About Me

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Married twenty-five years to my wonderful husband and best friend. We have 3 "home-grown" kids and 1 hand-picked by God from Africa. Our life is blessed. We are a close knit family with strong Christian beliefs. Come along with us on our journey…you might have a great laugh or two.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

An amazing thing happened...

Today, God showed up and answered the prayers of a crying little girl.  After 4 days missing we found our escaped gerbil and our little girl couldn't beam any brighter.  My husband and I are absolutely shocked as to how this all played out. 

Our house is a story and a half.  Our little girl's room is located on the second floor.  This gerbil must have like a bazillion lives for here's everything this animal had to overcome.  First and foremost, it had to figure out a way to get out of its cage...that was from a hole on the top (we have since tape shut).  Then it had to fall 4 1/2 feet from the top of a desk, make its way down 19 steps (all hardwood, I might add), past the dog's bed...which sleeps basically at the foot of the stairs, down 12 more steps (which leads to the basement), all the while NOT waking up or disturbing the dog.  We found her behind a playhouse in the middle of the play area.  And let me be the first to say...

...gerbils are so incredibly fast.  We had her cornered twice with four people surrounding her and she still ran past us.  Finally we were able to get her into her cage and I can safely tell you that upstairs right now I have 3 kids (our oldest sleeps in a large room in the basement) and two gerbils fast asleep.  Trust me...I definitely did a head count.

One gerbil found...mission accomplished.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Lock down mode...

Tonight we are in an all out lock down mode.  We were at a swim meet all day and returned late this evening to find that one of my older daughter's gerbils (which she got for her birthday in August) escaped from her cage.  She is absolutely heartbroken and sobbing herself to sleep.  I realize that this really does sound so small in comparison to everything that people face...but to this special little girl of mine, it has crushed her heart.  We have searched and searched...but with a dog loose in the house all day as well, the odds are not in this gerbil's favor.  So as we are getting ready to go to bed, we placed several items around the house in hopes of still finding this gerbil.  But more importantly, we said a little prayer for the little girl whose feeling so very sad.

Friday, November 30, 2012

I have conquered french fries...

I never thought I would say it but I have finally conquered french fries.  How to cook them that is.  I've cooked them before.  Lots.  And lots.  But they have always come out soggy and limp like a greasy ol' noodle.  Never have they come out like they do at that place which we don't mention in this house because 3 year old ears are ALWAYS listening.  I'm not saying any names but it rhymes with...pacdonald's (okay, totally made that one up...but nothing rhymes with that greasy ol' place - serves it right).

But I have finally been able to say that I can cook up a mean ol' bunch of crispy french fries.  Totally not good for you.  Yes, I know.  But given we don't have them very often I think it's okay to bend the rules a little and fry us up a bunch of these.  It is a process.  But once you "get" the process then it's really quite easy. 

So tonight, grill you up some BBQ bacon and cheddar burgers (seriously, if you're going to break the rules...go all out) and enjoy this recipe.  It's worth it!

Ingredients: (recipe credit:  Emeril Lagasse - food network)

4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 by 1/4-inch thick batons
2 quarts peanut oil
Salt and pepper
Rinse cut potatoes in a large bowl with lots of cold running water until water becomes clear. Cover with water by 1-inch and cover with ice. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.
In a 5-quart pot or Dutch oven fitted with a candy or deep-frying thermometer, (or in an electric deep fryer), heat oil over medium-low heat until the thermometer registers 325 degrees F. Make sure that you have at least 3 inches of space between the top of the oil and the top of the pan, as fries will bubble up when they are added.

Drain ice water from cut fries and wrap potato pieces in a clean dishcloth or tea towel and thoroughly pat dry. Increase the heat to medium-high and add fries, a handful at a time, to the hot oil. Fry, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are soft and limp and begin to turn a blond color, about 6 to 8 minutes. Using a skimmer or a slotted spoon, carefully remove fries from the oil and set aside to drain on paper towels. Let rest for at least 10 minutes or up to 2 hours.

When ready to serve the French fries, reheat the oil to 350 degrees F. Transfer the blanched potatoes to the hot oil and fry again, stirring frequently, until golden brown and puffed, about 1 minute. Transfer to paper lined platter and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Decorating for Christmas...oh, and some of the best blueberry muffins EVER!

