Sunday, February 26, 2012

What She Wore Sunday

I know some bloggers faithfully post "What I Wore" on various days of the week. My personal wardrobe isn't overly exciting. The majority of my fashion ideas come from all of you who are my girlfriends. So, most of my outfits look something like one of yours.

Eliza's outfits, however, are often worthy of a "What She Wore" post. I think I'm just going to start posting her most recent noteworthy ensemble of each week. We'll call it "What She Wore Sunday," as Eliza's most creative outfits are often those that she puts together for church. Very rarely, I have to tell this little lady to make a change to her outfit. As long as it's modest, I am happy.  (I know, her belly is showing in this picture - that almost never happens.)

I can't resist posting this picture of Eliza coloring up the sidewalk. There is just something so sugary sweet about this four year old. And the chalk drawings that she is making. Wow. In case you can't tell, they are Prince Jameson and Princess Eliza. She clearly got her amazing artistic ability from her mama.

Friday, February 24, 2012

My First Guest Blogger

Today's post comes from our first guest blogger, Marshall:

It was really fun meeting Doug. Doug is the dog from Up. We went around the Challenge Trail with Eliza too. Eliza was afraid of Doug. We went on the tire swing and one girl fell off. And then the man said "You have to stay on with your arms and legs." This was at Disneyland. And we ran through the Challenge Trail. No flip flops or anything that would fall off in the net. Wear tennis shoes. Staying at our hotel was really fun. It was called the Howard Johnson. 

I cried in San Francisco because I did not want to stay there.  I said "This town is a stinker!" with my blue blanket over my head. The Golden Gate Bridge was really fun. We got a picture there. I will put this picture up in a little bit. Actually I'm going to put it up now.

We are standing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge and I just got that gun from Disneyland. It is a Rebel Blaster.

Here I am pretending to hold a light saber. Besides, I went to Jedi Training Academy. It was pretty fun. I am now a Padawan.

A lady took this picture for us. I don't really know who she was though. Here is the five people in our family.

We stayed the night in Redding, instead. Eliza woke up with a barking seal cough at 5 o'clock in the morning. It must have been really painful for her.

Me, Daddy, Jameson and Eliza. Please comment about this picture:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Comfort for a Little Boy's Heart

It's a sad day at the Compton home as we report that Fish Vader and Seawalker, the goldfish, have died. They met their demise before I even had a chance to tell you that they had names.

Marshall is so disappointed that his fish died. It is heartwrenching as a mom to sit hugging your little guy as he cries real tears of sadness because, well, it just makes him so sad. And, there is nothing that I could do to change his circumstances. There is no CPR for goldfish. And, I lack the power to bring them back from the dead.

As I prayed for Marshall before bed, I prayed that Jesus would give him comfort. And, thanked Jesus because He has already promised in His Word to do it. Praise Jesus that I had been living in 2 Corinthians this week and the words from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, "[He is] the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles ...," were fresh in my mind and on my heart, ready to share with Marshall.

Leaving Marshall's room that night, I remembered that there is a BSF Home Training Lesson (HTL) that mentions helping kiddos when they face disappointment or trials. I knew I had read it in years past.  But, I am a children's leader at BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) and I needed to finish my preparation for the next morning's BSF leadership meeting. It was already late, and I didn't have time to dig through my old BSF materials to try and find the lesson. However, I really felt like I needed some direction from the Word about leading Marshall to Jesus in his sadness. 

Sitting down to prepare my children's lesson for leaders' meeting, I began reading the current HTL, the first step in preparing the children's lesson each week. I squealed out loud, by myself at my kitchen counter, as I realized that this week's HTL was the one that I had been thinking of. This was the week that we were covering that topic this year.  The HTL was about comforting your child. Being unable to change his circumstances. Leading him to the Lord who is in control of the circumstances. To the Lord who can provide true comfort in our sadness. It even specifically mentions missing a goldfish! 

The next morning I sat in children's leaders' training time. One of Marshall's sweet teachers shared the Truth she had chosen for hymn time in their class. It was about God's comfort when we are sad. I already knew that the main truth for the week was: "God gives His comfort to us when we are hurt or sad." But something about hearing Marshall's teacher say those words out loud made it click for me that Marshall was going to learn that concept this week. His memory verse would be 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, the verse that I had just shared with him during bedtime prayer. My eyes were brimming with tears and I was overwhelmed with emotion. God orchestrated what Marshall, my son, would be learning in such a timely way. God cares about my baby boy. Because Marshall is His son first.

