Thursday, July 28, 2011

Friends and Jalapenos

These are a couple of our friends—Sean and Kayla. We had them over for dinner Tuesday night.


They do print ads for teeth whitening products. Just kidding. They don’t, but I am thinking they should. I will be your agent and take only 5%.

Kayla lived with us for a little while last year. She makes good enchiladas. Luke fell in love with her. For real. He gets this silly little grin on his face when she is around. As a matter of fact, I better not tell him she came over for dinner while he was gone. He would be upset that he missed her.

While living with us, Kayla lost our house key in nine feet of snow, about a mile from our house. She realized this only when we all returned to our house from playing. Luke and I sat on the porch while Kayla and Joshua walked back to the park to look for the key. It was a miracle—the key was lying in a snow angel she had made. Josh does not let her forget about this.

Luke does not like Sean. And he does not like him, because he is married to Kayla. And that is the only reason. For real. He used to not like him because he was Kayla’s boyfriend, but he stepped up his dislike upon their marriage. Luke does not talk to Sean. If Sean directly asks him a question, Luke will nod or shake his head. No words.

Sean is the only person in the world who has kept my Luke from eating chocolate. Sean had a chocolate cake at their wedding and Luke refused to eat it because it was Sean’s cake. He stuck with Kayla’s cake only, despite the fact that it was white. And PS—that white cake was good! Yum.

His endless love for Kayla is hilarious.

He was not happy at all about this wedding. In fact, had the preacher asked if anyone objected, I feel certain I would’ve been sitting on Luke to keep him from jumping up and down yelling, “ME! ME! MEEEEEEE!!!!” That would have been a nice sight. Thankfully, it was just assumed that all of us there were a-okay with the wedding. I however, know Luke’s true feelings and now you do too.

While looking through my Pioneer Woman cook book the other day for something (and by the way, she is making another one. I can hardly wait!) I noticed that she had a recipe for jalapeno wraps, but they were slightly different than the ones I found forever ago on her website. These had sharp cheddar cheese mixed in with the cream cheese AND the bacon had BBQ sauce on it. It was all I could do not to drop what I was doing and make them right then and there! But, since I have some left over BBQ sauce from our pizza the other night, I decided this was the perfect time to make these.



They were Heavenly. So heavenly in fact that Kayla took it upon herself to hand out these yummy things making sure that everyone had an equal number. The girl also did not miss a beat when Josh said he did not want all of his (light weight). She quickly handed them out to the rest of us.

Here is the recipe, straight from PW’s cookbook. Make them and watch your friends scarf them down.

18 fresh jalapenos
8 ounce package cream cheese
½ cup grated cheddar cheese (I feel certain I used more)
I green onion, sliced (I omitted this because my husband hates onions)
18 slices thin bacon, cut into halves
Bottled Barbecue Sauce

{Preheat oven to 275 degrees}

Cut jalapenos in half and scrape out the seeds with a spoon.

In a bowl, combine cream cheese, grated cheese, and sliced onion.

Stuff each jalapeno half with the cheese mixture.

Wrap a bacon slice around each half and secure with a toothpick.

Brush bacon with barbecue sauce.
Cook for an hour or until bacon is sizzling.

(now, if you are like me, you don't have an hour.  I broiled mine on high and just watched until they were cooked)

ENJOY!


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Family

I realized long ago that family was not just with the people you were related to by birth. It is also the friends God brings into your life. It is the people who choose to live life with you that make the world bearable.

I’ve mentioned The Sister, from another mother, on here before and her husband, our favorite police officer. They are truly family we have acquired along the way. We have laughed, fought, loved, and cried together as a family over the years. They have loved our Luke as if he was their own.

Last July two boys came to their house to live. I will never forget that day—walking into the house seeing a one year old and a three year old running around like crazy, yelling at the top of their lungs. It was crazy. I remember sitting down to dinner with them. Both boys began to dig into their food the moment they sat down, not waiting for everyone else, and not knowing what a prayer even was. I remember the look of confusion on their faces when they were told you wait for everyone to sit down.

I remember the oldest calling me Mommy at times. I remember the younger one did not talk and did not like women. He would not come near me. I remember standing there thinking, these boys need love, stability, a family. I remember praying that these boys would one day be the Sister’s children, forever.

In a few short days, the older one had claimed Luke to be his best friend—that was his name, My Best Friend Luke. In a few more short weeks, I realized they were more like brothers. They had undying love one minute, and were fighting the next, but always wanted to be together.

