Monday, November 26, 2012

BBQ pulled pork sandwiches.

Last night we made BBQ pulled pork sandwiches. They turned out so yummy! I am trying to branch out in my cooking skills and make some different things instead of the same old same old. This one is definitely a keeper. So good and so EASY! That's what I like!

I had seen a lot of blog posts and pinterest pictures of variations of this recipe, and none of them were exactly the same, so I made my own variation and it was wonderful.

Here is how I made it: (no pictures, sorry! I forgot and then when I remembered we had eaten them all up. :)

2 lbs. pork roast (actually called pork butt. ha.)
1 can cherry coke
About half a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce
Some Lawry's seasoning

Seriously. That's all the ingredients. Awesome!

I let the roast thaw in the fridge overnight so it wouldn't take as long to cook, and so it would be easier to handle. I cut the big parts of fat off before putting it in the crock pot. Put the roast in the crock pot, and sprinkle some Lawry's seasoning over the whole thing. Pour the can of coke overtop. I poured some BBQ sauce in in the beginning, and poured more and mixed it in when done.

I cooked mine on high for 4 hours, then low for an hour (mainly because I wasn't ready to eat it yet but it was almost done). The meat easily tore apart into small yummy pieces. Drain the rest of the coke out, and mix in as much other BBQ sauce as you want.

Put on a bun and enjoy! I will be making this again!

(Also, just so you know, there was enough for the original dinner, plus three leftover lunches- you may have even more meals out of it if you don't have a huge eater like Kley. :)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Making chocolate pretzels.

This year I am going to make more Christmas treats than I have before. I really enjoy baking, so this will be fun! Over Thanksgiving I made chocolate pretzels for the first time. They are so so good! They are really easy to make, just very time-consuming.

All you need is a bag of circle pretzels, a bag of red/green M+M's, and chocolate chips. I ended up making the entire bag of pretzels, using the whole bag of M+M's, and 6 bags of chocolate chips, and it worked out well. I originally wasn't going to make that many, but once I started I figured I was on a roll, so I might as well finish. It took me 2.5 hours, but I listened to Christmas music and watched the Macy's Thanksgiving parade while I did it. :)

If you make these, just don't melt the chocolate right over the heat. Last year I made the mistake of microwaving it when I was making cookies, and it cracked the bowl I used and I had to throw it away. Lesson learned there. I didn't have a broiler pot, so I made my own just by boiling water in my usual pan, and then putting a safe bowl overtop of that with the chocolate chips in it. It worked really well; you just have to be careful when removing the bowl because the steam that escapes is HOT.

I made about a cookie sheet size each time. I used aluminum foil, lined it up with pretzels, spooned the chocolate in, and once that sheet was full I put it in the fridge so the chocolate would harden. Then when I had another sheet ready, I just took the first one out and put them in a bowl and repeated the process again.

I would make these again! Even though it took a long time, I have TONS of chocolate pretzels now. We can eat some ourselves, I brought some over to my family for Thanksgiving, and I have a ton in the freezer to use as gifts. Yay!

(P.S. You can use whatever kind of chocolate you want. I just used the market pantry chocolate chips, and they worked fine. I used some semi-sweet bags, and some white chocolate bags.)


Thanksgiving 2012 in snapshots.

This Thanksgiving was a good one. We stayed in Des Moines, which was so nice not to have to travel. This was the first time in a long long time to not travel, so that was nice! My mom's side came here, so that was great to see everyone as well. My Grandma and Grandpa Van Etten came from Rapid City, SD, and my Uncle Jeff, Uncle Jim/Aunt Kris, and their 4 kids (Alexandra, Carter, Victoria, and Ethan) came from Chicago. I was also able to see my friend Stephanie home from college in Texas and my friend Lauren home from Denver! Yay!

Making dinner before everyone arrived on Wednesday night.

Daisy, my family's dog. :)

 My family's Christmas tree.

My brother, Keaton, during no-shave November playing ping-pong. What a beast.

Ping-pong action. (There was a ping-pong tournament involving the whole family. I, of course, lost the first round but I played awesome considering my skill level of nothing. Kley and Keaton were in the championship, and Keaton won.)

