Thursday, April 29, 2010

Building Blocks

There is one reason we go to the Mall of America: Legoland. My kids are Lego fanatics. It's a great destination on a day when we can't be outside much. Admittedly, we don't buy anything, but the boys love to play with the building tables. They like to make race cars to race down the ramps. They like to look at all the big Lego models around the store. And the store itself is a lot of fun. There's a special screen that you can hold marked Lego boxes up to and it shows you what the finished project will look like--with animation! It's a good opportunity to teach kids that they don't always need to get something when they go to a store. Of course, if you're going to spend money, there is also Nickelodeon theme park, mini golf, plenty of food and Legos, of course. My advice is to go during the week when parking is a little easier to find.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I Got Me Some Exercise

Today is my wife's day off. I took advantage of it and got in a bike ride this morning. All by myself. With no bike trailer behind me. I haven't gotten many bike rides in this spring, so I still had to break in my bum. This was the first big bike ride I've gotten to do by myself since before the kids were born. Probably one of the longer ones I've ever had. I got in about 10 miles, over to the Chain of Lakes. It was good. I've been trying to eat less carbs, eat more veggies and get more exercise in order to better take care of myself. The bike ride is also a good outlet to work off any stress (parents never have any, right?), get in some alone time (and time with God if I remember to focus properly) and enjoy the scenery. I've been trying to do a little painting and writing as well. We all need to have those hobbies to be able to keep ourselves healthy--otherwise we seek unhealthy outlets for ourselves.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

If You Like to Talk to Tomatoes

Have they got a sale for you . . .
Just a heads up that Veggie Tales DVDs are $5 on their website (not all, but several of the newer ones). They also come with a free CD. Shipping is extra, of course.

My kids love the shows, and it's good to know that there won't be objectionable material. Plus, it's always nice to have 30-45 minute videos instead of 2-hour long ones.

So check out their sale if you're in need of some good videos or gifts.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I wish that going on a bike ride with my boys was a viable form of exercise. I know it will be some day. Right now, I spend more time coasting and pedaling. And when I have a chance to pedal, I usually have to get off my bike and push a child up a hill. So, to get exercise while biking, I have to go by myself. Which isn't a possibility too often. I used to be able to do some with the kids in the bike trailer. But they're getting too big for that (which does make it a good workout); they also want to be able to bike on their own.

The main way I can exercise with the children around is to push a stroller (still possible on days when I watch my niece--I put her and Nils in it and go for a long walk) or to talk the boys into playing some active soccer (which has been hard to do lately--mainly because the get taken away from me by friends in the park).

So, without the funds for a gym membership, I do what I can and try and make the most of the opportunities I have. But someday, a bike ride with the boys will be exercise. I just hope they still want to bike with me then.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Stay-at-Home Sinner

An old friend of mine from high school and college sent me a video last week from Pastor Mark Driscoll. To sum it up, if you don't have the time to watch it, Driscoll and his wife answer a question about what they think of a woman who works and a husband who stays home with the kids. The condemn a dad who's not working because of 1 Timothy 5:8 which says, "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

Of course, if you look at the rest of the passage, Paul is talking about taking care of widows. And, of course, women couldn't even get much work back then. Plus, what does it mean to provide fo your family? Is it just about making money? Because a lot of people in ancient culture didn't earn actual money. But all that is beside the point. Yes, I'm a sinner. But I don't think that taking care of my kids and my household is the worst of my transgressions.

This isn't the first time I've been told I'm not doing the right thing by not being the "breadwinner" for my family. And it probably won't be the last. But for the most part, people are very supportive of my career right now.

Let's face it--there are plenty of dads out there who aren't involved with their families at all. And just as many who aren't involved in household chores. And while I believe it's important for a parent to stay at home and raise their children, that was a lifestyle choice we made for ourselves. We don't judge others who are working. Staying at home isn't for everyone. It's a tough job and it takes the right personality to balance it all.

Driscoll also talks a lot about how the man needs to work and the wife needs to stay home with the kids in order for there to be respect, happiness and a successful marriage. We've done it both ways where I've worked and where I've stayed home. And frankly, our marriage is the best it's ever been. We're both happier than we've ever been (of course, some of the therapy and counseling we finally got around to having may have a part in that).

Needless to say, we all make our own decisions and we all try and do what we think is best. There will always be the nay-sayers. But our job is to always act on our conscience. And to be the best dad and husband we can be.

Keep up the good work!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Creamy Asparagus & Mushroom Soup

This is one of those recipes I'm posting for my sake--it turned out well tonight (the boys seldom eat soup, but they ate this--Anders even had thirds!) and my wife prompted me to write it down. I make no promises that your kids will like it, but soup can be a good way to sneak in some veggies. Plus, I love fresh spring-time asparagus.

Creamy Asparagus & Mushroom Soup

4c. chicken stock
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup cream cheese/neufchatel
1 T. butter
2c. asparagus, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2c. mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion diced

Add chicken stock, cream cheese and spices to a large pot and heat over medium-low heat.
In a sauce pan melt butter on medium-low heat and add the chopped asparagus. After 5-10 minutes add the mushrooms and onion. Let simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Turn burner off and let cool for about 20 minutes.
Laddle about a half cup of the stock into a blender/food processor and add half of the vegetables. Puree well. Return to soup pot. Add another half cup of stock and the rest of the vegetables. Return to soup pot after pureed.
Whisk soup to help cream cheese melt. Let simmer for a while to let flavors blend.
I like to serve with some bread or croutons.

All measurements are guesses. Nothing was measured. So feel free to add more or less of an item as your tastes desire. It could easily take a little more stock and asparagus. This wasn't an overly creamy soup, but it was really good. Just add some more a whole package of cream cheese instead of half.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Giveaway #2! (And Mediterranean Lentils)

Our next giveaway is for a Rold Gold Cookbook. To enter, just post a comment to this post (please make sure you're registered or leave your email so there is a way to connect you if you win). One entry per person, please. I will be choosing the winner using I encourage you to include one of your favorite recipes using canned tomatoes in your comment. Drawing will close at noon on April 19.

Here's one of our family's (and it's crockpot-based, too!). We first had it at the home of some friends when we lived in British Columbia.

Mediterranean Lentils

2T olive oil
1 onion, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne (more or less as desired)
1 tsp salt
3/4 c lentils
2c vegetable broth or water
1 can (14 oz) crushed/diced tomatoes
1/3 c dried currants (can use raisins, craisins or something similar)
Crumbled feta or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat oil, adding onions, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne and salt. Cook over medium-high heat until onions are soft.
Add lentils & broth/water. Stir in tomatoes & currants.
Cover and cook on medium-low heat for 3-4 hours (until lentils are tender).
Serve over rice (quinoa could also work). Top with cheese.

We've only ever used raisins as we never have currants on hand. My wife did substitute black olives recently (as our family all loves them) and it worked well. We always use feta on top--it really makes the recipe.

Now, don't forget to post your own recipe (or just say hello) under the comments so you can have a chance to win a cookbook.