Very quickly, the older one took a liking to me. Always running up to me for hugs and kisses; always wanting to sit by me or to be in my lap. He so desperately needed to be loved. I watched as he learned to speak in complete sentences. I watched as he learned to pray for his food before eating. I watched as he learned how to play with kids, how to say he was sorry if he hurt someone, how he learned to be aware of his surroundings. How he learned who his Mommy and Daddy were.

I watched the younger one take a liking to Josh that I cannot even explain to you. He is truly the President of Josh’s fan club. I watched as he learned to talk, speak complete sentences, tell everyone at the table it was time to pray, and learned his colors and to count. I cannot tell you how my heart leapt the first time he ran to me, yelling my name, with open arms for hugs and kisses. I watched him and Luke become buddies.

These boys were blending into the Sister's family. I did not see them as anyone’s children but their’s. I loved watching them snuggle up with their Dad on the couch, or run to their Mommy for hugs. In no time at all, it was if they had always been there. The only reminders were the conversations with the Sister and her husband –to listen to her explain their background, listen as she talked about the paperwork they saw, behaviors they were dealing with. At times, it was all I could do to sit and listen and honestly, there were times I would say I could not handle it anymore.

I continued to pray these children would remain with them……forever.

While I did see these two boys as their children, a part of me was always scared something would happen and they would be taken back. A part of my heart was worried. That is who I am, a worrier. With each hurddle that was overcome, I would be happy for them, but never did I let myself get too happy.

I remember being told that parental rights were terminated; I was happy, but still cautious. I remember being told they were being transferred to the adoption unit, again, happy, but still cautious. I remember being told the final court date, happier, but still cautious. I watched as the Sister and her husband felt the same way.

Then, the day before court, I began to fully be excited for them. I began to thank God for allowing me to be a part of this family’s journey to becoming parents. The road for them was not easy; it was not only difficult, but confusing as to why God would allow certain things to happen.

As we sat outside the court room waiting for their turn, I watched these boys play and interact with everyone who was there to support them. They have a family – a Mommy, a Daddy, Grandparents, and friends who were and are there to love them-forever. Excitement grew like crazy when they were called in. The judge let everyone (and we were a big crowd) up front for the proceedings. I was allowed to go up and stand where the court reporter would normally sit to take pictures. As I stood there looking back on everyone, there was not a dry eye. Tears for this family were flowing by all as these boys were made officially members of a family -- a family they had already been a part of for over a year.

God is good. He had a plan -- a plan for this family, a plan for these boys.

He also had a plan for us, the Stewarts. These boys have changed our lives as well. I’ve watched Joshua change with these boys. I’ve watched him as he began to love them, to open up his heart to these boys. To treat them as his own—loving them and disciplining them when needed. They have reminded me that God has a plan, it might not be our plan, but His is better. They have reminded me that all things are possible with Him. They have taught me that you can overcome the obstacles in your life. They have reminded me that family is not determined by to whom or where you were born.

I had never watched from the beginning when foster children were brought into a home to then being adopted. But as I was there, watching this from the inside, I was reminded of God’s love for us, taking us, broken sinful people, loving us and making us His.

A week ago, I told the Sister, “You know, I do not even know your boys birth last names. They’ve always been yours in my mind since the day they came.” How wonderful that we are the same with God, He does not remember who were before coming to Him.  But once we do, we are His forever. Forever in His family.

Sister—You will never ever know how much you and your family have changed me and our family. I can never thank you enough for allowing me to love on your boys and to be a part of their lives. You are one of the strongest women I know. I can honestly say that I think I would have given up a long time ago.  Not you. You have withstood far more than I ever could. You are an amazing Mother and I’ve learned so much from watching you.

Your boys are who they are today by the grace of God and because of you and your husband. They are two of the luckiest boys in the world and I feel certain they know it.

I love living life with you.

And I cannot wait to see what else God has in store for your boys and your family.

I will never, ever, forget the day your oldest boy proudly told us all he was officially in your family.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Saturday Dinner -- BBQ Chicken Pizza

Joshua and I made pizza last night for dinner and it was delish!



 
It is really the easiest crust ever to make. And it makes two pizza’s worth, and you can freeze one for up to six months. Yay.

Then I cooked two chicken breasts in BBQ sauce in the oven. 375 degrees for about 25 minutes. We used Sweet Baby Rays sauce and it turned out great. Let it cool and then cut up.

