in a nonreactive saucepan. Stirring frequently, cook the mixture over medium-high heat. As soon as the sugar has dissolved completely and the mixture has come to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened to a syrupy but still pourable consistency.

Pour through a fine-meshed sieve into a glass jar. Allow to cool. Store in the fridge. Makes about 2 cups.

——————–
How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! – Psa 119:103

VBS

Posted on | August 5, 2010 | No Comments

Last week, all week, was our church’s vacation bible school. What did that mean? That means we were tired but blessed.

This year was a little different. NM was old enough to go to the junior high and high school camp but he had volunteered to help with VBS. We encouraged him to back up what he said so he spent the week with us, assigned with the task of helping to move tables and put up signs. He was very happy to find that he enjoyed hanging out with the other kids and playing soccer during their game times! It was a blessing to hear him say he was glad that a lot of the kids who needed them received bibles to read.

J had a great time! He and his friends were in the class I taught, the 6- and 7-year olds. They were lots of fun and very well-behaved. J was excited because he helped me tell one of the bible stories while he played King Abimelech. He loved hanging out with his friends and getting to enjoy the puppet shows.

Speaking of puppet shows: they were so much fun this year! I got to participate in a couple of them again and I have to admit it’s my favorite part of VBS. Blame it on the Muppet Show, I guess! I was blessed to see so many of the kids from last year return this year and hear about their personal growth in their walk with Jesus. One little girl, who was one of those willful types at the beginning of the week ended up crying on the last day. Why? I thought she didn’t want to be in our class! It turns out mom came only to drop off her big brother and then take her to the doctor because she was running a fever. She was crying because she couldn’t come! Poor baby.

I’m going to miss the fellowship and the kids until next year. It was lots of fun and I really did enjoy getting to teach one of the classes, especially since J was in it with me. Most of all, it was a joy to get to be a part of a body of believers that really comes together to share the love of Christ to children.

Our God is an awesome God!

Longhorn Caverns

Posted on | July 20, 2010 | 2 Comments

Well, since the Goat Cave/Karst trip was a bust and J was begging to go and see a cave we decided to make the treck out to the Marble Falls area to see the Longhorn Cavern and do the tour. We packed a lunch and lots of water but not before checking the weather to make sure we weren’t going to get lots of rain. Caves and water? They don’t sound good together.

J and N didn’t know where we were going at first and then they got pretty excited when I told them. They have good memories of their last cave trip so they were looking forward to this one.

I managed my claustrophobia very, very well. I even got over my phobia of high ISO settings on the camera. Even if I did have a flash, which I don’t, they probably wouldn’t have let me use it. No flash other than the “normal” kind, no tripods, no monopods. I think the camera managed pretty well.

Here are a few of the photos but most of them are on Flickr, along with any descriptions I can remember.

This is what you see as you are heading down into the cave:

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In the 30s, the cave was turned over to the government. The state of TX brought in the Civilian Conservation Corps to clear out all of the mud in the caves and convert it to allow for the public’s visits. The CCC built the above building along with an administration building and an observation tower.

We were 2nd to the last to make it to the 11 am tour! We made it out of the bathroom with literally just a minute to spare!

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From inside the cave entrance area:

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Gratuitous “let mommy take your picture” pose and smile:

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Yes, gratuitous. They really were worried about getting left behind. The tour guide would turn off the lights behind our group as we went along and kept an accurate head count continuously. He said that three years ago, on the last tour of the day, a guide managed to forget 17 people and locked them in the cave. They got to the entrance using their cell phones as flashlights and were able to call 911. Needless to say, the guide doesn’t work there anymore.

Layers of limestone:

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Crystals:

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This is a man-made wall that now covers the original cave entrance:

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The “room” where we stood was the most used one in the caverns. It served as a meeting room for Apache Indians living in the area and they also hung out to build tools and weapons. During the Roaring 20s, a local who owned the property turned the caves into a speakeasy and the room was used as a dance hall. When the government took over, the CCC built the wall because this entrance allowed too much mud to enter the cave when it rained.

The ceiling, showing layers of limestone:

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I did miss the chance to photograph a cave cricket. “Completely devoid of pigmentation because of its environment” as our guide stated, “I’m not preaching evolution folks, this is called adaptation.” He used that phrase “I’m not preaching evolution” a lot.

The lighting in the cave wasn’t bad.

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It turns out a few years ago that someone got hurt and sued the state. So they swapped the 40 watt bulbs for ones with higher wattage. Unfortunately, that caused fungus to grow around a lot of the lightbulbs.

