. . . today, both literally and figuratively. We are getting a bit of much needed rain in southern California and I'm completely feeling the effects of sickness that has hit me and my kids. We have had some kind of virus (or two) circulating through the house for about 4 weeks now that started with flu-like symptoms, namely vomiting, and now a nasty cold accompanied by fever. The last 3 days, 3 of the 5 kids and I have all been sick. There are so many things I love about having a big family, and I definitely think the benefits outweigh the negatives, but any kind of sickness is a definite challenge to the bigger family. It usually makes it rounds with each of the children and many times the parents, as well. It takes longer to get out of the house. And the energy necessary to go through this situation can be monumental, at times. These are a few of my reflections at times like this.
1. I have to take the day one step at a time. I have all sorts of things I want to accomplish, even on days when half the kids are sick, but it doesn't always happen "right now". Sometimes it is interrupted by finding the 2-year-old in the bathroom having taken off her poopy diaper and attempting to be helpful by wiping the poop out of the diaper into the toilet with toilet paper (this is true and just happened yesterday); 20 minutes later, after an impromptu bath, new diaper, and outfit, I can finally get back to whatever it was that I was trying to do. I just have to take a deep breath and realize that the laundry and dishes will get done . . . eventually, and that is okay.
2. When the baby is sick and cries, drop everything and hold her. The one language a baby understands fully is love and when Dakota needs me, I have to make it a priority, no matter what. I have a sore back right now from having held her so often in the last few days, but it is worth it knowing that I can give my baby comfort, love, and security when she desperately needs it. Plus, years from now she will not need or depend on me in this way, so I should enjoy this stage that is so fleeting while it lasts.
3. My body is capable of more than I think it is. Even when I have been woken up 5 of 6 times a night for 3 night in a row, I can still do what I need to do to make it through the day. I may not be at my absolute best, but as long as the kids are safe, clean, taken care of, and do what they need to do that day, then it is still a success.
4. I am learning, more and more, to accept help when it is offered. When I came down with this nasty cold a few nights ago, I mentioned it to my parents and the next day my dad was over with soups, mac n' cheese for the kids, and ginger ale. I am so thankful to have parents close by that step in and help, especially when I'm feeling rotten. The next day, he showed up again with a few "extra's " from Costco that he knew I could use and dropped them off. Then, he ran up to the school and picked up Isabella from school so that I would be able to keep the sick ones at home resting. More than one friend has called in the last couple of days as well to offer help, as well. Even if it doesn't fit into my schedule or I already have what I need right then, it is so touching and meaningful to receive an offer of help and an encouraging word (Thanks Laura and Carla!)
5. I try to keep the end in sight and know that this too shall pass.
6. God's grace is sufficient for me at all times. He gives me what I need to get through tough times and gives me stores of energy and resiliency that I didn't think I possessed. And in the end, that is what will get me through until tomorrow.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
From time to time when I'm reading one of my ladies' magazines, I see products touted for being eco-friendly and reusable. Kid's lunchboxes are one of these times, but many times the product mentioned is so far out of my price range that I would never even consider buying it for my child. As you can see above, though, we have several retro-style lunch boxes at our house, some more used than others. These boxes are big enough to hold my child's school lunch, are easy to clean out when they get messy, are cute, and, best of all, are affordable. We first saw these when we were shopping at Party City for daughter #2's party supplies for her birthday. When she saw the Hello Kitty! lunchbox, she asked for it and I bought it as one of her birthday presents. Recently, daughters #1 and #2 thought that their 2-year-old lunchboxes were rather worn and sratched-up, so they bought new ones with their own spending money. #3's box is still in good shape, and #4 and #5 will get to use the old ones in the play kitchen as they get older.