After you spread out the crust, brush with a little olive oil, then brush lightly with BBQ sauce. We then used a log of fresh mozzarella cheese, cutting up chunks and laying out over the pizza. Then place the chicken on, and Josh wanted pineapples, so he put some of those on too.

Bake in oven at 500 degrees for 15-17 minutes.


Yummy Dinner!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Like Father, Like Son

My Joshua collects cars. And when I say collects, I do not mean that he has a hundred or so. I mean he has hundreds.



Sometimes I wonder if he has thousands. I have started to ask at times how many he has, but then I decide that I really do not want to know.  Ignorance is bliss. 

They are mostly stored in boxes in our garage, so I do not fully understand the collecting of them. I think he is hoping that one day we build a house that has a room just for his cars.



From time to time, he will drag boxes of these cars into our living room and start going through them. Such was the case a couple of Saturdays ago when he drug in the boxes with the smaller cars.  (Thank goodness the larger ones stayed out in the garage!) Cars were everywhere. I asked him what in the world he was doing and he said he was organizing and cataloging the new ones.



Wow.

As I sat there looking at them and him, I started to laugh.  A grown man and all his toys.



“What?” he asked.

“It is no wonder Luke has two hundred Hot Wheels and feels the need to get more.” I replied.



Last week, we sent Luke a care package and in it were some of the new cars from the Cars 2 movie. When Luke called to say he received the package and thank us, he said that Grandpa and Grandma had already bought him one of them. He said that was okay, he would just keep in the package like daddy does and save it.

Joshua beamed.

I sighed.

Boys.












Saturday, July 16, 2011

Made with Love

I came across a recipe for M&M cookies and I got all teary eyed.  I miss my Luke.  He loves M&M cookies. I told Joshua I had to make them for him and mail them. He would love the surprise and I would love making them for him.

The only problem is that it is about a thousand degrees outside and I was concerned that by the time my cookies arrived to Luke, they would have melted into one huge cookie….not that Luke would have minded that one bit.

So, I decided to make lollypop cookies out of them and individually wrap. That way, if they melted some, at least they would not melt all together.

I also asked Joshua if he wanted to help me make them. I honestly do not recall us ever baking anything together, so I thought it would be fun. He said he would love too.

Saturday morning we woke up and started making the cookies together. Seeing Joshua roll up the dough and make cookies for Luke was so sweet. We had a good time in the kitchen together.

Here is what you need.



Mix it all up.



Then your sweet husband starts making cookies.








Put in the sticks.



Ready to cook.



Let 'em cool.



Wrap 'em up!  And tie with a bow.







Hope Luke loves them…and shares them.



Wednesday, July 13, 2011

STAR WARS

We’ve finished up with week two of Luke being gone. He is having fun and we are sort of adjusting to him not being here. But, we are READY to go and get him and bring him back.

Counting down the days…….

Yesterday when going through my camera I came across these pictures I took of Luke a few days before he left for his summer with his grandparents.

Luke, I am your father.



You have NO idea how much I’ve heard this in Luke’s lifetime.

Here is the deal, he is NOT named from Luke in STAR WARS. In fact, I’ve never even seen STAR WARS. So, not only do I not know if that Luke is the one with the red light saver (as my Luke likes to call them), I also do not know if he sports a knitted monkey cap. I am guessing he doesn’t, but I really have no clue.



I think Luke has seen the first, or third depending on how you count them, or is it fourth (whatever) STAR WARS movie, but I’m not 100% sure. I know he has at least seen some of it. He has seen enough to know he NEEDED a light saver, so Santa gave him one last year.



Every once in a while, he just goes plain crazy with that lightsaber (see, I know the real name). This particular day, he decided that even thought it was a hot summer day; he needed to wear a knit hat with his Dirk shirt, and went nuts with his red lightsaber.





Oh, and he decided he wanted pictures!

Take my picture Momma!

So, I did. I took a million pictures of him going all STAR WARS crazy.

 

I started to wonder, does Luke Skywalker have the red stick (as I like to call them), or is it Darth Vader? Then I just started laughing and said:

Luke, I am your father.

Luke looked at me like I was the crazy one here and replied:

No you’re not! You’re my Momma!



Oh, and just where did my Luke's name come from??
 
After having a terrible time coming up with something, we started thinking of actors and I came up with Owen.  Josh said if we were going to name hm after a Wilson, it should be Luke.
 
