Friday, December 30, 2011

The Year According to Blogging

The funny and not-so-funny kick-off to 2011
"The Sop" and "Owen's Arm"


We celebrated 10 years of marriage in August, but I shared our story six months early:

"Our Love Story"


I talked about real life in a big(ger) family in:
"In Reality" and "To the Stuggling Mama"
plus answered a bunch of reader questions:
"Three on Thursday"


I talked about getting ready to move here:
"Slow and Steady"

I had to adjust to a new routine in a new place:

"In the Interest of Full Disclosure"

we made a few adjustments:



I discussed taking five kids to the grocery store:
"Surviving the Grocery Aisles"


I hit a chord, confessing the difficulties of homeschooling with little ones
"Are You Homeschooling With a Baby...and Maybe a Toddler, Too?"


I shared how we clothe five children:

"Clothing a Bunch"

Alaine celebrated her first birthday!


 I devoted 31 Days to speak to the struggling mother.  This most popular post was:
"It's Okay"

I shared a little of my background, starting with my childhood:

"My Story"

I got into the holiday spirit, sharing our favorite Christmas reads:
"Christmas Books"
and favorite Christmas cookie:
"Quest For the Best"

Do you have a favorite blog post that you wrote in 2011?  Leave the link in the comments.  I'll be recovering from dental surgery the first week of January and I'd love to have a little stockpile of reading. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

"Beware, You Baby Trainers" (a tongue in cheek take on sleeping through the night)

If you are mom, you know the infamous question: is your baby sleeping through the night yet?  It is like a rite of passage.  Your baby does not achieve "good baby" status until he sleeps from evening until morning without waking.  My first four babies slept in my bed and didn't begin to sleep through until around eighteen months old.  Alaine was our first baby who preferred her own bed and began sleeping all night well before she turned a year old.  Having the baby sleep for eleven straight hours equals a full night of rest for Dad and Mom, right?!

It's a myth, I tell ya! 

Last night I put Alaine to bed at 7:30.  Benjamin and Owen followed a little after 8.  At 8:45, a large boy-shaped shadow appears on the wall, but when I call out a name, the shadow disappears and a bed spring creaks.  At 9:15, a voice whispers my name and I go into the boys' bedroom to lay down the law.  Brian and I go to bed several hours later (we are night owls!), but sometime in the night, Owen arrives at my bedside and crawls in beside me.  He's cold so I bundle the covers around him.  After having him toss and turn for too long beside me, he kicks up his legs and says, "I'm hot with all these blankets!"  I whisper to him that it is time to go back to his own bed.  "Okay," he says, "but I need a drink and some music first."  I peek at the clock and, though it is still dark, realize that it is close to morning and too much commotion will wake Alaine so I send him back to bed without his requests.  

As I drift off to sleep, Owen returns and says, "I just have one question."  I ignore him, hoping he'll go away.  He repeats, "I just have one question...where is Ben?"  

"Is he not in your bed?" I ask.  When he answers no, I stumble out of my bed and walk across the house to the boys' bedroom when I discover that not only is Ben not in bed, he is not in the room!  I'm slightly startled by this discovery, but having forgotten to grab my glasses from the bedside table, I'm feeling a considerable handicap.  (Without my glasses, my vision is 20/400.)  By this time, Gavin is whispering from his top bunk, wondering why we are up.  I ask one of the boys to find me a flashlight so I have light to aid my blindness.  Owen finds one under the Christmas tree and I begin my search.  I look in the closet and under the bed. I look in Maddie's room.  I look in the living room and on the sofa.  I look in the dining room, growing more frantic all the time.  

Finally, I shine the light into my bedroom and walk around the bed to Brian's side.  There lies Ben asleep on the floor.  I turn off the flashlight, tell the older boys that their little brother is safe and well, then I flop back in bed for an hour...before Alaine wakes for the day.

Sleep through the night?!  It's a myth, I tell ya!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Tuesday

We ushered in Christmas week with a flurry of excitement.  We finished up school work and put the (school) books away until February.  Brian worked his last day of work for the season and put his work boots and lunch box away until February.  We visited the Christmas lights display at the beach, had our just-the-seven-of-us Christmas dinner, cleaned the house from one side to the other, and had our Christmas Eve game-playing marathon.  Then we had a whirlwind Christmas Day of visiting with my family and Brian's. 

This week, we are welcoming a slower pace, though it is hard to develop a new normal after all the excitement of the holiday.  Today the kids begged Brian and me to play each other in The Game of Life on Wii.  I zoomed around in my cartoon car, with a doctor's salary and no children.  Brian worked at a much lower salary and had four kids.  When it was clear I was going to win, I said, "Well, you're broke as a joke with a car full of kids.

