Thursday, January 29, 2009

Things I Love Thursday

**This is the post that was meant to publish.

Sarai, I totally nabbed this idea from your blog... hope you don't mind. After all, imitation is the highest form of fattery... flattery... :)

I had to nab it, though, so I can share about my Iron Chef.
My man in shining apron.

Either way, I love him and his latest creation... the Adirondacker.

While at the grocery the other night he pulled a when we were first married on me. Those were the days of consistent Friday night dates. Many times we would find a crazy recipe and hit up the store in search of some hard to pronounce cheeses or spices (often by hitting up the sweetest and most knowledgeable looking person in the aisle!) By about nine or ten o'clock we'd sit down to bliss-- bliss or blah, that is. As you can imagine, that part never really mattered too much; it was the fun in just trying something new and being together.

So the other night, he called and told me to pick up all sorts of fun stuff. Horseradish, parsley, a little fresh dill. Who am I to argue with a handsome guy who defends religious freedom AND knows how to work an apron?

I got home, and he made me dinner. Well, me and two other pretty girls-- that would be our new version of date night. (And feel free to nab the pant hanger idea for yourself. Keeps the recipe at eye level and frees up counter space. Ingenious, I tell you!)

The result? Bliss! I couldn't find the exact recipe online (though you can kinda blurry-like make it out if you click on the above picture), but go here if you'd like to give another of Rachael Ray's burgers a try; come to think of it, they have Super Bowl written all over them!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Moments With Maddie- Halfway to Birthday!

Hope and Maddie are one day shy of being exactly eighteen months apart. So while Hope was up and turning two last week, Maddie turned... gulp... half a year! It's going by too fast, y'all. We're not even kidding! Don't get us wrong; we thank God for a healthy child who is developing at her own pace. It's just the blink of an eye part of it all that cuts right to the heartstrings.

Heartstrings pulled on by milestones like cutting teeth, rolling every which way, babbling ("Mamamama!"), attempting to scoot on that tummy (or at least those mile a minute legs are giving it a valiant, floor swimming effort), starting a bit of big girl food, and becoming one of two little dog/animal lovers in the house. EVERY time she spots Tucker now she squeals and blows, waves her arms, kicks those legs, and flashes a classic Maddie-grin like you wouldn't believe. As Hope says, "Yook (look), Maddie's showing us happy!"

Happy, indeed... may you find six times the happy with this month's chance to watch her grow!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

1+1= Two Much Fun!

It's probably no surprise that we enjoy celebrating birthdays. I'll never forget a little boy I had in my classroom one year. He certainly could be tough, but also a gem, and I could hardly believe it when his Mom told me he had NEVER had a birthday party. Why? Because he had never been good enough.

Those sad words still ring in my ears. And still crush my heart.

Needless to say, we broke that terrible tradition with his third grade friends. Boy, did we ever... the whole class got the surprise of free Wendy's kids' meals for lunch (his mom worked there and the manager hooked us up), a ginormous cake, and extra recess in his honor. I can still see his huge grin as all the kids cheered for him along with the look of pride on his mother's face... and those images still make my heart soar!

Now with our own children, we want them to know that the sacred days of their births... well, those days are cause for celebration in honor of the work God did when He knit them together in my womb! Though we postponed Hope's little birthday party until February when (finger's crossed) we're still undoubtedly healthy, we did make the day full of small surprises meaningful to Hope. As requested, here are a few snapshots of it all. :) Thanks to all those who help remember her in many ways (like, you, Auntie Brooke!)

Sight for Sore Eyes

I know our neighbors must have thought us crazy blazing our outdoor lights in mid-January. We were a little more hesitant to fire up the tree (lest we fire up the whole house!), but we couldn't resist. Finally! Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years and birthdays with our family. As always, it went by too fast. But the memories? Thank God they last FOREVER! Our love goes with you to "Norf-Carey-ina!"

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hold the Cake! Pass the HAM! :)

From her first birthday...
Our baby girl, our first born, turns two on Monday. It's hard to believe that at this time last year she had only been walking about a month. Her vocabulary consisted of a wide range of noises and a handful of words like Dada, Mama, TaTa (Tucker), and duh (duck). At her party she had herself a big time, but didn't really seem to understand all the hoopla (though she quickly schooled herself on the concept of an unexpected treat like birthday cake!)

Another year. Already?
Umm, I don't think my heart is quite ready to go there today.

So while we anxiously wait on a few of her favorite presents to arrive, instead of slicing up another cake just yet, how about some HAM? Twelve months, a dozens worth, of good 'ole Hope-spun HAM with some never before seen picture footage of the HAM-ingest kind! Hope you enjoy some pieces of this little girl who makes us hold our sides (and hearts!) and grin from the inside out...
January 20… After a wonderful first birthday celebration came the sad realization that all our house guests had to travel home. Nana spent some lingering moments cuddling and playing with Hope before commenting, “If you say Nana, I’m telling you I’m taking you home with me!” The room grew silent and literally without a moment’s pause Hope patted her and said as clearly as she’s ever said any word, “Na-na!” Needless to say we had to check (and re-check) Nana’s suitcase before they finally went on their tearful way!

