Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kitchen Tip: Organizing a Chest Freezer

I was sorting through my chest freezer yesterday and I had a brilliant idea. (at least I think it's brilliant ;-)) Having just received some of the cow my parents had bought from my uncle, I was trying to take an accurate inventory and get the "old" stuff on top of my freezer, so it would get used. I took everything out because DH and my dad had put all the new beef on top of the old food. As I returned everything to the freezer, I decided to write down what was on each level. I have now taped to the top of my freezer a "map" of sorts that tells me what layer to find which type of food on. Here's what it looks like:

Left Side:
Basket:
pepperoni, peppers, whole chicken, onion rings, cranberries, 2 lemonades, 2 stew beef
Under the basket:
Muffins, 12-1#hamburger packages
french fries, broccoli, corn
fish, 2 bags of 8-1Cup pkg rhubarb

Right Side:
crescent rolls, bread dough, green beans
2- 2# hamburger, 1 pork chop
Bagged together (pork chop, 3 sirloin steaks, 2 pork roasts), 1 gal. bucket of homemade ice cream
2 soup bones, 2 2.5#bags chicken
3 beef roasts, 2 pork spareribs
3 5# bags of white wheat

We just have a small chest freezer. The smallest they make actually because that's all we had space for, but DH is forever afraid of me "losing" food in it like our mothers do, and I have to admit, I'd forgotten about the bags of chicken and spare ribs. I'm hoping that this way, I won't forget the things that got buried last time. I know I also need to keep track of what I've taken out. That's the hard part.

This post is linked with Kitchen Tip Tuesday's at Tammy's Recipes . So be sure to head over to Tammy's Recipes to see what other kitchen short cuts others have shared.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Menu Plan 12/14

We've got a busy week ahead of us. Parent conferences 2 nights, a doctor's appointment for myself and Bean, keeping on top of the housework, and Christmas Cookie baking.

Monday: Lunch: Peanut butter & Jelly, Chicken noodle soup
Dinner: Baked Hamburgers, scalloped potatoes, beans

Tuesday: Lunch: Macaroni & Cheese
Dinner: chicken nuggets, pears, green beans

Wednesday: Lunch: Toasted Cheese sandwich, tomato soup
Dinner: herb, garlic crusted chicken, mashed potatoes, peas

Thursday: Lunch: Lunchables-Kids, Birthday Lunch W/ Bear at school
Dinner: Pork Chops, rice, steamed carrots.

Friday: Lunch: Split pea soup, beer bread (probably leftovers from something else for the kids)
Dinner: Pizza, chips, veggie sticks

Saturday: Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: pasta with clam sauce, broccoli, garlic bread

Sunday: Lunch: Noodle Soup or leftovers
Dinner: roast chicken in the crock pot

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Random bits

Have you ever just lacked motivation? I've been on the computer plenty, made up my menus and everything, just haven't felt much like writing. I'm sorry. It's not fair to you. I'd like to say we've been busy, but I really don't feel like I have. I've just been lazy. We have had a few changes around here though. We're all decorated for Christmas. I'm trying to get ready for Bear's birthday, which is in one week. We will be having our families up Sunday for the church Christmas program. Bug has a speaking part. Bear and the Boy will be sheep. I'm not sure if Bean will have a part or not. Since my parents decided to come for that, it seemed the best time for having Bear's birthday party. So, we'll have a houseful with sets of grandparents, my grandparents, most likely our niece, and my brother and sister. Of course, I feel compelled to do a nice dinner, but it's beginning to feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew just by prepping for the dinner and house cleaning that needs done any way. I just can't seem to find the motivation to get it all done.

Little Bit, though has been growing like a weed. I was convinced last night that I must have another kidney stone. I called my doctor wondering what to do, little by little the pain ended up going away. I've had a terrible ache in my back right above my one hip for the last 3 or 4 days. Yesterday, it got the best of me. Since I never did hear back from my doctor, rich and I decided that it wasn't a kidney stone, but more likely Little Bit was lying with her back to my belly button and her hands or feet were pushing on my kidneys. She finally moved and I think she's laying the "normal" way as I’ve not had any significant back pain since last night. She's starting to stick boney little appendages out of my sides too. Doesn't like when I rub them to try to get them to draw back in and not stretch, but she's a stubborn little one. She keeps them right where she wants them to be. She must at least be comfortable.

We've added a few new members to our family. On the Saturday after thanksgiving, DH let me get a dwarf hamster that I’ve been wanting for a while. She’s a cute little thing. The kids love to watch her and want to play with her, but the few times I’ve tried to handle her, I’ve been nipped. I don't think the kids would like that. Freckles was quite intrigued by her. I think she wanted to play with it too. She’ll stand up on her hind legs and just sniff at the cage and look at the hamster when it's awake. She has had her nose bitten for her curiosity too. Since I got the hamster, Rich got a few fish. Right now we have 2 tiger barbs and 2 zebra danias(sp?). For now, until he gets the tank cycled that's all the fish we'll have, but we're hoping to add 3 more tiger barbs, a catfish, and 2 pink fish of some kind. Each of the kids has requested a certain type of fish except Bean. The Catfish is for the Boy, tiger barbs for Bear, and the pink fish for Bug.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 11/23-11/29

Here we are at the start of another week. Here's the game plan for the week.

Monday: Lunch~chicken noodle soup & peanut butter sandwiches
Dinner~ French Onion Soup or Pizza

Tuesday: Lunch~ Bologna sandwiches, soup, fruit
Dinner~ Denver Omelet/Frittata, toast, orange slices
Thanksgiving Prep~ Cook the bird in the crock pot

Wednesday: Lunch~ Toasted cheese and tomato soup
Dinner~ Tacos, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, rice and corn
Thanksgiving Prep~ Cranberry Sauce and pies

Thursday~ Lunch~ whatever...leftovers maybe
Dinner~ Thanksgiving Feast: Turkey and gravy, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce*, Mashed potatoes, green beans, Roasted Root Vegetables, Croissants, Pumpkin* & Pecan Pie

Friday: Lunch~ Leftovers
Dinner~ Meatloaf, potatoes and vegetables

Saturday: Lunch~ Leftovers
Dinner~ Pizza, veggie sticks, fruit

Sunday: Lunch~ Ramen noodles, leftovers
Dinner: Roast Chicken or Soup

*recipes will follow. today's just a busy day, so they might be a day or two.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Favorite Mashed Potatoes

I haven't participated in Kitche Tip Tuesday's for a while, but as I was making the Hamburger soup (recipe to follow), I began to think about the mashed potatoes that I hope to make for dinner tomorrow night.

Here's my tip for this week: Use buttermilk instead of regular milk in mashed potatoes.

I like mashed potatoes, and only one of my kids doesn't, so it's a meal we have fairly often. I generally do traditional potatoes, save a little of the water to retain nutrients, some butter and skim milk. One day when I was making mashed potatoes, I forgot to save some of the cooking liquid, and had some buttermilk on hand that needed used. So, I decided how bad can it be? And at least I won't be wasting the buttermilk. Let me tell you what! They were the best mashed potatoes I have ever eaten. Just enough buttermilk and butter to get the perfect consistency. It was a little bit of heaven. So, tomorrow, since I have buttermilk in the fridge, I'll be making my super-yummy mashed potatoes. I can't wait.


Also, our dinner recipe for tonight


Hamburger Soup:

2 pounds of ground beef
3 carrots, peeled & sliced
3 parsnips, peeled & sliced
2 ribs of celery sliced
2 potatoes, cubed
1 Cup frozen green beans
1 can (15oz) of diced tomatoes (the Italian seasoned ones would be nice)
1 box of beef broth (32 oz.)
2 envelopes of beef bullion (left over from ramen noodles. I'm guessing 2-3tsp)
4 cups of water
2 bay leaves
1/2TBSP thyme (1 1/2 tsp)
1/2 TBSP tarragon
1 small onion diced


1. Brown and drain beef


2.Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot or dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are done, or as long as desired.

