Friday, April 27, 2007

Another Nateism

Nate, while pointing at my elbow, made a really nasty face and asked me if we all have "those" (elbows). I replied, "yes." "Even Alysee," he responds. He thinks of Alysee as being the epitome of beauty. "Yes, even Alysee has an elbow," I said.

He must think I am half alien.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The rules of drawing

This morning, three year old Nathan, came in the bathroom right after I had gotten out of the shower. I was wrapped up in a towel with my legs partially exposed. Nate took one look at my legs and asked me "why have you been drawing on your legs?" I explained to him that those were just mommy's special veins (AKA - spider and varicose veins) and that he had veins too. After pointing his veins out to him he declared he would rather not have blood in his body.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Need Book Advice

Birch and I leave on our trip to San Diego in a few weeks. I've got a pile of books that I have been looking forward to reading, but Birch doesn't. He isn't a big pleasure reader. In the past he has liked John Grisham books, "Friday Night Lights," and PT journal articles : )

Anyone have any suggestions of a good guy book?

My life

This morning on the way for an emergency appointment to the dentist Tyler said, "There's only three things that I don't like about my life. Number one: going to the doctor, Number two: going to the dentist, and Number three: swim lessons." (Pretty good life I would say)

I've actually have finally found a pediatric dentist office that I love. They are so good with the kids and really talk and listen to them. Unfortunately, they have seen a little bit too much of our family lately. I am hoping that now that we have our new Oral-B electric toothbrushes we can finish fixing our past and be on with a new a bright future. I can hope, can't I?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

These are a few of my favorite things

Last night I went to a fun girls party called "My Favorite Things." Each person that came brought five of their favorite things under $5.00. After munching lots of yummy stuff we all went around and shared what our favorite thing was and then at the end we drew five names. Those five ladies got to take home our favorite things. I came home with some flowers to plant, a cute toe ring and anklet, a washable dusting mitt, and a bag of goodies (sharpie, candy bar, dry wall sandpaper to clean hard water stains, note pad), and a bottle of Rainwater. I brought the Magic Eraser and a burned cd with some of my favorite music. It was a lot of fun and a great way to interact with a big group of people even if you don't know them all well. I think the more the merrier!

I brought rolls as my favorite treat to share. This is a new recipe that was just given to me. If you haven't had success making delicious rolls you have got to try this recipe. You don't even use your kitchen aid and the raising time is so minimal. It seriously takes like 2 hours from start to finish. They are incredible--and I should know because I am a connoisseur of bread!!!

Blender Rolls

In Blender:
2 1/2 C Hot water
2 T yeast
1/3 C sugar
2 tsp salt
1/2 C softened butter or margarine
1 egg
blend well

Measure out 7 C flour in a large bowl, and make a well in the center. Pour blender ingredients into flour and stir until all flour is mixed in. Place a wet dish towel over dough. Let rise one hour. With well greased or buttered hands (butter spray works well) shape into rolls (the dough will be very sticky so you will probably have to spray your hands every few rolls). On a large sheet pan (like from Costco) you can get about 5 rolls across and 6 down (these are big rolls). Let rise, about 30 min. or a bit more if you have time. Place in a 375 degree oven for 20 min. Butter tops of hot rolls when out of the oven.

***I have been told to use this for cinnamon rolls, and Indian flat bread (form into flat discs and fry in 2 in hot with beans, meat, lettuce , sour cream, tomato etc...or sweet with syrup or fruit like pancakes.) You can also make pizza rolls with them. It is a great dough.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A bit of Africian blood

As long as I can remember I have loved African music. When I went to Oregon State University I took an African Dance class. Boy was that fun! The pictures below are of Alysee wearing a friend's native clothing that she got while in Ghana. I love the lighting of the pictures!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Cheddar Chicken Pie

Super tasty. Even three of my kids tried it and thought it was good. I called it scrambled egg pie. Birch could even eat it because it only has 3 eggs in the whole pie.

Cheddar Chicken Pie
Ready in an hour or less
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
10 ounces frozen or fresh broccoli
1 1/2 cup cubed cooked chicken (or sausage or bacon or nothing)
2/3 cup chopped onion (or a little green onion or nothing)
1 1/3 cup milk
3 eggs
3/4 cup biscuit/baking mix (see below)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

In a bowl, combine 2 cups cheese, broccoli, chicken, and onion (if using); spread into a greased 10 in. pie pan. In an small mixing bowl, beat the milk, eggs, biscuit mix, salt and pepper until smooth. Pour over broccoli mixture. DO NOT STIR.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until knife comes clean in the center of the pie. Sprinkle with remaining cup of cheese. Let stand 5 minutes and then serve.