February 10… Hope apparently has great fun with being “that baby” in church and today was no different. Last week she became obsessed with bellybuttons… mine, Joe’s, Baby’s, and her own. After teaching her to call it a “button” she proudly showcased the discovery at home… and beyond. During meet and greet (we were first time visitors at this church, mind you) we introduced ourselves to a young man in front of us. When we said, “And this is Hope” she responded by pulling up her dress and pointing to her “button” with one very wide grin. To think the pastor only asked for people to shake hands and hug.

February 23… One of our favorite Saturday morning treats is to swing by a local, eclectic coffee house that serves the best and most affordable food. On one such special morning Hope was especially excited about the homemade strawberry jam we let her sample. On our way out Joe stopped to pay with Hope in his arms when she spied many baked goodies (a few looking suspiciously close to strawberry flavored!) She made all the servers laugh by smiling and acting cute… basically buttering them up for her final request. That’s when she distinctly pointed to her favorite baked good and in her sweetest voice asked, “Peeeeaaasssseee!” By the time we were ready to leave the Barista told her she could have the cappuccino and espresso machines too!

March 9… Hope has long adored the Dr. Seuss ABC’s book (and we have memorized practically the whole thing… nice for entertaining her in the car and elsewhere!) The great part is that when she gets excited or especially wants something, like tonight at dinner, she’ll try “pease” followed by shouting out her letters (A, B, and sometimes C). I can promise on my teacherly oath that I never taught her to do this, but oh the irony that I would have a child who uses the alphabet for bargaining power.
April 7… A virus going ‘round caught up with Hope and we made a trip to Dr. Chambers to make sure everything was okay. While there we found out her throat was indeed red and sore after the doctor peeked in with a tongue depressor. As soon as he removed the stick Hope looked at him pathetically and cried, “Jeshush!” (Jesus). Having just learned that word, she must have instinctively known then was one of those times to call upon Him. Our doc, a fellow believer, responded- “Yes, indeed, that’s exactly who can help you feel better!”
May 10… Lest we forget some of the language Hope has conjured up in these last weeks: When she’s really excited or content you would think her name should be Pebbles or Bam Bam as she literally exclaims, “Dappa Dappa Doo!” (We hear this the most when she’s happily playing or at meal time, and we can’t help but all join in). Also, when we are trying to teach her a new word and she doesn’t get it she’ll almost always come up with something to say and that something is usually, “Budgy.” A typical conversation sounds like this:
“Hope, this is a waffle. What do you call it?”
(Thoughtful, then certain), “Budgy.”
“No sweetie, a ‘wa-full’. Try that.”
(More certain), “Budgy!”
July 20… When Hope finally got to meet Maddie for the first time at the hospital you could tell she immediately fell in love with her little sister—smiling and touching all those little features. When we brought Maddie in the house the next day, Hope could barely contain herself as we tried to unload the car seat. Hope’s hands were all in the way and finally she kind of pushed us aside, stuck her face close to Maddie’s, and said “Maddie, I wuv ew! MWA!” Thank God we were filming this whole sweet exchange!
August-something… While I was recovering after Maddie’s birth Aunt Ellen was in town helping us get back on our feet. She planned lots of fun things for Hope including giving her a bunch of cool, hand-me-down outdoor toys. One was a V-Tech motorcycle that required new batteries for some of the bells and whistles. Aunt Ellen assured Hope Daddy would fix it when he got home. Over and again Hope would come up to Ellen pleading, “Daddy fix it!” Finally, in sheer frustration, Hope tried again. This time, “MOMMY fix it!” If at first you don't succeed... 'atta girl!
Sept. 19… Hope knows that anyone with the prefix “Auntie” before their first name means someone very fun and very special. But when she started calling Joe’s co-worker and our friend, Travis, Auntie Travis we got a little concerned (after a HUGE laugh, we might add). Later on that same week, though, she started calling me “Auntie Mommy. “ The clincher was when we were saying our prayers and she was thankful for “Auntie Jesus.” That’s when we figured it out… “Auntie”= Some kind of wonderful. (But as Travis, now Mr. Travis, concluded—good thing it was never “Auntie-Christ.”)
Oct. -Something… I (Joe) really enjoy my time with Hope putting her to bed almost every night. One night in particular we were playing some of our silly games when I accidentally “had a little air on my stomach” (as Katrina and her mom call it). I quickly said, "Excuse me" and we moved on. Later on after her bath Hope looked at me and said, “Ready?” “Ready?” I asked back in surprise. Then she closed her eyes in concentration and tooted. “Hope tootin’!” she told me. Not a second later she said again, “Ready?” And she did it again. She tried a third time with, “Ready?” She strained a bit on this one before announcing, “No more tootin’, Daddy!” No need to tell you how hard I was laughing!
Over Christmas Vacation… We had just checked into our room overlooking the ocean. It was nighttime so we had a great view of the Va. Beach light’s display lining the boardwalk. As I (Katrina) peered out the window I noticed that the nativity was within our view. “Look Hope, Baby Jesus in lights!” Hope pressed her nose hard against the glass and upon spotting her beloved Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus she excitedly told us in a voice that only childlike faith can exclaim, “THAT’S AMAZING!”
Jan.-somethings… Hope’s affection for her little sister is precious! When we bring Maddie into her room in the morning she says with such a gigantic smile, “There’s Maddie-Cakes!” Hope is determined to be a little mommy—wiping Maddie’s face, longing to dress her, kissing and hugging her to death. Whenever Maddie cries, Hope quickly tells her, “Maddie, it’s okay!” and tries to make it better with hugs, books, and toys. Thankfully so far there have only been a handful of times when a little “jealousy” appears on the scene. On one such occasion when we had been paying a lot of attention to Maddie, Hope came up to me (Katrina) and asked with a sigh, “So, no hit Maddie?” I reassured her, “NO hit Maddie!” Another time when Maddie rolled over both ways for the first time we all cheered. Hope happily joined us and then the thought must have struck. “Hey, Hope can roll over!” she reminds us all and then demonstrates just to be sure we really get it.

