The verses that have REALLY spoken to me (Sarah) lately....
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." Matthew 7:24-25
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. I Peter 5:8-9
From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' Acts 17:26-28
May the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14
So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess. Deuteronomy 5:32-33
God, our God, will take care of the hidden things but the revealed things are our business. It's up to us and our children to attend to all the terms in this Revelation. Deuteronomy 29:29 (The Message)
We are Marc, Sarah, Luke, and Kate Friesen. We were married June 5, 2004. We have one son, born July 21, 2008, named Luke Andrew -- now 4 years old. We also have a daughter named Kate Christine -- born June 6, 2012. Marc is working at Cessna as a Senior Accountant, and Sarah stays home full-time with Luke. Sarah also gets to work very part-time at home for Graber Backhoe -- an excavation company AND VERY part-time at our church. We LOVE being a part of Grace Community Church here in Newton, KS. We lead a Community Life Group of other wonderful couples. Marc thoroughly enjoys long-distance running and Taekwondo. Sarah thoroughly enjoys walking -- especially when the weather is nice to take Luke and/or out in the stroller. Thanks for reading our blog!
With my active participation on Facebook, I sometimes wonder if blogging is necessary. Then, I think, "Yes, it is...people read this blog who are not friended with me on Facebook. PLUS, not everybody is on Facebook." Also, with blogging, I can expand descriptions of pics a bit....SO, here goes....
I took a six-week (3 times/week) childcare job here at home. It's for some friends of our's. SO, it's all good...BUT, 4 kids is my limit. I know it will challenge me. I know I need to be organized in my facets of this job. Luke & Lily (one of the children I'm watching) are a bit like siblings in that they tend to fight and sometimes make me want to pull my hair out. Because of the snow this past week, it only ended up being one day to have the extra kids. SO, that wasn't bad at all.
Most of you know that we're a family of 5 this year. We have a French foreign exchange student, Emma, living with us. She's been delightful to have here. Kate especially has really taken to her. This week, Kate did something super cute. She walked up to Emma and pointed at her hair. Kate wanted Emma to fix her hair. Emma did, and Kate sat really nice for her to do it.
If you're local, this is obvious, but if you're not, we received a bunch of snow this week (relative to where we live). Schools were cancelled for 3 days. It's been abnormally cold as well....so, everything is frozen. Our limited road crews have had a hard time getting the streets cleaned. I'm not complaining about the road crews; I'm GRATEFUL for them. I just know this winter storm was unusual enough that quite frankly, we're not equipped to handle.
Probably about a year ago, someone older and wiser than me commented on a Facebook post of mine (probably griping about the weather) that "complaining about the weather is ultimately complaining to the One who created it (God)." For some reason, that statement was really convicting. SO, though I'm not perfect at this, for the last year, I've been really striving to not complain about the weather. After all, God did give it to us. (AND, admittedly, I really struggle with this in the summer because I struggle with 100-degree heat day after day). And seriously, if you think about it, we all, at least in this country, for the most part, choose where we live. If we truly don't like it, we do have the ability to move. SO, if we're going to live where we live, we need to expect the climate that goes with it. ANYWAYS, off of my soapbox now -- With all of that in mind, God also gives us the change in seasons. SO, this week with all of the snow, I made a "spring" cake to keep us plowing through the winter. We were thinking good thoughts. This cake turned out quite lovely -- thank you very much! It was tasty to all five of us in this household.
Over the last week to 10 days, Kate has had a runny nose -- nothing too unusual with a young kid in the middle of winter. And, for the most part, it didn't seem to bother her. BUT, in the middle of this winter storm this week, she developed a nice barking cough -- many of you know this as croup. The croupy cough didn't concern me too much. I know it's not terribly uncommon. My mom reminds me I had it as a kid. I know plenty of other people who have had kids with it. BUT, yesterday (Thursday), her breathing seemed a bit labored. SO, to be on the safe side, Marc & I decided I should at least call the doctor to see what he thought. Well, he wanted to see her, and we were able to get in very quickly (which surprised me since it is cold and flu season). He ended up prescribing her a steroid for the cough (which has drastically helped already). To top it off -- I'm glad I took her in -- she had an ear infection with which she was showing no symptoms. SO, she's on an antibiotic. I know ear infections are very common with kids. I personally feel fortunate that neither of our kids have had them very bad nor very often.
What a difference 24 hours makes! Today, Kate's been fine. She still has a little bit of a barking cough, but overall, she's much better. I even took her out this evening to an event we had planned on attending for over a month.
