Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks 2010

This year the feeling of gratitude is overwhelming. At times it takes my breath away with how much I have to be thankful for. Tears come easily these past few days, and not just from chopping onions for the stuffing. You see, two nights ago our family was endangered by a reckless, foolish man who was shooting at police and set fire to the house he was holed up in. It was like the ending of the movie "Young Guns" come home to roost, and it was literally right next door.

It was two in the morning when my husband awoke to gunfire. "What was that? Car backfires? Where is it coming from?" These were the thoughts that prompted him to check the bathroom window, which overlooks the street below our house. "Oh, it's the police. They've blocked off the street. They're working on the road."
Huh? Well, that was his less than coherent thought and when he woke me up getting back into bed that was what he told me. We both decided to go back to sleep. Less than a minute later, our motion light illuminated our bedroom and I heard two "POP"s.
"Jon, the motion light is on!"
Jon got up to check and told me, "There's a man in our driveway."
I yanked back the covers, leaped from bed and ran to the window. I was trying to not let him see me, staring at a dark figure through a slit in the curtains. He was standing next to the driveway, arms down; a creepy silhouette looking up at our house. The fear I felt in the past from watching horror movies did not compare with the pure terror which rushed through my body at the sight of that man. I grabbed my phone and quickly dialed 911. The lady on the other end assured me that there was police activity in our neighborhood already. Right then, the man started up the driveway, stepping into the light of the motion detector. He was dressed in all camouflage, putting on a gas mask as he walked. I informed the 911 operator of his movement and she reiterated what Jon had already ascertained, that this was a SERT officer (think a more PC title for the SWAT team). She told us to stay away from the windows, to stay inside, and to do whatever the officer told us to do.
I thanked her, hung up, and immediately the doorbell rang twice.
Jon pulled on his jeans and ran downstairs to check his badge and see what he needed. They were monitoring a dangerous person next door, he said, and could we please turn off the motion lights.
Um, excusie?
Dangerous person?
Stay away from windows?
This is not supposed to happen at my house.
I sneak a peak at the backyard and see the SERT officer standing next to our swing-set, rifle drawn.
This is the yard where our children play.
Where we, where they, are supposed to be safe.
Oh, Lord, I am so scared!
I run to their bedrooms to check on them, making sure they are sleeping through this commotion. Then I sit on the stairs and try to breathe. Where's Jon? Help me, Lord!
Then, "Bang bang" on the door. Jon runs down to talk to the officer again.
"You're going to need to get warm clothes on, get your children, and leave. The neighbor's house is on fire."
"Oh, crap!"
Sorry, that was the solitary thought that entered my head. You always like to think you will be able to keep it together in situations like this, that you will keep a level head and keep your cool. . . Didn't happen here. Not in Elisabeth-ville. I was on the verge of losing it, big-time.
I ran into my room to get a coat.
"Jon, I don't have a coat up here!" I sobbed.
Then a reassuring thought came: I have socks on.
You see, I never sleep with socks on. I was so thankful for those socks.
I grabbed a sweater, threw it on, and ran to get the baby.
"Jonah, wake up! We have to leave! There's a fire next door!"
Jon was waking up the girls, grabbing Brynne off the top bunk, turned around and Ava is stark naked. She thought it was morning and she had to get dressed for school! She's picking out underwear from her drawer! "No, Ava, we have to go. Throw these clothes on, quick!"
I grab a blanket and coat for the baby, rush downstairs with Jonah ahead of me, grab my purse and Jon's wallet, and head onto the front porch. The gas-mask-wearing, rifle-bearing SERT man was holding the screen door open for us, and the smoke was so thick we could only see about two feet ahead.
As we are walking out of the house Jonah looks up at the man and says, "Today's my birthday!"
"Happy birthday, Buddy!" he replied. So nice. So thankful for this man who could've yelled at my son to get in the d@*m car.
Well, it just so happened that all this not only happened on our son's birthday, but also on the coldest night of the season so far. Since it was so cold, the van doors were iced shut. We couldn't get into our get-away car! Jon was able to get the passenger door open and was throwing kids over the seat into the back, then he and I hop in our seats, with Abram on my lap.
"Are all six out? You have all six?" SERT man says.
"Yes, we have everyone. Is my garage on fire?" (there was a LOT of smoke).
"No, it's the neighbor's house. Go east. Just go east."
Jon backed down the driveway escorted by two SERT officers with their rifles drawn. I remember thinking: They are protecting us.
Jon drove past the police barricade and away from the danger. The kids were talking quietly to themselves in the backseat and that's when I really lost it. I started semi-hyperventilating and heaving dry sobs wracked my body. I bent over and touched Jon's leg, "Please. I can't bear it. I don't know if our house is burning down."
"Babe, it doesn't matter. We have everything we need right here in this van."
It took me about one second to realize that what he said was absolutely correct. All my loves, all of my heart was right there with me; safe. Did anything else matter? The rest was just icing on the cake.
We ended up crashing in our friend's living room and "sleeping" a bit. By seven that morning we were able to call the non-emergency police line and get permission to return to our untouched, albeit smokey home. Not one fence-board was burned. Not one tree singed, even the ones that hang over into the neighbor's yard. Praise the Lord!
The kids were excited that school was canceled due to ice (that's Portland for ya), and we were in shock as we watched the firemen cut through the roof of the house next door to let the smoke and gases escape. The house was completely destroyed. The homeowner and his wife, along with the wife's daughter were apparently able to get out safely, while the son shot at police and set fire to everything they owned. The son died that night.
It's ironic that for days we had been preparing to celebrate our shining, happy, lovely boy and on Jonah's birthday the neighbor's son not only takes his own life but everything they have along with him. Needless to say, we have such a treasure in following God's Word. In the reassurance that though discipline may be difficult for a time, in the end it heaps blessings and rewards upon your head. That's not to say that because we follow the Lord we take it for granted that our children will, but we are resting on our Father's direction and trying our best to give them a godly, stable home.
So we are thankful this year, not only for His provision, and our health, and a loving family as we are every year, but for His care and protection in such a tangible way, as well.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all; may you know His care for you, as well.
Zephaniah 3:17
"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by His love;
He will exult over you with loud singing."
He loves us.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Ranch Dressing & Some Fried Chicken, Too

