“Root, Root, Root for the Mariners…”

Ever since Rylee and Caleb started T-Ball, Kyler has been beyond fascinated with everything to do with baseball, especially the Mariners.  Anything that can fit in his hands that he can swing becomes a bat.  So often when I come home from work I hear him say “Daddy, throw me the ball” as he is holding up a golf club, stick, gigantic pencil, or a drum stick.  I can’t wait for him to be old enough to play on a team with the Y, he will have so much fun.  Until then, it is backyard baseball for Caleb, Kyler and I.

With Kyler’s birthday coming up, we thought it would make his day to go to the Mariner’s Game.  We got some tickets and will be headed to Safeco Field to watch the M’s play baseball.  Kyler could not be more excited.  Karissa got him a Mariner’s hat and a t-shirt that he has not stopped wearing since he put them on.  We have a little baseball fan on our hands and it is a lot of fun.  Here he is with his hat and the schedule showing you when we are going to the game.

Kyler M's Hat
Kyler M's Sched.

See you at the field!  Go Mariners!

Whole grain (and not-so-whole-grain) YUM!

After receiving my lovely flour mill as a birthday gift, I’ve finally expanded some of my baking to include the freshly ground whole wheat flour.   Last night I made Honey Whole Wheat Pizza and oh my goodness I’ve never had pizza quite like that before.  I have always been afraid of yeast and have only ever sucessfully made plain white bread with it.  This week marks new endeavors with it and it has been so far so fun.  The pizza recipe was quite quick, it doesn’t have to rise forever.  I made some pizza sauce with leftovers in the fridge and mozzarella and a few cut up pieces of meatballs.  I hadn’t planned on making it until about 3 PM so next time we’ll have more fun with toppings for sure.  But this pizza meant I didn’t have to run to Papa Murphy’s so it saved me money and it was much better on many levels.

Here is the recipe for the dough –

  • 1 small onion minced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast (quick)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 T honey
  • 2 1/4 whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 T gluten
  • 2 tsp salt

Brown onions, then garlic with a tad bit of olive oil.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, dissolved honey, then yeast in warm water.  Let stand till creamy, about 10 min.  In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, gluten, onion/garlic, Italian seasoning, and salt.  Make a well in the middle and add honey/yeast mixture.  Knead in remaining flour.  If making thin crust, roll out immediately and top with toppings then bake.  If making focaccia or thick crust pizza, cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place.  Roll dough on a floured and greased pizza pan.  Allow to rise while preheating oven to 350 degrees.  Top with sauce, cheese, meat, veggies, whatever!  Bake for 20 minutes watching carefully to ensure it doesn’t burn.  Make sure the middle is cooked through.

This slice managed to live long enough for a photo but quickly vanished along with the rest of the pizza.

june 09

On Friday I was cleaning out the freezer and found frozen dinner rolls.  I remembered on of my small group girls raving about “Monkey Bread” and making it for me once.  It was amazing and sticky and super yummy.  It took about 3 minutes to prepare Friday night, sat in the oven till morning when I turned the oven on and cooked it for 30 minutes.  The overnight transformation went something like this.

Before:

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After:

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It made SO much that I sent a bunch next door and brought some to another friends later in the morning (and everyone here ate their fill except me-I limited myself to 3 pieces).  Here is the recipe for the pull apart Monkey Bread:

  • 1 package (24 rolls) frozen white dinner rolls
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 package butterscotch pudding
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (I used pecans)
  • 1/2 cup butter

Grease bundt pan.  Place frozen rolls in pan.  Mix brown sugar and pudding mix then sprinkle over rolls.  Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over rolls.  Sprinkle with nuts if desired.  Cut butter into little cubes and place over all.  Do not cover.  Place in oven overnight.  Next morning, turn on oven and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Father’s Day

I have been a Daddy for over six years now and I love every minute of it.  Don’t get me wrong, it is not all roses, especially what loads up in the diaper from time to time, but being a Daddy is one of the greatest joys of my life.  Four kiddos get to claim me as their daddy whether they like it or not.  Rylee, Caleb, Kyler, and Audrey are the fab four in my life.  Each one has my heart completely.

