Thursday, February 28, 2008

Oh yeah. Oh YEAH.

Now, here's something I could eat for breakfast almost every day. Our plan is to make these weekly, changing up the fruit each time so we don't get bored.

Breakfast Bars
Preheat oven to 325°. In a bowl, combine 1 cup rolled oats, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (the shelled, unroasted kind - I find them at the health food section of the store), and 1/4 cup dried cherries (this part would change weekly.) In a separate small bowl, combine 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup applesauce, 1/4 cup honey, and 3 tablespoons OJ. Add to the oat mixture and stir it around. Take 1/2 cup out of the oat mixture and press the rest into a pan-sprayed 8x8 pan. Back in your small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons OJ and 1/2 cup fruit-only cherry (again, changing with the dried fruit) preserves. spread that evenly over the oat mixture in the pan, then sprinkle on the reserved oats, pressing it in lightly with your fingers. Bake 35 minutes until golden brown. Cool and cut into 8 bars.

Delish! We had cherry this morning, but we're going to try every flavor of fruit-only jam they make one delicious panful a week!

Birthday snow

Okay, indulge me here. It's probably the last snow we'll get this year, so here are some more snow photos. These were taken by Blair. Funniest thing. It snowed from 10PM to 2PM, sometimes heavily, but the snow just barely covered the tops of the dead grass. The streets were totally clear but they cancelled school "just in case."

Here's a really cool sky shot she took, too.

Need insanity?

We now have three teenagers in the house. So, if you need a dose of insanity, bookmark my blog. Fortunately, we will never have more than three teenagers at any one time in our house, Blair will turn 20 just seven short days before Christy turns 13.

All that to say...Happy Birthday, Kate!

Kate couldn't come up with anything for her birthday list. She's always been the happy-to-be-breathing type, never wanting for anything, and very little gets her down for long. She is an animal lover and is considering a career in zookeeping or animal rescue. She does have an amazing way with animals. They calm down in her presence and come to her when they see her coming. Amazing. She'll be working at the zoo again this summer, which she dearly loves.

She has a bunch of games (Zoo Tycoon, Imagine Animal Doctor, Nintendogs, Paws and Claws Pet Hospital, etc.) she plays on my Nintendo DS. Well, this is the year we broke down and got her her own DS. She's plenty responsible enough to take care of such a large investment, and neat and tidy enough to not be losing the little tiny games. And she has a good head on her shoulders, so I don't worry that she'll be up in the middle of the night playing. We'll need to keep an eye on the temptation to play when there's school or chores to be done, but that will be a good learning experience for her.

She was so surprised, so happy, so shocked that we could choose for her such a wonderful gift. Her face lit up when she opened it like she'd been given solid gold. It was solid gold watching her take each piece out and look at it and giggle over it.

Blair made her cake from scratch and it was delicious! She used canned icing, but added some cherry and almond extract and her own food coloring to get it the right color. Quite the artist! And boy, was it GOOD.
So, Happy Birthday, Kate! I pray you continue to be the wonderful, happy blessing you are.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscar Fest 2008

Every year we make a big deal about the Oscars. Hubby and I met when we were in the film industry and the Oscars were like the BIG event (well, that and ShoWest) for us.

We've always had a small party with themed food and decorations. It was easier to make it a big "family thing" when Billy Crystal hosted because he kept the broadcast clean. Whoopi was the worst, we had to send the kids out of the room! This year we passed out ballots for everyone to nominate their favorite dishes (which can be based on a movie, a star's name or a scene from a movie) and the Academy (Hubby and I) would decide the winners and cook them for the Oscar Fest. But this year the foods just didn't come as easily as they have in years past. There was only one we didn't choose that was even close to relevant: "I Drink Your Milkshakes" from There Will Be Blood. It would have been a great one, but hubby would have had to describe the scene for the kids and he didn't really want to get into that.

And the Oscar goes to…
No Poultry for Old Men (No Country for Old Men)

And the Oscar goes to…
Enchanted Hot Dogs
(Based on the scene from Enchanted in Central Park with the hot dog vendor)

And the Oscar goes to…
3:10 to Yummy (3:10 to Yuma)

And the Oscar goes to…
Grapes, Baby, Grapes (Gone, Baby, Gone)

And the Oscar goes to…
Ratatouille (I'll let you try to guess this one. Think hard, now!)

