Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Elasti-Girl, I'm Not

Recently, we watched "The Incredibles".  It is one of our family's favorites, but I was still surprised when that was the movie the girls chose.  See ... Aaron was gone for the evening and the girly-girls had the opportunity to choose any movie they wanted.  Any Princess-Fairy-Musical-Chickette flick they wanted.  And they unanimously voted for the Super-Hero-Family-Adventure-Action movie.  Huh ... go figure.

With this recent movie and all the fantastic super-hero abilities bopping around in the girls' heads, there has been three super-heroettes running up and down the stairs, fighting bad guys, using their force "bubbles" and pretty much, saving the day!

It is an absolute hoot to watch Liddy with her tough face (i.e. squinty eyes and poochy-out lips) speeding down the hall, skidding to a stop and yelling, "No!  Stop!  Here!"  (Pretty much her entire vocabulary!)  She has been assigned the roll of Dash, the speedy little brother, so dialogue isn't much of an issue.

Ashley, on the other hand, is playing the roll of Violet while wearing Lydia's Wonder Woman costume with the cape.  How she fits her 5 year old body into her 2 year old sister's Halloween costume requires some amazing super-hero abilities!

Norah has chosen to be Mom, of course.  Mainly so that she can be the boss, make sure the game is going the way she wants and so that she can have the amazing powers of stretching her arms and legs to inhumane lengths.  I'm not sure she's actually roll-playing so much as enjoying being herself.  Her flexible, mothering, controlling self.  :)

All this super-hero action has gotten me thinking about what super-hero abilities I would like to have.  Knowing that I am not SuperMom frees me up from choosing such boring skills as infinite patience and micro-macro-multi-tasking and makes me want to have these instead:

  • Yard-Sale Radar:  The ability to drive past a yard sale and with one quick scan be able to tell if there is indeed anything there I need.  This would save me the effort of finding a parking place, unbuckling the brood, wandering amidst stuff we don't need, wrestling said "un-needed items" from brood and returning to the car empty-handed and hot.

  • Telekidnesis:  The ability to move things with my mind ... mainly my children and their many belongings.  This would free me up from making multiple requests to get in the van, come to the table or get out of the shower.  I can only imagine their stunned looks the first time I plopped them in bed and pinned them down with my mind!

  • WhereIsMy? ESP:  Upon being asked were Polly Pocket's microscopic left shoe is, I could say with full confidence, "It's on the top shelf of the bookcase in your room under the Mickey Mouse hat, on top of the lost pink princess sock and behind the empty shoe box you said you wanted for your treasures."  Ta-dah!

  • Sippy-cup Scan:  Seeing as there is really nothing worse that wondering where the missing sippy-cup half-filled of milk might be ... this is a no brainer.  Rather than spending my quiet-time on my hands and knees looking under couches and under blankets, I could just scan my laser-eyes around the room, locate the fermenting cup of doom stuffed in the toy bin under the fish tank and dispose of the lethal concoction properly.

  • Sleep Grip:  When that little person appears at the top of the stairs for the fifth time to tell me, "I can't get to sleep," (Well, of course not ... you're standing at the top of the stairs, silly!), my super-power would allow me to gently guide the oh-too-tired zombie to his or her room and with a little squeeze on their shoulder, usher them off to dreamland.

And finally ...

  • Shopping Shield:  With my nifty, iridescent power shield around my kids, my shopping cart and me, I could walk the aisles without the worry of anyone in my herd running away or helping themselves to unwanted food items.  I would be able to reach through the shield to select items off the shelves, but the little people would be powerless against it.  Actually ... I wonder if it would work for my cart and kids to be in the bubble and I could walk along beside it.  And if it was sound-proof ... hey, I'm liking this more every minute!

Alas ... I don't believe that any of these amazing abilities are on God's list of spiritual gifts.  I guess I'll just have to be thankful for His Holy Spirit that can help me get through the tough days ... in spite of my plain old humanness. :)

If you could have your own SuperMom ability, what would it be?

Today's post comes on my last sane day for the next four-ish weeks ... SuperMom, indeed!  With VBS prep-work, a trip to the Eastern Slope for a wedding (yippee!), more VBS work, the actual week of VBS (Big Apple here we come!), a family trip to Wisconsin for a reunion and a quick trip back for Norah's state gymnastic meet ... I'm not sure that I will be able to do it all!  Oh ... and being a mom and wife, too. Whew!  So ... if you don't hear from me every day as usual, that's why!  But seeing as the weeks are promised to be filled with snapshots to capture and celebrate - I don't imagine I'll be able to stay away entirely!   Until next post ...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Foodless Food For Thought

Yep ... today's Food For Thought is lacking a bit in the food department.  Instead, today my thoughts are a tad bit busy with trying to capture and celebrate the snapshots of my big kids' last day of school.  I'm not entirely sure how the year flew by as quickly as it did, but zoooom!  We're done!

Now, 181 days later, twice that many packed lunches (that exhausts me right there!), about 100 trips up and down the hill to school, 5 Art Heritage projects, approximately 30 Wacky Wonderful Wednesdays and 4 trees worth of homework ... and we can say that we have successfully accomplished all that 2nd & 3rd graders should.  And probably a little bit more!

Over the past several weeks, it has been a joy to hear back from Aaron & Norah's teachers about what a pleasure it was to have them in their classes.  Beautiful encouragement for us parents that all our work at home to train up loving, fun and respectful kids is seeing fruit.  That and praying for God to grown them up in Him!  I guess I could say that, like the young boy, Jesus, they have grown, "in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." (Luke 2:52)  Yeah, God!

It has been fun to watch the kids grow over the last many months and not only academically, socially and in maturity ... but in height, too.  Here are my babies ... my how they've changed!

