Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Menu and A Braid

The light is changing!  Have you noticed it?  Spring is a comin'!  My body seems to feel the difference as I have been craving greens like you would not believe.  Somehow eating a good salad is almost as good as sunshine.

Here is what's on the menu for this last week of February...

S    Apple pancakes w/ pure maple syrup
      Ham and swiss sandwiches w/ spicy mustard and greens
      Brats and Saurkraut with homemade fries

S  Homemade almond granola
    Chicken and wild rice soup with rye bread & salad
    Steak (grass fed) and pepper fajitas with all the fixin's

M  Homemade granola and smoothies
      Pesto grilled cheese and leftover soup & salad
      Lentils and rice with walnuts, mushrooms, onions and feta

T  Oatmeal with raisins and nuts
    Peanut Butter and Jelly with apples and clementines
    Pesto Noodles with mushrooms, broccoli, and tomatoes

W  Eggs and Toast
     Leftovers & salad
     Baked potatoes with sour cream, wilted greens, and bacon

Th  Oatmeal with apples and nuts
      Pita pizzas and salad
      Roast chicken with rice pilaf and green beans with balsamic, feta and garlic

F  Whole wheat waffles
    Black bean quesadillas with fresh veggies or salad

And...though it doesn't really go together...I just wanted it to go down in our history...that our little girl wore her first braid in this last week of February.  Yes...it is shallow...but I don't care.  Sometimes it's the little things that give us joy.  I have waited a long time for a little girl with brown hair to braid.  And no...she doesn't mind at all.  She seems to really like having her hair done.  So...here you have it.  Her first braid, complete with pudgy cheeks.

Friday, February 22, 2013


 Have you ever seen such cute little swimmers?  Me neither.  And although in this photo they do not look enthusiastic about the water, they really are!  Which is so much fun to watch! 
 Little Owl has really grown in his skills.  He was really hesitant to swim at first, and I was not about to make him, since I was so terrified of swimming lessons when I was a kid.  All I wanted him to do was try it one time and then see what he thought.  So the first day was a little hard for him....but he surprised me (and himself I think) because after he got his feet wet, so to speak, he was just fine.  He is such an interesting kid!  Reminds me so much of J.  How he tries things that he is uncomfortable with.  His quiet strength and courage.  Whenever he would be afraid of a new skill, he would just talk to his teacher quietly and together they would figure out what he could do to learn the skill and still feel comfortable.  Our swim instructor is so awesome too!  She's gentle and patient and somehow makes the boys feel confident in however they are doing.  And isn't that the whole point?  Learning to be confident in your ability, and figuring out your body and how to make it work for you in the water?
 I know this picture isn't the best quality, but look....he's swimming!

Little Hen is such a squirrel.  He is always grinning when he's in the water and frequently makes his teacher crack up.  He is not swimming on his own yet, but, well...he is only 3.  He does jump off the edge of the pool though into pretty deep water and thinks it's great fun!  He seems to think the goal is to make the biggest splash possible.

Cricket is another story.  He is always making the teacher laugh too, but is so hesitant to try things in the water.  In the fall, when we were at Fort Wilderness, he fell out of his kayak into water that was just a bit deeper than he could stand and it really shook him up.  So his goal this semester was to just learn to be confident in the water.  His body is changing so much just now.  He's grown so tall and slender.  I sometimes wonder what it must be like for him to be moving around in such a long body.  He is after all only eight years old.  I sometimes forget that! In the picture above you can see his teacher has wrapped some noodles around him so he can focus on kicking those long legs with more coordination.  I am so proud of this kid.  He isn't totally swimming on his own yet, but he has learned to do several different strokes, how to jump in, and has the start of a good dive. 

And then there is this crazy kid.  He is such a fish!  He told me the first day of lessons, before he got in the pool, that he was going to try really hard because he wanted to show the teacher what he could do.  Awesome.  I am continually impressed with his ability to focus.  When he started lessons he really couldn't swim by himself at all.  He now can do the several different strokes, the dolphin kick, can jump in, dive in, and can retrieve rings from the deep end on his own.  And more importantly, I have seen him come out of his comfort zone and learn to be friends with new people.  The first session he and Cricket had a three year old girl in their class.   It was just the three of them so I was a bit worried that it would be an awkward mix.  But it wasn't.  At all!  They would talk with her and play with her like they were great friends.  And when that eight week session ended and the new one started they were a little bummed that Mia wouldn't be with them.   I just find that to be incredibly sweet.  I love how these kids keep tearing down the stereotypes that are ingrained in me. (even though I'd like to think I don't have any...truth is I do...I think we all do)  What a privilege to be able to learn from them...with them. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Whole Thing

One of the things that I've had to revisit over and over in this crazy, messy, beautiful life of ours is figuring out our priorities.  The thing is, you think you know what your priorities are, until something happens to make life even crazier, busier, and more beautiful than you anticipated.  Then one day you wake up and realize that you really don't have the time or energy to live up to all your ideals.  You have to figure out what is really important.  I mean uber important.  Like so important that you will lose sleep for it.  Or give up alone time for it.  Or your last five dollars for.

