Homemade Pasta

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Making pasta at home has always been something I’ve wanted to do, but frankly, it’s kind of intimidating. Having finally faced my fears, let me tell you: it is not as difficult as you think! Time consuming, yes. Especially if you triple the batch like I did. But good? Oh yeah. And the best part about hearing this from me? I made pasta without a pasta machine or a pasta roller or a pasta cutter. I do have this ravioli press to help make ravioli, but that’s the end to my pasta equipment.

From start to finish, it took me seven hours, but don’t let that discourage you. That includes stopping to cook and eat dinner, allowing the dough to rest, and allowing the pasta to sit out on the counter for several hours to dry out.

So are you ready?

Pasta Dough Recipe
3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water

(I tripled this recipe and made 96 raviolis. My husband, son and I ate 24 at one meal.)

Crack eggs into bowl and beat well.
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Add all other ingredients except flour and mix well.
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Add flour one cup at a time, mixing well each time. After a while, you’ll just have to work the flour into the dough by hand. By the last cup, it will look like you have way too much flour, but just keep kneading. Eventually it will look like dough.
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If it just will not come together, add water one teaspoon at a time, kneading after each addition, until it does. If it it’s to sticky, add flour a sprinkle at a time until you could throw it across the room with accuracy.🙂
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Shape it into a log, wrap with plastic wrap and let sit on counter for at least one hour, but no more than 4. (This allows the gluten to relax so it’s not as springy when you hand roll it. If you have a pasta machine instead of a rolling pin, this step is not necessary.)

Using a sharp knife, cut the dough in half width-wise, and then in half again, so you have four roughly equal sized pieces. Keep all dough in plastic wrap until ready to use it, one piece at a time, so it doesn’t dry out.
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On a lightly floured surface, press one piece of dough lightly with your hands until you have a 3 inch square. Then, with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough out until it is translucent and you can see your fingers through the dough. Note: always start in the middle of the dough, rolling once away from you, then toward you, then flip the dough over and repeat. This way you’re not re-rolling the same mass. You should have a looong skinny rectangle. Place dough on frame, press to form pockets, and place 1/2 tablespoon of filling in each pocket. (My filling was 2 cups cooked ground meat, 2 cups shredded mozzarella, 15 oz ricotta, 1/2 cup grated parmesan, 1 tsp garlic powder and 1/2 tsp each dried basil and oregano. It was lightly flavored, which is how we like it. For more flavor, I’d increase the spices or use Italian sausage.)
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Place another rectangle of dough on top and press with rolling pin, lightly at first and then harder, until edges of frame are visible through the pasta. Trim away dough edges and re-roll. Turn frame upside down and gently press ravioli out with fingers. Transfer to a heavily floured baking sheet. Let them air dry on the counter for at least one hour, and then flip them and let the other side air dry for at least an hour more. Then…
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Ta-da!

Freeze them on their floured baking sheets and then toss in a freezer bag for a quick, gourmet home cooked meal! (Or toss them in booking water and easy them right away!)

To cook, thaw first and boil for 8 minutes. Serve with a jarred pasta sauce. Because c’mon, you did enough work already!!
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I ended up cutting the remaining dough into strips with a pizza cutter to make thin fettucine-like noodles. Just hang those up to dry overnight. Yep, that’s my wiped-down laundry drying rack they’re on.
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By the way, this is the best arm workout I’ve had in a while. Now I know why Italian grandmothers are so dang strong.🙂

Enjoy!

Dough recipe is from the back of the ravioli press I have.

Soli Deo Gloria.

How to “Handle” Christmas

My heart swells within me and I can contain it no longer. Grief flows from my eyes, grief that blindsided me. Yes, I knew there would be grief. But I didn’t expect this much. I was barely seven weeks along. We’d only known of the seed growing in my womb for two weeks. I hadn’t yet held him, seen him or even named him. And yet, heartache crushed my spirit.

I wept before God. I brought everything to His throne room – my sobs, my broken heart, my bitterness, my confusion, my everything. I do not doubt His plan. I do not question His goodness. But I am still human.