****Since I did not have any biscuit mix I looked up online and found out how to make it. It was SUPER easy.

3/4 cup flour
2 T. powd. milk
1/8 tsp. baking powder
2 T. shortening

I used pre-cooked bacon bits from Costco instead of the chicken and it was very tasty and easy.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Wise Mother That I Am

In the past ten and a half years of marriage we have had five children, now ranging in ages from 8.5 to almost one year old. I'd like to think that I have learned something over the past 8.5 years of being a parent. Of course, those that have had teenagers and adult children I am sure would say that I still have much to learn. But here are a few things that I have figured out:

1. Generally children go through the same phases. This occurred to me the other day as Cooper was "sprinting" for the computer power button and then scurried off to pull all the books off of the bookshelf. As I had an Oprah "light-bulb" moment I began to squirm a bit thinking of all the phases that I wouldn't mind having each one of my kids not repeat.

2. Potty Talk. Children will always have an infatuation with poop, potty, and other bodily functions. I have to admit that possibly I haven't outgrown this stage yet myself. I have been found to refer to something as a "poopy color" or "that really poops." Today Nate was rubbing his upper thigh and looked at me and said "My butt crack really hurts." I was sure that I must have not heard him correctly because that is certainly not a phrase that we say at our house. But he reassured me that that is exactly what he had said when he repeated it for a second time. I told him that that was not his "butt crack" and that we don't say that word at our house.

3. Children are smart. It doesn't take long for a child to figure out how to walk the line. The other day I overheard Nate call one of his siblings a "STUP" -- Nate knows that we don't say naughty words at our house, like "stupid" and so that little smart brain of his decided to abbreviated the word in order to avoid punishment. I'd say that is smart!

4. Kids get hurt.
I am not a big over-reactor when my kids get hurt. I'm not saying that I don't show compassion but at the same time I don't baby them. Honestly it really bugs me when they are wailing and crying loud. This past week Cooper fell out of his highchair (I did feel bad about that. He wasn't buckled and I was busy getting breakfast for everyone and he just jumped out). Anyway, the skin on his head split open a bit. Following a friend's suggestion I super-glued his head together. It wasn't bleeding or anything but it was split open through the skin. I had the kids do a dance to distract Coop while I searched through our four bottles of opened super glue until I found one that was still liquid. Works like magic! His head is looking great and better yet I didn't have to buy some new product or pay someone to patch him up.

5. Whining...
I hate it! This also seems to be a phase that can either be prolonged or cut short. I don't really know the trick to ending it (or at least minimizing it). I always say, "I can't hear you when your whining."

6. The Normalcy Curve. It seems like almost every milestone has some sort of curve that your child should be plotted on. I've learned that when it comes to growth my kids are at the bottom (or not on the curve) and that is okay. Sometimes it takes me proving this to the doctor in order to forgo extensive testing. I like to say, "I grow shrimps."

7. Every family should own an Otoscope.
If you have kids this is a must. My grandma and grandpa gave us one when Alex was a baby and I have become quite proficient and accurate with using one. It has saved us a few trips to the doctor's office and also has helped me feel empowered as a mom to know what is wrong with my child.

8. Babies and Toddlers need naps and mom's need them to nap. I have never really had to struggle with having my kids take naps. I am not sure if it is just because I have required each child to take consistent naps from infancy or if I was just blessed. Probably a bit of both. I think that kids want a nap even when they say they don't--I always tell them that when they are a parent they can choose to not have a nap.

9. Kids = Noise. I am not ashamed to admit that we do not have a quiet house. We don't have a yelling house but it is not quiet. I do relish the quiet moments that come at night and I turn quite witchy when my solitude is interrupted. Also, I have learned that even during nap times it is best to have noise going on. My kids are all really good a sleeping with noise (i.e. baby's crying in their rooms, radio or tv on, vacuuming, construction, etc...) I wanted to make sure that Alex wasn't a light sleeper due to being the only child so I made noise. Seems to have worked for him!

10. Buy LOTS of diapers when they are $.10-.13 a piece. You may think this is a silly thing I have learned. But if you run out of diapers they are never on sale right when you need them. I have been known to come home with $100.00 of diapers just because they were on a great sale. I try my best to have the kids potty trained by the time they are in a size 3 diaper (though Nate must of had a big bum because he was in a size 4). I got a kick the other day when Alex asked me if "I thought that they would ever make diapers that you could wash." I was quick to fill him in on all benefits of paper diapers.