This year for Father’s Day each of the kids got me something that they thought I would really enjoy.  Here, in visual form is what they came up with (they know their Daddy so well):

Coke2Liter
microwave-popcorn

doritos

Rylee’s Gifts

starbucks-card

Caleb’s Gift

M&M

Kyler’s Gift

This would have been more than enough to make my day, knowing that the kids each thought of something that their Daddy would love.  (And I loved them all!)  However, Karissa had one more gift for me.  She made me a photo book from Shutterfly.  As I opened the pages and looked at the pictures and read what she wrote, I was overwhlemed by the amount of love, support, and adoration I receive from my family.  They are the best.  Thank you so much Rylee, Caleb, Kyler, Audie, and of course, thank you my love, you are a gift from God, all of you!

Just Heard Thursday

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Caleb (seeing a picture of a pregnant woman):  “Is it dangerous?”

Me: “Is what dangerous?”

Caleb: “When your shirt explodes because there’s a baby in your tummy, is that dangerous?”

————————

Caleb (holding a cigar that he had just found):  “What is this?”

Me:  “A cigar.”

Caleb (tossing it down):  “Oh my, is this daddy’s?  Did he blow this?”

Me:  “Yes and yes.”

Caleb:  “Uh oh.”

———————

Mama:  “Please finish your cheese if you want anything else to eat.”

Caleb (with a big sigh):  “Okay, but you’ll just have to watch me blow up because I told you I was already filled to the top.”

———————–

Rylee (hands on hips):  “Okay.  Now she’s in the car seat.  She has a toy and a snack and some water.  If she fusses at all, even one tiny bit, call me.  I’ll be outside tending to the chickens on my motorcycle.  Okay?”

Mama (noting that she is talking about her baby, not a doll but-much to her complete delight-a real live, 1 year old, amiable, lovable baby sister who is happily playing ‘house’ without knowing it):  “Sounds good, I’m just working on bills here, I’ll get you if I hear a peep.  I’ve got it.”

—————————–

While the kids were playing outside and I was inside, I heard this:

Rylee:  “Yup.  Kyler it looks like you’re a rooster.  We’re gonna have to sell you on Craigslist.”

—————————-

Heard about 20 times this week from Kyler:  “Mom, no say good job Kyler, you say AWESOME Kyler, okay?”

I think I’ve got it now.  I am a little slow sometimes.

Laundry soap and enchilada sauce

After a romantic and dreamy weekend away, we jumped back into real life with both feet.  It’s been good.  Having soaked in so many hours of uninterrupted, easy going ‘husband-wife time’-I feel replenished and restored in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time.

Since returning, I can say navigating kid behavior has been the greatest challenge for sure.  Not that I expected all present struggles to disappear while we were gone, but you know, one can hope right?  I am keenly aware of all the dynamics taking place in our house every day and with 4 different kid personalities and 2 grown ups too-I’ll be the first to tell you it isn’t easy.

Neither is maintaining an organized household.  Finding the balance between ‘frozen pizza’s in a pinch’ and homemade, from scratch, healthy, whole four course dinner for six isn’t easy either.

I have another post in my head but for now, let me randomly share a couple things.

In an effort to be economical and earth-kind, I recently gave my first go of making our own laundry soap.  The toxin-free laundry soap I use is spendy but I love it so it was a stretch to try something new.  I used the following recipe that I found online.

1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax, 1 cup Washing Soda and 1 bar of castile soap (grated and ground)

Christopher kindly grated the soap for me then I ground it into powder in the food processor.

Then Kyler stirred it all up.  He asked to lick it.  I said no.

Down sides? I think that it cost about $3.50 to make that small amount and it washed about 10 loads of laundry.  Perhaps if you live alone that would seem appealing but when we do about 1-2 loads per day, it really seemed like a poor return on time/money spent.

Up sides?  We did it together, and that is always a good thing.  It also contained no bleach, phosphates or other things that harm the environment (or us!).  It washed the clothes well.

Next time I’ll try making a liquid and make a much larger amount.

