Saturday, December 26, 2009

Gingersnaps Recipe

this small mound of cookies represents the 16 dozen gingersnaps I made last week!

Eric or I or both of us make these scrumptious cookies every December. They are our absolute favorites, and they are really easy and relatively inexpensive to make. We often hand out dozens of them to friends and family around Christmas, so over the years I've had many requests for the recipe. They are just a little spicy, soft, and best after they cool a bit. It is originally Eric's mom's recipe; we owe all the credit to her!

Mom's Gingersnaps

3/4 c. crisco or butter, softened (I only use butter)
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. molasses
2 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cloves
Preheat oven to 350 (Actually, baking at 360 degrees seems to work best in our oven). Mix it all up, but don't mix too long or too fast (the texture will be impossibly wet and goopy). After mixing, form one inch balls of dough and roll them in granulated sugar to coat the outside. Bake for about 10 minutes (we do 9 minutes) and promptly remove from cookie sheet to cool. Enjoy!
ps) This year we thought we might make a good thing better and added a slather of cream cheese frosting on top. Mmmmmmm...

Colorado Christmas: Day 1

Just a warm, relaxed day at 1905 Manor Lane. Esther was a little out of sorts after our 20 hours in the car the previous day. (Side note: the weather has been the talk of the town around here. That, and how we "threaded the needle" by driving out here between blizzards, only spending about 25% of our driving time in icky conditions. Interstates and highways are currently closed because of snow, ice, drifting, or all of the above, so we are glad we got here when we did!). Great Grandpa Knudtsen had a soft touch, and fussy Esther enjoyed sitting quietly with him for hours of the day.
Eva and Hope played with the assortment of toys here, some that have been passed down through generations and some that are new garage sale finds. Here Hope is playing with huge toy trains that were an extravagant gift to Great Grandpa when he was a boy.
Grandma referred to the month of December as "the great freeze", during which she baked and cooked and froze food every day. Now we are experiencing the "the great thaw", eating the fruit of her labor. She says that the real challenge is to get everything thawed on the right day and at the right time :). It is no small task to feed 28 people and still have time for plenty of card games!
...Or Scrabble games. Eric and Dalton had the highest scoring words, 120 and 108 respectively.
And what would Christmas at 1905 Manor Lane be without a few hands of "Pounce"?!? The women gathered around the table to raise their blood pressure and chip a few fingernails. The alternate name for this game is "Bloody Knuckles." Enough said!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

(almost) Wordless Wednesday

A grey day and a brisk walk... A bundled boy... A secret, furry nuzzle... A snuggled sleepy-head..A brand-spankin'-new stroller...Ahhhhh.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Pearl Harbor Day

My dear hubby's birthday was this month (groan! I started this post three days BEFORE his birthday and I'm just now posting it!). You guessed it, he shares his special day with the national holiday, Pearl Harbor Day. Because I am not really, really good at writing nice things that don't get extra long, I will attempt to honor him using the favorite elementary school vocabulary building activity: an adjective for each letter of your name.


E - Emotional. I thought for the bulk of our marriage that your love of logical arguments and well-reasoned approach to planning meant that you weren't very emotional. I was wrong, and I stand corrected. I love that you cry at sappy movies and sometimes during worship at church. You make the perfect daddy for little girls since you love being cuddly and tender.

R - Righteous. Over the past six months I have admired an increased desire for godliness and discipline in your life. God is bringing you to a new place in your walk with him... a place that requires self-discipline and a "dependent effort," as you like to say. Psalm 97:11-12 comes to mind, as well as Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they will be filled."

I - Involved. I am ever thankful to have an husband who wants to be involved in raising our daughters. At the very least, you participate with me each day in dinnertime craziness and bedtime extra-craziness.

C - Comedian. You're funny, which is one of the reasons I had so much fun with you before we were married. Most of your joking comes out when we're in a group of people, and I love watching you get a few laughs.

H - Hospitable. You lead the way in making our home and family a place where hospitality happens. I would have people over occasionally on my own, but you make it a constant activity and it is such fun!

