Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Cake Compromise


Roman's nutrition is immensely important to me. We are very particular about what is allowed to go into his little body- no soda, large amounts of sugar (cookies, ice cream, etc). It's just not necessary. And while we know those things will be a part of his life some day- and rightly so!- they just don't need to be yet.

Dilemma: The tradition of the 1-year old baby getting to smash their birthday cake to smithereens.
Solution: The recipes below.

If only all things were this simple. :)


Applesauce Spice Cake
3 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 1/4 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped dates
1 1/2 cups ground almonds (optional)
2 Macintosh apples - peeled, cored and finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9 inch square baking pan.
Beat the eggs until they drop like ribbons from the beaters. Continue beating and add the oil in a thin stream. Beat in the 1 cup applesauce and the 1 cup unsweetened apple juice concentrate then mix in the flour gradually until well blended. Add the baking soda, ground ginger, ground almonds and apples. Fold together until well mixed.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F about 40 minutes or until the cake tests clean with a knife or toothpick. Cool completely before frosting.



Sugar-Free Cream Cheese Frosting Submitted by Kristi - Frosts one 2-layer cake


½ cup apple juice concentrate
1 pound light cream cheese
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup finely chopped raisins
1 ½ tsp unflavored gelatin

1. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the juice concentrate.
2. Process the remaining juice concentrate, the cream cheese, vanilla, and raisins in a blender or food processor until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
3. Stir the gelatin into the 2 tablespoons juice concentrate in a small saucepan; let stand 1 minute to soften. Heat to boiling and stir to dissolve gelatin.
4. Beat the gelatin mixture into the cream cheese mixture until well blended. Refrigerate just until the frosting begins to set, about 30-60 minutes. Frost the cake

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Home is Where the Heart Is


Home is also becoming Hawaii while I'm not looking. :)

THANK YOU, LORD.

I blame incredible neighbors. I blame an amazing church that feels more like home than any church I've ever been a part of. I blame the family we are creating- a family of four!!! I blame wonderful friends. I blame time (it really does take time to make a place home.) I blame visits from friends and family (that remind us how cool this state is.) And most of all, I blame God for a complete change of heart.

THANK YOU, LORD.





Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dear Roman...


Dear Roman,

I had no idea how you would change my life. I didn't expect you to be this cool, or that would find being your mommy to be this fun. I had no concept of this amazing love I would have for you. It's unlike any way I have ever loved anyone else. I remember holding you when you were 3 days old and just crying and holding you tight because I realized in that moment that I loved you more than I knew how to feel. And the only way I could process that kind of crazy love was by sobbing.

You have a contagious laugh and already a killer sense of humor and timing. It makes me laugh even harder when you fake laugh just because you hear someone else laughing. I love that you are quick to laugh and slow to become angry. I admire you already for the way you are able to stick with something until you make it work, never getting frustrated and giving up. I want to encourage you in that quality throughout your life. I think it's special, the way you seem to captivate anyone around you. You have an extraordinary gift with people and I can't wait to see how that translates to the job you choose and the mountains you climb. I love your calm spirit and content heart. And when you stop playing to come give me a tight hug around my neck, only to go back to playing, it makes my day. You are so thoughtful already. And maybe most of all, I love the reckless way you love life- things, people, animals. You use your entire face and whole body to love whatever you are loving and I hope, precious son, that you run after Jesus like that.

Thank you for teaching me about the love God has for me. I still can't believe God calls me His daughter, like I call you my son, and that His love is even greater than the love I have for you. Lord, I am humbled by that. Help me to love this boy in a way that let's him be free to chase after You. In a way that encourages him to fulfill his purpose here. Oh God...thank you for Roman. Thank you. Thank you.

Roman, my firstborn...my son...my world-shaker, I love you. There is a huge calling on your life and I can't wait to watch you as you walk in it. Press in tight and know your Daddy God so that you can be a sweet aroma to Him. Live in such a way that others know God better because of watching you and the way you live life. And your daddy and I will do our best to raise you up in such a way that equips you for that calling. Without fears. Without baggage. And your job is to run the Race hard and finish well.

