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Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Company in the Kitchen

I really do love to host holiday meals, in general, but this year I decided to pass on the opportunity for this particular Thanksgiving to just ... rest. The reason, in part, goes back to the beginning of summer when my FIL and his wife (who live in CA) were in a very serious accident in VA that left them both hospitalized, she near death. My husband (dh) spent most of his summer there helping his father. He went for 3 weeks, came home for less than 2, then stayed for another 3 weeks arriving home just in time for his faculty responsibilities for the fall semester to begin. We are so very glad he was able spend the time helping his father as it was certainly needed and appreciated. His father needed physical help in errands and driving among other things, and importantly- companionship- as his wife was hospitalized for months. With no ability over the summer to prepare as planned and two new classes to teach as well as his administrative responsibilities as Department Head, and a few other pressing projects with tight deadlines dh hit the ground running and has been pressed from all sides just trying to keep up. Understandably, that resulted in a trickle down effect in the family. We've all had to adapt for this semester to keep things moving forward while dealing with being literally one man down. The two teens began their high school year with it's varied demands for after school events, and soccer and such and the school year also began with the three children at home. We've one car and I'm the primary chauffeur. So...it's been a crazy semester. It's not quite over, however this holiday break is the first one of the year, I think, that my husband has not had to run out of town for one of his many trips. One major project has come to an end, and the other is at a level that requires less vigilance on dh's part. I felt we all just needed a small bit of time with nothing pressing us. Ok- at least *I* needed it. :)

Though no one has crossed our threshold this holiday I have found warmth and reminiscing in my life from years past. As I was preparing the turkey with it's seasonings I was recalling the Thanksgiving gathering we hosted when we lived in NYC. We had a great loft apartment in Fort Green with a great room and were able to host for about 20 people, if I recall correctly. It was great fun, and it was that Thanksgiving I learned through my friend Toni (and 'right hand' for that event) that it is sacrilege to just toss a turkey into the oven as is. My husband has hence forth proclaimed that I shall repeat Toni's recipe each and every time I prepare a turkey. And really, one can never have too much garlic. :)

As I was chopping and preparing the ingredients for the dressing I was thrust down memory lane to the many years I assisted my dear Mother-in-Law in preparing her special recipe for family gatherings. I was glad for the warm memories as my dearly loved MIL is no longer with us, but also for the experience of cooking with her as I seem to have misplaced her treasured (by us) recipe. I was very blessed to be able to recall the recipe well enough to 'wing it' which was the very spirit with which my MIL cooked - by feel. She would have been proud of me- for I recall poignantly and with a chuckle how she said I was 'stifling' her the year I watched her make several of her recipes and encouraged her to use measuring spoons/cups in order for me to write them down more accurately. :) MIL's dressing turned out very well, I'm glad to report! Next time I just need to add a bit more liquid and it should be just about as good as MIL's. I very much enjoyed visiting with her in my mind through memories of years gone by as I not only prepared her dressing, but also as I prepared her pumpkin pie recipe which is highly requested among my family. I'm so very glad I had not misplaced the pie recipe as I'm not sure I could have recalled it!

We have our own tradition of having cinnamon rolls and orange rolls for breakfast each Thanksgiving. We eat them as we watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I have fond memories of parade watching tradition growing up with my family. I had always dreamed of seeing it in person ... some day. I was able to do just that one year when we went with our friend Karen to her office building one Thanksgiving and watched from her employer's offices. Since we had small children at the time- it was awesome! Bathrooms and snacks and most of all- warmth! It was a very frigid parade day that year. One can see via TV all the spectators on the street, but it was really neat to see that hundreds more were watching like ghosts inside the many storied buildings that line the parade route. Seemingly every window we could see into had someone peering out, also watching the parade. Ahh ... good friends and good times. :) There is no place like NYC during the holiday season.

My departed grandmother made an appearance in the form of her milk glass dishes I received after she passed away. I use them every holiday and really enjoy them. They can add a bit of quirkiness to the celebration as the dishes are really 3 luncheon sets of non- standard sized plates with huge platters, smaller dessert plates, dessert cups and tiny coffee mugs and such. I enjoy the quirkiness as Grandma possessed quite a number of her own quirks. :)


I am grateful for the many blessings in my life, but the most important blessings are the family and friends who leave indelible marks upon our memories for us to treasure no matter where time and life may take us.

Now, off to grab a Fuyu persimmon and eat it in memory of my MIL who loved them and got me hooked. :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meal Plan/List

I can't believe it's October- and barely still so. It's high time to dust my blog off. :) Life has been crazy with...well everything. The boys are in soccer, school is in full swing and my dh began the year quite behind in preparations for a couple of classes from to being away for 6 weeks this summer due to a family emergency. He is trying diligently to keep his head above water amidst all of his responsibilities. I have found if he's behind, so am I. The trickle down effect is subtle, yet it exists.

