That Moment

That moment when you have 5 kids and a chocolate lab and you are packing to move the next day but your husband is several hundred miles away working so you are doing it alone. That moment when you are mumbling to yourself because you STILL do not know where you are going the next day. That moment when the skies open and it downpours as you are trying to get everything into the barn because you have no home yet so everything has to be out of the current house and stored. That moment when you look at the mess and boxes and overall disaster that can only mean you are in the last hours of the leaving process and you burst into tears. That moment when you are so angry that you feel like you are radiating the color red. And the tears flow and your children look at each other helplessly; not knowing what to do because Mommy usually has it under control.

That moment when there is a knock at the door and Mr P, the dear family friend who has been making sure we are taken care of during this crazy time, pops in. His presence is fairly powerful, but in a kind and fatherly way. Immediate calm and excitement flood the air as the kids jump up and down exclaiming “Mr P! Mr P!” Zen reaches out to him to be held. The kids adore him.
Mr P asks “What can I do? What needs to be done?”
I tell him I am cursing the rain as it has seriously hindered my ability to do anything seriously productive. I unload a bit. He listens.

He looks at the disaster and then there is that moment when words heal the radiating red moment from above.
“Leave everything that has to go into the barn and we we’ll make sure it gets moved in after you leave.”

THIS is humanity. THIS is generosity. This is kindness. This is amazing. Seemingly small, or maybe not small but certainly not huge, this gesture has completely taken a moment from radiating red to calming and grateful blue…Peace-filled.

You have no idea what small gestures can do to completely turn someone’s day around. The kids witnessed the power of this moment. I hope they never forget it, I know I won’t.

Gluten-Free Scone Recipe

I have been wanting a good scone recipe but it seems all my trials have failed. This week I am packing so I am cleaning out the fridge and freezer. I had 2 bags of fresh cranberries I had frozen. I desperately wanted to use them so I decided to try one last time to make scones. I think I nailed it as best I can considering the restrictions we have.This was a simple recipe and fairly quick to make; maybe 10 minutes at most. The kids L-O-V-E-D them! That means I get to share my recipe with you!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Corn-Free, Soy-Free Orange Cranberry Scone Recipe

  • 2 cups GF baking flour (recipe at the bottom)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder (make sure you are using a corn-free one if that is one of your restrictions!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter (I use this because both girls can eat it but I prefer this, although Princess can’t have it)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice (add about 1/2 first and rest only if needed. You do NOT want this too moist!)
  • half a bag of fresh cranberries (or less if you want and aren’t trying to get rid of food)

Blend together dry ingredients.
Cut in butter until it is crumbled.
Add in 1/2 cup orange juice, adding more slowly if needed.
A soft dough should form.
At this point you can follow a typical scone recipe and do this: Turn dough out on a floured board and knead for one minute. Pat into a circle on cookie sheet and cut into wedges.

I didn’t do that. I did this: Add cranberries and hand stir them in.
Plop dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet.

I made mine slightly bigger so I got 6. You can make them smaller though.

Bake at 425F for 10-15 minutes (until brown).
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While cooking I made a glaze. I used confectioner’s sugar and orange juice. Be careful not to add too much liquid!

Once I take them out I cool them about 5 minutes and add the glaze and eat them hot. I haven’t stored them so I have no clue how well they save.

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Gluten-Free Baking Flour Recipe
(I made this up based off of other recipes I had seen. Trial and error; this works for us)

  • 2 3/4 cups garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 2 1/4 cups arrowroot starch
  • 1 1/2 cups tapioca starch

Blend well and store in an air tight container. I keep mine in the fridge. Make sure you stir/shake before each use.

Homemade “Soy” Sauce

We can’t eat soy. Elf is allergic to it. The concept of Chinese take-out is a bit foreign (no pun intended) to my kids. For some reason I find that sad. I fondly remember sitting around the table as a family and digging into those little white containers and eating that yummy goodness. I wanted my kids to have a similar memory. I knew it wouldn’t be the same, but it didn’t mean it couldn’t be special. So my husband and I started compiling homemade Chinese food recipes. The big problem is almost all the recipes call for soy sauce. What is a girl to do???
Well this girl creates a “soy” sauce recipe!

I have three versions. I use each one for different recipes because, although they each have a very similar taste, there is a slight difference and I like that I can make recipes have different undertone flavors. You will notice they are very similar and the cooking and storage instructions are the same.

“Soy” Sauce Recipe #1
1 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons cider vinegar (I use this brand)
1 tablespoon PLUS 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses (you could use regular but I much prefer the blackstrap molasses in this recipe)
pinch of white pepper, garlic powder and ground ginger (I use fresh garlic and fresh ginger, finely minced.I do not use a whole clove!)
salt of choice (I use sea salt) to taste

Add all of the ingredients, minus the salt, to a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Keep it at the gentle simmer until it reduces to about 2 cups. season with salt to desired preference. This will last 10 days in the refrigerator.

