Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Yellow Lollipop

This blog has turned out to be more of a family journal, chronicling the various milestones and moments in the lives of our children, punctuated by a few thoughts on other topics. I've found that there's nothing better than a video to capture the funny mispronunciations of our children. I still remember the days when Christopher said, "Dub-uh-dah" for the letter "w", "Chee-woes" for cheerios, and "me hold-jah" for "please hold me". I'm afraid that I'll forget or get all of my kids mispronunciations mixed up with each other, so I'd better record them somewhere. So while this post is here for your enjoyment, it's mostly for me and our family's posterity!

This is a video of Sarah's mispronunciations of the first person singular as well as the "L" sound. She says "my" for "I" in every circumstance, which I believe she does purely out of habit now because she can say "eye" (i.e. "my don't want to", "my got it", "my did" or "my don't want a 'panking"). "Ls" sound like Ws - (i.e. "my wuv you" or "Cindawawa" for Cinderella). I thought I'd have a little fun with this by getting her to say words with lots of Ls in them. I was somewhat successful in the beginning, but as you will see, the kids tend to get a bit silly when they know they're being videotaped.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Hannah is crawling

About a week or so ago, we posted a video of Hannah scooting around the floor on her tummy. She had gone from generally disliking tummy-time, to pulling herself forward onto her tummy and then scooting backwards into a sitting position. She became very proficient at this and I knew it would be no time at all until she was crawling. Well, today she started to make some successful strides forward and is now officially crawling! She is just a few days shy of 10 months and already making great progress in her mobility. When I told Christopher that Hannah was crawling for the first time in her life, he said, "She sure does crawl slow." I reminded him that she was just now learning how and that he didn't crawl forward until he was nearly 12 months old. Sarah still holds the record, however, since she could crawl the whole length of our hallway shortly after turning 9 months. Now everyone in our house is on the move...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is tomorrow. Here is his incredible "Letter from a Birmingham Jail". May I suggest taking a moment on Monday to read it?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Happy Milestone

From the end of last summer until this morning, I've now lost a total of 25 pounds! (This is John writing, not Mindy - in case you didn't know. We do not want Mindy to lose 25 pounds.) I'm very happy and looking forward to more progress. By the way, I like anything with curry. I had it for dinner tonight and it was very yummy. I'm blessed to be married to a good cook!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Coconut-Curry Chicken and other stuff...

Some of you may be wondering why our blog has been strangely silent on the politics front, especially since the primaries have begun full-force and have been rather exciting and surprising, to say the least. Well, the reason is two-fold: John hasn't had any time to blog his thoughts recently and I'm too self-conscious to publish my thoughts on the primaries since I am fairly new to the love of politics.

It's funny - John will be the first to tell you that I've come a LONG way in my knowledge of the political process, let alone of the people involved since he first met me. Given his natural love and involvement in politics from a very young age, it's a wonder that he even married me, political/historical ignoramus that I was. Case in point, while he was reading 1,500-page biographies of Winston Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt in middle school (for fun), I was more concerned about making the cheer leading squad and which boys liked me. While John could tell you the names of all the senators in each state, I could quote lines from the Breakfast Club. I could really embarrass myself and tell you about the time I reluctantly went with John to see the movie, 13 Days (about JFK and the Cuban missile crisis)...but as I said before, I'm way too self-conscious. And he still married me...

All that to say, just as my sister became an avid Nascar fan after marrying one, I have become an aspiring political nut who enjoys watching Meet the Press and The Chris Matthews Show and enjoys reading The Atlantic, MUCH to John's supreme delight. This year for Christmas, I got John a subscription to The Weekly Standard, and I think I read all or most of it before he did. We scheduled 'date nights' to watch the Iowa Caucus returns as well as the results of the New Hampshire primaries...and I thoroughly enjoyed both (unlike my experience at watching 13 Days...).

So until John has a few minutes to gather his thoughts and blog them, I thought I'd post another recipe...something I am very confident in blogging about! John is at a session meeting tonight, so I thought I'd take advantage of his absence from dinner and cook something that he wouldn't normally eat (at least on purpose). The kids and I gobbled it up, so here it is:

Coconut-Curry Chicken

1 large pkg chicken legs (about 14) - skinned and seasoned with salt, pepper, curry powder, coriander
minced garlic (I used about 6-8 cloves...but I love garlic)
1 chopped onion
2 potatoes (red or russet), chopped
2+ lbs carrots, chopped large
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup chx broth
1 Tbsp curry powder (or 1/2 jar Lee Kum Kee's coconut curry sauce)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1+ cup frozen peas
In a dutch oven or deep pan, saute onion and garlic in a little oil then add seasoned chicken legs and brown.
Mix cornstarch and curry in coconut milk and broth and then add to chicken. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer (covered).
Meanwhile, chop carrots and potatoes and add to pan. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until carrots are tender.
Add frozen peas and heat through.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with cous cous or rice. Mmmmmmmmm.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Beef, Barley & Sweet Potato Stew

As I've mentioned before, one thing I love about the winter is cooking and eating soups, chilies and stews. Well, I recently found a new stew recipe that I tried and LOVE. I got it out of a Market Street magazine and made my own adjustments, which are written below:

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2+ lbs. beef stew meat (seasoned liberally with pepper, onion powder and garlic powder)
1 Tbsp flour
2+ cups chopped onions (about 1 large)
1+ cup chopped celery with leaves
4 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup pearled barley
5 cups peeled sweet potato chunks, approx. 1-inch squares
2+cups peeled and chopped carrots, approx. 1-inch rounds
2 cups peeled and chopped parsnips (they look like white carrots) or you could substitute white potatoes if parsnips sound too unusual for you.
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
2 -14oz. (or 1-28oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 cups frozen peas

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan on med-high heat. Add meat and sprinkle with flour, stirring well to coat. Cook until beef is not longer pink. Stir in onions and celery and saute until onions are soft (about 5-10 minutes). Add beef broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for about 1 hour.
Add barley, carrots, parsnips, Worcestershire sauce, and oregano. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, cover and simmer another 30 minutes or until veges are tender.
Stir in tomatoes and peas and heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Nutritional info per serving: 497 cal, 13g fat, 4g saturated fat, 112mb cholesterol, 46g protein, 48g carbs, 10g fiber, 596g sodium.