Gratituesday: Memories

I must say, I've been enjoying my participation in Laura's Gratitude Challenge this month. At first, I had a little trouble thinking up things to be greatful for, but now I have at least 3 things in mind other than what I'm going to post about today that I'm greatful for.


This weekend was a little rough for me since I got a call from my mom that my grandmother, whom I was very close to growing up, was going to be placed in a nursing home after her current stay in the hospital is done. She wanted to know if there was any specific item I wanted from her house as a keepsake. Immediately two things came to mind. Grandma had a trivet that hung over her toaster with a picture of a barn and a plump woman. It read "A plump wife and a big barn never did any man harm."...but my sister Kristin already had asked for, and received that at some point last year. The second item being my grandma's cutting board. Every day, we would stop in to my grandmothers to pick up our mail, and visit. The after school stops usually involved a bit of home made bread cut on the very cutting board I wanted. Mom and my aunt Carol looked through the kitchen and couldn't find it. Aunt Carol also mentioned that if it did turn up, she kind of wanted the cutting board, so it looked like I wasn't going to get it after all. Putting it lightly, I was disappointed not to be receiving it. I sometimes think that half the reason I make my own bread is to feel closer to my beloved grandmother who I've been loosing to Alzheimer's/dementia.

I decided to take the kids over to Mom's yesterday and see if there was anything in my grandma's house that i would like as a small memento. We got an early start on our day and were even able to drop Bug, Bear, and DH off at school. We had a beautiful Sunny drive over to my Mom's and made pretty good time as well. The dog was the first one out of the car, shortly followed by the Boy and Bean who catapulted themselves up the steps and at Grammy. We exchanged greetings and my mother commented that it was going to be a good day. I agreed as the sun was shining and I'd just finished a visit with a friend. We checked the chickens for eggs, and went in side. There laying on the kitchen table was the cutting board I wanted so badly. It turns out that when she was cleaning earlier that morning, my aunt found it and took it to my moms. To make things even better, she and I wanted completely different cutting boards and we were both able to have the one that we wanted. I am extremely greatful for the physical reminder of the many many happy memories I have of just every day chats with my grandma. For her listening ear when I was navigating the turbulent teen years and needed someone to confide my frustrations in. For all the things she taught me...how to play cards, the importance of family, the love of the printed word. Dh still laughs at me because I can't read our local paper online. It's just wrong. I would always read the paper at my grandparents and need to physically hold it to feel like I'm reading it the proper way. I'm greatful for the memories I have of playing around the farm with my cousins. But my favorite memories are of the Christmas Eve feasts that we would come together for and share the fellowship and the togetherness that the family had at that time. It is also the one thing I miss the most as my wedding day was the last year we did that. It's been 7 years this Christmas and boy I'd give almost anything for one last Christmas Eve with Grandma and Grandpa and everyone else. But I'm so greatful to my husband for adjusting our plans so that I could be there the last time.


I'd like to invite you to check out the other Gratituesday posts at Heavenly Homemakers. And I'd also like to invite my siblings,cousins and other family, to come back and leave a comment of their favorite memories of our Grandparents. Feel free to e-mail anyone else who would like to leave a memory too.

Menu Plan Monday 11/16 to 22

Here's the game plan for the week:

Lunches
Monday: Visit to Grammy Sue's.
Tuesday: Bologna Sandwiches, apple slices
Wednesday: Soup, PB & J, fruit
Thursday: Sandwiches, soup, fruit
Friday: Laura's bringing lunch. Probably soup again, but I adore soup when the weather is cold. I could really eat it 7 days a week...even twice a day some times.
Saturday: At my Mother-in-law's.
Sunday: Ramen Noodles for the kids, leftovers for grown ups.

Dinners:
Monday: Fish, couscous, pears
Tuesday: Hamburger Vegetable Soup, Buttermilk Biscuits, and Sliced apples
Wednesday: Garlic Chicken legs, mashed potatoes, broccoli normandy
Thursday: Stuffed Pork chops, scalloped potatoes, veggie
Friday: Pizza, veggie sticks,
Saturday: Trip to Mother In Law's. I'd like to take dinner down for her since we're celebrating her birthday.
Sunday: Pasta with clam sauce, salad, and bread knots.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Returning Health

I'm going to tie this week's Gratituesday Post with last week's. Last week I wrote about choosing thankfulness during a stressful time when 2 of my kids had swine flu. By the end of the week, all 4 of them had it. I was grateful that I didn't have to search hard for the medication that the kids needed, and it was affordable. I'm not sure if I knew that giving the Tamiflu to my kids would cause such uncontrollable bursts of hyperactive energy I would have been so grateful, or even chosen to give it to them. I really can't say it helped them get better more quickly. However, I AM thankful that that we are all fever free and on the mend after having to monitor fevers for over a week.

Yesterday, I sent Bug and Bear back to school without fevers. I am so glad that they are feeling better. As I sit and write this post, the Boy, too, has returned to school (for another hour). I am glad to have returned to our normal routine. Bean is happily watching "Barbie in the Nutcracker" and I am sitting with her on the couch. We have gotten pretty well caught up on the chores that have been left undone since nothing is more important than loving on and cuddling the sick babies. The house is mostly Lysoled...since Lysol is claiming to kill the H1N1 virus. I only have a few walls to wipe down and a few more beds to wash and we'll be all caught up.

I am thankful for all the prayers that were said on behalf of my family while the kids were sick, those who kept us in their thoughts, and helped me to stay sane just by asking after us and letting me know that they were thinking of us. I am extremely thankful that DH and I did not come down with the Flu while the kids were sick. I'm praying we'll stay healthy for the remainder of the winter.

Don't forget to head over to Heavenly Homemakers for more Gratituesday.

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's A...

healthy baby...girl. Bet you never would've guessed by looking at my current family. So, let me introduce you to princess #4, whom I will no longer call big foot cause that's just not lady like. We're trying out Babe & Little Bit for the fifth "B". This is an old picture from our first ultrasound of Babe at 8 weeks. You can see where I got the "Bigfoot" from right ;-)
Here, she is showing us what a future Drama Queen she may be with the arm on the forehead. It was at the end of her ultrasound and I'm sure she was tired of all the poking and prodding.

Here's just a simple profile picture.

I can't believe how tiny she looked in her ultrasound. I guess since it's been almost 3 years I'd forgotten how small babies really are.

Sunday, we learned that we are indeed expecting another little girl. We have a first name, but are in need of a middle name. Thankfully we have about 21 weeks to come up with one. Little Bit is a perfectly healthy baby. The one thing that was 'off' in her measurements was the length of her legs. She's got long legs, which isn't too surprising, considering I'm tall, and so is Bug. All of her measurements, head, length, and whatever else was checked, except her legs measured exactly 19 weeks as they should've. Her legs on the other hand are a whole week ahead of the rest of her body.
I have been feeling pretty well. Up until we had the swine flu visit last week, my energy was decently returning. Now I'm just sleep-deprived from mid-night/early morning wakings. Babe has been active for probably a month or so. Her favorite time to wake up is right about bedtime....reminds me a lot of Bug. Nausea is no longer my constant companion, but the bouts of morning sickness seem to still hit at the oddest times. I am looking forward to recovering my energy.
The kids weren't too disappointed to learn that they were going to have another sister. The Boy asked what happened to baby Sammy as we'd been calling Babe. I told him Mommy was wrong about our baby being a boy. It had been a girl all along. I have to say the best response though came from Bean. I asked her if she was excited about her baby sister and she just looked at me, stuck out her pout lip, dropped her chin to her chest and collapsed into the floor in her typical pout/unhappy pose. It was too sweet. I know she really won't care once Babe is here.

Monday's Menu Plan 11/9-15

Well, it's another week. Here's what we're hoping to eat this week.

