August 29, 2011

Back to school...

We started back to school today.  We started the day off with a yummy breakfast of coffee cake, bacon, and strawberries.  I saw this post over at Shower of Roses and knew I just had to do some of my own:

I didn't have time to make the Patron Saint tags so we just talked about the ones I picked instead.
The kids were really excited and pleased with their "pencils." 
Definately a good way to sweeten them up for the first day!

I think we got off to a pretty good start.  There was a moment---liz was repeatedly asking for a workbook, Nick was being a tornado (shoes were flying), Peter was crying, an older boy had said something mean to a younger boy and that boy was crying and the older one was in trouble, and another boy was asking for help---when I thought, "is it too late to register for school?"  But, the moment passed, it always does, and we were able to complete all of our work, mostfully joyfully!  Whew!


Happy Birthday, Patrick.  Nine years old!  I can't believe it.  You have "baby labels" for all the kids in the house.  Nathan was the first and sometimes the "bounciest,"  Jacob was the "chubbiest," and you were the "peacefulest."  And that is still true today (most of the time).  You were the only toddler we could put in bed totally awake and you would stay there.  On a mattress on the floor.  We used to wonder if you thought you couldn't get out of bed.  But, of course, you had Nathan as your sleepmate so you were happy.
This is when Nathan came to meet you when you were born.
He was a little more interested in the cookie.

You were a beautiful baby!

You've always been our Lego guy.  You have, for years and years, spent hours on end building, creating, playing and destroying Legos.  You used to build a new lego set, take it apart, and try and rebuild it from memory.  So, it only made sense to finally give you a Lego birthday party.  I don't know what took us so long!!

You had a lego brick cake, lego minifigure chocolates, and lego candy bricks.  Of course, there were lots of legos for presents!

Happy Ninth Birthday, Patrick!  It was a grand day for a wonderful boy!

August 26, 2011

Baby love... the information age.  By his big brother!

August 25, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

round button chicken

The sunsets have been gorgeous lately!


Two best buds playing house under the kitchen table!


A little nugget egg.  Funny and cute.
I think I'm going to blow out the inside and save it!


Breakfast--making french toast.
Which happens a lot now with all these eggs!
I think Jacob took this (because I didn't and he's not in it!).

August 23, 2011

Book Review--Weightless.

Weightless: Making Peace With Your Body
The Catholic Company recently gave me the opportunity to read Weightless: Making Peace with Your Body by Kate Wicker.  This book addresses those body image issues that most women struggle with--and how we base our self-worth on what we see in the mirror or on the scale.  (How is it that most men don't have these struggles?)  I have really been looking forward to reading this book, and it did not disappoint.  Mostly, I have been looking forward to this book because I've been struggling with reconciling my real self to my "ideal" self.  Or rather, the unattainable, wordly, love-me-cuz-I'm-skinny self.  And, logically, I know this isn't healthy.  But, boy, is it great to have someone walk me through it and remind me of all the things my logical side is arguing to my emotional side!  My husband is always trying to convince me to just be happy with myself, and I'm trying, I really am.

First of all, let me say that I think that Kate Wicker is courageous.  She shares her pain in this book as a means of helping readers let go of theirs.  I don't think I could have been as forthright as she is.  Though I think that as women, we all have our own struggles it is the emotions surrounding those struggles that are universal.  It is through those universal emotions that Kate shares where we can see we aren't struggling alone.  We have God and our beautiful, universal Church to help us through it all!

There are eight chapters in Weightless.  At the end of each chapter there are three sections: Soul Food, Meditation, and For Your Reflection.  I love all the biblical and saintly quotes in Soul Food--I'd like to go through and copy a lot of them down as encouragement!  Meditation is just that, something to think about.  For Your Reflection is a section of questions to answer for yourself.  Questions to help you get down to the bottom of your personal food and body image issues.

I'm not really much of a self-help book person.  Yet, I couldn't help myself--I just read this book straight through the first time.  I kept saying, "yes, exactly! yes!" the whole way through.  I can't wait to share this book with friends.  But first, I want to go back and go through it chapter by chapter and answer all the questions for myself.  It isn't so much that this book is going to "fix" you--this book wants to help you on your journey.  And with a Catholic approach to boot!  Kate really did a wonderful job writing Weightless and I would recommend this book to every woman I know.

You can find Weightless at The Catholic Company and you can read more from Kate Wicker at her blog.

August 22, 2011

Recipe of the week!

Asian Chicken with grilled peaches.
I should say...recipe of the summer!  I have made this recipe over and over and over again this summer.  Actually, I usually just make up a big batch and freeze, thaw, and grill!  I love it because I keep all the ingredients on hand in my pantry and all the kids will eat it. 

First the Asian Chicken.  I originally got the recipe here.

