Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Going Well.....I Think

The house is still standing and the smoke alarm hasn't gone off yet. I'm impressed. (Especially since we started our first fire here and there was quite a bit of smoke. These Southerners are only familiar with Duraflame logs and we're now using wood from the rank we had delivered.)

I've made the pies and the homemade cranberry sauce. The sweet potatoes are baked and ready to be glorified tomorrow and the gigantic pan of cornbread is in the oven for the dressing. I even made some fudge! Sadly, it's on the gooey side so I won't have pretty little fudge squares.

At this point, I mostly worried about cooking the turkey, and also trying to have everything hot and ready at the same time. I should probably do a little cleaning at some point too. Children have been having their way with my house as I've been in the kitchen. I'm kind of scared to go down to the basement.......

My First

I think I'm officially growing up this week.

That's right. I'm married. I've got four kids. A mini van. A mortgage.

But I'll finally grow up this week.

Because I'm cooking all of the Thanksgiving dinner. By myself. All of it. Alone. No help. (Breathe!)

I'll start the cooking today, because I think that's what I'm supposed to do in order to eat before midnight tomorrow.

My parents are flying in and driving over from Chicago tomorrow afternoon to join us. And my lovely husband invited a friend from school to come too. I hope nobody has very high expectations!

Today I have errands to run, a little one that probably has to go see a doctor, and for sure a library trip is in order to borrow plenty of movies to entertain all the monkeys while I try to not ruin our Thanksgiving! This should be fun! (I think I may add to my to do list: "Compile list of restaurants open on 11-26")

My mom gave me a wonderful mixer for an early Christmas present so I'm pretty excited about using that. All I've ever had is the little $5 hand mixer from Walmart. I told you - I'm growing up!

Is anyone else cooking for the first time?

Happy Thanksgiving to all.....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Leaf Pile is Bigger Than Your Leaf Pile.....Guaranteed

Do you see the kids at the top of the hill?

That's John David and Julia, but that's not a hill.
It's a leaf pile!

The whole thing is just leaves. For real!
There was a big group of volunteers that raked leaves all over town on Saturday.

This was the pile they raked at the park right down the street from our house. I've never seen anything like it! I guess the big leaf trucks will have to come suck it up now!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Kid Lovin' Healthy Foods

We've been working to make our household more healthy and while this has been a frustrating thing a lot of times, I've been excited to find some great alternatives for the kids. I'd love to hear what you've found for your own families too!

I do most of our grocery shopping at Walmart (you can't beat their prices!), and although they've started carrying more healthy choices, there are still some things I have to buy elsewhere.

Our kids have always loved yogurt. I never really payed much attention to what all was in there though. Yogurt just seemed to equal nutritious.

Read the labels! Not all yogurt is created equal!

I'm no expert, but here are some things I've found and that all or some of our kids like:
  • Horizon's "Little Blends" is an organic yogurt that mixes a veggie with a fruit. It sounds gross but it's actually pretty good. It's made specifically for babies and toddlers.
  • Stonyfield's "Yo Baby 3 in 1 Meals" is another organic yogurt that combines veggie and fruit. It's bigger and the flavors are different. They are sold individually for about $1 apiece. Joshua scarfed it down the first time I gave it to him!
  • Stonyfield's "O'Soy" soy yogurt is surprisingly good if you're trying to do the vegan thing. It's just a fruit and isn't marketed to kids but my younger two like it. (The older two have had the sugary kinds too long and are taking longer to win over.)
  • Stonyfield's "Yokids" organic fruit yogurt. The packaging is obviously trying to appeal to kids. It's good! (It still has a hard time competing with the stupid Trix Rabbit.)

I can't tell you how thrilled I was to find these next things!!!
  • We use the twisted fruit (which is like a twizzler candy but is all fruit!) as a reward for eating dinner good without complaining. What a difference these have made in our home! You'll find them right with all the "fruit" snacks and granola bars.
  • Fruit Roll-Ups now has "simply fruit" roll-ups that are 90% fruit. The big kids were opposed to these at first since they knew there were a healthy kind, but once they ate one they loved them! So far I've only found these at Target.