Monday~ Ravioli, salad, cheesy garlic knots

Tuesday~ Breakfast for Dinner--pumpkin pancakes, sausage, eggs

Wednesday~ BLTs, macaroni salad, fruit/veggie

Thursday~ Chicken Salsa & Black Bean soup, cornbread & salad. (freezer leftovers)

Friday~ Fish & Chips (or maybe onion rings...not sure what's in the freezer)

Saturday~ Pizza, Stromboli, or calzones

Sunday~ ?? we'll see what we're hungry for.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Choosing Thankfulness

It's been one of those days. The middles, Bear and the Boy, have been sick since Saturday night. High fevers, sore throats, coughing, and the Boy is terribly congested. It wears on a Mom...worrying about the kids. Yesterday we were able to get them into the pediatricians. Our diagnosis was the one feared by most parents this winter. They have H1N1, the Swine Flu. Last night, the Boy's fever peaked at 104.5. I panicked and rushed him off to the Emergency Room, where we were given the run around by the doctor. Unfortunately, my sleep deprived, stressed brain didn't put two and two together when he said "Oh it's just bronchitis." 5 minutes before he saw the Boy, the nurse told me his lungs were fine, echoing what the pediatrician had told us 6 hours before. I was half way home before I remembered....if you have bronchitis, your lungs aren't going to be clear....

Any way, I am choosing to be thankful. I am thankful that the Boy was able to come home with me last night and he did not need to be admitted. I am thankful that only Bear and the Boy are sick. Not the other 4 of us. Please Lord, let it stay that way. I'm thankful that even though it seems that so many things went wrong today, some things went right. Dinner for example. We had un-stuffed pork chops, scalloped potatoes, and butternut squash. Bug even tried her squash and found that she likes it :-) That is a HUGE victory for me. Bug is the first to declare something unfit for eating before she even tries it. I am thankful that the fevers today have been below 101. Hopefully, they will stay that way through the night. I am thankful that even though we heard rumors of Tamiflu costing $500, and our insurance not covering it, they were just that...rumors. In actuality it was well within the "normal" co-pay range. Lastly, I am thankful that, as my mother-in-law is fond of saying, This too shall pass, and we will be well and healthy again soon.

This post is linked to Gratituesday at HeavenlyHomemakers.com

Monday, November 2, 2009

Some Giveaways

I stopped over to the $5dinner Mom's website this morning, to see if Erin had posted any great new recipes. I was delighted to see that she had several fun giveaways currently running.

The first is the Curious Chef giveaway. It is for a 27 Piece Build a Kitchen set and a 6 Piece cookie set. It would be perfect for my Bug who is always asking to help in the kitchen. Mostly with cookie baking and dreaming up recipes of her own.

The Second, The Land of Nod Breakfast in Bed playset. This Playset is ultra cute. We need "fresh" Kitchen toys and this would just be awesome for the kids. Plus, I would probably save it and let "Santa" give it to the kids on the Big Day. :-)

And lastly, Erin also has 2 other give-aways. One for the book Happy Baby Book, and the other for a Mod Mum sling. Either would be great, and as she mentions, you don't have to be pregnant to enter. They'd be great to stick in the closet until you get an invite to a babyshower.

Meal Plan 11-2

Here's the menu of the week...I don't konw how well i'll adhere to it. I have 2 pretty sick kiddos but it gives me something to strive for right ;-)

Monday~ Chicken Noodle Soup

Tuesday~ Beef & Bean burritos

Wednesday~ Pork Chops, scalloped potatoes & broccoli

Thursday~ Frittata, toast and bacon or sausage

Friday~ Pizza--Mommy's off to a Women's Seminar

Saturday~ Special Pasta

Sunday~ Left Overs or Spaghetti and Meatballs

Monday, October 26, 2009

Menu Plan for 10-26

Here's what we're planning on eating this week:

Monday Roast beef with potatoes, carrots and parsnips, broccoli

Tuesday: chicken something...

Wednesday: Roast beef burritos, rice and corn (made from leftover roast beef) I'll try to find the link to the original recipe and post it.

Thursday: Pork chops

Friday: Soup, fresh bread

Saturday: Pizza, chips, root beer floats for our "un-Halloween" party.

Sunday: Tacos and all the fixins.

Today we have a crazy day. DH called from work and the hospital is doing a clinic for the H1N1 vaccines. I'm taking the under 5 set and hopefully we won't be too far down the line. Then lunch with my mom and a quick dr's appointment to discuss how to treat my seasonal affect disorder. Somewhere along the line, I'm hoping to finish up my fall post and hopefully a little relaxing.

And of course, I know you want my famous Roast Beef recipe cause it's absolutely delicious.

Susan's Roast Beef
Ingredients:

Beef roast of choice (tonight it's a chuck roast b/c dh bought meat. i prefer the lean bottom or top round roasts when they go on sale)
4 parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 envelope of Onion soup mix
cinnamon
2 cups beef broth
2 onions quartered
1 sm can of mushrooms

1. Peel and chop all veggies to a uniform size. Layer them in the bottom of a roaster or crock pot.

2. Sprinkle roast generously with the cinnamon. I know this might sound odd, but trust me, the cinnamon is what makes the dish, then place on top of the veggies and sprinkle the Onion soup mix on top of the roast and veggies. This is what my roast looks like after the cinnamon, but before the onion soup. I sprinkle both sides.
3. Pour the broth around the edges of the pan, but not over the meat.

4. Cook in a crock pot for 6-8 hours, or bake for 2-3 hours at 325.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fall

I think fall is my second favorite season of the year. It comes in slightly behind winter which is my all time favorite. I love the colors in the leaves as they change and the musty smell of them on the ground mixed with the crispness in the air. Especially the crisp, frosty air in the morning. I love the urge I feel to wrap myself in blankets and just not move from the couch with a good book or movie. I love how fall ushers in a season of family togetherness. The memories I have of spending Friday nights at my grandmother's while my dad, uncles and grandparents would play cards starting with the end of football season through the winter. The many happy memories that were made with my cousins, or just being with the grown-ups on those nights. I love the foods of fall. The apple cider that I drink by the gallon, the candy corn that is consumed to an excess. (and it has to be the orange, yellow, white kind. The alternate colors provided for other holidays just doesn't taste as good!) I love the rich spicy pumpkin breads, apple pies and crisps, the smell of apple butter as it simmered on my gram's stove. The casseroles that warm our houses as they cook and their comforting goodness as we enjoy them for dinner.

I enjoy the traditions that have become a part of my married life, such as our annual trip to my in-law's for Flaming Foliage, the second week-end in October. Choosing pumpkins with the kids and the new this year traditions of actually carving a jack-o-lantern and playing in the leaves. This past week, I was blessed to be watching my friend Becky's daughters who are quite a bit older than my 4 kids. It gave me the chance to do something that I hardly ever have the chance to do...rake enough leaves in the front yard for the children to play in. Oh the fun my kids had in the leaves. My only regret is that I forgot to take my camera out and capture the joy they found in such a simple childhood ritual of jumping in the leaves. I enjoy the walks we take with the kids as the opportunity provides. Like the one we took 3 weeks ago with my parents who had come over for a visit.

I love how fall beckons me to snuggle down for the coming winter, but also tempts me out for the last few precious days of sunshine.

Here are our fall pictures:














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There is one thing about fall that I do not like in the least since becoming an adult. I don't like Halloween. I know what I just said amounts to sacrilege to some of you, but it's changed so much since I was a child that I don't recognize the holiday. I think I have turned from the holiday bit by bit over the past few years. Starting with a Preschool Story Hour Halloween party several years ago when my children were subjected to a fellow preschooler dressed as an axe murderer. He was asked to remove his mask so that he didn't scare his fellow preschoolers. Unfortunately that seems to be most of what I'm seeing. Also, to keep the "running" to a minimum, we've made our only stop the old folk's home at the hospital. Last year, we were in line with several teenage girls (16-17ish) dressed as ladies of the night. It's not worth stealing my kids innocence to let them have a bit of fun dressing up and getting candy. I'll just buy them the candy if they want it that badly. Another reason, the bigger reason we have decided not to celebrate is because I really can't find any Biblical grounds for celebrating it. Halloween doesn't have any Godly ties...in fact, it's a distinctly pagan and Wicca holiday. No need for us to join the celebrate the hold that the Devil has on this world. Please don't think I'm condemning anyone who does celebrate Halloween. This is just our way of doing things. In stead, my children are anxiously counting the days till we go to "Wuild-a-Bear" as Bug calls it. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to do a fun trip to Build-a-Bear with the kids and make a completely different set of memories. I'm looking forward to it too.


