Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter!


We hope everyone had a wonderful Easter Sunday celebrating our risen Lord!

This past week, we've decorated Easter cookies, dyed Easter eggs, and talked a lot about Jesus with Amaya. Here are a few pictures of the past week:

Decorating Easter Cookies

Amaya wanted EVERY color possible... we came pretty close...

Artfully decorating away

Steve always decorates some pretty amazing cookies!

Amaya's finished product! (With every single color frosting and sprinkles galore!)

Waiting patiently to dive into her beautiful cookie!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Crohn's and Colitis Walk

Over 1.4 million American adults and children are affected by digestive diseases -- one in every 200 Americans! While many suffer in silence, Take Steps brings together this community and encourages them to make noise and be heard. The money you raise through Take Steps helps support patient programs, education efforts, and furthers crucial research. In the past three years alone, we have been able to bring together over 100,000 people and raise close to $22 million to help further CCFA's mission.

Founded in 1967, CCFA is a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization with the mission to cure Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis and improve the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases. today, the organization has grown to 40 local chapters, with more than $150 million raised and invested in research for a cure. This funding has enabled many groundbreaking treatments, improved the quality of care for individuals with these conditions and brought hope to countless lives.

As many of you know, Steve was diagnosed with Crohn's at 19 years of age. This year, our family will be walking in the Take Steps for Crohn's & Colitis Walk. Take Steps is CCFA's national evening walk and celebration and the nation’s largest event dedicated to finding cures for digestive diseases. We will enjoy a casual 2-3 mile stroll around Silver Lake Park on Sunday, May 15th at 5pm to raise money for crucial research, bringing us closer to a future free from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Your donation will help support local patient programs, as well as important research projects. This cause is very important to us and I appreciate your help as we fight for a cure! In addition to donating, you can join us at the event as a member of our team. There will be food, music and kid's activities (bouncing house, face painting, and crazy hair!). The more money we raise, the closer we will be to making life more manageable for patients who live with these diseases every day.

Click on the following link to join our team or donate to our efforts to support CCFA in finding a cure! Team Gatzke.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Meatball Success!

One of the first recipes I was excited to experiment with on my latest favorite blog, "The Picky Palate" was Mozzarella Stuffed Homemade Meatballs. Sorry Mom, but Steve liked these meatballs even more than your recipe for Amish Meatballs, which is saying A LOT because he devours the Amish Meatballs. Anyway, it was a piece of cake to make - I left out the tabasco sauce and used fresh mozzarella pearls instead of balls - and they were absolutely awesome. Even Amaya - the pickiest palate in our family - INHALED them! I served them with pasta and a Caesar Salad, however I'm the only one that eats salad, but it was an overall easy meal to put together and the results were phenomenal. Can't wait to try another recipe! Here's the link to the recipe: Mozzarella-stuffed Homemade Meatballs.


While coloring at the kitchen table this morning....

Amaya: "Mom, my feets are buzzing."
Me: "I think your feet fell asleep."
Amaya: "But I'm awake! Wake up feet!"

Sunday, April 17, 2011

6th Wedding Anniversary

Six years ago yesterday morning, I woke up a Gustafson and went to bed a Gatzke. How did those six years fly by so quickly?!? Looking back, it's hard to imagine life without Steve... and I'm so thankful for every day that God has given me with him by my side.

We spent the entire day celebrating our six years of marriage. After sleeping in (anything past 5:30am is considered sleeping in for us), the three of us went to three church/fundraising garage sales. We hit the two church sales during the "Bag Sale" (one dollar for everything you can fit in a bag) and we came home with a lot of loot! All three of us enjoying digging around for treasures and you just never know what you can find! We picked up a quick bite to eat at McDonald's and then dropped Amaya off at my parents for the rest of the day/evening. (THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!) We caught a matinee at a local movie theater called, "The Lincoln Lawyer" with Matthew McConaughey and both enjoyed it! The movie is based on a best selling novel and since we liked the movie so much, we went to a used paperback store to see if we could pick up the book and they had it! Steve also found a few Stuart Woods books to add to his collection. Then we went to Kohl's to use a 10 dollar gift card that Steve's mom got in the mail and gave to me (THANK YOU RUTH ANN!) and I picked up a cute ring originally 22 dollars and paid only $3.92. Who doesn't love a good bargain?!? By this time, we were getting hungry and decided to go to Whiskey Creek. I love their barbecued ribs and even better, I had a coupon for 5 dollars off! We shared an appetizer of bacon wrapped shrimp - so yummy! Steve ordered a bacon wrapped fillet mignon with mushrooms in a chardonnay sauce with grilled vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes. I had their signature barbecued baby back ribs, coleslaw, and garlic mashed potatoes. We left very satisfied and very full and decided to burn off a few calories by walking out at the mall. We picked up Amaya from my parents and after her busy day and refusing to take a nap, she CRASHED as soon as she was tucked into bed. Overall, a fantastic date night!