Last night the boys dragged up all of my Christmas boxes/decorations from our basement.  Now, the process of decorating begins...you know, where you get REALLY messy at first in order for it to be neat and clean later....well, we are not quite at that neat and clean yet.  Truth be told, I'm about as far from it as you can get.  So tonight when I looked around at the chaos gaining speed as the seconds went by, I decided that there was no way I was going to add to this mess by cooking some elaborate dinner. 


It was breakfast at night.  Have you ever had breakfast at night?  Oh man, sometimes it is exactly what you need.  The smell of muffins and eggs drifting through the house.  These muffins are seriously the best blueberry muffins ever.  Of course, I cannot take credit for this recipe, if I could then I would have a cookbook and be rich and famous and have a personal shopper because I have a serious issue with shopping...food shopping, not a problem...clothes, toys, and everything else - ugh!  That would mean I would have to venture into the mall (think, evil music playing) and that's a whole other blog post right there.  So since that whole cookbook thing is not panning out for me, I guess I'll go and try and clean up Christmas tree needles and that silver tinsel stuff - which by the way, in the winter will stick to EVERYTHING. 

Enjoy the blueberry muffins...

Ingredients:  (recipe credit - all recipes "to die for blueberry muffins")

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

An obession...

Last night our house smelled like chicken noodle soup.  Except that it wasn't soup I was cooking.  Just smelled like it.  I had baked a wonderful chicken in the oven for dinner .  When dinner was over I shredded the chicken off the bones and I was not about to let those wonderful chicken parts, bones and all those other things I don't want to know the name of, go to waste.  So at 8 o'clock I threw that chicken back into a pot (along with a bunch of veggies and spices) and by 10 o'clock I had 7 mason jars filled with wonderful golden chicken broth.  It's incredibly simple and tastes wonderful in soups and stews.  Best news is that I know exactly what's in it.  And that's why I do what I do...

I am finding that the deeper I go into making everything homemade, the more I am using every last inch of the food we eat.  If you go to the trouble of peeling or chopping or shelling something, by golly, you begin to appreciate just exactly where your food comes from and what goes into preparing it.  If the kids sit and shell peanuts for a while just to get a jar of peanut butter, then they are more likely to eat every last drop because they took the time to make it.  I find myself looking at food very differently right now. 

For instance, if I am shopping for vegetables right now in the store, I wonder where in the world is it warm enough to grow a good ripe tomato.  Because it sure ain't warm here.  Many times our fruits and vegetables are being shipped from a great distance.  And that means that this tomato, I'm holding in my hands, has been on a truck for at least a couple of weeks (or more) before it has even come to me.  It's no wonder that a tomato bought in the middle of winter tastes so bad in comparison to one at its ripest during the summer.  There is no comparison. 

So what started as a game to me just to see how many things I can make homemade is very quickly becoming an obsession of finding the best quality food for my family.  I realize that this will take me some time, but my new goal is to provide (meaning canning and freezing) this summer enough fresh quality fruits and vegetables that we can put away to last us throughout the winter until next summer garden season rolls around. 

It will take LOTS of planning on my part, for this is a big family that likes to eat...a lot.  It will take getting a WAY BIGGER garden.  And it will take...going local.  Local for the things that I cannot grow.  Going local for my apples and blueberries and strawberries.  Going local for my honey and going local for the things I cannot grow.  I already lined up a cow from a local farmer to eat...the cow that is, not the farmer.  And also a pig.  Now, I just need to find a farmer with free-range chickens and fresh eggs.  That shouldn't be that hard, right?  We live in Iowa.  Farm belt city.  Surely there's some farmer out there who can hear my plea.  Or....better yet....maybe I'll just talk my husband into moving out to the country and buying some land.  Our own little green acres....it's the place to be....farm living's the life for me....(sorry, just started belting out a song there). 

