Thursday, June 30, 2011

Photo(s) of the Day

I sent the boys to school today in camo and their 4th of July shirts that Gammy got them.  Then I had to take some photos.

Sawyer's shy smile.  

Turkey was helping to make Lincoln laugh.

Sawyer disappeared from the photo because he wanted to be like Turkey and make Lincoln laugh for the picture. 
It worked.  :)

My Boys These Days

I feel so blessed in my family.  I really truly enjoy my boys (this includes Rob and Tex as well as the little ones) and have fun every single day with them.  Even if it isn't all fun (look forward to a post on the not-so-fun), we enjoy each other.  Sawyer and Lincoln don't always get along (Saw doesn't like sharing and Linc has started hitting), but there are times every day where they play together.  Lincoln lights up when he sees his brother and Sawyer always asks where Lincoln is when he gets up from nap and Linc is still snoozing.

Here are a few cute photos and some updates on my little boys.

I sometimes can't get over this kid.  First of all, I know I'm his mom so I'm biased, but looking at him sometimes just stops me in my tracks.  He is just beautiful.  I don't care if it's a girly word--it's the best word for him, really.  Those eyelashes and eyes and smile!  It doesn't keep him out of trouble, though.  Mommy doesn't fall for cuteness when it comes to obedience.  Most of the time, he is fine, but he has his moments of just going bananas and being intensely difficult and strong-willed.  This morning was one of his best mornings--every answered peppered with thank yous, requests with please.  When asked to do something, it was "Yes, I obey."  Kisses for us, sharing with his brother.  It was lovely.  He is still telling stories, but now is trying to tell knock-knock jokes.  Which make no sense, really.  Like:

-Knock, knock.
-Who's there? sink.
-Kitchen sink who?
-Kitchen sink pantry!

Still, I'll always be his best audience and laugh at his bad jokes.  That's what moms are for...right?

"Mommy, DON'T!"  When he was tired of me taking photos. 
This guy is wild.  He is officially running now, and it's insanely awkward.  But fast.  He LOVES shoes, which is hard for me to fathom in my no-shoes household.  In fact, mom and I took him shopping the other day, and tried a few toys in the cart to see what he'd like.  He didn't care when we took all of them away, but when we picked out shoes and put them back because they were too big, he CRIED and went crazy.  He brings me shoes to put on and then runs around the house in them.  His favorite thing is his big brother, and he brings him toys constantly.  Sawyer finds this rather annoying (unless it's something he wants) so we are trying to teach him to say "Thank you, Lincoln" even if he doesn't want it.

Linc's talking more, but it's still things probably no one would get but those who spend a lot of time with him.  "Ba" is still his favorite word for bottle and ball, but now bottle kind of gets an extra syllable sometimes:  Ba-aah.  He said dog the other day, but mostly dog is "da."  I'm "Mama" or  "Mommy" and he'll say "Da" or sometimes "Dada" for Rob.  He'll ask for "ma" when he wants more and say "alp" for "help."  So, baby steps.  He understands everything, and is pretty obedient, especially if you ask him to go put a toy away or share with someone or take something somewhere.  When you ask him to give you the remote control back or to stop standing on the boys' little table, not so much.  Lots of screaming and stomping of the feet.

While he is a bit goofier than Sawyer with his duck fluff hair and giant eyes, his smile just lights something up in him.  There's just something about that smile.
I've already posted this one, but it's so cute I'm posting it again.
Oh, Linc, with your fluffy hair.  <3

Photo(s) of the (Yester)Day

Texas Sky 365, Day 88

Facing down. 3pm.

30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 21


Well, Now I've Done It.

I'm a member of Blogher.  (You can see their lovely banner to the right.)  Blogher is a group of women (and some men, I believe) bloggers.  There are great articles to read and fun new blogs to check all the time.  Head over there if you need something to read.  Oh, and you know, if you want to read a blog by me, you can click HERE.  Or a book review HERE.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Parenthood: Say Goodbye to Your Alarm Clock

Well, the store-bought kind anyway.

I just moved my alarm clock to Sawyer's room so I could set a nap timer.  Because HE IS TRYING TO GIVE UP HIS NAP.  This will kill me, and I plan to still make him spend quiet time in his room.  Hence the alarm clock--set to go off at the end of nap time.  This is not working so far, as he's been out of his room like five times in the past hour and twenty minutes since I put him in there.  Oh, ack.