1/4 C packed brown sugar
1/4 C soy sauce
2 T lemon juice (original recipe calls for lime, which I never have)
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t curry powder
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 t grated fresh ginger
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I use regular thighs, throw in some breasts sometimes and grill on low heat--so they don't char)

Combine everything but the chicken in a small bowl. Whisk to dissolve brown sugar. Place marinade and chicken in a zip-lock bag. Marinate for as long as you have, or do what I do--throw it in the freezer and let it marinate as it thaws!
Preheat a grill (or an indoor grill pan or broiler). Grill for 20 minutes on low heat.  Some of the smaller pieces should be moved to the top grill rack if you have one.  The glaze really carmelizes on the grill and is yummy, yummy.

While you are doing that--grill some peaches!

I usually cut them straight down to avoid the pit.  This gives me a flat side and is just plain easy.  The chickens get to pick the little bit of flesh off.  Or Nick will do it! :)

I'm not too picky about the time--long enough to sear the peaches and get them good and warmed through.  I'm thinking it is probably a personal preference thing.  So, after you pull them off the grill, drizzle them with a little honey.  This is good enough to be dessert--but we can't wait that long and I'm not a fan of heating up the grill twice.

So, go grill yourself some chicken and peaches!  While you're out there, throw on a vegetable (zucchini or broccoli in a foil packet?  corn on the cob?) and heck, put your bread on there too!  (Yes, I grill my garlic bread.  Hey, when it is hot, why heat up the kitchen just for bread?)

August 19, 2011

Summer Fun.

As summer winds down and we start with a new school year, I just wanted to post a few pictures of all the fun we had.  In fact, we were having so much fun--I haven't had time to post much of anything!  So here goes....

Cousin Day.
We usually try to get all the cousins together once a week for a pool day at Grandma and Grandpa's in the summer.  Because of all the May birthdays, Fourth of July, and (this year) a baptism, sometimes this really doesn't start until mid-July.  We have managed to get in 4 cousin days this year, in addition to family soccer nights a couple of times.  It really is very nice to have a pool to hang out at where all the kids have someone to play with and Grandma is there to help!
Nathan jumps on in!
Bathtub ducks were a hit with the 2yr olds!

 I try to keep Peter out of the sun, but sometimes you have to improvise with an older brother's hat!

Patrick drying off.  
Peter doing the best thing--sleeping in the shade.

I don't have any pictures of Liz because she is only seen on these days with her best bud, Grace.  Those two are inseperable!  And I haven't asked permission of any of my Sister-in-laws to post pictures of their kids so I leave those out.  I only have pictures of Jacob in group pictures, so same thing there.  I think Jacob purposefully tries to avoid the camera!

Kings Island.
We had our first family trip to Kings Island this year.  We got free tickets from my Sister-in-law and the kids were finally old enough to enjoy it!  Patrick said it was his "favorite place ever!"  This was the first time Nathan rode the really big rides like the Racer, Adventure Express, Whitewater Canyon and Windseeker (I was even able to ride the last two) .  He rode a lot of rides with his older cousins so I didn't get to see him --or take pictures.  A lot of my day was spent in Planet Snoopy with the littler kids.  We had LaRosa's pizza by the fountain and topped the evening off with a trip up the Eiffel Tower (1/3 of the size of the original) and Graeter's ice cream.  We all had a blast!
The carousel was Liz's favorite.
We rode this one twice and the littler one once!

Liz and Nick at the entrance to the park.

Nick on the carousel, also one of his favorites!

The only picture of Jacob by himself!  On the bumper cars!
He was disappointed that he wasn't big enough to drive the bigger ones. 

The little roller coaster that they all had fun on.

Group picture after enjoying some ice cream!

We've also been able to go to Stricker's Grove (a local little amusement park--lots of fun because it is so little!).  We've had two pool days with Nana, a wedding, and some new neighbors move in next door for the summer and they have been here pretty much any time we are!  You know you have been having lots of fun when your kids are this tired:

I love...

having a boy old enough to cut grass.  I don't know why it tickles me pink, but it does.  (And it isn't about me not having to do it--I enjoy cutting grass).  He just makes me smile seeing him out there--all serious with his hat on!

August 16, 2011

Summer Rewards!

At the beginnning of the summer, I realized I needed some motivation to get my kids to help me.  Pretty much I spent all of my time bouncing a beautiful, yet fussy, baby.  Which meant that nothing else was getting done.  And if nothing gets done in a family of eight--things around here get pretty bad pretty quickly!  So, I instituted a points system that was totally arbitrary. 

I needed the laundry folded--who wants to earn two points?  I needed someone to play with Nick while I attempted to make dinner--who wants to earn a point?

Well, the kids jumped right on this and were excited to earn points for some sort of reward.  Originally, the goal was 10 points and you could get an ice cream or something.   They weren't too crazy about that.  So...we bumped the prize level up to 25 points and I purchased something to earn their way towards.

The first, and most eager, to earn 25 was Nathan.  The reward up for grabs was this Lego Star Wars book which we have checked out of the library over and over.  He was very happy to have his own copy!

The second to earn was Jacob and he earned this very cute Lego police set.  And, I have to say, he worked really hard to get it!

