Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dear Jamie Oliver,

I think I love you.  I mean that in the most non-stalkerish and threatening way.  It all started several years ago, 2002 actually.  I was newly married and finishing my last semester of college.  I was pregnant with my first child and so naturally I had a little free time on my hands, which I spent watching quite a bit of tv, your show actually Jamie's Kitchen.  Although you weren't handsome in the most traditional sense I quickly and naturally fell completely in lust with you.  You were refreshingly unkempt for a girl who loves clean cut.  Plus your accent didn't hurt the equation at all.  I soon started looking for you on the tv and quickly became a fan of Oliver's Twist and old reruns of The Naked Chef.

Then, this month I was reading Better Homes and Garden.  And you brought me via the magazine my new favorite dessert - Easy Orange-Carrot Cake.  I made the recipe and my lust turned legitimate.  Oh yeah imagine breathy sighs, birds singing, and building music in the background.  Your commentary on the recipe said "We all love a treat once in a while, and a slice of this carrot cake will definitely put a smile on your face...The icing will make it a bit more indulgent, but if you're only baking this every once in a while and serving a small wedge rather than a huge slice, there's nothing wrong with a little indulgence."  You were not lying about the smile you put on my face or less personal the smile you promised to put on the faces of those who made this cake.  It is amazing without the frosting, but with the frosting it is divine. 

Somehow I feel like I might have let you down though.  Because what started with a small wedge quickly turned into 2 small wedges.  And when my 3 year old son didn't want to finish his I added a third wedge.  I couldn't possibly waste it could I.  But guess what I am still smiling.  And I still think I love you.  So...if you ever happen to be in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and want to continue the food affair you just let me know.  Seriously I'll make time.  And just between me and you while writing that last sentence I think I stumbled upon the name of your next big show Food Affair or my little bakery I plan to open someday. 

Love, Enraptured, Enamored, Lustily, (I can't pick which one suits best)
Mary

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

This Is How It Went

We were at the Pediatrician's office for the kids' annual checkups, Bella and Wyatt.  Our doctor although a spectacular pediatrician is as dry and humorless as any man I have ever known.  The doctor is looking the kids over inclusive of their nether regions.  Wyatt was first and Bella was up on the table.  The doctor was about to check her nether regions when:

Wyatt:  (giggles)  Bella that is going to tickle.  It tickles when he checks your private parts.
Me:  Wyatt knock it off.
Wyatt:  It does.  He (pointing to the Dr.) touched my private parts.
Me:  Doctors are allowed to touch your private parts when they are making sure you are healthy and if they think something is wrong with it. 
Wyatt:  And me.
Me:  Yes and Mom if there is a problem.
Wyatt::  What about Dad?
Me:  Yes moms, dads, and Dr.s are the only ones allowed to touch your private parts, but only if there is a problem or they are checking you at the Dr.'s office.
Wyatt:  What about grandmas and grandpas?
Me:  Absolutely not.  Only moms, dads, and Dr's.
Wyatt:  What about Bella?  Can she check my private parts? 
Me:  No she shouldn't even see your private parts.  That is why you guys have your own rooms.
Wyatt:  What about you and Dad?  You share a room.  Is that so he can check your private parts?

The doctor looks up at me with a full smile on his face waiting for me to answer.  His levity is obvious.  And for such a deadpan guy it was as if he had dropped to the floor rolling with laughter.  I look at Wyatt who had an evil glint in his eye.  And that is when I realized he had purposely orchestrated my embarrassing death.  Touche little man, you have won the battle but not the war.  You have your whole teenage years ahead of you.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

How Was Yours?

I spent my Friday evening with Travis and the three older kids ice skating with some of our friends.  We left Kody with a sitter because we were afraid he would not be up for ice skating.

Our friends and their four kids.

Bella, Wyatt, and Issac get used to ice.  They ended up being pretty good.

After that we went to a high school reunion themed par-tay.  There were pictures of us in our high school years.  They were great.  As always my hubby was a hottie stud muffin.  We danced the Macerana and other dances reminiscent of the time.  It was a good time.  My slow death was not eating any of the yummy food.  Have I mentioned that for Lent I gave up eating after 7pm.  Yes I did give this up last year too, but what can I say?  I stink at it.  If at first you don't succeed, try try again.  So here we are.  Then we came home and I watched part of a movie in bed while I waited for Travis to drop the babysitter off.  He joined me for all of five minutes before crashing into a coma like sleep.