Almost all of these lunchboxes, found at Party City, cost about $6.99. There is quite a good selection for both boys and girls, toddler-themed through elementary-age themes. Most all the boxes are made by the Tin Box Company, with the exception of Hello Kitty! by Sanrio. On the recent purchases, I was voting for a couple of the non-character themed boxes (the glamour girl one with heels, necklaces, sunglasses, and lipstick; and the pink outdoor-themed one with butterflies and flowers), but I was vetoed which is perfectly fine. They were able to spend their own money and have their own choice. Kids don't get that many choices, compared with adults, so it is fun to see the girls express themselves by making their own choice with something fun like a lunchbox. We ended up with Minnie Mouse andHello Kitty! ( yet another) lunchboxes, much to everyone's satisfaction.
Monday, September 27, 2010
This morning, I want to take a few minutes to gush about a movie I watched on Netflix on Friday night. I love period pieces, stories about the monarchy and all other classes of people during centuries past, movies with ornate costumes and pretty settings, etc. So, when I was thinking about watching The Young Victoria (2009) on Netflix instant play, I was hoping to see all of the above. This movie definitely did not disappoint and, for me, exceeded expectations. The story line follows the path Victoria (the longest reigning British monarch to date) took as a young person to being queen of England, showing the many challenges a young person would face being thrust into such a position of responsibility at a rather young age. Victoria is played by Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) who is herself, British. I know many American actresses have done successful British accents and played a part very convincingly (e.g. Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma, which I love), but it seems that Blunt is able to play this part with an ease that comes from having grown up in England and understanding a culture with a monarchy from the first-hand perspective. Rupert Friend (Pride and Prejudice -2005) as Prince Albert is perfectly cast in his role as Victoria's cousin, suitor, and great love of her life. The historical fascination (which may not be entirely accurate) and glories of the period piece aside, this movie pleasantly surprises by delivering a very moving love story that is not over-romanticized, but rather overcomes many odds to become a successful partnership. The love scenes (between the married monarchs) are very tastefully done and very much PG, leaving most everything to the imagination - I find this in and of itself, very refreshing. I heartily recommend this movie if you are looking for an enjoyable evening in at home and want to be left uplifted (and maybe a tear or two in your eye, as well).
My rating for the The Young Victoria: ☺☺☺☺☺
(on a scale of 1-5)
Friday, September 24, 2010
Mystery is solved, but not by me. Glasses were found at dentists' office in play room more than day later. Returned by an angel, perhaps? 2-year-old is very happy that "bye-bye" glasses are now found. Have been granted small miracle that I requested. God cares about the little things!
|Livia, today, sporting the newly found Dora sunglasses.|
Yesterday, Arianna and I made French fries for lunch, home-made French fries, not the prepared kind in the frozen section of the grocery store. While I was looking through the French cookbook and thinking about making French bread, which incidentally I decided to put off until another day when I had more time, I ran across the recipe for pommes frites. Given that my fridge was looking rather bare, but I had a big bag of potatoes, this sounded rather appetizing. Not to mention, that once in a while I get a real hankering for something hot, greasy, and salty and this fit the bill. I peeled, sliced up, and plunged the potatoes into cold water. Then, Arianna dried them off for me, and I fried them up in hot canola oil.
For my part, I really ended up enjoying my very unhealthy indulgence, but Arianna, not so much. Apparently, she likes the shoestring, super crispy fries that are found at McDonalds's (which I also enjoy from time to time), but I thought the home-made version had a nice fresh quality to it and the potatoes were surprisingly sweet, even when fried.