Patrick was a little more reluctant about this whole point-earning thing.  More discriminating about what he would do for a point.  But, finally, he reached the goal and earned this Star Wars Lego set.

Overall, I think it was a very successful program for the summer and got us over that new-baby hump without me having to endlessly harass the kids to help me!  And, the kids were able to work hard and earn some fun new things.

August 9, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook.

August 9th, 2011

Outside my window...clear, blue sunny skies.  Beautiful!  We had a little rainstorm come through last night (which is awesome--we needed the rain) and have that clarity that comes after a cleansing rain.  I even turned off the air conditioning for the first time in forever.

I am thinking...about schooling, organization, co-op, all sorts of things.  Mostly driving myself crazy with the "I need this to...." kind of thoughts when I don't have the cash to buy anything anyway!

I am thankful...for friends, near and far.  For sweet babies.  For naps.  For Jarlsburg cheese dip from the local grocery.... all sorts of wonderful little things like that.

From the learning rooms...I just ordered books today.  Trying to keep it simple this year and finish up some things from last year.

In the kitchen...Asian Chicken on the grill tonight (from the freezer) with grilled peaches.  Our current favorite meal!  Tomorrow, spaghetti before soccer.  Thursday, maybe a roast in the crockpot and Friday??? Possibly pizza.

I am wearing...a black tee (pima cotton from LLBean--one of my favorite), khaki shorts and a ponytail.  No shoes, no earrings.   And... wait for it.... a baby in a sling!  :)

I am plans.

I am the library today (maybe).  Tomorrow, Jacob has soccer practice.  Thursday is the soccer picnic at a local amusement park.  Maybe a cousin day in there somewhere.  A wedding on Saturday.

I am to keep one of those pesky hens from cracking the eggs.  I am getting one hen-pecked egg a day.  I have to figure out which one is doing it....

I am reading...I just finished The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  Very good.  Interested to see how the movie compares!  I won't say much in case you haven't read it and plan to!  I started Weightless by Kate Wicker a couple of days ago.  A review on that soon!

I am hoping...that my husband's new job settles in soon.  And that he drums up a lot of business!

I am looking forward to...fall!  I love fall.  I love soccer and games, cooler weather, s'mores and fires, apples and pumpkins.  I love summer too.  But this hint of cooler air really made me think "Fall!! Yay!"  I'm also looking forward to Patrick's birthday at the end of the month.

I am hearing...the sound of the neighbor kid's dirtbike.  Gets to me after awhile. But, when that isn't driving by the window, I hear lots of happy kid voices.

Around the house...there is a back patio that still needs to be finished.  A hallway painted.  Artwork to be hung.  Chicken coop to be cleaned.  I have to mammoth, bushy morning glories that I am desperate to rip out.  They just look like kudzu came in and took over--with nary a bloom to glorify themselves.  I'm envisioning organizational things but that won't happen for awhile yet.

I am pondering...child-rearing.  From babies to pre-teens (not past that yet) and how hard it is.  And wonderful too---I just pray daily that I'm doing an okay job as Mom.

One of my favorite things...the front porch swing!

A few plans for the rest of the week...cousin day, soccer practice, picnic, friends in from out of town, wedding, piano lessons, and.... um, whatever else gets thrown in there.  I feel like I'm in my last "hurrah!" before school starts, lol!

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...
From our trip to Kings Island.
I love Liz's face there on the left.
I also love that this picture has everyone but Peter and me in it!

Visit Peggy for more great daybooks!

August 2, 2011

Two Months!

Peter is two months old today!  Boy, time sure goes fast, doesn't it?  His face is really changing and he is just getting sweeter and sweeter by the day.  I love his cheeks! 

I feel like he turned the corner this week.  Like a switch was flipped.  Yesterday was the best day--he took two naps, he was happy and smiley. 

He played on his play mat for 15 minutes! 15!  I couldn't believe it.  And, of course, all I did during that time was take pictures.  Look, the baby is happy!  Look!  Look!  He's smiling and cooing at the star!  He's wiggling!  Look! 
And, of course, everyone came to look.  Pleased as punch, just like their momma!

He was just generally happy and even took two decent naps--I managed to clean up the kitchen, throw in a load of laundry, clean the front porch, and play a game of Chess with Patrick.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I love, love this baby dearly.  And I'm not really complaining about his fussiness so much as verbalizing it.  I'm not one to hold stuff in.  I just feel better saying it.  And, darn it, carrying a baby around all day who is fussing at you is emotionally exhausting--especially when you have other people who need your time and attention.  Not to mention, a house that is falling apart around you!

So, trust me when I say that my attitude is more generally cheerful and happy.  I love little Peter.  We all do.  In spite of HIS need to be verbal! He is a joy and a delight.  I've had to work a little harder but it is nice to have figured out what he likes--baths, being outside, razzing on his tummy, and the mobile on the crib.  He's starting to try and check out the world around him, starting to try and touch things (and especially faces) with that little closed fist.  And, my goal for this week was to really try and work on a schedule.  We'll see how that goes!  Summer doesn't lend itself well to a schedule!