In my efforts to utilize my time and finances more efficiently at home and in the grocery store AND actually get dinner on the table at a more consistent time I am going back to a system I instituted while expecting my 3rd child.
Hunger is a great motivator! ;)
I have been continually battling with myself about 4pm most days contemplating what I should make for dinner and most times realizing I had neglected to pull anything from the freezer the previous night.

~headache~

I have recently switched my diet to a more whole foods based diet. (Eating Clean) It is amazing how much better I feel and the weight loss is nice as well! The meal plan (which is about 98% 'clean' with a few fudges allowing for the family) will help me to keep to it and be less tempted to head for Little Ceasar's 15 minutes before the food is to hit the table. :)

A friend asked if I'd be willing to share so I figured I'd just post it here as I could not find an effective way to share on Facebook. There must be a way- I just don't know it.
The information inside the ( ) are my notes to myself on where to find the listed recipe. On some recipes I have listed white rice/brown rice- it's not that I wish to cook both, however my husband is the lone hold-out for white rice. ~Drat!~

When I print the list I print the meals on one side, the shopping list on the other. I then go through my pantry/freezer and cross off what I already have and then go shopping. Once I've shopped I post the list on my fridge door and cross off the meals as I make them. The meals are pretty simple and in keeping with my current lifestyle. Did I mention I have 5 kids?? :)

Unfortunately, the formatting of the Word document did not hold for the list part- but it's 3 columns across with the appropriate items in each column. I think one can get the gist.







2 Week Meal Plan #1

Fall/ Winter 2010

1- Skillet Beef w/ Lentils** (mwl p 107), Salsa, Salad

2- Sweet ‘n Sour Chicken** (Clean Recipes) (or Pork –mwl- p 177), Wh/Br Rice, Salad

3- Greek Chicken** (Clean Recipes), Roasted Broccoli, Whole Grain Pasta Shells

4- Fish Sticks (ECFamily- 297), Peas, Baked Sweet Potato Wedges (Family- 272)

5- Leftovers

6- Recipe to Try: __________________________

Ingredients:

7- CrockPot Roasted Chicken, Green Beans (garlic and sesame oil), Roasted Root Vegs. (Family- 264)

8- Skillet Ginger Chicken w/ Cilantro and Lime, Whole Gr. Pasta, Gingered Carrots Ginger

9- Hawiian Pork Chops** (recipe box), Wh/Br Rice, Broccoli

10- Key West Chicken** (CR’s), Mixed Veggies/Leftover Veggies

11- Honey Chicken (CR’s) , Wh/Br Rice, Green Beans

12- Leftovers

13- Recipe to Try: _________________________

Ingredients:

14- Braised Balsamic Chicken (CR’s), Whole Grain Vermicelli, Salad

** = Preparation: make tortillas, marinade or make ketchup

Breakfast recipe to try:


*************************************************************************************************


Meal Plan #1 Shopping List

Bakery Jarred Canned

2 packs tortillas Tabasco Chipotle 4 lg cans pineapple

(in case I can't make) ½ C Balsamic vinegar 2 cans diced tomatoes w/ basil/oregano

1C Soy sauce Tomato paste

Olive oil // Peanut oil// Sesame oil

Honey// Lime Juice// Apple cider vin.

Herbed Seasoning (Fish Sticks- Old Bay?)

Frozen Dairy Meat

2 meals Green Beans Sm. Sour Cream ½ lb. Ground Beef

1 meal Mixed Veggies plain yogurt= yogurt cheese 7 pork chops

1 bag peas Cheddar (2lbs pork Loin cubes- if sw/sr pork)

1 whole Chicken

25ct (or 13 lbs) Lg. Chicken breasts

Pamela- __ add'l Chick breasts

__ lb gr Turkey

8-6oz Tilapia Filets

Produce Dry Goods End of Week 1

1 Ginger root 1C Lentils 1 meal Salad

1 lg tomatoes /// 8 Romas 3 C Wh. Rice /// 5 C Br. Rice 2 heads Broccoli

2 red Peppers 1 box Whole Grain Pasta Shells 1 head garlic/2-3parsnips/3 yams/6 reds

2 lbs Carrots 1 box WG Vermicelli 1 lg Tomato /// 2 Romas

1 meal Salad 1 box WG Spiral Pasta Scallions

Cilantro /// 2 Limes 2 Beef Bouillon cubes

2 heads Broccoli Cornmeal OR Kashi 7 grain TLC Crackers

6 med. White Onions basil / oregano / cumin / thyme / garlic salt

Pamela- ___ Sw. Potatoes Crushed Rosemary Miscellaneous

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spaghetti Squash- where have you been all my life??

I used this recipe as the base for dinner tonight. It was really good!

I had never cooked a spaghetti squash in my life, nor eaten one.

First, I used a metal skewer to pierce the squash in many places all around. Then I put it on a jelly roll pan and baked it for about 45 minutes @ 400. Once done cooking and cool enough to handle I split it, removed the seeds and pulp, then scraped the flesh out with a fork.