When Augustus arrived home from work and decided that hamburgers were on the menu for dinner, I offered up another batch of pommes frites as my contribution to dinner. His Kalamata olive burgers were perfectly complemented by my fries and the kids gave a resounding thumbs up for Mommy and Papi's restaurant fare done at home.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
I certainly don't claim to be a fashionista, so I guess it should have come as no surprise to me when I opened October's Ladies' Home Journal to a section entitled, "From The Files Of The Fashion Police", where it quotes both Tim Gunn (Project Runway) and Clinton Kelly (What Not to Wear) sharing their takes on the worst style crimes. Well, lo and behold, Tim Gunn says concerning Crocs: "I can't imagine a more aesthetically offensive item of footwear. That little strap! I shudder." It would seem that, I, a stay-at-home Mom whose primary fashion concern is comfort, at least most days, have committed a rather egregious fashion mistake. I shudder to even think of what Clint and Stacy would say if they had a look inside my closet. Oh well (as my 2-year-old would say)! I think the Crocs are here to stay for the present, and I'm not going to apologize for it. Even the First Lady has a teal pair of Crocs that she wears out in public and she is an up-and-coming fashion icon, it would seem. So it would seem that I'm in good company, after all.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
|Livia and a different pair of sunglasses when she was only 9 months old.|
Many times, my day will start off ho-hum and things will just go uphill from there and my day will end great! Funny how this morning was just the opposite. It started off for me at 5:15 a.m. when I rolled out of bed, managed to make it to the kitchen and throw together a batch of oatmeal chocolate chunk muffins, get the kids dressed and ready to go, and have everyone in the van at 6:55 a.m. We headed off to the dentist, 15 miles away in Encinitas, so that Isabella could have a cavity filled. As we were driving along on our merry way, I was thinking how nice it was to start off the morning so wonderfully! I had somehow managed to have a smoothly running morning, get 5 kids out the door and on their way an hour earlier than usual, no major fights or breakdowns had taken place prior to leaving, everyone was fed, and we were going to arrive to the dentist office ahead of time. Not bad. Once we arrived, everything went as planned. The girls began to play on the indoor playhouse (thank goodness for a great pediatric dentist!), Isabella went back to the exam room and got set up with the nitrous oxide and her movie, and the dentist got to work. I was hoping for everything to go quickly because we needed to make it 25 minutes back to Escondido and get Isabella back in school so that we could run Arianna to gymnastics by 10:00 a.m. As we waited, I did the girls' hair in the waiting room (always a great place to beautify your daughters when running short on time), they played, and we made a bathroom trip. It seemed like no time at all and Isabella was done, I had paid, it was only 8:45 (perfect timing!), and we were ready to go.
Then, disaster struck! We began to gather all our belongings and the girls gathered up their brand new sunglasses that their uncle had sent to them and had arrived in the mail the night before. Only to find that Livia's darling lilac Dora the Explorer sunglasses were no where to be found. I had seen them not that long before and was sure they were either in the stroller or the playhouse. We checked every couch we had sat on, the playhouse a minimum of 4 times, the entire area on the floor, the bathroom, and the examination room to no avail. We even thought maybe another little girl that had been in earlier might have accidentally picked them up and we asked the receptionist to keep her eye out for them. In the end, after now running short on time, we had to leave without them, tell Livia that her glasses had gone "bye-bye", and head off to school.
Now, logically, I know that this pair of sunglasses was only an object, a "thing", that could be replaced and doesn't hold a lot of actual value in this world. But, emotionally I just wasn't feeling that. I'm not an obsessive-compulsive person, but I was definitely having an OCD moment. I was frantic in my search for these glasses and as I drove the kids on our way, it was all I could think about despite the many other peripheral conversations that I was holding simultaneously with the kids and the low murmur of the radio in the background. I wonder sometimes why I have such dificulty letting these seemingly "little" things go. In this case, I guess it really comes back to relationships, something that does hold real value to me. I felt horribly when thinking of my brother, that this cute gift from him was so quickly lost. I felt badly for Livia thinking that she might be very upset later on when she realized that they were missing. And, I felt badly about the decision I made as a mom to let her bring the glasses along in the first place, knowing that 2-year-olds can easily misplace items. Sometimes I'm very emotionally drawn into a situation - the lump-in-my-throat, knot-in-my-stomach kind of feeling - and wonder if it is to my detriment. But, to feel is to be human; I wouldn't exchange that for a cold passivity in viewing the world go by me in a detached way.