A - Ambitious. You are competitive and aggressive, whether at work or play. Don't even think of winning a board game without a serious challenge from Eric! I'm proud of how hard you work at your job and how you strive for excellence there.

N - Nostalgic. You love to reminisce, which is fun and refreshing.

S - Stable. Although you may be emotional and nostalgic, you are level headed and calm in leading our family. You always have an optimistic outlook and a certainty that things will be OK. You make me feel safe and provided for.

E - Explorer. This is not one of your prominent character traits, but it sure is fun when your French-Canadian heritage shines through and you want to adventure with me in the great outdoors. On a related note, you are always eager for a new adventure in other areas of life too: learning a new skill, visiting a new place, expanding your knowledge about something.

N - Nurturing. You are a marvelous father, always excited to help the girls grow, learn, and explore. You eagerly spend time with them and take the time to make them feel special and loved.
Eric Hansen, I'm thankful to be your wife and impressed with the man God is forming you to be. Happy 31st Birthday!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas letter, 2009

EDIT: I am so sorry that this is cramped and hard to read! I am in a fight with blogger right now, and I might not win. My apologies!
Wow, another year has passed! I so look forward to Christmastime, despite it's hectic and over scheduled nature. Believe it or not, I also look forward to writing a Christmas update, letting people know what has been going on in our lives and reflecting on the past 365 days. This year, like every other, has been full of ups and down and lots of firsts for kids and parents alike. More ups than downs, thankfully- and that will be the subject of this year's letter.

At the close of 2009 the Patenaude's are extremely thankful for...

...Sisters! Our crew now numbers three, and three GIRLS at that! We have so much fun watching the girls be sisters together. Playing, pretending, laughing, loving, fighting, and being funny.
...The end of a decent pregnancy with no true complications.
...A face paced and simple delivery, welcoming Esther Hansen Patenaude to the family (October 2).
...A steady job for Eric that meets our needs.
...The sometimes uncomfortable opportunity for reflection and change that Eric's job brings.
...The opportunity for Becca to stay at home with the girls, attempting to shape little people into God-followers.
...The forced humility that comes by parenting and being with these little people day in and day out.
...A co-worker who picks Eric up two days a week so that I (Becca) can use the van. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we scurry around to preschool, errands, and play dates.
...A warm, dry, and snug house.
...The possibility that someday we will live in a warm dry and spacious house. :)
...An emergency room only 4 blocks away. Each of the girls had a trip this year: Eva for stitches in her chin, Hope for anaphalactic shock (egg allergy), Esther for viral meningitis.
...The opportunity to supplement our income by providing daycare for another baby.
...And the last day that the baby came to our house and started being cared for by her own daddy.
...Our not-so-small group at church. We share the intimate details of each other's lives and do our best to "love each other deeply" (1 Peter 1) through word and deed.
...The five weeks of meals provided by our small group after Esther's birth.
...Monday nights when we alternate childcare and dates with our dear friends Aaron and Bethany.
...A growing marriage in which we seem to become increasingly at peace with ourselves and each other.
...Camping. Eric did some hardcore winter camping last January. The rest of us camped with him several times during the summer. It was especially fun to camp with my grandparents and parents at Lake Mille Lacs, a four generational camping trip!
...Levi Justice. We happily welcomed our first cousin on the Spears side, only 4 weeks older than Esther. We're expecting two more cousins on the Patenaude side, bringing the grand total to 12!
...Energy. My days at home are bustling, and I'm thankful for the grace to keep up with it all. I'm also thankful for happy little girls who spin circles around me and make daring leaps off the couch into my lap.
...Fun. Nintendo Wii, trips to the park, bike rides, hiking, sight seeing, relaxing with friends, grilling, and building snow houses are just a few of our entertaining endeavors.
...Visits from friends and family. This year has been a bit slower than years past, but our itty-bitty spare room and bath provided comfort for many dear ones over the past year.
...Good books. I have so enjoyed reading to Eva and Hope this year, particularly the Little House on the Prairie books and the Box Car Children. Eric and I have even cracked a few books lately as well!
...Hard work. Eric continues to get himself into a wide range of home improvement projects, and it seems to be really good for him on many levels. We all enjoy the fruit of his labor when they're complete.
...Friends and family. We are blessed to call many delightful people friends and so thankful that they stick with us through the ups and downs. We also cherish the fellowship of both sides of our family where relationships are strong and constant.
But we are immeasurably thankful for...
...the birth of Jesus, celebrated at Christmas. Through Him we have these abundant good gifts, fellowship with God the Father, and the Holy Spirit to walk with us on this wild journey. Someone recently praised Eric with the words, "you're a good man, Mr. Patenaude." To which he rightly responded, "Noooo, but I have a great Savior!" We are thankful for Jesus' birth, death, and most importantly resurrection this year.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a new year filled with a deeper understanding of God's love for you!

