Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I can't comprehend 7.  Really, I struggle.  It seems like only yesterday. A very proud daddy, calling the kids at youth group before the cord was even cut, telling them you had arrived safely (you were born on a Tuesday night @ 7:18, the exact same time CAD started).  The excitement and buzz around the delivery room as family and friends (LOTS of them) were meeting you for the first time.  Pop Pop, handing you his Visa and saying you could buy whatever you wanted.  Me, analyzing the road rash down the middle of your face, praying it wasn't permanent and panicking about the number of germs on the credit card.  And thinking that you looked EXACTLY like your father.  It all seems like it was yesterday... but it was 7 years ago.

This year has been a busy one, like the other 6.  You are a spunky little thing and always on the move.  Summertime is your favorite.  If you're not at the pool, hours are spent in the backyard, making mud pies with the garden hose while little sister watches from the kitchen window, clean as the driven snow.  She wants nothing to do with your messy shenanigans.  You participated in golf lessons earlier this year, continue piano with Mrs. Claire on Mondays and are just finishing up Vacation Bible School.  You recently started a needlework class with Mrs. Sly and AYSO soccer begins in September.  So I imagine Year 8 will be just as busy.

You wanted to be a dolphin trainer when you grew up.  Until Heather told you about the little "mishap" that occurred at Sea World a few months ago.  Change of plans.  Now you want to teach.  Just like Mrs. Deardorff, who turned you into a reading machine this year, a true book worm.   When daddy and I tuck you in at night we often have a hard time locating you under the piles you've collected from your bookshelves.  And speaking of worms, you LOVE those, too.  And snails.  And frogs that were formerly tadpoles.  You do not like spiders or mosquito eaters.  Or meat.  "I am a vegetarian, mama."

As I am boxing up all your 6T's, I'm realizing how tall you've grown this year.  You have the cutest little figure and gorgeous blonde highlights that mommies pay big bucks for.  You've lost your two bottom teeth and  the replacements are slowly coming in.  You have gorgeous tan skin and the cutest button nose.  I hope you always know you are beautiful.

You have yet to part with your precious stuffed giraffe, "Gee Gee" and sleep with him every night.  Something tells me he will be accompanying you to college.  Which is fine.  He's kind of flat and subtle, so it will work.  I'm just thankful he washes well.  You love wearing dresses and skirts and take your shoes, socks and pants off as soon as you walk in the house.  We're working on this.

You are very sweet to your sister.  And patient.  Just last week you made flashcards to help her learn her words.  You loved the first grade, especially recess, science and "pouring stuff into beakers."  And art was a fave, too.  Not thrilled with writing in your journal or what you refer to as "the indignity of the mad minute" (a weekly math quiz that had to be completed in less than 60 seconds before moving to the next level).  Performance under pressure stresses you out.  Your teacher said you were a joy to have in class (after Pops made a sizable donation to the PTA) and that she would miss you very much.

Your inquisitive nature, spirit and love for life are contagious.  Really, you are the funniest little thing I have ever encountered.  And so unique.  Many years ago, a family friend passed a note during church that said: "Jess, keep in mind a strong will channeled for God is dynamite later" and it has been on our fridge ever since.  I pray you grow to love Jesus.  I pray we are effectively teaching you about Him and His love and His desires for your life without ever breaking your spirit.   I pray you have a genuine and sincere faith and not one that was forced upon you.

You keep us on our toes, Kayla Rose, and we wouldn't change it for anything.  We love you very much.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Birthday Prayer

As I look at this picture and think about the people in it (excluding  the  ancestors... great grandma Ware and great, great grandpa Rudd, I think), I am reminded of something very important.  Church is not about a building.  It is about glorifying Christ through His people.  This is accomplished by our love for one another as we are unified by our love for Him.

One of the many joys of ministry is the blessing of this love shown to my babies in abundance.   Betsy, holding KK while sincere prayers are lifted up on her behalf (she turns 7 on Thursday).  Kim, for thinking to take this sweet picture.  Ellen, keeping Ashlyn occupied as we prayed.
And many, many others.

It does take a village.

A Godly village.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Daddy's Day

"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up  in the
discipline and instruction of the Lord."  Ephesians 6:4

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Grandmums!

Definitely a family packed weekend.  Our matriarch celebrated her 85th birthday with all three sons present for the festivities.  Uncle Dave  and Aunt Melissa flew in from Scottsdale and Uncle Bert came from Austin.   My parents hosted lunch at their house on a very warm Sunday afternoon.