On another domestic note, I have 10 quarts of homemade enchilada sauce in my kitchen cooking right now.

It was an accident.  Sort of.  In trying to do the math to make a LOT more than the recipe said, I over estimated the amount of chili powder (1 1/2 cups did sound like a lot of chili powder!).  So I kept adding.  Adding water, adding broth, adding tomato sauce and even sugar as a last ditch effort.  It still is a bit spicy.  But it is really, really yummy.  I plan to make 4 trays of black bean & beef enchiladas with it and then freeze the rest for future use.  Since making the sauce involved mess, I figured I should make a lot and just make a big, huge mess.  That is most often my cooking philosophy whenever possible.

This is my recipe in case you’d like to give it a try.  It puts canned enchilada sauce to shame if I do say so myself.  Mind the math if you make it x 6 like I did!

3 T vegetable oil

1 small onion (or half a large one), finely minced

1 clove fresh garlic, crushed

2 T flour

1/4 cup (or less, if you have kids I’ve decided)

1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

1 1/2 cups of water or chicken broth

1/4 tsp ground cumin

Directions:

Heat oil in a skillet (med-high) and saute onion till tender.  Add garlic, briefly saute.  Stir in flour and chili powder, stirring constantly, careful not to burn it.

Gradually stir in tomato sauce, water/broth & cumin.  Simmer on low-med heat for 10 minutes till slightly thickened.  Pour over your enchiladas and enjoy!

For this batch, my filling includes green chilies, black beans, brown rice and ground beef all mixed up with a bit of the sauce.  Each tortilla I dip quickly in the sauce too, to keep it all moist.  I also pour a bit of sauce in the pan before putting the enchiladas in so they don’t stick.  I topped it with shredded cheddar cheese too.

Naptime is about over, so that’s it for now!

Life between magic and mess

We were recently given some free airline tickets that needed to be used by July.  So my parents graciously (bravely) offered to watch the oldest three kids so we could get away for a couple of days to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.  It always takes a lot of effort and energy to go anywhere and was a bit (a lot) nerve wracking for me to leave the kids more than a few hours, I haven’t been away from them that long in, well, 6 1/2 years.

I knew we needed some time together, time to just enjoy being with one another, time without plans, expectations or obligations.   But sometimes when you get the time you need, you’ve been so long overdue that it is strange to be together and for it to be quiet and you almost forget how to just ‘be’.  There has been so much survival mode and not enough replenishing that it is possible to spend the time we do get alone miscommunicating or misunderstanding each other to the point that it is really frustrating.  Anyone know what I mean?

Despite knowing from experience that things don’t often go as planned,  I had high hopes for a weekend of peace, rest, laughter, smiles, fun and love for each other.

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My cheeks hurt when we came home.  All my cheeks.  I think I smiled for three days straight.  Not on purpose but just because I was so thrilled to have the one my heart loves all to myself for such a long time.  As for the other cheeks, may I explain?  We were up early on Saturday and found ourselves at Fisherman’s Wharf before any of San Francisco was awake.  We very spontaneously decided to rent bicycles and bike (10 miles!) up the waterfront and across the Golden Gate bridge.  We hadn’t even planned to SEE the bridge, let alone cross it.  We had no car, just walked and trollied our way around town.

4 hours and one very sore bum later, we had enjoyed the most amazing bike ride of our lives and loved every minute of it.

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I am amazed at how therapeutic it is to not clean, not cook, really not do a stitch of ‘work’ for a couple of days.  We have existed (as many parents of many small children do) in survival mode a lot for the past 6 + years.  Our patience and our tenderness  for each other, even our willingness to give grace has been stretched thin.

I recently corresponded with a seasoned, amazing mother, Colleen.  She wrote many profound things to me that I’ve been pondering, but the one I’ve thought most about is this:

Do not lose sight of one another in the business of children….Those little ones are with you but for a brief moment.  One of their greatest needs is to see parents who love one another, who disagree and make up, who use the words “I am sorry.  I was wrong.”  And who make the marriage the priority…not the parenting.   I know it doesn’t seem so, but when the marriage is the priority I believe the parenting will fall into place.

