Friday, August 31, 2012

Sneaky Carrots

A Great Aunt of mine was visiting the first time I served Red Velvet Cake with Red Beets. She was so excited because she is a cafeteria cook for a public school in Iowa. She started telling me all the sneaky ways that she adds vegetables to the food that she prepares for the students. I was curious so she told me to get a cookbook called The Sneaky Chef. I did and I have incorporated some sneaky tactics into my cooking. It helped that my Grandad had a bumper crop of carrots. I got this many carrots 3 times...

Upon arrival at my house the carrots were dirty... I dumped them in the metal washtub and scrubbed them...while talking on the phone...that made it more enjoyable...
 and then I peeled all of those carrots. It was a different evening and I happened to be talking on the phone my mother-in-law...for an hour. I got a crick in my neck that evening! This is just some of the carrots I peeled that night.
 Then I cooked them until they were nice and soft.
 Then I put those soft carrots in the 1970's, well maybe 1980's, food processor that my mother-in-law unearthed from her basement. It was free and it has now been well used! This is a bowl of carrot puree.
 I froze it in one cup portions in freezer bags. This batch made 24 bags.
 What do I do with all of this carrot puree? I add it to every red sauce I use. In our house, so far, it has been served in spaghetti, ravioli, ziti, and pizza sauce. Pizza is a once a week occurrence here and I generally make pasta one other night in the week so about twice a week my kids eat carrots!

Instead of making this a mile long post I'll share my other sneaky experiments separately.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

So I Called Poison Control

Josiah and Anna. They have become the best of buddies now that Aliza is frequently occupied with school, but, boy oh boy, can they make a mess and get in trouble! They came in from outside late this afternoon and wanted to take a bath. I said no since it was almost supper and I was trying to assess Aliza's silent reading lesson. They went upstairs and, naively, I assumed they were playing in a bedroom. No, they were in the bathroom with the door closed. Aliza finished the lesson and went to tell them that she wanted to play outside. She came back and told me something that I can't remember and I went to check on them.

I opened the door to the bathroom to find the contents of the bottom shelf of the medicine cabinet spread out and opened on the floor. I tried to quickly comprehend what I was seeing on the floor, but it took a bit for everything to make sense. I did see that my prescriptions were in the sink--unopened. Thank goodness. They had an estrogen cream (that Aliza has needed) smeared all over them and the tube was in Anna's mouth. Then I realized that the Pedia-Lax enema bulbs were empty. Anna had one in her hand. I nonchalantly asked Josiah if he drank one. He said "no, but Anna did." Figures...predictable response. There were 4 empty bulbs on the floor. I picked up the box and read that if ingested call poison control. So I call my Mom. She was at work and couldn't answer. So I called my mother-in-law who said probably the worst that would happen is stomach cramps and diarrhea, but call just to be safe. I wasn't at all convinced this was an ER case so I was hesitant to call someone who I thought might tell everyone to go to ER.

I did call poison control. The guy was very nice. He confidently assured me that neither one of the medicines would hurt the children. He talked to me until he knew I had calmed down and told me to feel free to call back with any other concerns.

Of course all of this happened right at suppertime. The spaghetti meat was on its way to burning as I was trying to make phone calls and get children in the bathtub. That bath that I had originally said NO to! And Jeremy didn't get home until the kids were out of the bathtub. I did, however, let them run around bare so that Jeremy could dress them. Otherwise I was afraid he would not believe the story that I greeted him with--in the driveway--before he could even get in the house!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Maybe It's Opposite Day

 It's pretty funny when I find one of the big kiddos where only the little kiddo belongs. Anna is pretty strong. She was pushing Josiah around the driveway.

It was hard to disapprove of this one since Aliza was reading a book to Anna; however, they had both been tucked in. It is amazing how long these two girls can keep each other awake. Many nights I wish that each child could have their own room.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


 This weekend was a celebration weekend. We celebrated Lydia's 1st birthday! Lydia is my healthy, happy, walking, giggling, squealing, beautiful niece! This is the niece that endured extensive genetic testing and that has been given a perfectly perfect bill of health! At church last night we had some extra time of praising God for the abundant life that is Lydia's. Yes, she enjoyed her cake. That whole piece pretty much disappeared.

The second celebration was for Meghan and her baby boy whose birth we are looking forward to! We had dinner and made baby boy beach theme--centerpiece and cupcakes for dessert. It is always fun to sit with some of the ladies of my family and chat.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lunch Conversation

Aliza and Josiah discussed weddings over lunch today. Particularly their weddings. It was the most earnest and heartfelt conversation. I'm sure I can't convey it properly in words, but there are a few tidbits that I must remember...

Josiah does not want to get married because "I want to stay with you forever, Mommy."

Josiah plans to be a tank truck driver at this moment in time. He asked me where he could park his truck and trailer if he lived with me forever. I said he could pull in the driveway. He said that would block Aunt Janell from being able to come in the driveway. I said we would make sure he had a good place to park his truck. He gave a satisfied nod of his head.