11. If you can make it to three months old, you can survive! I don't think I really put together this time frame until number five came along. I've always thought the first few months of having a baby were challenging but I knew that "this too would pass." With Cooper being such a colicky baby I was desperately trying to recall when I felt like I would again have energy, have my happy baby, and keep up with all stuff that a mommy does. I think when Cooper was about five months old I realized that I was normal again and maybe had been for a couple of months. Cooper outgrew is colic, my body wasn't exhausted by 10:00 am, I actually had the breakfast dishes done just in time for the dinner ones to pile up, and I again had a schedule to my life.

12. Kids love one-on-one time with their parents. I am sure this isn't really a new idea to anyone but I am realizing how important this is to each of my kids. Recently I was asked to be an Assist. Den Leader for the cub scouts. I'll admit that I grumbled about this more than once thinking that scouting is not really my thing. But a couple of weeks ago I was on a field trip with the cub scouts at the local museum and Alex came up to me and put his arms around me and said "I am really glad that you are here with me and that you are one of my leaders." It hit me like a ton of bricks that maybe this isn't about me, maybe it is about me spending time with my son (and nine other crazy 8 year olds).

13. Friday nights are relished by my kids--they love the idea that I am going to fix something they like for dinner (either I let them pick the menu or we have pizza) plus watch a movie, or go and play at daddy's work, or have a game night. It seems like other nights of the week are so filled up! Nate cries on Wednesday evenings or weekends when he sees daddy put on his scout shirt--he knows that means daddy is leaving. It is a hard balance that we all struggle with--spouse, kids, church, work, community and, oh yeah, yourself.

14. Buy a Magic Eraser. This handy-dandy sponge thing has become a favorite cleaning device at our house. I use it to clean dirt and scuff marks off white Sunday shoes; take pen off of doll faces, dressers, and desks; remove crayon or pencil off of the walls; take grunge off the the fridge and doors; and anything else I can think of.

15. Electric toothbrushes are better than manual. The kids dentist actually just told me that the best toothbrush is the kind that gets your kids to brush. This is probably true, though I am a recent advocate of the Oral-b or Sonicare toothbrush. Birch and I have been using one for years but we never made the investment for our kids. After having spent quite a few pennies at the dentist's office this year I bit the bullet at bought a dual handle Oral-b for my kids.

16. The scare tactic works! At least it does at our house. I've been known to remind the kids how nasty it would be if they didn't brush their teeth and all the bugs that live in their mouth would then leave poop all over them; or if they complain about going to school they will end up working at a hot dog factory his whole life and can never support his family; or if they don't eat the food I prepare on a regular basis they will have to get a tube stuck in their tummy and have everything blended up and put into their stomach (okay, I have threatened this a couple of times with Tyler and it has only brought on tears and not results--I thought it was worth a try though).

17. Moms and Dads need ALONE time! I am not sure that our kids really understand this yet but they do look forward to whenever the babysitter comes. There is nothing better than not having to share my husband with anyone else. I love going out to eat, or to a play, or even to Home Depot with JUST MY HUSBAND. Next month my mom is making it possible to me to go with Birch to San Diego for a continuing education course for six days. Just planning this vacation has been therapeutic for me. I can't wait!!!

18. Kids listen, even when you don't think they do. Whether it is repeating something you wish they hadn't heard you say or commenting about something you were sure they weren't listen to--their ears are perked up. I can think of two experiences that have happened recently that have reminded me of this. Last Sunday we were pulling out to go to church and Nate said, "Wait, we didn't say prayer this morning." Almost every Sunday we pile in the car and everyone is acting crazy and Birch says, "Let's have prayer." Let's just say that it is not usually a really memorable sacred experience but turns out Nate was listening. Another experience happened shortly after I had Cooper. After having Coop I was struggling with my squishiness. One day after putting on some new jammies that my mom sent me I made the comment that I looked like "I was trying to stuff a sausage." The next day Alysee said to me "Mom, do you think you look like a hot dog today?"

19. Boys will be boys. I have never wanted my kids to play with guns. Somehow the Legos have turned into guns; vacuum parts are positioned together to resemble guns; hockey sticks are turned in a manner so they look like rifles. I still oppose any computer game that has shooting, any toy gun, or movie that portrays violence. I certainly don't like that the kids play with guns but I have come to realize that I can't stop it all together.