Roman, my love, happy 1st birthday.

Love,
Mommy

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dare You to Breathe


Why are dog farts so deadly!?!??! Seriously- what makes them so much worse than kids? Horses? MEN?!?!


Dear Sophie,

When you fart, I have one of two choices: 1) breathe through my mouth or 2)die. I'd love if you stopped.

Sincerely,
me

Talk [with] the Hand...


I never knew how I felt about babies learning sign language. It made total sense that they would be less frustrated if they were able to communicate before they were able to use their mouths to speak, but what if it delayed speech because they didn't need to speak to talk? And round and round my mind went.

But a friend of mine let us borrow the first two dvd's of Baby Signing Time and we tried them out. THEY ROCK. I must, must buy the whole series....so when I win the lottery and can afford to buy all 30 (or something) of them, I'll be a happy camper.

Roman can sign "more," "all done," and "eat." The boy can even make a valiant attempt at "drink" and "juice," though they come out too close to "eat" to differentiate. It hasn't stopped him from speaking, though. Question answered.

In fact, Roman started speaking before signing. He started talking at 11 months and the words "kitty," "doggie," "dirty," "thank you," "bless you," and "yes" are awesome to hear. And after he learned those words, he decided to really start paying attention to the signs I was using- especially at meal time. The way to a man's heart (and attention) is through his stomach, even as a toddler!



And today, for the first time, he put two signs together: "eat" + "more."

Yes, smart boy, you may have more to eat. :) Next up, "please" and "thank you."

different strokes for different folks

What kind of friend are you?

That's one of the things I've been thinking about lately, and I think it's so cool that God mad us to be wired differently. It keeps life interesting. What I mean, specifically, by that question, is this- how often do you need to keep in touch with your mom, your best friend, your neighbor? For some, they need to call home every day or spend two hours on the phone with their best friend, even after spending the morning with them. Others are doing well if they can manage to call their nearest and dearest once every other week. If you know me, you know I am the latter!

And I often wonder if I offend the friends I have who are wired to be like the first. It's a tense collision sometimes, I'd imagine. To a friend who needs to talk all the time to feel caught up, do I seem uninterested in friendship? Less invested? I hope not! It's just that...I HATE THE PHONE.

I feel like I'm different from most girls. Our stereotype is one of sitting on a chair with the phone cord wrapped around our finger (old school style) and gossiping about who said what to Tommy Walker...or some such thing. Kind of like that song Telephone Hour from Bye, Bye, Birdie.

I think I've always been like that. In my school years I would much rather have had face time than phone time. And even in college I was doing well to call my Mom to catch up once or twice a month. (if I ever get a daughter like myself, I'm going to cry..for a number of reasons, only one of which being my phone habits.)

Oh, the irony of dating a guy long-distance! I found myself spending hours an evening on the phone with Jerry. You know it's the right guy when you don't mind that time in spite of your aversion to the telephone. In Virginia and beyond (California and now Hawaii), I have been in a situation where every single person I knew before age 24 is a phone call away. Let the irony continue!

So now I am a girl who has friends all over the country, all family and friends I made between ages 0-24 are 6,000 miles away, and a phone call is required to keep in touch with any. I am not good at it! I am not good at keeping in touch regularly and via phone.

I'm great at short facebook posts from wall-to-wall. I am even decent at private, moderately-long personal messages. Emails, not great but if I can respond in 10 sentences or less there is a good chance I'll respond. And phone calls....horrible. It's rare for me to call most friends once a month. Though because I would want my own daughter to call me I've been trying to call my mother once a week. Most weeks I actually do that.

My calling habits aren't solely caused by my phone dislike, but also because of time zones making friends 6 hours ahead. And also significantly because I don't want to spend my days talking to people on the phone and ignoring Roman. It is important to me that I treat him with utmost importance. I don't ever want him to feel like the phone is more important than him. One good phone call per day is good. Two is pushing it. I will not have more than two phone conversations per day. Dude man and I have too many adventures to go on. There are refrigerator magnets to play with and the outside to explore!

