Thursday, September 30, 2010

Saving My Breath

If this shirt was for sale, I would buy it and maybe even wear it every day that I venture out to a public place.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Costume Hunting


Have you even started to think about Halloween yet? We certainly have around here. There are all sorts of plans in the works - so I've been trying to get a jump start on the kids' costumes.

Do you search all over until you find exactly the right costume, maybe even make it yourself - or do you figure something out at the last minute?

Here's what we did yesterday. I wrote about it at Four Perspectives.

The Great Costume Hunt

photo found at comicsninja.com

Halloween costumes have been a recent hot topic at our house in the 5-and-under crowd. My 3-year-old's little witch costume was easily acquired, but my 5-year-old, Hubba, has consistently insisted on being Boba Fett from Star Wars "because he has a jet pack and carries two guns." For two weeks I have searched various stores and internet sites in the hope of finding a child-sized Boba Fett costume at a reasonable cost - to no avail.

Yesterday I discovered that a local "Bullseye" store (as Hubba tends to call it) carried the child-sized costumes. I loaded up a few of the crew and off we went to make all of Hubba's Halloween dreams come true.

They were out of his size.

"Hubba," I told him, "these are all too big. What should we do?"

Without blinking an eye he said, "Oh, well. I guess I'll be Darth Vader."

Not a minute later he had changed it to a pirate, then a skeleton, then a firefighter, based on what costume happened to come into his line of vision.

Frustrated by his fickle ways, I stated that he might as well just wear the same firefighter costume that I made for him last year.

"Okay." He answered. "Let's go, then."

I was shocked by his indifference. So much time would have been saved if we had just reached this conclusion to start with! However, I quickly realized that the fault was mine. Despite the fact that I have fond memories of wearing the same cheap, plastic WitchiePoo costume over and over for years as a child, it never even crossed my mind to have Hubba wear a repeat costume from the previous year. Why?

I think that, as adults, we tend to make things much bigger than they are in a child's mind. He wants to be Boba Fett? Well, then - I will search to all ends of the earth until his request is granted! And then when I find the costume in a crumpled heap in the back of his closet a couple of days later, why am I surprised? He is five years old. He is living in the moment.

I wonder sometimes if it is easier to make children happy than we think. I wonder if we, the adults, are the ones who are guilty of over-stimulating their brains with our own ideas of what they should want. (Don't even get me started on Christmas.)

We got home, dug out the old costume, and Hubba is perfectly content to be a firefighter again. Lesson learned.

Granted, I did hear him ask his older brother if firefighters ever wear jetpacks or carry guns. So maybe he'll be a gun-wielding fireman.

I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Little O

Despite the fact that I have learned that words can simply not capture the personalities, creativity, awesomeness and quirks of my family I have decided to write a series of posts - one for each of my nine kids - to help me remember the stages of life they are in right now. I realize that this is more for me than anyone who is reading my blog, but it just has to be done. End of story. They will not necessarily be written in any order or sequence - in fact, these posts will likely be interspersed between my regular blog posts as I feel the need/desire to write. Thanks for indulging me.


Little O is at such a precious age right now. He has his "Terrible Two" moments, but for the most part he's just a sweet little bundle of happiness on fast-moving legs.

Life with him is like living in a comic strip. Sometimes he's Linus (only with much better hair) with his favorite blanket and his thumb in his mouth...
and sometimes he's Calvin, running around naked or bringing unexpected chaos to our day...
but he always keeps us laughing and on our toes.

The minute anyone from our family walks into the front door Little O yells their name and comes running to attack them with a fierce hug around the legs. He has his own version of each person's name but for some reason Thumbelina and ElemenoB share Thumbelina's name. This drives ElemenoB crazy but even she can't help but smile because he's so dang cute about it.
His vocabulary is still limited, but he knows how to get his point across. All drinks are molk and all fruit are ap-oles. If he can't get you to understand what he wants then he is perfectly happy to take you by the hand and drag you to the fridge then point and repeat what sounds to us like nonsense words (which I'm sure make perfect sense in his 2-year-old brain) until he gets what he needs.

Little O can not be bothered with schedules. He falls asleep whenever and wherever he wants.
It will often get to be one of those times where the house is too quiet and I'm worried that he's gotten outside somehow so I check the door - still locked - then start a search of the house, only to find him curled up in his bed for a self-imposed nap.

