Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hairstyles & Freakishly Large Fruit

For Thanksgiving this year we had company in the form of Niel, Julie, & their 4 kids.  For most of last week we had 4 adults, 2 dogs, 2 mice, and 8 kids of the following ages: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 12.  Fortunately, they get along really, really well.  Olivia, Kelsey, and Nan made a list of the things they wanted to do while they were together.  It included things like: 
  • Go to Braums
  • Have a slumber party
  • Have a hair salon
  • Make puppy chow (chocolately chex snack)
I can't remember the rest, but they got it all accomplished!  Which brings me to their hair salon. The first victims clients were the youngest of our bunch.

They did a great job, right?  (If it were the 1980's, that is...)

On another note, I was in Crest the other day and saw Ben's favorite fruit of the year:

Freakishly Large California Oranges
 In the picture above there are two oranges and two grapefruit.  Can you tell which is which?

Wrong!  The oranges are the two on the left.

Little Photographers

I uploaded the pictures from my camera this morning, and found that Kelsey and the boys had a photo session a couple of weeks ago.  Here's the best from their "shoot".

Oh, how I love these kids!

Candid Cook: Pear Bread

We had some yumminess at our house this morning.  Kelsey can't get enough of it, but Connor likes it, too.  Maddox won't try any, but I think it's because he has a cold and he's not eating anything right now.  It's all kinds of delicious.

Yesterday I was looking at some red anjou pears in my fruit bowl that had come in my produce co-op and needed to be used.  The last batch I had didn't quite ripen the way I like to eat them, and ended up being wasted.  I didn't want that to happen again, and I remembered this recipe for pear bread was given to me by a friend years ago.   I modified the recipe by adding a little extra spice and cutting back on the sugar.  If I were to make it again, I might cut back on the oil as well.  Regardless, it was delicious!  It should be noted that I also used raw sugar (sucanat) for my sweetener rather than the white sugar, so my loaves look darker than yours probably will.

Pear Bread

2 cups peeled, shredded pears (about 4 pears)
1 1/2 cups sugar (white or sucanat)
3 eggs
3/4 c oil
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 dashes of cloves (optional)
3 dashes of nutmeg (optional)

I guess I should have taken a picture of how I grated the pears, but I realized pretty quick that I need to just peel it whole and then grate the pear directly off the core.  It went so much faster than the first pear where I cut it into sections and then tried to grate it.  I wasted a lot of pear that way, too.

Anyway, once you have your pears shredded, put them into a bowl and add your sugar, eggs, and oil. 

Mix well.

Now this is where you are going to see what a lazybones I an in the kitchen.  You are supposed to mix the dry ingredients together, make a well in the center, then mix the wet ingredients together and dump them into the center and mix.  However.  That gets too many dishes dirty for me.  So, I mixed my wet ones first, then I sprinkled my dry ingredients on top, starting with the flour.  That way they'll get evenly distributed as I stir without clumping up.

And when you're done, it looks like this:

Spread it into 2 greased bread pans. (My fondest wish is to have 2 of the Pyrex bread pans, but I never remember that until I'm actually baking bread.  I currently only have 1, and I like my bread pans to match. Weird, I know.)

Bake it at 325 degrees Fahrenheit (in a preheated oven, don't forget!) for 1 hour and 15 minutes. When you're done, the house will smell amazing and it'll look delicious, like this:

When I make my first batch of sweetbread, it feels like Fall has finally arrived!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Rice vs. Spaghetti

On the way home from church this afternoon, Kelsey said, "I like rice because it's like spaghetti, only different."

Ben replied, "Honey, the difference between rice and spaghetti is that spaghetti is made, and rice is grown."

Then Olivia threw in her two cents: "Yeah, and spaghetti is Italian, and rice is Chinese.  Or Japanese, maybe."

Sunday, November 18, 2012

So Much Gratitude, So Little Time to Blog...