Happy Fall everyone.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Today is.....

International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.


"There is no greater tragedy than the loss of a child. Unfortunately, because our babies live only within our wombs or they live outside the womb for a short period of time, an uneducated society often minimizes the importance of their short lives and, in turn, our grief is trivialized."


Clair Baca

I know the pain of having my much anticipated child taken from me much too soon. Sadly, I've experienced it twice over. The ironic thing is...had it not been for Sophie's loss, I would not have lost Mikey either. Here's my story.


On February 26, 2008 I had a routine early pregnancy (8 weeks) sonogram. Everything was "normal" for me. There was a clot around the placenta, but I'd had that with my past 3 pregnancies and the 2 since. It always dissolved so I wasn't the least bit concerned. DH and I were very excited to receive an October 15 due date. Okay...I wasn't excited about being largely pregnant during the hot summer months, but I was excited about the baby. I went about life as usual. DH's birthday was the next day and after taking a surprise treat to him around lunch time, I discovered I was spotting. I figured I had just over done it a bit, and took things easy for the next day. The spotting persisted, so I called my OB and he told me to take things easy. He also wanted to see me for another sonogram the following Monday. Monday came. I was still spotting and the clot had grown. I was put on bed-rest. Of course, DH's stress level has now gone through the roof as we tried to arrange help with our 4 small children ages 4, 3, 2, and 9.5 months. He also felt the need to do all the housework in the evening to his own white glove standard that I to this day have not been able to achieve. To make a long story short, a week and a half later, we lost our baby on March 5. Exactly 10 years after DH had lost his beloved Grandfather.


I was absolutely DEVASTATED to have lost my baby. How could my body betray me in such a manner. I had delivered 4 healthy children from "boring" uncomplicated pregnancies, yet it had happened. I never once believed I would lose the baby when I was spotting. It just couldn't happen. I was going to do everything in my power to keep it from happening, yet it did. I had failed at my primary job of being a good mother and protecting my child. My body had failed me. Worst of all, I felt that no one understood our pain. They kept telling us, and DH echoed it, "At least you have 4 healthy children." or "There must've been something wrong with the baby that God was protecting you from." I didn't care all I wanted was my baby back.


Then things got worse. DH had, from all the stress we'd been through, developed kidney stones, and something else was wrong that no-one could seem to figure out. After countless trips to the local Emergency Room, his doctor,many prescriptions for "infections" that never showed on tests, and multiple CT scans and MRIs, we were continually told "It must be another kidney stone" or even worse "It must be in your head. I can't find anything wrong with you." We ended up going for a second opinion with his old Urologist to do tests for cancer. After him telling DH, that he was cancer free and everything looked good, except for this swollen area of his bowels, which probably was an infection, we were finally headed in the right direction. We left with a prescription for Flagyl, and instructions to follow up with our general practitioner in this direction. After a brief hospital stay on DH's behalf, and a referral to the local gastroenterologist, DH was finally on his way back to good health. The official/final diagnosis...he had no good bacteria in his stomach. It had been killed off by the radiation and multiple prescriptions that well meaning, but misguided doctors had given us. It took him upwards of 6 months to get back to normal. The whole time this was going on, I lived in a paralyzing fear that I was going to lose my husband and be widowed at 26 because the doctors just didn't care to look past what the surface and see the real problem with his health.

How does that tangent tie Sophie's loss to Mikey? Well, I knew that I wanted another baby even though I had just lost one. I needed to feel the preciousness of my own newborn in my arms, to experience the joy of nursing them, smell the wonderful baby smell, and yes, I even wanted to experience labor all over one more time. I was advised by my OB to wait 2 cycles before trying to conceive again. We decided to take into consideration everything that DH had been through and decided that the fall looked like a good time to start trying for another baby. However, we found out in June that after a moment of "temporary insanity", we were indeed pregnant again. I, ever the optimist, knew things were going to be great and we would have our baby this time. Our first sonogram showed what appeared to be a shadow behind the baby. Dr. B theorized that it was a twin that had not fully developed and would be reabsorbed without any problems. Of course, I was willing to accept that explanation. Fast forward to our 14 week visit, another sonogram to check on baby and the "shadow" showed that it was not a shadow, but a growth on the base of Baby Mikey's spine. At this time I'd made it past the first trimester, and shared with the kids we were expecting baby Mikey to join us right around Daddy's birthday. One night I had a dream that I lost the baby. I was terrified and didn't say anything to DH or anyone about it. If I didn't say anything it would not happen. We were scheduled to come back for another sonogram to check on the growth and Mikey's size...he was measuring a week smaller than he should've, a week later. It just happened to be Bug's first day of Kindergarten. What a crazy day it was. As things would have it, I could not find a babysitter to watch the 4 older kids, so I had them in tow. They were excited about seeing baby Mikey. In fact, Bug's first words upon seeing him on the screen were "Awe he's so cute!" and there were a few "Look! It's baby Mikey!". Silence from the doctor...and then he told us there was no heartbeat. I don't know what was harder....finding out we'd lost him after thinking we were "safe", or finding out in front of the kids. It had happened again. I didn't know what to think other than I was done. Obviously, there was something wrong with me that my body would keep betraying me in such a manner, I was not going to have any more children of my own. I was too afraid and didn't trust God to see me through another pregnancy. Not after he'd abandoned me during my last 2. I had a D&C at the end of the week...on Bug's 5th birthday. I cherished those extra 4 days I had with Mikey even though I let myself deny that he was really gone. I knew he was...I could no longer feel his movement, but I still didn't want to let go of my precious boy.

I carried my grief with me like a cloak for several months to myself...never letting anyone know how deep my hurts really went or how close I came to walking away from God. Until I realized that I was only hurting myself, and the kids I did have. They deserved a real mother who would focus on them and the bright futures they did have. But oh how my arms ached to hold my babies. I was blessed with a chance to "hold" Mikey through my friend's son Ish who is a few weeks older than Mikey would've been.

So, in closing I would like to share this video with you, and ask you join me in remembering those who have suffered the terrible loss of their babies and to remember their babies by lighting a candle at 7:00 PM, your local time for one hour in remembrance of these precious little ones who are etched in their parents and our hearts. If you would like more information please visit http://www.october15th.com/ Thank You.



In Loving Memory of Sophie 3*5*08 and Mikey 8*25*08

Friday, October 9, 2009

Overheard...Conversations with Bear


I have 4 children at home with me today. Two of them are ill and one I kept home from school because her bunk-mate was up with the stomach flu all night. She's the child that needs the most sleep, so I did not want to send Bear to school only to have her tired and grumpy all day.

A bit about Bear. Bear is my second born. She will be 5 on December 17. The exact date I chose for her. At the time I didn't think it was too close to Christmas...If I could do it again, I don't think we would've had her later than Dec 10, but she was a bit tiny at 3 weeks early. Bear is one of my more stubborn children. She probably had the ability to walk around 12 months of age, but just didn't want to for another 2 1/2 months. I think she just didn't want me around when she started since she started walking the day I had the Boy. Bear's big blue eyes convey a sense of sweetness and innocence, which is fairly accurate until she get thwarted and doesn't receive her way. Then look out! She will scrunch up her face in the most unbecoming way and screech a horrid sound. Bear is probably the child that has the most difficulty with change. I still can't figure out if she was always that way, or developed that problem after the Boy's arrival at the tender age of 14 months. I think it's just the way she is since she hasn't out grown the problem. Bear took a full 6 weeks if not 8 to adjust to preschool last year. It was worth it though because of her familiarity with preschool, we had a smooth, flawless transition into Pre-K, this fall. Bear loves her class at school, and is well loved by her classmates. A quick phone call from DH this morning shared of an e-mail from Bear's teacher expressing how much her classmates missed her. Her popularity I think is also evidenced in the 10/5 Menu Plan post.