There were very few stalactites in the cave and no stalagmites at all. The reason was that the cave was built by rushing water running through relatively “soft” rock. The fast moving rock wouldn’t allow any stalactites to form or grow very long except for the highest parts of the cave.

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The black markings on the ceilings were left by bats. Before the speakeasy and CCC days, a colony of Mexican Free-tailed bats lived in the caverns until the noise got to them. The markings were left by the oils on their feet. Dirty feet? Yeah, me too.

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From the Rainbow Room, which looks that way because of the colored lights. When the CCC found the room, the guys thought they’d discovered a diamond mine and filled their pockets with crystals. That’s all they were, quartz crystals. This was the boys’ favorite room, by the way.

In the Rainbow Room

The “cowboy boot” on the ceiling of the hallway that lead to a chamber where the Confederates used to store gunpowder. They also used the bat guano to make gunpowder. But since the cave was so wet (way beyond damp), the gunpowder couldn’t have worked too well I think.

The cowboy boot

Back outside, having navigated the cave, the boys imagine themselves in a skateboard park:

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In and around what was the administration building, now housing an exhibit that explains the CCC and what they did for Texas parks:

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We were going to go hiking on the trail which was a little over a mile but J was tired and hot. “Didn’t we hike in the cave? Wasn’t that a hike?” Point taken.

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Investigating the observation tower:

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It doesn’t look like they used power tools to fell and mill the wood since it’s covered with hatchet marks:

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Words about these stairs: the boys would say “cool”, mom would say “textured” and abba would likely say “rickety”:

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Wild Basin Preserve

Posted on | July 16, 2010 | No Comments

Well, we were really supposed to try and find the Goat Cave Preserve. We tried and were attacked by the cave’s hordes of evil mosquito guardians. We ran back to the truck to put on a coat of bug spray. The bugs hovered behind us then, but mom lost the mental will to stay and fight. Those were nasty, big bugs. All I can say is there must be some pudgy bats and chimney swifts this year.

Time for us to buy a toad house or two and build a bat box.

Since that didn’t work out, we headed over to Wild Basin Preserve. Yes it was hot but we wanted to be outdoors, so outdoors we went! Good thing we were armed with Clif bars and bottles of water.

The facility is open to anyone and all they ask is a suggested donation but I forget the amount. With the recent rains, the stream that runs through the preserve was pretty and the little water fall was flowing (note: it’s really a few feet high is all). Anyway, here’s some of what we saw.

Itty bitty meadows of tiny white flowers here and there:
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J running ahead of me, way behind his brother, trail map in his hand:
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It was my main view:
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The water falls were small, like I said. But where do you draw the line between a stream running and water falls?
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“MOM! Take our picture!”
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“We have to go there now!”
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Once, I did get ahead of him. Just once.
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I have no idea why he’s grinning. I’m not sure it matters!
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Funky.
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See? It’s that view again.
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J and I got a kick out of the rollie pollie.
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I thought it was cute.
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The sturdy hand holds to help ford the stream:
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I don’t get it.
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J saw this picture and said “that looks dangerous!”
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Hehe
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A few more photos here.

Tres Leches Cake – La Bomba!

Posted on | July 10, 2010 | No Comments

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s recipe. Hers is great, but we made changes so it deserves the subtitle: La Bomba!

You can not say something Spanish like that without a hearty !

Ingredients

1 cup All-purpose Flour
1-1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
generous pinch or two of freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5 whole Eggs
1 cup Sugar, Divided
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/3 cups Milk
1 can Evaporated Milk
1 can Sweetened, Condensed Milk
1/4 cup milk

ICING:
1 pint whipping cream
3 Tablespoons Sugar
Zest of 1 orange

Mix icing ingredients in a mixing bowl and allow to chill together.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Liberally grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. Make it one with tall-ish sides.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in a large bowl. Separate eggs.

Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.

Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.

Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool. You can put it on a serving platter at this point if you like.

Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and 1/4 c. milk in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the cake and try to get as much around the edges as you can.

Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. To ice the cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar and orange zest until thick and spreadable.

Spread over the surface of the cake. Chill until you know you’ll explode if you wait anymore. Serve. If you left it in the pan like I do, there’s no real way to make it pretty when you serve it, sorry. Fortunately, it doesn’t really affect how it tastes.

If you have an aversion to orange zest texture, you might be able to get away with leaving the cream and orange zest together in the fridge for a few hours then strain before whipping.

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