Aaron's First Day of 3rd Grade

Aaron's Last Day of 3rd Grade
I would say that my just-a-little-bit self-conscious boy has loosened up a bit ... a smidgen more of Joe Coolness about him now.  Gratefully, he's still my little guy, giving smooches in the kitchen after breakfast ... he just doesn't have to get on his tip-toes to deliver his kisses now.  It has also been terribly sweet to see Aaron being a faithful friend to his buddies ... in and out and up and down this whole year.  He is a true and loyal friend.

Norah's First Day of 2nd Grade

Norah's Last Day of 2nd Grade
Again, I see a bit more self-confidence in my little girl.  Also, it has given me great joy to see Norah relax and be a bit more silly.  She can take life very seriously ... she is almost paralyzed at times.  As she has maneuvered through 2nd grade, we have seen her laugh at herself more and accept some non-perfection in her life.  Sometimes. :)  Norah also has grown in her friendships and the "Three Peas in a Pod" have been a wonderful source of laughter, learning and love ... it's good to have and BE a friend.

Now for the whole gang.  Remember this snapshot?

First Day of School Last Fall
Even at home, my babies have been growing like, um, not weeds so much ... uh ... growing like that big Bertha pumpkin behind them!  

Ashley and I went through the alphabet this year - a letter a week ... or so.  We finished with the letter "Z" this past week, just in time.  Whew!  She is very excited to start reading now that she knows all her sounds and her writing has improved by leaps and bounds.  I'm not sure how she will make it through the summer knowing that Kindergarten is just around the bend, but I'll try to keep her busy in the meantime.  In addition to these very important skills, she can also blow bubbles with her gum and snap ... so she's definitely a big kid now.

Lydia has transformed this year from a toddler to a kid.  No more diapers, no more bibs and no more help, thankyouverymuch.  Anything the big kids do, she figures she can, too, be it scooting on the skateboard, drinking out of big cups or chewing, uh ... eating gum.  She "can doooo."  She and Ashley are such good friends ... and they are fine-tuning each other on a moment by moment basis.  With minimal refereeing from yours truly. :)

Here's my little monkeys this morning ... I love their scootchiness with each other and their silly, sweet smiles.  And, yes.  The babies are in swimsuits again, this time in honor of Aaron and Norah's Water Field Day at school.  "We've got spirit! Yeah, yeah! We've got spirit!  Yeah, yeah!"  We also might be experiencing a bit of swimsuit chaff ... but we don't care!  :)

I want to kiss each every little nose!
And of, course, I now give you the picture they really wanted me to take ... goofballs!

In just a few snapshots, I am blown away by how different my kids are in just a mere nine months.  

All the more incentive to not blink for the next 18 years! :)

(Can someone pass the eye-drops?)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

This Summer, I Pledge ...

Today my big kids are having their swim-day at school.  They packed their pool bags last night in anticipation ... which meant, of course, that Norah had all her parts together (including her diving sticks so she can practice) and Aaron dashed off to the laundry room this morning when I asked if he had a towel.  Two completely different kids!

In honor of Norah and Aaron playing at the pool today, Ashley and Lydia are wearing their own swimsuits and we'll have to peel them off their little bodies tonight at bedtime. :)

In reality, school is already over ... with the pool-day today and field day tomorrow, we're as good as done.  Except for one teeny-tiny detail.

They aren't actually home yet.

That starts officially on Tuesday.  Then our true summer vacation begins.

In an honest attempt to "do" summer well this year, I am making the following promises ... and encourage you to take the pledge with me!

1.  Don't forget to get outside everyday.  Even on the insanely hot, piercingly sunny, "yes, we live in the desert" days.  That might mean that we go out right after breakfast ... but we will get outside.

2.  Don't skimp on the sun-screen.  I am already sporting two toasty pink shoulders from "Rocket Day" yesterday with Aaron's class.  And I'm ashamed to admit that Ashley ended up with a couple of pink parts, as well.  So ... we will be slathered or sitting in the shade.

3.  Don't spend too much time/energy/brain-power worrying about whether my arms are ready for tank-tops or my legs for shorts.  It's the desert and it's hot.  The less clothes the better.  Get over it.

4.  Don't get in a dither about the swimsuit issue, either.  The point is to be in the pool, enjoying the kids and staying cool.  And considering I'll have my 4 kids splashing around me, no one is really paying any attention to me.  Right?  ...sigh...

5.  Don't let the kids get bored.  We have a very full June, but starting in July we will be keeping the kids hopping with summer cinema, the reading program through the library and our family study of famous people.  Actually, we'll have the kids looking forward to the promise of the peace and quiet of school!

6.  Don't forget to take time for me.  That might mean still getting up at 6:20 every morning for my workouts and keeping up with "nap" time in the afternoon.  Whatever I need to be sane and happy!

7.  Don't freak out about the daily schedule.  This is a tough one for me because I am a planner by nature and I like a routine.  But ... when faced with a spontaneous option to go play with friends, I plan to say, "Yes ... we'd love to!"

8.  Don't throw our entire routine out the window!  Everyone needs fun-time, play-time, read-time and down-time.  Even Mommy.

9.  Don't pass up on any opportunities to tip-toe through the flower gardens, sip fresh (and sweet) ice tea, sit and listen to the birds, harvest fresh veggies from our garden, sit in the evening on the back porch with my sweetie and a glass of wine, and snuggles on the couch with all my kids ... maybe watching a movie during the heat of the day.

10.  Don't blink.  It'll be August before we know it ... and I don't want to miss out on anything this summer has to offer!


