Grandma's Christmas Cookies

My grandma's chocolate-molasses cutouts were always my favorite Christmas cookie.
My mom sent me a photo of the recipe from an old family cookbook, 
and I decided to post it here so I can pin it and have it easily accessible.
The family cookbook credits these as "Aunt Ethel's Chocolate Jumbles"
but to me, they'll forever be "Grandma's Christmas Cookies".

Grandma's Christmas Cookies
Warning: halve this recipe unless you are baking for hundreds.

Mix together:
1 c sugar
4 sq Baker's chocolate, melted - or - 3/4 c cocoa
1 c shortening (+ 3T if using cocoa)
2 eggs
2 c molasses

Add in:
2 t soda
1 t cinnamon
1 t cloves
5-6 c flour

Make dough stiff & chill.
Roll thin & cut out. 
Bake at 350 for 7-12 minutes.
Frost & decorate.


gender game, round 2.

As with the last pregnancy, we are not going to find out the gender until baby makes his/her arrival!

Here are the stats of the old wives' tales this time around!

Baby's heartbeat: above or below 140?
12 weeks = 150
16 weeks = 150
20 weeks = 140

Mom's cravings: sweet or salty?

Morning sickness: yes or no?
Yes, from weeks 6-8.
No from that point forward!

Mom's skin: soft or dry?

Mom sleeps on: right or left side?
Back & forth & back & forth.

Chinese Calendar: 

Mom's emotions: moody or happy?
Eh... pretty moody.

Mom's headaches: more or less?

Girl tally: 4
Boy tally: 3

I think it's a boy.
Bo thinks it's a boy.
Doug thinks it's a girl.

What about you guys?? What do you think?


oh & another thing

As long as I'm updating the blog, might as well include our now public announcement:
 Adding to our patch in March 2016!

ADK 2015

Well, self. You are doing a bang up job* with this blogging thing. *sarcasm
Here's to another effort to photographically chronicle life in general.

SO. Over Labor Day weekend, we went to the Adirondacks!
With two kids in tow, we decided to stop at the Wild Center.
Naturally, we had to take pictures in the moose antlers:
 My little wilderness babes:
And another family photo in front up the uprooted tree...
(Warning: I don't think you're ready for these white legs.)
 Adventures in the new eagle's nest!
Ever adventurous: 
 Later that day, we arrived at Dartbrook Lodge, where we stayed for the weekend.
 It was a gloriously warm weekend, so we headed to the Ausable to cool off.
 One of my favorite views, across from the Ausable at Marcy Field:
 Cute sunflowers in the community garden:
 And snuggles to end the day at the lodge:
The next morning/night, Doug woke up at 3 to go hike Upper Wolf Jaw (# 35/46!)
When kids & I woke up at a normal human time, we walked down the path to the ADK Cafe for breakfast.
Worth mentioning that Doug was back from his hike before our breakfast was even served!
 Then we ventured out for a family hike of Owl's Head!
About to get started:
 And we're off!
Annoyed that this is blurry, but here's our tiniest "hiker" loving the mountain air!
 I adore this picture of Bo. It captures him so well & his love for all things that his daddy loves.
Also, please note that since Doug was carrying Willa, Bo had to carry Buddy.
 My bubs.
 My family.
A wonderful weekend in a place I love with the people I love best.


this is the day that the lord has made

Three years ago today, I woke up with the Ethiopian sun.
It was hazy and gray - the type of morning that points to a day of sunshine and heat.
I lay under the blankets, butterflies dancing in my stomach, and smiled.

This is the day that the Lord has made...
  This was the morning we were to pick up our son.
64 days after first holding him in our arms...
Thousands of miles of ocean finally evaporated between us...
Reams of paperwork finally in order...
And now, only a few hours and a short car ride separated us.

Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
An excerpt from my journal from that morning:
My brain cannot comprehend that we are picking up Bo today - for good!
I mean, I understand that it's happening, but it doesn't seem real.
I have been waiting for this day for so long.
I think I keep expecting the worst, in my heart of hearts.
We've been cautioned and have heard so many stories of bad scenarios...
I think all of that is currently assailing me.
I know that God is in control. Father, calm my heart.
3 hours. 3 hours and our lives are going to change so drastically.

This is the day that the Lord has made...

On the drive over and as we made our way to the entrance of the Thomas Center,
I was a bundle of contradictions. Feeling nervous and at peace.
Feeling ready and completely unprepared.
We stepped inside and our translator explained that we were Bonsa's parents.
I heard footsteps on the stairs, and a nanny appeared, holding him.
She placed him in Doug's arms and gave me a bouquet of flowers.
Shortly afterward, we walked back out the door - a family of three.

Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
My heart is so full.
When I watch Doug holding Bo.
When I listen to Bo's snorty little breathing.
When I gaze at his round tummy... his gorgeous lashes...
touch his soft skin... hear his amazing laugh -
my heart feels like bursting. 
Like it's just too big and full of love to be contained in my chest.
To be honest - every time I look in the mirror, I'm a little surprised to see me.
I feel so different.

This is the day that the Lord has made...
Many times I lose sight of the amazing hand of God in the formation of our family.
I get caught up in the details of daily life.
I think it's our tendency as temporal creatures in flawed relationships.
We forget the enrapturing emotions that once enveloped our every step. 
The way our hearts quickened at the sight of our beloved.
The awe of first beholding a baby that emerged from our bodies.
And the overwhelming joy of holding a little boy that God has led you to from around the world.

Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Today, as I reflect on our journey of becoming a family,
I'm reminded that every single day is the day that the Lord has made.
And I pray that these days of remembrance become far more frequent 
as we praise Him for His faithfulness to us even amidst the daily details.

Father God, be glorified in and through our family.
May we be a testament to your grace and love.
Thank you for uniting us. Thank you for creating family.
Thank you for this sweet angel boy asleep beside me.
Thank you for my amazing, strong and patient husband.
Draw us ever closer to one another. Be the foundation of our family.
Draw us to you and help us desire the things of your heart.
God, I praise you for your goodness and faithfulness.
And Lord, a very selfish request...
please, please no poop geysers on the plane.

Happy 3 year Family Day, Bonsa Boy.



There is no more lovely, friendly & charming relationship, communion or company
than a good marriage.
-Martin Luther

Thanks for being my best company.
Happy anniversary, Doug.



While doing some spring cleaning the other day, I stumbled across this poem I wrote for the ole dog.
And since she's never featured on the blog anymore, I figured, why not, for old times' sake?
And while I readily admit she drives me crazy & I often pretend to hate her more than I do...
we'll keep her.
(FOR NOW, if you're reading this, Zooey!)


"Man's best friend" - 
clearly they've never
smelled her rear end.
She's aptly named -
at times I tend
to think she's insane.
Obsessed with food -
if you've got it,
her eyes are glued.
Always eager to walk -
all the squirrels
and birds to stalk.
The leash she hates -
pulls at every step
dreading slow gait.
Hyper all the time -
but still... so cute.
Glad she's mine.

Spring 2010


if we had coffee

Once upon a time I did a post like this.
I had debated doing another "Recently I'm..." post,
but decided my thoughts were better suited to a chat over a warm drink.

SO. If we had coffee...
... I'd be drinking my new typical morning creation.
Salted caramel hot chocolate with a shot of instant espresso.

... I'd be wearing the basic, stereotypical mom uniform:
oversized shirt + yoga pants + sloppy ponytail.
Maybe some eyeliner and mascara, if I'm feeling super fancy.

... I'd start the conversation with some trivial tidbits.
Like, how I shouldn't be drinking this "mocha" because my baby weight is going nowhere fast.
Or how I'm excited because we are getting a piano!
And I'd probably ask your opinion about how to rearrange the family room.

... I'd probably have to interrupt our conversation to nurse Willa.
Which would inevitably lead to annoying mom stories about her.
Like how she's growing like a weed. And how she's rolling over.
And eating some solids. And did I mention how fast she's growing?
I might get teary at this point.