I know that my son will face more dire circumstances in this life than losing a goldfish. For, "man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward." (Job 5:7). But, God is shaping Marshall's heart now, weaving a tapestry of trust. Jesus is using even the loss of goldfish to train Marshall to rely on Himself. He is wooing Marshall. He is giving Marshall tangible ways to experience His comfort. Marshall has parents who hug him and listen to him as he shares his sadness. He has a sister/best friend who made him a drawing of Seawalker and Fish Vader that said I Love You.

Then, through His Word, God reinforces that these comforts come from Himself. He is the God of all comfort.  Some translations of 2 Corinthians 1:3 say that He is the Father of all mercies. All mercies begin with Him. When Marshall faces tough times as his life progresses, he will already know by experience that his God, the one true God, is the God of all comfort. The Creator of the entire universe cares about this little heart that loves Him. Jesus is already working out everything for Marshall's good. (Romans 8:28).  It is as true for my six-year-old as it is for me. Praise Jesus!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Freezing Cold Fun

After a yummy lunch in Bend at 10 Barrel Brewing (yes, again. don't judge. we heart it. the tuna melt. the fries. the burgers. the kids mac n cheese. we just can't stay away.), we happened upon this crazy fun looking park.

Our kids were dying to play at a park but there had been too much snow in Sunriver. We couldn't pass this one up. So we parked and piled out of the Compton mobile. It was freezing cold. Our family lasted about ten minutes at the park. We got back into the car with red cheeks, cold hands and blue lips (wait. no. that was Marshall's lips. I mean, they were blue. But it was from eating a blue raspberry dum dum, not from the cold.). We had fun though. And got some blog-worthy pics.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunriver Living

Our Sunriver weekend in review:

Mommy/daughter pedicures. Eliza really just gets her toes and fingers painted. It is one of her very favorite things in the world to do. It's almost like this girl was created to go to the spa. She likes the relaxation room, spa music and the sound of the ocean, green tea in little tea cups (the idea of it, but not the taste of it. just holding the cup is enough), and chatting up the nail technicians. She is my favorite little girlfriend in the world.

Donuts from Hot Lava Baking Company:


Daddy happy to be at 10 Barrel Brewing Company:

Wrangling Jameson at dinner. It was a treat at dinner to run into my longtime friend, Alisa, and meet her beautiful family. We've been friends since high school cheerleading days and ended up at Willamette Law during the same years. Always fun to see friends "all grown up" with kids. Sometimes I still feel like I'm 16 and think of friends that way. . . how are we this grown up, and who thought we were responsible enough to have kids of our own?

Waking up to fresh snow:

Marshall, you're growing up way too fast, buddy:

Jameson always wants to be included with the big kids.

But, he gave up the idea of playing with Marshall and Eliza after he touched snow for the first time.

 So thankful for three-day weekends!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

It's Over the Snowy Pass We Go

First, let me say nice job to my husband for his post earlier today. Way to go, babe. I guess I deserve it after posting the Nightlife Run photo on here not too long ago. 

Second, please excuse the photo quality of these pics. My Canon was packed up in the back of the Suburban. But I didn't want to miss the memories. So I used my iPhone on most, although a few were shared by Eric and C-note. 

We are at the River of the Sun.  Woo Woo!  The only thing I'm not loving is Marshall and Eliza sharing a room. They have been in bed for an hour and a half. They are still not asleep. There have been at least two, maybe three, bathroom trips. Eliza claims Marshall is snoring. But, Marshall is yelling at us that he is awake. To which Eliza replies "nuh-uh, he is sooooo sound asleep." Right. Oh, and apparently Eliza is hearing "booming" sounds so she can't sleep. Oh, and then she couldn't sleep because she is so excited to have her fingers/toes painted at the spa tomorrow. We know, Eliza, you've told us that maybe one hundred times today. We're waiting on pins and needles to see who appears in the living room next . . .

The fab Venti fam is enjoying a weekend at nearby Eagle Crest. [To catch more "Snowy Pass" action, head over the The Venti's blog!] So we all caravaned over the Pass this morning after meeting up at the Bux. (After Disneyland, and now this trip, their kids think that they only go on "wacation" with The Comptons. They are uh-dorable.) Our family even made it out of the house by 9:04. Only four minutes later than we had hoped for. Even more impressive since we were all out late last night together at a dinner/auction. And, at said auction I laughed harder than I had laughed in a really really long time. My abs still hurt this morning. Apparently the best ab workout I've had since having J-Babe.