“Why, God? Why would you allow this? Especially in this time, in this season – when everyone else is so happy? When everyone else is excitedly celebrating the birth of your Son? How do I convince my heart to participate in Advent – this waiting for the Christ-child to come – when my child will not?”

And God bends down from heaven and whispers music from my past.

“Behold, the Lamb of God….”

I smile. Handel’s Messiah. My favorite Christmas music. Composed by a man in the midst of struggle. By 1741, George Frideric Handel was bankrupt. He was despised by the theater crowd and the church. Everyone else thought he was a failure. Debtor’s prison loomed on the near horizon, and he was (understandably) deeply depressed. So he picked up his pen (quill?) and transcribed the anthem of the hopeless: 

“Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!”

 The audacity of the hopeless to still look toward heaven and whisper “Hallelujah” with tear-streaked faces – this is the mystery of Christmas. For those facing impossible situations – overwhelming grief of a lost loved one, sickness, homelessness, the unknown, or even a young girl who boldly dares everyone to believe that she is still a virgin though her belly is round and full of child – this is why Christ came. I’ve heard it said countless times that God doesn’t give you anymore than you can handle. I’ve heard it in church circles, from well-meaning Christians, and I’ve probably said it myself. But here me clear:

That is a lie straight from Lucifer’s mouth.

The verse oft misquoted here refers to God protecting you from temptations that are too difficult to bear, not situations (1 Corinthians 10:13). It is my firm belief that God is constantly giving us situations that we cannot handle, and my own foolishness often puts me there as well. Hasn’t this has been Satan’s lie from the beginning? Don’t worry! You can handle it! And now it’s cloaked in words of seeming encouragement.

Yeah, the Israelites could handle 400 years of Egyptian slavery; that’s why they never cried out to God for a miraculous deliverance. And the Israelites could handle being oppressed by Canaanite nations, which is why they never cried out to God for help, and never needed the assistance of Gideon, Deborah, Samson, or Jehu. And the blind men could totally handle being blind and poor and destitute, which is why no blind man ever cried out for the Son of David to have mercy on them and heal them. Oh… wait….

Isn’t that the whole reason Christ came as a helpless Babe in the first place? Because we had gotten ourselves into this sin situation that we could not handle ourselves?  

And I remember that it is because of that Babe that I have any hope at all, that I have any access at all to the throne room of heaven, that I have any undeserved right to boldly bring my red-eyed, snot-nosed mess of a life before Him. It is only because of that Babe that I have access to the Healer and the Helper, this One who tells me that He has wounded, but He will heal (Deut. 32:39), and as He has planned, so it will be (Isaiah 14:24) and that He works out everything for good (Romans 8:28) and in conformity with the purpose of His will (Eph 1:11). And He reminds me of Job – that Job from the Bible, the one that lost everything, everything, and not just one pre-born child but all, all of his children in one day, in one horrific accident, because God allowed Satan to test him – He reminds me. Job’s real test was not all the pain and suffering and heartache that he endured. Job’s real test was enduring such pain and suffering and heartache without knowing why.

After all, had God told him at the beginning, “Job, here’s what’s going to happen, and it’s all going to be a test to see if you really trust and love me, but everything will work out okay,” would it have really been a test? God doesn’t answer all our why’s because the why’s are not nearly as important as the Who. So I stop searching for answers, and I search for God. I beg God to open my eyes so I can see Him. I crave Him. I need Him. I can’t get through this without Him. I want to see Him, everywhere, and so I do. In daily provision and unexpected surprises and an almost-three-year-old Batman bringing protection (and lots of smiles) to the local grocery store. And I realize how indebted I am to the Grace-Giver, that every. single. thing. is undeserved. Every single thing is a gift. Every single thing is a glimpse of Him. And the whispers of thanksgiving my heart utters for those undeserved graces… they begin to heal my heart. I still don’t understand why this happened. But now, I don’t need to. Though I knew this before, I now know it on an even deeper level:

God. Is. good. 