And the Oscar goes to…
The Baby Bell and the Butter Knife (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)

The kids also dress up in finery or costumes for their red carpet interview on the way in to dinner. Then we eat, watch the broadcast and tally our votes. The winner (the one who guessed the most actual award winners) gets a special award at the end of the night. Corny, but what can I say, it's a tradition!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Shhh. Be vewy vewy quiet.

I'm not hunting wabbit, I have one of those headaches. The kind that come and stay for three days. Kind of like what I've read about a migraine but not with the nausea. Just sensitivity to light, sound and PAIN.

But I really don't have time. Tomorrow is the Oscars and that means today I have to shop and pre-cook for our annual Oscar Fest. So far, the only dish we know for sure will be included is, of course, Ratatouille. We have the nominations (the kids nominated one food in each of six categories and Pop and I chose the winners), but the ballots are far from "Kept in a hermetically sealed mayonaise jar on Funk and Wagner's porch since noon today" like they usually are the day before the telecast.

12 pop culture points to whomever can first correctly identify the origin of the quoted phrase.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Oh, my pitiful, sinful self.

See? Yesterday's post is a perfect example of why I need a savior every day of my life. I could just delete the post and "seem" more righteous by having not vented, but I will leave it as a testimony to how selfish I really am deep down.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hubby's due for another smackin'

You know, I don't ask much. For a girl, I'm pretty low maintenance. (And no, I'm not "the worst kind - the high maintenance kind that thinks they're low maintenance," but thank you anyway, Harry.) But by golly, I'm a busy lady, and if there's something you can do that's more easily done by you than by me, then don't be so disrespectful of me that you insist I do it because I'm "home all day" and you "work for a living."

Example: Here's what my schedule looked like the last two days:

6:00AM I'm NOT a morning person, but Christy and I have eye appointments at 8, so it's up-and-at-'em and making breakfast way too early.

7:00AM Typed out Kate and Blair's schedules for the day. They will stay home and sleep in while Rose, Christy, hubby and I go to the eye doctor. John is up and grumping at me.

8:00AM Eye doctor. Christy is still too young for contacts. Bummer, because she only needs correction in one eye. Hubby helps me find a pair of glasses he doesn't mind looking at me wearing and takes off for work while we finish up the appointments.

9:30AM Home, but only momentarily. Blair needs a ride to her nanny job. It's not far and there's a Starbucks on the way. I also grab Kate and bring her along with the rest of us. We have a spelling bee in the car on the way, and everyone is silent while they do their math on the way back.

10:15AM What is THAT!? While filling the car up with gas, I notice there is a slit on the sidewall of the tire! I'm regaled with stories of hubby's trip to the gas station during which he doesn't see a curb and goes up and then down with a slam. The tire isn't losing air or forming a "bubble," so it'll have to wait to be examined by an expert.

10:30AM Kate has an orthodontist appointment. Finally, a bracket is put on a wayward tooth to rein it back in. This is the part of the orthodontia Kate's been waiting for - the part that will make a visible difference.

12:00Noon Home for a quick bowl of soup and Bible devotions. I find some ground turkey lurking in the fridge and fry it up, then refrigerate it. I'm sure something will need ground meat in the next day or two.

1:00PM Blair calls, the 3-year-old girl she is sitting for is showing signs of becoming ill. She calls the mom who cuts short her shopping time and comes home. I do a very quick lunch dishwash and run to pick her up while Kate watches over Rose and Christy.

1:30PM Blair is looking decidedly not good. Tired? Sick? Hard to say. She goes off to take a nap while the rest of us clean the bedrooms, Tuesday's job. But that means she won't be available to do a quick job this afternoon and I'll have to take John after school. I call the school and leave him a message to not take the bus home.

2:45PM Blair is still snoozing, so I leave Kate in charge while I go pick up John. I have packed him a snack and we go clear to the o-t-h-e-r side of town for a quick job. Job takes 10 minutes, travel there and back nearly two hours. Oh, how I dislike city traffic!

4:45PM Blair is up, but grouchy. She calls my cellphone and wants to know what she can make for dinner. I had planned a tortilla soup with refried bean burritos, but know this is probably beyond her patience level, so I ask her to boil some noodles and make a tomato sauce to throw the already-cooked ground turkey into. She handles that, plus makes a lovely salad for dinner.