Writing Prompt #5 ~ Your Top Ten Summer Don'ts.  Mommy-Style.  When I first thought about this post, thoughts came to mind of keeping up with my pedicure and a list of books that I want to read.   Then reality set in :) and I remembered that in our house, it's not about me!   This may no be exciting ... but it's my reality.  And my kids really are more important than my toes. :)

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Time-Warp Wednesday ... Bonus Version :)

This week's Time-Warp Wednesday is particularly painful ... uh ... I mean, special.  As part of the linky party,

I'm giving you not only an opportunity to time warp back to MY senior year, but to that of many other brave souls who are joining a belle, a bean & a chicago dog for this walk down memory lane.  Please ignore the screaming ... they are screams of laughter and fun.  I think.

For my Senior Hottie selection, I have chosen my senior photo shoot got awry.  And seeing as you know what was going through my head ("What's with the wind?  Why's it so bright out? and Are we done yet?"), I thought it would be fun to guess what could possibly have been going through the photographer's deranged mind.

I think it would have gone something like this ...

"Okay.  Here's a good spot.  It's a parking lot, but if we pose you over here, nobody will know.  Yeah.  That'll work great.  Smile."

"Great.  That was really nice.  It is a little windy, but I think it should die down in a bit.  Let's see.  What if we had you sit on the fence?  What do you think?  Great!  Just climb on up there."

"Good, good.  You feel okay up there?  You're not going to fall off are you?  Grab a hold of that fence post there ... but try to look natural, too.  You know ... let's have you kick your leg up there, too.  Hold on tight ... but not too tight.  Relax ... Perfect.  Smile!"

"Wow.  You're really photogenic.  You look really relaxed up there on that rickety fence.  How about if we turn you this way a little bit and get another shot of you from this angle.  Ready ... smile!  Wow!  That last gust of wind almost blew your shirt sideways.  I think I caught it on film."  

"Okay.  How about you climb down from that perch and stand behind the fence.  Good.  Clasp your hands like this.  Perfect.  Smile."

"Okay ... that looks nice ... really spiritual and pretty at the same time.  Hmmm ... what's that?  You're praying we're almost done?  Ha!  Nah ... I have a couple more ideas.  Let's have you turn this way so that you're facing the sun a bit more ... a little bit more ... just a teensy bit more ... perfect.  Smile!"

"Whew!  That last gust was a doozy!  But you're a trooper.  Okay ... for the last one, lets have you turn this way bit and fold your arms on the top of the fence.  Yeah, just like that.  Perfect.  Smile."

"Wow ... fantastic!  The mountains in the background with the changing colors in the oak brush and the weathered look of this fence post ... sniff, sniff .... it's just so beautiful.  Oh ... and you?  Well, of course, you look swell.  Your eyes?  Oh yeah, I'm sure they were open."

Alright ... now it's time to head on over and endure .... er, I mean, enjoy some other senior snapshots.  Have fun!  And be nice in the comments! :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Please Pass the Tissues

Over the last couple of days, I've had the sniffles.  And a head that appears to have grown two-sizes too big.  Nothing terrible, just that puny feeling you get when you don't feel 100%.  Yesterday my body said, "all done" and in place of getting anything completed in the afternoon, I snoozed.  And drooled.  When I woke up (and realized that I had to get back in gear), this post began "forming in my brain" (know the movie?)

The Top Ten Bonuses of Being Sorta Sick

10.  Napping.  I do love naps, but I have trouble rationalizing them.  But, when you find yourself suddenly unconscious, no guilt there!  Of course when you wake up feeling like a cotton-headed-ninny-muggins, it does take a while to get up and function normally!

9.  Appreciating water.  Have you ever noticed how delicious water is when you're parched?  And when my nose is stuffed and I'm walking around panting, I find that water is utterly delightful for this inadvertent mouth-breather.

8.  Being pampered.  My little people have spoiled me a bit today ... that or they finally gave up expecting much from me.  When Mommy feels puny, you apparently have to fend for yourselves and get your own snacks.  And milk.  And anything else you usually depend upon Mommy for.

7.  Moving slower.  Yesterday was a regularly full Monday, but I was moving in slow-motion.  We usually try to be out the door for grocery shopping by 10:00.  We wandered out the door around 10:30 and I wasn't even stressed.  Mainly because I couldn't make myself move any faster ... pokey, pokey, pokey.

6.  Saying "no".  I did manage a work-out yesterday morning, but when the crazy work-out lady started her kung-fu kicks, I felt absolutely no shame in saying, "That's all you, Lady ... I'm going to just march in place ... or shuffle a bit."

5.  Comfy clothes.  No one looks down on you for wearing your sweats all day when you are sick.  It's also okay to pull your hair back in a pony-tail.  Or stuff tissues in your sleeves.  Well ... maybe that last one's a stretch.

4.  TV.  I don't watch a lot of TV during the day ... it just doesn't seem to fit into my schedule, if you can imagine!  However, on puny days, I'm all for plopping down on the couch and catching up on all the Bobby Flay Throw-Downs I can find.  And to keep my brain from turning to mush, I'll challenge myself with a few episodes of Cash Cab. :)

3.  Sitting.  Typically I put my tennis shoes on in the morning and I don't really stop moving until I take them off at night.  Yesterday, however, when my little Liddy came to me and said, "Bo", I was only to happy to reply, "Yes ... let's go outside and blow bubbles."  As she blowed her "bo's", I sat on the front step, propped myself against the side house and rested my head on the bricks.  Pathetic?  Absolutely.  Embarrassed?  Nope.

2.  Knowing where the Kleenex are.  Next to me.  And so is the trashcan to avoid the mess that Meg Ryan cleaned up right before Tom Hanks visited her in "You've Got Mail".  (One of my all-time favorite scenes in the movie.)