... To just the other night!


For anyone who might be interested in the full list, like we sent out last year, please e-mail us at and we'll hook you up! We just randomly selected this group of twelve.:) Have a great weekend!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Power in Praise

Lately I have been inspired and challenged by people who take some of life's hardest circumstances and turn them into opportunities for praising God. Maybe because the past months have been so full of beauty and wonder, yet also so full of... other stuff... for us. I want to be one of those people, those praise Him for the storm people. The kind of wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and neighbor whose hope lies beyond the wind and rain. Whose faith inspires others who may feel the very idea of hope has been all but lost.

I was reminded of this just the other day while we listened to one of Hope's Christmas presents from Grandma. To be more truthful, I was reminded of this just the other day while we rocked out to that present. It was a new Veggie Tales CD; I cannot lie.

Somewhere between cucumbers crooning about "Big House" by Audio Adrenaline and tomatoes belting out "My Place in This World" by Michael W. Smith, I was flooded with memories. The words to these songs brought me back to places I've been, so many joyful and some just full of that... other stuff. To be more truthful, I was flooded with some worries too. What about these two little girls we've been given? Will we help them to be full of joy, full of strength when their inevitable storms roll in?

And so I opened my eyes. To twirling, to a guitar made out of markers, and to this. I could hardly believe my camera was within arm's reach:

Powerful praise for a hope that cannot be dashed by the storm, but strengthened-- so strengthened--in and through it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Martins Came to Town... After Town... After...

Is it still legal to post about Christmas? Go ask my husband, you say? Well then, Christmas it is!

Truly it's been fun to read all about this time in everyone's families. We thought we might not live to actually ever tell about ours, yet here we are. Though at times it was two little, too much- we made it after all. We write this in victory of our accomplishments! Ha!

We braved a crazy schedule and many hours of travel throughout Virginia and had an awesome, memorable, oh-my-we've-been-gone-twelve-days-these-poor-kids-are-under-two time. So many people to see that we dearly miss! Come along on our picture filled, and we do mean picture filled, scenic tour. We had plenty of...

Reunions and some introductions for the girls:

Beach memories like seeing "Baby Jesus in wights (lights)" on the boardwalk outside our window and "bek-fist by the OH-sun!":

Songs, jokes, and games to play:

Special little touches fit just for the season (The following sweet pic was Hope's spot at the Christmas Eve table!):

A couple hours with just the two of us in pursuit of some hot chocolate-- holding hands, gazing at lights, and acting perfectly normal like we know what to do with ourselves when kidless:

No, wait... we tried to play it cool... SEE! (Please, that was certainly not us you saw skipping outside the Barnes and Noble):
EXCITEMENT that proved Christmas will just keep getting better and better. And, yes, Maddie's favorite gift was indeed tissue paper with a close second as... tissue paper. She joyfully rolled in it all morning long, while Chef Hope happily "cut" us up bunches of fruits and veggies from Santa:

And just like we had hoped for you, lots of kisses and hugs along the way:

From Maddie's first Christmas, the one when Hope learned of the Baby for whom we celebrate, here's a final family photo. So long, two thousand and eight:
Hard to imagine just what 2009 might hold!