And so, with heavy, needy heart I enter into this Advent, this waiting and looking and searching for the One sent to accomplish what I cannot. Maybe that’s exactly how we are to enter Advent – not with shallow, superficial excitement borne of beautiful lights and presents and Polly Anna moments, but with hearts heavy, fully realizing not just our desire for Him, but our utter need of Him. The tears from my eyes are no longer borne of grief, but of longing – longing to see my Christ, here, present, at work to right this world that has strayed so far from the only One who can redeem and heal and make whole. To put it back the way it should be. To once again be able to walk with Him in the cool of the morning.

And I realize, these desperate, gut-wrenching cries for my Savior – this is Advent.

The beauty and twinkling and gifts and kindness and happiness – yes, those are all nice, all parts of the celebration. But Advent is about waiting. And how can you really yearn for something of little value to you? How can you truly long for someone whose worth you do not completely understand? How can you ever desire the Savior without realizing the need to be saved? And how can your heart be impressed with the depths of this indescribable gift – that the Glory of heaven would be born of a woman a girl in a dusty, dirty, odiferous stable? He comes straight to the mess of our need, and He transforms that ugly, inadequate, broken and unkempt manger into an altar. He takes the mess of our lives and declares it holy not because we have cleaned it up but because He is there. And He doesn’t shy away from being in such a place. He announces His arrival with angels and stars, and shepherds come to the stable-temple and worship the Child. The Child whose glory overwhelms the mess of the stable. The Light whose very existence overwhelms the deepest, darkest black of night. Any night. Any situation. Especially the ones we can “handle”. 

A seed is planted. Though my belly will not swell with babe, maybe, just maybe, my heart can swell with joy.  

“Come, thou long expected Jesus!”

 

Soli Deo Gloria.

Because Everyone Keeps Asking How I Am…

The short answer is “fine”. For those of you who want more detail, keep reading.

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As you can imagine, a lot goes through your mind when your pregnancy is classified as “threatened miscarriage.” Lots of worry, at first. Until the Holy Spirit whacks you upside the head with a spiritual two-by-four and says, “Relax, I got this.”

You see, my baby has a 50/50 chance between life and death. An ultrasound at 6 weeks 4 days showed a strong heartbeat. But it also showed an amniotic sac much smaller than it should be. And I’m bleeding. And as much as I wish there was something I could do, there’s not. Certainly there are things I could do (but of course won’t) that could result in my baby’s death; but there is nothing that will guarantee my baby’s life. I have absolutely no control over this situation. But I know the One who does.

I know the One who holds this baby in His hands, expertly knitting him together in my womb (Psalm 139:13).

I know this baby is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

I know the One who has conquered death (1 Corinthians 15:54-55).

I know that I have nothing to fear because He loves me (1 John 4:18).

Because He loves me, I know that I can trust Him; I know that He is not callous to our suffering (John 11:33-35).

And I know that, as utterly heartbreaking as this situation could turn, it is, in the light of eternity, a “light and momentary affliction” achieving for me an eternal glory that will far outweigh my struggles (2 Corinthians 4:17).

I do not confess that last one lightly; I want this baby. Like everyone else, I would much rather experience the joys of a newborn than the heartache of a miscarriage. I know that a miscarriage is a gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, life-changing experience. I have watched good friends and family members walk down that difficult road. I am not minimizing their pain. I am maximizing my Christ, whose grace can so thoroughly overwhelm anything we face that, in the presence of His glory, even something as great as a miscarriage will appear “light and momentary.”

After all, “shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10)

We cannot stand before our problems without first kneeling before His throne. Our prayer should not be, “Fix this, Lord” or “Do this, Lord, and not that” but “Your will be done.” Because we cannot experience His peace until we are submitted to His will. Even if – especially when – we do not know what His will is. As much as I want this baby, I want His will even more, because in my relatively short life thus far, there is one lesson that I have learned well: His will, though sometimes difficult, is always best. It’s not always the path I would’ve chosen. But He knows what He is doing.

