Saturday, February 28, 2009

Is YOUR Dad this cool?!?

Eric must be the coolest dad around... at least around these parts. I tried to build Eva a quinzee a month ago or so, but we promptly experienced a warm spell and the snow pile didn't last long. Fast forward to this week: we had a good dump of snow on Thursday afternoon, so that evening Eric made a huge mountain of snow. Then on Friday night, he and Eva dug out their snow cave. It is complete with a porch (just a porch roof, really) and a air pipe. My mom came over that night and she and Eva had a little pow wow in the dark snow cave with a candle. How cute!

Then our friend N'Korey came over to play on Saturday, and he and Eva were in and out for quite awhile. Who knows where their imaginations took them!
Sometimes, I just want to be a kid again...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

When the estrogen is flowing...

One day last week I ended up caring for five little girls, age 3 and under. Eric was kind enough to come straight home from work at the end of the day to corral them while I finished dinner. He was tired from his long day though, and judging by the look on his face, I think he would have appreciated a little quiet respite.The littlest one (barely 2 months!) hung out in the kitchen with me. Really, she didn't have that expression the whole time!Later, after dinner and after Ella went home, the three older girls goofed around. Hope is obsessed with 'ring around the rosey,' so I knew this would be entertaining for as long as I could handle it. Things were good (albeit noisy and silly), until Eva joined the game. Apparently she has christened herself the "everyone-fall-down-police." Enjoy the little video, just don't get too dizzy!
video

I realize now that this post has a bit of a negative tone. Really, we love having friends over helping out when we can. Can you tell by this photo that it's really all fun and games around here???

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Saturday, February 21st

Dear Hope,

We are especially thankful to God for you these days. We know that you are just on loan to us from your heavenly Father, but we've become awfully attached and could not easily let you go. A few days ago, you had a very serious allergic reaction. I thought that you could safely eat eggs, but we found out that your allergy is unpredictable, to say the least. I noticed you coughing after breakfast, but quickly your cough turned to wheezing, and then to gasping for air. Your airways were closing and your little body couldn't get the air you needed. In minutes, it was clear that this was an emergency. I've only filled one prescription for you in your 16 months with us, the epi-pens last fall. I assumed we would never use them, that they were completely a precautionary measure. But I am so thankful that we had them. Daddy assured me that I wasn't overreacting; they were probably life-saving. I'm also so thankful that Daddy was here with us. While I held you, he stuck you (hard!) with the first shot of your life. We were all pretty scared... Eva hid under the couch pillows crying, while I cried big, silent tears watching you struggle to breath and writhing from the pain of a big 'ol needle.

You didn't get better immediately, so I called 911 and talked to a paramedic who assured me help was on the way. Daddy didn't feel like waiting, so I held Eva close as Daddy rushed you, blue lips and red face, out the back door. He told us later that just getting into the cold winter air helped, and by the time you were at the Emergency Room (4 blocks away) you were breathing almost normally. An hour later, you were home and we were on the phone with your pediatrician discussing how to watch you and what to expect next. The epinephrine left you dizzy, a little delusional, and very active. You buzzed around the house for the next hour, still wheezing a bit, but fell asleep with a smile on your face in your booster seat at lunch. After your nap you were totally back to normal. The only visible evidence of the ordeal is a dime sized bruise where the injector pressed against your leg.

Hope, you should know that there are a lot of people who love you. While you were on your way to the ER, Eva and I prayed for you. We then sent a text to some friends and close family, asking for prayer. Over the next day or so, we got lots of phone calls and text messages asking about you, telling us that people were praying for you. I also called our small group leader who sent an email to the whole church. You had your own little prayer posse that day!

Waiting at home is a hard thing for me to do. I wanted to know that you were going to be OK, but God gave me faith in his promise of protection. He loves you more than we do! That is hard for a mama to imagine. I wanted to know that I would hear your joyful voice, see your toothy grin, watch you stick your tounge out at me again. In the moments after such a scary event, Eva and I talked about what precious gifts our daughters are to Daddy and me. You bring so much life and silly fun into our home, and truly, we can't imagine going on without the whole family together. We sure love you, and we're thankful to God for watching over our dear baby.

love, mommy

Friday, February 20, 2009

This past weekend we had the pleasure of attending a retreat for married couples hosted by our church. There were lots of great things about the retreat, not the least of which was the great big breakfast buffet (Eric coined the phrase "bottomless bacon") and the brand new, cushy king sized bed. We really enjoyed the speaker, as well. Dave Harvey is a pastor within our family of churches, and a funny, heartwarming, straight-shooting preacher. The sessions were refreshingly simple and applicable to practically any relationship, not just marriage. You can download and listen to the messages here. (If you choose just one, I really recommend the first one!)

