Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Boredom-Buster: Make a RAINBOW Cake!

Who doesn't love a rainbow?  And what better way to celebrate a kid that brightens your day than with a rainbow cake?!  Or, if you don't have any summer birthdays, it could be a fun activity to do with your kids to chase away boredom blues!

Although the process is a bit time-consuming, the actual list of ingredients is pretty simple!
*Two white cake mixes and everything you need to make them
*Food coloring (red, yellow and blue are all you need and you can mix them for the orange, green and purple!)
*Two containers of white frosting
*Wax paper or parchment paper (important!!)
*9x13 pan(s) (if you only have one or two, you can re-use them)

Once the cake mix was made, I divided it up equally (I think about 1 1/2 cups or so) into SIX bowls.

And now for the FUN part (kid-friendly...if you don't mind a few little food coloring stains here and there!, mixing in the colors...

Of course our PINK-lover picked the closest to her fave color: RED.

Judah was VERY serious about doing a good job of making the orange cake mix.

Gideon always wants anything BLUE!

And Gabby was just happy to be "one of the gang" today.

Here they are, line 'em up, ready to spread into a pan and cook...

VERY important step to line each pan with parchment or wax paper for easy removal and handling later since the layers are so thin.

Use some little clips to keep it in place while spreading out the mix with a spatula if desired.  Only don't do as I did and put them in the oven until a funny smell make you check...

Bake each layers about 15 minutes or so, until lightly browned as pictured below.

Bake each layer separately and let them cool on wire racks until your ready to stack 'em up!

Frost each layer and carefully place the next one on as you go, moving from bottom (purple) to top (red).

Viola!  Now that you have that completed, time to compact the cake.  Cover it with foil and slide it into your freezer, taking care to pile enough things on the top of it to "squish" the layers together as they freeze!

Mission Accomplished!  Now that it is frozen and compacted, time to trim it and frost it for the grand finale!  Use a large knife to trim off the edges (I can think of someone(s) that would help you not to waste those pieces, see below!) and frost before serving, or if desired, slices into individual squares or even circles (use a biscuit type cutter for that).

Hmmm...did I mention you would have NO problem finding little people to help you eat your colorful creation?!

The birthday boy, turning SIX!! (and, like most boys small AND grown, loves fire!)

Don't forget to treat yourself with a bite...or entire piece as well!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

NOT Sleeping with the Enemy!

When my husband and I have a “heated discussion”, we always try to fight with the utmost of maturity.

Just the other day, it was getting hot and heavy in the vehicle (and NOT because the heat was on...and definitely NOT because we were getting it on!) and things just happened to come to a climax during a red light at an intersection.

After obviously having enough “discussion” time, in a very mature and calm manner, my husband grabbed his things and hopped out of the truck.

It also just so happened that we were traveling out of town which posed a bit of a dilemma for me.  You see, I was feeling “the love” at that moment too (please note the high levels of sarcasm here) and didn’t really mind that I would be traveling alone from that moment on.  So, the light turned green and I did what any wife who was equally crazy for and driven crazy by their husband would do: I left.  I’m not completely heartless, of course, I did glance in the rear-view mirror to make sure the love-of-my-life made it out of traffic and safety on his way...whatever way that would be!  The truth was, at that moment, I didn’t really care if we were traveling in Europe and he would have to hitchhike his way home on an ocean-liner.  

Needless to say, the fresh air for him and the empty passenger seat for me were both welcome breaks from our, uh-hum, “heated discussion”.

Perfect we are NOT.

My husband did hitch a ride back home that night.  And I made it home that night too.  

Of course, I brought along a weather-front that would rival the arctic chill of the Bering Sea.  The heated discussion had progressed (or REgressed may be more accurate!) to a chilly stand-off and the good Lord knows, I would NOT be the first to break.  If it meant I had to take a vow of silence or duct-tape my mouth shut, there was NO way on God’s green earth that I would say two words to that..that...MAN.  That man I married, the father of my children, my most-of-the-time bestest friend...and sometimes my worst-est enemy!

The battle lines were drawn: he may be bigger and stronger than me but everyone has to sleep sometime.