The Bear quote of the day, which inspired the whole long rambling post about Bear:
"Mommy, when i grow up, I'm gonna be an Auntie and live with Grammy and Papa. Like Auntie Bethy and share a car with Grammy."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Menu Plan Monday~10/5

Here's the game plan for the week. I'm not sure how it will work out. Sunday's a repeat from last week as we've had rain for I don't know...seems like 14 or so days straight and haven't had the opportunity to grill. Hopefully we'll have a sunnier/less rainy week this week.

Monday 5, Tacos/Taco lasagna/ Burritos, rice, veggie, fruit
Tuesday 6, Chicken Wild Rice Soup , bread, salad
Wednesday 7, Stuffed Shells, salad, bread, veggie
Thursday 8, Breaded Hamburgers, mashed Potatoes, carrots
Friday 9, Stromboli, veggie stix, salad
Saturday 10, Spare Ribs, salad, fruit
Sunday 11, Hot Dogs,Lentil & barley soup

I must say,I'm having one of those Mondays. The kind where you feel like you've gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. The plans I had for today have come undone and changed completely. It all started last night after Bible Study. We went up stairs to put the kids to bed and the darned dog got into the garbage. She got locked in her crate for a bit, but I knew I had to let her out so that she wouldn't need to go out in the night. I was a bit leery about letting her out because we have a skunk problem in our neighborhood, and she'd yet to be skunked...well all good things must end. She was out for maybe 15-20 minutes. I was in the opposite end of the house watching TV and I got a whiff of skunk. Sure enough, Freckles had managed to get skunked. So I brought her in and washed her up. Fortunately, I think the skunk was in the driveway and Freckles got skunked through the fence because only her paws and tip of her tail smelled. After a quick wash she smelled fine. Thank You Jesus! Then, as I get done taking care of the dog and lighting candles to dissipate the stench, Bean starts to wail. She'd had an accident. Poor kid. Completely soaked her bed, all the covers and for her sweetness, nothing is worse than having an accident. She just hates it and not having her blankies to comfort her just made it worse. I didn't get to bed till midnight. Not good for the extremely tired pregnant lady, but had to have those blankies clean.



Today, I was supposed to have my Parents as Teachers meeting, but canceled it due to a trip to my Mom's to make cider with my playgroup. No one RSVP for it, so we canceled. But in church yesterday, I was asked to help with a funeral dinner they're putting on for the family. So I guess I'll be on the run all day today. The kiddos get to stay home with Miss Laura, my friend.



Oh, and did I mention that Bear got kissed at school on Friday. I had no idea that Pre-Kindergarten boys were interested in kissing! Apparently, after their restroom break before lunch, she was sitting at her desk and R* came up and kissed her on the lips. She was afraid she would get yelled at by her teacher, so she didn't say anything to her at school. Instead, she waited till she saw DH after school and told him. Fortunately it was a parent who I know and I was able to resolve the whole issue with a phone call to my friend. I was a little disturbed (and jealous as I never received much male attention especially at that age) but now I can look back and laugh. It is kind of cute. Any way, I think that catches you up on all my important happenings, so I'm off to do my housework now. Have a great Monday! Oh, and stop over to heavenlyhomemakers.com Laura has a great Fall Giveaway Carnival this week. I'm sure she'll have some good stuff linked to.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Inexpensive Meat


After dropping the Boy off at preschool, one morning last week, Bean and I made a trip to our local Wal-Mart. I love going to Wal-mart first thing in the morning...it's devoid of crowds, I almost always get one of the first parking spaces closest to the store, and there are nearly no lines in the check-out. Oh yeah, and the best part is first thing in the morning, the meat department marks down meat that has a sell by date within 48 hours. I was able to get 10 pounds of 80/20 ground chuck for $1.68 per pound. I love it! I usually stock up when the grocery store sells it for around $2.00/pound. I immediately came home and packaged it into meal size portions (2 pounds for us) and froze it for later this month. I was also able to get some boneless, skinless chicken breasts for $.99/pound at another grocery store earlier using the same "technique" of shopping early and looking at the stuff that was marked down for a quick sale. I can't tell you how excited I was to get the chicken breasts. I must admit, I was a bit prideful and bragged about my find on Facebook. For more great kitchen tips, stop by Kitchen Tip Tuesday tammysrecipes.com

I had hoped to post my menu for the week yesterday, but never got around to it, so her it is now.

Monday: Meatball Sandwiches, Mashed potatoes, and beans

Tuesday: Breakfast for Dinner--waffles, sausage, and fried potatoes

Wednesday: Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup, fresh bread (hopefully. I've managed to ruin the last 6 I've tired to make) and salad

Thursday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches, rice and corn

Friday: Pizza & Movie Night 2 pepperoni pizzas, veggie sticks, and hopefully Anne of Green Gables. I'm in need of a good chick flick...unless there's a Leafs game on. Then DH will comandeer the tv.

Saturday: Chicken Tenders, mashed potatoes, something green...probably broccoli.

Sunday: Spare ribs, baked potatoes, applesauce

Friday, September 25, 2009

Peace in the Potty

One thing I long for in my house is peace...peace and being able to go potty by myself...even better, not having to take someone potty every 25 minutes. What is that...three things? I don't ask for much do I? Bean and I were sitting on the porch swing, soaking up the last rays of sun on a lovely fall day before a weekend of predicted rain. When we were joined by a Boy doing the potty dance. "Mommy, I need you to go potty with me!" followed by frantic dancing. "No, buddy, you can go pee by yourself. Go by yourself and I'll give you a piece of candy." He disappears for a few minutes only to return with the dancing much more frantically. "Mommy I NEED YOU!!" So much for a few minutes of peace and quiet on a nice fall evening... I followed him half way up the stairs. Then the Boy turns and says "Mommy, I don't need you any more. I can pee by myself." Biting my tongue and thinking to myself "I know you can go potty by yourself. I asked you to already." So I sat down on the steps fearing that the Boy had waited too long to make it safely to the potty. Moments later he reappears with his pants pulled up (Thank Heavens! usually they're off and waving in the wind). I praise him for going by himself and help him choose a candy.



In the time it has taken me to type the first paragraph, Bean has come to me demanding potty. She won't come inside though. Guess she doesn't have to go that badly. Bean has just completed potty training and remains dry at night. The most unpleasantness I have dealt with concerning her "needs" is the occasional "oops, I started to have an accident, but we made it to the potty any way" The two best things about Bean being potty trained are 1. For the first time in 6 yes 6 years I have no one in diapers(well for 6 months any way)...I don't have to worry about having diapers or even pull-ups in my purse, or a big bulky diaper bag when we go any where. and 2. Bean potty trained herself. It was a much longer process than the other children, but much less labor/mom intensive. She came to me in January with a pair of the boys undies and demanded "Unnies on!!" "No Bean, you don't need to wear undies. You wear diapers. You're a little girl." She wouldn't take "No" for an answer. She got to wear them 5 minutes before having an accident. The next day lead to a trip to the local "Stuff-Mart" To purchase pull ups. I didn't do much more for her other than change her when wet and messy like usual, but by March when I found some motivation, she was mostly wet trained and would tell me immediately after having an accident. Unfortunately, once I started to show some more involvement and guidance, we had a 2 month relapse. Once summer came though, we were both ready for another try. We quickly got back to where we were with the pee training, and #2 quickly followed. By the time school rolled around, we went into training undies and have been virtually accident free since then. Yippee!! Bean however needs an assisted trip to the potty every hour or so. It seems my day is filled with trips up and down the steps. But I would rather up and down the steps and being done with potty training.



