Monday, June 28, 2010

A Two-Year-Old Moment?

I awoke at 7:00 this morning to Kaitlyn standing at my bedside asking me for a popsicle (this is what you get when you buy the Costco-sized box of Otter Pops.) I told her no and went back to sleep. I awoke an hour later wondering why the house was so quiet. Where had Kaitlyn gone? It's never a good thing when the two-year-old is the only one awake. I came downstairs to find her covering the kittens in yogurt; a bite for Kaitlyn, a spoonful on the kitties. They didn't seem to mind, for they were happily licking it off of each others' backs. As for Mom, wish I could say the same. A two year old moment? I think so.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dance Recital 2010 and Other Happenings

This past week marked the end of another season of dance for Ashlee. Of the three dances she performed, my favorite was the lyrical.






The kitties have reached their 6 week mark, which means they are about ready for new homes. However, when we had a family come over yesterday to pick one out, we all decided that it would be best to wait another week or so before we separate them from their mama. Maybe it was the way she gathered them all in and nursed them right in the middle of the living room floor that did us in, I don't know. It just didn't feel right to take one from her yet.

With a little effort we were able to get our spa up and running. We use a mineral sanitizer and natural pH balancers in lieu of harsh chlorine chemicals. It makes for a much nicer spa experience.


And, being that it was a busy week with 2 dress rehearsals and 2 recitals, the crockpot played a big part in my menu planning. Here is my favorite recipe from the week:

Slow cooker jambalaya
I reduced the cayenne pepper by half and served it over Jasmine rice... mmm!

(This is not my photo. Ours was so yummy that we didn't think to take a picture!)

Rachel is four months old today and sleeps 11 hours through the night. She is working on grabbing things and bringing them to her mouth, using her voice, and strengthening her core muscles for sitting. We are enjoying every ounce of her!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pergo!

There are 3 things about a home that are important to me: the look, the feel, and the smell. My affirmation of a clean house is, "Looks, feels, smells clean!" Sometimes my kids laugh, but that's what I say. So, since we moved into this house almost 8 months ago, I have been bothered by the carpet. It interfered with the "clean smell" aspect of the home, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't get rid of it. I so desperately wanted to rip it out, for I knew it would make the house feel so much better. Well, today we did just that! It was a family project. Forrest allowed me the satisfaction of pulling up the carpet and padding, while the kids helped to remove staples and hammer down nails in the floor boards. With the area prepped, Forrest was able to lay all of the flooring in one day, and all that is left to do is cut and install new baseboard and put the furniture back into position. It has completely transformed our downstairs living area, and we love it! I was even able to pick out a couple of cute accent rugs (like the one you see under the piano.) After years of fixing up other people's homes, it is nice to have Forrest do upgrades on our own home. We certainly enjoy the fruits of his labor.
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Meal Planning

Although cooking is one of my favorite things to do, lately I have found myself in a rut when it comes to what to make for dinner. So, with a bit of effort, I have been able to break free of my dinner doldrums and bring the pleasure back into meal times. My latest endeavor has been meal planning. I sit down on Sunday, write out the week's menu, go shopping on Monday, and breathe easy the rest of the week knowing that at least dinner will be taken care of. In addition to the peace-of-mind that comes from being prepared, the fun part of this has been seeking out and trying new recipes. I thought I would showcase a few of my favorites from this week:


Monday night: White cheese chicken lasagna

Tuesday night: Spicy beef kabobs with homemade Spanish rice (my own make-as-you-go recipe)

Friday night: Chicken with capers in cream sauce, Italian salad, homemade rolls

These were all new recipes, and I have to say that my family's hands-down favorite was the chicken with capers in cream sauce. If you are going to try any of these, make this one. I served it over pasta and oh my was it delicious! It really paired well with the salad and tasted like an authentic Italian meal. This one will definitely be going in the recipe box.