All in all, the rest of the scheduled time panned out fairly well in the end. Isabella was delivered tired and not feeling her best to school for which I also felt sad, but I thought she needed to be there despite recovering from her dental work. Arianna arrived at gymnastics at 10:00 a.m. on the dot, Selah was delivered to school by Grandma on time at 11:15, and #3, #4, #5, and I all made it back home for lunch by 11:45. Not a bad morning, all in all. The lovely euphoria of the morning was unrecoverable, but after laughing at the antics of a very silly puppy and hilarious toddler (accompanied by a release of endorphins, no doubt), I felt that the day could be salvaged. And, I'm still praying to God for a small miracle - that the purple Dora sunglasses will make an appearance in the dentist's office by day's end.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Last spring, my hubby, knowing how much I like to cook and try new recipes, brought home a pizza cookbook from the San Diego Public Library for me to peruse. I'll admit that I never really replicated any of the pizzas recipes from the book, but a new and fun concept that had never occurred to us previously was that of grilling pizza. We have a nice charcoal grill and decided to fire it up and give it a shot. To our surprise, the pizza turned out deliciously. A big upside to this type of pizza experience is that the pizza itself does not require perfection in order to taste great and be fun. If your pizza turns out oblong, so be it; it's just all part of the experience.
Grilling pizza has evolved for us as we have begun to do this on a more regular basis. Instead of buying pizza dough in the store, I now make my own. It turns out to be fairly simple to make and it simply tastes so much better than the store-bought dough. Another change is moving the whole production entirely outdoors. In the beginning, we would assemble the pizzas inside and then transfer them on a cookie sheet outside to be grilled and eaten. Now, we bring everything out of doors, including the dough, extra flour, and all the ingredients. We let each family member and/or guest take their own piece of dough, stretch it out, choose their own toppings, and out comes a personal-size pizza. Many Southern Californians like to capitalize on outdoor living by taking the party out on the deck or in the yard. Grilling pizzas out can be a great new take on the traditional pizza party. A fun addition to this dinner idea with guests is to contact everyone who is invited ahead of time and ask each individual/group to bring one favorite topping along with them. This way, the host is assured that there will be something for everyone and will also be less stressed trying to provide a multitude of pizza toppings.
Tips for grilling pizza:
- Have a small bowl of oil and a pastry brush on hand.
- Brush one side of the pizza dough with the oil and grill it until it is a very light brown. Remove the dough from the grill. Brush the uncooked side with oil. Then, flip the dough over and top the grilled side with sauce, cheese, and toppings. Return the pizza to the grill and cook until the dough is medium brown and the cheese is melted.
- With a charcoal grill, initially keep the coals quite far down in order to avoid burning the crust. As the coals begin to cool, you can raise up the bed of coals as needed. With a gas grill, be cautious with the heat to avoid burning the pizza crust. When cooking the pizza, it will cook more efficiently with the grill cover closed.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Are you looking for a dessert that is easy to make, tastes great, turns out every time, and is a good choice for when you have guest over? This is just the sort of recipe that I am always on the look-out for and love to make. A few years ago, I started to receive a free food magazine from Kraft Foods that, of course, shamelessly promoted their own products, but also included many easy and tasty recipes for every day cooking. It was in one of these magazines that I saw the recipe for the Molten Chocolate Cakes. Beings this sort of dessert is a hot item on many restaurant menus, I thought that I would try my hand at making these cakes at home. I'm a huge chocolate fan, so this is right up my ally. From the first time I made them, until present (just a couple of days ago when guest were over), the recipe has never failed me.
A few additional tips if you do try this recipe:
- I like to use greased glass custard dishes or porcelain ramekins for these cakes.
- I like to use darker chocolate than the semi-sweet that is called for in the recipe. Nestle Chocolatier Baking Bars are a nice alternative and can be found in the baking aisle of your grocery store.
- Although these cakes taste good with whipped cream, my personal favorite is to serve them with vanilla or vanilla bean ice cream.
- I follow the time in the oven religiously. I like mine on the gooey side, so I only leave them in the oven for 13:00 minutes; and, cooling in the custard cups 1:00 minute before running the knife around them and inverting them on the dessert bowl/plate.