I had thawed 2 large chicken breasts and sliced them thinly. These I sautéed in EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) with onion and garlic, a couple splashes of lemon juice and a couple splashes of Chardonnay and some sea salt.

When the chicken was done I put it aside in a bowl. I then followed the above recipe with the following changes:
- substituted EVOO for the vegetable oil
-finely diced about 1/4 of a red bell pepper and added it after the onions were softened
- simply chopped 2 mid-sized vine ripened tomatoes
-nixed the feta because I abhor it
-nixed the olives (ick!)
- easily doubled the basil because 1- I like it, 2- I have it growing out my ears
-added a light dusting of sea salt and a touch of pepper

I did toss the squash into the pan with everything else to warm it all up nicely. I did not add in all of the chicken to the finished product. I left about 1/3 of it out for other uses.

I was the only one who ate this for dinner as my husband had been traveling and was not hungry (though he liked the taste he had) and it was well after 8PM by the time I ate. The children had already eaten...pizza. :) Since I was famished I easily ate half of it.

I look forward to the rest for lunch tomorrow.

Monday, August 23, 2010

My weekend project.

So glad to be nearly done. :) The closet doors have been primed, yet still await paint. I love the color! It is a grey/blue (Sherwin-Williams "Sleepy Blue") which provides a very nice backdrop for the lighter furniture in particular. It sure beats the former white which was peeling in a few spots revealing a sickly yellow underneath. I'm so glad for the ONE coat of primer needed vs. the three coats the girls room (2x's the size!) required on walls and ceiling.







I'm still waiting for enough inspiration to tackle the master bedroom. The former owners painted over the not-so-lovely oil based Pepto-Bismol pink that covered all moldings and built-ins/closet doors with a much preferred white. Only the white is latex. Can you guess what it looks like now? Yep- like it's been bombed. (Is this where I mention that pink is certainly NOT one of my favorite colors?) Dh and I had the Master bedroom assigned a week this past summer, however, a family emergency requiring 6 of dh's weeks took priority. Hopefully we will be able to work on it during Christmas break. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Flavorful beans/rice/meat

I made this for dinner and thought I'd share. It was an instant favorite when I first tasted it sometime after moving to NYC. :)

Start by making "Sofrito".
(Here is my modified version as I can't get all the original ingredients (ajises, recaito) outside of NYC.)


3 bunches of cilantro
1 can mild green chili's
1 lg white onion
1/2-1 bell pepper
6 cloves garlic
olive oil to liquefy
1 tsp of original "Adobo" seasoning
(You can add in red bell pepper or pimentos if you choose. I do not.)
Puree it all together. It will fill a blender. I store it in quart-sized ziplocs frozen flat and chop off what I need. (One recipe make about 3 ziplocs divided evenly.) I like a lot of flavor so I use at 1/3 to 1/2 of a frozen bag for each recipe.

Sofrito can be used as a seasoning base not only for rice and beans, but also for meat dishes- like pork roast, or arroz con pollo.

*********************

To make beans and rice-

Dump one can of black beans (my favorite! Or pink beans, or kidney, or chick peas, or white beans) into a pot on med heat.

Add in the sofrito (frozen or thawed), a good dose of oregano (like at least a TBSP of dried) and a touch of olive oil.

Dump in one 8 oz. can of Spanish style tomato sauce if you can get it or just regular if you cannot. (Alternatively, you can use 3 'ice cubes' of frozen tomato paste. I have come to prefer this method over tomato sauce.)

Add in a ham packet (Goya ham flavored concentrate) and a Goya Sazon (accent mark over the 'e') packet. (These both contain MSG. You can add in some small bits of ham in place of the ham packet, and the sazon packet has some garlic, cumin and coriander.)

Simmer for a couple minutes on low for flavors to blend.

Add to pot 4 cups of water, stir, then add in 2 cups rice. Give a stir, let sit for a couple minutes, then stir again then DON'T touch for the rest of the cooking time. Turn to low. It's done when the rice is cooked.
My Puerto Rican friends tend to let the water boil down to the top of the rice then cover- but the rice is a bit drier that way- which we do not prefer.

***********************

If you were to make Arroz con Pollo (Chicken w/ rice) you follow the same basic directions with these modifications:

Leave out the beans.
Get 6 leg quarters (with skin) and cut at joint and I also cut off the last 1" or so of the drum bone.

Dredge chicken in some Adobo and oregano and minced garlic. Brown in the sofrito/tom. sauce (or paste)
/oregano/oil mix.

Follow the rest of the recipe as written. You can add in chicken bullion granules with the water or use chicken broth in place of the water. With meat in the pot I do add in more sofrito- doubleing what I'd use for rice and beans, and Oregano. I also double the 2 flavor packets.