My mom's pretty decorations.

Hanging out after dinner.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade!

While watching the parade, I made chocolate pretzels for the first time. Yummy!

Bocce ball.

View from my parent's backyard.

The turkey!

Getting ready to eat! (Notice the muscles in the background...boys.)

Keaton's "Thanksgiving Combover."

The boys spent some time using their technology toys,

while the girls watched TV.

Almost time to eat.

Green bean casserole.

My cousin, Victoria, and sister, Kayla.

My sister, Karlie, and cousin, Alexandra.                                                                                              (They are roommates together at NWC this year in Orange City!)

Gram setting the table.

Kley and I. (Notice he did not participate in no-shave November. I think facial hair is scratchy. :)

Lining up to eat.

It was delicious.

Uncle Jeff telling Karlie to not touch the hot pan while grabbing her hand and making her.     (Obviously it wasn't that hot- no burning involved. :)

The kid table.

The adult table.

Cheesecake for dessert! This one was pumpkin.


Chocolate Chip- this was my choice and it was quite good.

Grandpa reading the Christmas Story- we celebrated Christmas too, since we wouldn't see them at Christmas. So, Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving! We have a lot to be thankful for! I am thankful for my family, Kley's family, my wonderful husband, living close to my family, seeing friends who live far away, my job, my kids at school, a few days off of work, our apartment, our bed, food to eat, and many more things. Thank you, God, for our many blessings. :)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Harvest.

This morning at church we had a good discussion about the harvest, and how we can reach people in our communities and our paths in life. We talked about a few passages:

The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. (Matthew 9:37)

Remind the people to be subject to the rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men. At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. (Titus 3:1-8)

It was a great talk! We talked about how these verses teach us how to act toward others, how through God's mercy He saved us (because we all deserve to go to Hell), and how we can be good workers in the harvest.

We spent time specifically talking about what excites us about the harvest and what obstacles we face. I think my job is a good example of both. Sometimes it can be easy to forget that I am in the harvest and that I can share God's love through my actions all day long. Since I work with kids, it's easy to overlook the opportunities I have at work. I am blessed to work in a Christian school, and even though my kids are only two years old, God has called me to a very important work being their teacher. It's exciting that God could use me in the way to mold His beautiful creations. Even at two years old, it's heartwarming to see my kids repeat the Bible stories they've heard, sing praise songs, and learn how to pray. Even though they are still so young, I am grateful to play an important role in their life now, and to help mold into them into who they will be later in their life.

I pray that I would be a good worker in the harvest, tuned in to the opportunities God gives me!

Christmas Decorations!

Yesterday we hung out Christmas decorations! Yay! This was the first time we've decorated before Thanksgiving, and I feel good and bad about it. My mom's side of the family is coming to Des Moines for Thanksgiving this year, so I wanted to put it up early so they can see it when they come over. I also just love anything about Christmas, so I wanted it up! But, there was something weird about putting them up when it was 65 degrees outside with no signs of winter. 

I am happy they are up, though. We shall see what we do again next year, but for this year, I'm happy! :)

Our front door.

Willow Tree Nativity 

This is a nativity set from Ecuador that we got as a wedding gift- my family went on a mission trip to Ecuador when I was 12 and it was really meaningful for my life. (The gift was from someone who went on the trip with us.)

Our tree! My family was big on ornaments when I was younger, so it's such fun to pull out all the ornaments again and hang them.

Enjoy your decorating!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Funny sayings.

The other day I was thinking of some of the phrases we use at school, and how hilarious and inappropriate they would be if we said them to an adult. For example:

You have a huge booger.
Go wipe your nose.
Pull your pants up.
Use your words.
You stink; let's go to the bathroom.
Are you poopy?
You need to go share.
I don't know what whining means.
We show love to our friends.
Calm your body down.
You need to clean up your mess.
Use your spoon.
Cover your mouth.
We don't pick our nose.

I could think of a lot more probably, but I hope you found that at least a little funny.

Preparing my attitude for motherhood.