Little O is already quite the movie aficionado. He requests his movie time with a simple word, "Watch?" His preferences are Tarzan, Aristocats and even (thanks to Thumbelina) Barbie movies, but Veggie Tales are by far his all-time favorites and he can sing and mimic the actions of the entire opening theme song.

When he is in need of a diaper change he will often walk towards me, backwards, then point to the back of his pants and say, "Sick." Every mess is called a "Spill" whether it be a liquid or toys or books.

If someone is upset or hurt Little O is quick to comfort. He will come and ask, " 'kay?" then crawl into their lap and give them a hug. He is almost always happy when he wakes up in the morning and instantly asks for "Eat?"
He loves his shoes and socks because they usually mean he gets to go play in the backyard or get in the car and drive somewhere.

I love his golden curls and buck-toothy grin. I love watching him run with those squatty little chubby legs or throw a ball with amazing force for someone his age and size. His laugh is contagious and his eyes are full of expression. Some days I wish I could know what thoughts are going through his head. I wonder if he is ever frustrated by his inability to communicate what he is thinking.
I wish I were a more capable photographer because I would love to capture more of his personality on camera so that I could look back at each stage of his development and just bask in the awesomeness of it all.

If I had to use only one word to describe O, it would simply be happiness because that is what he exudes and creates all around him almost constantly.

I can't wait to see what else he's got in store for us over the years.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Change = Not Easy

(Eleven of my 14 favorite little friends)

Yesterday was a toughie.

My 'job' at church was changed - I will now be the secretary for the Primary (kids aged 18 months-11 years old). I'm sure I will eventually enjoy these new responsibilities, but man oh man is it tough to let go of my little class.

Yesterday was my last week as teacher to my little 5-6 year-olds. I hated having to tell them this news, although it was likely harder for me than it was for them. Kids are pretty resilient, really. Besides the emotional breakdown that Hubba had when I made my announcement, they all took it fairly well.

I went all out for my last hoo-rah, making sure that every child's favorite things to do were included in the lesson. We colored. We taped. We told stories and used visual aids and finger puppets. Each child was spotlighted for their amazing talents, which were printed on a bookmark. I played my accordion for them, which was accompanied by a little impromptu dancing. I even passed out take-home treats at the end.

For the first time, ever, I don't think anyone asked to go to the bathroom. Miracles happen.

As each of them left they gave me the customary high five or hug. Almost every one told me they were going to miss me, which was making me a little teary - until it came to Super C. He gave me a hug and then said, "Don't wuh-wee, Sisto Bwack. We will get an awesome new tee-cho and then we won't hawdly miss you at all!"

The problem is, I am selfish. And Super C's words are exactly what I am worried will happen. My church class is like my little Sunday family! I want invitations to their future art shows and sporting events and wedding receptions. I feel like I'm putting my Sunday kids up for adoption and just hoping for the best when it comes to a new parent. Will he/she remember their birthdays and notice when they aren't there? Will he/she appreciate how creative and witty and clever they are? Will he/she make an effort to contact the two kids who only make it to class on occasion? Most importantly, will the new teacher love them like I do? (Impossible!)

I'm sure things will all work out. I know that early next year, when I'm carrying a carseat around with me again, it will be much easier to fulfill my secretarial duties than to wrangle a precocious class full of young'uns.

But still...

I'm just going to miss it, that's all.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Latest


I have not written a whole lot about my pregnancy this time around...

Well, today you get the whole kit and kaboodle (whatever that means) at Four Perspectives.

Still Glowing

I am trying really hard not to write every post during the time I am pregnant about being pregnant. However, today I am cutting myself some sleep-deprived slack.

The above comic pretty much sums up my day yesterday.

I am not used to having any sort of difficulty beyond restless legs during pregnancy so all of my latest developments are new experiences for me.

I couldn't sleep or breathe until almost 6:00 this morning thanks to my newest pregnancy-induced malady: allergies. I did not want to call my doctor at 1:00 am to ask which allergy medications were permissible to take during pregnancy (I was worried it would come across something like: "Hey, Doc. Did I wake you up? Well, it's for good reason! I have a stuffy nose.") even if I have likely funded the purchase of his home, car, boat, season passes to ski resorts and sporting events and trips around the world with all of my pregnancies combined. I talked to a nurse this morning who told me to try some Claritin or Benadryl. Let's keep our collective fingers crossed that it works. The good news is this: it is likely that the allergies will clear up after delivery. 6 months down, 4 months to go. (Because did you know that women are actually pregnant for 10 months? It's true.)