with Thanksgiving,

Eric, Becca, Eva (4), Hope(2), and Esther(2 mos.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

We're home!

Praise God, he saw fit to make our hospital stay short and uncomplicated! We came home early this afternoon and have just been resting and enjoying the peace and quiet. Esther is doing much better today. No fever, much less neck pain, and no headache that I can observe. She is eating like a horse (yes, hay and oats ;), and her tummy seems to be feeling better too (no throwing up). The real upturn seemed to be when the other girls came home this evening.

Eva and Hope played at a friend's house all day (thanks, Gibsons!), but came storming in the door around 7:30 tonight. Hope's first words, "Mama? You're home?!?" Eva attacked me with a hug, then ran to smother Esther. Hope wanted to give Esther some big lovin' too, but Eva was sooooo protective of her time with her. She really, really wanted to be alone with Esther, and I could hear her whispering to her about how sweet she is and how much Eva missed her. I also overheard her say, "I bet you're glad to be back with us. Not with those noisy doctors and nurses!" Eva is probably right, but in defense of the "noisy" doctors and nurses, we had WONDERFUL caregivers. I was very pleased and impressed with all of their bedside manor and tenderness for the sick little babe.

No exagerating, after the snuggles, caressing, and laughing with the older girls, Esther finally seemed herself. She was more alert, smiling, and following the girls with her eyes as they ran around doing their thang. As a person from a small family (with my sister and I spaced 6.5 years apart), I am really amazed at how much of a bond my three have already. It's cool.

So, Esther's meningitis turned out to be viral. Caused by some unknown virus (perhaps hand, foot, and mouth which Hope had last weekend) that decided to settle in the lining of her brain. For now, she is happy and doing well. She does have a mild cold and her system will be recovering from the massive amounts of IV antibiotics she was on at the hospital (just a precaution in case the meningitis turned out to be bacterial). We leave for Christmas in Colorado in about a week and have out of town company for four days coming up, so we covet your prayers for our family. We are tired, the house is unkempt, and Esther's health is still on our minds. We are psyched for Ryan and Stephanie and Thor to visit, and psyched to head to Colorado, but still it is a little overwhelming. Pray for complete recovery for Esther and an extra measure of God's grace for me to be an effective home manager, wife, and mom over the next few weeks.

Such a minor blip as this (in the grand scheme of things...) has resulted in our family feeling incredibly loved! I had 99 emails in my inbox today (including facebook and blog comments), most of which were friends and family writing with encouraging words and offers to help us out. We have people bringing meals (thanks Wetzels and Fredricks!) and childcare lined up. Wow! We are so blessed. Thank you, everyone!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Never a dull moment

Hi all-

Just writing a quick note to let y'all know that Esther has been admitted at the University Children's with meningitis. They are unsure yet if she has viral meningitis or bacterial, but they are suspecting viral, which is a better scenario. Please pray for fast and complete healing for her! We were admitted late Saturday night after 24 hours or so of high fevers (103.7 with tylenol). I had actually taken her to the ER on Friday night because of the fever, and after running several tests, they sent us home to wait it out. When the fever didn't subside and she began to have "altered consciousness" we took her straight to the ER here at the U. They went ahead and did a spinal tap, revealing meningitis. At the earliest, we could be discharged on Tuesday sometime, but it could be longer too.

