Saturday, February 11, 2012

Daddies and Daughters

This past Friday night was the annual Daddy/Daughter Dance in our small fair town.
It is a night where little girls get to be the Princess and the daddies get to be the Prince.
Weeks before-hand, outfits are looked over, tossed aside, picked up again, re-tried and (this year at the very last day) decided upon.
It's the one day Precious Jewel is excited to wear a dress; let me get near her head with a blow-drier and a curling iron and I allow her to borrow a bit of lip-gloss and sheer eye-shadow.
She is the Princess for one night and Daddy is her Prince Charming.
This is the first night in 3 years that Luke hasn't had to ask off for the Dance or ask his dad to take her because work wouldn't allow him to switch evenings with someone else.
Both of them were in daddy/daughter heaven.
I've been reading Dr. Dobson's Bringing Up Girls book and I want to share some of the little Proverbs that he pulled out of another book titled Father to Daughter: Life Lessons on Raising a Girl. by Harry Harrison.
  • Take part in her life now. Don't wait until she's 15 to try and develop a relationship.
  • Her mom will show her how to bake chocolate chip cookies. You show her how to dunk them in milk.
  • Teach her to count. First her fingers. Then Cheerios, M&Ms, dandelions, and fireflies.
  • Be prepared to watch Walt Disney movies with her some 200 times. EACH.
  • Never. ever, make fun of her. EVER.
  • Relish the moments when she toddles (or walks) up and for no reason at all throws her arms around your neck. Resist the urge to buy her the world.
  • Never forget that supportive fathers produce daughters with high self-esteem.
  • Read to her often. Very soon, she'll be reading to you.
  • Give her a picture of you to put in her first purse. If you're lucky, she'll always carry a photo of you.
  • Make a Valetine's Card---EVERY YEAR.
  • Ask her about her day, every day. Share her wonder.
  • Keep her secrets. This way she will begin to trust men.
  • Encourage her to be kind. Even to the girl nobody likes.
  • Make up stories to tell each other at night. Stretch her imagination.
  • There will be days when you think you've raised an alien. Those are the same days she feels she's being raised by one.
  • Never laugh at her dreams.
  • Tell her she is the daughter you always dreamed about.

There were so many many more of these in the chapters Fathers To Daughters. Some made me laugh. Some made me cry. I, as a daughter myself, agreed with them all.

Worn out after a long night of dancing with her daddy.

Begging to dance again the next day with her daddy. Nater Mater asked to join in and a game of Merry-Go-Round began.

Thank you honey, for being the kind of daddy to our daughter that she can look up to and be proud of. Thank you for loving her.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The First 93

One Gift in Your Fridge
(more like in a basket, but you get the drift) : )
(someone had given us 4 dozen farm fresh eggs)
A sweet friend of mine asked how this year's New Year's Resolution was going.
Remember I said that I would join the Ann Voskamp Challenge and write down 1000 Gifts (things to be thankful for)?
She gives you 3 things you can look for each day. You can write down whatever you want, but it has been like treasure hunting each day to match the things she has listed to be thankful for.
I finished the month of January missing only a handful of days. I simply went back and did my best to remember the things that stood out those days.
January gave me a list of 93 things I can look back on and say that God is Good if I choose to do the hard act of Looking and Seeing.

Inside on a Plate:
(This was hands down the best chocolate cake I had EVER eaten and it was made by my sweet sister in law for my birthday surprise. It's a good thing my New Year's Resolution wasn't about weight loss or health because this thing would have not been a good start. Layers of double chocolate cake with caramel layered icing and then double chocolate frosting says "I LOVE YOU!!!")
A Gift You are Seeing
(my sweet nieces came and stayed a weekend with us. It was the first time ever since they've moved back from China. Anna was on the front porch loving on all the half-grown puppies).