We went out for lunch with some friends after the retreat ended but had to make an early departure. Eric's brother Dana, sister in law Nedra, and their three kids were staying at our house with the girls, and called us home early to check out a sweet owie that Eva had attained. We typically don't end up going in to the ER or Urgent Care unless it is a pretty big deal. When we got home, we casually peeked under Eva's three Care Bear band-aids expecting to say, "oh that's nothin!'" However, we barely had one band-aid removed before we knew she was getting stitches. Here's the finished product, 24 hours later (pardon the nose hair, please):
Comparably dramatic, while we were away, Hope learned to dress up. Rather, Eva convinced Hope to allow Eva to dress her up. Since then, Hope has been bringing me any and every piece of gaudy apparel we own. She says, "Ahn," which is Hopespeak for "on, please." Eva's influence is sticking, no doubt.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Be My Valentine

We have this really lame little board book, based on the Corduroy books by Don Freeman. In seven chunky pages, Corduroy hosts a little Valentine's party, gets his paws dirty eating cupcakes, delivers valentines greetings to over sized mailboxes, and receives a pile of surprise valentines under his door. The book has no title and no author. Would you believe that Eva (who has contentedly listened to most Anne of Avonlea) loves this book?!?

Well, she does. And this book formed the basis for our first ever kid party, last Thursday, in honor of Valentine's Day. Together we picked out an evite invitation online, Eva narrated the words to me, then I emailed the invite to four of her friend's mothers. We were thrilled to find out that her little friends could come, and we planned a few simple details to make it fun. I had no idea what to expect since, as I mentioned, we have never hosted any sort of kid party.

The morning started with some forced room cleaning, which did not go well. Happily, three and four year olds don't really care if their friends have good housekeeping skills. As the girls arrived, they were all smiles wearing pretty dresses in shades of red and pink and carrying handmade valentines for Eva. The hostess, of course, insisted on wearing her black and white polka dot dress, but I did convince her to throw on red and white tights.

The girls played for a few minutes while Heather (mom of two guests) and I finished lunch preparations. Lunch consisted of PBJ sandwiches, cheese slices, carrots, apples, and water. Fancy!

The day before, Eva helped me make these cute little heart cakes. Of course I had altered the cake recipe a bit, and I wouldn't say the end result was worth repeating. That didn't matter though, because all the girls cared about was the chocolate frosting and sprinkles!
After lunch we played a quick outdoor game of Simon Says (always a preschool favorite!). Following our game, we returned to the table for some valentine crafting. Aside from the scissors tiff, which resulted in Eva throwing the undesired scissors across the table, the little ladies managed to share all the supplies well and create some visual works of art. Lots of glue stick wielding, scissor "passing", sticker stamping, and practice writing their names. Girls and craft supplies amaze me. They could've sat there for another half hour at least (which is a long time when you're three)!


The party was short and sweet, ending with Eva passing out the gift bags she had been drooling over all week. I gave her specific instructions to bring each girl a bag, hug them, and say, "thank you for coming to my party." I was surprised when she followed these instructions to a 'T', given her ornery attitude after the scissors incident. The gift bags contained two miniature containers of pink play doh, a heart shaped recees peanut butter cup, and a sticker. Simple.

Hugs and gift bags (above), but I'm not fast enough to catch the moment!

It took an extraordinary amount of effort to get everyone happily settled on the couch for a group picture, but here's what we have!

(L-R) Eva, Emmi, Brianna, Kara, and Katelyn.

The party was a mere two hours long, but I am not ashamed to admit that I took a much needed nap after things quieted down. Keeping up with these girlies, and Hope and Ella, left me pooped! I have to add, the party would've been a real drag without Heather here doing crowd control. It was an altogether FUN day though, and I think we'll do it again (maybe a year from now!).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

About a year ago Hope played outside for the first time...

Monday, February 09, 2009

A new phase of mothering...