And I don't have it all figured out, by any means.  I'm just learning what works for us, and what's worth fighting for.  And so we are in this season of change....learning how to live out what is important to us.  Because there is nothing that points out your inconsistencies like parenting a pre-teen!

And this brings me to ....the menu....because whole food is one of those things that got put aside for a wee bit while we were getting used to having five.  And when I say "put aside" I just mean that we perhaps ate out more than we should and started taking some shortcuts that allowed me less time in the kitchen, but meant more processed food.  But no more!  Baby may be crawling and teething and needy, but we need to be healthy!  So I have dove right back into the kitchen with menu in hand.  And I'm pleased to be able to tell you that it's been a few weeks and I'm sticking with it.

So...here's the menu for the week....made with almost all organic ingredients with the music turned up and a baby on the hip....

S - Hardboiled eggs and homemade almond scones
      Roasted garlic chicken (crockpot) with roasted brussel sprouts and spuds
      Spinach Lasagna with Italian salad

M - Whole wheat pumpkin waffles
      Pesto grilled cheese and sliced apples
      African Pineapple Peanut Stew

T - Oatmeal with raisins and nuts
      Pesto pita pizzas and raw red peppers
      Black bean and Sausage soup with whole wheat corn bread muffins

W -Eggs and toast
     Leftover soup and corn muffins
     Beef and Broccoli stirfry with brown rice

Th - Oatmeal with raisins and nuts
       Peanut Butter and Fruit Sandwiches with carrot sticks
       Brats and Kraut and Roasted spuds

 F - Whole wheat blueberry pancakes
      Leftovers and yogurt fruit smoothies
      BLTs with sweet potato fries

S - Eggs and homemade biscuits
      And the rest of Saturday will have to be whatever random thing I can make with what is left in the fridge and pantry....

So there you have it!  What's cookin' at your house?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

February 14th

 When I asked the boys what they wanted to do for Valentine's Day this year, they were all in agreement....make Monster Mailboxes!  We did this a few years back, when Hen was the baby.  The mailboxes lasted for almost a year, getting used whenever anyone wanted to send a message to someone.  It was great fun.  (And was excellent for boosting courage with reading!)  So when they said they wanted to do it again, I was game.
 How to make them?  Raid the recycling bin.  Make a smallish box out of cardboard, or use one already the right size.  (kleenex boxes are really good for this).  Using a scissors, make a mouth to be used as a mail slit.   Somehow Valentines are more fun when they can be eaten by your monster box.
Paint the box with acrylic paint.  Then decorate it however you like.  We used foam stickies, which isn't something we would normally use, but someone gave us a giant bag of them a long time ago and we are still using them up.  Hen wanted to do his entirely by himself and for some reason I was just not in the mood to let him.  I was certain he needed my help to paint it and tell him ideas of how it should be.  (I have no idea why some days I am less up for the adventure of letting him be his independent self.)  I realized pretty quickly to just step aside and let him go!  And this is why he wanted to do it himself....

 Because he could do it really well!  On his own!  You might not be able to tell from this picture, but every side of the box is a different color and the edges are painted really well, with pretty straight lines.  He did all of it on his own, from squeezing out the paint to washing out his brushes.  I am so impressed!
 Boy #1's is not a monster mailbox, but a robot.
 Boy #3's.  I love the toothy grin.

 Boy #2's has a crazy mouth that opens and closes.
 So the rest of the day was spent making Valentines!  Hurray!  I love days of making.  Although, these days, I am not involved in the making very much because little peanut is all hands on and will only sit watching the boys for a short while.  Then she's off! 

 Her new skill of pulling up on the furniture....or pulling up on the dog...yes she's done it, and poor Millie just lets her.