Another new thing for me this time around is a sore coccyx - which is just a fancy way to say that my tailbone hurts. All the time. It just started last weekend, but it is constant. When I walk, when I sit, when I bend down or vacuum or go grocery shopping my tailbone aches. I don't get it. The (sarcastic) best part is this: there is nothing to do about it except to carry around a donut-shaped pillow to sit on. As much as I'm sure this would be helpful, the embarrassment of carrying a pillow around with me everywhere outweighs the mild pain. I'm living with it and I'm okay with that. The (for real) best part is this: it should go away after delivery.

As I mentioned already, my repeat offender during the last few pregnancies has been RLS, better known as Restless Legs Syndrome. In the past it has been kind enough to leave me alone until I am about 7 months along. This time it decided to show up at 5 months but I have enough experience with the beast to know how to control it. Except now there is this little tidbit - allergy medications tend to make the symptoms of RLS worse. How awesome is that?! I can't wait to see how things go tonight. The good news, though? (Wait for it.....) RLS disappears after the baby is delivered.

Yes, there are many reasons why I will be excited to get this newest little one into my arms - but despite the blows that this pregnancy has delivered the best part will be the official face to face meeting of this life I carry inside of me. I can not wait to be rid of these pregnancy-induced inconveniences but it is all so very worth it to be able to welcome a new tiny person into our family.

I can not wait to fall in love all over again.

Still Glowing

I am trying really hard not to write every post during the time I am pregnant about being pregnant. However, today I am cutting myself some sleep-deprived slack.

The above comic pretty much sums up my day yesterday.

I am not used to having any sort of difficulty beyond restless legs during pregnancy so all of my latest developments are new experiences for me.

I couldn't sleep or breathe until almost 6:00 this morning thanks to my newest pregnancy-induced malady: allergies. I did not want to call my doctor at 1:00 am to ask which allergy medications were permissible to take during pregnancy (I was worried it would come across something like: "Hey, Doc. Did I wake you up? Well, it's for good reason! I have a stuffy nose.") even if I have likely funded the purchase of his home, car, boat, season passes to ski resorts and sporting events and trips around the world with all of my pregnancies combined. I talked to a nurse this morning who told me to try some Claritin or Benadryl. Let's keep our collective fingers crossed that it works. The good news is this: it is likely that the allergies will clear up after delivery. 6 months down, 4 months to go. (Because did you know that women are actually pregnant for 10 months? It's true.)

Another new thing for me this time around is a sore coccyx - which is just a fancy way to say that my tailbone hurts. All the time. It just started last weekend, but it is constant. When I walk, when I sit, when I bend down or vacuum or go grocery shopping my tailbone aches. I don't get it. The (sarcastic) best part is this: there is nothing to do about it except to carry around a donut-shaped pillow to sit on. As much as I'm sure this would be helpful, the embarrassment of carrying a pillow around with me everywhere outweighs the mild pain. I'm living with it and I'm okay with that. The (for real) best part is this: it should go away after delivery.

As I mentioned already, my repeat offender during the last few pregnancies has been RLS, better known as Restless Legs Syndrome. In the past it has been kind enough to leave me alone until I am about 7 months along. This time it decided to show up at 5 months but I have enough experience with the beast to know how to control it. Except now there is this little tidbit - allergy medications tend to make the symptoms of RLS worse. How awesome is that?! I can't wait to see how things go tonight. The good news, though? (Wait for it.....) RLS disappears after the baby is delivered.

Yes, there are many reasons why I will be excited to get this newest little one into my arms - but despite the blows that this pregnancy has delivered the best part will be the official face to face meeting of this life I carry inside of me. I can not wait to be rid of these pregnancy-induced inconveniences but it is all so very worth it to be able to welcome a new tiny person into our family.

I can not wait to fall in love all over again.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Seasons


Lately I've been thinking.

I've been thinking about a lot of things.

I've been thinking about being pregnant for the last time and trying to think of a way to express my feelings over the matter. Words fail me.

I have realized that as Curly passes through each stage and age it is the last time I will be experiencing it with a little girl. Why is this difficult?

I have wondered what it will be like to have my children leave for college and life beyond our home. Are they ready?