Well, I may not make it through perfectly this time...but I will prevail.  I must, it's definitely an obsession now.  Plus, think about what it will do for our food bill...yippee for us!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

We had a wonderful time giving thanks with family and friends this year.  We drove 11 hours to be with my side of the family in the great state of Tennessee.  I'll be the first to admit that travelling that far is hard...on anybody really.  But my children don't know any different, they have grown up this way.  My husband's side of the family is also 11 hours...we can't win.  But still we pack each holiday and travel.  Why?  Because we love our family and we adore getting to spend time with them, albeit 4 hours, 2 days or 2 weeks.  It's what it's all about.  Not the turkey, the decorations or even the shopping.  It's about family.  It's what means the most. 

We hope that this Thanksgiving season found you surround by those you love and who love you the most.

Oh...and maybe some turkey could be thrown in there for good measure.  ...I'm just saying...no reason to go hungry...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pita Bread

I'm in the kitchen today...where else would I be...making my favorite pita bread.  We are travelling for the holidays and I am in need of several things to take to feed our large family along the way.  Since we take our lunch on the road, I decided that I would make a large batch of these pita breads to fill with our favorite sandwich stuff.  It seems to be less messier in the car than our regular bread I make...and that, is a very good thing in a car packed full of people.  So here's my pita bread recipe.  Try it.  You will never buy pita bread from the store ever again...trust me on that one.

Pita Bread (recipe from the book "Homemade" by Reader's Digest)

1 1/2 cups warm water (105 - 110 F)
1 teaspoon dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil plus additional
1/4 cup minced fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, cilantro, or parsley (optional)

In a large bowl, combine the water and yeast.  Using a fork, stir rapidly to dissolve the yeast. Add the sugar and 1 1/2 cups flour.  Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, stir until all the ingredients are well blended.  Cover the bowl with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Add the salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, and the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour.  Again using the paddle attachment, beat the mixture until it is smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes.

Lightly flour a work surface and lightly oil a large bowl.  Turn out the dough onto the work surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 10 to 12 minutes.  Place the dough in the bowl and turn it until it is completely coated in the oil.  Cover the bowl with lightly oiled plastic wrap and set in a warm place to let the dough rise, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Lightly flour the work surface again and turn out the dough onto the surface.  Divide the dough into 4 balls (sometimes I make 5).  Using a rolling pin, roll each ball into a 1/2 inch thick, 6 inch diameter circle.  Place the dough circles on the prepared baking sheet.  Lightly brush each circle with oil and, if desired, sprinkle with herbs.  Bake until the pita breads are golden, about 8 minutes.  Remove the pita breads to wire racks to cool.  Cut in half when cooled.

Everyone needs this book...

I use this book at lot.  So much so that I would check it out from our local library and gripe so much when I had to finally take it back that my Mom took pity on me and finally bought me my own copy.  Love it!  It's not my only cookbook I use, but it's definitely one to own.  It has everything from shampoos to breads to how to make your own marshmallows...gonna try me that one, for sure.  Today I'm making pita bread from this book.  I'll post that one next. 

So if you've got a hankerin' for homemade caramels or marshmallows or even pita bread...you gotta get this book.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The bagel making factory...

This morning I had to provide breakfast to the high school swim team.  Swimmers, people.  I don't know much about what other kids in other sports are like, but what I do know is that swimmers have ENORMOUS appetites.  Trust me, I have three swimmers...I know these things.

So yesterday I had to become the bagel making factory.  Bagel after bagel crossed my counter tops and child after child tried to swipe one.  Besides making a boatload of bagels (48 total), I also made 3 breakfast sausage/egg casseroles and 3 loaves of bread.  Needless to say, I did not leave the kitchen until late that evening.  Man oh man though, did my house ever smell so good.  Too bad my house wasn't for sale, I could have sold it in a heartbeat.

Bagels in the cooking process

Finished bagels...yum!

So in keeping with my "all things homemade" section, here's my favorite bagel recipe.  Enjoy!

Homemade Bagels (recipe from Williams Sonoma Breads)

4 tsp. active dry yeast
2 T. sugar
2 cups warm water (105 - 115 degrees)
2 T. canola oil
1 T. salt
5 1/2 cups bread flour
2 T. vital wheat gluten
Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 T. baking soda
1 egg white beaten with 1 T. water until foamy

In a bowl, sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of the sugar over 1/2 cup of the warm water and stir to dissolve.  Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the remaining water, the oil, and the remaining sugar, the salt, 2 cups of the flour and the gluten.  Beat on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute.  Add the yeast mixture and 1 cup of the flour and beat for 1 minute.  Beat in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the bowl sides.