I know that my God is able to save this child. After all, if the things that are impossible for man are possible for God (Mark 10:27), then a 50/50 chance is a walk in the park for Him. A famous trio in the Bible received hands-on experience with this. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow before Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image, even though the punishment was death by fiery furnace. Their odds were nowhere near 50/50. Their situation was impossible. Their response to the king indicated that they knew full well what was about to happen. But they were still wholly submitted to God, even if it meant their deaths.

“O Nebuchadnezzar,” they said, “we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the images of gold you have set up,” (Daniel 3:17-18, NIV).   

He is able.

And if He does?

I will lift my hands to Him. I will thank Him and praise Him all my days for His grace – His free grace, liberally poured out on a wretch He decided to call “child”.

But even if He does not, I will still lift my hands to Him, and Him alone. (I dare you to watch the video in that link and not be powerfully moved. The words to the song are found here.)

He gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).

Soli Deo Gloria. No matter what.

 

Color-Themed Bath

Hunter had been confusing red and blue, so I figured I’d use an idea I saw on pinterest: color themed baths. The idea is your toddler takes a bath that is all one color (red in our case): red toys, red decorations, red bath paint, red, red, red. I was impressed with how much red stuff I had around the house for this endeavor: yarn, monkeys in a barrel, hot wheels, straws, even some of the bead strand and apple ornaments from my classroom Christmas tree when I was a teacher.

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On pinterest, people went all out decorating. I didn’t for 2 reasons. I am not that artistic, and I wanted Hunter to have a blank canvas, so to speak. I let him just play with the paint first. What better place to make a huge, water-soluble mess than in the bath tub?

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In the picture below, notice the butt-shaped slide mark.

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He painted EVERYTHING. But, that was the point. And the whole time we talked about red.

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It was a great messy fun color lesson that turned into a sensory experience with the slimy paint and slippery bathtub. It also turned into a muscle building exercise when he tried to go from one end of the bathtub to the other- uphill. He thought it was hilarious. And just in case you’re wondering if it stained my tub….

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Nothing a little scrubbing bubbles can’t handle. Note: please notice or bathtub has no tile. I have no idea if this would stain grout.

DIY Bathtub Paint
Mix equal parts cornstarch and water. Add tempura paint until desired color is reached. Start with small amounts (like 2 tablespoons). This recipe also makes great sidewalk paint.

Dallas, Part 1

Hunter and I flew to Dallas yesterday to spend some time with GG (Hunter’s great-Grandma) and Auntie Karen. Hunter was a total pro on the airplane. We had checked out a book from the library about flying on an airplane so Hunter was pointing out all the stuff he recognized to me, like the ‘fasten your seatbelt’ sign. He also studied what he should do in case of emergency and got to see the cockpit after we landed.

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Today, we went to the Dallas Zoo and had tons of fun. I think the theme of today was ‘let’s ride the animals’.

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And of course we had a blast seeing all the animals, and getting really close to a giraffe!

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After the zoo, Hunter fell asleep in the car on the ride home, clutching his new safari truck and trailer. That marks the first time I’ve ever seen him fall asleep without sucking his thumb or playing with the tags on bop.

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After nap time, we swam in GG’s pool and then went out for some yummy pasta and garlic rolls.

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It was a long, fun day!

Letter to my Pre-Marriage, Twenty-Year-Old Self

Having been married now for seven years, the following letter is what I would say to myself if I were somehow able to go back in time and talk to myself when I was twenty, before I ever met the man I now call my husband.

Dear Self,

I remember all too well the heartache you feel now: the longing for a husband when there are no viable options in sight. The loneliness of seeing all your friends get married, one by one, and feeling like life is leaving you behind. The questions of self-worth, wondering if there is anyone out there who will want you, who will love you for who you are, who will fight for your heart. The desire to be so well-known by someone who could finish your sentences, the companionship of someone who would be there when you woke up in the morning, the satisfaction of sitting next to someone in church, the knowledge that you, out of all other women on earth, were that person’s choice. I remember well this deep, oftentimes painful desire of your heart. And you are completely correct in the assertion that, if it is God’s will for you to marry, He will grant the desire of your heart.