5:30PM I'm home again, and pacing the floor. I have a job to perform between 5 and 8PM, but hubby's late getting home. He's not at the office and his cellphone is turned off. I can't reach him to ask him to get home as soon as possible. I ask Blair if she can keep an eye on the kids while I run out, but she says "Only if you lock John in his room." Clearly they're not getting along well. John will NOT stand for that, so I wait for hubby.

6:00PM Still waiting.

6:30PM Still waiting.

7:00PM If I don't leave now I won't get the job done before 8PM, so I ask John to please come with me. He does NOT want to come. I do NOT give him a choice.

7:10PM As I'm driving out, hubby drives in. John leaps from the car to go back inside and I ask hubby about the tire. "Oooh, you'd better have that looked at tomorrow!" he says. Tomorrow is my day off. Off. As in laundry, school and chores, but no running hither and yon at all hours. I am late so I run out and complete the job by 8. Barely.

8:45PM Home. Collapsing on the couch, promptly followed by collapsing on the bed and snoring before I even get my glasses taken off. zzzzzzzzzz

7:00AM Why am I being shaken awake on my day off? What do you MEAN you missed the bus?!? Ask your father for a ride in - he has to leave about that time anyway. No? Okay. I'm up. Grumble grumble.

7:45AM Home from the school run and ready to enjoy my leisurely day of laundry, cooking, school, chores, making menus and shopping lists for the next 7 days and other relaxing hobbies. I ask hubby if he wouldn't mind taking the van to work today and dropping it off at that Firestone just up the street from his office so they can fix the tire while he's at work. No? Even though it means I have to take all the kids and sit in the Firestone's waiting room for who-knows-how-long when you could just drop it off and walk a block? No? Even though it was YOU who wrecked the darned tire? NO? Fine. Yeah, you have a nice day, too.

I spent three hours at Firestone between taking and picking up Blair. On my day "off." Tomorrow I'm scheduled again from 8 to 8. But at least the car is safe. I need a nap.

Where's my rolling pin? I have a man to chase and threaten.

Other "beg offs" this week: All the birthday shopping for Kate has fallen to me. When it was time to take his mother's car in for an oil change, I spent two hours at Walmart waiting for it. His dry cleaning needed picking up (even though they are open 6AM to 10PM, he couldn't manage to get there to do it personally.)

It wouldn't be such a big deal, except that I'm working crazy hours, dealing with five children that require homeschooling (and attention!) and am expected to spend my day off doing things that are more convenient for him to accomplish than me. And I have one child who can't be left home alone or in charge of others!

But I don't want to complain. Any more. I think I got it off my chest now. Thanks.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Winter arrived this morning

Quite promptly at 8AM, to be exact. Of course, it was over by noon, but we sure enjoyed it while it lasted! The next door neighbor boy scraped up all the snow he could find and made a snowman - exactly 12 inches tall! Not like Oregon at all, here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cool! I'm not Urban Amish anymore!

"Urban Amish" is the term for people who don't have the "essential" technology of the day - like a cellphone or an iPod. If you don't know that, you might be one, too.

Well, Happy Birthday to me, I got an iPod Shuffle! It's so tiny (it's the size of a small binder clip!) and cute and GREEN, my very favorite color! I immediately loaded up all of Pastor Jack's podcasts and a few select songs for exercising to. The "autoload" function wanted to put over 400 songs on this little tiny thing. Wow.

{You will now be treated to a paragraph of reminiscing that I am allowed because it's my birthday. Feel free to skip it if it makes you feel old or bored.}

Back in my day, the must-have technology was a transistor radio. They were the size of a 3x5 file card box and claimed to fit in your pocket, but never quite did. They had a long antenna on them because they had to pick up radio waves which were just not as thick in the air as now. If I was walking or riding my bike, the signal would fuzz in and out, or jump to another station suddenly, interrupting the lovely choral strains of "Windy" from my music station with the latest news report from Vietnam on the news station. There was only one earphone, which was fine, because everything was transmitted in monaural - not stereo, and only on the AM band. Ah, AM radio in the 1960's.
{Okay, thanks. I'm back now.}

I also got this cool thing. It keeps the coffee pods for my Senseo nice and dry and organized. I make my own pods and have been using a poorly decorated Pringles can. But this is much prettier and matches my decor much better!

I got three DVDs: T2 (still can't look at Robert Patrick without my blood running cold), The Hunt for Red October (which the older kids and I have been watching on VHS), and the first season of House (gotta love/hate him!)