Switch to the dough hook.  Knead on low speed, adding flour 1 tablespoon at a time if the dough sticks, until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes.  Leave the dough in the mixing bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment (baking) paper and brush the paper with oil.  Turn the dough out onto a  lightly floured board and divide into 4 portions.  Divide each portion into 3 pieces.  Shape each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball and flatten with your palm.  Poke a floured finger through the middle of a ball.  Stretch the hole, rolling your finger around the inside of the hole, to make it about 1 inch in diameter.  Continue to roll your finger or thumb around inside the dough to enlarge the hole; it will shrink slightly when you stop.

Place on prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the bagels about 2 inches apart.  Spray the bagels with vegetable oil spray.  Cover with plastic and let rise at room temperature until puffy, 15 - 20 minutes. 

While the bagels are rising, prepare the water bath.  In a large wide pot, bring 4 - 6 quarts water to a boil over high heat.  Add the baking soda and reduce the heat to medium to maintain a gentle boil.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Using a skimmer, lower 3 or 4 bagels into the water.  They will drop to the bottom and then rise to the surface quickly.  As they come to the surface, turn each bagel and boil on the second side for 2 minutes.

Using the skimmer, transfer the bagels to a dry kitchen towel to drain for a moment, then return to the prepared baking sheets, placing them 1 inch apart.  When all the bagels are boiled, brush them with the egg white mixture and sprinkle with any desired topping(s).  Bake until golden brown, 16 - 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and transfer to racks to cool completely.

Makes 1 dozen large bagels.  (credit for recipe:  Williams Sonoma)

She loved being in my warm kitchen all day long...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Homemade Butter...

 Last night, I made some homemade butter.  I don't know why but I get excited about making butter.  Maybe it's the process of change that the whipping cream goes through.  You know, taking a liquid and making a solid...of course, I guess ice could give you the same satisfaction.  But I'd probably call you weird on that one.


"Butter, people...I just made butter!  Isn't that so cool?"  I exclaimed last night in the kitchen.  My husband and little ones were less than impressed. I realize that you could buy it in big enormous vats, but it isn't as fresh or wouldn't' be as cool to watch...the big vat that is.

So here's my easy peazy recipe for making your own healthy butter.

Homemade Butter
(you will need a large stand up mixer)
This recipe makes about a cup (I usually double or triple this)

2 cups -  organic heavy whipping cream
1/4  tsp.  - salt

Place cream in large stand up mixer.  Turn on high and watch and wait.  It will be very splattery.  (I use my splatter guard and still put a towel over the mixer)  After a few minutes it will start to look like whipped cream...at that point you are close to being done.  When it begins to look like cottage cheese and there is milk at the bottom you have just made butter.  Yeah!!  Strain the milk (buttermilk) from the bowl.  You can use this in anything that calls for buttermilk.  It's great.  Rinse the butter with cold water pressing and squeezing the butter.  You are trying to get any excess liquid out of the butter.  After rinsing, store in a jar (I love mason jars) and keep refrigerated. 

The butter I made last night (shown in the picture above) made a jar and a half of buttermilk.  We loved it in our pancakes for breakfast the morning. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

All things homemade...

This past week I got a notice in the mail from Costco regarding a recall on their natural peanut butter they sell.  Ugh...another recall.  This one had to deal with the possibility of salmonella in the peanut butter.  My kids wondered how eggs got into the ingredients in the first place, seeing that only peanuts are in peanut butter.  Of course, I tried to explained to them that many factories make different items, but to be honest I didn't really know the answer.  It seemed a bit odd to me as well.

"Eww...think about what else could be in your food", my little girl said.  I closed my eyes and tried not to think about it.  But I couldn't. 

Why do I buy prepackaged peanut butter?  Hmm, convenience...maybe?  But seriously, how hard is it to make peanut butter.  It's nuts, right?   Homemade.  That's the way to go.  I could totally make this stuff.  So I decided that I would have some fun with this.  Make it like a game for me.  Just how many things could I make homemade. 