I also have a strong sense of what you might call "phone etiquette." I don't answer the phone if I'm spending time with someone face-to-face, (hence the reason I don't feel right talking on the phone while I'm playing with Roman. If I wouldn't do it to a friend or to my husband, I won't do it to him.) I don't answer during meals, it's illegal to talk on the phone while driving in HI, and during Roman's nap times I need "me time" to regroup so that I'm refreshed and ready to go when he wakes up. So really, there aren't many times when I CAN talk! I usually chat in the mornings during Roman's independent play hour and maybe again in the afternoon.

And actually, I guess I don't hang out that often with people either. There is the "dog crew" I see almost every day but other than that, I rarely see the same friend once a week. I haven't always been like that- it depends on the life season I'm in.

In college I had the same classes with people and then hung out with them afterward. In Mathews, VA, I only had two friends my age-one of whom I lived with and the other one I taught with- so I saw them almost every day. And when Jerry was deployed at the same my girlfriend's husband was we hung out 3-4 nights a week. But I suppose not during this season...

side note: do you ever chose not to speak in correct grammer because of the cheese factor, even when you know the correct way to say it? Ex: "one with whom I lived, the other with whom I taught." Just sounded so formal for a blog post...

Focus, Lauren.

Anyway, the point to all this introspective rambling, I guess, is this: If you're my friend and you like to chat often yet don't hear from me...know that it's not personal. And if I know of friends who are wired to chat regularly I will try to call them more often than other friends of mine, just so that I can compromise and try to be a good friend for them.

So if you need something to think about while you wait for the spaghetti noodles to be done cooking or while you wait for the light to turn from red to green, maybe you'll ponder this topic and discover something about yourself. What are you like? Are you the everyday chatter? Or do you need space to function and recharge? Are you like me- a people person who needs daily alone time? Or do you like to be constantly connected with your closest girlfriends? I wonder, too, if marriage changes us. I used to hang out with people often, but when Jerry is home I have someone to share my heart with every day, which satisfies my need to be known. Does a good marriage affect the time we need to spend with friends? Not saying it does!! Just asking questions. Interesting.

I love the way we're wired. People are so cool. :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

we're different.


I didn't know any military families growing up. The military way of life was as foreign to me as a city dweller would feel on a dairy farm. Yet I married a military man and found myself taking on the new identity of "military wife." I didn't have any preconceived stereotypes of the military and their families. No idea what they would need, how they would see life... And yet here I am. I have moved from Pennsylvania to Virginia, Virginia to California, and California to Hawaii because of military orders. I have started and then stopped two teaching positions because of heading to a new unknown- and of course one in order to brave the foreign frontier of motherhood!

And today, when I was visiting the Arizona Memorial for the second time with my sister and my "second mother," I was struck by the pride I felt because of being part of the military. While I am not enlisted, I am made of the same stuff those soldiers/sailors/marines were and still are-- just maybe in different ways. And today, as I often am, I was proud to be one.

It was along those lines that a thought occurred to me: what I feel inside is something I have never voiced to anyone who isn't a part of this world. My friends don't know. They wouldn't even know what questions to ask to get to know just how the military community sees the world around them. Does being part of the military community feel any different than being a civilian?

YES. It is a completely different world. Strangely, it's a world I don't think much about when wandering around the mall or laying out at the beach. But when I flash my ID to get into the grocery store or see an American flag, it feels much, MUCH different.

When I see an American flag waving high in the air or in front of a house, I feel a sense of involvement in that flag. I never signed a piece of paper, declaring my service to this nation, but I am the one who is left behind to continue with life, seamlessly moving forward as if nothing changed, when my boyfriend/fiance/husband is gone. And for the record, it's only seamless from the outside- unless you've done a deployment, you have no idea what the mixture of fear, pride, and pain feels like. I am part of the Becker Team who is raising a son 6,000 miles from our family, skyping with grandparents and Aunts/Uncles to make sure they feel connected to the new family member they have once met once. Or twice if they're lucky. I unpack the boxes upon boxes of our life and attempt to make each house we live in feel like home. I pour my heart into friendships without reservation for two or three years and then hug and move on to the next new, undiscovered friendship. (Maintaining an accurate Christmas Card list is daunting.)

