Saturday, May 30, 2009

After spending the majority of today doing nothing of consequence, I now have potatoes boiling on the stove, turkey breast waiting in the fridge to be cooked (skinned, de-boned, flattened, spiced, and dredged in flour), all remaining ingredients chopped and waiting in cute little bowls on the counter, apple juice is mixed, broccoli is sitting in my microwave steamer ready for steaming, and the table is set. And the potatoes (new potatoes) were just pulled from the ground two days ago! (they're from my neighbor)

This is very good because any minute now Becca could (and should) wake up and be ravenously hungry.

If she does, I'm prepared. It'll only take about 10 more minutes to get dinner onto the table and I can do what's left with a baby in my arms. Easy peasy.

I feel like a SUPERSTAR. A ROCK STAR! (The kind that stays home all day with kids and cooks and cleans and only REALLY is a rock star in the truest sense when she pulls out Guitar Hero, which she is TERRIBLE at...)

I sound so together, right? Please don't ask to come over. Although this sounds wonderful, you should know that my house looks like a tornado came through it. And not because of my cooking. This is just the way it looks right now. And many days. But I promise I am slowly finding a rhythm to my madness. I will conquer the beast!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Inspiration

- from this month's Q & A section of the Ensign:

"Don't run faster than you have strength. Too much of a good thing is, well, too much. It's hard for me to feel happy when I'm tired and overscheduled. And when we're not happy, it's hard to enjoy the quirky chaos children bring to our lives. [Amen to that!] Occasionally, it seems we're trying so hard to be good examples of diligence, hard work, and service that we forget to bless our children with an example of calm, happy peacefulness.

One thing that helps me is to limit my to-do list to three or four of the most important tasks. Of course, sometimes this means that things must wait until later in the week.

I also try not to do too much multi-tasking. In our family, I've found that spilled milk is a tragedy only if I have planned a million activities for the day and am trying to serve breakfast while also checking my e-mail and getting laundry started. Families with young children need space in the day to wiggle. Parents of young children need space in the day to breathe. Emptiness, anger, and exhaustion are not what Heavenly Father expects from or dreams for us."

Uck. I'm paying the price for staying up past my bedtime several nights in a row I think. I don't feel tired, but I am snappy as all get-out! I'm feeling very pessimistic in general. Not a good day to have gone to two stores with all four kids in tow. The deal was; stay by me and don't touch anything and you can have fruit snacks in the car. HAH. Apparently it wasn't motivation enough. At the music store they found the maraccas and were perusing music books "just like me". At the kid's clothing store they found toys with musical buttons to push (oh WHY, oh WHY, did anyone ever invent those?). And at the clothing store it all came undone at the same time. Two kids started pressing toy buttons and another slipped out of the stroller to investigate said toys while a fourth wailed directly into my ear, and I do mean wailed. Inwardly I laughed and cringed and screamed, all at the same time. Outwardly, I smiled, took a deep breath, and used a quiet yet stern voice to regather my monkeys.

In hindsight, both stores could have waited until I was able to go with one, maybe two monkeys.

I hate hindsight today.

It's time for me to kick things into gear and really work to reverse those buts!

I'd really like to say:

I love my kids, but they drive me crazy when they touch things in stores.

I love how inquisitive they are, but they drive me crazy when they ask me the same question five times in 10 seconds.

I love how willing the big girls are to help with the younger ones, but it drives me crazy when doing so causes a whole new problem as they pick up younger children or hold their hands to keep them somewhere.

I love how much my girls love to have fun and how creative they are in the ways they play, but it drives me crazy when they take blankets out of the linen closet and spread them all over their room.


But instead I'm going to say:

It drives me crazy when my kids touch things in the stores, but I really love my kids.


It drives me crazy when they ask me the same question over and over again, but I love how inquisitive they are!


It drives me crazy when my girls help to point of insanity, but I love how willing they are to even help!


It drives me crazy when they take blankets out of the linen closet and spread them out all over their room, but I love how creative my girls are in the ways they play!

There. Buts reversed. Sounds and feels so much better.

I'm also reminding myself that touching things in stores, asking questions repeatedly, being motherly, and playing creatively, are ALL traits that won't ruin the world. In fact, of all the things to be frustrated about, these are traits that could benefit them in the future! I'll just think of all the shopping they'll one day do and what good deals they'll find, what great babysitters they will one day be and what good mothers they will be, and how their creative play will be a springboard for all sorts of ideas that will benefit them in the future.

Yeah. It's easier to let it go if I think about it that way.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

How's that for a post title?!