So here goes.  I'm putting a running list on the side bar of my blog that has all the things I've made homemade that otherwise I would have bought prepackaged.  I'm going to call it "all things homemade".  If possible I'll include the link to my favorite recipe (believe me, I probably did not create it without a recipe.  I'm a recipe girl) and we'll just see how far this goes.  So the more I cook (and remember what I've cooked in the past) I'll add it to my list.

Since I already make a boatload of things homemade, I've got a good start on this list.  I'd love take out the last of the processed foods we eat from our diet.  It may take some time.  I've got some "stubborn" ones who still very much like white bread....I'll have to work on that one.  Of course, I'll have to take diet coke out of my own diet (for now though it makes me happy...and "ain't nobody happy if momma ain't happy".  But I promise I'll try and work on it- maybe tomorrow). 

So let's start going back to the basics.  Get out those aprons and let's get cooking...

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I have unleashed "the beast"...

About a month ago I decided to not do anything with my hair.  Wait, wait, I take that back.  I "try" to do something with my hair, but trust me...everyday it has a mind of its own.  The thing is I decided to stop doing damage to my hair and that meant taking some VERY drastic measures....going curly.

Did you know that God blessed me with curly hair?  Probably not.  I have for many, many, many years done everything I could to combat these wild curls with all measures known possible to man.  Curling irons, straighteners, hair straightener conditioner thingys...you name it I probably have tried it.  Why you might ask?  Well, curly hair went out in the 80's and didn't really seem to make that much of a comeback.  Straight hair seemed to be all the style, the rage and soooo, not what God blessed me with. 

So about a month ago, I gave up.  Threw in the towel.  Chucked my hair dryer, curling irons, brushes and have been going "oh so natural" ever since.  Here's what I've learned...

If you decide to go with your natural curly look you will have people come up to you and not even recognize you (even though you are holding your little brown one...thought that one would give me away). 

You will get more compliments on the wildest of hair days than you ever had and are afraid to tell them that you can't remember the last time you washed your hair.  (Did you know that curly headed people shouldn't wash their hair with the commerical shampoo out on the market?  No, I'm totally serious.  Lots of research here...trust, me.  Curly headed people have to protect their hair somethin' fierce.  You have to use an organic type of shampoo or make your own...which is what I do...make my own that is)

Since going curly, my husband is often afraid to see what I will look like when he walks through the door.  Although he has yet to admit it, I'm not sure he's on board with this whole curly thing I got going on, which I then conveniently remind him that I was curly when we got married.  (Of course, that was twenty years ago and I was thinner and had less gray hair as well...but I don't remind him of those things)

Weird thing is, the longer I go curly the curlier my hair is becoming.  And you have never seen such a healthy head of hair.  Soft curls that now have a chance of growing long (before with the straightening, my hair was dry, brittle and constantly breaking).  Now, maybe I'll grow it long.  That my husband would love.

So curly headed people, heed my call.  Throw out that shampoo and straighteners.  And let's bring back the 80's.  Don't make me do this on my own...

Before with straight hair
Curly...and getting curlier every day

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween fun...

Halloween for us was last night...don't ask me why we celebrate here a day early...no clue about that one...but we do.  We also don't really do much decorating for Halloween.  A pumpkin here or there, some leaves...nothing scary.   We really put the emphasis on just having fun "dressing up".  Heck, we don't even eat a lot of candy in this house so we don't even go to a lot of houses.  (I'm telling you that this candy will be in our house until Easter, weird I know).  But it's just fun to experience it for a little while...it's part of being a kid. 

Last night my Mom came over for dinner and then stayed to go trick or treating with us.  The boys (Daddy and our oldest) stayed at home to hand out candy.  I think they both thought we were going to make them dress up with the rest of us...we tried, but no luck. 

My mom though, is crazy enough to dress up with us so it was a lot of fun.  I have a "stash" of costumes to choose from...but we always seem to pick the same ones every year...because they are warm.  And believe me, it was cold.  It's always cold here on Halloween.  I'm thinking we need to move south. (I feel the need for warmth)

Our smallest one talked our biggest girl into joining forces to be "Penny" and "Bolt" from the Disney movie "Bolt".  He loves that movie...it's second only to Cars. 

