29 June 2007

Summer Give Away #2

This is my absolute favorite thing to make in the whole wide world. Baby headbands. If you have a little girl or baby, I can guarantee an added measure of cuteness by adorning her head with one of these. :) You'll have a choice of cherry (pictured) or lemon ribbon, with coordinating colors.

I'm going to give a little more time for entrees this time... so post a comment, any comment, in this message by 11:59 PM on July 5. The winner, drawn at random, will be announced on Friday, July 6.

27 June 2007

Overheard at our house

My youngest brother, 17, is temporarily living with us. Along with my 29 year old brother and his girlfrined, they watched over our boys while we were out of town last week for the wedding. This has made for some great sarcasm and humorous retaliation. Lol. And so I give you, out of the mouths of babes and their caretakers:

"He'd (my screaming child) make a great hun."

"Come here, you corpses."

(while playing "The Quiet Game")
my brother: "Ready? Go!"
Jonah (after about 2 seconds of quietude): "Can I play?"
my brother: "Okay, go!"
Jonah (after about 5 seconds of quietude): "Did I win?"
my brother: "Beginning... now!"
Jonah: "Am I the quietest?"

"Hey, I have a great idea... let's all cry together."

Drew: (pointing to the stove) "It's hot!"
Drew: (pointing to a hot plate) "It's hot!"
Drew: (pointing to the oven) "It's hot!"
Drew: (pointing to a burning candle) "It's hot!"
my brother: "Drew, repeat after me. Drop it... like it's... hot."
Drew: "Drop it hot!" (giggles all around)

"I don't speak monkey."

More Drew: "Where's Sasha?"
my brother: "Right in front of you."
Drew: "Where's Sasha?"
my brother: "Right in front of you."
Drew (ad nauseum): "Where's Sasha?"

"Ah, so that's how you get through this... you just ignore them." (whilst one or all children whine simultaneously for different things)

I've also received some very helpful advice:

"All you really need is a dart gun... and lots of sedatives."

"You should add on a sound proof room to this house. (and then, a look) I'm just sayin'."

"Tonight we'll be serving Benadryl marinated finger foods."

Oh, and give me your take on this... apparently my 5 year old knows how to get to Krispy Kreme (which involves a jaunt on the freeway, no less).

25 June 2007

Woman to Woman: "Share an important quote and what it means to you."

I've shared many quotes on this blog. The following is a post resurrected from last September.

Moms are brave. Whether it be scaring away the monsters under the bed or giving up a small part of their lives, moms are brave.

Consider this quote by Melvin J. Ballard on the love of mothers:

"I grant you that there are many who approach the great responsibility of motherhood with fear and timidity, because of its dangers to the physical life of the mother, because of its pain, its sorrow and its distress; but in the very nature of things, if God should lighten the burdens, the sorrow, and the pain of child-bearing, he would endanger the enduring love of the mother for her children. There is nothing worthwhile we obtain unless we pay the price for it."

"That which is given to us freely, we consider of little value, and so, because a mother goes into the valley of death, lays her life upon the altar to bring life into the world, and because through the rearing of the children who come to her, she spends many sleepless nights, denies herself the personal pleasures of life, devotes herself with patience and care and strength almost more than she has, to the welfare of her children—this is what makes her love them. For where her treasure is, there her heart is, and the greatest treasure a woman has she gives in her service, her life itself."

I bet all mothers can relate to this quote, and perhaps in very different ways. With how little validation we receive for our troubles in pregnancy and in motherhood, these words bring both comfort and pride to the amateur and the veteran, as well as the woman who desires to become a mother.

I sure wish I had heard these words when we conceived Sasha. It was such a blind leap of faith choosing to bring her into this world. It was a very unsure time for us... Given my history of preterm labor and other complications we received very little support and encouragement when we needed it most. But we knew - beyond a shadow of a doubt -that it was the right thing for our family. We knew she belonged with us. And how on earth could we not do what we knew was right? How could we not have faith that the Lord really only pushes us as far as we can go?