I think military couples/families are different in another way- we move about life with an unspoken understanding that our enlisted significant other is willing and honored to die when needed. That fact alone makes me see life differently. I remember having a conversation one night with Jerry....

me: Babe, doesn't it scare you that you might have to fight and die some day?
Jerry: Nope. Not at all. If I could pick any way to die, it would be to die while serving our country. I can't imagine anything more honorable than that.
me: *gulp* oh really? But you know that scene in movies when the guys know they're going to die but they run into the gunfire anyway- you would be willing to be one of those guys??
Jerry: Yep. I'd still go in.
me: So you would really want to go fight in a war?
Jerry: I think there is a part in every man that wants to go to war, just to see what he's made of. There is stuff you don't learn about yourself until you're out there. Every guy wants to know what he'd do "when."


It's fear that enters your body when you hear your husband saying "Yes, I'd gladly die and not think twice" but it's pride that enters immediately, nullifying that fear, because what is more noble than sacrificing your life? What is more noble than sacrificing the life of hopes and dreams you have with your husband? America, you are worth it to me. To us. That's why the flag means so much- that's why we fly it from our house. Because my husband is willing to leave us behind and die for the sake of freedom and protection for EVERY PERSON in this nation. And I am willing to lose my husband and raise my family alone for the sake of freedom and protection of EVERY PERSON in this nation. There is, then, a sobering maturity that naturally accompanies us as we go through life. That is something that makes military families different that civilian ones. I'm not sure that conversation is had by many civilians...and if it is, they should probably enlist. That's what it takes.


Another difference in military communities is the sense of "I've got your back and you've got mine." Sure, the community is rude to itself in the commissary (military grocery store) and gossipy and petty at times. You'll get this from a small community that includes spouses with too much free time. But the moment you need help, we step up. It doesn't matter if you've met a person once- they will bring you dinner if you just had a baby. Even if you've never met them, they will come to your baby shower with a gift in hand just because they heard you don't know many people in the area yet. They are your family at Thanksgiving dinner, your extra hands when you need to pack up boxes, and your support system to keep you busy when your man is gone for the next year. It's a common understanding even deeper than the one I felt with fellow music majors with busy schedules in college. There I felt a camaraderie because of the same life goals. Here I feel a camaraderie because of the same life sacrifice.

And I cannot express to you my anger and frustration towards those who belittle the military or disrespect our nation. If my husband is willing to die for you, and I am willing to lose him for the sake of your freedom- stand up respectfully and be close your mouth during the playing of our National Anthem. Or to students- say the Pledge of Allegiance in school, even though you have the right to be silent. When people are dying for our freedom (for that very right to be silent) and fighting for the freedom of others who are unable to achieve it on their own, it seems more appropriate to be grateful that you have the honor to speak.

So when you see a service member or their family, what do you do? How to do you relate? Even though it seems cheesy, I can't tell you how touched I am when I hear someone tell my husband, "Thank you for your service." And for the very few times that someone has thanked me, I get a knot in my throat. It somehow makes it a little easier to be so far from family and to have my career on hold when I feel like people acknowledge the sacrifice. Sit down and talk to them- welcome them to the new church/school/neighborhood. If their spouse is on deployment, bring dinner or offer to babysit or ask your husband to just go mow their lawn. Without being asked. You see, we are so independent out of necessity that it is rare for a military person to say "I need help." To acknowledge helplessness is to make life unbearable sometimes. So please just help them wherever you see it and worry about whether they'll be grateful for it later.

And know that when you help one, you help us all. Because if you can make the unknown a home and the lonely part of a family, you have done more than you can ever understand.

