Monday, December 31, 2007

Granola fun

Even I think it is a bit weird that my 7 year old likes my homemade granola bars more than store bought. Here is the recipe for anyone who wants to try it, sorry for the measurements, but this is how I make it.

Trailmix Granola Bars

2 cups rolled oats (NOT quick oats)
1/4 cup of flax meal
1/4 cup of wheat germ
1-1 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour (start w the cup, add more if the mixture is too wet)
A Handful of dried cranberries
A Handful of raisins
A Handful of chocolate chips
A Handful of unsweetened coconut
3-4 dried figs, chopped into chocolate chip sized pieces
2 beaten eggs
1/4 cup of honey
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (if mixture is too dry, add more applesauce)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Spread the mixture in a glass baking dish (at least 9 x 11) and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until light golden on top (30-45 minutes) It is a lot of ingredients, but you can throw everything in one bowl and it comes together really easily.

We don't add nuts as Haven is allergic, but you could add nuts, or change out the dried fruit. In place of cranberries, dried cherries would be great (again, Haven is allergic so we haven't tried it) and I am dying to add dried blueberries to see how that tastes. We have also used dried mango and pineapple with just the coconut and no chips or white chips, and that is also delicious! This makes at least 14 good size pieces and you can be sure that the kids are getting tons of great fiber and protein. Yummy.

Ringing it in

So a new year is just a few hours away, and while I understand and respect those who make resolutions, I never really have. Each night before I go to sleep, I ponder what I did right and what I did wrong that day. I know tonight I will wish I had had more patience with Grayson today as he whined and cried and complained the morning away. I know that I will be happy I took the kids to get the Webkins their grandmother had promised, but not delivered, plus I got each of the girls a new shirt, and from their favorite store too. There are days I know I am a good wife, mother and person, and days I am not, although most of the time I seem to do good and evil all in one day!

I guess if I had to nail down a resolution, it would be to live my life to the fullest, and at no one else's expense. I strive to be an example to the kids, and while that example may curse like a sailor and screw up a lot, I still work to be a good person each day. Anyone who knows me knows that I have very strong morals, and I hope that how I live each day, my ability to say I am sorry and mean it, especially when I wrong my children, and the thousands of "I love yous" that are doled out daily will help these three amazing kids grow into three amazing adults.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dreary Day

So today has been dreary and dragging. We got up and I gave the kids the pumpkin muffins I had stashed in the freezer. I made a fire, Ryan came home and moved a few loads of wood into the garage to keep it dry and we began our day. The kids haven't had a stellar day, a lot of petty arguing and general testiness, so I think they will need to go out tomorrow and get some energy out.

I have been trying to relax for the weekend, but today I did get a few things done. I washed a couple of loads of laundry, I cleaned Sammy the hamster's cage, vacuumed, cleaned the kitchen lamps and made some granola bars for the kids. Right now, the fire is warm and wonderful, there is a turkey breast roasting away in the oven, and some potatoes and onions sizzling in the skillet. I will also make stuffing for the part of my tribe that doesn't enjoy potatoes and onions, and of course there will be a green veggie, probably broccoli.

I love the warmth of a winter evening, the bustle of the kids coloring in the dining room and the warm glow of the the fireplace. Given the events of the last few days, I am so thankful that we are working to raise the children in a loving, family focused environment. Even on their worst day, the find a way to play together, help each other, and love each other. I am a lucky mama.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Small indulgances

It was a wonderful day in the Kelley house. The kids got along fairly well, I actually sat down and had a quiet day, Emily and Maggie came for dinner, and I already ordered a PPV movie for tonight. As I am off from both jobs right now, and the kids are home, I am enjoying being with my family and snuggling up at home. Tomorrow I will bake some bread, make a nice turkey dinner that we will share with Emily and Maggie, and enjoy the calm of our lives. Next week I am thinking of driving to Williamsburg with the kids, it is a great opportunity to get out and do something, there should be no crowds and it's educational!

Just a few more weeks and we are on our way to Florida! I am getting excited, but haven't started planning yet. I think we will do two days at Sea World, two at Disney and one at Busch Gardens Tampa.

Off to sit and relax!