As I find myself caught up in this whirlwind called life, I often think, "Hello, is anyone watching me? Look ma, no hands!" But though I am tired and often feel worn down, I love them more than ever, these little fruits of my labors.

It is my wish that we recognize our courage in the seemingly small things we do, like simply carrying a child in our womb, let alone caring for it and protecting it once it is born. And that fear and unsurety we feel from time to time? Well, I've heard that defined as humility. Consider it an asurety that you are teachable and willing to learn to be better; to do better.

Be sure and stop by Morning Glory's blog, who's checking in while on vacation. And feel free to link yourself at both sites! Come one, come all!!!

Summer Snacks

Summer play stirs up quite the apetite. If you're looking to spice up snack time, here are some fun ideas for you.

*apples, sliced from top to bottom, core cut out with a small heart shaped cookie cutter
*pretzel rods with a large marshmellow on one end, dipped in PB and rolled in chocolate chips
*rainbow sprinkles over yogurt
*mini bagels, spread with PB and topped with thinly sliced apple slices
*english muffins, topped with tomato sauce, pepperonis and shredded mozarella - broiled
*made-to-order trail mix - favorite cereal, favorite dried fruit, favorite nut, and chocolate/PB/buttersctoch chips
*sushi treats - mold rice krispy treats into thick disc shape, wrap in a fruit roll up and stick a jelly belly in the center
*just about anything on a skewer - fruit, veggies, hotdogs and cheese, chicken and apples

We enjoyed our little trip very much... my brother-in-law's wedding. Here are a few pictures of me and my little flower girls.

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I have a lot of blog reading to catch up on, so I am sorry if it takes me a while to get to you. Remember, tomorrow is Woman to Woman! We're writing about our favorite quote, so please join us!

19 June 2007

Let them eat cake!

Every Monday, my children and I cook or bake together. Yesterday, in our hunt for something yummy, we came across these adorable cupcakes at Family Fun. And I got the idea to take it further by making a cookie sheet cake, with lily pads made of fondant, and these darling little frog eyes poking up all over the water. So today I will share my mother-in-law's delicious sheet cake recipe with you. It's come in handy in many-a-pinch! Then all you need to add to it is some blue icing for the water, fondant or green icing for lily pads, and green gumdrops/white chocolate chips/black decorator's icing for the eyes.

Your kids are sure to enjoy eating cake... just because!

Preheat oven to 400.

2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 stick butter
4 T cocoa
1 c. water
1/2 c. oil
2 eggs
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 t baking soda
1 t vanilla

Combine last 4 ingredients and pour over dry mixture (flour, sugar). Add eggs, buttermilk (dissolve baking soda in 1t or so of the buttermilk first) and vanilla. Mix well and pour into greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

CHOCOLATE FROSTING (if you prefer):
1 stick butter, melted
3 T cocoa
6 t milk
1 t vanilla
powdered sugar to spreading consistency


I will be out of town for the rest of the week... I hope you all have a good one! Morning Glory at Seeds From My Garden will be introducing the next Woman to Woman topic. Visit her for details on Thursday, June 21st!

13 June 2007

Attitude adjustment for one, please!

I was lamenting to my husband last night about how tired I've been with my 11 month old still waking at all hours of the night to feed and my boys not realizing that summer = sleeping in. Of course in male fashion he jumped right in ready to quick-fix the problem by saying, "Well, perhaps if you had less going on you would be better able to deal with less sleep." To which I defensively replied, "What am I supposed to do... give something up? Let's see, exercise? cooking? cleaning? spending time with my kids? serving in church? playing my viola? blogging? crafting? I don't see any of those things as dispensible... they all either keep me going or keep this house in order."

By now I am aware that I've got my hands on my hips and I am tapping my toe.

"So just adjust your attitude. Make it all work. And accept the results."

Attitude adjustment? Hmph! Make it work? Hmph! And accept that I will just have to be tired? Hmph!

But remain fulfilled. I guess this is the point where I recognize the thickness of motherhood in which I stand - 4 children under the age of 8 - and decide to pull myself up by my boot straps and keep on keepin' on, or continue to whine.