Luke has pretty much always been really good at entertaining himself -- so good, in fact, that I sometimes (O.K. -- many times) take it for granted. I've recently realized just how much more time I probably could've spent with him doing activities instead of leaving him to his own devices. BUT, he's just always been that way. Now, however, we're preparing to send him to kindergarten in August....so, this Mama's going through the stage of "I'm really going to miss him." In the pics above, he was doing quite a bit of work with his tools -- between working with his little workbench inside to being in the cold garage, fixing his lawnmower and weed-eater.
Tired of reading yet? One more description (which wasn't on Facebook)...Back on Monday evening, one of our local TV stations broadcasted, LIVE, a naturalization ceremony in Wichita. (By broadcasted, I mean "streamed LIVE" online). The actual ceremony was open to the public; however, that was the evening the snow was to move in. I wasn't going to drive in it for the ceremony. PLUS, it was good to simply be home with everybody for the evening. ANYWAYS, Emma & I watched it stream LIVE. While we couldn't see any of the 88 people who were becoming US citizens, we did hear the oath being read. We did watch the "official" part of the ceremony where the judge declared them US citizens. AND, we watched a video of others who had previously become US citizens. Being a US citizen is most definitely something I have taken for granted. While I was taught to be a little bit patriotic, I definitely can say I wasn't taught completely what it meant to be a US citizen. Like I said, it's something I've taken for granted. As a college student and as an adult, I have been exposed to Americans who like to "bash" the USA. Admittedly sometimes, it's easy to get "sucked in" (if only for a bit) into thinking that things are just terrible and non-progressive here. Then, and fortunately, I come to later realize just how good we have it here. Watching something like a naturalization ceremony compounds my thoughts as to how wonderful we really do have it. Nope -- we're not perfect. Nobody in the human race is (other than when God himself came to earth a little over 2,000 years ago). BUT, to listen to some of these naturalized citizens talk about the freedoms and liberty they have by being a US citizen -- WOW! It was powerful....tearfully powerful. That evening, in the comforts of our warm home, on my iPad, I witnessed 88 people from 30-some countries denounce their own citizenship and become US citizens. When you really stop and think about that, it's pretty amazing!
Christmas was over a month ago. Marc & I were just talking the other night about how January is such a dark month. It's dark because all of the Christmas lights are down; the days are short; it's cold. Right after Christmas, I was just reading somewhere that Christmas should be celebrated all year long -- NOPE, not the Santa stuff, obnoxious gift giving, etc... -- BUT, the birth of Christ, our Savior in this world. I couldn't agree more, but I'm not completely sure how that looks from a practical standpoint other than keeping Christ as the center of our home -- something Marc & I strive to do but fully realize we fall short. BUT, since Christmas is so completely & utterly important AND I do like the idea of celebrating it all year AND I honestly haven't done well at keeping up on this blog, how about some belated Christmas pics? These are pics from our official two weeks of celebrating (a.k.a. school was out; Marc was home). (AND, I fully realize that was a complete run-on sentence for all of you grammar nerds out there -- of which I am one some of the time).
If you don't know, this year, we have Emma living with us. Emma is a foreign exchange student from France. It's been completely awesome having her with us, and it's been equally as fun teaching her some "American things." Emma had never experienced making sugar cut-out cookies. AND, my mom is the QUEEN of cookie cutter collecting. AND, my mom does a much better job with sugar cookies than I do. So, when my mom suggested we all make cookies with Emma, we took her up on the offer (Marc took her up on the offer of supper since he really doesn't care much about making sugar cookies). So, there was an American tradition we all did together (only had to postpone one day because of poor weather/driving conditions).
If you aren't around us regularly, you need to know that in December, Kate decided, at the ripe ol' age of 18 months, that it was ok to finally start walking. I had seriously held off on putting shoes on her until she learned to walk -- which meant having her in no shoes several times when it was quite cold. Before she started walking, my mom had told me she wanted to buy Kate her first good pair of shoes once she started walking. SO, two days before Christmas, my mom & I took Kate to a good shoe store to have her feet properly fitted for a good pair of shoes. Kate's a hard one to figure out...SO, needless to say, she didn't like having a stranger measure her feet (something that her brother has always let us do, despite his disdain for strangers as well). But, we succeeded in finding a CUTE pair of shoes for her that are properly fitted. BUT, she let us know, in a cute and sad way, that getting her feet properly fitted wasn't exactly her cup of tea.
Shortly before Christmas, our small group had a white elephant gift exchange -- which is ALWAYS a funny and good time, EVERY year. (Trust me -- a lot of laughs occur having a white elephant exchange with close friends). Anyways, Marc received a bowling ball complete with the Kansas City Chiefs logo on it. It just so happened that we had a host family/foreign exchange student party two days before Christmas -- with bowling as the activity. So, he got to use this precious gift!