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Newest Obsession

I love reading blogs... but even more so, I love reading blogs that have amazing recipes and step by step pictures. I'm not even sure how I came across this blog - probably from a blog of a blog of a blog - but regardless - my new obsession is "The Picky Palate" Blog. Every recipe looks so delicious and quite possibly something that our whole family would enjoy. Amaya is a little pickier than I would like her to be, although to give her a little credit... she has learned to like pineapple, cantaloupe, lima beans, and clams! Anyway, I love this blog because the recipes look incredible, easy, and kid-friendly. And have you looked at the pictures - they are BEAUTIFUL!! I love the step-by-step directions in pictures! (I'm a very visual learner, so cook-books that don't include pictures are not my thing.) Better yet, each recipe is her own creation! That amazes me! Sure, I take liberty and tweak various recipes, but to come up with something on my own - amazing! Check it out! I'm sure you'll find something to eat for dinner tonight!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Missing Steve....

Steve's not the only one counting down the days until grad school is completed - I've got a countdown going as well! It's grad school night tonight... which means that I say good-bye to Steve in the morning and won't see him again until the next morning (unless of course he manages to wake this heavy sleeper up.) It's just a REALLY long day, probably more so for Steve than for me, considering the drive up to the cities. Fortunately, Amaya and I have an invitation to go to my parents tonight for supper after work and we'll probably stick around to watch the American Idol results. And after tonight, Steve only has two more classes left!!! YAHOO!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Acceptance into the Doctoral Program

Mid-March, Steve had an interview with the program director at St. Mary's University for entrance into the doctoral program for psychology and.... HE GOT IN!!! There was a small catch that both Steve and I weren't expecting or planning. The program is 5 years long - 4 years of coursework two days a week year-round with multiple internships and the fifth year is a full-time paid internship. When Steve and I had originally discussed the program, we thought that the worse case scenario would have him commuting to the Cities every day for his internship. During Steve's interview, the program director wanted to be sensitive to the needs of our family and explained that the internship was based on a national match system - similar to medical students - and that there was no guarantee that his internship would be located in Minnesota. For the match system, the student chooses three internships and each internship chooses three applicants and hopefully you "match". If not, try again next year and in the meantime, you would need to start paying off the tens of thousands of dollars invested. Grrr.... After a little more research, Steve found three approved internship sites in Minnesota - one in Rochester at the Federal Medical Center (and he is too old to qualify) - one in the cities, and one in Duluth. Of note, there are no internships in Iowa. Plus, there are over 4,000 doctoral students and only 3,200 internship slots. Pretty much every scenario that we looked at would require a move from Rochester and nearly every scenario made me sick to my stomach. Since both of us grew up in Rochester and most of our family is here, we couldn't even fathom what life would be like somewhere else. Especially this last year, we've relied heavily on our family to help us and we're relied upon as well. Just this week, Steve's grandma fell and she was found to have a hairline fracture in her ankle and needed help getting home from the ER. Tonight, we're going over there to do her laundry and deliver some banana bread. I just can't imagine not being able to help in some way. Anyway, after a lot of thought and prayer, Steve has decided to turn St. Mary's down. While we're grieving the loss of a dream of his (he's the first person in his family to have a Master's Degree and he wanted to be the first with a Doctorate) he's relieved that after 6 years of coursework, graduation is in sight! And I couldn't be more proud of all that he's accomplished!