Peace however...that is something I struggle to attain. I know that my Heavenly Father is the source of peace, and by spending daily time with Him, prayer, and practicing His presence, I can attain the peace I so greatly desire. It seems to take so very much practice and I feel I am so much out of practice. That would be why God is on my "To Do" List. In my goal of attaining the daily habit of time with God, but even greatness must start somewhere. Most days though...the peace I most desire is 5 minutes on the potty without someone screaming bloody murder, barging in on me, or urging me to hurry I gotta go. ;-)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Little Victories

This morning, Bean and I made a sock puppet with yarn hair while the3 Boy was at school. It was a nice little project. I enjoyed it, but she was only mildly interested in it since she wasn't allowed to use the sharpies to color on it. The Boy came home and I started to make lunch. After lunch, I came into the living room to put in a video for the big kids to watch while I rocked Bean to sleep. I noticed my sock puppet on the floor minus his yarn hair. I was a little disappointed and asked who had pulled his hair out. Laila and Bean both said they didn't. The Boy was still finishing up his lunch in the other room. I picked up the sock puppet and hair off the floor and put it up to mend him later and went up to rock Beanie to sleep. After getting her to sleep, I came down and sat down with the kids. They asked to finish the video, which I let them. Then the Boy came to me with tears and blubbered "Mommy, I pulled the hair off your sock puppet." I know he was afraid of his consequence by his reluctance to tell me, and his tears. I explained that I was disappointed that he ruined my toy, but I was so happy that he told the truth. I am so proud of him for telling me the truth all on his own. He is the first child to lie to get out of trouble. Even when I see him hit or take a toy from his sisters, he will say he didn't thinking it will get him out of trouble. I feel like we've gained such a huge victory with him over this. I just hope that he continues to tell the truth.

I also tried a few new recipes this past week. Monday night I made "Mom's Best Meatloaf" from
Allrecipes.com . It was absolutely horrible. DH and the little B's were so disappointed and grumpy about a bad meal. Last night though I had a "victory" in that I made this crock pot chicken recipe. It was delicious! It was pretty easy too...other than the skinning the chicken part. Let me just say, skinned chickens look really, really sad. I'm sure this recipe would also translate to a regular roast chicken recipe too. Then you could leave the chicken on and slip the rosemary and lemons under the skin. I would definitely recommend giving it a try.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Beginnings

All ready to start down the path of learning.

Bean wanted to go to school too. She tries to slip out the door with the big kids and Daddy.


Today, the Boy started his second week of preschool. He went off much the same as Bug did. Nary a tear or worry about what he would do without mommy. We walked into his classroom last Tuesday, I gave him a suggestion of joining the classmate playing cars and that was it. He could hardly be bothered to hear me say "Bye Buddy. See you after school." His favorite part hands down is outdoor play time on the playground. The school has a great playground and he looks forward to the end of each day when it is time to go out. Right now, he's riding home with his classmate, who I babysit. It's so nice to have someone to car-pool with. I enjoy getting him after school, but since the other mom brings the kids, I'm able to have lunch ready and waiting.
Playing cars

Bean has been having a little trouble adjusting to her brother being gone. She likes to have me all to herself, but she is turning out to be a high maintenance kid. Anyone have suggestions on what I can give her to do so I can get some things done while the Boy is at school?

I think I'm beginning to turn the corner in my pregnancy, to the part where the all day sickness is less prevalent, and the indigestion I've been suffering from starts to become less significant. I've also noticed I've begun to have more energy. What a blessing that is. Of course that also means that I'm entering the stage where none of my clothes fit. Unfortunately after I had Bean, I got rid of most of my maternity clothes thinking i was done. I've been able to scrounge up a few pair of pants from friends, but just my luck everyone has loaned out their tops. I guess I'll have to be selfish again and use my pay from babysitting this month for myself. I was hoping to do something fun like help DH pay off his dental bills, or take the kids to Build a Bear or "wild a bear" as Bug calls it.

Tomorrow night is another "new beginning". It's the first preseason hockey game for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Dh is an avid fan...it also means that I won't have an option about what is on the television for the next ...oh till about June after the Stanley Cup Finals are done. I will every now and again, demand that I need a break from hockey. Especially since it's on 5-6 nights a week. Football fans have it much easier ;-). Actually I usually don't mind too much. Mostly I enjoy it, but there is a point when it gets old. Hopefully we'll be able to get to a game this season. I enjoy them much more in person.
Let's Go Leafs!!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Bug!!

As I sit here and type this, it's hard for me to believe that 6 years ago, I was siting in a hospital bed waiting for my labor to progress so I could meet Bug for the first time. Today, Bug turns 6. We celebrated with our families several weeks ago. I always have the party before the start of school since it's less stressful for me and DH is around to help with the kids while I'm cleaning.
I did have one minor "mishap" with the party. The cake completely did not turn out as I planned. Thankfully none of the mishaps with the cake effected the flavor. My mother in law dubbed it the best cake she'd ever eaten. Here's the recipe.
ICE CREAM CAKE
1 7/8 cup Cake Flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 small box of instant pudding mix
3/4 cups milk
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

1/2 gallon of ice cream
1 small tub of cool whip
1. Combine first 6 ingredients. Add milk and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed with a mixer. Add 2 eggs mix for another 1 minute.
2. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 cake pan. Pour in the batter and spread it to the edges. The batter will be thicker than boxed cake mix.
3. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 375 degrees F. Or until a toothpick comes out clean.
4. Cool completely. Invert on a wire rack to remove from pan. Clean out the pan and line with plastic wrap.
5. Split cake into 2 layers, or crumble into pieces like for a trifle. Line the bottom of the pan with cake pieces.
6. Top the cake layer with ice cream, then freeze for 30 min. to allow the ice cream to set. Add another layer of cake then ice cream and return to the freezer until ready to serve.
7. Just before serving, ice/cover with whipped cream. Delicious! Not bad for a complete failure hunh?
So here's what actually went wrong from the plan. First, it was supposed to be a "funfetti" cake with red sprinkles in it. The batter turned it pink. Next, the cake never rose in the center. I have no idea why. I never opened the oven or anything that should cause it to fall. Then, when I inverted the cake, the middle stuck and only the edges. That's why I crumbled it like a Trifle. I had originally planned on cutting it in two and having an ice cream layer between two cake layers like a traditional layer cake.
Here are a few pictures of the Birthday Girl.

All she really wanted was a Silvermist costume from the Tinkerbell Movie.

Awesome Giveaway

Oh my gravy!! I can't contain my excitement. I had a few extra minutes this morning, so I decided to check out a few of my favorite blogs that I haven't checked out for a while. I'm so glad I did. Erin at 5dollar dinners is doing an amazing $250 grocery giveaway to the grocery store of your choice. I am frantically doing everything I can to get all my entries in. I'm amazed that she can do this...course it's through the Canned Food Alliance, but I look at that and that amount is a whole month's worth of groceries for my family. Be sure to check it out since it's over at Noon EST Aug. 29, 2009.

Here's an amusing story that I heard at lunch today. My friend Laura joins us on Fridays and we do a Bible study and share lunch. I asked Laura if I had mentioned that my mom's chickens "The Bettys" are laying now. The Boy responded with "You know, Harrison gives the Bettys their eggs." Oh my...who on earth mentioned that the rooster gives the hens eggs? Thankfully it seems to be that the Boy's understanding is pretty basic. I guess I'm surprised at the knowledge of chicken reproduction my three-year old has.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Day of School

It's that time of year again...back to school. I have mixed feelings about "Back to School." This year, I have anticipated sending Bug back to school, and Bear off to school. Mr. Man on the other hand, I do not enjoy sending back to school. Sending him back to school means much whining an gnashing of teeth on the part of Bean. Bear usually joins her, but this year, she went off with him, so it was a non-issue. I was a little concerned at Bear's first adventures in all day schooling.