The highlight of the day was most definitely breakfast in bed. The kids are becoming really good cooks, and this year's feast wasn't the undercooked-and-runny eggs, burned bacon and untoasted bread of years past. Christy is becoming a barista excellente, making my coffee a little differently each day. (Okay, the slice of banana in the bottom of one cup was a bit unnerving, but it wasn't terrible!)

Finally, my cake. It was layered graham crackers and chocolate pudding, with the top crackers frosted with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. It sure tasted like a smore!

So, Happy Birthday to me. This was so much more pleasant than watching tornadoes threaten my house!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A very unmerry birthday to me.

What did I get for my birthday? Tornadoes that killed dozens. My dislike of my state of residence has turned vehement once again.

We're safe. The Lord protected us, and the only "damage" we had was the miraculous fixing of a gate that was stuck. The wind unstuck it! The first supercell held onto its tornado until it passed over us.

We all slept in the basement, just in case, though. Well, those of us who did sleep, that is. I stayed in the basement through the first supercell storm, but once it settled down, I came back upstairs to see what the news was saying about further storms. There were four more, but by the time they reached us, none were as bad as that first one. But they were much, much worse for others.

My emotionally sensitive child was very, very freaked out by the storm. We had prayed and discussed what we would do, even held a very brief "what to do if" session. I didn't want anyone focusing on the what if, but I wanted them to know that God was protecting us and I had a plan. That all worked well until the lightning hit. The sky lit up like daytime—no, daylight is warm and yellow, this was a harsh blue light that was quite otherworldly. Anyway, it was bright as day, and didn't dim for fifteen minutes. There were flickers where some smaller bolts would hit, but the largest bolts were continuous. We had the blinds shut, but the light came into the room like moonbeams.

To comfort her, I made up a story about a firefly convention just outside the window. How ours was chosen to be the most friendly window in all of Tennessee, so the fireflies met in front of it to discuss their summer plans. Many had woken up in the 70° weather earlier in the day, and were quite confused as to why it was so warm in February. They talked about all the fun things they would do once summer really came: licking up spilled ice cream on the sidewalk, watching the fireworks and trying to recreate their patterns, watching the movie at the drive-in. Eventually the fireflies got sleepy and went back into their winter hibernation and the storm moved on.

I'm so thankful for God's care and protection, and I really, really hate it here.

Monday, February 4, 2008

For the want of a nail...

Chutt Chutt has gone to the vet again this morning. They are keeping her this time, and removing the offending toenail. The swelling isn't going down, and is creeping up her leg. Poor baby. It was SO hard to hand her over. She's so tiny and trusting. But, sometimes to save a life you have to do hard things.

I have an online acquaintance whose mother is in the hospital, at death's door. After several years of unmanaged diabetes, they had to remove her leg above the knee. That would be bad enough if it were the only thing. But this woman also has had several cardiac arrests and major organ shut-downs during the process. She's not saved, and her negative attitude profoundly affects those around her. She's hurt her family over and over to the point that her grandchildren want nothing to do with her. She's alone now, her family has all moved out of state. Her ex-husband has been kind enough to deal with some emergency issues for her while she is incapacitated. My heart breaks for this woman, and I pray for her often during the day. There, but for the grace of God, go I.

On a more "up" note, take a look at my Aerogarden! It's only been two weeks since the last photo, and look at these little plants go! I can't even begin to tell you how exciting it is to see things growing and not dying under my care!

The car, on the other hand, is not doing so well. We're having fuel injector issues (I think, but I'm not a mechanic, so that's just my best guess) and looking at more major repairs. On this particular car, to get to the fuel injectors, you have to disassemble the gas tank. We've done this once before and it cost us over $1000. Let's hope that tax refunds are running fast this year!

We stayed home from church this week, but hubby listened in on the web simulcast. He took notes and we'll discuss it, but I can tell from the notes he took that our pastor is seriously misled. There will be a Q&A during the Wednesday night service, but I don't know that we will be able to make it. It wouldn't matter anyway, really. I've heard this teaching before and it is heretical and insidious. There's no Q my pastor could A to my satisfaction that this particular teaching is Biblical.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I'd like it to be my last birthday, the one I never age from, like Bob Hope did. But, with kids you can't do that. Not only do they keep getting older, but their birthday is such a positive, happy thing that they don't want to deprive you of the joy they feel! Why am I not feelin' the joy??