Saturday, April 27, 2013

HB is one!

My sweet firstborn  son is one, sigh.  I can't believe how incredibly fast 365 days went.  We had a birthday lunch for our dear boy last weekend (cake eating pictures to come, I promise) and I hung up his monthly chair pictures for family to see.  He has grown so much!  The growth and development of a child is truly breathtaking and I praise God for the chance to see this on a daily basis in my own son.

Here's a list of his current accomplishments and milestones:
  • Most notably, walking.  He took his first couple of steps two days before Easter and has since then has (almost) taken off running.  He now walks around the house in circles:)  He has so much fun walking I just love watching him. 
  • He has started giving little shoulder cuddles, as I call them.  He puts an arm over my shoulder and lays his head down.  So. sweet.
  • Started wearing hard soled shoes - okay, this isn't really a milestone, but it is new and different for my little man:) He doesn't really like them...yet...but I thought a little more support for his cute feet would be good now that he is walking. 
  • More independent play.  This is certainly a blessing in my book.  Walking has brought on even more independence in his life and more than once a day he walks himself into another room to start playing.  He has a little Fischer Price chair that my friend Licia passed down to us and I set it in the corner of the dining room where I work on my laptop.  He loves to sit down in his "office" as I call it, look at our sliding glass door and talk, talk, talk.  Again, so cute.
  • Waving!  His chubby little fingers fold in half to his palm and open again.  It's so cute (have I used that word enough?).  He even does it two handed sometimes when we start getting fancy around here.
  • He loves to clap and does it to show excitement or to entertain himself while I change his diaper.  He isn't much for clapping upon request, he likes to initiate this on his own. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Beef Taco Bake

Whatcha Making Wednesday: Beef Taco Bake

I love making tacos with ground beef!  Using an affordable cut of beef to make something tasty and quick is pretty close to success in my book!  This recipe came from Cook's Country magazine originally but I have included a few adaptations below.  Feel free to get your creativity going because tacos are so easy to change up based on what you like.

2 10-ounce cans of Ro-Tel tomatoes (drain and reserve 1/2 cup juice)
1 16-ounce can refried beans
1 T hot sauce (we like Cholula)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend (I never actually measure cheese, I just kind of throw it on until it looks good!)
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 package taco seasoning mix
10 taco shells
3 scallions or green onions, sliced thin

1. Heat oven to 475 degrees. Combine half of tomatoes, beans, hot sauce and cilantro in bowl. Spread evenly in 13 by 9 baking dish.  Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese.  (Katy's note: This tends to make your tacos soggy so I prefer to just spread the beans in half the dish so they can still be heated up in the oven but not result in soggy bottomed tacos.

2. Cook beef over medium-high heat until no longer ink.  Pour off fat (reduce the fat!!) then stir in taco seasoning, remaining tomatoes, and reserved tomato juice. Simmer over medium-low heat until thickened and nearly dry, about 5 minutes.

3. Spoon beef mixture and cheese into each taco shell.  Arrange tacos upright next to bean mixture, cover with foil and bake until bubbling, about 10 minutes.  Remove foil, top with remaining cheese and bake until cheese is melted, about another 4 minutes.  Sprinkle with extra cilantro and green onions and serve!

Note: covering the tacos with foil in the last step helps keep them from burning since the oven is at such a high heat.  It is also important to note that you sometimes burn the tacos when your almost 1-year old son stands up without holding onto something and walks across the kitchen and then you forget about dinner in the oven while you celebrate with him and shower him with kisses.  I made this note in my head for next time so hubby and I don't have to eat black tacos:)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Easter 2013

When asked what my favorite holiday is I used to reply Thanksgiving or the 4th of July; now however, I love to share why Easter is.  Celebrating the birth of Christ at Christmas is equally as important to our story as Christians as is celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ at Easter.  However, as I've grown in my walk with Christ I have come to see the significance of Christ's death and the need for His death so that I may claim His victory over sin and death as my own.  I am so thankful that we can proclaim that Christ is risen, and victory is mine and yours!

I missed the photo opportunity on Easter to snap a few picture of our family in front a beautiful blooming cherry tree at my mom dad's but here are a few photos to recap the Easter week, and weekend.

We enjoyed another awesome play date with some friends at a park in Buckeye complete with an Easter egg hunt!  HB wasn't too keen on the actual hunting part but sure enjoyed chewing on and shaking the eggs!
I made little "bird nest" goodie bags for my family; the nest was made of marshmallow coated chow mein noodles, and included Reese's peanut butter eggs and peeps.  I downloaded the cute tags from
Grandpa and Grandma enjoying some laptime with HB while we waited on lunch.
HB engaging in his first "egg cracking war" with Grandpa and cousin D.  This is an old tradition that my grandparents from Croatia first shared and I used to enjoy as a kid.  Now it's fun to watch my dad play with all the grandkids.
Grandpa with (almost) all of his grandkids.  We missed my sister's boy on Easter but look forward to celebrating with him next year!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A tribute to my grandmother

Hubby and I are in Montana for a quick weekend as we remember my grandma Myra at a memorial service.  I have the chance this afternoon to share a few thoughts about my grandmother so I thought I would share them on here as well so when I look back someday, and I long ago lost the paper I wrote this on, I will be able to find a few memories about this dear woman.

In sitting down to write this, I really struggled with what to say. Grandma has been one of the most important people in my life and with a few moments before you to remember and commemorate her I obviously wanted to write something special that encompassed everything I felt about her. That turned out to be a bigger task than I thought so I thought I would share some of my favorite things about her and a few of the life lessons she taught me.