I hate it when he's right!

11 June 2007

Woman to Woman: "Having the latest baby everything"

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"There is such a variety of baby products available in stores that it can be overwhelming. Add to that the pressure you often feel from your peers to have the latest and greatest of baby equipment. Add to that still the bombardment of products that promise to make your baby smarter, faster.

When you want to be hip AND have those things that make mommying a little easier, how do you keep from breaking the budget?For those women who are past the child-raising stage, do you have difficulty with these pressures in wanting to provide the "goodies" for the grandchildren? Do you see them as a hindrance towards a child's natural ability to develop? What were some ways that you were able to achieve similar benefits without all the bells and whistles?"

I somehow managed to get by without a changing table, an exersaucer, a bobby pillow, or a bouncer with my first child. Her cradle was borrowed. Her wardrobe consisted mainly of onesies. And when it came time to move her into a crib, we started with just a mattress on the floor. We had the bare bones essentials, and just a couple luxuries (diaper genie, swing - both of which have lasted all this time, and stroller - we're on our second now), and we got by just fine. You'd hardly know by looking at her that she was so "deprived". Lol.

But as soon as I could afford some fun stuff, I got it. I got the boppy pillow with #2. And seriously, that was a great investment. It's lasted me 3 pregnancies now. I also got the bouncy seat. Or whatever you call it. So useful, I cannot even remember the proper name for it. Yeah - thumbs down on that one. But I was sure I needed yet another baby container. By the time I had #3, I also got the exersaucer. Another good investment - it's gotten tons of mileage by our last 2 babies. And finally, with #4, a baby gym. Meh... those things really depend on the child. Sasha was unamused, whereas Drew - who played with a borrowed one - just loved it.

Throughout the pregnancies, there have been some very good, worthwhile purchases, and some very frivoulous ones. I recall a side-sleeping positioner that was rejected by all my babies. As well as a "kick and play" (similar to the more expensive baby gym). We were given a bottle warmer and sanitizer, neither of which came in good use.

I have loved, however, my baby food processor. It is perfect for small amounts of food. Other wise purchases have been burp cloths (lots of them - you never know if you're gonna get a real spitter), lap pads (thick washable changing pad - hard to find) and a really good breast pump (I have used a Medela Pump in Style for 3 babies now).

Now. You all know. how I love. the baby toppings. Lol. That's the only way I know to describe the "fun stuff". If it's a boy, well you'll save a bundle in this area. If it's a girl, my suggestion is to get crafty, and fast. Baby girl bows and jewelry and outfits can be insanely over priced. But easy to reproduce yourself. And oh so much fun!

As for the toys and all that... I think a baby could grow up with a good set of blocks and learn every bit as much through play as a baby with all the bells and whistles. I vividly remember my creative pretend play as a child... setting up a grocery store in our living room, making a doll house out of shoes boxes, throwing a blanket on the ground and pretending it was a pool. With a chair to jump off of as our diving board. And very little of that play involved toys.

If we're not careful, we're going to raise our children entirely in a digital world where everything is put up on a screen for them, and little is left to their own imagination. Why are we so afraid of idle time? Is there some chance of mental degression if our children are not stimulated 24/7? Baby Einstein videos anyone?

I think there is value in boredom. Not unattended boredom, mind you. But boredom is what gets our children problem solving. It gets them thinking about creative ways to fill their time. I like to give my kids a bag of odds and ends and watch them come up with some way to have fun with them. A paper towel roll becomes a telescope. A pencil and string become a fishing rod. A plastic plate becomes a shield. A sheet becomes a toga. A wooden spoon works well as a wand. A pillow case makes a great cape. I also love a good homemade toy.

I hope some first time mother stumbles across some of these posts. There are millions of lists out there - of baby layettes and baby's first library and baby's nursery needs. I both got by without half the stuff suggested to me and found that I didn't need some things I really held out for! The truth is, your baby needs very little, and certainly not all at once. There is plenty of time to assess, even after he/she arrives. It is amazing how little you care about what they are wearing once they finally arrive.

