Wednesday, September 30, 2009

La las for Miss C

I've had these done (or mostly done) for a couple of weeks now, but its been busy around here and I've had a hard time getting around to taking pictures and blogging about them.

These La las were a group effort. All of the kids wanted to help with them.

Miss E- Helped me pull out all of our ribbon and sort through it to find the ones we should use. She also helped with the last step of sewing the "little La la" on the machine!
Mr. R- Helped me decide how many of each type of ribbon we should cut and how long they should be.
Mr. M- Pinned the ribbons in half.
Mr. S- Helped position the ribbons around the La las.
Miss J- Was "quality control" she checked them for softness, and gave her approval! No, I still have not purchased any minky for her, I can't find the kind with the raised dots in lavender around here and I really don't want to buy a whole yard on line. Oh well, I think she will manage!

Monday, September 28, 2009

orange cranberry bread

I LOVE orange cranberry bread, so today I "fed" my freezer six loaves and two and a half dozen muffins of it! YUMMY! I like these year 'round, but they just seem extra nice in the fall, orange and cranberry are really more "fall" type flavors. These will all be for after I have Miss C, so after they are frozen solid I'll vacuum seal them in bags to help them last even longer, since we will not be getting to them for a while. I found a recipe in a cook book for these, but then I messed with it, 'cause I like to do that! ;)

Here it is as I made the bread, but at the end I'll tell you the changes I made... Oh, and I doubled this recipe and then did it again to get so much out of it. This recipe will make two regular sized loaves for you.

Orange Cranberry bread
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
shredded orange peel (from one orange)
2 eggs
4 T Butter, softened
1 1/2 cups orange juice
1 c sugar
1 c craisens (plus more OJ to soak them in)

First put your craisens in a small sauce pan and put enough OJ in to cover them, heat until bubbly, cover and let it sit (I often do this over night so that they will be ready in to morning to make up muffins). Preheat oven to 350, grease and flour 2 loaf pans. Use a lemon zester thing to shred the orange peel off the orange, or just buy some shredded orange peel (I like to use the fresh stuff, and then I squeeze the orange and enjoy a glass of fresh squeezed OJ!). Mix it in with all of the dry ingredients (the first 5 listed). In a separate bowl cream the butter and sugar together and then mix in the eggs. Drain the liquid out of the craisens and use that along with more OJ to equal 1 1/2 cups, mix the sugar mix and the OJ in with the dry ingredients and then add the softened craisens. Split the batter between the two loaf pans and bake for about 50 minutes.

The original recipe called for all of the flour to be "all-purpose flour", it also called for 2 cups of sugar instead of just one. It did not call for any orange peel/zest, but I like more orange flavor. It also called for raw cranberries, but I always have craisens in the house, so I used those. An added bonus of using the craisens was that they really needed to be softened, so cooking them in the OJ for a while added more orange flavor!

My kids always love it when I start doing all of this baking/cooking since I'm more likely to make our favorites or special foods we don't have too often. Mr. M and Miss J helped me with these today. Mr. M helped grab things for me, and stirred. Miss J put the cupcake liners in the muffin tin! She really did a great job and was so proud of herself. I'll have to make sure I give her this job any time we make cupcakes or muffins, she enjoyed being able to help so much and it tends to be harder to find jobs for the little ones.

*Mr. R has been asking me all day to pull his tooth, finally by this evening it was loose enough that I was able to pull it. He was so excited! The other front tooth should be coming out in the next couple of days too!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A wedding!

Our friends' wedding was today! It was such an honor to be able to be so involved in their wedding and reception. I had fun putting it together and it all worked out so nicely! Some of the ladies in the church really helped out with making it all come together too. One of them decorated the chapel and helped me with the reception hall, and a couple other ladies helped out so much this morning with getting the food all set out and then cleaned up. It was a wonderful wedding, and it was so nice to see the bride and groom so happy!

