Monday, October 27, 2008

Another recipe!

By popular demand, my take on Muddy Buddies. (Also called Puppy Chow or Reindeer Droppings, depending on what part of the country you're from.)

MacDonald Buddies


6 cups Crispix
3 cups Cheerios
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar


In a large bowl, measure your cereal; set aside.

In a 2 cup measuring cup, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High for one minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer, or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla.

Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour half of the mixture into a 1 gallon ziploc. Add 3/4 cup powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on wax paper to cool. Repeat with the remaining half of the cereal and powdered sugar.

Store in an airtight container, should any remain at the end of the night.


I should mention that I made the above recipe after my coveted caramel brownies committed suicide by falling out of the pan and onto the floor 30 minutes after coming out of the oven. Muddy Buddies were my consolation dessert. Apparently it was as well received as the caramel brownies would have been. Who would have thought it?

...and a recipe

Buffalo Chicken Dip

1 8oz block of cream cheese
1 pound ground chicken, browned
1/2 cup wing sauce
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Dump all the ingredients above into a small crockpot, and cook for two hours, taking a moment every thirty minutes to stir.

Serve with Multigrain Tortilla chips or another, far more inferior tortilla chip if you can't find those.


Oh my goodness, this is an amazing dip. I made it for the party on Saturday night, and after less than an hour, I was making it again because the first batch was gone! No, I can't take any real credit for the recipe, because I took the ingredients from two different recipes in the same style and made up one that sounded the best. Plus, I really wanted to use my little crock pot!

It is my intention to bring this to the next several parties that I have to attend, so if you plan to be at the same party as me, don't steal my recipe and bring it yourself. Or maybe you should, because it's so good, it will be gone in a flash!

My only regret? People ate it so quickly, that I didn't take a picture.

Lessons learned

Dan and I had our first party in our new house on Saturday night. It was the first time 99.9% of the people we know had the chance to see it, so we worked hard to get all the boxes unpacked, get everything into its new home, and have the place look great.

When we first set the date for the party, which was thrown only because our dear friends Shane and Mikka were going to be in town, we had some serious goals in mind.

1. Get all the boxes unpacked.
2. Go through all the stuff we moved from one house to another and decide what to keep, what to sell, what to give away and what to toss out.
3. Have a garage sale and sell all the old stuff we didn't want, and the stuff that was too big for the new space.

We accomplished #2, and most of #3 with the help of Craigslist. I guess I could give myself a little credit here and say that we've even accomplished most of #1, with the exception of three boxes of my stuff that is now homeless since I lost my loft space (and my desk). Things were moving right along inside the house, and then bam! Dan went out of town.

Normally I like it when Dan travels the week before a party. I get to take my time, do lots of cleaning and prep work, arrange and re-arrange furniture and dishes. Then when he comes home on Friday night, I have a to-do list of things I couldn't do, and/or that I needed his help to accomplish.

However, this party is the first REAL party we've had since having children. Yeah, we've had friends over to hang out for the night, and even shipped the kids off to the grandparent's house so they could sleep in peace and we could tend to our friends. But this event was the first party we've had in over 17 months.

On Monday I found myself with a big to-do list. Grocery shopping for food to make. A trip to Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond to buy new drapes and other house accessories. Carpets to vacuum. The last few boxes to unpack. Laundry. Floors to mop. Furniture to dust. And that's just part of the list of things to do on the inside of the house. So that first day of Dan's business trip, I started working on my list. Tuesday, I worked even harder to check things off. By Wednesday, even though so much was done, my attempts seemed futile.

It was Wednesday afternoon that I said to myself, "Screw it. These friends who are coming over to our house on Saturday have known me for 15 years. They know what my house can look like at its best, and they all seen it at its worst. Who am I trying to impress?" I decided that while my friends were important, and I did want them to have clean surfaces to sit, eat and walk on, my children were the MOST important. I'd been letting them fend for themselves a lot early last week. They play together well most of the time, but that wasn't the point.

In that moment, I got up and walked away from the vacuum cleaner and the boxes, and I played with my boys. We went on walks, and we played on patio. We stacked blocks, and read toys. We had a great time, just the three of us. Now, don't let yourself think that I didn't go back to the vacuum, the dust cloth, and the boxes while they slept, because I did. I just took some time to enjoy my kids.

Thanks to my dad, who came over and took care of all of the outside chores, Dan was able to get home Friday afternoon and give me a hand with the finishing touches on the inside. And because in the end we were able to accomplish so much together Friday and Saturday morning, we managed to sneak away as a family and go to a birthday party. And then Dan was able to attend a surprise party for a new friend at church. And when 6pm rolled around and there were still a few things that needed to be put away, we opened the door to the laundry room and used that to hide the last of the stuff.

Back to the beginning for a second. Remember that I said this was the first visit for 99.9% of the people coming to the party? Yes, the majority of those people wanted the Grand Tour of our home. As I walked our friends around our new home, pointing out the improvements we made (we being Dan, my mom and my dad), I even showed our friends the laundry room. The room that had three boxes still needing to be unpacked, baby gates with no home, and a couple of empty boxes that we hadn't broken down and thrown away. It was with great pride that I showed off this room. I had learned two lessons that week leading up to the party...

1. My children are my priority, not what my house looks like, or what people think about me.

2. My friends who have known me for 15 years, love me for who I am, and not what my house looks like on the night of a party.

Technically, I learned one more lesson...