One – have a sense of humor! She always said “a good laugh is good for the heart.” As grandma aged my own mom would warn my siblings and I that we needed to be more careful about the type of pranks we pulled on grandma just to solicit a laugh (or a scream), but grandma was always good natured about our pranks and tried equally as hard to get a laugh or two from us. I will forever remember visiting Grandma and Grandma in their home in Arlee and using a rubber band to secure the handle of the sink spray nozzle down so that when grandma turned on the water it automatically sprayed her. More often than not we would use the element of surprise to announce our presence and grandma more often than not would shriek in surprise.

Two – play cards. Well, the lesson here may not be about playing cards, but I think there is value in what this represented to me. Playing cards with grandma was a given whenever she visited Arizona or we visited Montana. It represented something that we could spend time doing with her, and since we grew up a thousand miles away, spending time with her became one of the most special things we could do because time was always limited. This time was about more than just passing the time but it was about making memories for me. We laughed, we gave each other a hard time about who was crowing when they were winning one moment and fuming the next when they were losing, we learned about sticking with a decision because “the board was the play,” and most importantly it was about learning to talk to and have conversations with those you loved. I’ll forever miss being able to watch my grandma “shuffle up the buffalo” but hope this becomes a tradition in my own family that becomes just as special as it was to me.

Three – add a little variety to life. At 89 years old, grandma was never afraid to try something new or buy something just a little different because she wanted to try it out. This is representative of a life-long trend. Grandma was so full of spunk and I loved the vigor she attacked life with. Whether this meant wearing bright colors, or trying to make a whirly gig because she’s always loved them, or cutting her hair into a short, spiky “do” that required less work, I will long admire the color and spunk she brought to all of our lives. She wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted and was forever encouraging me to have a little fun and try something new. More often than not this would center on the new concoctions I was trying in my kitchen, but this lesson is transferrable to all areas of our lives. I appreciate her independent, “try new things” spirit and hope that I can go about life with the same tenacity she had, even in her younger days when this meant going to work in the airplane factories during the war so she could earn money to pay her way through nursing school.

Fourth and final – indulge, do something you enjoy every day. Many of you will smile remembering how much grandma loved a little vino at 5 o’clock everyday, or in some cases maybe 4:30 because it was five o’clock back home. As a kid growing up my grandma seemed to be the only person I knew that drank wine and she seemed awful glamorous to me doing it. Reflecting on this daily habit, it seemed to me that grandma knew a thing or two and I need to remember to take time each day to relax and indulge in something that I enjoy.

My list could go on and on, and I’m sure if we compared our lists of some of our favorite things about grandma we might have a few similar things but also a few different. I hope that in remembering her today, we will all take a moment to remember the smiles she brought us in the different seasons of our life and how much life her little body contained. Grandma – I will miss our ritual Sunday afternoon phone chats and the chance to share something sweet with our first cup of coffee when we came to visit, but I am so glad that you’re in a better place now and look forward to playing that first round of cards when I come and join you in heaven one day.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I was able to attend Beth Moore's bible study conference in late March and was so blessed by the timing and message of it.  The night it started was the same night that my step-daughter broke the news to my husband and I that she wanted to move back to Florida to live with her mom full time.  We were both shocked, and still are about this news.  However, God is so merciful in how he lifted me up and encouraged me in His word this same weekend.

The whole theme of the conference was about being "marked" for Christ - here is the acronym we created through six hours of bible study:
M-my life, my very person, bears marks
A-a mark leaves a signature
R-resurrection makes marks out of wounds
K-kindness turns a doubter into the ultimate professor
E-evil takes and makes its own mark
D-discipleship is doing life and ministry as one "marked"

Wounds turn into scars (or marks upon our body) after they are healed.  These wounds are evidence that we survived some type of experience.  This concept as applied to our physical body is true of our spiritual life as well.  Each one of us bears marks or scars that have healed over time; these marks leave a signature upon us.  The question posed by Beth Moore was "whose signature do our marks bear?"  Has Christ healed our wounds and left his signature upon our life in a way that bears testament to those around us of His healing upon our life?  If not, he wants to, and it's something we can always ask him to do. 

The message hit home for me when we discussed the analogy of wounds needing healing before they are able to scar over.  We all have spiritual wounds (sometimes even literal physical wounds) that need healing from the Ultimate Physician.  I can think of unmet expectations, broken relationships, hurtful words and many of my own sinful actions that have marked my life.  While not always pretty, God is faithful to heal if we choose to ask for it.  The example I mentioned at the start of today's post is the perfect example of a figurative wound in my husband and I's life right now that has yet to be healed for over two years now.  Just when we thought the wound had fully healed, it was ripped back open.  We have yet to see what will happen but as I have been reminded by faithful friends, God is the god of miracles and one day we will all be reconciled in heaven. 

In closing, I want to leave Galations 6:17 with you - it is was our theme scripture from our time of bible study with Beth Moore.  "From now on, don't let anyone trouble me with these things. For I bear on my body the scars (marks) that show I belong to Jesus."  What do the scars or marks on your life show?  Bitterness, contempt, anger, and unforgiveness?  Or undeserved grace, patient humility, and hope?  It's never to late to seek healing from Christ and ask Him to leave his signature upon the wounds in your life.  I am asking for this very thing in my own life now.