Ashlyn spent much of the afternoon playing "Three Little Pigs."  Here she is as the big bad wolf (because wolves always wear goggles and carry flashlights).  She keeps asking to ride the short bus to school and, from the looks of it, may have just qualified.  The girl kills me.  Very funny child.

We also celebrated @ church later that night...  with another special visitor all the way from Arkansas!  We miss you, Holmer clan!

Frankie's Graduation

Our little Panks (I think he hates this nickname but we don't really care) graduated from UC Santa Cruz on the most glorious day that little city has ever seen.  My aunt and uncle rented an amazing beach house with a beautiful black bottom pool and the food was fabulous.

Sheet cake malfunctions at our family gatherings occur on a regular basis.  And 100% of the time it's my dad's fault.  Not only did he forget to put the cake in the fridge when my aunt asked him to, he encouraged the children to sample the frosting before the candles were lit.  And they didn't need much encouragement.

Congratulations, Frankie.  We love you and are very proud of you!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Kayla and I made these babies for Grandmum's 85th birthday and they were, um... interesting.  And two or three minor modifications away from sheer greatness.  Especially the vanilla bean buttercream frosting from scratch.  YUM and SUPER easy.  I swiped the recipe from this cute little blog.  Mods are at the tail end.

One box German Chocolate cake mix and ingredients to make it

Sea Salt

4-5 Heath Bars

Caramel Ice Cream Topping

Vanilla Bean Buttercream (Recipe below)

Squeeze bottle
Bake cupcakes according to package instructions.

When they are just about finished, you'll want to start on the caramel filling.  Pour caramel into a measuring cup.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt per 8oz. of caramel.  Warm in the microwave for one minute.  Stir.  Pour the warm and salted caramel into the squeeze bottle.  As soon as the cupcakes come out of the oven, inject caramel into each one.  Then move them to a cooling rack.

While the cupcakes are cooling, smash the Heath bars.  Keep them in the wrapper and beat them with the bottom of your measuring cup.  It's quite easy.  And quite liberating.  Fun, actually.  Then, when you think they are obliterated beyond all recognition, open the wrapper and pour the pieces into a bowl.
Now on to the heavenly frosting...  Sidenote.  Scraped vanilla bean is only for high rollers.  $10.98 for ONE.  Next time I make it, I may leave it out and see if makes a diff.  Something tells me it will.

After the cupcakes are cooled, frost them with the vanilla bean buttercream, roll them into the Heath bar, then drizzle a little salted caramel on top.

Modifications as referenced previously (and HIGHLY recommended):

  • Be sure NOT to use extra course sea salt.  The recipe did not specify so I thought the extra course looked more fun.  Huge chunks of salt in back molars.  NOT so fun.  Use finely ground sea salt.  Looking back, this seems like a no-brainer.  So, it's also an indication that I have no brain left.  Also, add a TEENY dash of sea salt to the top of each cupcake after the Heath topping and caramel drizzle.

  • Now, let's talk filling.  Next time I make these puppies, I may just leave it out all together as it was quite rich but, then again, that kind of defeats the whole purpose of the cupcake.  Also, the extra course salt did not melt correctly within the warm caramel mixture, making it a little on the sweet side.  If you do go with the filling, I recommend only injecting a little bit in each cupcake.  And if you choose to leave it out, I would add some extra drizzle on top.  Lots, actually.

  • I am not a fan of German Chocolate cake.  Primarily due to its' ever-so-slight coffee after-taste.  And I  think it kind of conflicts with the caramel in a weird way.   Now, I realize that Starbucks has made gazillions off this flavor combo so it's probably just me and my extreme aversion to all things java.  Next round, definitely going with regular chocolate cake mix.  I love you, Germans, but stick to your Sauerbraten, Sauerkraut, and Bratwurst and stay away from the dessert items.  Thanks.

Happy Baking!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Home Church Perks

Yes, there are a few.  Like meeting outside in the backyard on a beautiful, summer night.  Not so perkish?  The  reclined, hunter green chaise lounge for overflow seating.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pizza and Popsicles

Yesterday, KK and friends had their end of year/teacher survived party.

Please look at her hair.  I could take pictures of them all day long.

Group picture.  I've never seen the kid on the bottom left before.  Definitely not in our class.

Saint Deardorff.  Seriously.  This woman is awesome.  Smart, PATIENT, firm yet friendly and caring.  A gem.  And it's highly likely we'll miss her much more than she'll miss us.

Friday, June 11, 2010

First Grade Class Play: Rainbow Fish

Kayla had two lines.

"But if you go beyond the coral reef to a deep cave you will find a wise octopus."