Speaking of sleeping, the couch was not as comfortable as I had envisioned when I dragged the comforter and pillows off our bed that night (with MUCH loud huffing that was accompanied by icy looks of death). So, at 4 am, once I heard the enemy sleeping, I snuck back into MY bed and slept in comfort once again (I accidentally brushed his leg during this risky encounter and immediately built a enormous pillow-wall to prevent further deadly encounters with the enemy).

Much to my shock, I awoke at 7 am the next morning to discover my husband SNUGGLING with me.  What was this?  A truce?!  A white flag of surrender!?  A hand of peace?!  This act of valor on his part was definitely scoring some brownie points but I was still operating under a vow of silence and, difficult as it was becoming with every (secret) glance at those deep brown, twinkling eyes of his, I had to go on!  I could not give in, not yet!  Not with so much much to...gain!?

What was I thinking?!

I had been a fool and was wasting precious time.  Me and my man are on a mission, a mission to further God’s kingdom, a mission to raise godly children (who were currently learning from such wonderful role-models!!) and I was being distracted by a war that was battling over...nothing.  A civil war that was fighting against itself.  Silly me.

Perfect we are NOT!!

That night, after watching my man play baseball with my boys (in his cute baseball cap with that crooked smile!), I felt myself caving!  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I had to wave the white flag as well!

When my husband and I fight, we always do so with the utmost of maturity.  Okay, the truth is, we can be pretty silly and immature when we fight.  But, the good Lord knows that it’s only a matter of time (and usually never more than one uncomfortable night spent on the couch) when I’m NOT sleeping with the enemy...

but rather sleeping with my bestest friend.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Swivel-Sweeper Persecution!?

Contrary to what I have been telling my husband for the last few months, as of tonight, I no longer want a new swivel sweeper.

I have always been completely devoted to my one and only man until the day I met my swivel sweeper, since then, my devotion has been torn between them!  I never knew such a simple man-made machine could make life with kids so completely divine!  With a quick press of the button, I can twist, turn and slide my way over cheerios, Legos (snooze you lose, boys!) and Doritos and watch them miraculously disappear and a sparkling clean floor reappear!  I love my swivel sweeper!

Alas, all good things come to an end...or in the case of my current sweeper, a broken handle.  Although it still functions relatively well, if I bump a wall too hard or twist too quickly, the handle snaps off and send my sweeper a flyin’!  Since it still technically “works”, this item has moved from the “Need List” to the “Want List” on our family budget and thus, I’m looking at 2050 for a possible swivel-sweeper replacement time-frame.

Don’t laugh (too hard), but every time that darn handle pops off, I used to grit my teeth and think, 

“Arg!  The things I must suffer to __________ (fill-in-the-blank: live on a budget, have a large family, do life with one income, and so on)!!”  

Yes, in other words: a semi-broken sweeper was my (pathetic, lame, think of any other adjetive here that equates with pitiful!) version of persicution.

Until tonight.

It was a picture I saw of someone else’s precious child, a picture something like this...

I’ve seen photos like this before...we all have.  But tonight, it grabbed my attention while I was trying to get that handle back on my sweeper with a less-than-stellar-attitude (think: Oscar the Grouch) and I felt like my heart stopped.

No, THAT is persecution.  THAT is suffering.

I felt a wave of great sorrow at what my watered-down, Americanized Christianity has become.  How small and out of focus has my world become that I think making do with a somewhat broken swivel-sweeper is suffering?

...that not getting my hair dyed professionally every few months is “sacrificing”?
...that living in a small home with a big family is “difficult”?
...that three kids in a bunk-bed is “depriving” them?


THIS is a man sacrificing: a father who risk beatings and even imprisonment to attend the underground church with his family.

THIS is a woman whose life is difficult: the mother who builds a home for her family out of boxes and trash in the garbage slums.

THIS is child who is deprived: a child that hasn’t eaten in days and longs for a DROP of water.

The truth is, I’m not sure what my next step is.  How can I use my (VERY blessed) life in a greater way to reach those who are (TRULY) suffering?  That’s a question I’m going to be wrestling through with God...everyday...