I knew this day would come.  I gave up my nap when I was younger than Saw, and I was apparently a lot like him when I was little.  Still, when he falls asleep, it's usually for like an hour and a half to two hours, so I feel like SURELY he would continue the nap for a while.  His brain, which wants him to stay awake, is over-riding his body, unfortunately.  We'll see if this holds out as a pattern.  I know he hasn't been sleeping during nap time in school either, which I'm sure is a challenge for the teachers.  Overall, nap time is becoming battle time, not sleep or rest time.  I'll update you on how the alarm idea works.

This made me realize how little use for an alarm clock I have.  I actually don't remember the last time I used it.  Typically my kids get me up, and usually hours before I have to be anywhere.  Lately it's been Lincoln that I hear crying through the wall, but before that, it was Sawyer coming in.  Mostly the boys sleep til 6:30-7:30, which I can handle.  There have been periods of like 5am or 6am that didn't sit so well with either me or Rob.  But needless to say, the only use for my alarm clock in the past few years has been to see what time it is that my kids are waking me up.  For now, Sawyer can have it.

Potato Pancakes Like Nanny Used to Make

Usually a post-holiday breakfast, this week we had potato pancakes when I found a giant bag of potatoes for $1 at Kroger and made mashed potatoes.  Score! Potato pancakes came from my grandma Nanny, my dad's mom, and so I always think of him when I think of potato pancakes, though my mom was the one who slaved over them.  They aren't complicated, but they can be messy.

Nanny's Potato Pancakes

1 batch day-old mashed potatoes (best right out of the fridge)
1-2 cups flour
Salt & pepper
Oil (I used olive)

If you can't tell (or don't already know my kitchen style), this is a very eyeballing kind of recipe, and works best when you just use your hands.  Get ready for mess.  Or--finger licking.

On medium high, heat enough oil to just barely cover the bottom of the pan.  You'll find the right amount you need as you go--the first few tend to be more experimental as you see how hot you want it and just how much oil without being too much.  This may depend also on the type of pan you use--I used cast iron.  Put flour in a shallow bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper to your taste.  I used whole wheat flour this time and they were still great.
This is a pretty simply recipe, but MESSY. 
Scoop out a small handful of mashed potatoes. (Yes, with your hands.)  You want enough to form a small ball in the palm of your hand.  Form ball, then drop into flour.  Roll and smush it around to incorporate the flour to the point that it will be a little firm and hold together so that you can shape it into a pancake, of about 1/4 inch thickness.
Cooking away in the cast iron.  You can start to see the browning along the edges.
Your best bet for even cooking is to form enough pancakes to fill the pan and put them all in at once.  I never do this, but it would be helpful.  Cook a few minutes per side until it's golden brown and a little crisp.  Flip with a spatula.  Sometimes I'll even smash mine down a little to get them a bit flatter and crispier. You may need to add a bit of oil between batches, or scrape out any burned flour pieces that stick in the pan.  Let the pancakes rest on paper towels to absorb a bit of the oil before eating.  But not for too long!  They're best served hot.
Yum!  One of my favorite parts of mashed potatoes is looking forward to potato pancakes!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 22

I'm totally getting out of order here, mostly because I just keep taking the photos I want and not the daily assignments. Here is micro.

Overheard Outside the Superhero Hospital

I got a little bored. And inspired by Saw's injured superheroes.

Come here often?

Oh, the usual. Eyebrow lift, little nip, little tuck.

The Clutter Dump

Did I just coin a phrase?  The clutter dump.  I've never heard it before, so let me know.  Or I'll google it.  In any case, I'm going to preemptively claim that that I invented it.  Oh--you want to know what it is?  Sure.

Clutter Dump: n.  The one space where all the unread mail/coupons/toys/lists/pens/flyers/anything end up.

Mine is the kitchen table.  What am I talking about?  My house is kind of a big clutter dump if I'm being honest.  I totally believe in personalities when it comes to clutter and clean.  I don't like clutter, but I am able to walk past it for most of the day.  Some people cannot.  Their kitchen tables never end up looking like mine does right now.
Eek!  And I swear that it was cleared off yesterday.  Then Sawyer played and we had dinner and I painted my nails and my mom returned my cookie tin and I clipped coupons and...yeah.  But I felt better seeing THIS post over at Young House Love.  They take photos of their house all the time and it always looks pristine, even with a 1-year old.  They are clearly the other type (the ones that don't walk past clutter), but I like to know that I am not the only one who has to make an effort.  Though their clutter dump is slightly less cluttered and dumpy than mine.  Slightly.