Our smallest girl decided that she wanted to be a fairy...a purple fairy.  She designed it and I created it.  Love it!  She's been reading a lot of fairy books lately. 

 I love to sew and starting with Halloween costumes in the fall just gets me so much in the mood to do a sewing marathon through the winter months. Can't wait this year though, for the first time I've got my mom here to help...and she loves to sew just as much as I do.

Happy Halloween everyone...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

About my day...

It's been f-o-r-e-v-e-r since I've blogged about our life here.  Rather than try and play "catch-up", it would probably be easier to just blog about my day today because EVERYTHING has been happening to us at once here.  And that, my friends, would be a monster long post (and no one wants to read that one).  So here goes ( a much shorter post)...

About my day....

Woke up this morning to this song (can't help but start your day dancing)...even with it cold, windy and rainy. 

Decided to make some of this...(had apples that I needed to use)...

Hmmm...what else can I make???  Maybe some of these...(and yes, it's extremely simple and tasty)

Easy, healthy fruit snacks!

Still in the kitchen...needed some "chips" for our taco soup for the evening.  So I decided to make these...

Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips

Heard this song about 4 different times...I think it should be my theme song (at least for today)

Did a boatload of this...in the kitchen (where else would I be - other than my car)...

Spent a mountain of time in this...racing the kids to...well, everything...

Had to give some of these today...

A bunch of these...

And ended the day hearing this...

Good news...

I get to do this again tomorrow. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wow...that's loud!

A little while ago a big hail storm came through where we live. We lost a boatload of tree limbs and leaves, plants and even parts of my garden...wiped out. A few days later I noticed some water damage upstairs in my daughter's room. Long story short...we had to have a new roof. Being that I'm not quite knowledgeable in the roofing field and have a fear of careening off steep high places, I called a roofing company.

Today was the day for them to be here...and if I had any doubt, all I had to do was wait two seconds for the loud pounding to start up again. I mean crazy loud...super duper uper loud. It was at this time I realized two things....

One...hail storms can wipe out a roof in less than two minutes

and two...you will lose your hearing if you don't leave your house while they put the new roof on.

(Or at least your mind...because the constant banging for hours and hours and hours and hours will drive you C-R-A-Z-Y)

Friday, September 7, 2012

A family affair...

A few weeks ago, my husband's office had their annual 5k race. We usually run in the race every year, but since the little ones can't run that far my husband and I have to take turns. One parent runs with the older kids while the other parent gets to watch with the little ones. This year it was my year to run...ugh!

It's not that I mind running. Nope, that's not it at all. It's just that I am so much slower than the children. I lag behind them something fierce. Then that weird, strange motherly instinct takes over and I about kill myself trying to run at their pace so I can keep them in my "line of sight". Nope, this was not going to turn out well. I'm pretty sure that throwing up and dying at the end of my husband's office race does not bode well for career advancement for him.

This year though my mother saved me. She arrived at our house a few days before we were to run. So thankfully on the day of the race she watched the two little ones and my husband was able to run with the older ones...thank the Lord above for that one. Then I could just run at my snail's pace without any worry and just enjoy running.

The morning was great...a little overcast and slightly humid. My husband and the older kids did great. Our oldest girl came in second in her age division and our oldest son came in fourth. My husband did great as well. He ran an incredibly fast pace which, of course, blew my pace out of the water. That's okay though, just as long as I didn't have to run that pace with the kids.

At the end of the 5k race, my husband's office sponsored a "little kids" race (basically it was a race across the parking lot). Man, oh man, was that cute to see. The two little ones ran in their age division. They loved it!

Next year, we are signing up Grandmom to walk in the race so that it's a complete family event. I'm positive she'll be up for that one...plus it's seven chances to win some of the door prizes. Fun, fun, fun!
...before the race

...love, love, love this little one!

...such a wonderful picture

...notice who's in front...yep, that one's mine

...she was flying as well in her race (must have gotten her "running genes" from daddy)

...second place in her age division

...crazy about this one too!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Buh..iz...zeeee (That's busy for all you who don't speak southern)

Our life at home right now is one big, huge blur of action. It's been so bad lately that I haven't been able to post anything about anything but everything has been happening...are you following me?? Basically, I'm just flying through my days and weeks holding onto for dear life. Here's a peak into just one of my days...