Friday, September 17, 2010
. . . is the original Shout Triple-Acting Stain Treatment in the spray bottle. I now have outfits that have managed to make it through to #5 in pretty nice condition by using the Shout to get out the stains. And my double-whammy for the really bad laundry situations is to put a scoop of OxiClean in with each load for good measure (I've been doing this for the past year or two and it, also, really seems to help). I tried the OxiClean stain spray and, personally, found the results rather disappointing. And once a stain doesn't come out the first washing, it is usually pretty impossible to get it out thereafter.
So, I stock up on my refill jug of the Shout and my big tub of OxiClean and figure that what I spend in laundry products is really very little in comparison with what I would be spending otherwise on new clothes for my kids. Now here's to hoping that they all keep enjoying those hand-me-down's with gusto for a few years longer!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I always used to think that making your own bread was difficult and that I certainly would be no good at baking it. In fact, I approached all products that used yeast with fear and trepidation. Why, I'm not sure, but that is the case. I love to cook and bake, but I just baked all sorts of quick breads with baking soda and powder - no yeast required. But, when my husband bought me a Kitchen Aid mixer 2 Christmas' ago, I saw the recipes for homemade bread and decided to give it a shot. It turned out that making bread wasn't as complicated as I had thought, but I was still pretty particular about taking the temperature of my water before putting in the sweetener and yeast, and was picky about getting everything else in the recipe just right.
Then, this summer, my mother-in-law was so kind as to give us her breadmaker that she wasn't using and we brought it home with us to California. We all loved using it because it was as easy as putting all the ingredients in the bucket in the prescribed order, putting the bucket into the machine, and pushing a button; the machine did the rest. One evening, I decided to try the egg bread for the first time and this turned out to be the demise of my breadmaker. The dough overflowed the baking bucket, went down into the rest of the maker with the heating element, and started to burn up. After, cleaning out the breadmaker and reattaching all electrical elements, it still wouldn't even turn back on. I had to dump the pizza dough I was making out of the breadmaker bucket and into my Kitchen Aid and just mix everything ad hoc. The dough turned out fabulously and I found out that doughs and yeast aren't really as scary as I had thought.
So, this led me to try making the sourdough starter from the recipe in my Breadman book. It was a success and the loaf shown above was my first ever homemade loaf of sourdough bread. Ah, the wonderful smell of fresh-baked bread! Well, I'm off to start another loaf.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Yesterday was just one of THOSE days; like I was just trying to catch my breath from one activity to another. It went something like this. The kids are listed as #1, #2, #3, #4, & #5 by birth order.
- Get up at 6:30 a.m. without getting up to say goodbye to hubby or send him anything to eat at work - feel badly.
- Feed kids breakfast and breastfeed #5, get #1 ready for school and drop her off at appproximately 7:55 a.m., with dog in tow.
- Come back home. Get #2 ready for kindergarten; get #3, #4, and #5 dressed and hair fixed, as well.
- Go to the Post Office at 10:00 a.m. to mail in Flex Spending Account claim. Arrive back at home at 10:40 a.m. and contemplate the wisdom of getting everyone out for just 20 minutes and do it anyway. Breastfeed #5. Load back up with #2,3, 4, & 5 (minus dog) and drop off #2 at kindergarten at 11:20 a.m. - 5 minutes late. Decide that next time in that situation, will all stay in van and feed baby in school parking lot.
- Drive down to vet clinic and get vaccination records for dog to mail back to ND for dog license in our summer town.
-Stop at Albertson's to recycle bottles and cans. Take #3, 4, & 5 inside to cash in receipts and #3 & 4 get a chocolate chip cookie.
-Arrive back home at 1:00 p.m. Feed kids lunch.
- 1:30 p.m. Make loaf of bread and let it start to rise. Make salad for self to take in van and eat while waiting in line to pick up kids from school.
- Put #3, 4, & 5 back in van and go back to school at 2:25 p.m. to pick up #1 & 2.
- Back home at 3:00 p.m. and punch down dough. Roll it into a loaf and put back in bread pan to rise. Begin small trial batch of peach jam (which turns out to be delicious!) Supervising #1's piano practice. Helping #2, sporadically, as she does 1st kindergarten homework packet of year. Attempt to start on dish disaster, but don't get too far.
