Friday, January 30, 2009


I made some brownies and this is the first time I have ever seen a brownie recipe call for vanilla OR almond extract. Well, I love almond extract and put it in tea. I loved tasting the almond extract in these brownies. If you make these, don't make the mistake and eat too much of it like I did. Too much sugar and I didn't like the way I felt! I think next time I will try cutting the sugar some. I did use whole wheat flour and that made me feel slightly better about all the sugar!

Best Ever Brownies (from a cookbook my grandma gave me)

4 eggs
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa
1/2 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
1 c. flour
1 c. nuts, chopped (I used pecans)
1 c. butter, melted (I used Smart Balance sticks and a little less than a cup)

Mix everything together and put in a greased 9X13-inch pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 min.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cardboard Stories

In the upper right corner are my friends, Tom & Kisha Maher, doing "Cardboard Stories" with their church. The cardboards are testimonies of what God has done in their lives! It's really neat! Tom & Kisha radiate with the love of Christ and have a ministry in Florida and have a home where they take in teens and minister to them. I know there are also classes for the parents and families are brought back together. It is an awesome ministry!

You will want to click on it and get the full screen so you can see all the words on the cardboard.

I think if I were to stand up there my cardboard would say, "Living for myself and my desires. (on the flip side) "Living for Christ." Or maybe, "Living my life apart from Christ" "Picking up my cross daily." I clearly remember being impacted the first time I read, "If anyone wishes to come after me", he said, "he must deny himself and pick up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23 How about you? What would yours say?

Can I get your best housecleaning/ decorating ideas?

Does anybody out there have any housecleaning tips? I'm trying to declutter and figure out how to decorate the house with what we have. What are your best tips? What helps you the most?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Snowy Day

After we finished doing school today (we usually take off when the schools are closed but we had to catch up after missing some to go to Hawaii), the kids got bundled up in their coats, hats, & mittens & went to play in the snow. It being 22 degrees outside I didn't think they'd last long. They came in once and ate and had hot chocolate before they went out again. Then they took another break. The last time they went out I told them they could play a little longer instead of reading books before naptime. I said, "When you come back in, it's naptime." Before I walked back inside I heard Bailey say to Samantha, "Don't ever go back inside!" A little bit later Samantha was running inside and Bailey said, "You're going to have to go to bed!" She took her clothes off and curled up in a blanket. It wasn't very long after that that Bailey came in and wanted me to help him take his clothes off. The bottom of his pants were really frozen! He said, "I'm ready for my nap!" All he wanted to do was curl up in his warm blanket.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The kids packing themselves in my bag

I can't believe I got along so well without them!


This was so much fun! I had to stop myself from bawling when I was leaving to get back on the plane. Derrick stood and watched us go until he could no longer see us. It was sweet. It went so fast and I was sad that it was already over. It wasn't even how amazing Hawaii was that I liked best. It was the time with Derrick and Bella. I miss him so much even though he is coming home Saturday and I left Monday night and got home Tuesday morning. He had gone voluntarily to work for two weeks feeding the pilots. When he was first asked he had turned it down. His boss asked why he didn't want to go and he said he didn't want to go unless I went. She said, "Why don't you fly her there then?" That is when the light bulb came on. I thought that was so sweet.