Miss E and Mr. R were in the wedding. The other kids had the option of walking too, but it was all so last minute that they chose to just sit and watch.
The bride's father had passed away, so Rob had the honor of walking her (also named Miss E), down the aisle and giving her away! It was good practice for MANY years down the road when it is time for him to give our Miss E away (and then Miss J and then Miss C....).
The bride and groom were a bit conflicted when it came to cutting the cake. They are both
Marines, and though they wanted this cake it was hard for them to cut through the Marine Corps seal! They managed
anyways and had fun feeding each other cake (nicely, no messes!)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Marine Corps wedding cake

A couple of Marines in our church got engaged a few months ago around the time he moved on to his next duty station, since then they've been trying to figure out when they could get married. Their wedding is going to be this week-end! (I found out about it last Sunday, and I don't think they had figured it out long before that) The groom is flying in from Hawaii two days before the wedding and the bride is in the midst of an intense training program leaving her little to no time to plan a wedding. It has been an honor and a privilege for Rob and I to help them out by planning their reception and parts of the wedding too! With only a week to plan we don't have much time and the bride is quite realistic in her expectations. One of the few things she mentioned wanting was a cake with a Marine Corps seal or something like it. This is what I came up with this week....

It is not perfect and the seal cracked a bit when I put it on the cake, but it looks great if you don't look too closely!!! It is three layers of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and strawberries between the layers. YUM! This cake is not large enough to serve all the guests that we think will be there so I also picked up some of the great chocolate cakes and cheese cakes that costco has. Miss E helped me decorate the reception hall at church today and helped out with the chapel too! I'll post pictures from the wedding after it happens, the kids are going to be in it!

Mr. S makes a pie!

The kids get to choose rewards for consistent good behavior, one reward they have the option to choose is "cook a treat with mommy". Mr. S chose this with a twist, he wanted to make a whipped cream pie to throw in Daddy's face!
Then he wanted to help him clean up!
After that we gave Daddy the real pie that Mr. S had helped make- chocolate banana cream pie!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

answered prayers for a new addition

Recently Rob started going over the hymns for the next Sunday with the kids in the evenings, it has helped them feel more involved and prepared for the service. However if we did not know the hymn then it was hard to sing to the right tune. Rob started praying for an inexpensive keyboard so we could practice our hymns. Well, God had other plans! Our new neighbors had their household goods delivered today and on our way to the bookmobile I stopped to introduce myself and we started to chat. Somehow it came up that they had been trying to get rid of their piano before leaving town, but it ended up on the truck, now they were going to have to arrange for someone to come pick it up. Hmmm.... The arrangements were made to have their movers move the piano into our living room! How great is that? We got a real piano for free! Granted it is not in the greatest condition (as far as looks go), but it sounds fine and I will not have to worry when the kids bump and scratch it! What a blessing! The kids are so excited. Mr. R and Miss E were very excited to offer to dust it for me when I mentioned that it would need to be done!

good help is easy to find!

I've started to slow down a bit (or I'm doing more to get ready for Miss C and I'm feeling tired), but my sweet kids are such blessings to me! Mr. M is always eager to learn new jobs and help out around the house. He has been bugging us for quite some time to let him use the vacuum. I guess Rob thought it was about time for him to learn because a couple weeks ago he showed him the basics and got him started on using it. Ever since if I bring out the vacuum or he knows it is time to vacuum (every afternoon before Rob gets home) he asks to do it for me!

Each child seems to have their own things they like to help out with or want to learn how to do. While some things are not optional (like learning to do laundry, dishes, clean a bathroom, and basic cooking skills), it is fun to see what things they ask to learn to do. Most new chores are now given to the older kids as they ask to learn new skills and have mastered the simpler chores that can be passed on to a younger child. The boys have started taking over some jobs that had been Rob's (litter box, garbage/recycling), and are quite pleased with themselves being able to do "daddy" jobs! It is so nice to have such helpful children!

Monday, September 21, 2009

the cat and cantaloupe

This cat usually joins us at some point at breakfast, usually on Rob or Miss E's lap. He does NOT eat off of our plates, he just enjoys being with us. This week-end though, one of those two offered him some cantaloupe....
....Hmmm, Cousin A I think you were the one that put the idea into their heads to try this! I think he had three pieces!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

week-end fun

Nana got into town on Friday morning and we've been enjoying our time with her all week-end. We went right from the airport to the Maritime History Museum. It was a great way to finish off our study of the local area that focused on the coastal aspects of the area. The kids were treated to a few interesting talks by a couple of the men that worked there. One took quite a bit of time with the kids explaining how the lighthouses work, he did a great job of giving them plenty of new information but keeping it at a good level. He even talked to them about early aircraft carriers, that really held their attention, I think they could have listened to him go on much longer, but he kept his talks short and sweet! After that we took Nana to Fisherman's Wharf to check it out and have lunch, it was a great time for all and we even got to see some wild life!