Eric and I usually go to bed around 11pm. Last night was no different but we just couldn't seem to stop talking! :D I didn't even bother looking at the clock by the time we were falling asleep. I knew I didn't really want to know.

And then almost right after falling asleep, I woke to a wimpering in the other room. I found Esther lying in her bedroom door, poor baby. She was so tired but she knew she needed help. She must've thrown up in bed and fallen asleep again and then gotten up later. It was caked in her hair and around her face and she'd gone to the bathroom in her pants. [Oh yeah! Yes, I do mean pants! Underwear! We started potty training a week ago Saturday and it has been going GREAT. She has completely exceeded my expectations.]

Often when I'm up with a sick kiddo I have a tendency to be annoyed. Not at them, but at the situation. That I have to clean it up and that I've been woken up. This time I just felt very matter-of-fact about cleaning it up and found that my main thoughts were of Esther and how yucky she was feeling. So sad to see my kiddo sick. But I gave her a quick bath (definitely necessary this time) and then got her back into bed with clean sheets.

She threw up one more time...

And then shortly after I went to bed, Becca woke up. I just laughed. And guess what? Becca went to sleep last night around 8pm and she woke up at 6am! She's been going to bed anywhere between 6:30pm and 8:30pm and waking up around 5am for the last week. Looks like we're adding another hour. She's been adding an hour a week since about four weeks. I love it!

I gave Esther the option of napping in her room or in the living room today. I secretly didn't want to bother with a nap knowing she'd need to get to the bathroom often and quickly...she opted for a nap in the living room but never fell asleep. Fast forward a couple of hours and the rest of the family was home from church. Autumn & Heidi were playing in the dining room (more on that in a minute) and I realized I hadn't heard Esther for a few minutes. We found her asleep in her room.

one of our cutie-pies
...aaand, that's the girls' room...'nuff said...
No, not really. I have to say that we do have rules about tidiness.
How they follow them or DON'T is a different story...
And all the clothes? I'm sure they were all in their hamper this morning.
They must have needed the hamper for something dire...
Someday, it will get better. Right? RIGHT?!!


Eric and I had some nice quiet moments today while Autumn & Heidi "cooked" and the babes slept. We were fed gourmet snacks of celery sticks topped with peanut butter and raisins as well as carrot-celery-peanut butter-raisin sandwiches. They used a butter knife to chop the celery and carrots into bite-sized pieces and then stacked them with peanut butter in between each layer. It was surprisingly good!

They even made a recipe book. Here's what Autumn wrote out. See if you can figure it out on your own!

Sandwich
2 selery
1 rasin
1 can of penut butter

Cheese Sandwich
1 selery
1 carrat
1 rasin

Bredo Pancake
3 box rasins
1 pancake
1 can of penut butter

Vechtevel Sandwich
2 box rasins
1 string cheese
a copel of carrats
a copel an selery
1 can pennut butter

I know her spelling's not perfect, but I love how thoughtful it is! And I love how some words are written two different ways, as if she's still thinking about it and trying to puzzle it out. I think we may need to focus a little more on spelling... :)

Although Esther, Becca, and I didn't make it to church today, I wanted to dress Becca in a dress, so I did! And she looked so cute. And she was so smiley today. And I got it on camera!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

ME

Typically, I don't like pictures of myself. It's not an unhealthy attitude toward myself, it's really just that no matter how hard I try to be ready for the picture; I'm always talking,


I've just finished talking a second ago, I'm in the middle of helping a kid,


I make a really dumb face,

I hold my head at an awkward angle,
I stare,


I can't smile naturally,


or someone snaps a picture on a day when cameras are just not a good idea (that means I haven't gotten ready yet that day...).

So when we visited Eric's parents a couple of weeks ago, we went to the Smithsonian. And while I sat at a bench on the mall, feeding Becca, Eric snapped a picture. And I like it! YAY! Nevermind the sunglasses...I still like it.

Soup Kitchen

I just got this an email from my father-in-law. What a laugh!

Recently Michelle Obama went to serve food to the homeless at a soup kitchen.


Cost of a bowl of soup at homeless shelter $0.00 dollars

Having Michelle Obama serve you your soup $0.00 dollars

Snapping a picture of a homeless person who is receiving government funded meal while taking a picture of the first lady using his $200 BlackBerry cell phone Priceless

Friday, May 22, 2009

I'm glad the kids don't read my blog yet. Otherwise I wouldn't be able to do this.

I'm thinking ahead to birthdays and brainstorming. Autumn & Heidi love making forts and putting curtains up on their bunkbed (it's a red metal twin over a full bed). I started thinking (dangerous I know!) and they keep asking if we can decorate their room but I deter them. In the past every time I tried, they took everything down within DAYS.