Up until this year, I always thought everybody here in town knew about our little donut shop, Druber's, on Christmas Eve. BUT, in case you live here and don't know this, Druber's gives away ONE free donut and one FREE drink to each person in Druber's on Christmas Eve. Santa Claus is there for the kiddos, and kiddos even receive a little gift sack. It's very busy AND very fun. We wanted to make sure Emma experienced this phenomenon -- donuts on Christmas Eve at Druber's. Neither one of our kiddos wanted to sit on Santa's lap, and quite frankly, I don't care if they ever do....not something extremely important to me. (AND, I emphasize the ONE free donut because Christmas Eve is Marc's "Three Donut Day" -- in other words, we had to pay for two donuts for him).
I know many already have this tradition, but for some reason, I hadn't started it until this year. That tradition would be to have a "Happy Birthday Jesus" cake. SO, I made a triple layer, yes, triple layer, chocolate cake for Jesus' birthday (I figure Jesus deserves the very best since He is the Savior of the world). Since Luke's one sibling is too young to blow out candles, he got to by himself (we'll see about next year -- Ha). If you look closely at the pic, you might notice a large crack in the cake. Yes, the cake didn't stay together as well as I had hoped (and I had made triple layer cakes before). After we cut into it and were eating our cake, Emma suddenly said, "Oh no, the cake." Yep, it fell over. BUT, it still tasted good!
This last pic is rather comical. Here's a little background: Marc worked at our local hospital for about 1 1/2 years (right before Luke was born). Their cafeteria, every other Thursday, has what is affectionately called "Taco Salad Thursday" (at least by the hospital employees). Basically, they sell taco salad, which one builds him or her self, by the weight of the salad. During Marc's tenure at the hospital, he really enjoyed this taco salad (as I think many of the hospital employees do). Since he left the hospital, shortly before Luke's birth, if he's off work and we're around that week of the taco salad, we actually make the trek into the hospital to eat this taco salad. WELL, Marc has now rounded up quite a crew of our friends to eat this taco salad with us. Last year, another family (some very good friends) joined us. This year, Marc managed to round up a total of 18 people for this event the day after Christmas. A 19th person joined us once we were there. Two more people had originally planned on coming and then had a change of plans at the last minute. It's quirky, yes, we know. BUT, it's a fun thing to do with good friends. And admittedly, the taco salad's pretty good. It just seems odd to go in the hospital with perfectly healthy kids when there are quite a few sick people in the hospital this time of year. We'll see about next year -- Ha! "Taco Salad Thursday" falls on Christmas Day!
We have some good friends who live up in eastern Washington state. The wife's parents live here in the same town as we do. So, we do get to sometimes see our friends when they are visiting. We do exchange Christmas gifts with them. This year, Marc was given some homemade sausage from Washington as well as some canned cheese -- made at Washington State University. It's called "Cougar Gold" sharp cheddar cheese. I can honestly say I've personally never had cheese out of a can -- which sounds hilarious. Even Emma (who is from France -- where there is a lot of good cheese) had never had cheese out of a can.
Let's just say it was a task to open this can of cheese. It was one strong can. I worked on it for awhile. Emma worked on it for awhile. She was able to get it open enough for us to eat some for supper (with our sausage). But ultimately, Marc had to finish opening it after supper for us to be able to properly store the remainder of the cheese. Goodness....
Yes, it was good cheese. And fortunately, we still have some left!
Originally, my meal plan for the week had "Pizza Taco Soup" on it for this evening. Last night, I was re-looking at the recipe, and I simply didn't find the recipe exciting like I did last weekend. SO, I decided I'd make a family favorite of our's and share it. BUT, Marc has a simple requirement for this family favorite -- pepperoni. Since I needed to go to the grocery store today anyways (to replenish our ongoing banana supply -- we go through a lot of bananas in this household), I did indeed pick up pepperoni for this family favorite. I forgot to take pics until the very end....SO, this one pic I have isn't the most appealing as it's our skillet after we've picked through it. BUT, Marc reminded me that it's a great pic because it shows just how much we like it. The recipe for tonight was "Pizza Sloppy Joes." (This isn't an official slow cooker recipe; however, there's absolutely no reason you couldn't throw it together in the slow cooker for a more peaceful time before supper -- which never is the case here, in my opinion).
1 lb. ground beef, browned;
1/2 C. chopped onion (browned with ground beef);
1 - 14 oz. jar of pizza sauce (we really like the $1 jar of "Great Value" sauce at Wal-Mart);
1/2 - 1 tsp. basil;
1/2 - 1 tsp. oregano;
Pepperoni -- however much you think you need;
Mix all ingredients together. Serve on buns with shredded mozzarella cheese (or whatever you have on hand). Tonight, I served with tater tots and a salad. YUM-O!