Fortunately, the Lord does not measure my gratitude based on the number of times I blog about it or post it on Facebook.  Because let's face it.  I haven't done much of either lately.  And that's okay.  We've had a lot going on.  There's two family-related incidents worth mentioning here.

I am grateful for my very full life.

This past week Maddox had a croup-y attack around 12:00am Thursday morning.  I say "croup-y" because he wasn't showing many other signs of the croup.  He'd been snarffly for about a week, but I never expected him to wake up crying at midnight because he couldn't breathe.  He wasn't coughing much, but when he did it DID sound like a seal barking.  And when the steamy bathroom didn't work after a little while and his breath kept cutting off, I took him into the local ER.  One nice thing about going in for something like this?  When you utter those magic words, "My kid is having trouble breathing," they take you right back with no waiting. Fortunately, Maddox hasn't been worse for the wear.  He spent the next day or two kind of crazy, but all in all, he's doing well.  

I am grateful for modern medicine and nebulizers.

On Thursday night around 9pm, it became apparent that Gwen's dog, Annabelle, wasn't doing well.  I won't go into the nasty details, but let's just say she had passed some blood clots from nether regions I'd rather not think about.  Trying not to panic, we talked to Gwen and decided to just wait and see how she was doing in the morning before running off to the emergency vet.  Around 4am Friday morning Maddox woke up crying.  There wasn't anything wrong with him that I could tell, so I got him settled and put back to bed.  However, because he woke me up, I was able to see something important.  Annabelle was was still bleeding, and it was all over my bedroom.  I coaxed her out from under the bed and realized that she needed to go to the vet ASAP.  Fortunately, there's a 24-hour emergency vet hospital 10 minutes from my house.  I drove her in and they told me she had lost a lot of blood and needed IV fluids and treatment to get her back to where she needed to be.  It was caused by inflammation in her digestive tract, probably due to something she had eaten that she shouldn't have.  By Friday night she was able to come home.

I am grateful that Annabelle didn't die.  Especially since I'm just her foster mom.

Look closely at her right leg (the one on your left.) See where they had to shave the fur to put in the IV? 

All in all, it's been a rough week.  But there are many other things I am also grateful for.  Such as...

I am grateful for this man, right here. 

 I think it's so cute the way he plans his facial hair experience every winter.  Some men just go for one thing and leave it that way, but not him!  Last year it was a goatee without the mustache.  This year, it's the Fu Manchu.  And look!  He even let me take a picture of the gray in his beard... He probably blames each one on me or the kids.  Whatever helps you sleep at night, Babe.

I'm also grateful for this dog.

She's so cute the way she cocks that one ear up whenever she is listening to me.  She's super-smart, and has tolerated the little "fluffer-nutter" interloper, Annabelle, quite well.  She's only a little jealous that Annabelle gets to sleep with us at night.  

I do think it's funny that she is compelled to go out right after Annabelle has done her business in the backyard and mark over Annabelle's scent.  Just in case there was any question who the yard belongs to.

Now I guess I'll save the rest of my gratitude for another day.  Maybe these last few days before Thanksgiving will slow down a little and I can blog more.


Friday, November 9, 2012

AOG: Girl Time!

Tonight we're grateful for Girl Time!
The girls have been begging for a slumber party with Aunt Gwen.
And though I intend to do the "slumber" part in my own bed tonight,
we had the "party" portion after the boys went to bed and Gwen and I got home.

We played a fun game called "Umm".
We had juice-filled fruit snacks.
We put on black lipstick and glow-in-the-dark nail polish.
We took some pictures.

Pictures like this one in which Kelsey is SUPPOSED to be smiling nicely

Kind of like this

Not like this.  This is not a nice smile.

Oh, and I decided I don't do blond.  Back to dark brown for me!

And Olivia doesn't really want to do pictures.  She wanted me to delete this one, but I snuck it through.

This picture was an accident, but it turned out pretty good!