"When the water around him filled with glimmering scales, he felt at home around the other fish."

A star is born.  Truly.

Last Day of First Grade

You'll have to excuse the blur.  Lots of excitement around here.  And not a lot of standing still to capture precious, once-in-a-lifetime moments.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ashlyn's Progress Report

made me laugh.  Especially some of the progress summaries.

  • "Ashlyn is able to answer several who and what questions.  She is able to answer "What will you do when you get home?"  Her answer: "Swiss, Little Burrito."

OK, so...  Ashlyn, like her big sister, is quite fond of Swiss Family Robinson.  She is equally fond of El Monterey frozen, microwavable bean and cheese burritos.  Ashlyn gets out of school @ 1:45.  Kayla does not finish until 2:35 which on certain days, leaves a hellacious pre-nap time gap.  Swiss and burritos help.  And now it's officially documented.

  • "Ashlyn has not yet reported that her hearing aids are not working.  However, she was able to report in great detail about putting her aids in the microwave and what happened to them."

Also, documented.  Fabulous.

  • "Ashlyn has learned all the names of her classmates and the adults that work with her.  She uses the following sentences in class: I want more paper towel, please.  I want one more frog.  Ashlyn need pee (funny how she never says that one at home), I want pour more water, Me swim. Dad, Papa, Ashlyn swim.  Mommy is here.  Sharbel is in Israel."

Sharbel, her little classmate and friend, has been visiting family in Israel for well over a month now.  Every morning during attendance they remind her that Sharbel is in Israel.  She now thinks that every plane she sees is going to Israel.  And every person that is away on vacation is in Israel.  Including Nan and Pops who are in North Carolina.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fun on the Farm

Last weekend we, along with my parents, their friends Tom and Galynn and their granddaughters took a trip out to the coast.  Ashlyn is very close to perfecting "Old McDonald Had a Farm" (well, sort of...) so this trip was especially meaningful for her.   And they had lollipops.  Also, meaningful.

First Stop.  Pony ride.  Nan did not like the ponies very much because they pooped a lot.  Kayla thought this was hilarious.  Nan was not laughing.

Ashlyn wasn't quite sure about the whole expedition.  And definitely NOT a fan of the pony helper man because he wouldn't allow the lollipop along for the ride.

This is Galynn and Tom.  Such wonderful people and dear friends of my parents.  And they have gorgeous grandchildren.  Their son, Tom Jr. is the quarterback for the New England Patriots.  You may have heard of him?  And yes, I am a shameless, name dropper.  Really, I tried hard to stop myself.  It's just too amazing to omit.

Next stop.  Petting Zoo.  For the record, Ashlyn never officially touched any of the animals.  Or the animal feed.  She did touch the cup the food was IN so we're making strides. 

You will notice there are far fewer candids of Kayla than Ash.  It is not because we love her less.  It's just that when you put her on a plot of land with a plethora of animals, you don't see her for weeks.  Ashlyn, however, sticks very close to home.

Final stop.  Hay ride.  And quite possibly the most boring hay ride ever.  Although, in general I suspect that most hay rides are boring.  The girls had their lollipops though so all was right with the world.

One of my favorite shots of the day.  Daddy helping Ash with her little shoe.  So sweet.  And not at all farm related.  Well, except for the hay.  But still sweet.

We made a quick stop by the beach before heading home.  And I mean quick.  Like 5 minutes, quick.  It was FREEZING.  Of course, KK could care less.  Put that girl near water of ANY temperature in ANY climate, she will stay until she is navy blue, shivering  uncontrollably and the frostbite begins to set.

Ashlyn,  on the other hand, spent all 5 minutes like this...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Those Who Lose at a Slower Pace...

have a greater chance of keeping it off.

Good news for me and my .8 lb weight loss this week.  Down 1 lb total.  Still eating carrots and speed walking like Forest.  Although he was more of a runner though, right?  Maybe that's my problem.

I did take full advantage of  my 35 bonus points (and then some, probably) on the most amazing bruschetta (gorgonzola and honey,  salami and feta, mushroom, pepper and some sort of heavenly cheese... all life changing, really)  at B St. & Vine with the girls Friday night so I was expecting worse.  And it would have been worth it.

AND it was Memorial Day weekend.  Is it sad when excuses outnumber pounds lost?  Teacher Jan would not be happy.

At this rate, I will be at my goal weight in 32 weeks.  8 months.  Good thing the wedding is a year from Thursday.

WAKE UP!  You're asleep, aren't you?  Definitely switching to monthly updates.  These are even killing me.