1. Appreciating good health.  I don't realize how much I take for granted my "get up and get 'er done" abilities until I feel under the weather and feel like the day is getting one up on me!  I'm grateful for my good health and I'm grateful for how God, the Good Physician, has knitted me together ... and continues to knit me back together when something goes awry.

Here's to a better (and less sniffly day) tomorrow!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Loving Well

As a mom, one of my main goals of each day is to love my kids.  It sounds simple enough, but it can actually be a bit challenging.  At any given moment in which I find myself with the opportunity to show love to one of my babies, I am faced with the following obstacles:  loving that particular child in a way that speaks to their heart (speaking their love language),  not competing with the other three children for that child's moment with Mommy, and have the oomph and energy to do it with the right motives.  When I'm able to love that child well, even if for just a few minutes, they walk away a little taller and a little more confident and I feel a stronger connection with them.  It's definitely worth the work.  My love is making a difference in that little person's life.  But sometimes ...

There are days when my kids seem to be pouncing on my every nerve ... at the same time.  These are the days when it’s harder to see that my love is making a difference or whether it’s getting lost in the busy-ness of making meals, cleaning house, taxiing kids and wiping noses.
  • Did I give those instructions to “wash up for dinner” in a loving manner, or in a “just get it done” fashion?  
  • Did I tuck that little one into bed with loving tenderness, or did I just go through the motions so I could get out the door?
  • Did I snuggle my little one enough today ... speaking her love language of touch?  
  • Did I sign that lunchbox love note from the heart, or did I just do it because it’s expected?

Gratefully, God knows my heart (both my desire to love my kids well and that I'm stretched pretty thin some days) and He gives me little snapshots of proof that my kids are absorbing the love I give them.
The evidence of my love is in the quick hug at the kitchen sink and the, “Thanks for dinner, Mommy” ... from my independent nine-year old boy, no less.
It’s there in the chubby little smile and out-stretched arms of my two-year old in the morning after a good night’s sleep.  Even if bed-time the night before was a bit of a wrestling match.
It’s there when my five-year old reaches up to hold my hand on a walk, and doesn’t want to let go when we get home.
And it’s there when I find that my seven-year old daughter stores up her many lunchbox love notes in the pocket of her backpack to read again.  And again.

Thanks, God, for my kids ... and the opportunity to invest in their little lives.  Help me to love them well.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Food For Thought

I don't know about you, but I can sometimes find myself feeling a little breakfast challenged.  The kids would be perfectly content to eat cereal or bagels for every morning meal, but I get bored.  I want something to shake it up a bit and break up the monotony of milk-infused mush and half-eaten, cream cheese-licked bread.  I also find that on school mornings, things get a bit tight and I don't have enough minutes to whip up a batch of pancakes ... unless Daddy beats me to the punch and then it's "Yahoo!  Pancakes!" :)

So ... to get us out of the breakfast boredom, I would like to offer you three delicious bites which I will refer to as Baked Breakfast Bliss!  You can make all of them up ahead of time and WOW! your kids at the table in the morning with pure scrumptiousness!  You can thank me later ...

First up we have ...

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins
(This recipe is from Pillsbury: Best Muffins and Quick Breads, page 67.  Just a few tweaks.)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 small apples, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg, slightly beaten

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 T pecans, finely chopped
1/4 t. cinnamon

In a small bowl, toss the apples with 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour.  This will help the apples to mix into the batter better.

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.  Toss in the apples and stir.  Add the remaining wet ingredients and mix just until the batter is moist.  There will be lumps.

Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tin (use either cooking spray or cupcake liners).  Set this aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients.  Sprinkle this over each muffin.

Bake the for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Pop them out of the muffin pan after about 5 minutes and let cool.

The sweet topping was a hit and the apples were a surprise!

Next, I give you ...

Oatmeal Raisin Yogurt Muffins
(This recipe is from the foil liner of a Dannon Yogurt container.  Surprise!)

1 cup flour (I used 1/2 white and 1/2 wheat.)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup yogurt (I used vanilla.)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 T. oil

In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients, including the raisins.  In a small bowl, combine the wet ingredients.  Add the yogurt mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until combined.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare the muffin tin either with cooking spray or cupcake liners.  Divide the batter between the 12 openings.

Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Be sure to remove them from the pan after letting them cool for about 5 minutes.  Leaving them in the pan causes their little bottoms to get soggy.  Not as appetizing.

Delicious little bites ... raisins, nuts, yum!

And the grand finale ...

Hearty Baked Granola
(This recipe is from my friend, Kelley Z.  Thanks for sharing!  I made a few adjustments, as usual.)

1 stick butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs, beaten
6 cups rolled oats
4 t. baking powder
2 t. salt
2 cups milk
1 t. vanilla extract
Extras:  1 cup nuts, 1 cup raisins, 1/4 cup flax seed, 1 cup dried fruit ... get creative!

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well.  Pour the mixture into an un-greased 9x13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  How much more simple could it get?!?

Nutty, sweet, hearty ... and not bad for your heart, either!

Kelley encouraged us to pour a little milk over our granola "square" and we are really glad we did!  Norah commented that it was,  "kind of like eating milk & oatmeal cookies for breakfast ... only it's good for you!"  We polished the first pan off in matter of days ... hears hoping the one I made today lasts a little longer.  But I'm not holding my breath ... mainly 'cause I'm eating. :)

Ashley called this, "Pure Heaven" ... enough said.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

My Mouth is Not Happy

I don't think that I've ever been a truly picky-eater, although my mother might have some enlightening stories.  I do remember that I was known for picking the meat out of an meal and leaving the green stuff behind, but what kid doesn't shun veggies?  I know I had a deep aversion to fish or anything that had once swam with fish (i.e. shrimp, lobster, etc); I was much more a red-meat gal.  I also remember feeling a tad-bit grossed out whenever there was something sweet in a savory dish.  For example I was a little repulsed by grapes in my chicken-salad, pineapple on my pizza and raisins on a green salad.  ... shiver ...