  • Kashi cereal bars are like Nutri-grain bars but so much better for you. Nutrigrain bars was another thing that just seemed healthy and I didn't think much about. But then I read the label.....
  • These Kashi "Dark Chocolate Coconut" bars are absolutely delicious! If you have a sweet tooth and you're fighting cravings you should check these out. Trust me - I should know!

  • Another Stonyfield product we buy is "Yokids squeezers". These are just like the "'gogurts" (the tubes of yogurt with ScoobyDoo on them) but they are organic and don't have the corn syrups and other junk in them. Walmart doesn't carry them - not ours anyway. =(

  • Cascadian Farm Organic "Dark Chocolate Almond Granola" is my favorite breakfast cereal now. I eat is everyday and it doesn't get old. At less than $3 a box I really like this one.

  • Yea for Capri Sun who finally made 100% juice drinks! Again, my older two don't think these are near as good as normal Capri Suns, but I won't buy them those so they may as well learn to like the new kind!

  • These all natural fruit strips by Stretch Island Fruit Co. are kind of like fruit roll-ups just a different shape. They come in several different flavors and they've been a bit hit too.

These are some of the new food that work for me! I'd love to hear what's working for you......

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Joshua Melts Me

As a mother there are certain moments that give you some great highs.

The first time they hold your finger.
The first smile (even though everyone says it's probably gas!).
First steps.
First time to use the potty.
First time they read.
First crush.

The list goes on and on.

You know what my favorite is?

When they learn to say I love you!

Joshua said it for the first time last week. "Love you, Mommy!" And then a sweet little slobbery kiss.

Sigh. Can I freeze time please?

In an effort to come back to reality from my super "Love you, Mommy" induced high, here are some other Joshua moments.

The child adores rolling around and digging in the cleared out vegetable garden.

I guess the soil is good too since he keeps trying to eat it.

And then there are markers. Oh the markers. Where do they come from??? Where does he get them??? Why does he lick them???

More importantly, why does he write on our floor with them???

(This would be just one of the many areas he "made his mark"......)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sweet Julia

My precious six year old offered to carry the very full and heavy laundry basket from the basement up two floors to the bedroom for me.

I thought that was all she did (which would have been just wonderful as my legs don't always appreciate the stairs!), but later when I went in my room I found this:

She had done her best to fold two of the towels from the basket and then left a card for me on the pillow.

On the inside she had drawn a "sculpture" she said.

Each day she becomes more and more helpful. She delights in doing things for me and being a little mommy. I love having her help me with dinner and it brings to mind memories of helping in my own mom's kitchen. I can hardly wait for the day when cooking dinner means spending time with both of my girls - talking, laughing, sharing our lives.

For now I'll enjoy showing her how to do simple things like set the table and make the bread. These are the things that make my life sweet.......

Craigslist Funny

This isn't a "roll on the floor" kind of funny, but it certainly amused me this morning. When you post an ad on Craigslist you are supposed to fill in a blank that tells people the location of your item. Like "Chicago" or "Southeast Houston". Look at the location someone entered for their piano they listed.

Some people are so helpful......

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Leaf Trucks

Well, here it is - the coolest fall thing ever! (remember, I'm easily impressed.) The city sends big trucks through a few times in November and they suck up all your leaves! All you have to do is rake them (or use a leaf blower - woohoo!) to the curb.

It was so mezmerizing to stand at the window and watch!

I will point out that there was still a lot of work involved on my part. It was no easy task getting all the leaves from the backyard to the front curb! I'm so thankful we didn't have to bag all those leaves though......

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Teacher Treat & Bible Character Day

A couple of weeks ago I made a double batch of my mother-in-law's yummy walnut muffins for the school teachers. I sprinkled them with a tiny bit of powdered sugar to make them pretty and then I bagged them in sets of 6.