Look at that sweet girl! She is obeying her mom by busily loading up the many playthings that have accumulated in the kitchen throughout the morning. It is almost time for afternoon naps when all toys must be put away, so she takes several trips to and from her bedroom delivering baby dolls, doll clothes, blankets, dress up clothes, play jewelery, and pretend baby bottles to their assigned homes. Do you see her cheerful smile? Can you sense the joy that must pound within her mother's heart? The whole house must be permeated with peace and a sense of goodwill!

*********Enter little sister**********************

The often friendly little sister identifies baby doll riding in the grocery cart as her own precious possession. This realization prompts a response of tightly grasping the grocery cart, pulling with the strength of a mama bear, and screaming like a vulture descending on it's prey. Suddenly, blue satin wizard robe puffs with air as arms flail. Shoestring-less, pink Converse tennis pound bare floors, and the older sister too, screams as though her very life depended on it. Teeth are gritted, fingers clenched, stamping feet pound invisible pine needles. This is a primal battle, uncivilized and dangerous. The onlookers gaping mouths hang open, half expecting a chiseled slate arrow to come whizzing by their heads.

The escalating conflict ends when the mother finds her voice and shrieks, "Stop it, both of you!" Depart above mentioned joy, peace, and goodwill. Enter quiet, except for leftover whimpers of once cheery older sister. All are left with feelings of dissatisfaction and longing.

Begin new stage of mothering... sibling conflicts... sibling rivalry... new questions gather in this mother's head. Send me advice, you other mothers!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Basil Breakfast Torte

We celebrated the upcoming birth of a dear friend today with a big, festive church baby shower. There are so many creative and crafty ladies in our church, and it was so fun to see some of the things that they made for the baby boy. Check out these cute blankets that one friend makes and sells!

I made one of my favorite breakfast/brunch recipes and since a few people asked for the recipe, I thought I would post it here. However, I must give this disclaimer for all my friends who have been digging in with FPU: This recipe would absolutely not be Dave Ramsey approved. And with my renewed grocery budget commitment, this recipe might be sidelined for awhile. Here it is before being baked... I think it's pretty!
Basil Breakfast Torte
I am posting the original recipe, but as always, I made some adjustments (this recipe takes kindly to substitutions...I always make it a little different). I'll post my adjustments in blue.

1 c. milk
1/2 c. dry white wine (cooking wine)
1 loaf French bread, 1/2 " slices
8 oz. sliced prosciutto ham (I usually skip this)
2 c. arugula or spinach (I've never tried arugula)
3 T. olive oil
1 lb. cheese, mixture of basil feta and mozzarella
3 ripe tomatoes, sliced
1/2 c. basil pesto
4-5 eggs (I usually use 8 eggs)
salt/pepper
1/2 c. whipping cream (yesterday I used almost a cup of whole milk)

Mix milk and wine in shallow bowl. Dip bread slices in mixture and squeeze out excess. Spray or grease 9x13 pan. Place half of bread in pan. Layer half of each: ham arugula, olive oil, cheese, tomatoes, pesto. Layer again with rest of ingredients starting with bread and ending with tomatoes and pesto. Beat eggs with salt/pepper and pour over torte. Cover and refrigerate. Take out and warm to room temp. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle cream over the top. Bake covered, 45-60 min. or until set. I usually mix the cream with the eggs and pour over the night before. Usually I do not wait to bring the dish to room temperature before baking, but add 15 minutes or so to the cooking time.

Buon appetito!

Friday, February 06, 2009

#5 , Check.

Remember this? Some of you downright guffawed at your computer screens I'm sure. At least those of you who really know me did, since you know full well that I am well organized only in pressing situations and I ALWAYS bite off more than I can chew. But, this year will be different, I think. And in any case, we know that God's plan is the best plan for me: including what I will and what I won't accomplish.

Anyway, I plan on checking in here now and then to record progress (I'm not sure I'll always be able to call it that though!). Today: the New Year's resolution, "Laundry!!!" Eric's #1 complaint about my homemaking habits was the frequent pile of clean laundry in the basement. We usually had clean clothes to wear (if they weren't fatally wrinkled), but it was a eyesore in Eric's "man-cave" and he wanted to find clean clothes in the dressers (really, what expectations!!! wink, wink).

So, with great jubilation, I report that the clean laundry pile has been MIA for at least two weeks now! Yes, it really does motivate me to take that laundry upstairs. There it is, staring at me from the couch, saying, "I know you hate a cluttered living room, now do something about it!" And, since there are only one or two loads at a time, I can easily fold and stack between fairytale reading and diaper changing. Hope (aka mangy muchacha #2) has fully earned the nickname "laundry tornado," making it imperative that folded laundry is quickly moved out of her reach and into the dressers.