At the beginning of the day I run this one up to the public middle school so that she can take a couple of classes from them. This year for the first time ever we decided to utilize the public system for a couple of classes. They are the ones that I do NOT feel qualified to teach...case in point...chemistry, physics, biology - anything that requires me to cut up an animal with beaded eyes and smells of formaldehyde. YUK! I am pretty sure that you are required to be alert and not passed out on the floor to teach those subjects.

After I race home, I have just a couple of hours to homeschool the other three "chitlins" before I race to a different school to drop our older boy off to take a couple of classes...at, of course, a completely different school - the high school. It would be way too easy of a life for me if it was all at the SAME school at the SAME time. I didn't even mention that our little one takes preschool classes a couple of mornings a week at what else, you guessed it...a completely different school (in a different direction than the rest of them). Let me hear you say - ugh!!!

At the same time my son is dropped off, my daughter is done with her classes. I race to her school, pick her up and go home to homeschool more with the little ones. Then I race back to pick up my son from his school and then our afternoon extravaganza begins.

Depending on the day and which child you are talking about, there are soccer practices, swim practices, piano practices, lego mindstorm team practices and just this week church festivities are being thrown onto the calendar. Whew...I need a nap just writing all of it down.

If that wasn't busy enough, add the fact that my mother has just moved in with us and we are frantically trying to find her a place of her own or just where to put all of her furniture. (This would be easier if we had the time to go and view several places - ha!)

However, on the flip side, having her here living with us does have some wonderful perks. She is by far, a fantastic cook and has helped with some meals. She has also been helping me pick up kids (when her car finally arrived) and has occupied several little ones when I needed to do some of the basics in life...say, cook and do some laundry. I love the extra help!

So that's it in a nutshell for us. I think now I need to go and take some child to some place in some direction...cause it's been five minutes since I've been in my car (that's a record for me).

Friday, August 31, 2012

Happy 13th Birthday, my beautiful girl....

She was late coming into this world and I knew that she could NOT be rushed. She is individual to the core. She is independent, head strong and I believe basically came out running...to not be "beat" by her older brother. She is highly competitive, hates to lose...no one works harder that this one. She is sweet and caring and beautiful to me in every way. Her passion for animals is so very strong that I have no doubt that she will make a magnificent veterinarian one day. But for me, I don't think I want to rush through life and miss my wonderful time with her. So for now, I'll just enjoy our newest "teenager" in the house. Oh boy, two teenagers under one roof...heaven help me now.

Happy Birthday, my sweet 13 year old. I love straight up to the moon and back...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This Saturday...

This Saturday I will be picking up my mother for the last time from the airport.  She is coming home to stay this time.  Coming home to us...

Without going into all of the details, it is a very sad time for her but there is light at the end of this dark tunnel.  She has four adorable, loud, crazy messy grandchildren that are literally counting down the days...no, the hours that she will land and finally be home with them forever.  They have missed her for a very long time.  While they don't understand everything that is going on, they only know what is most important.  Grandmom is coming and she never has to leave again.  To them, they have hit the jackpot. 

And my mom feels the same way...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Look closely...

Do you see it in the pictures??  I know they are really blurry and somewhat foggy (but I was standing in my house taking these out the window).  It's our newest pet...an owl.  Okay, technically a pet would mean you could love on it and feed it and play games with it...so I guess maybe I should call it our "outside visitor".  It's an owl.

This crazy thing has been showing up in our backyard now every night.  It's huge and gets very close to the house.  Actually there are two of them.  It's really cool to see them.  They have a huge wingspan and float from fence to ground to deck to tree and back around again.  Always looking for dinner, I'm sure...to which, I tell them just wait until the two yappy dogs next door come out.  Is that wrong???  (I really don't care too much for those dogs...one of them bit me - arghhh!!...and their owner lets them bark all the time). 

Anyway, really cool to have them at our house...even if I can't get them to take the dogs next door away.

...see it on the fence?

...on the ground

...near the deck...see the railing in the picture

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Yelping our way through New York...

