Friday April 2, 2010

My mom grew up in a Jewish community, so we’re thinking maybe we should give some of her old neighbors a call — and it just so happens that my grandparents are still good friends with one of the couples, so it’s actually a reasonable thought. 🙂 So maybe my mom will do that, and we’ll get some truly experienced input on Seder meals. 🙂 But for this year, I managed to simply look through some stuff online (primarily the links I’d shared earlier), and put together a Seder meal for 5 (the 3 of us, plus my parents). Although Steven ended up having to work late, so we didn’t have time to do much of the liturgy before we needed to head out to our parish fellowship night, we did a little of it. My mom lit the candles and said the opening prayer. We did the four glasses of wine (who would skip those?!), and the toasts (if you call them that) with those, and I read some of the extra stuff, like the explanations of what things meant, etc. And Steven read Psalm 113 as part of it as well. So it was a much shortened version, but it was still fun — especially for a first try. When Gabriel is older, he will really like it, I think. He loves liturgical things (he is so our boy).

Here is our [roughly] Seder plate, with the symbolic foods on it: bitter herbs, salt water, a bone (umm, yeah, so our lamb roast was boneless & I had to improvise by using a dog toy….), charoset (a sweet mixture of apples, raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, sweet red wine, and honey), matzoh crackers (the matzoh balls were on a separate plate), and hard boiled egg.

Here are the child (Gabriel had brought home a communion cup a few weeks ago, so it was perfect for his wine glass) & adult place settings (don’t you love those small green wine glasses my mom has?).
 
The food, and the table. For the dinner feast part of the meal, we had grilled lamb (my mom did that part — I don’t really know how to grill!), a grain mixture I bought at Trader Joe’s last week (Israeli couscous, orzo, garbanzo beans, and quinoa), green beans from my garden last year, hard boiled eggs, matzoh bread, matzoh balls, and charoset.
   
Ready to eat!!

Loving the wine (are you noticing that he didn’t stay in his high chair, and didn’t want to use his tiny wine glass?) — it really tasted like [barely] spiked Welch’s, it was that sweet. I bought kosher wine, Manischewitz, and while not my favorite wine ever, it was great to have something authentic like that (it’s what the Jewish families in my mom’s childhood neighborhood used for Passover).
 

It was fun to do the Seder meal together, and I hope we can develop it more in future years.
Now I am looking forward to the Good Friday service tonight, where I am going to attempt to accompany the entire service on my harp. If I can muscle through the pain of my blisters, that’s my intent. And then I just won’t be able to play harp for a couple weeks, I think. 🙂 I also semi smashed my pointer finger in the car door two days ago (when delivering my harp to the church), so that is making it slightly difficult as well.
And then Resurrection Sunday!! I have to be at church at 8:30 to practice an anthem on organ with two trumpets, a trombone, and our little church choir. Then there’s brunch at church, but I think maybe I will just come home to get my boys, and not bother about staying for the brunch. I get to play organ for most of the service on Sunday, which Gabriel will love. And then after church we will head to the country for our Easter Feast! Tomorrow I will be making pineapple casserole (not using that linked recipe, but it’s similar: mine has cinnamon though!!) and challah for my part of the meal.

Thursday April 1, 2010

I will try to be selective and not post too many pictures… but there are so many good ones from our trip! 🙂

We’d just landed in CA, so I was able to smile – hehe. 🙂

Driving around…

Lover’s Point in Monterey.

Carmel Beach.

Hanging out at Great Grandma’s house.


San Francisco (where I was born).
Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Park.

Lunch at Scoma’s.

Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39.

Ghirardelli Square.

Having a low-key day while Steven worked at a conference.

Took my little boy on a date to the donut shop where my dad used to take me.

After visiting one of our sister churches (which was so great), we went to Big Basin to see the Redwoods.

A nap, a bath, and picking lemons about wrapped up our trip. 🙂

There… was that selective enough? 🙂

Tuesday March 16, 2010

Today is my nephew Noah’s first birthday. It is also my niece Hannah’s first birthday.
Yes, the twins are one!
 
I made them these fun things for birthday gifts.