I have been thinking about motherhood recently. I pretty much always think about it since my dream is to be a stay at home mom, but work has really been making me think about it lately.

We are pretty short staffed right now. Fortunately, the workers we do have are awesome and do a great job of doing what needs to be done and making things work, but this has left me alone somewhat often recently. The state ratio for two year olds is 6 to 1, and I have six kids in my room right now (which has been a blessing to be lower for awhile because I can have up to twelve), so that means that if another staff member is sick and we can't find a sub, they pull my co-worker into another room, which leaves me by myself.

I admit, I have needed an attitude check sometimes when this happens. It's tough to be the only one in the room with six kids. (It's not always six, sometimes only three, four, or five depending on the day, but either way- can you imagine being all alone with six 2-year-olds all day? It's demanding.) It's hard when you are the only one. You have to solve every problem, fix every boo-boo, wipe everyone's bottom (I know, too much information, but true), blow every nose, clean every scrape, dry every tear, give equal attention, and pretty much be super woman.

I know I am not a mom yet, but I know that every mom is a super woman. I had (and still have) the best super woman mom of all time. There were some mannerisms that I said I would never copy of my mom, but I am pretty much a mini version of my mom, and I am proud to be. She is an amazing woman of God and is the best example I could ever follow on being a good mom.

(I have an amazing dad too, by the way- just throwing that out there!)

Being alone definitely makes you think about your attitude. Especially when you are alone, the mind is a powerful force, and a force that Satan will so quickly use to try and tear you down. It's so easy to think: "Your nose is running again? I just wiped it two minutes ago." "How could you possibly have three poopy diapers today?" "I can't believe you took her toy again, we've talked about this four times already."And so on and so on.

I pray every morning on the way to school that God would give me strength for the day to be an encouraging and loving teacher. But really I should be praying for that every 10 minutes, because I am a sinner and I need a lot of reminders. It's easy to become grumpy, discouraged, tired, angry, and frustrated, and those emotions seem to surface a lot more quickly when I am left alone to deal with it all myself. That's not who I want to be and that's not the kind of teacher my kids deserve.

But I am convinced that God is definitely using this time to teach me about my attitude and to prepare me for motherhood. The days will be hard, but I don't think I could do anything better with my life than teach, and someday soon hopefully have my own children.

The smiles and random hugs outshine the dirty diapers. Holding hands and watching my kids share trumps every fight. Seeing my kids trust me and learn from something I've taught them beats wiping boogers. And even if they wipe snot right on my pant leg, it's still a beautiful thing knowing that I have done something good today in loving on God's precious babies. :)

I love my kids- current ones at school and my own little ones I have yet to meet.

This is my beautiful mom and I.

The longest week is over!

This week felt super long. Time usually doesn't feel slow to me, but this week definitely did. It was good, but draining, and I feel much better about it now that it's over! Yay for Fridays!

I worked late Monday-Thursday. Monday and Wednesday we were short staffed in the afternoon, so I stayed late. Tuesday and Thursday were parent teacher conferences. My first "official" ones. (I have done some in college, but this was my first solo experience. My room- the two year old room- didn't have conferences last year because they weren't three yet, the "preschool" age, but we had them this year and I'm so glad we did.)

Overall they went really well. It made for very long days being at school from 7 till almost 6, but in the end it was worth it. It was so nice to meet with the parents and talk uninterrupted about their child. It was also nice to receive a few compliments about my teaching as well! :) (I have super great parents, for the most part, who are very friendly, but it's always nice to hear that you're doing a good job every so often!)

I am glad this week is over. Conferences are hard work. Now looking forward to Thanksgiving next week! :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Crazy Weather and Christmas Music.

Yesterday it was 75 degrees in Des Moines, IA. Today it is 30. Crazy weather changes!

Also, if you live in DM, I am pumped for Lite 104.1 Christmas music. They are currently playing Christmas music on the weekends, and will go to full time soon. I, for one, am stoked and have been personally listening to Christmas music since November 1st (it's a personal thing because Kley doesn't like Christmas music yet- one of those "too early" people- so I listen to it when I drive to work).