One Way you Witnessed Happiness Today
(Good Lookin' losing his first tooth)

A Gift that made you Quiet
(my mentor for my mom's group gave this beautiful little tree to us mom's with a Scripture attached.
It had been a difficult week and I'd not wanted to count gifts. I cried. Took a Picture and wrote it down as one of my gifts for that day)

A Gift Inside
(Watching this rambunctious little hooligan running around with my birthday balloons all wrapped up in his legs).

A Gift Outside
(bare trees against a winter sky, family, a hike to the creek on a warm winter day)

A Gift Beside Me
(Children all cuddled together with us during a family movie night. One had fallen asleep and was already tucked into bed)
So, there are a few of the gifts I've sighted and counted this past month.
I think that by writing them down they are like stones piled together until they are so numerous that we can't help but see that God is right there wading through some of the muck of life with us. He is daily giving us gifts. Some simple. Some big. We must simply make a habit of looking.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Everything Tastes Better with Cheddar!

We did it again! My Cheese-Loveing friend and I successfully made Cheddar Cheese for the second time!
It is a much much longer and more involved process than Mozzarella (which I am totally in love with).
Before Christmas she and I tackled Farmhouse Cheddar. It's a Cheddar shortcut. It's great to use when you want to made a Cheddar type of cheese but save time in the whole process. It's a little drier than regular cheddar but really yummy and it's ready to eat after just 4 weeks of aging.
We did that and it was so yummy! Sharp, strong and our kids didn't really like it but our spouses did.
This time around we tried the Stirred-curd Cheddar. Still not quite the same process as making traditional Cheddar, but more involved and it is supposed to age for 2-6 months.

We heated and stired and added our started and let it all set according to the directions.
Mind you, there were 8 children ages 6 and under running around.
Honestly, she is a waaaaaaayyyyyyy better cook than I am. I don't even pretend to enjoy cooking.
Like my mother, cooking her stress-relief. But, I want to learn more and the more I am learning, the more I am loving and realizing just how fun cooking can be....minus Junior hanging on my leg or trying to dip fingers into a kettle beside us.
We tag-team each other well in the whole children's dept. and I think that's another reason we enjoy cooking together...or rather I am finally learning to love to cook.
I am also leaving the baby-stage of my parenting life...sniff! sniff! I've always much rather cuddled and played with our kids than cook a gourmet meal.
But, I digress. This whole learning to make cheese has been a whole new learning experience for me!
Ok. I rather forgot to take any of the next 7 steps worth of pictures. We were giddy at how it was turning out and I totally forgot about the camera.
This is what the curds looked like though after they had been maintained a 100 degree temp and stirred every 5 min. for an hour. They were already tasting really yummy and had a squeeky feel on your teeth whe biting into them. Hmmmmmmm!!!!
Then we were to line a 2lb. cheese mold with cheesecloth and place the curds in the mold and press at 15lbs. for 10 minutes.
She had the mold, but neither of us have a cheese press.
Sister-Ingenuity and Creativity enter here. Yes, those are bench weights next to her cute little toddler.
Yes, we used bench weights to press our cheese.

The cutting board in a baking pan acted as our drain for the excess whey that was to be pressed out.
Then we wrapped that block of cheese like a baby and set the weight on top.
This is what it looks like after the first 10 minutes of pressing.
Then we stuffed it back in and pressed it again with a heigher amount of weight for another 10 minutes.

I left to pick up my oldest two kids from school at this point. It had been right at 6 hours of stirring, cooking, draining, cooking, stirring, etc. etc...
All that was left was to press it for another 24 hours at the 50 lbs. mark and then we could dry it and wax it.
Let me just say, it was supposed to dry for 2 days and then wax, but she called me last night and asked if I wanted my half now. It tasted too good to wait for the minimum 2 months that we were going to have to wait and she and her family were going to go ahead and eat their 2 lbs.
I was at her house in 10 minutes and picked up my portion to bring it home to eat our half.
Ohhhhhhh! It was yummy!!!!
One of these days we'll do it again and let it age like it's supposed to. For now, my kids are getting snacks of crackers, cheddar, and sausage slices. Hmmmmmm!