I am not one who typically leaves the skin on chicken. I do not eat it, BUT in this recipe the bones and skin make a huge difference and are much more authentic. I have tried it with chicken breasts both with and w/o bone and they are always pretty dry. The dark meat is the best! (I only like dark meat in this recipe and in the form of BBQ'd chicken.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ha!

I have rescued my blog from "The Cutest Blog on the Block"! The background went funky and the colors awry. I replaced it with a template for Blogger and found and removed the code that was partially blocking the template and writing over my Sonlight widget.
~Whew!~
It now looks normal. Even ok. :) Next task at some point...to set about 'cute- ning' it again. Dang. I rather liked what I had.

Friday, July 30, 2010

If Poison Ivy, Oak or Sumac are your nemesis- you need these!

I'm new to the south and it's vegetation. I have had the unfortunate experience of having several interactions with poison ivy (or possibly poison oak). Each reaction has been more severe than the previous one. This current one is a doozy. My arms are covered, mostly the tender under sides with raised weeping sores. It has spread behind my knees, the sides of my torso, even my neck and face have splotches. I had to remove my wedding ring due to an outbreak on my finger. Did I say it was miserable?

I have found two things of significant help. The first is an oatmeal bath that I do each night just before bed. It says it is useful for poison oak, ivy, sumac... or other contact dermatitis issues.

Oatmeal/ Essential Oil Bath
(from "The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy" by Valerie Ann Worwood)

2 - 2 1/2 Cups oatmeal flour ( recipe says 4 cups quick cooking oats- I grind rolled oats in my Vita Mix)

1 cup Epsom Salts
3 drops lavender oil
1 drop peppermint oil
1 drop chamomile oil
1 drop geranium oil

Tie this all up in muslin or a sock. (My dh's wears a size 15 and his socks aren't large enough so I use a bird's eye cloth diaper with the edges pulled together and rubber banded.) Let this float around as the tub fills and keep it in the bath.

The bath helps to reduce the horrible itch and I think it has also aided in reducing the weeping.

The most amazingly beneficial product (homeopathic) is Jewelweed. I purchased this after 3 days of pretty intense suffering. Of course, that means I've had it for even longer. The Jewelweed took 2 days to arrive. Here I now sit - almost 24 hours after it arrived and I feel light years better! The itch has subsided substantially, as has the redness. The healing has begun. The weeping has also decreased considerably. I feel almost human again.

At the advanced stage I was at the soap does sting. The spray stings even more. The salve- is wonderful!! It does sting some as well, but is more gentle than the spray. I'd certainly NOT fore-go the soap. When I begin to itch- I head for the salve. It is worth EVERY penny.

I say if you or anyone you love suffers from Poison Ivy- be prepared and get the kit! (and the oils!)

Here are photos taken the day I received the Jewelweed kit and the same spots 2 days later.
(The photos are 'before' and 'after' in sets of 2 on down.)












Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yes, she's one...and yes...it's a new generation of...


Facebook users. They start young these days. JUST KIDDING!! ;)



This is what happens when mom steps away from the computer even though she had turned off the screen. Teigen turned it on, and managed to get a video playing from Mom's news feed. She was very pleased.

Friday, June 18, 2010

My husband says I can be a tad obsessive.

He may be right. ;)

When I get an idea I tend to run with it ...with all I have... until completion. On Monday I had no thoughts about planting or landscaping ANYthing. It's Friday and here I sit- mission completed, and some. Now I need my husband to make some sweet tea so I can go sit on my porch with a good book. I now find it much more inviting to do so with the new colors and wonderful winged visitors- NOT the biting kind!

We had plants die due to the unusually frigid winter resulting in gaps left in the planting beds. No plants, plenty of dirt. Then the dogs decided they would dig in said dirt. I was not thrilled. Dirt all over my porch (winding up inside) is not my kind of living.

Here are some before and after shots.




These next two shots inverted somehow and I don't care enough to try and change it. LOL. It has been scorching hot and I'm tired folks!

The bushes seen below were azelea's that were as old as the hills and a major chore to dig up. They were not pretty to look at and required far too much trimming. My wonderful husband got busy with the pick axe (the one he chided me for buying a few weeks ago ;) ) I got busy with the shovel and we uprooted the buggers.

Notice the plant at the corner of the house? It WAS an oleander. Like who's idea was it to put a plant with ginormous potential smack next to the house and UNDER the eaves? I'm still scratching my head on that one. You can't really see it, but I now have a lovely hydrangea bush in the oleander's place. It was an easy choice as Hydrangeas are one of my favorite plants and I'm allergic to oleanders. :)


The border at this point is recycled brick found in the yard when we moved in. In the above pic there is still 'monkey grass' to be dug up in front of the brick, but it'll do for now. I'm sure I'll be digging soon as I had to buy several more Mexican Heather plants than I needed. I know right where they need to go...


Saturday, June 12, 2010

I survived!! ;)


Ok, actually I did enjoy this last week of assisting my friend, Sharon, in a Kindergarten VBS class. It was certainly tiring but well worth it. Once the chaos of Tuesday passed with increased enrollment and children shifting classes to accommodate the numbers it was smooth sailing.