The next day we played with the neighbors, I lazed around the house and then we went to Ephrata Cloister.  It is a historical sight here in Lancaster.  In the words of Wyatt "This is the second most boring museum I have ever been to."  Yet we did have fun as a family, but that is more about we love to explore together new places.  Additionally we visited the cemetery there as I have ancestors who lived there in the late 1700's.  The stones were so worn down I couldn't read most of them, but found them all fascinating still the same.




Sunday was good.  We played, went to church, and made this delicious snack.  My weekend was so good.  How was yours?

Friday, March 18, 2011

After School

The girls and Kody playing in the "wilderness".

The boys!
I love having tons of kids over to play, warm sunny weather, and me and my neighbor chatting it up.  Most days I have 2-8 kids in addition to mine.  And that is exactly how I spent today until I had to send the kids home to prep for my crazy busy and fun weekend. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patty's Day

Bring on the green and other ridiculousness.  I claim my Irish heritage with pride because it is a chance to act crazy and no one seems to think anything of it.  My kind of holiday for sure.  So I made some cabbage and sausage casserole, coleslaw, and Irish soda bread for dinner.  Then I got dressed up to go watch a neighbor and her Irish band.  Good times!
Don't worry this gets mozarella cheese melted all over it.  It is yummo!


I love BREAD!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Daily Living

My children are growing and today as a friend of mine was over and was commenting on her 5 month old and how she was compared to her 6 and 4 year old daughters, I realized that there were so many small details I had already forgotten about my babies and what each of their personalities were like.  So today is to document the here and now. 

Kody is getting so silly.  He loves catch phrases and loves to half seriously, half mockingly say "Yes Sir" when either his siblings or parents give him a command.  Also he says "Oh my goodness".  It is so cute and it makes me blissfully happy.  Stupid I know, but a fact still the same.  He loves to try and make me laugh like the other day when he found a pacifier in the cupboard and began to act like a baby in an extremely exaggerated but endearing way.  Slowly he is outgrowing his terrible twos and threes stage and additionally his Sensory Processing Disorder, something I don't really tell a lot of people or talk about, is becoming more manageable with each day.  But he is also growing into a little kleptomaniac.  In the last two weeks he has stolen 3 things.  Yes seriously stolen, like from a local hardware store, the school book fair, and a consignment shop. Although we have made him return items and apologize himself and pay for those items which were not returnable and although we have not once let him keep, play with, or enjoy any of these things I still fear it will happen again although this last return he cried with embarrassment so I am hopeful.  Overall when I think of Kody right now I think of me walking towards that light at the end of a long tunnel - this is the beginning of the end of a couple of pretty difficult years for me and him.
Issac is acclimating to Pre-K like a champ.  Some days he comes home telling me how boring it was, but still he is excited almost everyday to go.  It is a somewhat hard transition for him to go so long with so little physical activity.  As you can imagine when he gets home he bounces from wall to wall.  He loves primary and singing and sings his heart out both in church, at home, but most enjoyably in the car typically to pop music, which I know I should think is inappropriate, but I find it largely amusing.  His recent pediatric opthemology appointment to deal with an eye issue lasted over three hours which of course is ludicrous but still he impressed me with his improved patience and handled it all..  Issac robustly picked out his first pair of glasses.  The eye care specialists laughed at his very specific tastes and commented on how combining that with his mowhawk and very clear sense of style made predictions of his future success as a fashion designer.  Issac is just so much fun, maybe because he is so much like me - I don't know, but he just exudes happy energy.
Wyatt is changing his personality in so many ways.  Previously he has always been my very easiest child and although he is still pretty mellow this is the first year he has expressed many opinions, ideas, and wants so clearly.  Likewise he is frustrated when things don't go as he thinks they should, when he finds out he is wrong, or when he is told no.  He is excelling at school and has had perfect attendence since his very first day in Kindergarten and is excited to keep this going forever even to the extent of refusing a family vacation that we had considered for this month in lieu of those perfect attendance certificates each year.  According to him he is second best at math in his class and that is fast becoming his favorite subject.  He also has turned into a little video game junkie wanting to spend all his time playing computer games, Wii games, or Gameboy Advance.  This is where we tend to have our little battles of will.  In the end I continue to win them but not without some collateral damage like him saying, "I wish you weren't my mom." ouch or other hurtful things. But still at heart he is one of the sweetest most pleasant boys and I am hoping it is just a passing phase.
Isabella recently turned 9.  Her birthday presents were varied as her interests are.  Her presents represent her life shift from girl to 'tween'.  She has been on a kick of learning to cook and so she shadows me around the kitchen each night wanting to learn to make more and more new foods, her specialty is cornbread.  She loves to write stories and poems and is currently writing a book for a local children's writing contest.  Lately I have been teaching her to not be afraid to try hard things and after a bit of cajoling/forcing her to, she learned that lesson.  She didn't want to memorize the 10th Article of Faith for a church thing two Sundays ago.  She claimed it was for a variety of reasons all of which I knew to be lame.  I knew it was really because she thought it would be hard.  She fought me all along the way, but I persisted.  Once she had it memorized I gave her the option to share whichever Article of Faith she wanted to knowing that if her lame reasons were legitimate she would pick another.  When she got up to speak out came the tenth one.  And she glowed with pride and I knew she had learned a valuable lesson.  Since Bella is such a sponge, this is what parenting her is all about - taking those teaching moments.
Travis is busy, busy, busy, and still the most devoted husband.  He is working 90ish hours a week.  And yet every moment the kids are awake he is trying to dote on them.  He is getting better at anticipating any family need so that he can be prepped for it since his time is so limited.  He loves to put the kids to bed and it is something I have willingly turned over to him.  He cherishes the time spent catching up on their day and gives me some unwinding time.  On Saturdays he lets me spend the morning sleeping in and then we engage in family work and play.  Additionally Travis has taken a more vested interest in his position as Scout Leader and has been making headway on some new plans for that.  When I think of Travis I hear the word devotion in my head.  He is devoted to the Lord, me, the kids, and his service in that order.  He is just perfection.
As for me, well my days are filled with the busy moments of most every mother; laundry, cleaning, carpooling, child rearing, cooking, etc...But somehow I fit more in.  I love reading and so continue to participate in three book clubs.  Yet I constantly struggle to balance that, dare I say, addiction with the priorities of real life.  Additionally I love being in the community and have therefore volunteered to be the Vice President of Women's Club of Manheim for the next two year term.  It is then assumed that unless the President renews her term that I will be the president the following term, a thought that terrifies me to no end.  I like to spend my free time planning our summer vacations.  Some camping trips, a Texas trip, another several state tour like last year's New England Adventure.  I live for these trips and have found that I am happiest when exploring every nook and cranny of our country with my family.  And since the Fifty State Sweep will see its conclusion in the next two years I am already contemplating my international options.
Perhaps this is boring to all of you, to me it seems it.  But in another five years I may not be able to remember the details of this time frame as I struggled today to remember five years ago.  But hopefully I will remember that I wrote it down.  And when I do I'll look back and smile because I'm sure by then we'll be onto new things and different phases and this will seem very nostalgic and I love remembering the past.