Day 1

This was kind of a rough day but when I stepped off of the plane and into the Honolulu airport it was all worth it. It was a perfect day to leave because it had been snowing and was around 19 degrees. I felt the warmth as soon as I stepped off the plane and I saw beautiful scenery out of the window as I carried Isabella, my two carry ons and her car seat. I know we looked...haggard? You see, I had already messed up by staying up too late packing Bailey and Samantha's bag, mine, Isabella's, and making sure the house was all clean. Then I ended up sleeping through my alarm. I did make it on time but it was a good thing there weren't any long lines. I didn't really think the whole 2 carry-ons, a car seat (that I could only check on the plane since she was a lap child), and a baby thing through. By the time I was going to get on my next flight my shoulders were thoroughly sore! Thankfully there were a lot of friendly people along the way that wanted to help me including an angel God sent, a man from my church who happened to be on our flight that walked a long way with us at DFW carrying the car seat and bags) . We had a short flight to Dallas and had a couple of hours before my connection flight to Honolulu at 12:50 p.m. our time. We made it there at 5:20 (Honolulu time, they were 4 hours behind us). So, that was a long flight. I was already worried about Isabella because she has been having some issues with her bowels and the doctor said it should just go away as it came. I had Bella in the baby Bjorn and knew that was the only way I'd catch any sleep at all (I got about 3 hours). You can imagine my horror when I smelled something and looked down and saw that Isabella had gone to the bathroom all down her pants, onto her socks and shoes. You can imagine how much more horrendus it was when I saw it on me, on my seatbelt, and the airplane seat. I was exhausted on top of all this. Not to mention I thought we were getting a meal included with our flight and I learned it was going to be $10 for a sandwich plate and all we had was snacks and had only snacked before we got on this long flight. I had the money but I refused to pay it for the sandwich but looking back I should have. So, anyway, I went to inform a flight attendant that I cleaned up the seat but it needed to be sanitized. They told me that they didn't have sanitizer and informed that they had smelled a baby. I went on to the bathroom to one-handedly clean her and me holding her mid-air. Dana had told me planes don't have baby changers so I didn't even look for one. Then I had to clean the floor from cleaning her mid-air and put her clothes in sacks. I was in there for probably 20 minutes. Embarrassing! And when I finished cleaning everything up I looked right in front of me and saw a baby changer on the wall! I thought, "Man!!!" And, oh yes, I thought of how I had trusted Dana so. ;) Isabella rode the rest of the flight half dressed. I was smelly, dirty, and had to keep touching the disgusting seat belt that I had cleaned as best I could with baby wipes. In this we did have some really good snacks. Before we left DFW I had gotten a really good smoothie (Blueberry Heaven), some warm, fat, salty cashews, and a breakfast mix (banana chips, cranberries, cinnamon, graham...) Also, I got to read a little bit and listened to a few recordings of Way of the Master radio show (one of which aired Paul Washer, awesome!) and that was nice. When I got off the plane I headed straight for the bathroom to freshen us up (me only as much as possible as I didn't have my bag of clothes). As I said, it was all worth it when I stepped off that plane. Derrick cheerfully greeted us with a sweet look on his face that said he felt sorry for me. When he was hugging me I told him he didn't want to touch me and as much as I wanted to hide my weariness I know he saw it. He told me to sit down and went and got my suitcase and pack & play. When we got in the rental car he opened up the glove box and said, "I already got you something." It was a beautiful real pearl (pink, irredescent) and silver bracelet. I loved it. He told me we were going to stay in a beach cottage on an Air Force base that was right there on the beach the next day. We drove and I saw the beautiful mountains and he told me about how they had to cut through the mountain on the highway and we went through the tunnel. I loved it. Then we went to the Marine base (he had gotten an upgrade for me so we didn't have to share a bathroom with anyone and it was a "suite" with a living room) he was staying on and I changed my clothes. Then we went and got dinner. I got chinese food and he got Subway. We tried to rent a movie but the place was closing down and they weren't opening new accounts so we had to actually buy the movie for only a quarter more than it cost to rent it! It was a low key night but I needed it after that flight and it was really 4 hours ahead where I had just come from! The craziness didn't end there and I began to think, "What next?!" My perfume had spilled over onto my toothbrush so when I went to brush my teeth that night I was in for a strong surprise! My breath must have smelled nice! I was so delirious that I was cracking up about it. The next morning I was on the phone with my mom when Derrick walked in with breakfast and coffee. He tripped over something with the baby being in the way of the door and he spilled his coffee all in my bag on my things and on him. He didn't want anything to drop on the baby and he was juggling and a muffin flew to the floor which she proceeded to grab & smash on the floor! He did manage to save my chocolate donut though.