As my palate has matured, however, I have found myself willing to try new things and re-discover that some foods that I pushed around my plate as a kid are actually rather delicious.  Who knew that brussels sprouts cooked just right with a little balsamic vinegar and feta cheese could be so scrumptious!  As for the contrasting sweet and savory flavors in a dish ... can you pass the mango salsa? With the heat of the jalapenos and the coolness of the cilantro, I find myself forgoing the chip and reaching for a spoon!  And sushi?  I don't know how to say "addict" in Japanese ... but that would be me!

Armed with such bold culinary courage, I thought that were wasn't really anything out there for which I wouldn't request seconds.

I was wrong.

Several years ago, my hubby and I celebrated our 10th anniversary with a "just you and me" trip to the Oregon coast.  One of the recommendations that we received from everyone we talked to (family members, fellow tourists and B&B owners alike) was lunch at Moe's.

"Get their clam chowder ... you'll love it!"

"You have to have a bowl of their clam chowder.  You'll never eat chowder out of a can again."

"Stop and have their clam chowder.  It's amazing!"

So, of course, we went to Moe's.  And we ordered the clam chowder.  And then we got a little curious.

The table-tent next to the condiments sang the praises of Moe's oysters, too.  Hmmmm ...

"I've never had oysters, have you?"


"I guess if you're ever going to eat an oyster, this is the place, right?"

"Right," flagging the waitress, "We'll take two of the oysters on a half-shell."

The little squishy fellas arrived and stared up at us.  The song from "Alice in Wonderland" floated into my head ... curious little oysters ...

Brett and I looked at each other, grabbed our shell, smiled painfully and ... down the hatch!


It was the most awful mouthful I have ever gagged down - made only worse by the fact that I bit into that slimy little oyster and felt a squirt of nasty salt-water spew down my throat.

Uuuggghhhh ....  I can still taste the slippery little thing ... slimy, rubbery, salty and way too big!  There was not enough water at the table to wash away that sea-water taste, or the sensation of swallowing something slick and stubborn at the same time!  Even now, my little gag-reflex twitches when I think back on it.  ... gulp ...

Gratefully, our clam chowder showed up shortly after my shellfish-shock and I was able to end the meal on a good note.  Actually it was a deliciously, creamy note.  A lip-smacking note that I think back on with fondness and a little surge in my appetite.

So ... if you ever find yourself on the Oregon coast, go to Moe's for their clam chowder.

Just avoid those slimy, slippery, squishy little oysters.  The curiosity will leave you with a stomachache.


Writing Prompt #4 ~ Describe a food you abhor.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Time-Warp Wednesday

This past Monday, I posted a photo from our wedding.  Two little love birds leaving the church amid bubble-blowing family and friends ... such a sweet memory!  It has been fun this week to reminisce with the kids about our ceremony (after watching our video, Norah remarked that it was "too long...") and our reception (Mommy stuffed the cake first?!?) and a few snapshots of our honeymoon (pictures of Daddy "when he was a little boy" ~Ashley).

Just so you can see just how much we have changed/grown/expanded/matured, here are a few fun snapshots:

The first is from our honeymoon in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  This is the bridge in front of Fish Creak Falls.  One morning, we packed a lunch and drove up to the falls for a picnic and a little exercise.  Another visitor to the bridge offered to take our picture.  So young ... and it was just the two of us!  Who knew that we would end up living on my side of the state?  Who knew we'd be horribly out-numbered by our children someday?  Who knew Brett would still have that shirt? :)

The next photo is from our family reunion last summer.  Just a mere 12 years later and a lot has changed!  For one thing, Brett is sporting a goatee and I have glasses now.  But that's not the most obvious development!  The biggest change would be the four little people surrounding/climbing on/hovering around us.  That would be Fish Creek Falls behind us again (from the wall above the bridge) ... and it looks the same as ever, even if we don't!

As you can see, we're still smiling ... because we have a lot to smile about.  Take those kids that are surrounding/climbing on/hovering around us ... they bring us a lot of smiles!  

Oh ... and we still really like each other, so that accounts for a large portion of the smiling, too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Narcissistic Nines

We have gently joked that our oldest is our guinea pig-child.  But it's 100% true.

From the very first moments of his life, we have been blindly bumping along in our parenting, feeling out the territory and making choices based on our "vast" experience and background as Mom and Dad.  And just when it appears that maybe we've figured something out, we discover that either our plan doesn't actually work, or the kid gets a bit older and the new parenting skill is obsolete.

Then we store away that experience with the hopes that it will help with the next kid (because who wants to re-invent the wheel?) and take the next parenting step with our ever-growing boy.  With new Mommy-skills to adapt and a steep learning curve to overcome.

Fortunately with each kid, many of our tested and true tools of parenting could be used again.  With each kid we have been able to look back and see what worked and what didn't (a lot of what didn't, really!) and put in to practice our plan while making sure to tweak it a bit according the personalities and temperament of each kid.

That means ...

We've wowed our way through the Wonderful Ones ~ marveling at how in just 12 mere months a helpless, mewing newborn is transformed into an on-the-move toddler exploring their world every minute of the day.  One mouthful at a time.

We've trudged through the Terrible Twos ~ which weren't really terrible.  The truth is that those little people are just trying to learn the ropes of this life ... and then testing us to see if we'll catch them!