"Yep," he laughed.  "That's the story of my life."

{A Tuesday afternoon}

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tri-Moms: Focusing Our Heart For Christmas

No words that I could weave this week would come close to expressing what I wish to say about preparing my heart for Christmas so my favorite contemporary Christmas song is standing in for me. 

What powerful lyrics!   

"While You Were Sleeping"
by Mark Hall and performed by Casting Crowns

: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :

Oh little town of Bethlehem
Looks like another silent night
Above your deep and dreamless sleep
A giant star lights up the sky
And while you're lying in the dark
There shines an everlasting light
For the King has left His throne
And is sleeping in a manger tonight, tonight

Oh Bethlehem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
For God became a man
And stepped into your world today
Oh Bethlehem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping

Mary shivers in the cold
Trying to keep the Savior warm
Born among the animals wrapped in dirty rags
Because there was no room for Him in the world He came to save

United States of America
Looks like another silent night
As we're sung to sleep by philosophies
That save the trees and kill the children
And while we're lying in the dark
There's a shout heard 'cross the eastern sky
For the Bridegroom has returned
And has carried His bride away in the night

America, what will we miss while we are sleeping
Will Jesus come again
And leave us slumbering where we lay
America, will we go down in history
As a nation with no room for its King
Will we be sleeping
Will we be sleeping

United States of America
Looks like another silent night

: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :

As always...take a moment to visit my fellow Tri-Moms,
Allyson @ A Heart For Home
and Christy @ A Living Homeschool.

And from all of us,
Have a Wonderful Merry Christmas. 
The Tri-Moms will be back in the new year with the following topics:
January 3: Time Management For Busy Moms
January 17: The Winter Blahs
February 7: Frugal Date Ideas
February 21: Romancing Your Husband

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gather Round Your Tree Linky Party

Ahhhh...and so it was...fifteen minutes before we needed to be loaded in the van that I corralled the kids into the living room for a quick photo in front of the tree.  Everyone was dressed in their holiday best, all spruced up to attend a Christmas play.  No torn jeans or cowlicks this evening, no siree! 

The memo didn't reach the toddler's desk, though, and she brought her attitude to our speedy photo shoot.  Notice her absence from this first take?  And see Owen's hand placed nicely on his brother's shoulder?  Well, his brother just about came out of his skin, complaining of how uncomfortable it was!

"Take one of just the two of us," they said, and so I obliged (since the little ones were playing peekaboo with the toddler at this point anyway).  I'm still asked by random strangers if these two are twins.  They don't seem to mind, but I have a feeling when he's thirteen and she's eleven, it may be a little more bothersome to them. 

Since we had lots of time to kill-- you know, since it is such a breeze to buckle five seat belts in the cold at night-- Brian suggested this fun pose for the boys.  It took a few tries before they mastered it without wobbling, but they had a few laughs in the process.  (Notice the toddler has yet to make her debut?)

In an effort to speed things along, we decided to rope Brian into the action in front of the camera.  Alas, though Alaine at least appears in the photo, she is not happy and no one thought to mention to Gavin that putting bunny ears on his brother was not a good idea. 

I took a turn in front of the camera, too.  Alaine sat still for a few seconds, but by now, Benjamin was getting restless.  In fact, all the smiles appears a little weary.

"Okay, guys.  Let's try one more time." ~click~

By some miracle, we still got to the play on time!

: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :

Now it is your turn to share your photos around the tree. 

You don't even need a blog to participate. 
You can link a Facebook photo, too (as long as it is marked open to the public).
 You don't need kids to participate either. 

Share a picture of your pet, your friends, yourself, or even an old vintage photo. 
As long as it was taken by the Christmas tree, it counts! 
The linky will be open through Christmas Eve. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Kid Crafts For Christmas

Kids crafts for Christmas...say that three times fast! 

As much as I love to make things myself, I rarely do crafts with my children.  It's not just that it is messy, but I don't have enough hands to help everyone at the same time so sometimes it is more than a little overwhelming!  More often than not, though, I simply don't think about crafting with my kids.  We do school and read stacks of books and they play outside (Maddie would stay outside all day if she could!), and when they need something else to do, I usually suggest coloring a picture or doing puzzles on the kitchen floor...

...but when Kathi talked about doing Christmas crafts with her (seven) kids, I read with interest.  She suggested the simplest of crafts: the candy cane reindeer.  I got a little nostalgic thinking of making these when I was in school and realizing that neither of my kids had ever made one.  I gathered all the supplies at Walmart and took them to my parents' house on Sunday.   After lunch, my three oldest (ages 9, 7, and 5) plus my youngest sister (10) gathered at the table for craft time.  I told them, "You just can't get through elementary school without making one of these."  My other sister (18) said, "Well, I never made one," so she joined us, too! 