Day 2

This day we checked out of the marine base and he took me to the beach there (the pics with us in them). It was a rainy day so it was kind of cold. Derrick had said it was hot and not to pack my jeans but I figured I could wear them at night so I packed them anyway. It's a good thing I did. I would have even liked a jacket! But I should have guessed this because he's always hot and I'm always cold! ;) We couldn't check into Bellow's Beach Cottages until 3:00 we shopped at the Marine Base and then he decided to take me to the Air Force Base. We ate lunch there. Then we shopped for Hawaiian (or atleast Hawaiian looking) shirts to wear to the all day Luau we were going to the next day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. We also found some running shoes that were an amazing deal. We knew that the prices would be good and tax free but these were a really good deal. He got two pairs of running shoes that he normally has to pay $90-100 for $30 each. Now he has his running shoes for the year. I got a really cute pair of New Balance running shoes for $13! We were thrilled! We also got our shirts. Then we went and checked into Bellows and we were so happy to be right there on the beach! We drove and had dinner at a Taco place. I had the most amazing potato enchiladas and cheese enchiladas ( I have never heard of potato but they were awesome and the potatoes still had the skins on them!) Then we went and got ice cream from Coldstone where they chopped up a brownie, nuts, fudge...& put it in a waffle shell and Derrick had a coffee lovers one. Those were good. But, the next morning I had my doubts about it all. We rented another movie that I ended up falling asleep through like I had some of the one the night before (totally unlike me).

Day 3

This day was supposed to start out as a beach day before we went to the all day Luau at the Polynesian Center but I woke up sick as a dog- vomiting and things! I felt terrible. I couldn't even go outside to see the sunrise. I took a lot of Pepto and I was determined not to miss the Luau. When we left for the Luau I was still a little nauseous and queasy. We wore our new shirts that we got from the BX. Derrick had pointed out that the outfit Isabella wore the day before looked kind of Hawaiian so I put it on her again. We stopped and had lunch at a Hawaiian restaurant that also had a burger and fries so that's what I ate (I know, not smart!). We could've bought the garlic shrimp from a van that Derrick liked so much but I don't like shrimp. We watched some of the day activities at the Polynesian center until Isabella had another episode. Derrick said, "Amber, do you think she needs to be changed? I smell..." Then he noticed it was all over his shirt. Then we looked at the stroller we had rented and it was all over that too. We were talking with some of his friends and were going to hang out with them but we booked it for the bathrooms! He said he'd take the stroller and wash it and himself and I washed Bella. We traded the stroller out. It was funny because I told the lady that Isabella had an accident in it and was trying to get to the part about how I could sanitize it if she had something and she started saying, "I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry!" I finally realized she thought I meant Isabella fell out of it. I told her that I meant an accident as in "potty accident". She still apologized and said she was going to refund the money and I told her it was our fault and that we were sorry but she insisted. ;) The luau consisted of fresh flower leis, a roasted pig (apparently it was for display only which I was relieved about), a really good buffet dinner, and a dinner show that was amazing! Well, during dinner Isabella had another accident so I raced her to the bathroom dangling in my arms as not to get it on me. People noticed. A woman said, "Whoa, that's a blow out!" or something like that. When I came back Derrick had a big huge $10 strawberry smoothie (non-alchoholic) that came in a pineapple waiting for me. He thought I deserved it. It was good! We sat with two friends of his from work with their wives and a little girl, Abby. The night show was probably the best show I've ever seen. They did amazing things with fire that was unbelievably and their dances and coordination were stunning. Isabella was in the ergo during that and I felt something warm and I rushed off to the bathroom again. This time it was only number 1 but she had to potty again when I was changing her. Then she passed out in Derrick's arms before the show was over.

Day 4

This was a beach day. At first Isabella was afraid of the ocean and would get upset when the waves came toward her. After she got used to it she liked it! She even got so brave that she would try to crawl toward it. She even tasted the sand...but only once! Derrick kept pushing the sunblock and I should have listened sooner because I burned the back of my legs and shoulders. Later we drove to town for dinner. We ate on the patio of a nice pizza place. Afterward, we thought of getting the ice cream again but decided to go with our healthy Hawaiian smoothies we had discovered on the second day.