I have been noticing the unique and shared traits of each of my children and how some of them are distinctly from me and others are definitely from their dad. This makes me happy.

I have even thought about my blog - how I wish that when I started posting over 3 years ago I had taken more time to thoughtfully choose a blog name and address. (Gerb in the 'Burbs is so much more catchy than the boring Life As I Know It.)

I have thought of various things I could write about or take pictures of.

I think about relationships with family and friends. I wish I could choose a different person to visit with every single day. I wish I had more time for others.

I think much of who I have become in the last 20 years. I have not changed a whole lot in appearance but the core of who I am and what I think has gone through a complete transformation. And yet - I am really pretty much the same person I have always been. This confuses me.

I wonder if I will ever go to New York or Australia. I wonder if I will be disappointed with either if I do.

Like a child on the night before her first trip to Disneyland, I am filled with anticipation, nervousness and excitement over our plans for Halloween.

I understand that I am an introvert a great deal of the time and an extrovert the rest of the time. I do not understand what brings out either end of this personality spectrum. I wish I knew.

I cannot fathom our home ever being diaper-free. I wonder if I'm ready for that time.

I wonder if I have my priorities arranged correctly.

I realize that I love music, but because of this love for music I often cannot listen to it. Every song, every word that holds a memory for a time or situation in my life inspires some sort of emotion. There are certain emotions that are best left alone.

I keep trying to think of ideas of things to write on my kids' lunchbags each day. After 5 years of writing jokes, I ran out. I started writing inspirational thoughts but these do not go over as well.

I think about others often. Are they happy? Are they well? Are they eating something delicious and not telling me about it?

I worry that I am selfish. I worry that I am lacking. I worry that I worry too much.

I love that we get new family pictures every year. I have been wondering what colors and themes we should try for this time around.

I think about life, I think about death. I find beauty and sadness in both.

I have been watching the clouds and the mountains as the seasons change.

I suppose that what I am trying to say is that I have been doing a whole lot of thinking - and not much writing. I am hoping to turn this around soon, to transform this jumble of thoughts into words...

I figured this was the best way to start.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Quick Quips

From the mouths of my kids...

"Hey All-a-Boy, I have a present for you!"
"If it's a burp or a fart, I don't want it."

"Could we call the new baby Batman?"
"No."
"How about Robin?"
"No."
"Joker?"
"No."
"Two-Face?"
"NO! We will NOT name the baby ANYthing from Batman."
"Okay. How about Yoda?"

At church...
Question to the kids, aged 3-7: "Who can tell me who this is?"
Answer: "Santa Claus!"

Me: "Don't eat lip balm! That's disgusting!"
Hubba: "Well, how do YOU know it's disgusting?"

"Pregnant moms can't do a lots of stuff p-cause their baby tells them to stop it. Only just the mom can hear the baby talking, though. All of us can't hear him until he gets out of her body."

"Mom, do we have a flame thrower?"
"Um, NO. Did you need one for something?"
"I really don't want to talk about it."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pools Are Cool

We have thought about putting a swimming pool in our backyard for quite some time now.

Well, come read about how we made our dream a reality over the holiday weekend.

Being A Responsible Pool Owner

On Labor Day I noticed that all of the summer items at a local SuperStore were being clearanced. Well, we have always wanted one of those backyard pools, so I decided to splurge and buy one. At half-off, it really couldn't be passed up - and there are sure to be at least a few more opportunities to use it before the real autumn weather hits.

Before setting the pool up I read over the instruction sheet that came with it.
The first thing that caught my eye were the warnings:
I was going to have to remember to tell my kids these things. Especially the No Diving rule. I actually considered laminating the entire sheet and posting it near the pool for future reference.

However, as I continued to read, I became increasingly confused.
If I keep a working phone near the pool... well, isn't that sort of an electrical appliance?

And then...
Fencing? I had no idea I was going to need fencing. This pool was turning out to be more expensive than I thought. And time consuming as well since I need to call the city and find out what the local codes for swimming pools are.

I went ahead and got the pool all set up so that the building inspectors could see for themselves that I knew what I was doing. I figured I could get some fencing later. I also took the liberty of filling the pool all the way to the top since the instructions said that was okay.
Can I tell you a secret? We cheated a little bit. We went ahead and used the pool on Labor Day because the city offices were closed and we couldn't get a building inspector to come make sure we were following city codes until later this week.