Cool and Calm

So, crazy MIL walked around town, we followed, when Ryan was there she got in the car with some stranger and left. He was so upset and stressed, but thankfully a few hours later his brother called and said she called them and was at a hotel. We assumed she would sober up and call in the morning, but when Ry's brothers called the hotel, they said she checked out. She had no cell phone, no credit cards, etc. Finally last night, Kristin called and said that MIL was home. Crazy b^tch got a cab to the airport and bought a new ticket home, and still no contact with is, no apology, nothing!

So, Ryan and I did what was best, we went on with our days and went back to normal. Our home is again quiet and peaceful (except when the kids fight) and we are just moving forward. I need to talk to Ryan to see what he wants to do about this, as it is his mom and I really cannot understand how he feels, but I am pretty sure I am done with her. If he wants a relationship with his mom, I will support him on that, but we will need to decide about the kids and I am sure I never want to see her or speak to her again. It wasn't just this one time, there have been too many incidents that have disrupted my life, my marriage and most importantly hurt and damaged my husband. I love my family, and I hope that we will continue to build a relationship with Ryan's brothers and Kristin, it is so important that they remain in our lives and the kids lives. Such a sad ending to a wonderful visit.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Pure Crazy

So, my MIL has left, drunk, in the middle of the night on foot after verbally attacking me and my husband and physically attacking him. So much for a nice visit with Grandma, she is f**ing CRAZY!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The spoils

The kids had a wonderful Christmas Day, they received tons of gifts and had a lot of fun. My family left Christmas evening and Ryan's arrived late that night. It has been a whirlwind of activity, Ryan's brothers and Kristin just left a little while ago and his mom is here through Sunday. I may go a bit crazy with a weeks worth of company, but it is great for the kiddos.

As an aside, we got Guitar Hero for the Wii and it is addicting! Seems that my freakish abilities to rule at Whack A Mole also translates to Guitar Hero, I must have good hand eye coordination. If I never return, I have been sucked into the game!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holiday!

First off, a very Happy Holiday for anyone who reads this blog, may each day be merry and bright, no matter what your beliefs and traditions!

Here we are off to a stellar start. Yesterday was fun, my sister, her husband and their kids came (and so did their dog ( don't get me started...) and everyone had lots of fun. The kids played well, they loved their gifts, and overall the day was a huge success!

Today my parents were here and we got some last minute shopping done (mostly little things for Gray) and I made lasagna and a cake for Ryan's birthday. The kids decorated the dining room with balloons and banners, and I think he was surprised when he woke up!

Ryan went off to work, the kids to bed, and we laid out all the goodies for tomorrow morning. I hope Ryan can make it home by 9, I am not sure if I will be able to hold them off any later than that.

We did give the kids their big gift from us today....a Wii! They loved it, and the big surprise was how well Britt took to it, she even beat my dad in bowling! Haven liked it, but I think tomorrow she will fall in love when she gets the Hannah Montana game!

All in all, a good start. Tomorrow after dinner, my parents leave and late tomorrow night Ryan's mom, brothers and Kristin arrive. Now if only I could get my voice back and lose this awful cough, everything would be perfect!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Til the morning comes

So I awake with no voice, this could be an early present for my family, or it may be the virus bit me. I haven't been feeling well the last few days, and knew there was a chance I was getting sick. Thankfully, it is just a sore throat and mild cough, along with the lost voice, so it isn't too bad. Haven finally got pink eye, but we treated it early enough that she shouldn't spread it to anyone else.

The festivities begin today. The house is all clean, minus the last minute vacuum that only the owner of a Newfoundland or other hairy beast would know. The dishes need to be done, but that is a normal morning item, and the kids need to get dressed in all their Christmas glory (since everyone comes at 2, I will dress them at 1:45) Lunch/Dinner will be spinach and artichoke dip, sandwiches, salad, and an Italian sausage soup with orzo, mmmm.

Now if only my husband would leave work, pick up the last few things at the store, and join us. Soon :)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

So very close

Tomorrow the family arrives, and I think we are finally ready!

The kitchen is all done, we rearranged everything, put up the shelves, etc, and it looks and works great. On my new shelves front and center is my Christmas gift from Emily, a new Le Creuset Soup Pot!!!! I cannot wait to use it tomorrow to make soup, thank you so much Em!