Yelp.  Please tell me that you've heard of this app.  No, it's not yodeling or yelping (like a dog would).  It's a review app...kind of.  Wherever you are you can plug in, show me the best restaurants near me and up comes all the places to eat you could ever want with reviews from people who have actually eaten there.  It's awesome!  It doesn't have to be places to eat either, it could be something to do or shows or movies...you get the idea. 

Well, we could not have gotten around New York without it.  I guess we could have but we definitely would have missed a boatload of great places to eat that we found.  Heck, I even found a great laundry place so I could dry a load of clothes one afternoon.  We pack extremely light when we travel.  A lot of times we get everything into one bag, at most two.  It just makes it so much easier to travel with so many of us.   

Another fantastic thing we loved and needed so much in New York was the GPS app on our iPhone.  We would just map out a place we wanted to go and voila...away we went following the blue dot.  Being that I could probably get lost in my own city, this was the best app ever.  If only they could invent an app to do my dishes or my laundry...now that would be an accomplishment...since we are home now and everything is piling up so fast.

We had a wonderful time in New York.  I always hate to see a vacation come to an end.  Sad, really.  My husband had trouble going to work this morning and I really didn't want to go to Walmart for groceries...but alas, our life is calling us back to our daily grind...more like YELLING at us.  Do you hear it???  Mom, mom...I've got swim practice in an hour.  Mom, mom...is my blue shirt clean?  Mom, mom...I can't find my book.  Mom, mom...he hit me.  Mom, mom...what's for lunch?

I think I'll go hide out in a closet now...until next summer comes...

...at the Museum on our last day...lots of dead stuffed things there...still a fun place to go

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Central Park...

Today it was all about Central Park and bikes and hot dogs and lots and lots of sweating. It was a great experience. It's definitely the best way to see the park. There was NO WAY we were walking the entire thing and this way we got to see all the sights. Of course, I was amazed at all of the crazy fast runners that were there. We had one that even past us on while we were biking...and no...we weren't walking the bikes.

My husband had our little girl on a tag-a-long behind him , I had our little boy behind me in a child seat and our older two...of course, had to pedal on their own. I only worried a little when my older one about took out a few hundred walkers as he weaved about....just kidding.

Later in the day, after we were completely wiped out (Mom and Dad that is) we relaxed in the hotel, watched a movie and ate more empanadas...they are seriously great here.

Tomorrow we are headed to the American Museum of Natural History. Fun, fun, fun...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Peter and the Starcatcher...

This morning we had a relaxing morning, went for a run and then decided to take in another wonderful Broadway show.  I mean hey, when you're in New York you gotta do Broadway several times.  Soooo, many great ones to choose from. 

Today we chose Peter and the Starcatcher.  It's the story of Peter Pan...kind of.  Not based upon the Disney version but more like the book "Peter and the Starcatcher".  Unfortunately, this one was more of a "quiet" play (in comparison to the musical Mary Poppins) so I was a little concerned on how our little boy was going to do.  But by the end of the play I was the one amazed at how good he did.  Since cameras are not allowed in the theater, I don't have any pictures to share of it. 

After that we had fantastic...way overpriced...burgers and shakes.  Of course, everything here is overpriced and after a while it just doesn't shock you anymore.  And speaking of New York it really is truly a unique place.  It's kind of like a land of the self-absorbed.  You walk among thousands of people all in their own little world, cutting you off left and right never looking you in the eye.  And I think the world would stop and begin to rotate backwards if someone said "excuse me" or "sorry about that" here. 

But New York is a wonderful melting pot of people.  There are people from everywhere walking among you.  All nationalities, all colors...it makes you realize just how small our world really is.  Just wishin' they would cut a stroller a little bit of slack here.

Tomorrow, we are spending the day in Central Park.  The kids want to rent some bikes and ride the day away.  Sounds pretty sweaty to me...

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Met...

Today we took a subway and headed over to see the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I loved it! There were over so many wings to this museum that you truly need an entire day or more to see it all. We took in as much as we could for several hours. There were some absolutely beautiful pieces of art there.

After the Met we went over to another museum called The Cloisters.  It was set in this medieval looking castle building and filled with beautiful tapestries, sculptures and fantastic architecture.  Just the coolest thing.

Tomorrow we set out to see another Broadway play...oooh, can't wait!

This is The Cloisters set on a bluff...