... And I'd tell more annoying mom stories about Bo.
About how proud I am of how well he's doing in preschool and how good it is for him.
And I'd go on and on about all the funny things he says.
Like, "Mommy, I will take you to Bisney World someday."
Or, "When Willa is bigger, I will teach her to go to the zoo."

... And I'd probably also share about how I struggle as a wife & mom.
And feel like most days I get it so wrong.
About how overwhelmed I've felt by my emotions the past few months.
How, when I'm nursing Willa, sometimes I'll cry for my son who never had that opportunity.
Or how, when I'm watching Bo play, I'll think about the hard conversations ahead of us.
How sometimes I feel panicky thinking about my children as teenagers.
Wanting to protect them and their precious hearts.
And I'd probably be teary at this point as well.
Because even with all my worries and struggles,
I am loving every moment of this life God has blessed me with.

... I'd go on to say how grateful I am for His grace.
And how I feel like He's led me so gently during this season.
And then I'd get teary again, wanting to extend that same patience to my family.
And I'd explain how thankful I am to have a Savior I can trust through everything.

... And of course, I'd still have to yell at my dog for barking.
Because she still barks at everything.
I'd probably pretend to hate her in front of you,
but when no one is watching, I slip her treats and pet her head and talk silly to her.

... I'd ask you questions about your life.
They'd probably be on the verge of too intrusive,
but I'd give you the option of just telling me to shut up and mind my own business.
You wouldn't, and you'd answer my nosy questions anyway.

... Then I'd realize it's almost time for me to go pick up Bo from school.
So we'd hug and say we need to do this more often,
even though we both know, like these blog posts, it will be awhile.
But it's okay, because this is the season of life we are in,
and we know that a lack of frequent, carefree coffee dates doesn't diminish our friendship,
but makes those times all the more cherished.

Til next time...


birthday extravaganza

Subtitled: Husband of the Year

At the beginning of the month, Doug asked what my expectations were for my 30th birthday.
I said I just wanted to celebrate with people I love.
Well, he took that and ran and ran and RAN with it.

On my birthday, Doug told me that my gifts had a theme - 
he had looked at my "Life List" and decided to help me accomplish some of them.
That evening, he handed me this:
He explained that we'd be having a family dinner at Taste of Ethiopia, complete with coffee ceremony.
Then he told me that he'd talked to the owner, Mez, and arranged for her to teach me how to make injera.
This was such a special family evening. Bo had his first sip of coffee... and seemed to love it.
Mez was awesome. Such a sweet woman.
Here we are, practicing with the griddle before adding the injera batter.
Meanwhile, Willa was also making friends in the kitchen.
 Ta-da! My first injera! (Note the hole - I didn't spread the batter quickly enough!)
Mez & me with my finished injera.
Such an awesome experience - can't wait to try it again!

On Thursday, Doug had asked Victoria & Jeremy to watch our kids, 
and we had our first date night since Willa was born.
I met Doug at his office and he gave me this:
We went to Wegmans and took their sushi class. It was so fun!
I would definitely love to take more of their classes in the future.

Friday night, Doug had also told me to keep my calendar clear.
He just told me we were going out to dinner, and we got in the car and drove... to my friend Sarah's house!
Doug told me that only Willa & I were staying - he and Bo had other plans.
I walked in the house, and there were a bunch of my girlfriends!
They were all there for Life List #9 - can homemade salsa.
It was such a fun night laughing and cooking and eating tacos & amazing cheesecake.

On Saturday, Victoria, Willa & I headed to IKEA, where we burned the place down.

Finally, Sunday morning, Doug presented me with a card for my final birthday surprise:
We're going to Maine this summer! 

I am so overwhelmed by the past week.
I feel so blessed and so loved and so spoiled by my husband and my friends.
I'm lucky to have such loving people in my life.
Thank you all for making this such a special birthday.
I love you all!