OK, confession time: I got this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I love Deb and her quirky stories and how she takes beeeeeeeeeauuuutiful photos of everything she makes. But, in the absence of (a)An expensive camera and (b)A lot of time to edit/retake/learn about how to take great pictures, you will have to live with these sorry ones. But maybe her chicken recipe will make it up to you? And if you decide to click on her link above, make sure you type "Devil's Chicken Thighs" into the search engine, make it for your family/friends, and prepare to receive lots of compliments, commendations, and requests for the recipe.
Panko Fried Chicken
Wash, dry, & pound your chicken until thin. Set out three shallow bowls or rimmed plates: one for flour, one for 2 beaten eggs, one for Panko Bread Crumbs--Seriously, the best bread crumbs for breading! Dredge your chicken in each, then either put them right into the hot oil or pile them up high on a cookie sheet and pop 'em in your fridge until you're ready to cook 'em. Make sure you make nice, neat rows, cuz it'll cook better. Just kidding--like I said, I pile it.

I like to use a little Grape Seed Oil to shallow-fry them in, it has a very high smoke point and EVOO is too heavy for this. These cook very fast (remember how you pounded them?), like 3 minutes or less per side.

Dig in--Jon and I pop them on a salad, that way we don't feel like we're going to have a heart attack right away after (We can only speak for tonight, folks). Speaking of salad...
This Ranch is yum. You'll want to eat it with a spoon...or ladle it out that way, at least.
E's Favorite Ranch
1 C Mayo (appx--I never measure this, so I'm just guessing)
4 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Honey
1/2 tsp dried Dill
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 Minced Garlic Cloves
1/4-1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp Garlic Salt
Salt and Pepper to taste
Whisk all ingredients in your bowl--if it's too thick, add a Tbsp or so more of vinegar. If it's too tart, add a tad of Buttermilk.

Campin' Out on the Porch



Joe and Ava disappeared one day...when I found them they had made little beds on the porch (note the parasol). They wanted to camp out there (they come by that honestly) but maybe when they're a little older...
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Well, I Try....