“Soy” Sauce Recipe #2 (Vegan)

1/2 cup tart cherry juice
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons cider vinegar (refer to above link to see which one I prefer)
1 tablespoon PLUS 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses (I highly recommend sticking with this type for this recipe. It tastes best)
pinch of white pepper, garlic powder and ground ginger ( I have not used fresh garlic and ginger in this recipe, but I will next time I make it)
salt of choice to taste

Add all of the ingredients, minus the salt, to a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Keep it at the gentle simmer until it reduces to about 2 cups. season with salt to desired preference. This will last 10 days in the refrigerator.

“Soy” Sauce Recipe #3 
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (note this uses a different vinegar than the above 2!)
2 teaspoons cider vinegar (I use this brand)
1 tablespoon PLUS 1 teaspoon blackstrap molasses (you could use regular but I much prefer the blackstrap molasses in this recipe)
pinch of white pepper, garlic powder and ground ginger (I use fresh garlic and fresh ginger, finely minced.I do not use a whole clove!)
salt of choice (I use sea salt) to taste

Add all of the ingredients, minus the salt, to a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Keep it at the gentle simmer until it reduces to about 2 cups. season with salt to desired preference. This will last 10 days in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!
~Andrea

Memorial Day

Memorial Day. The day our country honors and remembers those brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives while serving our country. We, Mark and I, do not personally know anyone who died serving. We do, however, know people who have lost loved ones. There are also plenty of veterans in my family and numerous relatives and friends currently serve our great country.

Last year my kids had the opportunity, along with other children, to decorate the graves with flags of the brave souls who are buried in Springfield MO. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and American Heritage Girls, along with their siblings, ran through the cemetery making sure not one soldier was missed. It was touching to see so many children take pride in honoring those who have fought to keep our country free.
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The Sunday before Mark left we decided  to spend it outside and simply enjoy each other’s company. For those who do not know, Mark took a job in another state. Until he finds a place for us to live we are separated by distance.

While we were walking along the beautiful Ohio River front we happened upon 4 pillars. I feel Evansville does a magnificent job at honoring veterans. They have numerous memorials along the river. It was the pillars that I found most beautiful. Four simple pillars with 4 simple phrases.
Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom From Fear, Freedom From Oppression
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Four very powerful ideologies that our country is founded on. People literally give their lives so we can have these as a reality.

There are countries where women and children live in fear, where men are stoned to death for their beliefs, where people are jailed for voicing their views, where people take their authority to a cruel level and stamp down the people.

We are far from a perfect country, but we are lucky. We are lucky to have men and women willing to sacrifice so that we can continue to have these freedoms. So today I reflect on, not what is wrong with our country, but on what is right with our country. I reflect on those people who have given their lives (and those serving) so I can sit here today and type this out with freedom and without fear.
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The Surprise

I woke up with a man in my bed….

It all started when I put the kids to bed in the tent as a treat. That meant I was alone in my room with just Zen. All of the kids had been camping out in my room with me, but I set the tent up in the boys’ room because it is essentially empty so there was room for it. I left the house door unlocked, something I never do.

I did this because I desperately wanted the kids to stay asleep. I needed them to stay asleep.

Then around 1:30 AM a man came into my house. No worries it was Mark 😉 He and I pulled off the greatest surprise yet. His boss gave him 3 days in a row off so after work on Saturday he hopped into his car and came east to see us. I put the kids in the tent as a treat, but little did they know it was a distraction. Ah, sometimes I can be quite brilliant.

The kids had no clue! This morning was the air was filled with delighted squeals of “Daaaaaaadddddddyyyyyyyyy!!!!!”

So this weekend I will be moving all our furniture into the garage with help from my right-hand man. We will savor the minutes until he leaves for MO. Then I will pack up the kids and head south…..Hm, I suppose I should really consider calling my dad and telling him I am coming for a visit 😉

I pray y’all have a blessed weekend and remember that this holiday is brought to you by the lives of the men and women who served our country. They deserve our honor and respect.

The tent set up for the kids to "camp" in.

The tent set up for the kids to “camp” in.

7 Days

In 7 days I close the doors on this abode and walk away forever. I have no clue where I am going. Mark is in MO, but still has yet to find us a home. In 11 days I have one last dentist appointment for Princess that we simply cannot miss so even though I am closing the door here I cannot close the door on IN. I am not sure where I will be staying. There is a weird limbo-state that I will be in and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared.

Let me start at the beginning…

Last fall we searched high and low for a place to live as we had to be out of the place we were at. The place we were at came with the job my husband no longer had. Finally we took a (new) friend up on an offer. The church he attended had a piece of property they were going to be building on, but on that property sat an empty house. That house was to become a temporary shelter for us. We moved in in January and each month passed with little progress to our situation. Each month they would ask us what our plans were and we would beg for more time. Finally we had until May 31. We told them no matter what Mark was going to head to MO and try to establish life there for us. Then, that week, Mark got a job in MO! Hope broke through and I could see glimmers of optimism abound! We were able to tell them Mark would leave in 2 weeks time and I would stay through May in order to wrap things up and then follow him.