I'm hoping that if I decorate in a way that plays toward their playing tendencies, they'd love it. And they're older now. So I think it'd be great if I could make bed curtains for the bottom bunk. But then what do I do for the top bunk? Canopies look strange to me on bunkbeds so I don't want to do that. I'd like to do a bed tent on the top but I want to coordinate what I do with the top bunk to what I do on the bottom bunk.

I'm going to pull out a sketchpad and see what I come up with. Anybody else have any ideas? Here are some pictures to get your creative juices flowing:






(we have since cut her bangs...)

This afternoon as I was sitting on the couch feeding Becca, Heidi came racing in the back door to tell me "Mom, I found a beetle and I know it's a nice one because I've found this one before!" Mid-sentence she slipped on the carpet, fell down, got right back up, and just kept talking as if nothing had happened. I was laughing so hard! She didn't even acknowledge the slip.

I am ecstatic to have a picture of Autumn with a NATURAL smile!
She is the hardest to catch because she always poses.


Today Autumn & Heidi spent some time making chore charts with me. They each picked four graphics to print out on their charts. Autumn wanted princesses and Heidi wanted bugs. Their choices are so telling. It's been this way for a couple of years now. Always princesses, always pink for Autumn. And always bugs for Heidi. (They do share their obsessions though. Autumn can be found enjoying bugs on any given day and Heidi loves princesses too -- but bugs are definitely at the top of Heidi's list right now and princesses are at the top of Autumn's.)

As I was covering the finished pages with contact paper, the girls started naming their pictures. Autumn named her princesses JANE, MERELDA, ESMERELDA, and POCAHONTAS. Heidi had a butterfly, stink bug, daddy long leg, and a bumblebee. She named them FLUTTER FLOAT, STINKER STINK, CRABBY DADDY, and NECTAR COLLECTOR!

We get this look on a daily basis. As if she's saying, "Really mom? Really? You are so weird!"

Eric ran to the grocery store with Heidi and Esther tonight and when they pulled into their parking space, Esther asked, "Why are we in this pile of cars?"

I love these two pictures of Becca. I can't believe I took them a month ago already! I really need to take more pictures...




Becca woke up an hour after her bedtime. This kid is the burpenest kid I know! And who said breastfed babies don't need to burp as much as bottlefed? Hah! I keep remembering how growing up, one of Liz's nicknames was Belching Rose. Too bad one of Becca's sisters already has ROSE as a middle name! I have been so tempted to call her my little belching rose.

From today

Almost caught a smile on camera. We'll get there.

So after she fell back asleep (in my arms), I sat in my chair just staring at her and enjoying the quiet moment with her. What a sweet, sweet baby I have. What sweet babies I have. I could go on and on about the colic, but I find myself instead remembering all the sweet moments like this one. Sweet moments that may even be made sweeter because of the contrasting moments we experience throughout the day.

Incidentally, I think she's getting past the colicky stage. We still have moments and sometimes even days when things are difficult, but it looks like we're on our way OUT of this stage.

Remember In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning from Sleepless in Seattle? It was so still outside this morning and I found myself singing this song.

I went walking/jogging this morning and I thoroughly enjoyed being BY MYSELF and doing something for just ME.

Becca has been waking up around 5am lately and I decided last week that if she woke up after five, it'd be a good time for me to walk after feeding her. Yesterday she woke up at 4am so I didn't go walking until I'd fed her again at 7:30 (and I took Becca and Esther with me in the jogger). But today was perfect. She was up at 5:45 to eat and down again at 6. Perfect timing.

And it was early enough that it was still really cool outside and the birds were singing. They were so talkative that it felt kind of like I was in a rainforest.

UPDATE: Oh my quads are sore. It's funny to me how walking and running/jogging use different muscles. I've never been a runner. (By the way, for anyone reading in Google Reader...when I edit the post, does it show new again in Google Reader?)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I know, I know. It's been more than two weeks since my last post. Hopefully I'll have some family posts soon but for now, you get this. :)

If you're homeschooling or considering homeschooling, these are AWESOME science books. We will be using them in the fall ourselves and are really excited.

Apologia is now producing notebooking journals that accompany each of the elementary science books. Both Botany and Astronomy are now available. You can see samples on the Apologia website here:

These journals are beautiful spiral bound notebooks that will save you time and money. You won't have to print and keep up with your child's notebook pages, buy and maintain page protectors, or purchase and compile binders...everything that makes notebooking time-consuming and labor intensive for mom. Also, your child will adore having their own notebooking journal.