I think that the key is organization and routine.  When dinner is finished, put away the dishes.  When you get mail, know where its place is.  I am working to create organization and spaces that encourage the end of the clutter dump.  Like this great board, pulled from last month's heavy trash.  Rob outfitted it with hooks today and he hung it so I can put the boys' bags up.
Rob, looking super manly in my headband, kissing his hard work. 
How pretty and fun? And CHEAP.  The hardware was less than $5.
With the bags.  And my new shoe basket, which will help us as we are heading out the door.
I've also moved a little table at the end of our kitchen counter that is going to be MY bag dump, so I won't be dumping it on my kitchen table.  I even have it in a basket, so it looks purposeful.  Ish.  We'll see.  Maybe purses and gym bags belong just in my bedroom.

So, where is YOUR clutter dump?  How do you work to keep it clean?

Un-Photo of the Day

Sometimes terrible and funny pictures happen.

Cutness Overflow

LOVE this one. :)

30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 20


30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 16

Okay, okay.  So I'm way behind.  But guess what? I'm going back to actually post a photo that I planned to skip.  Here is Day 16:  Mason jar.  I got way enough of these today while jelly-ing.
These are lids.  But they are pretty, no?

Buying Jelly > Making Jelly

I didn't have a disaster when making jam today.  Still, my overall take is that some things are better bought than made.  Here are things I learned today:

-Jam is made with crushed or chopped pieces of fruit.
-Jelly is made with the juice from fruit.
-Canning is really annoying.
-The directions for canning are more annoying.
-When you make a mistake, you don't get jelly.
-Even if you think you have enough fruit to make a lot of jelly, you don't.
-My time is worth more than all the jam in the world.

After it was all said and done, I ended up with this.
The closest jar contains grape jelly that's not jelly.  The second, raspberry jam.  The third, strawberry jam.  I was expecting a great filling of jars today and was shocked at how little everything made.  I had three containers of raspberries, a few pounds of grapes, and half a container of strawberries (that I originally planned to mix throughout).  The funny part is that I'm trying to stay away from sugar and so I won't even be trying these to see if they are good.  Well.  The grape jelly is probably going right in the trash, so NO ONE will be trying that.

Here's how it all went down.  I bought fruit pectin on super clearance a few months ago and thought I'd eventually try out jam or jelly making.  This week, raspberries are on sale and last week grapes were.  My boys get tired of fruit quickly, so I ended up with extras that were going to go bad if I didn't find a use for them.  So:  Jelly!

I realized I didn't know the difference between jam and jelly, so took to the interweb to find out.  I decided to be wild and try both.  I also realized I bought instant and regular pectin. The instant makes jam right away that can be eaten or frozen, but doesn't require the canning process where you seal the jars.  That's what I used for the strawberries and raspberries and was super easy.  It seemed like cheating to me, which is why I did the real thing as well.  But cheating or no cheating, it worked and quickly.
What seems like a whole lot of fruit.  Right?
Crushing the raspberries was fun. 
Crushing the strawberries MORE fun. 
I felt like grapes would be better for jelly, since that just uses the juice and grape peels can be kind of annoying.  So I did the whole process:  chopping, draining, simmering, boiling the jars and lids, filling, boiling again, failing.  
The jars, simmering before being filled. 
I had trouble with the directions here, and the directions matter a lot.  I don't have a specially made canner for the stove, and the directions said that the water needs to be deep enough for the jars to be fully immersed, but then also said something about 1-2 inches of water.   I got confused.  Are they supposed to be fully immersed?  Or immersed in 1-2 inches of water?  Those are two different things.  Also, there are two parts to the top of a jar:  the lid and the band.  So once the hot juice/pectin/sugar mixture is ready to go into the jars, I was confused as to whether I was to put the WHOLE lid or just the lid and not the band on top of it.  I put the lid and the band, and then when I re-read the directions after the whole thing was boiling, it sounded like only the lid was supposed to be on?  I am still not sure, but not wholly surprised that my jelly didn't jelly.  Or, maybe it's supposed to jelly overnight?  I don't know and don't really care.

I do know that unless I find a great, easy, manageable recipe for making jellies or jams, I will not be making either in the future.  My verdict:  find a coupon and get your jelly at the store.

Today's To-Dos

To Do:

-make jelly.  Or jam.  *So, first figure out what the difference is.  Then make one of them.

-hang pictures on the walls.

-put away laundry.  *If I run out of time, shove all laundry in the bedroom floor.


-made four breakfasts, three lunches.

-packed and dressed two boys for school.

-washed cloth diapers and hung them on the line.