I don't have a picture to post because we ate it up so quickly! Don't get me wrong, this recipe makes a substantial amount of stew...it's just that the McCracken family cleaned it out in 2 meals! We'll definitely be making it again. Hope you enjoy it yourself!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Biblical Theology and a Dying Little Girl

A beautiful post by about the ties between Biblical theology and a dying little girl here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hannah at 9 months

Today was Hannah's 9 month well check-up and I was stunned to see that she was in the 75th percentile for height (28 inches) but only in the 25th percentile for weight (17 lbs. 5 oz.)! Christopher and Sarah have NEVER been below the 70th percentile in either category, with the exception of Christopher who was briefly in the 50th percentile for weight when he was 2 weeks old. He has more than compensated for that little dip ever since. For fun, here are the comparative weights and heights of all 3 kids at their 9 month check-ups:

Hannah - 17 lbs. 5 oz. (25%); 28 in. (75%)
Sarah - 21 lbs. 11 oz. (75%); 29 in. (90%)
Christopher - 21 lbs. 13 oz. (75%); 30 in. (94%)

After the doctor saw the shocked look on my face upon hearing "25th percentile", she assured me that it is normal to see a dip in the growth curve around this age due to increasing physical activity. I said, "Yes, but that just never happened with my other two!" I'm not worried at all because Hannah is as healthy as a horse and I must say that she is delightfully easy to carry around on my hip.

The next couple of videos will display her increasing physical activity. The first video is a cute one of her playing peek-a-boo with a blanket (endless entertainment) and the second video shows her moving around the floor with her newest abilities of pulling herself forward from sitting to semi-crawling and then scooting backwards until she is sitting upright again.

The second video is a bit longer and perhaps a bit boring for those of you who don't find the giddy excitement over a baby's milestones. Even though this is our 3rd child, we still gush over every little new ability of Hannah's as if we'd never seen it before.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Finally, more leg room!

You may remember this photo from the day we returned home from the hospital with our new baby Hannah way back in March. It was tight, but we managed to get all three kids in their bulky car seats to fit into the backseat of our Buick Century. Hannah has grown quite a bit since then and it has become increasingly difficult to lift her in and out of the middle of that back seat. Can you believe we drove from Texas to Pennsylvania and back like this? Yes, that's 2 VERY full days of reaching over the passenger seat to distribute snacks, books, games and whatnot that were inconveniently lodged in the floorboard of the backseat. Thankfully, our kids love car trips which made the drive very pleasant aside from the backbreaking work of being in the front passenger seat in taciturn.

Well, I am very happy to announce that we are now the proud owners of a minivan! John had been watching Craig's List for minivans in our price range and he found a GREAT deal on a 2004 Kia Sedona that we just couldn't pass up. John will now drive the Buick and we will hopefully be able to sell the Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight (or as our associate pastor, Patrick Poteet calls it, the "big shot pastor car")! As much as John was teased about driving around in the "land yacht" (as Paul Tripp has referred to it), we were very thankful to inherit the Oldsmobile from John's grandmother back when I totaled my Nissan in 2003. And when John's Camry died, we were very thankful to receive the Buick from my mom back in December of 2006. While we were grateful to have those provisions right when we needed them, John has been very eager to downsize while I have been very eager to upsize (see below)! Now, thanks to a very generous and unexpected gift from John's great aunt, we were able to pay for the van without financing it. So we've gone from NO car payments to NO car payments - yahoo!

I decided to put Christopher in the backseat and keep Sarah and Hannah together in the middle seat. Sarah is very helpful with Hannah (i.e. giving her toys, sippy cups and making her laugh) and it's just easier for her to get in and out of the middle seat than it would be in the back.

We took the van for a drive last night and asked Christopher how he liked having the big backseat all to himself. He responded, "Well, I don't like being all by myself." We were a little worried about that, but have since talked up the cool factor in getting to sit all the way in the back. I will say that he does seem pretty far away compared to being directly behind the driver's seat for pretty much all of his life up until now. Every time we've gotten in the van now, Sarah has said, "Christopher - you're so far away!"

So the van has so far been a hit with everyone in our family. The kids were SO excited to climb around inside it the day we brought it home and I have been so pleased driving it. John and I are thrilled to have a 'new' van without any car payments and we are both looking forward to driving it to Pennsylvania this year.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year 2008!

Well, what would a visit from my mom be without some haircuts? Here we are with our new haircuts for the new year (with the exception of Hannah who doesn't have enough hair to cut just yet).

Sarah's hair was cut and repaired from the butchering job she got at Great Clips a few weeks ago. Needless to say, my mom was appalled and ordered us to never step foot into another Great Clips ever again.

Yesterday morning my mom was telling the kids that she was going to be leaving the next day. Christopher asked why not live here in Texas? She said that she had to go back to work, to which he said she could work here in our house. My mom laughed and said, "But I need to make some money and you guys don't pay me any money." So Christopher disappeared and came back with a piggy bank filled with spare change and said, "Here Paw Paw! I'm giving you money!" It was very sweet.

I'll be waking the kids up shortly so we can all take Paw Paw to the airport. It has been a great visit, but as always too short.