I tied them up with raffia and added a twig and some leaves from the yard. The kids took them to the teachers' lounge and they didn't last long, I was told. If we had a working printer I would have printed out some fallish looking tags that had some meaningful words on them.

Here's John David dressed like Lazarus for Bible character day at school. The kids were told to dress up like someone of something from the Bible. We talked about a number of options.

Daddy suggested perhaps one of them could be the "still small voice" that spoke to Elijah.

We quickly realized the impossibility of any of our children being something "still" and "small".

Then I (we both claim we had the idea first, but this is my blog so I say "I") had the idea to be Lazarus after Jesus called him back to life. "I" thought we could just wrap him up like a mummy and it would be clever, cheap, and easy.

Yeah, not so much. Thinking back, I don't know why this was so hard, but it was. I should have been able to find cheaper fabric but I used cheesecloth which was $1.75 a yard. I didn't want to spend a fortune so I bought 5 yards and even though I cut it into long strips, it still didn't go far enough. Of course we didn't try all of this until the morning of. Because that's how we roll.

Julia just wanted to be an angel so I just dressed her in one of her plain white dresses and bought her wings and a halo. Easy peasy and she was happy.

He did NOT want the strips around his legs. He's posing with a girl who was representing the verse, "And Jesus wept." An appropriate picture since the reason Jesus wept was because Lazarus had died.

(Oh man, it just hit me! I should have bought a couple of white flat sheets from walmart and just cut it up in strips. Arghhhh. Cheaper AND better. I'm so annoyed with myself now....)

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Costume Boxes

Before moving from West Texas, we kept all the kids' costumes in big trunks in the house. They loved dressing up all the time and if any friends came ever, I knew the content of the trunks would be completely emptied out. Every time. Which meant massive amounts of beaded necklaces and lots of loose feathers that had fallen off the feather boas.

Of course when we moved so much of our stuff had to go to storage for a good while, including the costumes. I've since found better uses for the trunks and now the costumes reside in the garage in boxes.

Until the week of Halloween. I brought them in and put them in the den. I think those kids had them emptied in 2 minutes flat. They tried everything on multiple times and had the best evening.

This is only part of it!

Julia was Bullseye (yea Toy Story!!!) and Aulora was some sort of poodle ballerina princess, I think.

Then they decided to put on a show in the living room. They set out chairs for the audience and had rehearsals. It was adorable.

Of course, they had to curtsy at the end. (Check out those pink cowgirl boots!)

I'm happy to report that the costume boxes are back in the garage now and my den can breathe again......

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Here's to the Pile-Up

I don't know about other bloggers, but if I don't blog for a couple of days it is really hard to get going again. I get overwhelmed thinking about all that I need to post about. It starts to pile up and then it's just tiring.

What is also tiring, though, is my husband who will casually wonder if my blog is dead. If I'm ever going to post again. He apparently checks for updates regularly throughout the day while "studying" at school. (Hi, Baby!)

So, this post is my way of easing back in and thinking about what I'll be posting about soon - with no pressure. (pressure makes it worse.) Here's my blogging to do list for the next week or so:

  • Costume fun (four kids in costumes - that has to equal fun right?)
  • John David's birthday
  • Julia's birthday
  • Aulora's unending jealously of everyone else's birthday (probably not actual post material but it's definitely been quite the reality)
  • visit from the grandparents
  • possibly some ND football game pictures
  • basement pictures (not because it's magazine worthy, but just because it went from being cement walls and floors to our favorite place in the house!)
  • some of my new favorite things in the kitchen
  • my favorite new cleaning thingie (why in the world is "thingie" not a recognized word?)
  • pictures of the coolest fall contraption (don't lose sleep over this one - I'm just easily impressed)
  • what Julia did that made me cry
  • what Joshua did that made me swoon with love
  • what John David did that made me a super proud Momma
  • what Aulora does that makes me laugh
  • Oh, oh, and what Julia made at church that is so very amusing
I'm thinking that's enough for now. Remember, no pressure.......

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Happy 30th!

We have some ultra great memories, you and me. Wish I could be there today to make some more of them! Have fun! =)