We were optimistic that finding a place to live would be no problem. There is an abundance of places in the area we are looking. However there is also an abundance of roadblocks. Many landlords are hesitant to rent a 3 bedroom to us because of how many kids we have. Although I would love a 4 bedroom that is simply out of budget for us. There is no legal reason for them to deny us, but who wants to pressure a potential landlord into allowing something they are not comfortable with? It really doesn’t start the relationship off well. Then there is the issue of Sunny Day. Not everyone accepts dogs. The biggest issue is rent though. We are on a budget and so all those pages of rentals gets whittled away to half a page of places we can actually afford. At the end of that day the list is left with nothing on it.

Mark has looked at dozens of places and called three times that. Nothing.

So here I sit, 7 days away from having to be out of this home, and I have no where to go. The kids know this but don’t realize the impending crisis. They just think “Oh we have time and something will be found.” I will let them continue to think that. I will not let them know that I can’t kick this cold that is racking my body because I can’t get the sleep my body needs because I stay up all night long praying and scouring the internet for options. The anxiety fights off the sleep I so desperately want.

I won’t tell them my faith is wavering for the first time since we were told we were moving to IN. I won’t tell them I am finally ready to give up and crawl into a hole and simply feel sorry for myself. Perhaps I feel this way because I have had no real adult interaction in the weeks since Mark has left. Sure I have seen a few people here and there, but I have not had a real solid interaction. I have not been able to talk with a friend and have them hug me. I have had no relief and no help. Of course I realize there are thousands of people in far worse situations than myself and then I am filled with guilt over my selfishness. So I pick myself up. I bury how I feel and I let it fester as I trudge onward.

In 7 days I need a plan. Maybe I should just forget about Princess’ dentist appointment, but that still doesn’t give us a place to stay. It does take away one stress though. Of course it adds another because this dental work needs to be done and when we leave IN we give up having insurance. I guess that is actually 2 stresses. Sigh.

I have looked at vacation rentals and hotel rooms and almost passed out for the prices of those options. I looked at renting a motor home. Again, heart-attack inducing price quotes. I could stay with my parents for a spell, but honestly I just want to get to MO and be with Mark. Besides I need to stay with them at the end of June (I should probably tell Dad this) and I do not want to overstay my welcome.
That leaves living in a tent. However if we stayed at a campground what would we do with the dog? I can’t leave her there when I do things like buy food. I also can’t just leave her in the car when we are out and about. So I guess tenting it isn’t really an option after all.

7 days….Does God always give us better? He has a proven track record with us (something I want to write about soon), but now I am feeling like He is distant. Maybe it is I who is distant. Or maybe I just had too many positive interventions. Maybe I have been provided for one too many times and now I need to feel what it is like to not have that divine intercession.
I know those who do not believe in God are probably mocking me right now. That is fine. Everyone is entitled to what they believe and even though I am in a slight crisis of faith, I still believe in God.

7 days…..7 days and I close the door on the home that never was.

Where We Are At

At lunchtime it will be 2 weeks since we stood outside waving good bye to Mark as he headed west to his new job and our old home town.

Two weeks.
Fourteen days.
Three hundred and thirty six hours.

No matter how you slice it he has not been here with us. Those 2 weeks have felt like an eternity. Despite talking to Mark every day I feel disconnected.

The kids and I have packed, finished up appointments, finished up school, and even visited family to the east. Mark has worked hard, started running, and looked tirelessly for a home for us.

Our time here is quickly wrapping up. This week I have appointments every single day. Epi-pens have been refilled and we have been given the all clear for C-Dog’s foot (yay!).

So where are we at?
We are in limbo. Mark has a steady job, but no residence. Our residence here ends May 31. I will head home with the kids and the dog but I have no idea where I will be staying. Anyone have a motor-home we can borrow? I am half serious about that. 😉

I have to come back June 4 for Princess’ last dentist appointment. I am praying they have a cancellation and get us in before we move. I also have to be back at the end of the month for Princess’ dance recital (thank you to those who helped us pay for that so she could stick it out) and to drop Bug off at Boy Scout Camp (he sold enough popcorn that camp was paid for!); his last outing with this troop.

I am never one to wish time away, but I must admit I am looking forward to the end of June when we can 100% leave IN behind and have our lives be 100% in MO. July has permission to last twice as long as usual.

The big thing right now is we need a place to live and we need to figure out how to move the rest of our stuff to MO. This is pretty big. We don’t have a plan and that means I have copious amounts of anxiety and the insomnia is creeping back in. My shoulders are carrying the tension. I have to walk that fine line of being honest with my kids but making sure they aren’t seeing the amount of worry I am carrying.

“God always gives us better.” Yes, I still say that because it is true. We have always been cared for and provisions have always appeared when we thought they wouldn’t. I have no idea what the next few weeks hold for us but I have to have faith that we will find a home and a way to get our possessions to MO.

This is hard but I have to try. I have to put the positive ahead of the darkness of the unknown. If I don’t then I will drown in a sea of depression. I can’t allow that. I have little ones who need me. They have to come first.

I miss Mark. He is my best friend and soul-mate. The kids miss him and even the dog misses him. We will survive though. We will see him soon and this moment in time will fade away to a distant memory.