Last year, she attended a half-day preschool three days a week. It took her 4 to 5 weeks to fully adjust to leaving Mommy for a classroom full of strangers. Yesterday, Bear entered in to Pre-K and did better than expected. I'm sure some of that rests on the fact that she was well acquainted with 3 of her classmates. One of whom was one of the girls I babysat for the last 2 months. She did have a little bit of trouble once she was on the bus. She bravely climbed on the bus with Bug and her best friend Spencer. Once she was situated in her seat she started to have second thoughts about leaving Daddy's school to go to her own across town. She started to wail in the normal dramatic Bear fashion. The worst part was not that Bear was upset and crying, but shortly after Bear started crying Spencer bolted off the bus and for his mom. Bear's tears were too much for him on the first day of Kindergarten. Bear proceeded to cry across thrown and eventually settled down by the time she arrived at her school. She then had a great day until it was time to get on the bus again. This time her uncertainty again lead to tears since the Pre-K kids are put on the buses before the First graders. She was certain she wasn't going to be joined by Bug. When I met the bus with the little kids, though, she was as happy as could be and a lot more agreeable than Bug at the end of the day. Bug on the other hand was very whiny and tired.

Bear all ready with Daddy for the first day.

Bug joins Bear at the door ready to go. She's grumpy because she doesn't want the Boy in the picture too.



Bear and Spencer waiting for the bus to arrive



Bug waiting too.

All in all I'd say we had a pretty good first day of school. No one got lost on the way home or got off the bus crying hysterically...we didn't find out that our baby didn't have a heart beat...or that Mommy was going to go bananas with grief.

In fact quite the opposite. I'm doing quite well other than super persistent case of all day morning sickness and a little guy with awfully big feet. Hence, I would like to introduce you to the fifth "B"...Bigfoot. His estimated date of arrival is April 3. I hope to soon show you why I have dubbed him "Bigfoot", but my scanner is currently down.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Grammy's Garden Update

Several weeks ago we visited Grammy's Farm to take a look at the progress of the big girls' bean plants and to see how the Betty's & Harrison (the chickens) were enjoying the coop that the Boy and Papa made for them.

The kids also got to enjoy the wide open spaces and play on the tractor. We've been enjoying beans from the plants that Bug & Bear planted and they're delicous. Bear is a great helper when it comes to snipping beans. That's actually how she started eating them. We were at Grammy's last summer and until then Bear hadn't eaten green beans. We were helping Grammy snip beans to can and freeze. Bear would break the blossom end off and started nibbling on them. She's enjoyed them ever since.

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Grammy Sue's Garden
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Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: Grammy's Garden
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*if you notice any spelling errors in the scrapbooks, please let me know. Thanks!! :-)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I made this recipe the other day and shared it with the kids I babysit for. They loved it.

Click to play this Smilebox recipe: Chocolate Zucchini Bread
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Friday, July 31, 2009

Chaos

I love chaos...I thrive on chaos...sometimes chaos makes me crazy. After all I am the mother of 4 children born in less than 5 years. My house has been even crazier for the last few weeks. I've started babysitting for one of Bear's classmates and her sister, who will be the Boy's classmate when preschool starts this fall. I love having all the kids in the house. It's great! I think the best apart is that my children are entertained by their friends being there with them, so I've been able to keep things more cleaned up around the house. My kids are also becoming more responsible because I'm remembering to make it a priority to have them pick up before Daddy gets home from summer school. The kids have been doing quite well at it. I do usually reward them with something...an icee, playing in the creek, or getting out the play-dough. Play-dough with 6 kids isn't easy. Especially when Bean is a play-dough eater.


In the chaos of everyday, the other day, I wanted to take some pics of the kids playing in the creek to share. Instead of taking my camera back into the house when I was done, I stuck it in the garage. Big mistake! DH had warned me the roof was leaking like a sieve. Of course I forgot my camera when it was time to bring in the kids and do baths. Fast forward to yesterday...Dh was cleaning out the garage and lo and behold found my camera...in 6 inches of water. Oops! So, I took out my batteries, SD card, and let it dry out. Figuring that my first check from babysitting was going to replace my camera. Last night, we put fresh batteries in and the camera worked. Not 10 minutes after I'd decided what camera i was going to use as my replacement. I'd planned on ordering it after the kids went to bed. Thank you Jesus, that it worked.
Added to all this, I'm in my 4th round of potty training. Bean has been very motivated but my motivation is lacking. She's my baby. I know it'll be great to have her out of pull ups and all but then I lose the last shreds of babyhood that she has. She talks like a big girl, feeds herself, wipes herself after using the potty, tries to brush her own teeth and does her best to dress herself. When she talks, she says the most grown up things. I can't believe how big my little girl is getting.
Here are the pics from their fun in the creek that almost cost the camera.
The Boy


Mr. Man

Bug, Bear and the Boy

Daddy and Bean

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Strawberry Jam

I had the opportunity last Friday to go strawberry picking with my good friend Laura. We went to her hometown and were fortunate to slip in on the last day of the season. Between the two of us we picked 18 quarts of berries. My goal was to make enough to last me until strawberries come around next year. I ended up with 10 quarts of berries which became 24 pints of strawberry jam.
First, I put the kids to work smashing hulled quartered berries.


Then I did the rest of the work by myself. Mr. Man's comment was...Why do women always can on the hottest day of the summer?
Here's my recipe:
Click to play this Smilebox recipe: STrawberry Jam
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All in all the jam is delicious. I shared some with my mom's friend Sherry. Here's her review
"Oh, Susan. While I would love to say that I carefully rationed the strawberry jam and had just a teaspoonful a day to make it last...alas that would be an untruth!! The reality is that it was soooooo goooood, that - um, it was gone by Sunday and I didn't share one drop with Joe! I often buy strawberry jam at farmer's markets trying to find the "good stuff" but theirs' doesn't compare to yours', and believe me, I've tried lots of them! Thank you very, very much--- It was fantastic!! Good job!"

Now if only it will last till next June when I can make more...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dried Beans



I stepped on a dried chick pea the other day. It was a remnant left over from playing school with the kids earlier. Since it had missed its chance to be put away and continue its usefulness I tossed it in the garbage.

Right now, I feel a lot like that bean. When it first came off the plant, it was fresh, soft and easily usable. As time went on, it dried out, hardened and shriveled up to the point where it needs a major overhaul from an outside source like an overnight soak and then a nice long boil in a pot over a fire before it becomes useful.

I wish I didn't feel like that hard dried up bean. Once upon a time, seven or eight years ago, I had a strong relationship with God. He was my number one priority. I knew I was in the center of His will and could hear His voice guiding me. As time has gone by, sin, busyness, and life have crept in and pushed into God's place. Mostly the busyness and life...I've rooted out and repented of the sin that comes to mind in my journey to the hard bean state. I have become overwhelmed by the busyness and responsibility of raising 4 children and keeping up with my housework. I haven't wanted my relationship with God to slip, but it still has. My attempts to keep God in the forefront have all been a struggle that seems to be unsuccessful. I sadly lack the daily habit of time with Him. I keep pressing in though, and picking up my time with Him when I realize that I have let it slip.

The last 24 months have been an exceptionally difficult time for me. I suffered 2 miscarriages in 6 months. Between both miscarriages, my husband suffered from many misdiagnosed stomach problems and I feared losing him too. Thankfully Rich's health problems are now resolved, and I have taken the time to properly grieve the loss of Mikey & Sophie as I've needed to begin the healing process. But I feel like it has drained the last bit softness out of me. Leaving me drained, weary, hard and unusable. I feel like there is nothing left to do but toss me out with the trash like I did with the bean. Thankfully, even though I feel useless, God still has plans to use me.

Our worship team has played Bring Me To Life by Bebo Norman. The past 2 weeks. The part of the song I feel applies most to me is:

"I want to lose myself in Your love

So let it rain down over me

As I fall down to my knees

Let the ocean rise to meet me

I need You to bring me to life"
I want God's love to wash over me and transform me from a hard bean to someone who has a usable heart again.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Overheard at Bed-Time

If you were a fly on the wall in Beans bedroom last night you would've heard the following conversation.


Mommy~ "Okay Beanie, time to sleep. Do you want Mommy to rock you or lay down by your self?"

Bean~ "In my bed."

Silence as Beanie snuggles for the perfect comfy spot.