Don't forget to see what Morning Glory's readers have to say! We'd both appreciate your comments AND links!

More summer fare

Too many posts on the brain today...

I've got a good trip down memory lane for this week's kid friendly recipe. They're called dreamboats, and I imagine they came about as the result of what you might call a "clean out your freezer" moment. I tried a search for them and did not find anything like what my mother made under that particular term. But if they are a tried and true recipe, I believe they'd have been a big hit in the 70s.

All you do is slice open a hotdog (not quite all the way), stuff it with hot mashed potatoes, and top with a slice of melted cheddar cheese. Mmmmmm! These are great for outdoor parties, and could go well along with some kind of water theme. Plus, they really hit the spot when you've worked up a good apetite romping in the grass.

I wish I had an image for you, but they do not last long around here! Enjoy!

I am a great, big, sentimental sap! And proud of it...

I am one of those moms that get teary at very unexpected moments... I could simply be telling you about something funny one of my children said, and begin crying.

Jonah had his first swimming lesson on Saturday. I hired a private teacher so that he would be able to concentrate and retain what he learns. It will be important for him to learn good water safety skills as we will be vacationing around a lot of water this summer, and he is one impulsive little boy.

The place where we attend lessons is in a pretty rural area. And we go in the morning. The air was cool. There was a nice breeze and no blazing sun. It was very quiet outside, except for a farmer plowing off in the distance. And my little boy in the water with his instructor.

It is so nice to get a moment to focus exclusively on one of your children. I watched as he tenderly held onto his teacher's shoulders, who was trying to teach him to keep his legs straight back behind him when he kicked.

I realized, as I have time and time again, that he has the most heart warming smile... and eyeleashes that go on for miles. Then there is his cute, wrinkled up little nub nose, which will soon be speckled with freckles from days spent playing outdoors. And it wasn't long before, you guessed it, I was wiping the tears from my eyes. I thank the Lord for these unexpected moments when we are filled with so much love for our children!

You know, there was a time when I did not look forward to the summer months. Up until this summer, I've been mostly pregnant and on some form of bedrest, or caring for a newborn. And stressed. But this summer I am excited to spend quality time with my children, a lot of it one on one. And I think it will be the start of some very fun traditions... weekly baking, art activities, trips to the library, swimming...

Speaking of fun, it is time to announce the winner of my first summer give-away! I am pleased to announce that the custom made magnets will go to Morning Glory from Seeds From My Garden! Congratulations MG! I tell you, she is one lucky woman. She won the virtual chocloates and pedicure last summer for guessing what day Sasha would be born!

Stay tuned for more summer give-aways! You might want to find a way to brush shoulders with MG if you want to win! Lol!

Don't forget to join us for Woman to Woman tomorrow!

08 June 2007

First give-away of the summer!

This first give-away is a fun one. These magnets are handmade from large flat clear gems and your color choice of scrapbook paper... Enter a comment, any comment, in this post between now and 11:59 PM CST on Sunday, June 10th for a chance to win! Winner will be announced on Monday, June 11th.

06 June 2007

Who needs a dog when we have Drew?

My children (and husband) have been begging me for a puppy for a long time now. I am not really a dog person, and can hardly fathom the idea of taking care of anyone/thing else right now. So I've had jurisdiction in this decision. After recent events, I believe I also have reason on my side.

My 31 month old Drew is 36 lbs. and 3 feet tall. Bigger than your average "puppy". He's always been a great eater. Rarely turns his nose up at anything. Vegetables included. His siblings, however, will often leave a few bites behind on their plates, with the intent of finishing once they become hungry again. But they do not always get that chance, as Drew often sneaks back into the kitchen (the instant I become distracted) and laps up their remainders in seconds flat.

Just this afternoon I came downstairs to find my little Drew eating tiny popcorn pieces and half popped kernels off the floor. I found it endearing. I know that he feels left out of our afternoon ritual of popping corn (which always happens during his naptime), and I feel badly about that. But I also found it funny, because the similarities between this little four-legged housekeeper of mine and the puppy which everyone in my house begs for is uncanny.