The crowns are my favorite, especially because Gabriel has a coordinating one. So I am envisioning the three of them playing dress-up someday, with two kings and a queen. Sounds like fun!
At any rate… now that the twins’ birthday has arrived, I am starting to think about Gabriel’s birthday. I know, I know — it’s two months away. But this mommy likes to plan ahead. I ordered his main birthday gift today, but I also want to make him a little something extra. I am going to make one of these felt “Happy Birthday” banners for the occasion. But what else? Hmm…
I’m thinking a Quiet Book is exactly right. It would be so nice to have during church, and other necessarily-quiet times.
Have any of you had Quiet Books? And even more to the point, have any of you made one before??
I had one as a child. This one looks very similar to it. I am trying to get ideas online, and was hoping to glean some tips or pointers before I start digging into the craft supplies. Click here to see five different themed Quiet Books; I am thinking it would be fun to incorporate some of the ideas from each of these that are seen here.
So anyway… if anyone has ideas or tips, feel free to chime in. Should I actually attempt and finish this project, I will share it with you at an appropriate time. 🙂 Just remember — I have two months!

Monday February 22, 2010

I wish I knew how to say “birthday party” in Chinese, lol. 🙂
My family party was yesterday after church at my parents’ house. We had a really nice time, and my mother went completely all out (what else is new?!) with food and decorations and making me feel totally 100% special.

Kids playing!

Food preparations underway – complete with two woks!
   
Beautiful, detailed, themed table setting! Completely black, red, white, and gold. With paper lanterns, an ivory dragon my dad got in Chinatown as a kid, chopsticks (and chopstick rests), authentic teapot & cups, etc…
 
Time to feast!!! The menu included pork fried rice, chow mein, bbq pork buns, potstickers, lemon chicken, sweet & sour pork, and jasmine green tea – all completely from scratch!! Super delicious & amazing.

Hannah just eating a piece of rice with chopsticks 🙂

Gabriel has an intense infatuation with buckles right now. 🙂

Noah was napping, but Gabriel & Hannah helped me open gifts. 🙂

Instead of a traditional birthday cake, I asked for chocolate mousse (not very in-theme with my requested Chinese meal….). It was delicious! Topped with chocolate-dipped fortune cookies sprinkled with red & black sugar. And served in a generations-old crystal dish.

Gabriel helping me blow out my candle. 🙂

Cute family!

Okay, okay… I mentioned that “I don’t believe in fortune cookies” right before I cracked this one open. Niiiiice, right? 🙂 Then Steven piped up, “But we believe God providentially ordained for you to get that fortune!” lol.

Monday February 15, 2010

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.

While I do think that this holiday is much over-commercialized and over-emphasized to a large extent (I suppose that’s mostly personal preference, so don’t whack me over the head ~ we’re all entitled to our own opinions on these types of things)… I think marital romance can never be over-emphasized.

Now, of course, I happily married a romantic. He’s not the type of block-head husband who needs See’s and 1-800-Flowers to remind him to show me how much he loves me. We don’t need a specific Hallmark holiday to remind us of our passionate love for one another. Or of our tender love for one another. Or of our enduring love for one another. We live it out in our daily lives together. And we are so thankful for God’s blessing upon our marriage, and for giving us our love for one another. We give all the praise and glory to Him for the beauty in our marriage!

But, regardless of how beautifully we live a life of marital romance on a day-to-day basis, it is nice to have a few yearly opportunities (a poke with a pin, so to speak) to really go out of our way to show each other something special. Something unordinary. (Again, my husband & I do this kind of thing on days other than Valentine’s Day and our anniversary — we’re not limited to twice a year — but we also don’t neglect those days for reminders.)

I have previously posted about our real-life romance. How we don’t need fancy, expensive dinners out. Or weekly movie dates. Or a dozen roses delivered on special days. Although all of those things are undoubtedly nice and delightful, and we do indulge in such things on occasion.

But Valentine’s Day in our home is homey. And private. And lovely.
And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
This year it included (but was not limited to): Steven writing me a poem, he made me dinner, I made dessert, we lit candles, looking at our wedding pictures, and we spent hours in one another’s company just being reminded of the beautiful thing God gave us when He covenanted with us on our wedding day.