Saturday was a fairly quiet day. My mom and I pulled out the many bins of clothes I have for the kids and sorted out all of the clothes for the coming fall/winter season. It was a big job, we started right after breakfast and around noon we were finally done and able to go get dressed for the day (we had just pulled out one bin "quickly" after breakfast and before we knew it we were knee deep in the project and just needed to keep going!). It was so nice to get that project done with even though we don't need the fall clothes yet. They are all now nicely folded and set aside in a closet that is not used often. It will be easy for me to pull them out when it is time for them to be used, much better than trying to do it on my own with my huge belly! After that the kids got to enjoy more play time with Nana!

Friday, September 18, 2009

What a girl!

Miss J is "all girl"....

But she has three older brothers, so she is a toughie too! I don't think she realizes she is so much smaller than the others sometimes! Her brothers seem to be happy enough to take advantage of her desire to be a "big girl" and encourage her in pushing and pulling them around from time to time!

hi-ho, hi-ho...

..its off to work we go!

Miss E got to go to work with Rob yesterday! The kids love to go to work with Rob, and this is a great assignment to make it happen! Next week is finals week so Rob was planning on taking each of the kids on their "special helper" days, but Miss E found herself with a bit of a problem. Her day would be Monday, but Nana was going to be here until the afternoon. Should she miss out on her day with daddy, or miss out on her time with Nana? Rob realized that this Thursday would work out fine to take her, so we were able to solve that problem for her! She was so happy!
She packed lunch for both of them and I packed a bag full of school work including some extra reading incase she got board. A highlight of going to work with daddy for all of the kids is getting to ride the bus to and from work, it is so cute to see them head out the door with him! Miss E had a great time with Rob and got all of her school work done too! We sure missed her at home though. Next week all of the boys will have a chance to go in too. I think Miss J will have to wait a while to get her chance to go though.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

stop motion

Rob has been working with the kids in the last week or so on learning about stop motion videos. More specifically, he is having them make them themselves! They have been having a great time with this. Some have been very simple, such as Mr. S's which was about 3 seconds long, but Miss E and Mr. M have done some very well thought out and detailed videos.

Miss E's Calico Critters

Mr. M's Indiana Jones Legos

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The B-I-B-L-E yes thats the book for me!!!!

Our kids all love reading their Bibles, even the little ones. Mr. S and Miss J had a couple that they were usually walking around with, but Mr. S seems to have misplaced his (I think it was left at church without his name in it). Miss J has not really had one she could call her own since the laundry incident. Tonight one of the sweet men at our church came over to tell Rob what a blessing our children are to see them sitting so well in church, and just being so well behaved in general. This man happens to be a Gideon, so as Rob was talking to him he mentioned how the little ones love to carry around Bibles and would he happen to have a couple he could spare. He gave us two stacks of five (they are packaged that way)! They are brown and blue. Miss J knew exactly what they were the moment she saw them next to her seat. Mr. S and Miss J are so excited to have Bibles again, they both have them in bed with them now.

*so the pictures are not the greatest, Mr. S is posing funny and Miss J was caught in the act of squealing with delight, but you can see that they are very happy with their new Bibles!!!!!