A blessing is that our mechanic is located right across the street from our church, so 3 of the 5 days of VBS the car was across the street having various things dealt with. The van just rolled past 100,000 miles and we need it to keep running well for at least that many more miles. :) It was a definite blessing that the thumping heard when the car was put into reverse turned out to not be a transmission problem, but rather a broken engine mount. Like how does an engine mount wind up broken on a minivan anyways? I had wondered if it was the result of the accident in which I was rear-ended last September. The impact was enough to require the installation of a new hatch on the rear, so perhaps it affected the mount?? I have no clue. It's not like it's a souped up racing machine- lol. :)







This being Saturday morning after a long week, I have hoped to sleep in a bit, but due to 2 sweet little morning glory's with internal alarm clocks it was not to be so. So I went out and took a few photos instead. Here are a couple favorites of a Cana flower. I find I have to let photos sit on my computer for a time before I revisit them to see how much I ultimately like them, but here are my favorites of the AM based upon first impressions.

I like the idea of taking photo's of people as I certainly have several to choose from, but they largely refuse to indulge me...or stay still. Nature is much more accomodating. :)


Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Task At Hand...



sorting photos. A million of them. Or so it seems. :) Here are a few of my favorites from the last month or so.


Gardenia

Gardenia branches

Easter Lily

Banana Tree


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Visitor

My husband said goodbye, put his earbuds in his ears, put his helmet on and went out to his bike to go to work. I was doing important things- like checking Facebook. :) Before I knew it he was honking from the driveway. Repeatedly. I got up to see why he was honking. He pointed down to the driveway and there I saw a visitor... of the reptilian sort.

The kids really enjoyed seeing a turtle. I moved him to the backyard so I could put him (her?) near the bayou which is a more fitting habitat for such critters than a cement driveway. :) Now if I were only saavy enough with Blogger to intersperse pics and words how and where I want them. ~sigh~









Thursday, May 6, 2010

Of Lavender and Peppermint

A few days ago my 5yo daughter (dd for short) came to me with what appeared to be a significant headache. She was crying and clearly in pain. It seemed to me that it came on suddenly, but she told me it had been hurting for a bit. I think it being near bedtime and her being tired exacerbated it. My first inclination was to give her a dose of Motrin, which I did, yet it was no easy task as she resists liquid medicines. A few minutes later as dd lay on the couch emitting random crys of pain it occurred to me that perhaps an essential oil concoction might help her. I pulled out my book (The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood) and turned to the section on headaches. I selected the "General Headache" recipe to try. I mixed 3 drops of lavender oil, 1 drop of peppermint oil, and about 1 drop of coconut oil. (The book called for a drop of vegetable oil, but I substituted coconut instead.) I massaged it on her temples and at the base of her skull at the hairline as the book directed. I did not massage for long as she was not fond of it. The results made me take notice. Within 5 minutes she was obviously feeling better. The whining from discomfort had stopped. I put her to bed as it was her bedtime, but very soon thereafter she came out looking for her baby doll. Any signs of a headache and discomfort were ... gone. In my experience, Motrin does not work that quickly.

I have used the combination of oils also found in the book to relieve a migraine headache that was accompanied by intestinal discomfort. I had recalled reading about a 'gastric headache' that Worwood attributes to eating the wrong foods and decided to try the book's suggestion. My sweet husband helped me out as I was rather incapacitated. He mixed 1 drop of peppermint oil with a teaspoon of honey in warm water and brought it to me to sip. He then mixed 1 drop of Rosemary, 2 drops of Peppermint, and 1 drop of Lavender together and put a drop or two of the mixture on a tissue for me to inhale. (The book calls for inhaling 1 drop on a tissue, or massaging back of the neck with 1 drop, or putting 3 drops in a steam inhaler.) Within 30 minutes I was almost totally back to normal. It sure beat letting the migraine run it's course!

I have used lavender oil myself recently to relieve skin irritation and burns from cooking. The book by Worwood tells of a chemist(I think a perfume maker) who burned himself in the lab and immersed his hand in lavender oil as it was the only liquid close by. He thus discovered that lavender oil aids in the healing of burns.