So, sure: Valentine’s Day is over-commercialized & unnecesssary.
But I would never say it isn’t lovely & worthwhile.

I love it. 🙂

Husby grilling in the rain.

A port reduction sauce he concocted.

Delicious grilled lamb chop! The marinade was excellent.

Adding the finishing touches.

I turned the lights up for the photo, but we ate by candlelight.

Unfortunately this is the best pic we got of us together! Ack…

Tuesday December 29, 2009

I know you’ve all been anxiously awaiting Christmas pictures from our place! (right??)
So here you go! Enjoy a glimpse into our Christmas celebrations!

While Mommy did some last minute Christmas preparations, Gabriel played by himself! This never used to happen, but he’s starting to do it a little at a time. Love it. 🙂 He has recently discovered building block towers and knocking them down. So cute!


A new Christmas tradition we have is for our Christmas Eve. The original idea was to have an hors d’oeurves dinner… but in reality, it ended up being Tapas From Around The World. What fun! We had Greek kabobs with tzatziki sauce; Asian potstickers with soy garlic sauce; Italian meatballs with tomato sauce; cheese (from Ireland and Norway) and crackers; sangria from Spain; Scotland-inspired sauteed mushrooms and tomatoes; England-inspired toasted cheese bread… and totally American Christmas cookies for dessert. 🙂 Yummmmm!

After dinner, Gabriel needed a quick bath before getting ready for the Christmas Eve church service… and Grandmama gave him a faux-hawk! lol.

He shared Christmas cookies with Grandpapa. His favorites are Great Grandma’s jelly thumbprints.

On Christmas morning we celebrated as a family, complete with Christmas jammies! We ate cinnamon rolls for breakfast before opening stockings, lit the Advent candles (Gabriel loves them!), then read & sang & ate chocolate – and then opened the rest of our gifts. What a fun time for us! Gabriel really enjoyed his toys… but only moderately enjoyed the unwrapping part. 🙂


I don’t know what Steven was saying here… but I think it’s hilarious. 🙂

This was the toy Gabriel picked out for his Christmas gift – a super cute little tractor complete with animals and a redheaded farmer boy. 🙂 Steven also bought him a miniature acoustic guitar – but I forgot to take a picture. 🙂 I think I was using the video instead.

This was what Gabriel did during the drive over the river and through the woods (which we *actually* do, you know!) on the way to Grandmama’s house! It was his last ride in his infant car seat. *tear*

The plethora of goodness at the country house. 🙂 Look at all those stockings! I think Grandpapa may need to start building a bigger mantle.

Sorry, Mama; I know you don’t like this picture… but I love how Gabriel was mooching off of Grandpapa’s brunch plate! 🙂 Next year let’s add hash browns. I love Christmas brunch!

The younger Bennetts arrived shortly after brunch. The three kids wore their matching outfits! So much fun! But they didn’t love getting a picture taken… this was the *best* of the bunch, believe it or not. lol.

Auntie M happily squished between the cutest niece and nephew ever. 🙂

Grandmama, enjoying her double portion.

Gabriel was uncertain about his stocking… so I got to open most of the things inside. 🙂

Lovely little Hannah.

Smiley Noah loved his new ball.

Everyone wore red on Christmas – except Grandmama who wore green. 🙂

Gabriel on his new rocking/bouncing horse!

Gabriel kicking back and trying out his brand new, awesome Britax carseat! (yes, it can still face backwards for a while – no worries!)

Our traditional Christmas dinner tasted soooooo good. The best it ever has, I think. I ate WAY. TOO. MUCH. And it was delightful. 🙂



On Boxing Day we celebrated Christmas via webcam with Steven’s family. It was great to visit, open gifts, and let Gabriel warm up a bit – although he still wasn’t quite as interactive as I’d like. I think he thinks the webcam is a strange sort of video. Although I can tell he recognizes Grandma Deb, even when he doesn’t want to talk to the video himself. 🙂

The thing under blankets is a wonderful classic red wagon! Gabriel loves it!! And so do we. 🙂 I haven’t taken a picture of him with it yet, as he needs supervised while using it. I’ll get one sometime soon. 🙂
He also got fun puzzles, a latch board, this sorting board (which he loves – especially the circles and triangles), a super cute shirt… you know, all kinds of fun things every kid needs. 🙂

A friend of mine sent a box to us, and she included a gift for Gabriel that her husband made! Isn’t it a cute little duckie? Gabriel wants to do it himself, but just gets it tied up. Someday. 🙂

Here he is leaning in to kiss the duckie.