Bean~ "Mommy, I need tell you sumpin."

"What is it Honey?"

Silence, then jabbering and a cheesey 2 year old grin

"I love you, Beanie. You're such a cheese-ball!"

"No, I not I Bean!"

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Thing That Did Go Right This Week

This week seemed to have lots of "Those Days". You know the ones I mean. The ones that make a mom wonder why she's even bothered getting out of bed at all. My friend Steph blogged about her battles with The Grump while her Hubby was in Mexico on a Missions trip. I read her post and could totally relate. My week wasn't all that bad, but Wednesday and Thursday I was doing hand to hand combat with The Grump. Mr. Man has been diligently working on the roof all week, plus the 2 days he took off that project to go to school for meetings. Bean is quite fond of asking "Where Daddy?" and by Thursday she was answering herself "On da roof!" However she was quite unhappy about the fact that Daddy was home, but unable to be with her.

Wednesday I answered the queries of "What's for dinner?" with pork chops, only to have the Boy go into a full fledged meltdown. He was super tired and he wanted Special Pasta for dinner. Since I was already at the grocery store to get pork chops, I grabbed a can of olives so that I could change my mind and make special pasta ;-). After considering how long it takes to get the grill up and running along with Daddy's need to be back on the roof working after a break to help me take the kids to the spray park, I decided Special Pasta was the way to go. After I got dinner all together I was met by the compliment from Mr. Man, that the pasta was the best he's ever eaten. He couldn't have made it better (it's his signature dish).

Special Pasta (Greek Pasta)

1 1/2 pound penne pasta (or similar shape)
1 large can of black olives sliced
4-7 Peppercinis (to taste. you control the heat here)
4 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 to 3/4 C olive oil (enough to coat the pan 1/4" thick)
4 oz crumbled feta cheese
1 roasted red pepper chopped (optional)

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Cook pasta as directed on the package.
2. Chop peppercincs, garlic, and olives (and roasted pepper if using). Pour olive oil in a saute pan and add everything but Feta cheese. Saute while the pasta is cooking.
3. Drain pasta. Put it in the serving bowl, top with sauce and feta cheese. Toss to combine and enjoy.

We all love this recipe. The kids, especially the Boy, and even Bug who is a picky eater. It was inspired by Mr. Man's desire to re-create some of the dishes he ate on a trip to Italy & Greece.

Thursday, I did battle with The Grump again, but I was more successful and won. Bug on the other hand did not...win her battle with the grump. But she's only 5 and was extremely tired. Miraculously, I stayed calm and did not lose my patience as I often do when she is feeling grumpy. She had several ffull fledged meltdowns during the day and each time I was able to remain calm and not respond in like. By the time evening came, I earned an evening off after such a long week and it was greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Recycling Ziploc type bags

It's Tuesday, which means it is "Kitchen Tip Tuesday" at Tammy's Recipes!

My kitchen tip for today is probably a familiar one for those of you who have been re-using Ziploc type bags. I was washing up a few bags the other day. I was trying to think of an easier way to get the insides dry as it usually takes a while. Then it hit me. If I turned them inside out they would dry quicker. So I did just that and then stuck the dryer inside over a spatula I already had in the dish drainer and it had plenty of air circulation to dry in the same time as my other dishes.

Of course, the funniest part about this post is: When I was a kid, I despised the fact that my mother was too "cheap" to just buy new bags. Don't you know, now I do the same thing. Of course I don't re-use bags that have had raw meat in them like she does, but anything else in a bag and I'll wash it and re-use.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Trip to Grammie Cheryl's



It's been a long weekend for us. We left Thursday for a visit with my in-law's. They live 2 hours away. We started off our trip with a short stop at my mom's to pick up Bug and Bear who went for an overnight visit. They had lots of fun with Auntie Kristin & Auntie Kayla. They got to make cookies,




Bear rolling out the sugar cookie dough.

Bug rolling out her dough.

They played "Dress up" with all of Auntie Kristin's neat stuff.

They also planted beans in the garden. I wonder if this will mean they'll be more willing to try them in the fall since they had a part in planting them.

Bug

Bear

After we had picked up the girls and loaded them all into the car we were off on the remainder of our trip to the in-law's.

We had a wonderful visit with Grammie Cheryl, Pappy Dick, and cousin Nessa. We had planned lots of outside play and even a possible fishing trip on Pappy's boat. Unfortunately, the weather was not to cooperate and we had a rainy weekend. We did have lots of fun playing in the house, watching movies, and getting our hair cut~ Thank You Grammie!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Independence

It's been a busy week here. Monday we started re-shingling the roof on our house. My dad and mom were over. Dad to help Hubby, and Mom to help me :-D Progress was good for the first day, then Tuesday we (okay Dad and Hubby) ran into some trouble. Our roof had 4 layers of asphalt shingles, PLUS the cedar shakes from the last time it had been done. It's interesting what you find in 100+ yr old houses, isn't it. Wednesday had the previous day's section shingled. Now we're waiting to do the leaky part until Dad gets back from his missions trip to Mexico.


The boy went home with Grammy & Papa Wednesday to stay for a few nights. It's his first time away from home with out any of his sisters. I don't think he misses us too much from what Grammy says. I'm missing him a lot and so is everyone else. We're looking forward to his return tomorrow. Bean talked to him on the phone and said "I miss You Boy." I know he's having a blast on the farm. He's helping Papa build a chicken coop, and playing with Harrison the rooster (who is more like a pet dog than a farm animal). I can't wait for Auntie Kristin to post pictures. While he's gone, I've been busy getting ready for Bean's birthday. She is 2 today. We're having the family party tomorrow. Boy have I been cooking like crazy today. I even put the Bear and Bug to work while Bean was napping. I also let all the girls help me make rolls. Our menu for the party is:

Hot dogs and Hamburgers with Homemade Buns
Broccoli Salad(my mom & gram's recipe)
Grandma Eva's Baked Beans (Hubby's Gram)
Jello Salad (my gram's recipe)
Veggie Tray
Cake & Ice Cream

Everything is prepped except the veggie tray and the cake. I still need to cook that. I take the easy way out though with decorating. I bought a Blue's Clues cake topper set from the grocery store. Nice professional toppers for much less than the store bought cake. I love looking at my menu and seeing the "scrapbook" of recipes and our family's special dishes in it. It's like we have all of the members with us even though some of them have passed. Usually my parties are a group effort. This time I'm proud to say I've done almost all of it by myself. Grandma Wilda is bringing the Jello Salad, and that is the only dish I did not prepare. I'm quite proud of myself.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Random Bits & Pieces

I was visiting 5dollardinners.com and Erin has a wonderful giveaway going on. Pace Picante Giveaway for 5 flavors of Pace Picante Sauce.


Please be praying for my friends Mark, Stephanie and their little boy Ishmael. They are faced with some heartwrenching decisions regarding Ish's health. Thier story is at Ishmael's Story

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ends and Beginnings

I love this time of year. When school is winding down and summer stretches out full of unplanned days, endless possibilities, sunshine and flowers. Mr. Man came home from work today in a great mood. Tomorrow is the last day of school. He is very excited to have a break and all the paperwork behind him. The children and I are quite excited too. Knowing that Daddy will be home all summer for us to play with and enjoy. We are all looking forward to the special time we get together as a family and the beginning of many happy memories. Bug is a bit sad though because it is the last day of kindergarten. She will miss her teacher and all the friends she has made this year. She is looking forward to visits with her Grandparents though. This year will be the first year that she and Bear get some one-on-one time with Grammie & Papa. She and Bear will have lots of fun with Harrison the Rooster and the hens, Molly and ANnie the dogs, and of course Auntie Kayla, Auntie Kristin, and Uncle Jim. I'm looking forward to sending them off on thier adventure with GRammie and hearing about all the new memories they make.

I am looking forward to the beginning of summer's warmth. I love waking in the morning to the sun streaming in my windows and hearing the birds chirping and singing their morning songs. The little ones all wake happier with the sunshine and we all get to have fun and make new memories together.