Sun Tea

This has been my favorite drink as of late: freshly brewed sun tea (the herbal variety, of course.) I remember in my childhood that my step-mom always had a pitcher, similar to this one, sitting out in the backyard brewing in the heat of the sun. She would then bring it inside and put it in the refrigerator for iced tea. It feels good to be adopting this tradition as my own, and even the kids love it. They ask for a glass every time they see me pouring one (they have become herbal tea fanatics such as myself.) There's nothing like ice cold tea on a hot summer day.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Life is Good


Since the beginning of my career as a stay-at-home mom, I have often found myself ending journal entries with these words: "Life is good." As of late I have often pondered the same feeling; life is good. On the one hand, having five kids has forced me to slow down in many ways. For example, it wasn't until after the birth of number five that I have felt the need for, and often heed to the calling of, a good nap. In my younger years, I viewed naps as a cut into my productive time. I shunned the thought. Now as an older and wiser mother of five, I see them as an opportunity to meditate, slow down my body and open my mind to the deeper dealings of my inner conscience. Sometimes I even get the added benefit of cuddling a sleeping baby across my chest. It is often during a good nap that I come upon bits of revelation, inspiration (call it what you will) that get me through the rest of my day or week. I can not tell you how many times I have received answers to some of my deepest concerns (usually dealing with my children) while retiring to the quiet solitude of my upstairs bedroom for a nap. It has been said that if prayer is talking to God, meditating is listening to God. I couldn't agree more.
Some time back I came to the conclusion that I had a choice to make: a clean house or happy kids. Not both, which is a shame because I love both. I wrestled with that thought for a long time, resenting my house on the day I chose happy kids and riddling myself with guilt when I chose the former. But now I realize being a mom is so much more than that. You can have a clean house and happy kids, and life will be good. However, you can also have the sick days where you stay on the couch and watch movies, and life will be good then too. I have learned to do less, much less, and try to give more quality to what I do, because after all, when we get to the end of the road the only thing that will really matter is the journey that got us there. I have learned to pause for a moment each morning and try to listen for what God wants me to do that day. Maybe I'll be blessed with a productive day, and be grateful for it. Or maybe this will be the day that I ignore the dishes as I fill up my glass with sun tea on my way to the backyard to sit and watch the kids do water balloons and search for lady bugs in the garden. Our kittens are a good reminder of just how quickly life passes. I try to take the time to sit and enjoy them as much as my children do, for they are growing fast and will soon be gone. It's not too often in life you get to have 5 kittens and 5 children under one roof, and I consider myself fortunate. I look all around me and see others in the same position; living a good life. Sure there's work, there always will be. Our kids will need us every day and push us past our limits, but therein lies our opportunity to grow. I told Forrest the other night that in my world, almost everything can be related to exercise. When we extend ourselves beyond our limits, we will be stronger than the day before. That is our children's job, and I am grateful for it. I am not the same mother I was ten years ago, and I have my children and my Father in heaven to thank. They are my best teachers and are shaping me into the mother I hope to be throughout all eternity. That is why we are here, right? It is a test run for our eternal destiny. I think there is a reason why, in hindsight, we always remember the good in every situation. It's kind of like a workout. When you're dripping sweat and squeezing out those last few reps, or running that last mile, you probably won't be saying, "Yes! I am loving this!" But you keep going, and afterwards you relish in the satisfaction of a good workout. Such is life. In the moment we focus on our trials, but in the end we see the big picture. Life is good! And I have five (no, ten!) little angels sleeping in their beds to show for it, and a husband who has patiently been waiting downstairs for me to finish this blog post. I'm not going to end with any grandiose conclusions or lofty promises of what I will do better tomorrow, just the premise that I am enough, I have enough, and life is good. Good night.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Uninterrupted

My head hit the pillow at 11:30 and I didn't move again until 6:30. You know you got good sleep when you wake up in the same position you fell asleep in. Now that's just the kind of up-all-week-with-sick-kids recovery sleep my body needed. I tell you, it's a beautiful thing.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Our Week at a Glance

Rachel, now 3 1/2 months, is growing faster than we can keep up with. However, this isn't such a bad thing because she now sleeps through the night. Thank you Rachel!
We had a sick day. I suppose this is what happens when you open up your home to 25 moms and kids for a play date when the flu is going around. Can you guess which two were sick in this picture? Today we are on round two (hence the reason for my being home blogging and not at church.)
I found this picture on the camera. One of the kids must have snapped it. The kittens are now 4 weeks and very adorable.
We have been spending a lot of time in the backyard working, gardening, doing anything that gives us a reason to be outside.
Ashlee was given a book on crocheting care bears, and here she is working on her first one.
This is the desired end result.
We attended a birthday party for a one-year-old yesterday, and Forrest decided to hand craft a memory box as a gift. It turned out quite amazing.
He used a wood burner to etch the tree.
The family has a Roman theme going in their home, so Forrest decided to add some Latin writing along with the boy's birthday in Roman numerals along the side. A very crafty touch, I think.
Can anyone tell me the meaning of the words inscribed on the inside?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

My Next Ambition

My only question is, do I shoot for a better time on the 5k or just go for the whole enchilada?