Aaaaaaand here he is kissing his horsie. That’s what he’s into these days. Kissing things. No joke.
His books (mostly pictures of cows – I’m serious!), his toys, blankie, Dilly – yup, the kid loves to kiss.


And just because I’m so proud of myself for finally doing it… I added a couple things to the nursery today. I was given these adorable framed classic Pooh pictures over a year ago (a friend picked them up at a garage sale, and I had the perfect spot on the nursery wall for them), and just nailed them up today. And then this cute little G hook has been wanting to be a coat hook for months… and it finally got put up too. 🙂 So cute!

Thus ends the picture show for today. 🙂

Saturday December 19, 2009

I can’t believe Christmas is less than a week away! I hope your preparations and celebrations are going wonderfully, and that the joy of the Lord is your strength.
First of all, thank you all for your continued prayers for our family! The Lord is good, and continues to provide our daily bread. We rejoice in His mercies!
As a quick update on Baby Six, we have gotten two sets of good hormone levels this week – and the first ultrasound went well, too. Each day is a milestone at this point, and we continue to beseech the Lord to use our new treatments to help protect Baby Six.
Also, I realized I needed to upload a few more pictures before Christmas! Enjoy.

Going on a walk with Gabriel when it was only about 15 degrees out – it didn’t last long. 🙂
 
Although we were able to buy gifts for family members this year, I still enjoyed making goodies for the deacons & elders, other church workers, Bible study leaders, neighbors, and some friends. I did various types of candied nuts for most everyone, with gift bags full of jarred gifts for some people too – either pancake mix and strawberry sauce or a jar of soup mix with a small jar of cornbread mix. To fatten up our friends! 🙂

I made a super amazing food creation not long ago. Yes, I am patting myself on the back. 🙂 These are 3 Cheese Pesto Rolls. With dough made like my cinnamon roll dough (only slightly less sweet), I filled them with a mixture of cream cheese, butter, homemade pesto, and two grated cheeses. They were a huge hit!! I am already eager to make them again. 🙂 One night we had them for dinner with breaded pork chops, and another day with tomato soup (that was on a Sunday – notice the Advent candles?).

A short series of pics from when we took our Christmas photo. 🙂

And the winner was….

 

Decanting some delicious port.

Celebrating Advent with readings, music, and -Gabriel’s favorite part- chocolate truffles!

For the first time, we were invited to a Christmas party! A cocktail Christmas party. It was so much fun to have an excuse to get dressed up and go out! And -for once- we stayed up late too. 🙂

We also recently had a Family Date Night – I think this “first” must become a tradition of sorts. 🙂 We took Gabriel out to our favorite local burger joint, and he got his very first cheeseburger. He loved it! Didn’t even want fries. 🙂 Then we went to a toy shop and let him roam the aisles for a while. It was so cute! We bought him a Christmas toy (a super cute little tractor, complete with animals in a trailer that make noises), after judging his favorites. 🙂

Monday November 30, 2009

We had such a good celebration of Steven’s birthday (Erin, I always forget that our hubby’s share the birthday), rejoicing in God’s goodness to us in giving Steven another year of life to serve God & be in our family. We are thankful!!

We decorated our house the day before Steven’s birthday, and when Gabriel woke up from his nap he was so surprised to see the pretty tree. He loves it!! And he is so good about not touching it.
 
Playing outside in a new hat Grandmama just knit for him!

For Steven’s surprise birthday date, we went together to see The Lion King musical!! We just adored it! Steven was very surprised (thanks Mama and Daddy!). I’ve never seen such an incredible production before. If you have any opportunity, you have to go see it. Seriously.
 