The kids loved it - although I had to remind them a few times about the No Diving rule.

I am so glad that someone would go to all of the effort to print out that instruction sheet. Without it, I'm not sure the installation would have gone so smoothly.

May I present: The Pool!

Don't be jealous.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Garden Abundance

photo from thegreendivas.com

Remember when I promised I'd share some awesome zucchini recipes with you?

Well, the wait is over.

This is my kids' most requested zucchini-containing recipe, posted at 4 Perspectives today.

Zucchini Season

If you have a garden and even one zucchini plant is a part of it then chances are you've got more zucchini than you want. I'm here to present you with two ways to get your neighbors to accept your offering of surplus zucchini with no complaints.

The first (and, admittedly, easiest) way is to load your trunk up with the excess zukes on a Sunday morning. Drive to the parking lot of the nearest church building and leave your gifts on the front seat of any vehicle that is unlocked or, even better, has its windows rolled down. You should be able to easily deplete your stash before anyone knows you were even there.

The second (and generally more well-received) method is to turn your zucchini into something tasty and deliver the treats to the homes of your intended recipients. Yesterday I went for option #2 and make my kids' favorite - zucchini muffins.

What's that? You want to know how to make zucchini muffins? Well, then - I love providing recipe posts with more pictures than are necessary. It sort of makes me feel like the Pioneer Woman, only much less popular. And with no awesome giveaways.

Let's get right to it!

First you'll need to go and find your biggest, ugliest zucchini. Even those baseball bat sized ones will work. Here's mine:
If you're lucky enough to have a food processor (how do you like those flowers in the background? Nice touch, eh?)
with a grater attachment
then the next step's a breeze. Just cut the zucchini in half, then quarter each half. If your zucchini is monster-sized you may have to cut it into smaller portions. It just needs to fit into the chute of your food processor. Then grate away and you'll end up with this:
Behold, grated zucchini. For those of you who only have a hand grater, you'll only need 4 cups worth so you can stop the arm workout once you've grated enough.

Put all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. This includes flour,
baking soda,
baking powder,
salt
and cinnamon.
I tend to go heavy on the cinnamon but you do what you like.

Here's what it all looks like in the bowl before mixing the dry ingredients together
and here's what it looks like after mixing. (See? I told you. Unnecessary photographs.)
In a separate mixing bowl you're going to beat the sugar and eggs
for a couple of minutes
and then add some applesauce.
Let zucchini join the party
and a teaspoon of vanilla
along with some nuts. That is, if you like nuts. (I do - and hey, you are what you eat, right?)
Now you're going to pour the wet stuff
into the huge bowl with the dry stuff and stir them together just until there are no flour glops left.
Get your muffin pans ready by spraying them down.
(This picture is totally posed, by the way. The pans were already sprayed but they just looked like empty muffin tins so I took another picture with the spray action. None of the other pictures are posed at all. Nope.)

Fill each muffin pan as full as you want. I've never been good with the whole 2/3 or 3/4 full thing and they always turn out just fine. I made some mini muffins along with the regular sized ones:
because everyone knows that cute, little things are more irresistible.

Put those babies (regular size) in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or so. Unless you're making minis - then you'll cut the baking time in half.

Does making muffins ever make anyone think of a joke? Because I think of this one every time:

Two muffins are in an oven. One says to the other, "Is it hot in here?" and the other says, "AHHHH!! A talking muffin!!" Gets me every time. Love it.

Once they're nice and golden you take them out of the oven, talking or not, and set them on a cooling rack.
When they're no longer too hot to handle you can start to eat them.
Or package them up in some recycled container, make them look cutesy and send your kids to the neighbor's place with a batch.
Ziplock bags work, too.

When the neighbors call and ask for your recipe just tell them you'll get it right to them - then fill a grocery sack with zucchini and send it over with the recipe stapled to the front. You'll be their favorite.

It's win-win.


Marvelous Zucchini Muffins
(This recipe can easily be halved if you prefer a smaller batch.)

6 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon (mine are heaping)
4 cups sugar
8 eggs
2 cups applesauce
4 cups grated, unpeeled zucchini
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds (walnuts or pecans are good, too)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. Combine sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add applesauce and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Add zucchini and vanilla and blend well, adding almonds while blending. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir just until batter is evenly moistened. Spoon into prepared muffin tins. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let stand on cooling racks for at least 10 minutes.