-washed giant load of clothes.

-vacuumed the house.

-patted self on the back.

-Bible study.

-drank one pot of coffee.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Spiderman, Batman, Holy Spirit

The other day, Sawyer was playing in the floor with his superhero guys and I started hearing something really weird.  In addition to Batman and Spiderman and some guy that he calls Power Ranger (who is not, in fact, a  Power Ranger), he was including the Holy Spirit in the mix.  He didn't have a guy representing the Holy Spirit, so I guess he was just invisible.

I kinda didn't know what to do with this.  Is this just funny?  Blasphemous? Do I need to teach him some kind of lesson or discourage this?

I decided ultimately that if Sawyer felt like the Holy Spirit was important enough to hang with his other favorite superhero guys, then I'd let him be.  He kind of trumps everyone else in that category, but doesn't make the typical superhero list.  As long as he's defeating bad guys, I think he can stay.

How Was My Week?

Like Water for Elephants.

Rob is home, and snuggling with Sawyer, watching cartoon Mr. Bean and his teddy, while Lincoln runs in circles around them on the floor.  It's nice to be a family again.  The boys and I survived.  I wouldn't say we triumphed, but we're all alive and on the other side.  We had lots of help from family and a few friends as well, so I am thankful for that.

Moments of the week were fine, great even, and I'd think, We're okay!  We can do this whole husband-gone-for-a-week thing!  Then five minutes later I would be wondering what I was thinking and if I was going to make it until Sunday night.  You should never think that you can do it, because contrary to popular belief, thinking you can do it (not pride) comes before the fall.

How does this pertain to Water for Elephants, the novel by Sara Gruen, now turned movie with RPats and Reese Witherspoon?  Hang with me for a sec.

I found the book at a thrift store on Saturday for $1.  I will buy anything for $1, and I remembered seeing the trailer for the movie and being intrigued.  Stuck in traffic on the way home, I started reading.  24 hours later, I was done.  It was THAT good.

I wouldn't recommend it for everyone.  From the frame of a man in his 90s stuck in a nursing home to the grittiness of the Great Depression, the novel was achingly sad.  It was also a little graphic in places for some of you church ladies out there.  But I loved the look inside the circus and the story had me from page 1.  It was the last few pages (read in the wee hours of last, this morning) that made me think of my week without Rob:

Those were the salad days, the halcyon years!  The sleepless nights, the wailing babies; the days the interior of the house looked like it had been hit by a hurricane; the times I had five kids, a chimpanzee, and a wife in bed with fever.  Even when the fourth glass of milk got spilled in a single night, or the shrill screeching threatened to split my skull, or when I was bailing out some son or other...They were good years, grand years.  

But it all zipped by.

I kind of got a little misty here.  On the heels of an afternoon nap battle with Sawyer involving tears and yelling (S: Mommy stop yelling at me!  Me:  YOU stop yelling and to to sleep!) and me wondering if I was going to make it until 4pm, this passage made me look at the broader picture.

Though the tough battle moments seem to stretch long and slow, it is all zipping by.  I looked at Sawyer the other day, drinking water by himself and talking to me about his superheroes, and I realized how OLD he is.  And how Lincoln will soon be talking just the same and growing up and then they'll start school and get married and move out.  Maybe not in that order.  But it is moving, right now, always moving, even this second while I am typing away at the computer.  They are getting older.  I am getting older.

These ARE the good years, the grand years.  Some tiny pieces of them may make me question my ability to parent, or bring me to my knees, weeping and desperate for help and a break from the crying, the needy hands reaching, the always-hungry mouths.  But by far and large when you speak to parents whose children are grown, it is with a poignant nostalgia they talk about these years.  Sure, they were hard.  But how quickly they pass!

I'm stepping away from the computer now and back into the hurricane of spilled milk (check) and crying children (check) and shrill shrieking (check), back into the good, grand moments that are zipping right on past.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Linc Gets a Trim

Lincoln has the oddest hair.  He lost all of it when he was little, stayed fashionably bald for a little while, and now has this wispy hair that reminds me of duck fluff.  It's thin, so you don't think he has too much, but if you look closely, parts of it were very oddly long.  So yesterday, I pulled out the scissors and gave him his first trim.  Sawyer had had about four haircuts by the time he was Lincoln's age, and he was probably a little better about the whole thing.  Linc was NOT amused.

He didn't cry so much as he yelled at me.  And the end result?  He doesn't look all that different than he did to begin with.  Such is the life of a boy with duck fluff for hair.



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