Monday, March 14, 2011

With Children Like You...

Dear Bella,

You are growing so big and tall, well relatively speaking.  I don't think you'll ever actually be tall.  Next year you will be ten and it reminds me of my mortality because if you are getting older I am getting older too.  But for this year I will savor the fact that you are still a girl.  Sure you may be starting the tween years.  You might not want toys anymore for your presents, but still you'd probably prefer something besides clothes.  You may roll your eyes occasionally, stomp up to your room in a huff, and offer me a tone of voice I previously haven't heard from you, but knowing there are children like you in the world gives me hope for the future.

You are kind and extraordinary in so many ways.  As I read a book this past week, there was a chapter about teaching your kids to be ordinary through living 6 principles.  And I thought of you and how you lived those principles of generosity, discipline, patience, diligence, concentration, and wisdom and how that by being those things it seemed to make you anything but ordinary.  You are so smart and I don't know where you get it from but even more you are hard working and I know that will take you wherever you want to go in life.  You already have many roles in life that of daughter, sister, but my favorite is to be able to count you as friend.  Between us a bond was started with birth, but with each year that bond is further forged and refined providing us with a friendship that will last forever. 

Always be true to the inner you.  You are a daughter of God and within you resides his goodness.  Live up to that goodness and you will never do anything to disappoint me or Him.  I love you, Boo.  Happy Birthday.