Aliza is certain that she wants Josiah, Anna, Mommy and Daddy in attendance at her wedding. (Whew!! I'm relieved. haha) Josiah said he would have to drive his tank truck to her wedding, but he would be sure to take his hat off during the wedding and Aliza asked him to wear his best clothes. After a minute Josiah thought better of it and asked if he could ride to Aliza's wedding in my minivan.

There was lots of discussion over who could marry who--whether or not you can marry cousins--and who counts as a cousin. Aliza declared that boys can't marry boys and girls can't marry girls "because then you wouldn't have a Mommy or you wouldn't have a Daddy and wouldn't that be sad?"

Aliza wants nuts and rice thrown and her guests shouting "you're the best" when she leaves her wedding.

Josiah asked if there would be toys at Aliza's wedding. She said, "Yes, in the nursery." They agreed on a stage for Aliza to walk up on.

I'm still giggling inside. It's nice to know Josiah wants to keep me forever. ;) I can easily tear up thinking of dancing with him at his wedding.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A First Grade Office

This is where Aliza has been doing her school work. During the first day of school, at the dining room table, Aliza decided that she needed to make a desk--out of a cardboard box. For once one of her grand ideas was cost effective!! I wasn't sure how this was going to work, but she brought in a box from the garage and we cut out holes in the front and back of the box so that it would fit over her legs. I reinforced the top and underneath the top of the desk with the flaps of cardboard that we cut off. She was just thrilled. The designated place for her "office" was behind the rocking chair in the *small* room that she and Anna share. I still wasn't sure how the computer was going to fit but I realized that if I turned the rocking chair around, the computer could sit on the rocking chair and Aliza would still have her desk to do her work. To say that Aliza was thrilled would be an understatement. She spent so much time taking her supplies upstairs and organizing her office.

It is nice to see her take responsibility for her things. It's also a first step toward her taking responsibility for her learning. I'm happy to see some maturing happening! I wish we had space for her to have her own room and a real desk area. Maybe someday...

Friday, August 17, 2012

First Grade!

 Today was our first day of school! Aliza was so excited and cooperative. It was a great day. One of those days when I could take a breath and just enjoy my children. It is those moments when school goes really well and we all are enjoying each others company that make me feel like the luckiest Mom in the world.

This is first grade all laid out. The big stack of books on the right are the teacher's editions. The first days are overwhelming trying to print lesson plans and resource materials and watch orientation lessons. But it was so much fun to unpack the boxes of books and look through them. Aliza loved that part too. It is amazing how far her reading will progress this year. A new thing for me this year is grading. I'm not quite comfortable with it yet. Several aspects are subjective. I'm fine with the objective parts! I know that in time everything will fall into place and feel like routine.
Aliza really wanted to study Spanish this year. BJU has an elementary Spanish program. We decided it was worth the investment so we are doing Spanish. It's 2 days a week and we HAD to do Spanish on the first day of school. A puppet is part of the class. His name is Choco. Choco the Hedgehog talks to the Perrito the Parrot on the DVD since it is easier for a child to speak a new language through a medium. Aliza loves Choco.
Aliza felt that Choco really needed to go on our bike ride today. I suggested he ride in her backpack. It ended up being the cutest thing ever--his little nose and head sticking out of her backpack. Aliza regularly asked me if he was ok and could still see out. I resorted to taking a picture of little Choco to convince Aliza that, indeed, Choco was just fine.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mud Dwellers

 Josiah continues to play in his hole every day. There is always some sort of construction project in progress. It usually involves his crane and multiple other tractors and construction machines. One day, someone had the great idea of putting (a large amount of) water in the hole. Thankfully they had the sense to have their bathing suits on. Well, at least 2 out of the 3 had bathing suits on. I've had some filthy children since that day. I'm not sure what the record number of baths in one day has been!

Anna even carried the water to them by the bucketful!

 It appears that she enjoyed herself.

Why, oh why, do I let them do such things? Oh right...because they are happy, having fun, playing happily together and making lots of good childhood memories. And, yes, they come in with those muddy bodies and I shoo them back out to hose off.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

You Can't Swing with Toys

Aliza and Anna were on the double swing ready to by pushed when I realized that Anna was clutching a baby doll in her arm which made her unable to hang on to the swing with both hands. I told her that she had to put the baby doll down to be able to swing. That only made her hang on to the doll tighter and start crying because she wanted to swing. I knew that if I pushed her on the swing while she was holding on to the doll and not hanging on to the chain she would fall off. She didn't understand that. All she could understand was that she wanted both the baby doll and the swing ride at the same time. Something that was impossible to have safely.

It was in the moment of frustration with Anna that I saw a spiritual lesson that has stuck with me all day--enough that I'm writing it! Assuming life is a swing ride... We cannot hang on to a "toy" AND enjoy the fullest most fulfilling life that God has for us. The doll was not a bad thing for Anna but she needed to put it down to experience the excitement of the swing ride. I got to thinking about what things I like so much in my life that may be good things, but that are things I can't put down for the even better thing that God has for me.

I also want to trust the Holy Spirit when I am prompted to put down a "toy" in order for something bigger to happen. Anna couldn't understand why she had to put the doll down to swing and I'm pretty sure I have hung on to something that I should have laid down even though I didn't understand why at the time.