Another thing that aids in the healing of burns is Xango- a supplement I have taken for years. It's a juice one can take internally, or apply externally. It's a fabulous anti-inflammatory. I have not used it much externally except for my son's acne (amazing results especially when combined with ingesting it) and burns. Earlier this week I decided to test it out on my foot. Feet, actually.
I have different issues going on with each foot- but the root of both I believe to be inflammation. ( I have a suspected neuroma in one foot and pain and tightening from the heel to inside of my arch on the other.) I have been massaging my feet and experimenting with placing a cotton ball soaked with Xango on the inflamed parts of my foot once or twice a day while sitting. I have been very surprised at the results. I have noticed a rather dramatic improvement in how my feet feel immediately after I'm finished sitting and letting the Xango soak in as compared to when I first sat down.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Inner Workings

It has been a whirlwind week here. I've not gone anywhere, really. I've pretty much only gone shopping for necessities- like food. The children kept saying there was nothing to eat around these parts, so I decided to humor them. :)

I have spent the week organizing my abode. It has been kind of odd- in a nice way. :) The odd part comes in the fact that I'm not going through things as I'm packing boxes and preparing for a move. Packing boxes has been my stand-by way of organizing/thinning out items. You see - our family's move into this house was our 15th move in 15 years- all averaged out. I could like not moving. :) In a few months we'll have lived here longer than we've lived anywhere since we've been married. We've been married for nearly 18 years.

My foray into all crevices of the house began with an innocuous event. Free bunk beds. I like free. I really like free. What a blessing and an answer to prayer! They were immediately designated for the boys room as it is the smaller of the 2 children's rooms. But- work had to be done. To set up the bunks I had to remove the mattress our 7yo was sleeping on and the captains bed our 17yo has had for eons. The captain's bed moved to the girl's room for our 14 yo as we needed more drawer space for the girls...and as an extra blessing to me- dd cannot shove all manner of things (or anything!) under her bed. :) This thrills me to no end!

So the captain's bed moved to the girls room. Mine and my husband's dressers moved to the boys room, and we were able to ditch the inefficient dresser our 7yo had. (I loved the old dresser/desk combo- but I loved it much more before ds took a scalpel from older ds's dissection kit to it. ~sigh~ ) My dh had the brilliant idea to give the boys our dressers and buy ourselves dressers we liked and that better reflected our taste. Since I was dealing with beds and clothing in the boys room and mine- I decided why stop there? I moved onto the cabinet where the boys store all manner of personal items. After measuring the boys cabinet I took a trip to Wal-Mart and found plastic storage bins (that all matched in lid color and shape!) to allow for more efficient storage compared to the few bins they already had. I made sure to buy bins that all have hinged lids so the lids could always be found. :) I love the results!

Getting things organized and cleaned out in the boys room was such a treat I decided- why stop there? On I went to the 3 hall closets, the 2 entry closets, and all of the kitchen drawers. Somewhere in the midst of this I also organized every.single book we have. Replacing the dressers in my room necessitated the removal of a bookcase (Yay! More clutter banished!) in order for the new dressers to fit. I had to order new curriculum for next year for the younger children which required space ...and all the books were a disaster anyways.

And then... then there was the matter my desk. ~sigh~ It took 2 days- but it is now cleaner and more organized than it's been since the baby (who is now 1.5 yo) arrived. I feel invigorated! A cluttered house and desk make for a cluttered mind. I'm beginning to think I was more 'snowed under' with the arrival of our 5th child than I realized. The fog is beginning to lift! I see sunshine peeking through! And it's lovely. :)




Sunday, April 4, 2010

A few Easter shots. The photos in this post loaded in reverse order. A good thing to know!




Yes- it's an Easter egg hunt at our church, and yes...it's a Halloween bucket you see. This is what happens when Mom has no clue where any Easter item currently resides and has been gone the week prior to Easter.
As if that would make any difference. :)


Here is T. in her newly aquired pose- arms crossed. It is properly interpreted as follows: "I'll do it myself!"





Saturday, April 3, 2010

The amazing ways God works...

A little over a week ago I was at home continuing about my daily routine much as I am doing now. Just taking one day at a time- trying to keep up on laundry, feeding the family, and all the other daily chores that can become monotonous. I then received an e-mail one morning sent very late the previous night by my parents. My uncle, who was well advanced in age and had been ailing, had passed away.

It was very important to me to be at the funeral for my aunt's sake as she has cared for and loved me and my family so faithfully over the years. My aunt has been a continual presence in my life ever since I can remember and she has been ever present in the life of my children and husband- never failing even once to send a birthday card to any one of us.

I put in a call to my father-in-law inquiring if he might by chance have a spare frequent flier ticket that he would be willing to pass on to me thus allowing me (and my under 2yo daughter) to fly to the funeral. I was in luck as he said he did have one and graciously gave it to me. The first of several blessings.

No more than 2 days later I was to fly with my daughter T. My husband drove us with our other 2 young children in tow 3 hours to the airport and dropped us off about 7AM. Just after my daughter and I had cleared security I saw one of the car seats that becomes a stroller and thought how cool they are...then... I panicked. I had forgotten the car seat in the van and my husband had taken off already for the return home! I called him and after a nerve-wrecking half hour or so I retrieved the car seat from him and sprinted towards security...again. I was very fortunate to make it through quickly enough to allow just enough time to grab some food to take aboard the flight. The 1st flight was not crowded and I was thrilled to have a row to ourselves as T had never flown before...and I was tired. :)

From Houston our flight to LAX was to be full. They announced that it was to be a totally full flight- and I inwardly groaned. Since it is impossible to exit a tin can hurtling 100's of miles an hour at 35,000 feet or more- I was praying for seat-mates who would tolerate T. well. Just as I finished sending up the bullet prayer a gentleman asked if I minded if he sat in the aisle seat. Then a woman came and sat in the middle seat...for about 2 seconds and then she moved. Then the crew announced that we were departing. But what had happened to the full flight with several on 'standby'? I did not know nor did I care- T had her own seat! I was ecstatic! Later upon passing us by- a flight attendant remarked that I had lucked out because 2 people had decided to take a later flight. Our seat-mate turned out to be quite pleasant and helped to entertain T. when needed. It was fantastic. The Lord heard my plea and answered above and beyond what I had hoped for.