We've thumped our way the Thoughtful Threes ~ where the toddlers are figuring out their little world and they hunger to learn more through the endless and mind-numbing repetition of the question, "Why?"

We've fought for our authority through the Feisty Fours ~ when our little people think they have the world figured out and start asserting their independence.  That looks a lot like tantrums and fits ... but really they just want to know who the boss is.  (That's you, by the way!)

We've firmed up our family foundation in the Fascinated Fives ~ giving our kids a safe place to come back to as they begin journeying out into the "real" world of Kindergarten and Organized Sports.  They want to experience everything ... and we want to be there to experience it with them.

We've sashayed our way through the Sassy Sixes ~ little people wanting to be bigger than they truly are. And being stinkers sometimes!  With lots of love and lots of limits, we seen our kids move through this year smoothly.

We've been in stitches with our Silly Sevens ~ goofy kids developing their personalities, their interests and their senses of humor.  As long as we don't take their drama too seriously, we have all enjoyed this season of silliness!

We've earnestly prayed for our kids through the Eager Eights ~ eager to be big, eager to be independent, eager to be successful in all they do.  Unfortunately, they are still little, they still belong to us and they still make mistakes ... hence the prayer.

Now, we are navigating new waters with our Narcissistic Nines ~ and I'll be honest ... it's been a little rough.  On a daily basis we are having to remind our boy again and again that the world does not indeed revolve around him and on a daily basis, he seems surprised.  And a tad bit disappointed.

Astonishingly ...

  • Mommy doesn't want to play three levels of StarWars III for Mother's Day.
  • If you're really hungry for breakfast, you still have to wait for us all to sit together and pray ... just like every other day of your life.
  • It's a good idea to wait your turn to speak, even if your question/concern is super-duper important ... like if you can check "Tap Zoo".  That means not talking Mom while she's on the phone.  Or when she's on the potty.
  • If the mail doesn't contain anything for you (i.e. the newest Lego catalogue), it still needs to be brought in and not left in the lawn.
  • If you like to have help when you need it, chances are it would be appreciated if you would jump in and help when someone else needs it.  That would be your sister asking for help.  She's right behind you.  She crying, "Help, please."
  • If Mom is talking to you, she means for you to actually listen and then respond ... even if her information isn't in the form of a video game or TV commercial.
  • It's entirely possible that you are the only one in the van who wants to hear "Jesus Freak" for the 5th time in a row.  I'm just throwing that out as a possibility. :)

Truthfully, Brett and I are still getting a kick out of our kid, sometimes at his expense ("Really?  Didn't you just ask to play video games 3.2 seconds ago?  C'mon, Aaron-Boy, use your noggin!") and sometimes because he knows he's being silly ("Wouldn't it be easier to make your bed if you put the book down first?  Just asking?").

Each age has its own challenges and triumphs; its own bumps and smooth spots; it's own highs and lows.  And I'm sure we'll sail through this age, too, and end up with a few more tools in our toolbox for when the girls reach their Narcissistic Nines.  By then ... Aaron will be on to his Egad Elevens!

Egad, indeed!

Monday, May 16, 2011

13 of My Favorite Things

Today is a good day.  And that's in spite of it being a full-speed-ahead, hang-on-to-your-hats, go-go-go-til-bedtime Monday ... 

Today is my Sweetie and my 13th anniversary!  

Thirteen years ago we said, "I do", smooched a bit (okay ... a lot), smiled for hundreds of pictures, danced several dances and headed off on an adventure!  

And now 13 years later ... we're so glad we said, "I do" and daily seek ways to "do" things for one another, we still smooch a lot (much our kids' mixed responses), we take less pictures of us and more of our brood, we sneak a few quick dances in the kitchen and find ourselves speeding along on an adventure that wears us out and thrills us at the same time!

Today I want to press pause on the wild ride that is marriage and family and share 13 of my favorite snapshots of being married to my one true love ... if I can keep it to 13, that is!

13.  Inside jokes from our favorite TV shows ... "And that's why you don't yell!"
12.  Repeated giggles from our favorite movies ... "Sometimes their noses are horns."
11.  Guaranteed kisses during the day ... actually, from five different smoochers.
10.  Praying together ... and being prayed for.
9.  Playing Progressive Rummy when the kids are asleep ... or Yahtzee, Sands, Fluxx, etc.  I think we are pretty even in the win/loss department.
8.  Our four fantastic/wonderful/exhausting/distinctive/precious/ beautiful kids ... the "fruit" of our youth.
7.  Running away for dinner without the monkeys ... and trying not to talk about them, either!
6.  Family vacations with the monkeys ... making memories and starting traditions ... and solidifying our love of hotel elevators.
5.  Being the recipient of Brett's generous heart ... he gives good gifts!  He always knocks my socks off, most recently with tickets to see Les Mis this September!  "I Dreamed a Dream ..."
4.  Being the recipient of Brett's funny heart ... he has a great sense of humor, too.  I have a cast photo from "Ed" hanging in my laundry room, keeping me company while I scrub out grass stains.
3.  Being a part of such a great parenting-team ... training, disciplining, laughing and using "Rock, Paper, Scissors" for the hard stuff.
2.  Cuddling.
1.  Having my bestestest friend also be my hubby.

So young ... and, we are still smiling!

I love you, Sweetie!  xxoo

Friday, May 13, 2011

Time-Warp Wednesday

This week's Time-Warp takes me back ... way back!

Back to a little green house, nestled in the trees and surrounded by farm animals.

Back to snapshots of my own young life which have became stories that we grown-up kids tell over and over again.

Back to being a little person myself and learning all about the big world around me.

For example, in our little neck of the woods I learned ...