I figured the kid crafting was over for the season, but in the back of my mind, I  remembered this handprint Christmas tree my sister had showed me on Pinterest.  One afternoon while the older four were outside and Alaine had woken from her nap early, I scooped her up and sat with her at the table to make our own simplified version.  I used a piece of construction paper, a paintbrush, and finger paint.  She was cooperative (and a little intrigued by the squishy paint on her hand) and we finished in ten minutes.  Now we have a lovely keepsake to hang on the refrigerator and tuck in away in the Christmas box with our decorations to look at again next Christmas. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

3 Accesories For the Busy Mama

I don't know about you, but when it is time to get dressed in the morning, I gravitate toward my jeans and T-shirts or jeans and sweaters because they are the comfortable, easy to pull on, and easy to clean.  All those things are important to me because my bunch of little ones keep me moving, and spills or cooking mishaps are inevitable, plus I'm still nursing a couple of times a day, too.  I don't have time for a lot of hassle with clothes.  Sometimes, though, I can feel kind of frumpy wearing the same things day after day.  You, too? 

With holiday events popping up all month long, even the busy-nursing-struggling-tired mom wants to look pulled together. (For that matter, it can be fun to jazz it up even if you are only running out to the grocery store.)    Why not try one of these easy accessories to make your outfit *pop*-- even your jeans and T-shirts!

1) A scarf.

They are comfortable, warm, stylish, and they only take a few seconds to pull on.  Infinity scarves (the ones that are essentially one big ring of fabric) are certainly the fastest, but even the traditional scarf is easy enough to learn (especially with this fabulously fun video!):

Try contrasting colors (I did pink with orange at a Thanksgiving party), matching colors, or whatever makes you feel good.  Wear your scarf alone with a T-shirt or pair it with a sweater. 

 2) A belt. 

Okay.  Let's get personal.  I've always said I was too busy for belts.  When I go the bathroom, I often have a little person or two join me so the extra time it took to buckle and un-buckle a belt was time I didn't want to take.  However, wearing a belt on the outside of your clothing is easy-peasy because it can stay buckled all day.  (If you are a frequently nursing mama, a belt could still be a little cumbersome.)


I didn't even own a belt until a few months ago.  In fact when we were out shopping, I told Maddie I needed to go look in the belt section, and she said, "For what?  Are you buying a belt for Daddy?"  I ended up finding a belt in the clearance section of Walmart for $3.  I bought one in a size larger than I would normally wear so I have the option of wearing it at waist level or lower on my hips.  If you don't have a belt and don't have money in the budget for one, try wearing a scarf around your waist instead!

You know what?  A belt is great  for camouflaging a post-baby tummy, too. 

3) A cute pair of shoes.
Shoes can really pull an outfit together.  I go barefoot in the house, but that's obviously not an option when I go out.  Instead of pulling on a pair of sneakers, why not go for a pair of ballet flats or boots?  They can be just as comfortable, yet give you a more put-together appearance.  In other words, they can make your jeans and T-shirts feel dressier. 

What are you wearing this December?

five days five ways christmas linky party | because every day is different

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Quest for the Best {Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe}

My journey to find the best chocolate chip cookie was a long one, but who ever complains about baking and eating chocolate chip cookies?  Not me, that's for sure.  I also think it is close to impossible to even have a bad chocolate chip cookie so finding the best recipe was more about finding the #1, not eliminating the others altogether. 

I've been baking since I was a little girl.  I remember burning my wrist on the edge of the oven as I was sliding a cookie pan into the oven when I was seven!  Ever since I was a little girl, cookies have been one of my favorite things to bake, and whenever I got a hankering for a chocolate chip cookie,  I always made the Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Then I got married and made the cookies for my husband.  His very, very favorite kind of cookie is a chocolate chip cookie, but he likes them chewy.  The Toll House recipe is surely soft, but not chewy. 
It took a few years of trying (remember, this is not torturous work), but we eventually found a cookie that was delicious and chewy...and fed a crowd. 

Mrs. Fields' Cookies
(which I found in
The Mother's Companion Update 2006
all the way at the bottom of the page)

2 cups (4 sticks!) butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
5 cups oatmeal (put small amounts at a time in blender until it turns to a powder)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
24 ounces (2 bags!) chocolate chips

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet. Make golf-ball sized cookies. Place 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees for 6 minutes. Yields over 100 cookies so feel free to half the recipe or squirrel some away in the freezer. 

And so I thought the quest for a chocolate chip cookie recipe was done.  We were in cookie bliss.  Still, last year when I stumbled on another recipe, I gave it a whirl, and from the first bite, we were hooked.  Sadly, Kendra (the original source) deleted her blog last February and though she has archived her recipes, this cookie recipe is not among them.