The Pass looked like this on our drive over:

Which is why the boys are installing chains on the Venti mobile.

The inside of our car on the trip looked like this (check out J's cute baby toes in the bottom left of the picture! He always crosses his feet and his feet are so chubbs):

Let's say hi to the Venti babes:

And cute mama, Kari. I'm posting this picture at the risk of pictures of me showing up on Kari's blog. She stealthily took pictures of me (and you too, Lauren Enns!) laughing until I cried last night. But, this is an uber-cute photo of Kari. The pics she took of me were not so cute (I mean, not cute of me. Lauren, you are always cute). 

Out to lunch at Three Creeks Brewing Co. in Sisters. Oh the chaos of taking six kids out to eat. Um, yes, table for TEN please. 2 highchairs. 4 kids menus and crayons. But, seriously, it was fun. The work is worth the memories. It was easier when we all first met and Marshall was the only kiddo. But, it is so much more fun now. 

Good buddies Marshall and Nolan playing pirates:

Restless waiting for food, so the dads took five of the six kiddos on a walk and a little snowball fight action. No, they are not wearing coats. or gloves. or hats. None of them. Kari, do we win moms of the year?

Sweetest memory of the day was friendship between Nolan and Marshall. They sat together at lunch. And told each other jokes that made each other laugh and laugh. Sweet. Awesome. Wonderful. Heartwarming. Sweetest boys around.

Mommy Blogger Gets Busted

The mommy blogger got caught trying to take blog-worthy pictures of chains being put on the Venti-mobile. Look how cute she is!

Friday, February 17, 2012

THE Cookies. Yes, THOSE Cookies.

Over the years, I have developed this crazy reputation as an expert chocolate chip cookie baker. My best friends have told me to not even try to be humble about it. Just admit it. So I am. My chocolate chip cookies are Uhthankyou.

My cookie baking started young. I would stand on the door of the open dishwasher to help my mom, starting when I was maybe two years old. (I'm not suggesting that as a good idea for your kids - at least one dishwasher broke that way and my parents wised up and got me a stool. It was cute and wooden and the legs looked like elephants).  Anyway . . . I've already told you that my mom did pass down her mad baking skills. She made the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. And, she taught me how to make them.

Detour:  I know that I've been mentioning my mom a lot. Things about myself have just been reminding me of her.  Yikes! Scary, I know. LOL! One of these days I will share on here the story about my mom, and breast cancer, and losing her.  Needless to say, she was my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, and (obviously) had so much influence on my life.

Back to the cookies. The first time I had an inkling there was something special about these cookies was in late elementary school.  My family spent our summers at a lakeside home in this little place called The Northwoods. It is near Mt. St. Helens, close to the town of Cougar, Washington.  That is a sufficient reference point for all of you right? The metropolis of Cougar, population 12.

So, my mom would sometimes run out of ways to occupy us, especially if the weather wasn't ideal for waterskiing and swimming. See, there is no electricity at this home . . . that means no cable TV, no movies, no phone. The interweb was not even invented back them. We actually used propane lights most of the time. This also meant that we almost always used a butane curling iron.  Do you even know what that is?  Maybe I should offer free cookies to anyone who knows what that is without googling it ...Wait - that might be a lot of cookies.  Free cookies to anyone who has actually had to use a butane curling iron...

So, sometimes my mom set me up with a cookie stand. Yep, me selling chocolate chip cookies. I sold them for 25 cents a piece. I don't think that it was even enough to cover the cost of the ingredients. But, apparently my mom didn't mind eating that cost.  It kept me busy - baking cookies and selling them on my little folding card table in our gravel driveway.

Conveniently, our house was located on the main hill for entering or leaving The Northwoods. Lots and lots of car and foot traffic on that gravel road. (I can still hear my dad's voice yelling "Slow Down!" to the cars speeding by.) I remember when women walking by would buy one cookie and be back about 30 seconds later after eating this amazing piece of chocolate chip goodness. They'd be wondering if I could bake them an entire batch of cookies.  Almost always they were expecting house guests and wanted to pass the cookies off as their own.

Since those days I've baked so many batches of these cookies. I guess those summers of baking batch after batch of cookies really perfected my craft.  People love them. When they have babies and I bring them a dinner they ask if I could please include those cookies. I've had friends come watch me make them and take notes.