Saturday, November 10, 2012


This week I got a new little boy at school, and it's been a rough transition for him, meaning lots of crying and he makes himself so upset that he throws up. Along with that, there were several other incidents of horrible smelly diarrhea throughout the week. Also, I left early sick on Wednesday, and stayed home Thursday, and hardly left the couch. In addition, conferences are next week and I have been spending a lot of time getting ready for that.

So, after that week, and the previous weeks of busyness, I am PUMPED to have a relaxing weekend and be at home, doing peaceful things and not smelling anything awful. :)

I really don't mean to sound like I am complaining- conferences will be fine, my kids are fine, and I am so happy to be feeling better. Even though we have been busy, I have loved all the activities we've been involved in.

But I am going to thoroughly enjoy this weekend of nothing, and date night with Kley again, because that hasn't happened in awhile. Yay!

Last night we went for dinner at Red Lobster, went to Banana Republic for a few quick minutes, and saw Here Comes the Boom. (It was okay for me, but Kley loved it. I thought it would be more about comedy, but it was more focused on the MMA/UFC fighting than I would have liked.)

It was wonderful to spend uninterrupted, unrushed time together. I am thankful for this weekend.

Yay for free weekends!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Today I woke up at 5:14 (47 minutes before my alarm- yes, I am the crazy person that sets her alarm at 6:01 instead of 6) and I immediately felt horrible. I really thought I was going to throw up. (I'm sure you all wanted to know that.) I took my temp. and it was in the low 99's, so I laid in bed again but never fell asleep.

I decided to try going to work, because I hate missing work, I love my kids, and we are super low on subs right now so I didn't want to make other people's days more stressful trying to cover for me.

And, of course, the ONE DAY I feel nauseous, one of my kids throws up all over the table and himself. I cleaned it up. The smell nearly made me lose it. (I absolutely hate throwing up of any kind, myself or anyone else, so this was a rough morning. Thankfully, though, this is the first time in my entire teaching career that I have ever actually had to clean it up. Every other time the janitor did it!)

Nonetheless, after that great start, I just felt worse and worse until I left at 12:15. I'm glad I did, because I feel awful and I just took my temp. and it was 100.8. Yuck.

Hopefully I feel better soon and hopefully none of you are sick! (Apparently a lot of people at my school have the same symptoms! Bummer.)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Apartment washing machines.

Kley and I have never had our own washing machine, and I so wish we did. Thankfully, though, we now live close to my parents, so we do a lot of loads there. I am grateful for that, but I am still looking forward to the day when we have our own.

Today I was trying to do laundry at our apartment. I did our clothes load fine, but the sheets/towels load went very awry. When I went to change the load from the washer to the dryer, the load was still full of water and everything was SOAKING wet. The water never drained from the load for some reason.

So I tried to wring it out as best as I could, then put it in the dryer. When I came to get it out, it was still soaking wet and the dryer had never run, so I thought the dryer was broken too. I put it in another dryer, and that one still didn't work, so I finally figured out that it was just too wet and heavy for the dryer to spin.

So then I drove to my parents and am re-washing it since it was sitting in dirty water, and then going to dry it. It was ridiculous, and I am spending hours this afternoon on one load of laundry. Bummer.

But, I need to be content with what I have. We have a place to live, and thankfully I can fix the problem at my parents.

It was still quite frustrating, though. :)

David and Jacquie visiting!

This weekend we had so much fun with our friends, David and Jacquie, visiting us from MN! We went to college together. We only get to see them every few months, so it's always great when we do get together again! We had a great time. Saturday we hung around in the morning, made a big breakfast, and then Jacquie and I went to the mall while David and Kley played video games. It was fun to have some girl time and go shopping! (I don't go shopping much, so it was fun to go with a friend! I got a new pair of flats and a vest.) 

At night we went downtown and hung out at Java Joe's while waiting for our name at Zombie Burger. It was fun!

David and Jacquie!

Kley and I- we played Sorry while we were waiting. :) (I am wearing my new vest!)

Zombie Burger! It was so worth the wait and was fun to go because David and Jacquie really wanted to see it. It was so yummy. 

Sunday we had brunch together and then they had to drive back. It was a great time!