 
We went out for a great meal at a local steakhouse we love. We shared a delicious bottle of French red wine; we both had caesar salad; Steven had (of course) a delicious steak with a goat cheese & sundried tomato butter; I had a grilled pork porterhouse with autumn seasonings (that I can’t recall, lol); and we shared the complimentary birthday creme brulle. SO GOOD!!! We had a delightful time. Loved it.
 
Before dinner at Steven’s family birthday party on Sunday.

Fresh, homemade pasta!!!

Gabriel was so intrigued by Grandpapa’s electric knife.

Dinner was lovely. Not only delicious, but fun. The twins even sat at the table with us all for the first time! Steven ordered seafood fettuccini alfredo, bread with pesto butter, caesar salad, and tirimisu cheesecake — he was incredibly pleased.
   
 
Okay, so this is what these two love to do now! Dilly adores being pushed in the cart, and Gabriel loves to push it! It cracks me up. Dilly even lies down sometimes and almost falls asleep.

Monday November 30, 2009

I asked, “Gabriel, where is the fire?” and he pointed and said something in Gabrielese. lol.

This is my *favorite* new picture. Too bad it’s kinda grainy. Otherwise, I love it.

Going to cut our Christmas tree…

Lost the boots so needed to be carried…

What a happy boy! He loves adventures…

Success!

Making mashed potatoes.

Foooooood.

He almost cleaned his plate — he loved everything!

yummy dessert

we made it through Thanksgiving. and look! smiles. 🙂

Friday November 20, 2009

These were the three little candles we had lit on October 15th in remembrance of Covenant, Glory, and Promise. Next year there will be another one added for Peace.

In mid-October we spent a day at podunky little town in the center of the state, meeting up with two of Steven’s buddies from “pre wife” life. lol. Abby and Jared. We had a great time hanging out at a random park, and then enjoying the rainless coziness of an awesome cafe.





Eventually the maple tree in our front yard finished dropping most of its leaves, so it was time to rake! Gabriel was thrilled and loved to help Daddy. 🙂




We have been blessed by many beautiful flowers during the pregnancy with Peace, and after the miscarriage. Aren’t these lovely? They have certainly blessed us.
This one was organized by my friend Margaret, from about a dozen families from our church!



This gorgeous vase and rose was from my friend Meggan; it has dried now and sits on the vanity in our room.


From our church family, a lovely bouquet.


From my friend Lisa, I think she said these are Peruvian lilies.


Gorgeous roses from Jaclynn and Samantha, filling my entire kitchen with the scent of roses!
 
On November 14th I was supposed to throw a baby shower at church for my dear friend Elizabeth. I was able to still do all the preparations, shopping, decorating, games, etc — but I did not actually go to host the shower in person. So another mutual friend pinch-hit-hosted for me, and hopefully it all went together well. I sincerely wanted it to be a time of joy and blessing for Elizabeth and her new baby boy (who we finally got to meet this week!). I don’t have any good pictures, but here are some random shots of the cupcakes I made, one of the tables, and the brunch table & gift table. Sorry you can’t get an idea for how fun and cute it was… it was a work in progress when I took these. 🙂 I’m hoping someone took pictures of the shower, because I really want to see how everything turned out! I had a lot of fun putting together the games too… I should tell y’all about them sometime. When I feel like talking baby again.



Here is my gorgeous little boy. We were playing around the house together as usual, and I brought out my camera one day. This is what we got. Plus a lot more of the same. lol.






My grandparents are in town for a while, celebrating not only Thanksgiving but also both their birthdays! (and my hubby’s birthday next week, too) So last Sunday (on Grandpa’s 80th birthday!) we had a little party for the two of them at my parents’ house.
We even brought presents — homemade goodies: soup mix, bread mix, chocolate truffles, and candied pecans.

I don’t know that you can tell by the photos, but Gabriel runs so fast with this toy — he falls down every so often once he gets dizzy, and it’s fairly comical.



The birthday boy relaxing by the fire.

Table decorations.

Smiley little Noah! He thinks Auntie M is craaaaaaazy.

Pretty little Hannah.

On the menu? Grilled surf ‘n’ turf!

Decadent chocolate cake and Baskin Robbins ice cream for dessert.

Birthday wishes!

Showing Great Grandpa his little car-driving-toy