- Hubby arrives home around 4:00 p.m. and we have coffee and bread with warm jam. Kids have pot of tea and toast.
- Start making dinner, general clean-up time. Hubby does miracle on bedroom and kitchen. #2 doesn't feel well and falls asleep on bed.
-Late dinner at 6:30 p.m. because of clean-up.
- #5 gets first bites of rice cereal then needs quick bath. #3 & 4 to bed. #2 wakes up with fever and needs Tylenol and to be put back to bed. #5 takes shower and gets ready for bed. Hubby cleans up after dinner while I supervise the above.
- 8:45 p.m. - Finally calm and quiet. Crochet for awhile, get too tired, read Scriptures, in bed by 10:00 p.m.
|This about sums it up.|
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Ever since the birth of my fifth daughter in April, any outing upon which I embark in the public arena with all 5 children is met by a myriad of comments. I feel that I am the resident oddity and spectacle, and am attempting to come to terms with this new role in life. I'm still trying to figure out when it became socially acceptable for everyone and anyone to comment on one's personal choices while out in public.
The most frequent comment I receive (and, consequently, the one I've come to most dread hearing) is, "Wow! You really have your hands full! Don't you?". Why it seems necessary to state this when I am marching around the grocery store like a mother duck with a 7, 51/2, and 4 year-old in tow and a toddler and infant in the grocery cart is beyond me. Yes, it is obvious that I have quite the entourage, but do these observers think that somehow I have failed to observe my own situation in life? Far from it. I am quite aware of the intricacies of the full-blown public outing with my children and all the possible minor disasters that could possibly ensue while out and about. I hardly think it is necessary for a complete stranger to comment on my obvious state in life.
I am quite perplexed, in fact, at the need by those of the older generations to comment on my family. I was, I suppose, under some false presumption that these individuals of my grandparents and parents generation had grown up learning to "bite their tongues" and restrain themselves from rude and inappropriate comments and looks while in public. But, as it turns out from my own experience, I was completely wrong on this point. And what I find even more annoying than a mere remark on me and my children is the frequency at which I am the recipient of glares and rude looks by older men and women; they fix a stare upon me and the girls as we pass through public spaces as if to say, "How dare you step in my way, inconvenience me by taking up an extra few seconds of my time, block the isle accidentally, and even assault my eyes with the view of your exceedingly large family".
Alas, it seems that this pattern of behavior that I so frequently am observing will continue to be directed toward my family. It gets to be tiring, answering the many public inquiries on these occasions when, in fact, I only want to accomplish my errands as quickly as possible and be on my merry way. But, although many a pithy and smart remark come frequently to mind, I've found that for me, personally, it is really not worth the time or effort to verbally combat these tactless strangers in public. Instead, I give them a smile, an understanding look, and reply, "Yes, they certainly are a hand-full and a blessing!" And then, I proceed along the way, on to the next of many tasks that a Mom of 5 needs to accomplish in her day.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
- because home is where the heart is (cliche, but true).
- because home for me is family, no matter our location, and my story largely revolves around my family.
- because home can also be a physical location and the inspiration for the title of my blog (in the picture at the top of my page) was found in our new summer home in North Dakota which involved plenty of unexpected adventures and brought about many new realizations for our family (it's a long story; one that will have to wait).
- because "home" implies making a home; this is a part of my job description and is also something I enjoy, as well.
- because at home I am a Mommy and being a mom inspires stories on a daily basis.
- because my story begins with knowing Jesus and He gives me everything that home implies: safety, comfort, love, and peace.
This is the beginning of my journey into the world of blogging. I've often thought I'd like to have my own blog, but just never broke down and did it. Between being pregnant for a a majority of the past 7 years, giving birth to 5 children, and taking care of babies I just never got around to it. But, now the last of my babies has been born and I find an ever-increasing need to find an outlet for the myriad of thoughts going through my brain at any given moment: thoughts on life, love, my faith, being a parent, mommyhood, and much more. And, if you stumble along my blog, I hope you enjoy reading the ramblings of an ordinary woman and mom experiencing the many adventures life has to hold.