New Toys

The Lumberjack has been at it again. Last weekend Forrest came up with this neat idea for a tire swing (we've actually seen them around and decided to try making one for ourselves.) It's made from an old tire off his truck, turned inside out, and cut to shape. What I like about it is that it cradles the little ones, making for a much safer ride.

Forrest was cleaning out the garage and had some scrap wood to get rid of, so he asked me what I wanted him to make. My answer? A picnic table for the kids.
He even drilled a hole in the middle for an umbrella. This is now the kids' favorite spot to eat dinner.



Thanks again honey! Your woodworking skills serve the whole family.



Folsom Aquatic Center









This is the place where we chose to purchase a family pass for the summer. We discovered it a few years back and have made a tradition of going ever since; my kids absolutely love it. What I love is the way it accomodates my very youngest child to my oldest. Rachel and I love the heated pool, Noah and Kaitlyn enjoy the play structure seated in the middle of the 1 1/2 foot deep pool, Jacob loves the water slide, and Ashlee always heads over to the high dive in the 14 foot pool. There truly is something for everyone. Oh, summer!

Jacob's First Recital

Jacob's first piano recital was held last night at a beautiful home in Pleasant Valley. It was a very relaxed setting and the kids had a great time. Jacob has only been taking lessons for about a month, and we are pleased with his progress so far. I think it will be the beginning of a good thing.
(his piano instructor)

(the group of performing students)


video video

3 Week Old Kittens

Since they've been born, Lily has done a good job at keeping her kittens in hiding. They started out in the master bedroom closet, then she moved them first under Ashlee's bed, then under Kaitlyn's. About a week ago we spotted her bringing them downstairs behind the shelter of the entertainment center. Needless to say, up until this point we have been enjoying the kitties in small doses. However, last night for the first time, they all came out to play, and it was so much fun.
(Here's Noah checking to see if their umbilical cords fell off.)




I love the face of the little guy (or girl) in the lefthand side of the photo. We are debating between it and the orange one for which one we will keep.

We will probably keep them around until they are between 6 and 8 weeks of age before we part with them. In the meantime, the kids are thoroughly enjoying them.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Crockpot Day

Nothing beats the convenience, ease, and yuminess of a crockpot dinner...

(Chicken Paprikash)
... unless it's followed up with a crockpot dessert!

(peanut butter and chocolate pudding cake in the crockpot)
But perhaps best of all is that while these were cooking, I was able to enjoy an afternoon nap.

CHICKEN PAPRIKASH

· 2-3 lbs. chicken tender loins or sliced breasts

· 1 onion diced

· 1 red bell pepper diced

· 3-4 garlic cloves diced

· 2 Tbsp diced piquillo peppers or pimentos

· 1 1/2 tsp paprika

· 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (can be purchased at Bel Air)

· 2 tsp dried thyme

· salt and pepper to taste

· 2 1/2 cups chicken stock

· 2 cups sour cream

· 5 Tbsp flour

In skillet heat approx. 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add diced onions and bell peppers. Saute on meduim for 5 mins. Add garlic and Piquillo peppers and saute for another 5 mins. Then add all spices and herbs; saute for a couple of mins. Add a little liquid to deglaze pan and pour into crock pot. Add chicken strips and chicken stock, cook on high for 4 hrs. When done cooking remove chicken from pot and mix flour into the sour cream (it should be smooth and creamy) then add sour cream to pot and stir with whisk to incorporate. Then put back on high for 20-30 mins or until thickened, add chicken back into pot and serve over rice.



PEANUT BUTTER AND HOT FUDGE PUDDING CAKE (this has to be paired with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream!)

· ½ Cup Flour

· ¼ Cup Sugar

· ¼ Tsp. Baking Powder

· ¼ Cup Milk

· 1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil

· ½ Tsp.Vanilla

· ¼ Cup Peanut Butter

· ½ Cup Sugar

· 3 Tbsp. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

· 1 Cup Boiling Water

In a bowl, combine the flour, ¼ cup sugar and baking powder. Add the milk, oil, and vanilla; stir until smooth. Mix in the peanut butter. Pour the mixture into the crockpot. In the same bowl, stir together the ½ cup sugar and cocoa powder. Gradually stir in the boiling water. Pour the mixture over the batter in the slow cooker, do not stir. Cover; cook on high for 2 – 3 hours.