I've had apples on the brain the last few weeks. I'm starting to switch gears from sewing as my major project focus to cooking
(stocking up for Miss C's birth). Our apple baking that we've been planning to do this month will trigger the start of my major cooking. So, when I decorated our white board for the month it
had apples on it (I use the white board to keep track of things that tend to change often like grocery/gas spending, shopping list, projects, and special instructions for the kids such as restrictions, medications, extra rewards etc. and we always have a verse at the top for the month). Of course I had to wear my new apple apron while processing apples!
I spent quite a bit of time Friday evening and Saturday cutting up and processing apples. Apples were on sale at the commissary and though we are planning a trip up to an orchard in a couple of weeks I thought I'd get a head start with the ones from the commissary. I learned how to make apple butter in the crock pot last year at this site , but this year I used my huge roaster oven to make it in! I started it on Friday night, added the sugar and spices Saturday morning
and by lunch time I was able to serve some with lunch (though the rest still needed to cook longer)! The apple butter is so good on homemade biscuits with a bit of butter! YUM! I canned almost all of the apple butter, it sure made up a bunch! We'll use it on muffins, sandwiches etc. but also on one of my favorite fall recipes "apple harvest rolls" they are like cinnamon rolls, but use apple butter and chopped apples in the filling as well. I'll be making those in a couple of weeks after going to the orchard!
I also had several pots of apple sauce cooking yesterday. I only managed to can two jars though. One pot was served with dinner, and by the time the other two pots were done my poor feet and back were just too tired to can them, so we'll just enjoy the apple sauce this week. I'm sure my kids will not mind one bit!
Speaking of kids... While I was busy with the apples the rest of the family had a fairly quiet day around the house, though at one point Rob did take most of the kids out on an errand. The kids would wander in from time to time to check on my progress and maybe get an apple (or swipe some bits I'd already pealed and chopped!), but for the most part they all enjoyed the time to just play.

Friday, September 11, 2009

banana bread

Miss E has become such a help to me in the kitchen in the past couple of years. Yesterday she made up these four loaves of banana bread during nap time with almost no supervision! She pulled out the recipe, pans, ingredients, etc. and doubled the recipe all by herself while I took a quick nap and spent some one-on-one time with Mr. S working in Miss C's lala. By the time I came down to check on her she had it just about all mixed up and was almost ready to put it in the pans! She has been doing this for about a year now and while I used to stay in the general area incase she needed help she now is quite confident in her abilities and only needs help when it comes to using the oven (except with these larger batches, sometimes she needs a bit of help getting it all mixed well) so I am able to have her do this sort of thing even when I can't be in the room with her! Not only does she enjoy baking, but it is great "school work" too! I can hand her just about any recipe and say "double it" and she can, she even triples recipes every once in a while, this is a good opportunity to put her math skills to work in a real way! While I usually like to go through a recipe with her the first time she uses it, she is quite able to take a recipe and go with it, it is so nice that she is able to read and follow directions step by step!
*Miss J was oh so excited to see so much bread in one place and though she had a good attitude she was more that a bit bummed to see it all go in the freezer for later. She is quite the "bread monster"!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

circle time today

We've been working on our Presidents of the United States of America flash cards this week during circle time.  We're just working on the first ten.  Here is how it went today....

Me- "Mr. S, do you know who this is?"
Mr. S- "George Washington"
Me- "Very good Mr. S!  He was the first Pres..."
Mr. S- "Him died?"
Me- "Yes Mr. S, he died"
Mr. S- "Why him died?"
Me- "he lived a long time ago, got old and died" (or something along those lines)
Mr. S- "I not going to die"
Me- "all people die some time, but I hope you will not die for a long time.  Now does anyone know who this is?"
Mr. M- "John Adams was the second president"
Mr. S- "him died?"
Me- "yes, he died too. Can anyone tell me who this is?"
  This went on until President #5, when I told Mr. S that they had all died. Then he went on to inform us after each one was named that "him died too".  Oh brother!  Either its just a concept he is working on right now, or he remembers when we were reading the back of the cards about the presidents including their date and place of death.  Whatever it is,  it sure did make circle time interesting and even a bit funny.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Daily bins

We have a set of six bins that we rotate daily (yes I can count, Saturday and Sunday share a bin since we are usually out and about or have other things going on to entertain the kids). A few years ago I gathered together some sets of toys that SHOULD have been played with and loved, but usually just ended up spread about the kids' rooms making a mess. Now they only have access to them once a week and they are all contained as a set, they ARE now played with and loved! It has been hard for me to find six sets that interest everyone and are also safe for the little ones to play with since the primary goal is to keep the little ones entertained for a while while we are working in the morning.
Monday- Brio train set, this is a recent addition and is the most looked forward to, but our set is very small so until I'm able to get more their creations are quite limited.
Tuesday- Wooden blocks, these are loved by all. Miss J has surprised us with the tall towers she is able to make.
Wednesday- Wedgits these are a fun twist on regular building toys and encourage the kids to
think and build differently.
Thursday- Little people, I love little people and so do the kids! We have a huge bin that these barely fit into. I love that even though these are geared to the little ones my big kids love to play with them too!