I thought about it for a second and liked it. 
 
Joshua said a boy needed a strong name, so as we would come up with names, we would then determine if it was a strong one or not.

Josh was not real sure if Lluke was a strong name or not.  I rattled off a couple of Luke's that I could think of that proved my case of a strong name (Luke Skywalker was NOT on the list), but Josh's face was not giving off an "I'm convienced" look.  I started to fret a little, because I really liked the name.
 
Then, it came to me, Luke DUKE! 
 
Yes, friends, my husband LOVES the Duke's of Hazzard.  And that was it.  Luke is in fact, a strong name.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Horse Races and Dwight

Back in high school, I took a liking to Dwight Yoakam. My Dad would (and still does) make fun of me; saying, “Ol' tight britches! You like ol' tight britches?” Well, yes, that is part of the charm….the britches, the hat, the dancing, the songs. I just like him.

Since Joshua and I have been married, we’ve intended to go and see Dwight three times, but something always came up. Earlier this year when we realized he would be here this summer, we decided we were going for sure.

This time around, he was performing after the horse races and for the price of a general admission race ticket; you could see the concert out on the lawn after the races. We had never been to the races, so we were also excited about seeing them.

The races were so fun and exciting. I went right down to the track to take a few pictures and it was great.












After the last race was over, we took our seat out on the lawn and people watched to pass the time until the concert began. People watching is fun, but people watching with Joshua is hilarious. He comes up with these great names for people and it just cracks me up.

And then finally, Dwight came on. I knew we would enjoy ourselves, but part of me was worried he would not sound as good live, but I was WRONG. He was great.





And because my husband is wonderful, he took charge of the camera and took pictures so that I would not miss one second of the concert. Thank you, Dear.


Dwight was awesome. And let me tell you, when he sang Fast as You and did the “Ah, So good” part, I just melted. That alone was worth the price of admission. My melting was plain to see by Joshua, as when I looked over at him, he was smiling down at me. He knew all was right with me and Dwight.



Because the concert was out on the lawn, we decided to get atop of this small hill so that we could see better, rather than standing a couple of rows back and being surrounded by tall cowboys. The choice was great and we had an awesome view. But, about halfway through the concert, Josh took off for the stage. He returned with great pictures.

The adult version of a flip book:

video

My husband rocks. He knew that I was not only there to hear, "Ah so good", but I also was also there to see him boot scoot across the stage like only Dwight Yoakam can. Loved every minute of it!



Oh, and ps…when I told my Dad we went out to see Dwight, he said, while laughing, “Well, you finally got to see ol' tight britches!”


Yes, I did!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

When the Child is away…..

Upon hearing that our Luke would be living with his Grandparents far, far away from us for part of the summer, people immediately asked what we were going to do. The first thing that came to my mind was, not pick up toys and tell Luke to pick up toys. Yes, those were my big plans. That and crying.

When talking to Josh about what on earth we would do, he suggested we remodel our kitchen. My first thought here was, NO! I’ve been married to Joshua for over ten years; we dated for years before that, and were friends years before that. So, as you can imagine, I have grown used to him being in my life. I was not sure if I wanted to rock the boat of marriage on a major remodel. Josh laughed and assured me our relationship was strong enough to endure it. And to prove it, we went to Lowe’s and started looking at stuff.

He was right (yes dear, you heard me correctly), we did not argue at all about the kinds of thing we liked! So, back in January, the plan was that during July, we would remodel the kitchen.

So, that has kind of, sort of.....changed. You see, from January to July is a long time and during this time, I decided that I really would rather have new furniture than a new kitchen! Picking our furniture and having it delivered is much easier than a do-it-yourself remodel and we really needed new furniture in the living room.

When I told The Sister (from another mother) about our awesome new furniture, she was all sad that we would no longer remodel the kitchen as she was a bit excited about the restraining of the cabinets. Fine, I said, that is pretty cheap to do, so we will proceed with it. I told her she could come on over with some sand paper. She was happy.

We will be re-staining the cabinets now, and will just hold off on the new countertops, sink, and backsplash. This plan is okay with me, Josh, and The Sister, who somehow received a vote. After our hard work of sanding and re-staining, we will sit back and relax on the new furniture and watch a movie. It's really a win/win for all.

There you have it – our big plans for our childless July!

Geez, I miss that boy in my arms!


Love you Luke and glad that you are having an awesome time with your Grandparents, Aunt, and Great-Grandparents!!!