I'm grateful that I am such good friends with my sisters! (And that includes my sisters Dorothy & Beth, and my bonus sisters, Kristi, Julie & Jessica.)

A picture of Kelsey taking pictures...

We took another group picture in which I Kelsey looked totally freaky and I looked like a goof.  Olivia, however, looked stunning, so I cropped her out.

Gwen looked pretty good, too!

Our girl time included ALL the female critters in the house.

Except for Olivia's mice.  They weren't invited.
Oh, and Trixie wasn't allowed in till the food was gone.
She was getting pushy.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

AOG & Dog Whispering

Here is what our family (and visiting family) is grateful for today:

Ben is thankful for the fact he didn't have to work late today.

Anita is grateful for the bliss that is reflexology and her friend (Terri) that told her about it. Who knew it was possible to get that relaxed?

Olivia is thankful for her dog, Trixie.

Kelsey is grateful that we got her bike out today and pumped up the tires so she could ride it.  (Incidentally, she is NOT grateful that Aunt Gwen ratted her out to her mother.  While she was riding her bike she went in front of a car going down the road and got busted.)

Connor is already in bed, so I'm going to guess his answer based on his behavior today.  He's grateful for grapes.  Lots of grapes.  And adults that don't pay close attention while he's getting INTO the grapes so he can eat loads of them.

Maddox is grateful for Vicks Vapo-Rub to put on his feet and help his nose stop running.  He came down with a cold today.

Gwen is thankful for slumber parties! Every time she comes to visit we generally get in at least ONE good night of fun while she's here.

And now it's time to confess the family secret. We can talk to dogs.  Here's what they had to say:

Trixie is grateful for kids that are messy eaters so she can get snacks at mealtime.

Annabelle is thankful that Gwen is here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

AOG: Random

Today we are grateful for...

Olivia - Paints and art stuff.  And that I'm able to create stuff with them.  Basically, I am thankful for my artistic talent.

 Kelsey - I can't pick anything when Connor's throwing stuff at me!  Okay... I'm grateful that I'm talented at many things.  Like this:

Connor - Surprises!  Like parties.
(Then he wouldn't pose for my picture... this what I was left with.)

Gwen - Snickers bars.  And Annabelle.

Anita - Tomorrow, and the hope that comes with it.
Oh, and I bleached my hair.  It looks a little orangier than it really is in this picture, but that's about the color it was when I first did it.  We'll see how long this lasts...

Ben isn't here to ask, so we're just going say he's grateful for higher education since he's out getting some.
(This just in.  He missed class tonight because he's still at work.  Maybe he's grateful for his lovely wife who is going to bring him dinner?)

Monday, November 5, 2012

AOG: The Internet

Okay, so I'm not doing so well getting this "Attitude of Gratitude" thing off the ground.  But the month is still young, right?

Tonight I am really grateful for the things that we can accomplish with the internet.  Today I balanced our checking accounts, reconciled our accounts, worked on our budget, spent 2 hours scouring census records trying to find proof of a great, great, great aunt's first marriage that someone asked me about, and then hopped on Facebook to some nice correspondence with some special people that I haven't seen in a while.

The internet helps me manage my life.
It brings the world (and the people in it) a little closer.
What else does it help me do?

I can see pictures and read stories and know what's going on with people I care about.
I can find recipes at the drop of a hat for a quick dinner idea.
I can make travel plans, browse itineraries, and buy tickets.
I can look up directions and travel time for any trip in about 3 seconds.
It helps me manage my business a little easier.
I use it to look up everything from movie times to restaurant reviews.
I can even use it to find specialty stores.
Or to shop without leaving my home.

Granted, the internet doesn't replace real human experiences and getting out into nature or any of that jazz, but I'd sure hate to go back to life without it.

Wouldn't you?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

AOG: Grandma Crews

Grandma Crews with Olivia and Kelsey

Today we are grateful for my mother (aka Grandma Crews).  Her birthday is today - she is 68 years young! She has been a great blessing to our family in so many ways.  Here's what the kids had to say.