I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America.
And to the republic
for which it stands,
one nation, UNDER GOD,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Scentsy News: "Bring Back My Bar" Scents

No, I'm not going to turn my blog into a business website. I already have one of those! But it occurred to me that this is a way to get the monthly burner pictures out to those who don't check the website regularly. And really, why would you?? So if Scentsy news doesn't interest you, feel free to bypass them! I'll make sure the title is clearly labeled so you can skip them. I won't be upset. :)




Reminder: these can ONLY be ordered this month. Once August 1 comes, they will no longer be available and may not be available again. No, I don't have scent samples- you'll have to go by what sounds good to you. They come in bars only for the normal $5 each, but you can still do the value packs of 3/$14 or 6/$25. If you can't read the descriptions of each scent I'm sure it's available online but I can also email you the pdf document if you'd like.

www.laurenbecker.scentsy.com

Scentsy News: July's Monthly Burner


I did it backward- should have posted the July burner first! But you can see it nonetheless. It is their first 3-piece burner; the pink frosting comes off and then it looks just like their regular burners. The brown "cake" tray is where the wax goes and the frosting sits on top, with scent holes, for the yummy smell to come through. I'm thinking the "Cutiepie Cupcake" wax featured in this month's Bring Back My Bar is a match made in heaven.

Golly, this one is so cute and kitschy that I think I'm going to need it on my kitchen counter. It's appropriate.

Scentsy News: August warmer sneak peak

I know, I know- this won't interest most of you. But for those who love Scentsy I thought I'd give you a sneak peak of the August monthly burner. Beautiful, no?

VICTORY!!!!!!!!!

I have wanted a pair of Sperry Topsiders for over two years- I don't know what has kept me from buying them. Probably because you can't wear them with every outfit and I just always found something else to do with $100.

Monday was the 4th of July and Jerry and I were going to meet our friend L, who was working at Nordstrom, so she could teach us about the Ergo baby carrier-- and then buy us one with her discount. SCORE. (Yes, we're ditching our Baby Bjorn for it. Mamas-to-be, you should know that I'm wishing I had known just how amazing the Ergo was before we spent the money on the BB. Holy moley.) On the way to Nordstrom we pass J.Crew and, since that is Jerr and I's favorite store in the entire universe, we were naturally obligated to stop in.

So I passed all the full-price lovelies, making me drool and dream, and headed to the back room where I could peruse the magical sales. On a shelf immediately to the right, through the doorway, was the sale shoes collection. The poor, scattered, mismatched shoe boxes- two boxes of this style, three of that one.

Wait. What is this?? A box that says "Sperry for J.Crew"? In a size 8.5???? But, that's MY size. Surely I must take a look.

Open the box, Lauren. Be brave. Take a deep breath and find out what is inside. They're probably the wrong color, anyway. Or maybe only one is the right size and the other was wrongly placed. You're only going to know if you open it.

(opens the lid) Oooooooooh. They're beeeeeeeeeeautiful.

Rip off platform heels currently on my feet. Slide feet into the Sperrys.

Heaven.

I have never felt anything so soft or cushion-y in my life.

How much are these puppies, anyway? I'm sure they're ridiculous. It's J.Crew, after all. And these are Sperry Topsiders. Even sale is going to mean moolah.

Originally $98. Yep, okay that's expected.



On sale for $59.99?? Wow- that's nice!



ADDITIONAL 30% OFF RED PRICE?? $41.99?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?





For those of you who don't consider math a strong point, that is $56.00 off!!!! Yes, that is OVER HALF.

Hello, reward for waiting so long.

Aren't they beautiful?? :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fairy Tales


I read an article (for lack of a better word) tonight titled "Three Objections to Fairy Tales and C.S. Lewis's Response." Holy moley, I loved it!!!! I know a man who refuses to let his little girl be called "princess" or to let her watch movies about princes who ride in on their white steed to rescue her because he thinks it's not okay to set her up for failure. I wish said gentleman would read this article.