I’ve spent a LOT of time thinking about this.  The more I do, the more it rings true for me.  In our ‘survival’, we can’t forget us.  We daily, hourly, sometimes by the minute, put our own needs and wishes aside for those of our children.  This is, I believe, one of the incredible ways parenting makes us better people.  More selfless people who aren’t afraid to give and love in a radical way.  It is also how, I can imagine, people give up on marriage after little kids come along as so many do-after all the average marriage in the U.S. only lasts 8 years.

The sassy disrespect I am working hard to combat in my daughter is merely a reflection of the way she sees me treat her dad on my less-than-wonderful days.

Ouch.  That stings a little.  A lot.

Instead of trying to deal with it in her, heeding the wisdom of my friend, I think I need to invest my focus on myself.  If I truly worked on modeling respecting my husband and holding him in the highest esteem, I have more than a hunch that her behavior would slowly change.  Why talk about it here?  Because I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this.  And because I want (need) the accountability that comes from writing about it.

I really believe that time invested in loving Chris more extravagantly, more intentionally will reap great rewards.  Not that we don’t need to stay in the parenting trenches and keep striving in that department.  But there is a balance that we’re still (after 10 years) not close to figuring out.

For today, it just looked like me being genuinely, super excited with him that he gets to climb Mt Rainier on Friday, instead of commenting about how it will be a tough stretch for me and the kids without him.   Last night, it meant snuggling on the couch together instead of on separate sides and then offering to help put the bikes away for the night at midnight instead of expecting him to do it alone.  I think it might be pretty simple if I just stop to think first before I act/talk.

Quite a concept.  Revolutionary, I know (smile).

What happened in a weekend of doing little more than simply loving, laughing, smiling, resting, walking, biking, eating and kissing?  We remembered.  We remembered what it felt like to hold hands and smile at each other every single chance we got.  We remembered what it felt like to have slept a whole night and not wake up exhausted.  We remembered the things we love about each other.

It’s not like we’d really forgotten but that it’s easy to lose sight of them in the midst of real life.  So stepping out of real life for a short spell was, for us, magical.  Of course we missed our kids.  Of course we spent more money eating out breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It’s not a practical place to stay, I just can so see the reward from it.

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And it is good.  Really good.

What now?  Working on finding a place to abide that is somewhere in the middle of magical and messy…

A perfect beach day

Unlike yesterday’s less than lovely ‘adventure’ if you can call it that, last week we had an absolutely perfectly wonderful trip to the beach in the hot sun.  It was truly ideal except our favorite person was missing, Daddy.  Aside from that, we couldn’t have had more fun.
Caleb's favorite...big splashes!
Caleb's favorite...big splashes!
Auntie's favorite? Ice cream!!
Auntie's favorite? Ice cream!!
Auntie's real favorites (minus 1 of course)
Auntie's real favorites (minus 1 of course)
Mama's favorite-grass rolling for all!
Mama's favorite-grass rolling for all!
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Audrey's favorite activity? Smiling.

Cousin Isaac and his favorite toy-a rock
Cousin Isaac and his favorite toy-a rock
Kyler's favorite-the fountain
Kyler's favorite-the fountain

My mom didn’t tell me there’d be days like this

The day began innocently enough, my hubby even made coffee before he left while we were all still sleeping.  So when this first little person woke me up, I grabbed the biggest mug we had and quickly downed a cup.  Wonderful.

Christopher’s day yesterday hadn’t left him time to get his check from work.  So anticipating the auto-withdrawl payments on their way out (gotta love those) and knowing he was overloaded with work down south again today, we set out on a trek to Marysville (30 minutes north).   Then headed south (40 minutes) to the doctor for one of the kids.  We were late but made it.  Taking four kids to the dr. is really no small task (I get all sweaty just thinking about it) but Christopher prayed us through the whole endeavor and it went well.  No concrete answers were found, which was disappointing.  Next steps were given.  Nothing too serious.