Oh, and J...this is post is for you.  Happy Valentine's Day my love.  Thank you for encouraging me to post on the blog again.  I love you more than words can say.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

About Having Five

The little lady is at my feet, trying to figure out the latch to open my giant bin of yarn.  She is so determined and funny in her smallish way that she sometimes reminds me of a kitten.  She is so busy!  Her little fingers are always finding the tiniest piece of this or that on the floor and putting it in her mouth.  Her little legs are getting so strong.  She is pulling up on furniture and crawling over things and up things.  She has found the steps!  I have rescued her from certain death at least twenty times today and it's only 1:00.  I had no idea that becoming a mother would require me to develop so many skills!

In this few years I have also learned how to be a triage nurse (is it broken?  does it need stitches?  is it strep?).  I have learned how to feed an army for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day....and to do it with whole, organic food on a budget.  I have learned how to be a diplomat between nations (think brothers).  I have learned how to teach someone to read, do fractions, carve wood, start a fire,  to NOT start a fire, and to ride a bike.  And so many more things that I can't even list.

But more than that....what has shaped me more than that are all the things that having five has taught me about love.  Because for us, J and I, having five kids has made us take a good, hard look at us.  I think it has come to this, simply because there is so much work involved with raising a crew, that you have to be purposeful to survive.  Purposeful in how you spend your time.  Purposeful with your words, your actions.  Purposeful with who you are! 

And we are a team.  If I am purposeful about something, but he is not, then it is kind of pointless....maybe even harmful?  And if something is important to him, but not to me, what good is that?  So we've spent a lot of time these past two years figuring it out.  It's been crazy hard.  But he is so patient....and  I, so tenacious....and somehow it's just been so good despite how much work it is.

And are days are full.  These children blessings.  And we keep on laughing at how good it all is.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Winter Days

It's snowing again as I sit to write.  A blustery icy kind of snow that makes me want to curl up with a good book and something warm to drink.  Yet I am in this creative whirl just now and I must write while I can!  The little girl is sleeping...finally....and this is my chance.
 She is all adorableness.  Even when she is upset, she somehow manages to still be the most adorable thing ever.  And she has had her share of upset this week.  She has a nasty cold, complete with rocket snot and an icky cough.  And at the same time is getting her top two teeth.  She's had some pretty miserable days (and nights) and there has been much rocking, and nursing, and playing peek-a-boo, and willing brothers who take a turn to try to entertain her long enough to keep her happy. 
 Boy #4 said this morning, "Hello babygirl!  You are my best friend." 
 Yesterday we had an awesome day of learning.  All kinds of good things which I didn't get pictures of....like boy #2 reading up a storm, the little boys reading to one another, and so much more.  We also baked a cake!  Because the strawberries demanded to be in a cake with organic whipped cream.  That's why!
 There was much discussing about how to decorate it.
 It was delicious boys!  Thank you ever so much!  They did most of it by themselves.  I only helped them put it in and out of the oven.
Oh, and in case you were wondering where boy #3 was in those pictures.  Here he is!  Supervising, I think.

Friday, February 1, 2013

January 2013

 Well here we are at the end of January...okay technically it's February 1st as I "publish" this....but still....these pictures are from this past week.  What has happened to allow me this precious space of time to write here on the dear old blog?  Well....nothing.  And everything.  I'll spare you, just now, the details of this messy life....and let you get on to the pictures of these beautiful kids.  As you can see Boy #2 and Boy #4 have been doing some awesome playing together these past days.  It's such a gift to see them growing closer together during our days.
 Boy #3 has lost his front tooth!  Take note!  He's done it!  Crossed the threshhold from little boy into big adventurer.  He also has conquered his fear of the water (so thankful for our awesome swim teacher!) and has started reading.  Hurray!
 My beloved had his 37th birthday this week.  We celebrated by sleeping in (sort of...it was past 7am, which is technically sleeping in for us) and having a snow day.  It was low key for sure, but sometimes that is best, especially for my guy who loves being home.  The little girl is amazing and loves her papa.  She said his "name" first of course...and it's so sweet being greeted first thing in the morning by her cooing little voice saying "papa, papa."
 These pictures....really...I couldn't help but post them....because the cuteness is just too much!
 She loves the bathtub!  Here she is concentrating on those top teeth that are soon to appear.
 She is my little companion throughout the day.  Always smiling.  Always busy.  She loves to just be where everyone is and explore the things around her.  And yes, she has started crawling....and yes, I might just never get anything done ever again.  I keep telling myself that it is a season and to enjoy it, because it will all be so different before I know it.  I just want to drink it all in...this time of littleness....where everything is new for her....where all of her sorrow can be fixed by holding hands, nursing and a pink blanket.