Saturday, November 22, 2008

Book Review

I am in the process of becoming a Compassion Advocate. Compassion International is one of the world's largest child-focused relief organizations, sponsoring hundreds of thousands of children all over the globe. An advocate is a volunteer who works to generate new sponsorships of impoverished children and raise awareness in their region.

As part of the training process, CI sent me a book written by their president and CEO, Wes Stafford. I have long known about and admired Compassion's work (my parents sponsor 2 Compassion children, while Jonathan has one and so do Nick and I), but this book really blew me away and changed some of my views on children.

It's called, "Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most." Drawing largely on his experiences as an MK in the Ivory Coast, Stafford discusses why children's ministries should be on the forefront of the church's minds, budgets, efforts and hearts. I've always been a big supporter of children (nearly all of my volunteer work and many jobs have centered on them), but this book really makes you think about why we do what we do.

I nearly cried in so many places I lost count, and for those of you who know me well, that's saying something. Stafford went to a horrific boarding school and suffered many, many abuses along with his classmates at the hands of people who were supposed to love and care for them in the place of their missionary parents. That's the gist of his personal childhood story, but that's not the point of the book. His suffering really catapulted him onto a lifelong path of advocating for children, and he boldly encourages all Christians to follow him in what I thought was a very thought-provoking, non-salesman way.

TSTI isn't an advertisement for CI at all; rather, it is all about the children and why they should be put first in EVERY aspect of life. I'm going to have all my Sunday School workers read it together. I highly encourage you to get yourselves a copy! And then let me know what you think.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jack's 1st Birthday

Here is my precious little boy on his 1st birthday. It was a football theme (I went into labor during a Duck game), and so those marks on his cheeks are supposed to be imitating a football player's.
Jack and our Compassion child Barbie have the same birthday. Hence the Barbie, and no, it's not mine. Happy Birthday Jack & Barbie!

When I sent out invitations, I never imagined that EVERYONE would RSVP yes! There were 27 people in our house. 8 babies and kids, 19 adults. It was the party of the century in Mountain Home.
Here is my amazing friend Amber and her adorable son Tristan. When we went to Tristan's first birthday in April, I was blown away by the awesome cake she made. So I told her in no uncertain terms that she had to make Jack's. And because she's so great, and despite the fact that she's pregnant, has extreme morning sickness and her husband is deployed to Afghanistan, she spent 3 hours making my son not one but TWO cakes. Here's the results:

The big cake for all of us. She did alternating colored stars, the yard lines and everything!

And then a miniature bash-cake for Jack's stuffing pleasure.

Jack absolutely loved the attention! He is so dang social it cracks me up.

Give me the cake, Dad!

As you can see, it took him a minute, but in the end, he ate the ENTIRE football on top!

My good friend Kasey's daughter Chloe with Jack.
And this was him at the end!

He did us proud.

He really enjoyed pulling tissue paper out of the sacks and ripping the paper, too!

I know most mothers say "I can't believe how fast my baby has grown up!" Well, I can, but really what amazes me is how much change one year can hold. I think back to where I was last year -- where Nick and I were as a couple and as individuals -- and I just can't believe how much Jack has changed us. I really feel our marriage has become stronger through our parenting. Jack is such a wonderful, happy, handsome little boy, and I am so excited to see him grow and mature into the person God has planned. So happy birthday, son, and I thank God every day for you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chocolate Caramel Apples

Here's a yummy recipe for one of my favorite desserts on earth: chocolate caramel apples. I absolutely LOVE chocolate, caramel, and apples, so this is pretty much my nirvana. Unless someone was playing with my hair and put on an Andrea Bocelli CD at the same time. One of the best parts? It only makes 4 servings, so you don't have to throw any away.

Chocolate Caramel Apples
4 medium apples
4 popsicle sticks
36 Riesen's chewy chocolate-covered caramels
4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped

Wash and dry apples; remove stems. Insert sticks into apples. Place on a buttered baking sheet; set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt caramels and cream over low heat until smooth, stirring occasionally. Place peanuts in shallow dish; set aside.

Working quickly, dip each apple into hot caramel mixture to completely coat, then dip bottom and sides into peanuts. Place on prepared pan; let stand until set.

It came with the nutritional info, but I will not ruin your delight by disclosing it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Corn Maze (In the Rain) Fun

But before I get to the corn maze, feast your eyes on my adorable son in his 1st Halloween glory. Aren't his little bat pajamas the cutest?

Last night, Nick and I decided to bundle up Jack and trample through a corn maze with some friends. We had to drive a ways to get there, and I drove right by the entrance the first time. Hey, when you're in the middle of nowhere, it's not hard to do. The big cornfield surrounded by sage brush kind of gave it away.

After going through a corn maze cut out in the shape of Idaho, complete with little signs telling about each major city (all 10), the boys scrambled up the haybale pyramid while Jennifer, Jack and I hopped in a trough filled with corn kernels. It had been raining the entire time, so we were kind of wet. It was the first time Jack has ever worn his raincoat that he's had since he was born. It doesn't rain a lot over here.

Despite the fact that we were all soaked, Jennifer still managed to look cute. Don't you hate girls like that? ;-)

Jack absolutely LOVED playing in the corn. He rarely plays with a toy on his own for more than 17 seconds, but he played quietly for a solid 20 minutes with all the little kernels. Which we are still finding all over the house, by the way.

Mitch joined us in the tub. He's 19 and like my little Mountain Home brother. He's going to college in Florida soon and I'm sad.

After some teasing from the farmer who owned the corn maze about being a city slicker, Nick hopped in to play with Jack. He has a a perfect smile all the time, which also kind of disgusts me. Notice how wet Nick's sweatshirt is?

Finally, here we all are in the tub. This is definitely a picture I never imagined would happen.