Upon landing I was picked up by a good friend I had not seen since we left NYC. She now lived in L.A. with her husband and was expecting her 1st child. We stayed the night with her and it was a joy to visit and meet her husband and see where she lived. They then graciously drove me to where my uncle's funeral was- which was a couple hours drive.

I had not seen my family for about 3 years and they had not met T. While the funeral was a sober and sad event, it had the silver lining of not only seeing my aunt and immediate family- but of rooming with and visiting a lot with my cousin whom I had not seen in years. It was such a blessing and a joy getting to know her on a much deeper level and to talk into the wee hours!

The day after the funeral another friend of mine, Angi, who just happened to be in L.A. picked me up from the funeral location and drove me back (another couple of hours) to where she was staying with a friend of hers. She had 'put out there' that it might work out for me to be a second driver for her on her return trip home to Mississippi. I decided to take her up on the offer which as she tells really wound up being a big help to her. I spent one day running around L.A. with her and her 2 son's as her eldest son had some appointments on their final day in CA. The next morning we loaded up in her car and began driving home.

It took two days to travel from L.A. to my house with 2 moms, a 15yo, a 2yo and a 1.5yo in tow. It got a bit wild at times. :) It got a bit crazy- but it was all good. It was exhausting, but well worth it for the experience... and the company.

I am still in total awe at how the Lord took mourning and turned it into joy by reuniting old friends, allowing new bonds with family, and even throwing in some crazy adventure all out of the simple desire to be present and minister to my aunt at a time of great sorrow.

The Lord is good...all the time.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

And then there was one.

Tooth, that is.
I had been thinking I needed to get a photo of my baby boy, M, (who happens to be 7) before he lost his two front teeth that have been loosening. I did a wiggle test and figured I had enough time to get my camera back from having the sensors cleaned. I lost that gamble.
We were at church tonight. I was in the service, my husband, R, was with said 7yo on the playground. Suddenly I find myself being summoned to the foyer by my husband while hearing whimpering from the foyer I believe to be emanating from my son. As I exit the sanctuary I see my baby sitting on a chair, crying, with a wad of paper towels up to his mouth. Poor R did not know that his 2 front teeth were loose already, neither did he realize how far back his two permanent bottom teeth had grown in. (He'll need braces in a few years for the crowding.) So R was pretty concerned.

We went about the motions of ice, tylenol, etc. We were even fortunate to get input from a dentist via phone who said it will look much worse tomorrow. Greeeat.

It turns out that M had jumped down from the top of the spiral slide and when his feet hit the mulch they slid out from under him at which time his mouth connected with the side of the plastic slide. The tooth that was the loosest came out due to the trauma and the other tooth is now considerably less firm. It is not a pretty sight. After the shock that included body shakes and a consult with a nurse who was present wore off and we were home M decided that the other tooth needed to come out as well.

The child apparently does not understand that mom is not ready for not even one much less BOTH front baby teeth to be gone. For with the dispensing of the baby teeth he will become an official "big" kid. ~sigh~

This just goes to show- if you have an idea for a picture that includes an intact boy- move quickly for boys will be boys.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Yay! No more Magnolia trees!!!

Can you see me jumping up and down in delight??
You might wonder what, exactly, I have against Magnolia trees. Well- nothing really. I think they are beautiful trees. I come from a part of the country where they are not common. I love how they are different than the types of trees I grew up seeing. I enjoy looking at them. But...

..I do not enjoy seeing them right out my front window. Right on the veritable edge of my property. Right UP the street...being located where the wind blows down the street and past them...onto my driveway and into my front yard. Thus the magnolia trees as beautiful as they were...were my nemesis.
Oh we have trees in our yard. A few pine trees and a huge oak. But the litter from those evergreen trees pales in comparison to the constant deluge from the magnolias. There were also quite skillful at evading the mulching blades.
So I am rubbing my hands in glee!! My blower will be happy as well. Not to mention my 17yo son. :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Patience is indeed a virtue... and hard work helps!