Olivia - She's a good listener.
Kelsey - She makes the best pancakes and hot cocoa.
Connor - Happy Birthday!

The comment from Connor is especially funny, but not unless you know the whole story.  In 2010, my mom left to serve 18 months in Riverside, California as a missionary for our church.  Connor was 2 when she left.  The girls made a valiant attempt to make her cards every week while she was in California, and though they didn't get them done every week, they did get a lot of cards out.  About the last 6 months or so she was there, Connor wanted to start making her a card, too.  I would let him color the card, but I would ask him what he wanted to tell her and write it down for him.  Every week - EVERY WEEK - he started off with something like this:

Dear Grandma Crews,
       Happy Birthday! Happy Mother's Day!  Happy New Year!

Granted, he didn't include every holiday every week, but he always had several and "Happy Birthday" was in there somewhere.
"Sister Crews" working in the mission office

I also asked the girls what their favorite memory is of Grandma Crews, and they said, "Remember those Easter Egg hunts she'd do for us all the time?"  Any time my kids were at her house around Easter, my mom would take about a dozen or so plastic eggs and fill them with Goldfish crackers, raisins, Cheerios, or marshmallows and hide them around the house.  The kids would find them and get to eat the snack inside, and then they'd do it again.

Ben's comment when I asked him about my mom was this: "Best mother-in-law ever."  It should be noted that he loves it when she comes to help after I've had a baby.  It means he doesn't have laundry duty for a few days.  He has often told people, "My mother-in-law could live with us, and the only way I'd know she was there is that the laundry would be clean and folded, and there would be ice cream in the freezer."

As for me, my mother is one of my best friends.  I'm so grateful for all that she has taught me, the example she has set, and the relationship we now have.  She is caring, generous, and full of faith.

Mom, we love you!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

AOG 2012

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns around what we have into enough, and more.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend."
~Melody Beattie

I was reminded today by a friend of my "Attitude of Gratitude" posts from a few of years ago.  I went back and looked at them and realized (first of all) that my kids have grown - A LOT.  Second of all, I remember having a great holiday season that fall.  Thanksgiving meant more.  Christmas was sweeter.  And my heart was more focused on the things that really mattered.

Jayne, you've inspired me to begin again this year.  I'm going to ask the kids' for their input, too, but tonight they are all in bed and it's just going to have to be me.  I'm also going to make an effort to include pictures daily as well.

Today I am grateful for...

Sometimes I feel like I am beating my head against a wall and getting no where - with my kids, with my health, with my ability to manage our home.  And then there are days when it doesn't matter quite so much.  The difference?  It's the laughter.  When my kids make me laugh, I love them more.  It's true, but I'm not quite sure why.  Laughter heals so much, lifts so much, and lingers like a warm memory in your heart.

I feel like I have laughed more frequently the past few days, and I am grateful for it.  This little man in his Halloween costume gave me several opportunities for mirth.  And not just because he looks so cute (though he does).  And not just because he wouldn't stand still long enough for a good picture (which he wouldn't).

He was such a good trick-or-treater last night.  
It was his first time going, and he was fiercely independent.  
I was not allowed to carry his bag or hold his hand.  
He would march up to the door, push his way through the older kids and get in front.  
Then he would hold his bag open and say "tee tee", which I'm pretty sure meant "trick or treat".  
Surprisingly, he didn't try to eat his candy right away.  
He didn't even take off his crayon hat until the very end when he wanted the pirate hat instead.

And speaking of pirates... and phantoms and punk rockers and "spaghetti"... here's the whole crew before we hit up the neighbors for their candy.

The funniest moment of the night?
Connor put Maddox's crayon hat on his head.
He bent forward at the waist and wiggled his head around.
Then he said, 
"Look, Mom!  I drawing!"

I love it.