But what if that’s not His will?

What if His will is for you to remain single?

What if His desire is for it to remain you and Him all your life? Are you okay with that? Because if you’re not, if you desire a future husband so strongly that you feel marriage is the only way to satisfy your heart, then you have made marriage and your future husband an idol. You’ve bought into Satan’s lie – that old lie from the very beginning – that God is holding out on you, that He’s some big bully in the sky dangling your heart’s desire just out of reach. Self, hear me: marriage will bring its satisfactions, its blessings; but it will not satisfy. Your husband, no matter how awesome, no matter how godly of a man, is still human. He will cherish you, love you, romance you, make you laugh, and warm your heart. But he will also make mistakes. He will disappoint you, frustrate you, infuriate you, annoy you, and maybe even break your heart. Not because he wants to. Not because he intends to. But simply because he is human. If you rely on your husband to satisfy you, you have placed too large of a burden upon his shoulders. You have unfairly asked him to be your god. He cannot do it.

Self, the world and Satan will try to convince you that a husband is the only one who can meet and satisfy all of the longings of your present broken heart. They will use everything in their arsenal to convince you of this – especially all those ‘chick flicks’ that come out of Hollywood. But Self, they are wrong. They are completely wrong. Yes, a husband would bring you satisfaction and fulfillment and love, but there is only One who can completely satisfy, completely fulfill, and completely love. Life is not leaving you behind; if you are surrendered to Him, it is going exactly as planned (Jer. 29:11). And yes, there is Someone out there who wants you, loves you for you, and is fighting for your heart right now, as we speak (Isa. 43:3-4). You desire someone who can finish your sentences, but He can start your sentences (Ps. 139:4). You want someone to wake up next to, but He is there while you sleep, taking delight in you, quieting you with His love, and rejoicing over you with singing (Zeph. 3:17). You want someone to sit next to in church, but you cannot go anywhere where He is not (Ps. 139:7-10). And, Self, let the  words of Jesus Himself in John 15:16 wash over you: I chose you. The Alpha and the Omega, the Lion of Judah, the Bright and Morning Star, the Redeemer, the Son of God, the Creator and Master of the heavens and the earth who could’ve chosen anything in all creation to be His – He. chose. you. The rider of the white horse, whose name is Faithful and True, who judges and makes war, whose eyes are like a blazing fire and on whose head are many crowns, whose name is known only to Himself, who is dressed in a robe dipped in blood and whose name is the Word of God, who commands the armies of heaven, who strikes down nations with the sword of His word and rules them with an iron scepter, who treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty, and on whose robe and thigh is written ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’ (Rev. 19:11-16) – He chose you. How’s that for your knight in shining armor?

“We are far too easily satisfied!”

C.S. Lewis

Self, I hate to tell you this, but you have some work to do. Actually, you have some surrendering to do. Because until you are so surrendered to God that you really are okay with it if He breaks your heart and says you are to remain single (or even just that you’re not supposed to get married when everyone else is), until you trust Him so much that you are willing to lay down your desires for His sake, until you are willing to give up your dreams for your life and embrace His dreams instead (which, by the way, are ALWAYS better)… you’re not ready to get married. You’re not even ready to date. And God is wise to temporarily hold back that which would quickly become an idol to you.

You see, Self, if you think the next step of your life will satisfy, you will never be satisfied, because there will always be a next step.