20. Being a mommy is hard...but worth it! I don't think it matters if you have one child or fourteen--being a mom is hard. It is the 24/7 part of it that really wears you down. The other night I went to climb into bed and on top of my pillow was a picture of two baseball players holding hands with the caption "To the BEST mom in the Galaxy." Now that is when I know it is all worth it!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What's cookin' at the Ditto's Diner

I was thinking that I had put the soup ladle up for a few months but this afternoon it got quite chilly and I decided that soup and cornbread was for dinner. I actually am not a big soup eater so this means that the following recipe is really worth trying. The recipe was passed on to me by a friend but can't you claim a recipe after you have made it several times and altered it a bit?

Chicken Tortellini Soup

Saute: 1/4 c. onion and 1/2 c. celery in 2 T. water (I actually totally skipped this step)

Stir in: 2 c. milk
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can chicken broth or 2 c. chicken broth
4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cut up
1/4 tsp. basil
1/8 tsp. pepper
garlic salt to taste

Heat above and add one package of frozen tortellini (or ravioli noodles are good too) and cook according to the package.

Optional additions: 1 shredded carrot, or steamed broccoli, or steamed zucchini, or corn

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bikin' at the Greenway

Friday night we decided to enjoy the good weather and go for a picnic at a park that runs along a local river with some friends of ours. The only trick is you can't park your car at the park--you get to walk or ride your bike. It was quite the chore loading up four bikes in our minivan. Luckily our friends brought their tandem stroller for Cooper. We had a fun evening together!

Our Easter Weekend

We took this shot after church on Easter Sunday. As you can tell the lighting wasn't that good -- my legs are actually much tanner in real life : )
Saturday we went to a fun Easter Egg Hunt hosted by the Kiwanis club. The kids had a good time. Alex was super lucky and won a HUGE Easter basket full of fun toys. The whole family ended up benefiting from his luck. Also, I am gathering that some people have shame that their kids gather up their Easter eggs into a plastic grocery bag. Our kids were just lucky that they weren't sportin' a Goodwill bag.
Alysee was a bit sad at the community hunt because parents were not allowed to help the kids collect their eggs. She was a bit intimidated by the mass number of strangers. Don't worry though, those huge tears inspired all her brothers to share their loot.Sunday afternoon we had a little hunt at our house. Coop loved the excitement of it all. We had a wonderful day at church. A woman sang a beautiful song called "I walked where Jesus walked." It was gorgeous and really touched my heart. We had widowed friend of ours, Helen Trimble over for dinner. We all chowed up the grilled tomato basil chicken, rice-a-roni, rolls, strawberries, broccoli, and strawberry shortcake for lunch. It was a wonderful day!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Spring Break Fun!

Alex and Tyler just finished a three day baseball camp with one of the local high school baseball teams. They had a great time and practiced a lot of fundamental baseball skills. Having two other friends there made it even more fun. I think this is the first Spring Break that we have stayed home.

This afternoon we are off to the park and the old fashion soda fountain to meet some friends. I don't think we have gone a day this week without having friends over. We've gone to storytime at the bookstore, played with friends from out-of-town, went to the library, and lots of jumping on the trampoline. Tomorrow the kids have the day planned with friends and then maybe we'll do a movie/pizza night. Saturday we'll probably hit a community Easter Egg hunt or two. Any fun plans for the rest of you?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

What's in a name?

I've been meaning to share a little story for quite a while about Cooper. Even before Cooper was born we were calling him "Cooper the Pooper Scooper." Nice, I know. Several weeks ago I was at the church setting up for the Blue and Gold Banquet for the cub scouts. Cooper was crawling around on the gym floor. I was just about finished setting everything up when I glanced at Coop and noticed he was chewing on something. (side note: our other kids have all been pacifier babies and really haven't had the problem with putting everything in their mouths. Coop is a thumb sucker and seems to put everything in his mouth.) Anyway, I did the ol' finger sweep in his mouth and stuck to the end of my finger was a nice hard brown clump of something. I sniffed, like any good mom would do, and readied myself to vomit. IT WAS POOP! I ran him to the bathroom trying to wash off and disinfect the brown poop slobber. Then I noticed he was STILL chewing and ENJOYING another piece of poo. I ended up having to strip Coop down to his skivvies and take off my sweater which also now was soaking up poop slobber in order to rid ourselves from the horrendous smell. I think it was probably dog poop from someones shoe because it was so hard.

My thought on all of his is that Coop has lived up to his name. Shall we put in for a name change?