My husband received some great news this week! A gallery in Philadelphia, PA will be picking him up!! That means they will be representing him and displaying and selling his work. :) He is already being represented by a gallery in Oklahoma City.
There is a back story with this Philidelphia gallery. My husband has actually known of them (and they of him) for about 8 years. The gallery liked his work, but had made a commitment to represent only established artists so they did not chose to represent him at that time, even though they liked what they saw. They are on the mailing list my husband has assembled and have kept up on him and his career.
R has been very intentional in his career. He is a professor of Art/Art History at a small liberal arts college and he also heads the department. He has made a point of gaining and maintaining professional contacts as well as keeping an eye out for any opportunity that might avail in his field such as securing shows, applying for grants, or submitting work to juried exhibitions.
He was selected as 1 of 8 American professors/Art Historians for a 2 week seminar that took place in Indonesia that dealt with Christianity and Contextualization of the Arts. (I was only slightly green with envy that he went w/o me as I was very much pregnant and really would not have physically enjoyed the trip in that state. :) ) You can read more about it here on his blog. (Just scroll to the bottom and begin reading your way up.) As a result of that seminar he now has artwork in a show that is touring the country and will then tour Asia.
He has also been awarded a solo show in Sao Paolo, Brazil in the near future. It is not connected with the seminar.
It is so nice to see that his hard work and dedication is reaping some reward. It has proven to be a nice boost for my guy. Now, of course, one never knows when work will begin to sell with any regularity, however it's certainly a good start. :) Galleries have a reach that the independent artist would find hard to duplicate.
It's in the Lord's hands and we shall just enjoy the journey. :)



Monday, February 15, 2010

I have nothing much to say today and have not for a number of days.

I have realized why. I have used all of my words (and brain cells) in dealing with 5 children. :) Profound, no? ~giggle~

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another rescue from my old blog.

Dec. 13, 2005 - Smoke and Mirrors

Don't you just love mirors? Well, on the good days anyways.... the days when your hair looks perfectly coiffed, and you look (and feel) a few pounds thinner? Mirrors themselves are quite attractive, I think. In a well-lit room they are bright and cheery as they help the light to bounce across the rooom or reflect the view of a window. The problem I have with mirrors is......well...... they reflect things as they are. On good days, this is fabulous! But, if you are like me your fair days or even not-so-good-days are more abundant than the really good ones. :)

I have come to realize than I have a few more mirrors around my house than I had thought. These mirrors can be bright and cheery, or they can be altogether different! These mirrors that I refer to walk about on two legs, with two arms, two eyes, and for now they are a few inches shorter than I. I have realized that children are perfect mirrors. You may have heard the saying that children learn what they live. That statement has become startling clear to me as of late and I must admit, the reflection is rather unsettling. Are my children so misbehaved as to require "Super Nanny" pay us a visit? No. But do they reflect the selfless character of Christ? Not near as much as I wish! But the deeper question is do *I* reflect the selfless character of Christ? Do I possess His heart? You see, mirrors reflect because it is their nature to do so. So it is with children AND adults.

What we reflect and HOW we reflect it is in direct proportion to what is in our hearts. The bible tells us that:

" The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Jeremiah 17:9

Boy do I know the truth in that verse just by looking honestly at my own heart! I have a song on CD that says at one point "O wretched man, that I am, Who'll deliver me?" It helps to keep my true state at the forefront of my mind. It does not make me sad to hear it, rather it helps me to be focused honestly on my position- one seriously lacking perfection. Recognizing that I am wretched is not fun, but I have great joy in knowing that in my heart dwells One who has delivered me, can deliver me and will deliver me again one day. HOW Amazing!

So back to mirrors. My 4 children are spaced: 2 (a several year gap) and then 2 more. I began to realize the perfect mirrors my children were when my 3rd child began reflecting habits, tones, and ways of doing things that I really did not like, however I had allowed (at times unwittingly) my older children to portray. It was a bit of a wake-up call, I'm afraid. What was even MORE unsettling was the realization of where my older children had picked up their undesirable traits. I have come to realize that in a number of ways and areas I have not fulfilled my obligation towards my children. In many respects it has been due to my desire for my own comfort. ~sigh~ I did not honestly realize how much so. I realized that at times that though I had been disciplining my children's actions, it was like blowing smoke in front of their reflections. Smoke billows, can't be captured, and clouds the view. Just like disciplining actions and not getting to the heart of the issue- your child's heart. I had thought I was being fairly consistent, however, I was consistent with the wrong emphasis. I was trying to capture my children's heart....but what about mine? Trying to capture my children's hearts is a noble effort, and very worthwhile. BUT, if my heart is not first in the right place, my efforts will amount to nothing.

"As he (a man) thinketh in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7a

Very worthwhile words from Proverbs to ponder. Am I thinking on the very character traits/qualities that I desire my children to possess? Am I WORKING to possess them myself through a relationship with Christ, self discipline, and much prayer? Where is my heart? Is it in line with scripture? I must first deal with my own heart issues before I can begin to effectively deal with my children's or to win their hearts. The key question I need to continually ask myself is, "Am I exhibiting Christ to my children today?"