#1 - We are currently potty training (I SO do not want to add to that stress - dogs are probably even harder to teach than humans - given that they do not find much value in sticker charts). #2 - he currently answers to the ever popular dog name "Bruiser" (see forehead for details).
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#3 - he affectionately burrows himself into you when he wants to play.
#4 he loves to chase the cat.
#5 - he nips.

Does that not seal the deal? I think the only thing that might be in a puppy's favor is the fact that he will probably learn to "sit!" much more quickly. Bruiser's been working on THAT one for quite some time now, and I don't see the formulation of an obedience school for toddlers anytime soon.


Our next Woman to Woman will take palce on June 12th. The topic is "Having the latest baby everything", which will be particularly relevant to today's young mothers. There is such a variety of baby products available in stores that it can be overwhelming. Add to that the pressure you often feel from your peers to have the latest and greatest of baby equipment. Add to that still the bombardment of products that promise to make your baby smarter, faster. When you want to be hip AND have those things that make mommying a little easier, how do you keep from breaking the budget?

For those women who are past the child-raising stage, do you have difficulty with these pressures in wanting to provide the "goodies" for the grandchildren? Do you see them as a hindrance towards a child's natural ability to develop? What were some ways that you were able to achieve similar benefits without all the bells and whistles?

04 June 2007

La, la, la, la lemon....

Lemonade with mint

2c sugar
1c water
a few sprigs of fresh mint
6 lemons

Bring water to a boil, and add sugar. Reduce to simmer, add mint and cover for 5 minutes. Juice lemons and combine with syrup. Add about 2 T (or to taste) of mixture to a glass of ice water. So refreshing!

02 June 2007

Satisfy me!

In my frantic rushes to accomplish this and that, go here and there, buy this great new helpful thing or that great new helpful thing, the thought has occurred to me (many times) that I am not satisfied. And how can that be when I've been blessed with spiritual knowledge, a beautiful family, opportunities to use my talents, and friends and family who care about me? It all depends on my focus... when I am focused on the things I do not need, then I am not satisfied. Because you can never get enough of what you don't need... it will never fill the void. The ability to balance wants and needs is tricky to come by.

For example, I am currently on Weight Watchers (I have 12 post pregnancy pounds to lose). On the days that I am vigilant about eating well and exercising, I feel a constant need for chocolate, or some equally evil pleasure (that I don't need). And then on the day I allow myself to indulge, I do not feel satisfied.

Are you following? Sigh. Grab yourself a snack, this may take a while. And PLEASE forgive the semi lucid mommy blogger who was up all night with a teething baby and still has deep thoughts to unload. :)

Instant gratification. That's what it's all about. Because we're in survival mode a lot of the time. Or I'm in survival mode a lot of the time. I probably am not a high enough priority in my own life... or at least, not in the ways that would truly satisfy me. I feel like we kind of touched on this subject a little in our last Woman to Woman. We wrote about the things we do well. Which is an important thing for us to recognize in such an ungrateful world. But I also came away from that topic realizing where my focus ought to be.

My husband and I have recognized in ourselves lately a lack of discipline in two areas that really aid in parental sanity: body and spirit. An oxymoron of a pair in today's world (there is so much focus, to the point of vanity, on the former, when really there needs to be a perfect balance)!

Parallel that with the constant feeling of defeat and inner conflict: "I'm not doing enough for my kids... I am not doing enough for my job... " and on and on. It's that want of measuring up that crowds out our need to just focus on us - the one thing you can control. I have told my younger brothers this before, but still it is a struggle, to pay no mind to the "world". Anyway, "a little less conversation, a little more action", eh?

Mondays are cooking days at la casa de fun. I will be sharing recipes throughout the summer on Mondays - some of them child friendly and some of them just family favorites! I am also going to be hosting some give aways beginning next week (oooooh, ahhhhh)!

See ya then!