I didn't have specific changes that came to my mind today, but these were thoughts that kept going through my head today. I don't want anything to hold me back from the swing ride of life that God has for me.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mr. & Mrs.

I love weddings. The planning and anticipation, the excitement of THE day and seeing the bride and groom ride off into their happily ever after. Phil and Linda's wedding was no exception. They were obviously in love with each other and there couldn't be two who are more perfect for each other than Phil and Linda.

A "few" pictures from their wedding day:
Phil and Linda

Aliza was the (very excited) flower girl.

Twin Sisters: Laura and Linda

My parents with their children and spouses.

I insisted on a picture with the children and--lucky for me--every child is looking at the camera with a reasonable expression on their face! So far--my parents legacy is 5 children and 7 grandchildren

Aliza could not hold still during the ceremony.


Renee and Anna

Laura and Linda sang the Sisters song from A White Christmas at the reception. This was after Laura gave an emotional toast in which she "gave away" her twin sister.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Roads, Tractors, and Family

 Road, tractors, and Family. That about sums up our vacation for this summer! We headed out to Michigan to spend a weekend with my cousin who works on the 10,000 acre farm owned by two of my uncles. They grow corn and soybeans and as you can imagine they have some big tractors, combines and 4 wheelers. This trip was made with Josiah in mind, but we all had a good time.

Oh yeah! The trip was 14 hours long. You read that right. 14 hours, 3 kids, 1 Grandma, and 2 dolls in one minivan! Let me tell you--Jeremy and I were very thankful for that 1 Grandma in the backseat. She was armed with an inordinate amount of patience and a bag filled with all kinds of fun things to do. She saved me a whole bunch of words on the trip!

Here are the dolls. Chocolate and Jenny. They were buckled in beside Grandma and Aliza was sure to give Grandma directions on how to care for them. Aliza's first direction was that they needed to be fed every 20 minutes. I thought the Grandma might get out of the car and walk at that point, but Aliza agreed to a feeding every 4 hours!
We did stop for the night and arrived at MY Grandma's house in Ohio the next day. We visited her for an hour or so before Jeremy and I and the children made the last leg of the journey to Michigan. Aliza read Bible stories to her doll, Jenny.
Another one of my great aunts lives in this retirement facility. She was sitting on the patio so we walked over to say hello. Anna was so endearing through the whole trip. She warms up quickly and let most everyone hold her. She also waves and says Hi to anyone and everyone.

Our time with Bart and Angie's family was low key and relaxing. Nothing was expected of us and we just puttered around the house and farm. Saturday evening a bunch of my cousins and aunts and uncles dropped by to visit. It was nice to get reacquainted with them and I was honored that they made the effort to see us. On to the tractors...
Bart taught Jeremy to drive the tractor right away so when it was time for Josiah to ride Jeremy was quite proficient and could drive and hold Josiah. Josiah wasn't sure he wanted to ride, but after a 14 hour drive he didn't have much choice! This is his scared and crying face.
It only took seconds for him to settle down and then he enjoyed the ride!
Jeremy took Anna and I for a ride too. I had a moment where I thought it would be a better idea if I rode with Bart! Nah, Jeremy did great! Something about him driving the tractor and 4 wheeler just made me laugh. He just doesn't have the farm boy look!
The next morning was 4 wheeler rides. Josiah didn't hesitate and he LOVED riding. He and Aliza took turns for a long time. During that time Anna had Bart wrapped around her finger. He took her to look at the animals multiple times. Anna was funny...there were 3 dogs and she wanted to see them so bad, but as soon as the door opened she got scared and jumped into whatever arms were closest. There were also horses, goats, pigs, chickens and rabbits on this farm!
Aliza wanted to go fast and would report how fast they went when she got off!
Then we went to the shop where the combines are kept. The children climbed up to the cab.
Man! Combines are huge!! Josiah was especially excited that they had crawler tracks.
And there were more tractors to explore!
We headed back to Ohio to pick up Mom and we spent the night with my aunt and uncle. Josiah was happy that there was, yes, a tractor to play on. He kept busy all evening loading and unloading the bucket.

There were two highlights in the hotel. Swimming and riding on the luggage cart. 3 kids on a full cart.
I must talk about swimming. We had two nights at hotels that had pools. In light of our swimming lesson experience I was very curious to see how Aliza was in the water. The first time she was very scared and stayed on the step. By the end we could tell that she wanted to do more so Jeremy picked her up and carried her across the 3 foot end of the pool. I carried her the second time. She held on to me for dear life--arms and legs wrapped around me, but she did it! Josiah was quite adventurous and when his head went under he wasn't happy, but hopped right back in the pool.

On our way home, we hit the pool again. This time Aliza walked across the 3 foot end of the pool by herself! She held the wall and my hand and after a few minutes she let go of my hand and then later let go of the wall. Success! We got back to where we were at the end of her first swimming lesson! Josiah continued being adventurous and Anna became so comfortable she was downright dangerous!!

We were happy to see our house at the end of the road! Today everyone is getting used to being home and not having a Grandma to cater to their every wish!