3. I have amazing parents. I already knew that, of course, but it has started to sink in a little more. They pitched in around our house last week, even though they were both sick with colds their grandchildren had given them the week before. They babysat on Saturday night for our party, even though the boys had very little nap and had the potential to be quite cranky. They made sure our needs were met, just so we could have a good time with an old group of friends. Thanks, Mom & Pop.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thoughts on Halloween

I remember watching a debate happen amongst friends at a church event years ago. Of all the things that could have been debated, the topic at hand was Halloween. Some parents were "pro-Halloween" and others were "anti-Halloween". It was an interesting conversation indeed, and one that I couldn't speak to, because I didn't have children of my own. Who was I to have much of an opinion about what parents should or shouldn't do with their kids when it comes to Halloween?

Not long after that event, and e-mail was sent out to the old MYAM group from one of the leaders. Even though the article featured in that e-mail was not geared towards me (after all, I had no kids), I saved it, because I just knew that people would have strong opinions one way or another on being a Christian and allowing my children to Trick or Treat on Halloween.

I'd forgotten about that article until five minutes ago, when I was reading the blog of our pastor's wife, Kelly. Apparently someone has said to her that she "shouldn't let her children trick or treat" or some such thing. It dawned on me that I'd read an article, written from a Christian perspective, that allowing children to celebrate Halloween can be a good thing. I forwarded the article to her, and I'll share it here too.

Trick-or-Treating with Purpose

Kim Wier, Contributing Writer

You may think it is impossible for God to redeem Halloween in its present state, but that is all the better, for when He accomplishes it -- He alone will receive the glory. We have discovered that in the case of Halloween, the truth really can set you free -- free to celebrate the power and goodness of God as you do so in the spirit of remembrance for which it was first established

One simple but meaningful way to begin redeeming the season is to embrace the fun of trick-or-treating by changing the focus. The early faith heroes died because they wanted others to have the opportunity to hear the life-giving message that Jesus is the Son of God. Begin planting seeds of eagerness to share the gospel in the hearts of your children through the fun of going door to door.

First, help them think of different kinds of people who need to hear about Jesus. Let them dress up like one of those groups of people. Children are so creative. They may dress like a sea creature as they remember how sailors need Jesus. It could be a ninja as they consider those on the Asian continent. Football players, cowboys and policemen need to hear the good news. Depending on your child's age, you can make this a more significant event.

* Talk about how people who have not accepted Jesus have been "tricked" into believing they don't need Him, but that God wants them to receive the greatest "treat," salvation through Jesus and eternal life in heaven.

* Make a list of some specific ways that your children could pray for that group of people to be prepared to hear the gospel. Include asking God to send workers into that harvest field.

* Each night for a week before or after Halloween, pray with your children for those people.

* Look together at Jesus' commission given to us in Matthew 28:18-20. Explain to your children that we should go and make disciples everywhere in the world. Take some time to talk about how each of us can obey that command right now and in the future.

* On the night of Halloween, as you prepare to send your children out to trick-or-treat, be sure to go over safety rules and accompany them from house to house.

* It is always a good idea to remind them to say thank you at each place you visit. Have a great time enjoying a fun experience with your children that will result in spiritual training as well.

* After you arrive home and admire the abundance of candy, finish the night with a Scripture verse that promises sweet rewards for those who do God's work on earth. "It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing [good things] when he returns" (Luke 12:43). And, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (Romans 10:15).

* Help your children see that while trick-or-treating can be a fun time one night a year, following God and sharing the good news of Jesus is an adventure that lasts a whole lifetime.

* Finish your trick-or-treat night with prayer as you tuck them into bed. Thank God that someone told you about Jesus, and ask Him to use your family to do the same for others.

God has not given us a spirit of fear. He has given us a sound mind and the gift of love. Halloween, originally a church holiday, should not have Christians running scared. Instead, we can celebrate without selling out when we "remember those who have gone before us" and follow in their footsteps.

This article was adapted from "Redeeming Halloween: Celebrating without Selling Out" (Focus on the Family and Tyndale House). Copyright 2004 by Kim Wier and Pam McCune.

In case you haven't figured it out, we're allowing our children to Trick or Treat. After all, who wants to buy all that candy when our kids can get it by knocking on our neighbor's doors? :-)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Yeah, yeah. It's been a while.

Life has been busy at that MacDonald home. Seems like we've had some kind of activity going on every weekend for the last several months! Between activities with GOMOTT, church related things or working on our new house, something has taken up all of our time.

A few weeks ago the boys had a photo shoot with a local photographer who is looking to build her portfolio. Here's a glimpse of some of the proofs...

Close-up of Nicholas


This is one of the last pictures taken that day. Nicholas is just about to burst into tears, and Matthew had a fit when we tried to take his stick away.

I was amazed at how good the boys were through the whole photo shoot. We were outside with them for almost two hours. They had three change of clothes, and had to endure a stroller ride from Park Avenue all the way to the lake at Rollins. Not necessarily a long trip, but when you're 20 months old, it seemed like it too forever!

Dan holding Nicholas

I think this is my favorite picture ever, save for the first pictures we got of the boys when we received their referral, and the pictures Dan took when we were at the orphanage.

You can go to the photographer's weblog here: This is a link to her blog, where she puts sneak peaks of her sessions for everyone to see. You'll be able to see the pictures above, plus another one if you check out her site. You can also go to her main website here: If you check out that site, you can see the boys in some of her portfolio pages. :-)