So - at the request of Lauren E, Shanna C and other numerous friends over the years, here it is. This is how I make my chocolate chip cookies. Step-by-step instructions, brand names and all. (*I am a brand snob. I swear it makes a difference in how they taste. You can use generics if you want, but I am telling you brand names because so many gals have wanted to know exactly what I use.*)  I finally have a place to give all of you the recipe at the same time, and you can come back here again and again to get it. I can't guarantee that they will turn out the same. It might be a unique gift of the Holy Spirit that has been bestowed upon me (haha). But - I'm willing to spill the goods. Right here.

Now, you may disagree with some of my methods.  I'm not saying I've got the corner on chocolate chip cookie baking. I mean, Mrs. Field's makes a mean cookie, too. I'm just saying that certain people like the way these turn out. There might be a slight obsession by some. (not naming names. you know who you are). And, they want to know how to make that cookie. They are not vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free or lowfat.  But they are crazy delish.

1 cup Crisco shortening. I do not use butter flavor Crisco. I use the one with the blue label. And, I use the sticks. I do not measure it out of the tub. That is messy and greasy. (Yes, I know lard is so bad for you. Don't start m'kay? I know that butter is a better choice.)
1 cup C&H golden brown sugar. Not dark brown.
1/2 cup C&H granulated white sugar
1 tsp Arm & Hammer baking soda. By the way, using fresh baking soda makes a difference.
1 tsp Morton's table salt.
2 tsp vanilla. Use pure vanilla extract. The Kirkland kind is awesome. Just please please don't use imitation vanilla unless you really have to.
2 Large Grade A eggs. It doesn't seem to matter what color, organic, cage free, or any of that.
2 1/4 cups Gold Medal All-Purpose Unbleached Flour. The bleached kind actually works great too.
1 12 oz. package (or 2 cups) of Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. Yes. Use the entire package. Do not skimp on the chocolate.

Eric actually likes my cookies better made with unsalted butter, C&H dark brown sugar, and Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips instead. So, that is how I make them for him. (The things we do for love). However, they are not the same as the cookie you all have come to love.

Are you ready?? Here we go!!

Pull out your two eggs from the fridge to bring them to room temperature.

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. I put my baking rack on the next to highest rack. Now, I want to show this picture to help you all out. But, please only look at this picture if you promise to not judge me for the (un)cleanliness of my oven:

Mix the Crisco, brown sugar and white sugar together either in a Kitchen Aid or with a wooden spoon.

I love this attachment by New Metro for the Kitchen-Aid. It is wide enough that it scrapes the bottom and the sides of your bowl while it mixes. No more scraping with a spatula. Brilliant.

Now, take your bowl off of the Kitchen-Aid and start mixing with a wooden spoon from now on. I promise, it makes a huge difference. Use those biceps, ladies. Swimsuit season will be here before you know it. And, stirring with a wooden spoon obviously counteracts the calories consumed when eating these cookies.

Add the salt, baking soda and vanilla and stir with your wooden spoon. Make sure that your teaspoons of salt and baking soda are level.  You want them perfectly full, NOT heaping!

Add in the two eggs.

Mix in the flour. When you measure the flour make it a level cupful. Again, NOT heaping and not only partially full. Eliza's little hands will demonstrate how to do this.

Mix in the chocolate chips.

Scoop dough in heaping teaspoonfuls. I use a cereal spoon and scoop with that. This is the largest size Silpat, to give you an idea of size. I can fit 16 cookies. The most important thing is to make them equal size, whatever size that might be.

Also - I don't think that the Silpat makes a huge difference (maybe no difference) in cookie quality. I like them because you can throw them in the dishwasher and they clean up so easily. But, I've been making these cookies for years, long before the Silpat was introduced and my cookies have always been the same.

The three cookies in the bottom left hand corner were made by my oldest kiddo. He likes to roll them into balls. I don't suggest this!

Now, your cooking time will vary depending on your oven. Generally, it takes between 8 and 10 minutes. DO NOT overbake your cookies. They should still look undercooked when you take them out. They will keep cooking for a few minutes after you take them out of the oven. It will just take some experimenting for you to figure out about how long the ideal bake time if for your oven.

Well, now I've given away my best-kept secret. My most treasured recipe. I guess I'll find out who my real friends are when you all quit needing me to make cookies for you. Who only loved me for my cookies?  Ha! Happy Baking!!