You must really, truly, ultimately find your satisfaction in Him – the one who gave everything just to be with you. Think about it. The King of kings and Lord of lords has no need of mere mortals. He went to the cross because He wanted you. So, Self, every time you feel those pangs of longing for your future husband (which are completely natural and nothing to feel guilty about), start talking to God. Pray for your future husband, that he would be a man after God’s own heart who will lead you and your family according to God’s Word. Thank God that He has promised to fulfill the desire of your heart for a husband. One day. And then ask God to turn those deep desires for a husband into a deep desire for Him. Ask Him to satisfy your emotional needs. Refuse to let Satan drag you down farther into the depths of despair. Resist the urge to compare your life to others’ lives. Take advantage of the freedom that singleness grants right now, for there are things you can do now that will be more difficult or maybe even impossible to do when you are married, and especially after you have children – serve at a local charity or shelter, study your Bible into all hours of the night, take a friend who really needs advice out for coffee at the drop of a hat, go on that international mission trip. Don’t accept the lie that life will begin when you are married, and miss the joys of singleness. Like Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3:1, there is a time for everything. Later, when it is time for you to be married, you will completely enjoy the blessings God gives from that. But right now, it’s time for you to be single. Are you trying to hurry up and get it over with, or are you fully taking advantage of its potential?

Self, do your husband – and yourself – a huge favor. Before you meet him, make sure your heart’s desire is God. Make sure you really truly want Him more than you want him. It will save you a lot of trouble down the road.

“It is a foolish woman who expects her husband to be that which only Jesus Christ Himself can be.”

Ruth Bell Graham

The Wedding

My little brother got married this weekend. It’s weird, because he’s the baby of the family, but he’s the same age I was when I married. So I guess he’s old enough. 🙂

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Hunter was stylin’ in his suit and Air Jordans. I know I’m biased because I’m his mom, but he was SO adorable.

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All our cousins and Papa John were pretty stylin’ too.

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After the ceremony, Mr. Rick (who played at my wedding, my sister’s wedding, and now my youngest brother’s) let Hunter try out the organ.

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Here’s to Brian and Allison!

Soli Deo Gloria.

A Trip to the Children’s Museum

Hunter and I went to the Children’s Museum and had a blast playing. Here he is in the Science Room where you could build and race Lego cars.

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You could also test the structural integrity if a building on the black pay of this counter. When you pressed a button, the black part shook back and forth, like an earthquake.

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There was lots of other fun too.

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Here, he’s pouring Mommy water to go with our lunch of chicken, green beans, and monster trucks. That’s what he told me.

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Hunter was also excited to find not one, but two slides!

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We also went “grocery shopping”. Hunter made Momma proud with his selection. 🙂 First, a pear, his current favorite.

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Then, a basket full of fruit and vegetables! A boy after his Momma’s heart.

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And we had lots more fun with water, bubbles, and cows!

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It was a great day, and afterwards Hunter was exhausted! Mommy too. 🙂

Soli Deo Gloria.

Before and After!

Before…

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And about 13 inches after!

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I was a little worried that Hunter would be upset; you hear stories about kids his age not recognizing parents after they get a drastic hair cut or shave (I reportedly was one of those kids one Christmas when my dad shaved off his beard when his end-stages-of-Alzheimers grandmother replied “a clean shaven grandson” to his “what do you want for Christmas?”). But Hunter didn’t even notice. Probably because Mommy always -always- had yet up in a ponytail. 🙂

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dinosaurs!

We recently went to the Witte Museum to see the dinosaur exhibit. It was awesome. Most of the dinosaurs were life-sized and animitronic so they moved and all. There were lots of scared kids (and I don’t blame them!) but not Hunter. Nope. My two year old ran from dinosaur to dinosaur in the exhibit with his arms straight up in the air, yelling “Big dinosaur! Big dinosaur!” in a pitch high enough to make any dogs present howl. It.was. a. blast. seeing him so excited. It was hard to get a good picture because 1. the dinosaurs were huge and 2. for some reason, Hunter did not want to stay still. Once I tried to get him to face me so I could take a pic of him with the dinosaur behind him, and he looked at me like “Mom, don’t you know you never turn your back on a dinosaur???” And Daddy got of work a little early so he got to go with us. It was such a fun evening!

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Hunter joined in on an archeological dig too.

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Thankfully, no one was eaten by velociraptors.🙂

Soli Deo Gloria.