Each of the notebooking journals include:
  • A daily schedule for those who like to have a plan or would like their children to complete the book on their own
  • Templates for written narrations, the notebooking activities and experiments
  • Review Questions
  • Scripture Copywork, with both print and cursive practice
  • Reading lists and additional activities, projects, experiments for each lesson
  • An appendix with beautiful, full-color, lapbook-style Miniature Books
  • Field Trip Sheets to keep a record field trips
  • A Final Review with fifty questions the students can answer either orally or in writing to show off all they remember and know at the end of the course.
See the sample pages here:


and


Jeannie is giving away four Astronomy Notebooking Journals and four Botany Notebooking Journals to bloggers who post about this on their site. Visit her blog to learn more about this contest.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009







Sunday, May 3, 2009

Döner kebabs


My hunt for a döner kebab recipe has turned up some interesting stuff! This little bit is from here:

Döner kebab (döner kebap in Turkish) literally means "rotating grilled meat" (any type of meat applies). The first döner kebabs were developed in Berlin by Turkish immigrants for the sake of fitting the food and taste Germans are used to. Authentic Turkish döner is made from lamb; regardless, mostly beef or a mix of beef and lamb is used in Europe. This article has the recipe for a complete European-style pita kebab.
And here's the recipe, straight from the same webpage (just in case you didn't see the link the first time...). I've never had it with a tomato-based sauce, so I'm thinking it's the "Iskender sauce" that I've had.

Ingredients (four-pounder)


Two-pounder portion

  • 1 kg (21/4 lb.) of ground beef (or other minced meat)
  • 5½ tbsp. of chicken salt/season salt
  • 3 tbsp. of black pepper (amount depends on taste preference)


One-pounder portion

  • 500 g (1 lb.) of ground beef (or other minced meat)
  • 2½-3 tbsp. of chicken salt/season salt
  • 1½ tbsp. of black pepper (amount depends on taste preference)


If you want, you can add other spices like chili, cayenne, garlic, BBQ sauces etc.

Preparation

  1. Mix all the ingredients into a farce-like chunk.
  2. Use a mixer or your hands to get air out of the chunk.
  3. Optionally, you can make a hole with a knife to the chunk so that excess fat can drain out.
  4. Wrap it tightly in aluminum foil, and use more than two layers of foil (so it will not rupture).
  5. Put it into the oven and set the temperature to 100 °C (210 °F).
  6. Let it cook for 4 hours.
    Note: 4 hours applies to any size. Let's say, if you want a 1 kg chunk (half of the original portion), you should NOT leave it for 2 hours, 4 hours apply for every size. The idea is that it gets cooked slowly.
  7. When it is done, remove it from the oven, open the foil, and let it cool down. If you did everything correctly, you should be able to use a shredder or a knife to cut it in thin slices.

Sauce

Kebab is never perfect without sauce or a dressing! Here are a couple of sauces that go with kebab:

Iskender-style dressing

(Optional seasoning for taste)


Tomato sauce dressing

  • 1 can of tomato purée (70 g or 2½ oz.)
  • ½-1 tsp. of salt
  • ½-1½ tsp. of white pepper
  • ½-1½ tsp. of black pepper
  • 1 tsp. of basil
  • pinch of oregano
  • ketchup (amount depends on preference)

Pita

Main article: Pita

You can either wrap the fillings into a reel or make it into a sandwich, with pita bread. You may want to make the pita slightly thinner if wrapping into a reel. If you want a relatively big kebab, then make the breads into a diameter of about 30 cm (12"). Pita Bread is more popular to Lebanese Bread

Salad

A salad consisting of tomatoes, pickles, cucumbers, and Chinese cabbage with mayonnaise is probably the most common salad eaten with kebab in Europe. There are tons of variations, of course. If you want a healthy choice, make sure you balance the cereals class (pita), meat class (kebab), and vegetable class (salad) well! You can also add chile peppers, jalapeño, red onions and such for the salad to fit your taste!

Serving

There are several ways and styles to serve döner. Here are a few:

  • Sandwich-style
    Slice the pita bread from the middle, then lay the salad, kebab and dressings like you would do with a hamburger.
  • Reel-kebab
    The roll wrap for a reel-kebab can be done using the same technique as for burritos (using pita bread).
  • Kebab pizza
    Simply prepare a pizza and top it with kebab.
  • Kebab with rice
    Fill roughly over a half of a plate with kebab, and the rest with cooked rice. Dress with ketchup or any of the sauce recipes mentioned in this article.
  • Kebab with chips
    Same as kebab with rice except that the rice has been replaced by chips (a.k.a French fries).