The doctors want to see her fever gone, no sign of bacterial causes, and her skin clear up (she has a rash all over) before they discharge. Please pray for this, and for no lasting complications. Meningitis can be really scary and messy, but the docs think this case will be pretty straight forward, so that is a relief!

We are so thankful for our family and church family who have offered TONS of help. The older girls are being well cared for at home. Tomorrow they'll have a Grandma Day with my mom. After two late nights in the ER and not getting settled into our room until about 4:30 this morning, I am pooped! Pray for me too ;).

Thanks for praying for little Esther!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Photocards Update

I don't know any of you out there are planning to do the free photo cards offer, but they've just sweetened the deal. Now, in addition to the newbaby code I talked about here, they have 50% off their entire site (excluding plain prints) for Sunday (12/6) and Monday (12/7). Plus, they are offering free shipping on all orders of 60 photo cards or more. The coupon code is 2day. That's better than when I ordered them!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Friday Frolics

It's cold and it snowed. Yay! I guarantee I will not be celebrating this sort of event in March, but we've had such a lovely prolonged fall that it feels like "finally." After all, what is December, the Christmas month, without a little white?

The snow has been l-a-z-y, falling for more than 24 hours with little more than a dusting. But since it is here at last, we'll forgive it's slow ways. Happy for me, after less than 15 minutes of zipping, snapping, Velcro-ing, and scarf tying the girls played peaceably outside for at least 20 minutes. That is a pretty good ratio of bundling up to time outdoors when you're working with a two and a four year old. Our new goal will be: better than 15:20 for the next outdoor adventure. I didn't venture off the front stoop, but I still managed to get some shots of cute snow bunnies!
The obligatory "you're finally all bundled up" photos.

Eating snow... when you're two, everything is perceived as a first time experience (what with no memories and all), so you try EVERYTHING!
I just love toddlers all cozied up in their snow gear. Hope could hardly walk and did fall flat on her face a few time. Darn those chunky boots and puffy pants!
The frolicking continued inside. Yes, they achieved this disaster all in one morning. I tell you, that floor was clear when they went to bed last night! Do you notice that Eva's sheets and mattress pad are even off?!? They were playing "travellers." That should tell you something about how we travel ;)!There's the little wrecking ball traveller herself, complete with purple headscarf over her face!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Two year olds

Tonight when I went to check on Hope, who was supposed to be putting a few toys away before bed, I found her wearing five swim diapers and no clothes! It was akin to peeling an onion, getting those diapers off of her.

Yes, FIVE swim diapers, one on top of the other. :)

Christmas Bargain

You all know me to love a good deal! I'm thrifty, budget-minded, and always attempt to stay out of the stores that really drain my pocket book. But around the holidays, it is so hard to stay the course with a small budget!

Ever since we've had children, I've sent a picture greeting card around Christmastime. You know, since I don't send birth announcements I figure I've got to do something to let everyone know that our brood is ever-increasing! Last year I made a valiant effort at frugality by making photo postcards at Kinkos. We saved a lot of money in the cost of the cards, but the savings on postage was pretty great too. I'll admit, the quality of the card wasn't awesome though.

That's why I am psyched for this year's Christmas card! Thanks to Carrie over at Pocket Your Dollars, I found out about, where they have a couple of great coupon codes. Go to the site and make a 4x8 holiday card. Enter the promo code newbaby at checkout and you'll receive 50 cards for only the price of shipping ($3.19 for me). Good deal, eh?!? If you want more than 50 cards, you can make a separate order and enter the promo code photocard which will give you 25% off the order. They also have a deal on that site for 100 free prints to new users (I'm assuming that would have to be your first order ever, so do this before ordering your photo cards).

Although I almost tore my hair out when I first started creating my photocard, after I figured out how to use the site I really like Your photo cards can be almost completely customized, unlike the cards you might order from Wal-mart or Target. Use as many pictures as you want with a wide range of clip art, text, backgrounds, etc. I will probably use this site again, now that I've figured out the software!

I hear jingle bells jingling and coins jangling (in your pocket of course, after you've saved so much on your holiday cards)!!!

Happy card making :)!