Oops, it seems I completely forgot to post something yesterday!
Well, here's to hoping that some of these funny things will completely make up for it and you all will be so smitten you will forgive me completely...
Funny Things Brynne Says:
-"That's funny, there's a CAR in that garage!"
-"I'm not BooBoo. I'm Brynne."
(in response to me saying "It doesn't matter what you look like, it matters how you act" Brynne said, "Yeah, and it Jesus pleases"
-Me:"How are you today Brynne?" Brynne: "Bantastic!!!"
-"I just looked in the mirror and it was ME!"

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Day 3, er 4--A Little Vietnamese

I was craving a little Pho Van (the BEST Vietnamese in town) tonight, but instead of spending $80 for our family to eat out I dug in the fridge and went off a Martha Stewart Everyday Food recipe I have and we ate some yummy yummy food...but I didn't even think of taking a picture until I literally ate the last bite on my plate, so you'll just have to trust me when I say this is not only a delicious dinner but a beautiful one, too. :). The colors on your plate will make your evening happier. Believe it.
Here's the recipe:
In a medium bowl combine:
4 thinly sliced scallion whites
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 C Soy Sauce
1/4 C Rice Vinegar (I was out so used 2Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar and a scant 1/4 C Sweet Rice Cooking Wine)
2 Tbsp honey
Juice from 1/2 a lime
1/2 Tsp fish sauce
Spicy option: add 1/2 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Take about half of this and save it to pour over your dinner.
Thinly slice 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs and pop them in the remaining marinade in a ziploc bag in the fridge for about 30 minutes or even up to overnight.

The Rest:
Rice Noodles (in the Asian aisle) and/or Rice
Get your skillet really hot, add a couple Tbsp EVOO then about half the chicken. Do not touch it! Let it get all nice and brown and happy. The sugar from the honey will caramelize and make it sooo happy. This will cook very quickly if you sliced it thinly. Stir it once and cook until done on both sides.
Earlier on I did this stuff:
Using your vegetable peeler, shred 2 carrots
Chiffonade 1 cucumber
Chop up extra scallions
Bowl of peanuts or cashews
Throw some fresh cilantro or basil or mint or all three in a bowl
Cooked the rice and rice noodles

Put it all on the table and let the kids go crazy creating their own "Pho Van". Ours had some very spicy "Rooster Sauce" on it and my, oh my...

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Well, I may be a day late (and a dollar short?) but here we go anyhow--It's National Blog Posting Month!!
Here's what's been the happs at the Brawley's of late:
-Jon found rot (gasp!) on the corner of the front porch, and has been redoing it as well as venting and improving the design of the pillars.
-Jonah is enjoying school, but maybe not so much the homework!
-Boo is a happy and rascally three year old and her personality reminds me of both Tom Kitten and Peter Rabbit as she is constantly fighting restraints and getting into mischief...hmmm...maybe we should ease up on the Beatrix Potter.
-Ava loves all her friends at school and is fitting right in. She adores her teacher and makes her little cards that say "I Love You Mrs. King!" every week. This makes me so happy!
-Abram is crawling and its so cute how he works so hard to go about three feet-can't wait till he figures out that walking is much easier!
-Jon celebrated a birthday last week (stay tuned for pictures!)
-I (elisabeth) have really been enjoying my gym membership and especially love the step class, although it took me about six visits to get the rhythm down....I have no idea where i get it. ;)
-Jon finished a 1400 page book on Systematic Theology--sheesh!
-The SF Giants (Jon's fav team) finally won the World Series! Some of you might not be as thrilled about that as we are!!
-Ava has been attending (well, missing) art class once a week. She has only been able to get to one of them between sickness and a Halloween Carnival they had at the community center.
-Brynne LOVES her ballet class!
-Jonah is all about Mario Kart Wii-he eats, dreams, pianos, iPods, and homeworks it.
-Jonah is still playing piano and does really well but I think some of the "novelty" has worn off and now it's all about learning how to stick with it.
Well, that's the short of it for each of us, and I guess it adds up to a longish list...if you want more please check back each day this month!
Love to all of you.