Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Father's Day!!!

I've known my Dad for a little over 33 years now.  I can't remember how we met but I know that it's pretty much been my whole life.  I don't think he was the first thing I saw but I know he was one of the first people I met (right after the doc, Mom, a nurse or two...)

I like to think that I'm my dad's favourite.  Of course it's not true, but I like to think that anyway.  When I think back to my childhood memories involving Dad, pretty much all of it involves sports in one way or another.  I can remember watching the Red Wings year after year, knowing that our team would never really win the Cup... until they got good, and then we watched, waiting for them to finally do it.  And then they did and we cheered and knew we had the best team in the world!  I can also remember going to Tigers games with my Dad.  He was often the Youth Group chauffeur so he would escort us to those couple of games that we went to.  He accompanied us to Cedar Point and rode all the roller coasters with us.  One of the things I remember doing as a young child was hearing that us girls would get to go to one of his hockey games!  It was always fun to go watch him play pick-up hockey with The Guys.

Family vacations always involved being together as a family, once again being driven around by Dad.  But he wasn't just our chauffeur.  Dad was our family photographer.  One of the great things about Dad is that he photographs life as it happens, documenting it for the rest of us to see, but he makes sure he gets in there too.  He doesn't mind sharing his camera with others and letting them point and shoot.  I love that my Dad loves to document life with his camera as it happens.

My Dad also cares very deeply about his faith.  For as long as I've been around (and I'm certain much longer) he has defended what he believes in with vigor.  He knows what he believes and why he believes it.  That is a legacy that he has passed along to us girls.  We have always been taught to know what we believe and why we believe it.  Both of our parents have done a great job of passing that along to us.

My dad loves my mom.  And everyone that knows them knows it!  I've shared with many people over the years that I always felt secure about my parents' relationship because I saw them kissing or hugging frequently, right in front of us girls.  Dad has never been ashamed to show the world, and especially us girls, how much he loves his wife.  I love that about him!

My dad has a lot more time now and when he's around our family he can be very often found on the floor or on the couch, with a grand child on his lap or at his side.  He loves to curl up with a grandkid and read books to them (or have them read to him.)  He'll burrow his head into a baby belly and get the biggest laugh he can.  He's really hitting his stride now and he's just getting better with age.

I have to be away from my dad this Sunday, which is pretty usual since we live hours apart.  But I hope that he knows how much he is loved and appreciated for the way he loves his God, his wife, his girls, and our families.  Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The cherry on top

My very, absolute, for-certain favourite dessert is my mom's (ever so slightly altered) brownie recipe.  But, since my girl was leafing through a magazine and saw a recipe for cherry-almond brownies, I thought I'd give it a try.  We made them and were underwhelmed.  Perhaps I had set my standards too high.  Perhaps I am a purist when it comes to brownies.  Regardless, I determined not to make that recipe again.

But I still had a handful of dried cherries left over, so I thought I'd give it one more try, my way, with my brownies recipe.  All I have to say is...

Yep, that about sums it up.

Go ahead and take a moment to drool if you'd like.  When you've wiped up your keyboard, we'll continue.

So here's what I did to make what I think is the best brownie ever:

1 cup butter, melted*
1 cup cocoa, sifted
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup dried cherries

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

With a fork, mix the melted butter with the cocoa.  Add the sugar, eggs and extracts.  Dump in the flour and then the baking powder and salt.  Mix it mostly all together.  Add the cherries and mix until they are spread around.

Now I bake this in a 9x9 stoneware pan and I can't guarantee success if you don't do that.  But you can try.  So if you're using stoneware, just dump the batter in and spread it around.  If you're using anything else, grease and flour the pan so that the brownies don't stick.

Bake the brownies in the pre-heated 350 F oven for 30 minutes.  Take them out.  They may look a little undone, but they'll finish firming up as much as they need to on your counter.

This is the hardest part of making brownies...  Let them cool for at least a couple hours.  They really are best if you let them cool down and stick together a little better.  If you like the ooey, gooey, straight-from-the-oven brownie, that's fine with me, but they won't be pretty once you cut into them.  Just sayin' is all...

So wait at least a couple hours, then slice into 16 squares.  You can top it with vanilla ice cream if you want, but in all honesty, the cherry is the highlight of this dessert and you really don't want to distract from that, do you?

Enjoy.  Savour.  These are too good to just inhale without letting your tastebuds appreciate the tastes of the almond, cocoa and cherry all mingling together.


*If you choose to use margarine, I completely understand.  I do not condone margarine use for these brownies, but I understand.  And if you make that decision, you may need to cook these a little longer, closer to 35 minutes.  Why? I don't know, go ask your dad.