Now we were late to our next stop (20 more minutes east) to Kindermusik which is always the highlight of our day.  We missed the whole first half of class.  Bummer.  I had spent the whole drive out on the phone with doctors and insurance companies.  Getting different answers and being told my child could not be seen where I wanted (where I believe he would receive the most excellent, competent care) due to insurance.  I offered to pay out of pocket for it all, she emphatically told me still, they could not see him.

I felt helpless.  I suppose it wouldn’t have gotten to me so much had I not spent all of yesterday on the phone inquiring about life insurance and adult medical insurance.  It’s just not at all my idea of fun.  I’d rather scrub my toilets (and they are absolutely disgusting).  I remained on the phone when I dropped the kids off for class.  I got Audrey out of the car and went in to wait for them.

Class ended, the kids were so happy to have been out of the car and been with Miss Beth, whom they love.  We headed out in the very warm sun (85 degrees!) to go home.  I looked in my door.  My keys were sitting nicely on my seat.  That’s okay, I never lock my car. But today of all days, I did.  Another mom stayed till she knew the locksmith was on the way, she offered water and food and diapers.  The kids had all just snacked and the guy said he was only a minute away, so I said we were fine.

He also said it would be around $70 to unlock my car.  Yikes!  Maybe AAA would have been a good thing to have…

We found some shade and the kids were happy to run around.  I was mulling over the doctor/insurance stuff, along with the fact my mistake had just cost us a lot of money.  As Kyler ran by me, in the blazing sun, a pungent smell assaulted my nose.  A worse-than-average-what-did-I-feed-that-child? diaper was in dire need of changing. The other kids started running away from him so they could breath.  It was bad.  My diapers were of course in the locked van.

The “1 minute” turned into 5 then 10 then 15 minutes.  Now Kyler is crawling around sobbing because his skin is so raw and blistered from the dirty diaper.  Audrey wants to be held.  I am sticky and hot.  The kids have sweat dripping down their faces.  Our adventure is turning into a disaster in a few short minutes.

Kyler, in trying to relieve the pain sticks his hand down his pants and gets poop on his hand.  I have nothing to wash him with and hold out hope for the locksmith to pull in.  20 minutes now, still no sign.  Kyler finds a wad of chewed gum melting in the hot sun.  What else would a 3 year old do but try to pick it up?  Disgusting.  I send him and Rylee inside to try and clean his hands while I wait for help to come.

After 45 minutes, the man arrives to unlock the car.  I am fairly incoherent at this point, hungry, tired, emotional, distracted by the crying toddler screaming “It hurts, my poopy hurt so bad!”.  I go to change him while the guy writes the bill.  I give him my credit card since I still haven’t made it to the bank yet with the check we got this morning.

I change Kyler and leave him naked as he cries so his bum can dry a bit.  I turn around to get the receipt.

$150.  For 4 minutes of work.  There must be some mistake, they said-

Here’s where the day gets the best of me and I have a complete breakdown in the parking lot of the Boys and Girls Club.

I start weeping and trying to talk to this stranger who just popped my door open with a little tool in a matter of seconds.  I talk about my husband and how hard he works and go on and on.  While a buck naked, whimpering toddler holds my hand.  It really isn’t about the spending of the money, but the principal and again the helplessness of it all.  Of course I needed the guy to unlock my car, of course I knew it would cost something.  But $150, really?

He mutters something about not setting his prices and I, shaking and crying, take the piece of paper, pick up naked Kyler and sit in the front seat.  The rest of the kids are hushed.  They’ve rarely seen such a display from their mother.

I sob for 10 minutes.  I try to explain that it’s the combination of the whole day, money stuff always works out and it is just money after all.  They are kind.  They tell me it’s okay.  They offer to call Daddy and explain to him that the locksmith man just took all our money and that Mommy is sad.

We head for home, get the check in (not soon enough of course!) the bank and have popsicles on the kitchen floor together.  I make more doctor calls and finally get a few answers.  I know in a day or two, it won’t seem so bad and even just writing about it takes a bit of the sting away.

More than anything, I know these words to be true:

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let my foot slip—
he who watches over me will not slumber.

I am ever so glad He doesn’t.  I need all the help I can get.