Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Countdown

I think it was about 3 weeks ago that I started THE countdown.
The countdown to spring break, that is. 
At the time it happened to be 7 weeks away and as I type it is just a little over 4.

You better believe it.

You see a couple of years ago give or take, our friends Mike and Liz, were feeling led to move to Florida. They have some family down there, but they both grew up in Michigan. They loved visiting Florida to visit family, for the sunshine, the ocean, the fun times, and well, just to get away from the Michigan cold. 

And it's cold right now. We've have at least 39 snow days, and it's time old man winter gets outta here! I'm exaggerating but not by much! Ok, 39 minus 34 or so.

Back to Mike and Liz...
So as time went on and they visited Florida about twice a year, they began to feel the Lord and His gentle stirring of a change ahead. Liz, as I recall, was having none of it. She used to say, "I'm not moving to Florida." or something close to that and Mike, well he was digging it down there. He loved being there. Liz loved visiting, but her heart was here. And as God kept opening certain doors and closing others, they began to really see His calling. 

It was time to make the move. Everyone was happy for them, but it has left a certain void not having their family here. Our church family misses them like crazy and I know their family misses them even more.

So in exactly 31 days I'll get to hug on my precious friend Lizzy and I can't wait!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cooking - Pernil for the first time

Recently I have had a desire to cook some of the dishes that my friends' families make and I used to get to eat when I was growing up. Rice and beans, pernil, and fried plantains are the dishes of choice. Some of my closest friends in Hoboken, the town I'm from, are Puerto Rican. Let me tell you...they can cook.

Sometimes when I'd go over to Annette's, my friend for over 35 years, her mom would give me a plate of white rice. I was absolutely content with it even though it was just rice. It wasn't any old rice; it was Mami Elsa's rice. With a little but of salt it was perfect. And if she happened to have a pot of yellow rice and beans, I was in heaven.

My sister Cindy is amazing at cooking Spanish food. Why has it taken me this long to ask her how to teach me? Well there is no time like the present!

My hubby and I prepared the pork shoulder for marinating and Tuesday we'll cook it and see how it tastes. I made a pot of rice and beans for the first time and it was pretty good. It'll take some time for me to perfect it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Family Night - Fondue Anyone?

Family night is incredibly important in tying our heart strings together with our children's. 
Our family has been encouraged through the years to be very intentional about planning out one night a week to join together as a family and do something fun.
The thing is we've done that in spurts, but haven't been consistent. We do spend a lot of time together, in general, but have not planned out "family night" each week. That's about to change people. :) I'm really excited, too!
I'll share some ideas towards the end of this post about rules to set in place and themes or ideas for your family. :)

Our pastor is doing a series titled, "Parent Training". You can find the first 2 sermons here if you are interested in viewing it to get great ideas and teaching on how the Bible calls us to raise up Godly children. Our pastor and his wife have 3 grown boys that are each Godly men, serving Christ, and leading fruitful lives. Have they made mistakes? Sure. We all do and will, but we continue to strive to live our lives as God leads us to- with Him, for Him, and all to His glory.
He calls us to love Him and love others to put it in a nutshell. Cover to cover, that's the message the Bible is all about.

So back to family night. Our Pastor gave us all some ideas on the way they have done things through the years:

1. Pick one night a week to have your family night. The rule they put in place is to not schedule anything that will keep anyone from being able to be home for that evening. 
(exception: your 16 year old has to work on that night, therefore you must change to a different night for that particular week. That's the case for us this week.) Our normal night will be Thursdays, but this week it's tonight!

2. Each family takes a turn planning what family night will be for that week. (It's my turn this week and I can't wait!)

3. Have a budget. Their budget originally, years ago, was $10, but went up to $25 more recently with inflation. Our family has set ours to $20. You have to be creative with 7 people to pull it off, but that is part of the challenge and fun. For goodness sake, there are loads of ideas that are absolutely free. In that case, let the family night budget build for other times where you might make an exception and spend a little more.

4. Have a blast!

My plan for tonight's family night is to have a Fondue Night. I'm making cheese fondue for dinner and chocolate fondue for dessert. I've been on Pinterest scouting out recipes today for each type and I need to get busy. I can spend $20 alone on various cheeses! That means I'll be making homemade poundcake, possibly a French baquette, and maybe even pretzels. The idea is to not get overwhelmed with it all, but we have never done a fondue night and I want it to be delicious and special!
Here's one of many cheese fondue recipes, and a chocolate fondue recipe that I found on Pinterest.

Other family nights that our different pastors and their families have done are:

a. Pajama Runs- when everyone has gotten into their pj's, Dad shouts "pajama run!!". Everyone excitedly loads into the car and goes to Mickey D's for ice cream. It's cheap, exciting, no, not so good for you, but oh so fun!

b. Iron Chef- you have a couple of teams competing and you have to use one ingredient that needs to be a part of your food and transform it into something delicious. I'm not sure who your judge is, but that's not the point, right?

c. Canvas Painting- buy a canvas for each family member at your local craft store, choose paint colors you'd like to use, and then everyone goes to town and creates something beautiful. My friend plans on hanging all of them on one particular wall in her home.

d. Cupcake Wars- another pastor and his wife at our church had two teams make their own recipe and their friends and family members on their Fa*eb*ok page voted for their favorite. It was fun to participate. The men of the family won this one because it was made with all kinds of chocolate. I personally voted for the ice cream sundae cupcake, but they both looked fantastic!

e. Game night- this one speaks for itself.

f. Family night swim- Our family does this occasionally after dinner during the summer. As it gets dark out, we all get into our swim suits and have a family swim.

g. Movie night with a concession stand- the same family that did the canvas painting recently has a daughter that had the idea of renting a movie and creating a concession stand with popcorn and candy that each family member used monopoly money to pay for. It's also a great way to get a math lesson in there!

These are just a few ideas, but there are countless other ideas. If you have any, please leave them in your comments. I'd love to get as many ideas as I can.

I hope this is as encouraging to you as it has been for me.
Our family is over the moon about re-incorporating this into our family again. It's been way too long since we've done this on any regular basis.