Love, Mom

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Middlecreek Wildlife Management Area

Ever wonder what 85,000 snow geese look like on one lake?  It's quite amazing.  Every year about 25 minutes from our house on the wildlife management area these geese come in March.  It is the midway point of their migration back up to northern Canada and the news man was saying even the Artic.  They rest for a couple of weeks gathering more in numbers each day.  And then they start to depart just as they came.  The trick is visiting at the apex of their numbers.  We thought the kids might think this was interesting.  As a bonus it was pretty cool for me and Travis to see too.
video

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

F(Ph)at Tuesday

Made 100 or so faschnauts with my friend.  Not only did I have a good time, but...took some into the kids' classes, took some to Travis's work and ate myself silly.  Wyatt's teacher had me explain the holiday since so few students knew its origins.  She then told me how nice it is for me to come in because not all of her students have as enriching lives as Wyatt's.  I love getting complements, just another form of positive reenforcement. 

And although they may be unhealthy and disparaged by others, I can't help but think this is just one more mommy memory my kids will have to tuck away in their childhood memory banks.  And guess what I'll fry dough any day to give my kids an enriching and happy memory filled childhood :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Life

My life is filled with tons of bitter and sweet moments, perhaps that is the life of every mom.  It seems normal to me anyway.  But more than anything lately I have been realizing that my life is one that moves in a totally different time dimension.  My days are slipping into weeks and years and I am thrilled with the direction we are going, but can only barely keep up a record of it through this blog. 

Sweet Moment 1 - Wyatt's artwork from school gets picked to be displayed in the district office.  It is a picture of an owl he drew with the words "Sometimes I feel like an owl when I am quiet."  His art teacher just raved about how introspective Wyatt can be.
Sweet Moment 2 - Bella is the 3rd person in her class to pass her multiplication test.  100 problems in 5 minutes.  She worked hard for this and I am proud.  Now onto division.
 Sweet Moment 3 - Stealing moments of family bonding time.  Before church on Sunday, we go in the afternoon, it was nice and so we went down to the school to ride bikes.  I can feel spring is soon here.
 Bitter Moment 1 - More and more I see these faces from the two older kids, the look of total disgust with what I have said or done.  Bella is starting to exhibit "teen behaviors" and it scares me to death. 
 Bittersweet Moment 1 - Kody refuses to wear underwear.  Some days I lose the fight but then I am rewarded with a cute bum surprise when he bends over and I can't help but smile.
 Bittersweet Moment 2 - After having a mentor of mine last year enquire why I let my sons have haircuts like Issac's mowhawk, no extreme hairstyles rule as indicated by the mission handbook and For the Strength of Youth booklet as a guideline, I had determined I wouldn't let my boys have those haircuts anymore.  Once again I lost the fight or gave in and cut Issac a mowhawk.  Only to find out from his teacher that he started a trend in his Pre-K and now there are four other little boys who followed suit this week. 
 Bittersweet Moment 3 - Travis, Wyatt and I working on Wyatt's Pinewood Derby car.  Travis and I are both pretty competitive and have very specific ways we want to do things.  So occasional friction, but mainly just good fun as we brain stormed our way through this process.  In the end Wyatt was totally thrilled with the end product so yeah!
 Sweet Moment 4 - Buying half a pig for the bargain price of $180ish and getting 83 lbs of finished meat.  That's like $2.20/lb.  But this meat is awesome and I have oodles of steaks, roasts, pork chop, bacon, ribs, sausage, etc...Happy day at our house.
 Sweet Moment 5 - The highlight of the week: with the addition of the pig, our outdoor freezer is packed to capacity.  We have 150 lbs of meat as well as strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb, peas, corn, and other store bought frozen veggies, pumpkin puree, bread, frozen premade meals, and quick frozen food for the days I am in crisis.  And on this same day I spent another $300 on food and officially finished our family's 1 year supply of food storage.  After inventorying, stocking, and reorganizing we have six months of normal food we eat and six more months of raw foods as outlined rice, sugar, flour, beans, dry milk, wheat, etc...  All that is left stocking up water. 
 Sweet Moment 6 - Wyatt attends the Awana Grand Prix, the equivalent of the Pinewood Derby.  He participated through going to Bible Study with a neighbor on Wednesdays until he turns 8 and starts our church's scouting program.  In his age bracket there were 36 entries and 68 total entries.  His car is the third one on the green track.
 Sweet Moment 7 - Kody cheers for Wyatt as Wyatt wins his heat.  He was in four heats and ended up coming in first all four heats.
 Sweet Moment 8 - Wyatt wins fourth in his category for best design of a car and 6th overall for fastest car.  Both earned him trophies.  And although it was super fun to build it together etc....etc....winning is still awesome.  I already told you I am uber competitive.  Let it go already!
Man life is filled with sweet moments as long as I take time from my time altered universe to recognize those moments.  Here is hoping each of you are taking the time also!