  • Flip-flops were not the best shoes to wear when feeding the neighbor's chickens or when adventuring out into the surrounding fields ... thanks to my own escapades.
  • That biking really, crazy, freako-fast down a dirt hill can end badly ... thanks to my brother's Evil Kenevil tricks.
  • And that it's a bad idea to poke a bee-hive with a stick while balancing on a barbed wire fence ... thanks to Cousin Brian's scientific research.

But I also learned another important skill:  how to properly feed a horse.

My mother vividly recalls my cries and sniffles when I declared to her that, "The hoo-hoo eat my gingers!  The hoo-hoo eat my gingers!"  I'm certain that he didn't actually bite me, it just seemed to me that my little hand would fit nicely in his mouth!  What if he didn't stop at the carrot or the hay and went for the whole kaboodle?!?  That's when I learned how to lay my itty-bitty hand flat and let his giant, floppy, slobbery lips slurp up the apple bits, alfalfa and clover.

After that teachable moment, Sundance and I became fast friends.

Me and the Hoo-Hoo

Food For Thought

Welcome back ... Blogger was nutty yesterday - serious construction and (in some cases) destruction in the cyber-sea.  Unfortunately that meant that I lost yesterday's goofy post about my mild obsession with Almond Sunset tea ... and now my love letter has gone MIA just like my sweet delicious friend!  Oh well ... proof that we really can't depend on technology.  But it's still fun, when it works! 

Happy Friday, faithful readers!  Now it's time to drool a bit.  :)

Lately I've been on a bit of an Asian kick ... a deliciously fresh and flavorful Asian-inspired kick!  Whether it's because of the abundance of fresh veggies in each meal or the fragrant and powerful flavors involved or the spectacular ease of each recipe ... I have been a happy and veggie-filled foodie.  :)  
I hope that my snapshots have been able to capture for you the garden-fresh vibrancy of these meals ... and inspire you to go a little green this week! 
Asian Stick Salad
(This recipe is from Food Network, Jan/Feb 2011, page 78 ... with a little tweaking.)
1 cucumber
1 small jicama
7-8 baby carrots
1 celery stalk
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
15 oz. can of baby corn
3 T. rice vinegar
1 T. flax seed
1 T. fresh ginger, grated
1 t. oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 small jalapeno, minced
First, you need to cut the cucumber, jicama, carrots, celery and baby corn into thin matchsticks.  This was definitely the most time-consuming portion of the recipe ... but, oh, so worth it!
Once you have all the veggies cut into sticks, toss them in a large bowl and add the cilantro.  Set this aside.
Next, mix the dressing:  rice vinegar, oil, flax seed, ginger, garlic and jalapeno.  Pour this mixture over the veggies and use your hands to stir it, giving the veggies a little squeeze to help the marinade to soak into them.  Season with a pinch of salt, if necessary.

This was even more delicious the next day!
Save a few baby corns to eat like Tom Hanks ... you just have to!

Oriental Chicken & Cabbage Salad
(This recipe was born out of necessity ... and what was in my fridge.)
1 pkg. coleslaw mix
2 ribs of celery, thinly chopped
1 cup of frozen edamame, cooked and chilled
6-7 chicken tenders, cooked and shredded
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 T. fresh ginger, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. oil
1 t. sugar
2 T. flax seeds
Dash of pepper flakes
Combine the veggies in a large bowl.  Add the chicken and cilantro and mix well.  In a small bowl, combine the last 8 ingredients and mix well.  Add to the salad and stir to coat.  I let this sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving ... was delightfully surprised by the flavor!  And it was even better the next day for lunch!

A terrific twist if you're tired of traditional chicken salad.

The next two recipes, we served together ... they complimented one another well.
Slow-Cooker Pork & Noodles
(This recipe is from Food Network Magazine, May 2011, page 110 ... with a few adjustments.)
2 cans chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 T. brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 inches ginger, peeled and sliced
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (I used 4 boneless pork-chops I had on hand.)
1 head bok choy, chopped
4 oz. thin spaghetti
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
In your crock-pot, combine the broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and pork.  Cook on low for about 8 hours.
When you have about 45 minutes until dinner, pull out the pork and shredded it into bite-sized pieces.  Add the pork back into the soup with the bok choy.  Let cook for about 20 minutes until the veggies are thoroughly wilted.  
For the remaining 20 minutes, add the spaghetti (broken into thirds) to the soup.  Make certain that they are all below the surface of the broth.  The soup is ready when the noodles are soft.
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a little cilantro.
Strangely enough, all my kids went back for seconds ... which meant no left-overs for the next day. :(  But ... yeah for veggies!
Broccoli with Ginger Sauce
(This recipe is from recipe book, Evangelical Christian Academy Family Favorites, page 192.  I only made minor adjustments.)
5-6 stalks broccoli
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 t. rice vinegar
1/2 t. cornstarch
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. sugar
1 T. oil
1 inch ginger, peeled and sliced
Cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces, including the tender portions of the stem.  Set this aside.  Preheat a skillet (or wok) over high heat.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients to make the sauce.  Set this aside.
When the pan is hot, add the oil and broccoli and stir-fry for 1-1 1/2 minutes until the broccoli turns bright green.  Stir the sauce mixture and add it to the vegetables.  Cook for one more minute until the sauce has thickened a bit and coats the broccoli.  
Pull out the ginger slices and serve hot.  The veggies will still be very crisp.

Look at all that lovely greenness! :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dear A. S.

Hello, Friend ...