I knead thee, oh, I knead thee...

I (almost) exactly followed my friend Moni's Baguette recipe found here.  We were too busy enjoying it last night to take a picture.  As I get my lunch ready today I realize that this delicious bread is nearly gone, so I manage to snap a picture before it's entirely consumed.

If you are lazy like me and want to try it but don't want to roll it out... it does taste okay if you do it in the bread machine, with bread machine yeast, and no pre-soaking of said yeast.  It's not as satisfying, since you didn't hand roll it yourself, but it sure beats Wonder bread.

So what are you waiting for??  Break out that old dusty bread machine, or limber up those biceps and get cracking!  Or rolling.  Or kneading.  Or something.  Just go make some bread!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Can I please have homework??

Our kids received spiral-bound notebooks from a friend at church this Sunday.  They have been writing and drawing in them non-stop since then.  The oldest boy couldn't part with it for too long so he brought his to school today.  On our way home, he asked, "Mom, if you turn around and look at me, does it look like I've got a book that I have to take home for homework?"
I turned around and looked and he was proudly carrying his spiral-bound notebook under his arm, even though it would have been easier to put it in his backpack.  I said, "Yes, it definitely looks like you're carrying home a book to work on for homework!" 

I thought a bit more and then asked, "Do you think it'll be a lot more fun when you can bring work from school to do at home each day?"

With an excited look on his face, he answered, "Yeah!  I wonder when I'll get to do homework?  Maybe Grade Three or Four?"

He just loves having "pencil and paper" kind of work to do!  I don't think he's thought it through entirely, since he'll have to do homework before playing.  So I'll just let him enjoy the thought of homework while he can.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The boy whose first word was "Ball"

There's a big church around the corner and down the street from our house.  We've been in and out of this church for the last few years for different reasons, often for school events.  Up until this past year our school has held their Christmas program there.

Our association with this church has not been limited to school events though.  We went to a concert there on February 28, the last day of the 2010 Olympics, just as the men's gold medal hockey game was going into overtime.  While we waited for the concert to begin, we watched and cheered on the three big church screens as Canada scored on the USA, winning the game in overtime.  The whole concert audience was cheering, hugging and high-fiving strangers around us.

We've also been to other services and concerts there, including the past Christmas Eve when Simon slept through a rousing rendition from their worship team of Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Wizards of Winter," complete with screeching electric guitars.  Most recently, I attended a Paul Baloche conert there.  I could go on, but you get the idea.  We, as a family, are quite familiar with this church.

Fast forward to this past Sunday.  Due to our desire to have our kids play in their first baseball and T-Ball tournaments of the year and our desire to still attend church, we opted to go to a church service (for the first time) to this same church this past Sunday, given it's early service time, proximity to our house and proximity to the ball diamond.  As we stepped through the doors and into this well-known fixture in our neighbourhood, my husband said to the four-year old, "Do you remember this church?" thinking that the lad would smile at the remembrance of singing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" there last December, or perhaps he would recall his big brother tapping on a wooden block while singing along to "Old Toy Trains".  Instead, the boy smiled and said, "Yeah!  We watched the hockey game and Canada WON!"

The boy with the one-track mind...  Does he have any idea of all the other fun stuff that we've done there?  And will his mind ever be able to focus on anything that does not involve a sporting event?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hate the Video, Love the Person

I'll just say it:  I do not like Lady Gaga's music or videos.  The music is upbeat and appeals to younger people but the lyrics are absolutely inappropriate for school-aged children.  The videos are even worse, most of the content that I have seen being what I would consider vulgar.

That being said, I read an article and watched a portion of an accompanying video at the following site that purports to express how a particular church feels about Lady Gaga.  (Watch at your own peril, but not if you already have high blood pressure):

Let me just tell you, if you see that video, you will be upset.  The video is overloaded with messages of hate towards different people.  Not just hate from one person or one church but from God Himself.  The creator of that video is absolutely incorrect.  God does not hate any one.  God hates sin but he loves people.  Not just some people but all people.  It really bothers me that anyone would create a video and spread a message of hate like this.  But it incenses me most that someone is attributing that feeling to God.

Let the Games Begin!

We had a very exciting weekend!  While this was going on...

...we also had some very interesting discussions on the sidelines.

"Dad, you have lots of hair on your legs!"

"Everyone does.  You have hair on your legs too!"

"Hey, you have hair on your arms too!"

Meanwhile, somewhere in the middle of the youngest's game...

 the girl and I got involved in something much more reasonable...

"Make another funny face!"

"Now you do it, Mom!"

"Hey Daaaa-aaaad!"

It was a fun day!