In contrast, Eva has become laundry stasher extraordinaire. Perhaps the sight of the laundry pile bothers her too, because the second her stuff is folded, she whisks it away to her dresser. Or maybe it is her selfish desire that Hope touch NOTHING of hers. Either way, it is very, very nice.

On a downside, we aren't getting quite as much exercise travelling up and down the stairs to fetch our clean laundry. You can't win 'em all, right?

The sequel to this accomplishment will be coming soon: I intend to start making my own laundry soap. If it turns out to be as cool as I think it will, I'll be pressuring you to jump on board too!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Quote for Today

"Men may be drowned in prosperous seas as easily as in rivers of affliction...You are a tree that never would have rooted as well if the wind had not rocked you to and fro and made you take a firm hold upon the precious truths of God's gracious covenant.
Worldly ease is a great enemy to faith; it loosens the joints of holy zeal and snaps the sinews of sacred courage. The balloon never rises until the cords are cut; affliction provides this service for believing souls. While the wheat sleeps comfortably in the husk, it is useless to us; it must be threshed out of its resting place before its value can be known."
-Charles Spurgeon

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Newsreel

1. It is very chilly in MN again. We had a brief glimpse of spring on Saturday, but on Friday, it was real winter. So, how did I end up going out the door to run some errands wearing just this???Of course I'm numb to the cold, so I didn't realize my stupidity until I noticed the temperature reading in the van was 6 degrees. That was about the same time that it dawned on me that Eva was wearing a leotard, tights, and rain boots. And just so you don't call social services I'll divulge- she was smart enough to throw on a coat and hat.

2. We've been sharing the stomach flu around here. Actually, only Hope has thrown up, but Eric and I have had some activity in our Southern regions. Not fun, but no joking folks: Everyone we come in contact with has had this bug, and most have had it far worse than us.

3. We had a happy, little Superbowl party on Sunday. For once, we managed to invite a quantity of guests that wouldn't overwhelm our itty-bitty home. It was a fun game, and I was giddy with gratitude that there was a full hour special episode of The Office afterward.

4. Sunday was my birthday. I am now 28 years old. On Saturday, I vowed that I would do no dishes on my birthday, and I refused to bake my own cake. I followed through on 50%, doing a large stack of dishes thanks to the Superbowl Party... I had a very small part of the cake making though. Didn't Eric do a fantastic job??? It was absolutely delicious too!

This represents about half of the Superbowl/Birthday party gathering.

5. Monday nights are our regular date night, but we haven't been out for quite awhile on account of the holidays and a string of illness. Yesterday, we finally made it out again, and we celebrated my birthday. Since I had been feeling less than stellar all day, I let Eric decide where we would eat. He chose Buca di Beppo (mostly since we had a gift card...). The food was great, but the company was even better. We had a good conversation and just really enjoyed being together.
Here is my gift from Eric:The heart shaped piece of paper was folded in half, on the outside it read, "For your birthday..." And on the inside, "A new band for your... (ring sticker). Love you, Eric." ***a little backstory here- when we got married, we weren't sure what kind of wedding band I wanted to go with my engagement ring. Then life started moving along and we weren't really sure it was a good use of money anyway. But lately, 7 years later, I've thought I would like a band. A few times, Eric has said, "maybe for a big anniversary." Anyway, this was very sweet, and we will go shopping soon for just the right band!***

We got two HUGE pieces of cake on the house, which we couldn't finish of course. I had never had Red Velvet cake before... someone tell me, is there some kind of pepper in it???

6. Remember my maiden voyage into the blogosphere? We had a re-run of that incident (x 2) this week. I found the evidence before seeing the guilty parties. Hidden under a couch cushion...
And littering the floor... Eva is the primary suspect, and Hope is Exhibit A. As if the child didn't have enough trouble growing hair, now she has spiky, horizontal lines across the top of her baby locks. Eva's hair has had difficult time regaining stability since the initial incident in September, and this did not help matters. I know that we typically reserve the term "mangy mutt" for dogs, but I might coin the phrase "mangy muchacha" soon!

7. We made a small improvement on our home this weekend. Removing a door, we now have rear entryway that is infinitely useful as we head in or out from our recently completed garage. It actually makes the kitchen feel bigger too, which is a major plus from my point of view.
That's all folks. I've emptied my camera and my brain. :)