Today was another rainy day, which meant, of course, that as soon as the kids were snuggled in their beds for nap-time that I headed to the kitchen to turn on the kettle.  A grabbed my favorite mug down from the shelf ... you remember the one, don't you?  It's the tall, white one with the scene from Winnie-the-Pooh.  You know - where Pooh has over-indulged a bit at Rabbit's house and now he has found himself in a bit of a tight spot.  Half in and half out ... oops.  But, of course, you remember that mug ... seeing as it's your favorite as well as mine.

The burble and bubble of the tea kettle woke me from my reverie ... sipping hot steaming tea, snuggled up on the couch, listening to the pitter-patter of raindrops on the the roof.  Sweet memories ...

As I rummaged through the tea basket, my heart ached.  Another reminder that you are gone.  My sweet friend and comfort ... sigh ...

How could they take you away from me?  Without even asking or considering my feelings - all done, no more, finished.  Such a cruel and sudden ending to a delicious friendship.

I even searched for you in cyber-space, you know.  Imagine my devastation when the words "no search results found" flashed across the screen.  You are gone even from the vast, wide world web.

The steam began pouring out of the mouth of the tea kettle.  I chose a flavored tea, something with vanilla and almond in it.  But not the same.

No, there is not tea quite like you, Almond Sunset.  You were my tea.

My tea of companionship throughout college ... remember the sleepless nights trying to cram 8 weeks of South American history into my brain in a mere 4 hours?

My tea of comfort during my pregnancies and months spent nursing ... if I couldn't actually have coffee (which would have helped a lot, by the way!) then you were my second best option.

My tea of choice on a cold winter's night ... maybe it's because you were a dessert tea ... just a hint of sweetness mixed with orange and cinnamon.

I miss you, sweet and tasty friend.  I'll never forget your marvelous smell, your warm, round flavor and your toasted carmel color.

So until Celestial Seasonings comes to their senses or until I find someone's forgotten stockpile on eBay ... farewell.


Prompt #5 ~ Write a love letter ... I will be the first to admit that I have a bit of an obsession with my favorite tea.  A shade on the stalker-side, perhaps.  I check the grocery aisle on a regular basis with the hopes of seeing my Almond Sunset restored to it's rightful place between Morning Thunder and Wildberry Zinger.  But alas ... it's not meant to be.  Here's hoping nobody touches my Dr. Pepper. :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Love My Digital Camera!

I know, I know ... I try really hard not to love things, but there are some things that make me so happy!  If absolutely necessary and with a little effort, I am quite certain that I could live a very simple and technologically-free life:  a life free from a computer, a cell phone, an iPad or even a TV.  Mainly because that was my life growing up - except for the TV part.

As a kid, we didn't have much in the way of gadgets and gizmos.  We had to rent the VCR along with the VHS movie if we wanted to watch something besides what we could get on one of our three channels. And those three channels were a bit "guess-and-by-gosh".  If there were leaves on the trees, one of us would have to go outside and tweak the antenna until it was just right.  In the leafless winter, we almost got a bonus fourth channel ... if you squinted your eyes!  One season, we subscribed to some sort of "cable" service.  We had access to a series of movies that would change once a month.  That was either awesome because you could watch your favorite show over and over and over again.  Or it was lame.

We did have a Commodore 64 growing up.  But I laugh now to think of the time we spent playing those cubic video games:  the summer Olympics with the diver that sometimes froze mid-air requiring us to reboot, the racing game with the little blocks that were supposed to be horses "running" past the furlongs to the finish and the Indiana Jones-type character who leapt over boulders, jumped over rolling logs and swung from digital vines ... and who we regularly fed to the crocodiles.  Pretty simple entertainment.

For music, we had quite a selection of ... records.  The challenge in our 100-year old house was avoiding any jumping, dancing or walking in the sensitive parts of the floor while listening to music.  Which pretty much meant we sat on the couch.  Unless were were listening to Dexy's Midnight Runners in which were were required to jog in place to, "Come on, Eileen".  We just had to do it carefully.

Yes ... it appear that realistically I could get along rather well without all the lovely, techy bits that we enjoy in our home.  It would certainly be weird, but I could do it.  There is one little gadget, however, that you would have to pry from my hands:  my digital camera!

I love the ease of clicking off snapshots of the kids, capturing their personalities and antics on video and chronicling their little lives on the computer.  I love how easy it is to upload birthday parties to SmileBox and keep family and friends "in the loop" with pictures.  But I love more than anything the fact that we can do all this and make sure that the final photo is a good one!

More often than not, the first (and second ... and third ...) snapshot is a bit sketchy when we get the four monkeys in one place.  For whatever reason, they can't all seem to look the same direction, smile and keep their hands off their faces.  At the same time.  At least not until we've "warmed up" and we've taken a half-dozen goofy shots.  What a relief that we can see right away that Lydia ducked or Ashley snuck her thumb in her mouth or Norah made googly-eyes or Aaron grimace-smiled.  And then we can try again.  And again.  And again.

Here's Mother's Day proof that we photogenically challenged at times:

Brett said, "Lydia" ... and I guess they thought he meant,
"LOOK at Lydia".  He didn't.

Now Lydia's peeking.  And Aaron's in agony.

Norah's trying a little too hard and
Lydia popped food in her mouth.

Almost.  Rather than worrying about her own painful
smile, Norah's trying to "help" Aaron.  He doesn't need it.

Ashley wins!

Now I know what you're thinking ... "Those were all a bit screwy.  Didn't they get a good one?"


But, at least we know that!  And we aren't going to wait 3 weeks to finish the roll of film and spend good money to get it developed only to discover we were were 100% unsuccessful!

No disappointment here ... just the reality that our children are goofballs.  And we can capture their goofballery to store on the computer.  For all time.

Along with the good snapshots we manage to snag, of course.

These are actually all from the same picture ... success!