...everytime my handle comes off my swivel-sweeper.

THAT is going to be my reminder.

A reminder that I’m blessed.

A reminder to pray.

A reminder to give... the poor, needy, lonely, and to those suffering.

And that is why (take note, dear husband!) I don’t want a new swivel sweeper.  Thanks to a broken handle, I’m going to have plenty of daily reminders to pray and give to those who are truly in need.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Maytag Miracle

I always wondered what it would feel like to be the person who opened the door for Publisher Clearing House.

“What?!  I won!?!  This is...wonderful!!”  I would grab that giant, paper check and give a huge kiss to the person handing it to me (granted, this was my pre-married fantasy, I better run that one past my hubby now!).  

I always wondered...until today.

This morning, when I opened my front door, I was greeted with an announcement that transformed me into one of those crazy, jumping, ecstatic people from Publisher's Clearing House!

I had been playing on the front porch with my crew and was confused when I noticed a delivery truck backing into our driveway.  My confusion level upgraded from mild to wild though when a delivery man hopped out and hollered, "I have a brand-new washer and dryer for you!"

I laughed, "This is a joke, right?!"  Not that I thought it was hilarious that our current washer and dryer belonged at a museum next to dinosaurs of similar prehistoric age but having spied the contents (or lack thereof....) in my husband’s wallet lately, I was pretty sure he wasn’t the one replacing our old dinosaurs with BRAND-spankin’-new models!

And who else had I complained to about our oldie-goldies except my man?  Granted, the only reason I had told him the washer and dryer were dying a miserable death was because he had smelled the smoke coming from the basement and thought it was dinner (again).  I assured him the dryer was working just fine (minus the plume of smoke) so long as I planned ahead a year or two for any special clothes I needed since it was taking an average of six to seven hours to dry one load.

I couldn’t stop grinning as I showed the delivery man to our basement laundry area.  I could tell from the look he gave me he thought I was certifiably nuts.  It was either because he didn’t know why I kept laughing...or because of my answer when he asked how many kids I had.  Come to think of it, it was probably more likely option B.

But all that aside, I hadn’t been too worried...

Okay, who am I kidding!?  I had been worried about how our budget was going to stretch without snapping to accommodate for a fancy, new-fangled washer and dryer (translation for fancy: working!!).

In fact, my battle with worry was the very reason that my attention was snagged last night when I was listening to a pod-cast and the speaker threw out this challenge,

“What if you didn’t worry anymore (citing Luke 12:22-26)?  What would life look like for you if you stopped worrying...if you trusted God?”

What if?  I thought.  I squeezed my eyes shut and thought of all the things I had been worrying about: “Will our house sell?  Will I ever get to all my projects?  Am I prioritizing my time the way God wants me to?”, and last but not least, “What to do about our smokin’ hot dryer?!”  

...and THIS is another story!
I decided right then and there (there being while standing on a pile of toys I was attempting to organize, but that’s another story...) to get more active about trusting and more lazy about worrying!  What good did all that worrying do anyway?

God can and will take care of us.

Do I really believe that?  

I must.

After my conversation with God the night before, when that delivery truck backed into our driveway with a new washer and dryer, I half expected the Man himself to hop out of the back and unload the set!  If he had, I imagine he might have whistled a little tune and whispered as he walked past me (with my mouth hanging open, of course!), “’t worry...Trust Me.”

So easy to do...and yet so very hard!

It was 100% confirmed that God had indeed used an anonymous person to bless us after my husband got home and I showed him the new bling in our basement.

I never knew a brand-new washer and dryer could make a grown man cry.

“You deserve it, baby...” He smiled, “And God is faithful!”

Yes, He is.

THAT reminder is worth more to me than a ginormous Publisher’s Clearing House check any day of the week.  And thanks to a VERY generous person that God has used, I also have a visual reminder of God’s provision that I can see everyday.  Actually, three times a day...

Speaking of, I gotta go.  I’ve got laundry to do, baby!!

Thank you to whoever blessed our (dirty) socks off!!!