Kendra's Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 sticks room temperature butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
 ½ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 ½ cups chocolate chips
2 cups plus 6 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons salt (don't skimp on the salt-- it defines this cookie!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine butter, sugars, and vanilla until creamy.  Add eggs and mix until combined.  Add flour, soda, and salt and mix until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Spoon dough onto a cookie sheet leaving room between each cookie.  Bake for 9-11 minutes until golden around the edges and just set in the center. 

So glad I printed it when I had the chance. 

: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :

If you haven't already, take a look at my Christmas Book List.  It is still being updated frequently, and there's still time to read a few before Christmas! 


  And don't forget the Gather Round Your Tree linky party on December 19. 

Linking to...

TEXTChristmas Cookie Countdown

Monday, December 12, 2011

Deck the {New} Halls

I'm one who enjoys sameness.  Sameness is easy.  Sameness means nothing has to change.  Sometimes, though, change is good and necessary...and so it was with our Christmas decorating this year.  Since this is the our first Christmas in our new home, nothing could be decorated the same way that it was last year

Last year, we had garland around our wrought iron bannister.  This year, we don't even have an upstairs.  Last year, all of the kids shared a bedroom.  This year, there is a boys' room and a girls' room.  Last year we hung a illuminated star in a window, and this year our windows are not equipped to hang things from...and so on and so on.  It's not that these changes are bad, but it means I have to be more creative and not just slap things in their pre-appointed places. 

Last December, we purchased a new wreath for our door and we wondered what to do with our old one.  I am not a saver so I was tempted to cart it off to the Goodwill, but before I did, I thought, what  if we move before next year and we have two doors instead of one?  I'm glad I tucked the wreath back in with our Christmas decorations because we did, in fact, move, and we do, in fact, have two doors.

That part was easy. After hanging our wreaths, the dining room was the next step.  The dining room is small so the dining room seemed doable.  A few springs of greenery, a few pine cones from the front yard and a bundle of cinnamon sticks completed the very simple display of Christmas in the room where we eat and school. 

The living room was much more difficult because the wide open space scared me, but I eventually decided to be content with small touches, rather that go all-out this year.  Brian reminded me that we have years to develop our Christmas look.  It doesn't have to be perfect this year.  When searching for a new place for the old bannister garland, we realized it was the ideal length to hang above our front window and I think it pulled the whole room together. 

This is another wall in our living room.  The plaque and wreath hang year-round, but the little tree hanging from the center Christmas-ed it up a bit!

On the back wall  of the living room, sits our live tree.  Its placement was one of the easiest of the whole decorating process.  It seems silly, but when we were house hunting, one of the questions we asked ourselves at each place was, "Where would we put up our  Christmas tree?" so this tree's spot was chosen many months ago, before we even purchased the house. 

At first I was unhappy with how it looked.  It wasn't until we brought the tree into the house and tried to adjust it in its stand that we realized the truck was crooked.  No matter which way we angled it, it looked like it was leaning.  Throughout the lights stringing and ornament hanging, I commented on our misshapen tree, until Maddie said, "Mama, I think it is beautiful," and I decided that indeed, it is beautiful. 

In our effort to make this new house a home this year, it was important to me that the kids be allowed to decorate their own rooms for Christmas.  Owen is all about planning and calendars, and by mid-November, I was tired of answering the question, "How many days until Christmas?"  I employed everyone's help and we constructed an easy paper chain to hang in boys' bedroom window.  We dated each link and, at the end of the day, take turns tearing off a link, signalling one step closer to Christmas.  Because Gavin's birthday is a another big event of our December, we included a special link marking that, too. 

The boys were link happy so they added another just-for-fun chain to their bunkbed. 

Their favorite aspect of their room is the Charlie Brown tree that was gifted to them by their Papa.  It was Owen's idea to add the blue blanket. 

On a fall trip to the Goodwill, Maddie spotted this pink Christmas tree and the rest is history.  The girls' walls are pink and their bedding is pink, so why not a pink tree, too?  The tree skirt comes courtesy of Alaine's wardrobe. 

The girls' bookshelf deviates slightly from the pink theme, but it still shouts Maddie's personality.  (Alaine was still too little to have much input.)

I hope that by next Christmas, our master bedroom has been beautified, but this year, it is still home to boxes of unpacked books.  That, along with the fact that I have yet to be inspired to hang anything on the walls, means I could not convince myself to decorate it.  The master bath, however, has a touch of Christmas cheer.  You must be jolly while brushing your teeth, you know. 

(And speaking of trees, on December 19, I'll be posting our very jolliest "Gather Round Your Tree" photos.  Won't you grab the button and join me?)


Linking to...



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...