I don't know Marcy, but that's the name of the chicken with which I found a recipe. To be honest, this ended up not being one of my favorites -- one I probably won't use again. Nope -- it wasn't bad; it simply wasn't my favorite, and we have many other recipes I like better. BUT, I said I'd post...so, here it is. The pic I took right after I had it all ready in my slow cooker doesn't look that appetizing, does it?
2 lbs. chicken pieces (I used skinless, boneless chicken tenderloin pieces);
1/4 C. Flour (I used corn starch);
1 C. Ketchup;
2 C. Water;
1/3 C. Worcestershire Sauce;
1 tsp. chili powder;
1/2 tsp. salt;
1/2 tsp. pepper;
2 drops Tobasco Sauce;
1/4 tsp. garlic salt;
1/4 tsp. onion salt;
The Final Cooked Product....
In all fairness, our PICKY child, Luke, ate this chicken. He didn't want to try it, but I told him he had to. He ate the bare minimum of his chicken and potatoes to get dessert (don't hold that against this recipe; this would be normal for Luke). Kate, of course, devoured it. SO, I would call this child-friendly. I made garlic mashed potatoes and a salad to go with this chicken.
This evening (Tuesday), we had "Mexican Corn Bread." Marc, Emma, and I all agreed this was quite good. It will be added to our family's repertoire of meals. We all 3 agreed that it was better than last night's cheese and corn chowder. Luke, the picky one, didn't try it. Kate, on the other hand, cleaned her plate. SO, I would say this is yet again a child friendly recipe. This first pic is one right after I put it in the slow cooker. The last pic will be the finale -- just before eating.
16-oz. can cream-style corn;
1 Cup cornmeal;
1/2 tsp. baking soda;
1 tsp. salt;
1/4 Cup oil;
1 Cup Milk;
2 eggs, beaten;
1/2 Cup Taco Sauce;
2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese;
1 medium onion, chopped;
1 garlic clove, minced;
4-oz. can diced green chiles;
1 lb. ground beef, cooked and drained;
A) Combine corn, cornmeal, baking soda, salt, oil, milk, eggs, and taco sauce. Pour half of mixture into slow cooker (I lightly sprayed slow cooker). B) Layer cheese, onion, garlic, green chiles, and ground beef on top of cornmeal mixture. Cover with remaining cornmeal mixture. C) Cover. Cook on high 1 hour and on low 3 1/2 - 4 hours, or only on low for 6 hours.
Emma topped her serving with salsa and sour cream. Marc & I topped our servings with taco sauce and sour cream. All 3 of us thought our respective servings were yummy! I divided up the cheese. I put 1/2 of the cheese on top of the meat mixture (before the second cornmeal mixture). Then, I topped the whole "casserole" with cheese -- ALL before I ever turned on the slow cooker. (I hope that makes sense).
As I sort of "promised," here is my first recipe for the slow cooker....Cheese and Corn Chowder (with Ham). I put (ham) in parentheses because it technically isn't in the recipe. I just know that with Marc, my loving husband, there better be some sort of meat in the main course. This recipe is from yesterday (Monday), and here is what it looked like starting out. Actual recipe to follow -- notes from me will be at the end of this post.
3/4 Cup Water;
1/2 Cup chopped onions;
1 1/2 Cups sliced carrots;
1 1/2 Cups chopped celery;
1 tsp. salt;
1/2 tsp. pepper;
15 1/4 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained;
15-oz. can cream-style corn;
3 Cups milk;
1 1/2 Cup grated cheddar cheese;
A) Combine water, onions, carrots, celery, salt, and pepper in slow cooker. B) Cover. Cook on High 4-6 hours. C) Add corn, milk, and cheese. Heat on High 1 hour, and then turn to Low until you are ready to eat.
And....the finished product....
NOTES: A) We're not fans of celery in this house AT ALL, BUT I do realize that celery adds quite a bit of flavor. So, I opted for celery seed instead. I have no idea how much I put in; however, I felt it was too much. So, I will cut back next time. B) Since I mentioned "next time," we (Marc, Emma, and I) all agree that this recipe is a "keeper." C) I added 2 Cups of cubed ham midway through the first cooking cycle. Admittedly, it was good with ham. D) I did not cook this recipe on "High." My slow cooker gets quite warm, and cooking on "Low" was fine. E) I did NOT use 3 cups of milk. I think I used 2, and it was still a bit much. Next time, I will scale back to 1 1/2 Cups, probably. F) I personally think this recipe would be "kid friendly." Luke's one of the more picky children on this planet (yep, we've enabled it -- no commentary, please). So, he didn't try it. Kate, who is not so picky, probably would've liked it; however, she's not great with a spoon yet. I didn't feel like messing with soup with her at the table. Fortunately, I had some leftovers for her to enjoy.