You must check it out- I won't recap the entire thing. That's what posting the link is for:
http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/three-objections-to-fairy-tales-and-c-s-lewiss-response

But I will leave you to smile with this quote from my favorite part of the link.
(Point #3: Fairy Tales will frighten children) But in making this objection, some mean that “we must try to keep out of [the child’s] mind the knowledge that he is born into a world of death, violence, wounds, adventure, heroism and cowardice, good and evil.” But we are born into a world like that, and hiding it from children actually handicaps them. “Since it is so likely that they will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. . . Let there be wicked kings and beheadings, battles and dungeons, giants and dragons, and let villains be soundly killed at the end of the book” (39-40).

Yes, let them. Roman, my dear, you can be a brave knight and slay the dragon any day...some day, you may need to slay a figurative dragon much bigger than Disney can give you.

Monday, July 4, 2011

I Married A Man Who...


I married a man who...

-doesn't have a bad word to say about the Navy, even when he finds out that the day off work he thought he had is no longer off or has watch after work and has to put in a 14 hour work day.
-will spend a Sunday night playing Monopoly, even though he hates it, and watching Disney movies while drinking non-alcoholic wine...and will swear afterward that he had a blast hanging out with me.
-will tell me that he is getting up with Roman on Saturday mornings so that I can sleep in, even though that means he never gets a day of the week to sleep in.
-spends hours a day PLAYING with our son. like, not just existing in the same room as Roman, but actively playing and interacting with him.
-brews his coffee outside on the lanai because the smell makes me nauseous right now.
-walks by at pats me on the bum when I'm doing something, just to let me know that I'm his gal and he thinks I'm a sexy-pants.
-has been my husband for almost 4 years and has helped me wash dishes after dinner (or sometimes banishes me to relax on the couch while he does them!) EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. Without fail.
-still gets me flowers for no reason. And not the pre-made bouquets, but he actually picks each flower individually from the fridge.
-makes sure we do devotions together when we climb in bed every night.
-has great taste in clothes and music.
-goes to see why Roman is strangely awake right when we sit down to dinner- even though HE has a headache because he's so hungry. the reason I have to stay and get started eating? "I don't want your food to get cold."
-is my best friend, my lover, my safety, and my correction-speaker all wrapped up into one package.

I married the best one.

Friday, July 1, 2011

So Now You Know :)




Assuming you are reading this blog because you are my facebook and see my blog updates that are posted there, you now know that we are expecting Baby Becker #2!!!! The due date is January 13th, however we are going in 3 weeks to a dating ultrasound that will confirm the date is correct- the doctor thinks that we may be closer to 11 weeks today than 12. But who knows. We have a small firstborn so we may just make small babies...I would be okay with that for obvious reasons! If you don't know what reason that is, I simply ask you to consider what life will be like for me personally on January 13th. Enough said. ;)

Yes it was planned. Yes we are EXCITED! Yes we will find out gender- hopefully in 2 weeks. Yes it was killing us to keep it a secret. Yes this is why my blog posts died for basically the month of June. I have been sick as a DOG and so exhausted that I can barely move, let alone spend time playing and teaching Roman the way he deserves...so the blog had to be sacrificed. As did cooking. I blame that on the fact that I haven't been able to eat very much and I am very grateful that my loving husband has been happy to eat whatever I could think of that would sit well in my stomach.

Do we want a boy or a girl? Either!! Really. Despite my swearing that I want only sons (I'd still be happy if that's what God decided to give us- we have plans for at least 3 Becker children, all relatively close in age.) I actually would like a girl at some point. But only one. And she can come now or she can come later- doesn't matter to me! For Roman's sake, it would be fun for this one to be a boy. I like imagining the fun two brothers 18 months apart could have. So we'll take whatever God gives us and be grateful.

So there it is. Now you know what has REALLY been going on in the world of Beckers lately that I haven't been able to write. I haven't been posting status updates on fb as often as I would normally and I haven't been posting to the blog as often as I think of it because I couldn't say what was really on my mind! Ah, the relief of a secret told. :) So pray for a healthy baby and a happy, NO-NAUSEA momma when you think of us. I can't wait to keep you updated as we go along.