Openness

We received a call a week ago Friday about a couple of children in need of foster care.  Our hearts began to race as we took in the excitement of this opportunity.  As with most of these calls, there is excitement along with sadness.  The whole reason we receive opportunities to care for children in the foster care system is, of course, because there has been abuse or neglect inflicted upon them.

We waited all last week as reports came in, little by little, about this case and these precious children.  Our hearts began swelling daily for these children and their family.  The Department of Social Services placed the little boy with another foster family and we were asked to foster the little girl.  After much thought, prayer and many questions, we said yes.  We said yes to a little girl who is currently lying in a hospital bed.  We said yes to uncertainty.  We said yes to openness.

This kind of openness is risky.  Walking into a challenge is uncomfortable.  Being able to embrace the what ifs and come what may is not something we do easily.

We don’t know what our week will be like.  We must wait to hear from workers that are sorting out this case and making arrangements for these children.  For now, all we know is that we’ve said yes to love.

My Homeschooler/Buddy

Each school day, I take Kalen, Madelyn and Julian to school and then I am left with this little guy.  Thank heavens.  He is a constant little light all the day long.  From playing UNO, to reading books, to emptying the dishwasher, to shopping for groceries, to folding clothes, to working on learning the alphabet, to learning to write . . .  he is there with a smile willing and ready to be my bud.

Here are a few pictures I snapped the other day of my little homeschool preschooler.  He is a joyful and hard worker.  I am so thankful for this little daily companion.  What a sweet season of life.

This past fall, Brady and I worked through the capital letters of the alphabet.  We decorated one wall of our dining room with the letters we created.

We are starting to study lowercase letters.

Painted by Brady in response to The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.

Uniqueness

“Today you are You, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – Dr. Seuss.

She sat there with a certain twinkle in her eye.  Her outfit, picked with purpose and joy, shining for all to see . . .”I’m different,” it seemed to say.  She sipped on a sweet lemonade.  Her confidence glowing.  I stared with a sense of awe.  Her uniqueness was clear and present.  She wasn’t trying too hard.  She was comfortable.  She was herself.

May our children know they are loved and that they are unique.  As parents, I pray to foster that sense of self and cheer them on daily.

Taco Soup

Last night, our family enjoyed this unique soup.  I found this recipe in Better than peanut butter & jelly by Marty Mattare & Wendy Muldawer.

This is a super fun soup that tastes just like biting into a yummy taco.  It is simple and quick to make.

Taco Soup

1 package (10.5 ounces) tofu, extra-firm, cubed

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium green pepper, chopped

1 package taco seasoning mix, such as Old El Paso or Taco Bell

1 bottle (1 quart) tomato juice ( I used R.W. Knudsen Organic Tomato Juice)

1 cup salsa ( I used a non-chunky salsa Trader Joe’s Autentica)

1 cup shredded lettuce

1/2 cup green onion, chopped

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, grated ( I use daiya dairy-free cheese)

Baked Tortilla Chips

Low-fat sour cream (optional- we didn’t use)

Spray a medium saucepan with vegetable cooking spray.  Cook tofu, onion, and green pepper over high heat until slightly browned, about 6-10 minutes.  Stir in seasoning mix; cook 1 minute.  Stir in tomato juice and salsa.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until heated through.  Ladle soup into bowls; garnish with shredded lettuce, green onion, chopped tomato, cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips.  Top with sour cream, if desired.

Serves 6

*I will say that three out of our four kids ate and enjoyed the soup.  When I make soups I encourage Brayden (my picky eater) to try them.   He doesn’t usually eat the soups, so I make a side of plain noodles to accommodate him.

Chocolate Fudgy Oatmeal Cookies

As I mentioned in a previous post, I checked out some recipe books that I was excited about digging into this week.  I wasted no time, Madelyn and I whipped up some delicious cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar (pictured above).  The recipe is at the bottom.  Try them, they won’t disappoint.

Chocolate Fudgy Oatmeal Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar

by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

Ingredients:

2 cups quick-cooking oats (I used regular rolled oats)

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

2/3 cup nondairy milk ( I used soymilk)

2/3 canola oil

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup chocolate chips

1 cup dried cherries, chopped, or raisins (optional, I didn’t)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.  In a medium-size bowl, stir together oats, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, beat together sugar, flax seeds, and nondairy milk until smooth.  Add the oil and the vanilla and almond extracts and beat until well mixed.  Fold in half of the flour mixture to moisten, then fold in the remaining half.  Just before the mixture is completely combined, fold in the chocolate chips and dried cherries or raisins, if desired.

4.  For each cookie drop 2 generous tablespoons of dough onto the cookie sheet, leaving about 2 inches of space between each cookie.  If desired, flatten slightly with moistened fingers or the moistened back of a measuring cup.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until cookies are firm and risen.  Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to wire racks to complete cooling.  Store in a tightly covered container.