Friday- Duplo, our big kids are getting into regular legos, but they still have fun with these. They are great for the little ones!

Saturday/Sunday- Animals and Dinosaurs, this is just a bin of plastic animals and dinosaurs (though we are a bit heavy on the dinosaurs and could use more animals of the farm variety since we have so many "exotic" animals in there).

When not in use the bins are stored in our "huge closet" just off of the living room, making them very easy to get to. The kids mostly take care of switching them out for me. Even Miss J gets into the action, she loves to help push the bins or close the door for the kids. Mr. S can get the bins off of the lower shelf or grab the little people bin. Keeping these in the back of the closet has the added benefit of requiring me to keep the closet clean and organized so that we can get to the bins!

Miss J looks forward to the new bin every morning. She sits on her blanket and plays for about half an hour with the toys while we all get our morning chores done. Then she is "released" from her blanket to play with a bit more freedom (staying in the living room), she usually sticks close to the bin, but engages in play with Mr. S (who joins her after his quick chores are done) or any other kids that happen to be done with their chores. As the day goes on the kids settle around the bin from time to time and the big kids enjoy getting to play with some of these while the little ones are napping so that they can get more creative without worrying about someone knocking down their project.

I used to have our Mr. Potato head collection in this rotation, but recently found that the kids
were not so interested in them. I packed them up and put them in the garage to pull out in six months to a year when they will seem like brand new toys to be played with and loved again.
Lincoln logs were popular too, but our set was too small and not quite engaging enough for them so it has been put away until I can get some more for the kids. Other than the little people and animals all of these are building type toys, they don't seem to mind that, all of the toys encourage them to use their imaginations and THINK!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Bargain fair and Saturday fun

Our housing area does not allow garage sales, instead every three months the Officers wives' club hosts a big bargain fair. It is a fund raiser for them. They sell booth spaces in the community center parking lot as well as "early bird" tickets to get in to the sale early. I would much rather do this as I get to go to 30+ "garage sales" all at one time and most of the families have younger kids so nearly every booth is worth looking at.
I found some great deals today at the sale. I think the "steal of the day" was the Moses Basket I found for $5! I also picked up a few outfits for Miss C, PJs and shoes for Miss J, camo PJ pants for Mr M, a long sleeved shirt for Mr. R, six books, and a bunch of toys (all of these things had been on my list of things to look for). I ended up spending about $30, but $5 of that was for the "early bird" ticket.
I walked down right after I finished breakfast and after Rob and the kids had finished and cleaned up they headed down. Rob took the kids to a park across the street first and then they joined me for another walk through. Each of the kids found at least one small thing to buy, but Miss E was the master shopper. She found a "build a bear" sewing kit, webkins, and a big stuffed bunny. She was quite comfortable negotiating with the vendors and ended up only spending $2.50 on her "treasures".

We decided to take the kids to Fisherman's wharf for lunch today. Miss J fell asleep on our way
there and slept though the fun of walking around seeing the sights, looking at crabs (and Mr. S
even spotted a jelly fish!), and sampling clam chowder, she did not wake up until just before our food was delivered to the table. We had fun
wandering around after lunch also and then stopped for ice cream. We came home to have nap time and a quiet evening at home.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A day at the beach

The kids have been wanting to go to the beach for a while and we figured we should go before the summer is over. Today was the perfect day for the beach and we all mostly had a great time!

We took a picnic lunch with us which was a treat in itself since the kids don't get chips or juice boxes very often. Then they were off to play with buckets, shovels, trucks, and kites!

Miss J had a hard time for quite a while. She knew she should be having fun in all that sand just like everyone else, but it kept getting all over her and making her messy! She finally settled in and enjoyed herself though.

The big kids took turns flying kites, building/digging in the sand and playing by the water.
Before going to the beach I had an appointment with my doctor and an ultrasound. While it was not "the big one" a second ultrasound is quite important to us now to double check the gender! You will all be happy to know that Miss C is still MISS C! The main reason for this ultrasound however was to make sure my placenta had moved up and out of the way (it had been quite low and concerning to my doctor). Praise the LORD it is not a problem at all now! Miss C looks quite healthy, and Miss E enjoyed seeing her baby sister again and getting a lesson from the doctor during the ultrasound. For those of you wondering how big Miss C is getting, here is a picture of me holding Miss J at the beach today.