Today we got the house cleaned. I still need to do the Dining Room, but that will wait until after dinner so I can put out the new linens. I also need to vacuum upstairs and clean the kids bathroom, but that is quick and easy. I have made some headway with the laundry, but have a feeling I will be folding a lot tonight :)

Tomorrow my parents come and the kids are so excited. My sister, her husband and kids are coming as well. We are having an easy day, just soup and sandwiches, some presents and cookies. My parents will be here through Christmas dinner, then Ryan's mom and brothers come that night. Right now on my stove I have meatballs for dinner, and in the oven are more Florentine cookies and pumpkins muffins made with the homemade puree (they are in little pumpkin shaped molds too!)

I am so happy the kids are feeling better.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Will it ever end?

So we were sure Brittan would make it to school today, but last night around ten she got up and by the look of her eyes, we knew it was pink eye. Gray had the eyes this morning, so I called the doc and made an appointment. Emily came over and she and I and the kids took a ride to the farm to get milk, then I came home and yelled at my husband for not having moved the computer, then left for the doc. While I was there, Em and Ryan got the computer moved and my couch was delivered. The doc confirmed the pink eye, and Britt had a double ear infection, Gray a single ear infection. I am hopeful that once the antibiotics kick in, they will finally feel better.

The couch and chaise are HUGE, but I love them and like the new layout of the room. Whew..because it would have sucked if it looked bad after fighting for this couch :)

Tomorrow I need to get another set of brackets, Ry needs to put away the rest of the computer stuff and install the shelves, and I need to do some cleaning. I promised the girls I would take them to get their nails done tomorrow night, and then if they both feel well, I will go and get all of the food I need for next week. We are moving along.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Still breathing

Gray had a bad asthma attack this morning, even on the two inhaled meds, the oral steroid and a cough medicine. He is supposed to stop the oral steroid after tomorrow, but I am terrified of the four day weekend, especially after he had another asthma attack tonight after his last treatment. I am guessing either tomorrow or Friday, we will be back at the doc to make sure he is OK. I don't want to end up back in the hospital for Christmas.

I am moving along on getting the house ready, it is slow, but steady. It looks as though Brittan will go back to school tomorrow, and the girls will bring in the gifts for their teachers. After I drop the girls, Gray and I will head to the farm for our milk. Ry will be here hopefully prepping for the new couch and making the shelves for the kitchen. On the big project list, we have the couch coming tomorrow, the shelves for the kitchen and the pantry clean up....not to mention cleaning the whole house. My big plan is to clean on Saturday, and then just damage control all day Sunday until company arrives. We will have to see how it goes....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The rush

I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. Having an extra two kids home yesterday sick, and Brittan home today sick, I feel like I am maintaining, but not moving forward. It is now five, the kids need baths tonight, I need to vacuum the Living Room and clean my desk. I have some wrapped presents for under the tree, and I need to move all of the linens and serving dishes. I also must sit and fold laundry, do the dishes and do a few other things around the house.

Tomorrow I have to overhaul the playroom. We decided to move the blue couches in there when the new couch comes on Thursday. The kids really need a decent place to sit, and the futon is getting pretty beat up, so it should work out well. The problem is that the room is a mess, there is the kid's Christmas and I have to move the desk in for the computer my parents bought them. It will be a few hours of work, but I am hoping that I can just get in there in the morning and get everything done.

Update on health

All three kids went to the doctor yesterday, no strep and just this wicked virus that is causing the cough and fever. Britt is still home today, she is still running a fever, but I made Haven go to school. She has a cough and a bit of a sore throat, but with some medicine she will be fine. She usually feels better once she is up and moving, and being that she is in second grade, I don't want her to miss unless she has to.

The little ones are coloring, I have done the dishes and some of the vacuuming. I need to go make a huge batch of shortbread, I will then put it in the fridge and we will go pick up the kids cough medicine and meet Emily and her girls for Killi's birthday lunch. Then we will come home, Britt and Gray will nap, I will bake shortbread and clean my desk which is a disaster. Hopefully I will get the living room organized, wrap a few gifts for family members to put under the tree and finish the cookies. Tomorrow I will get the teacher gift cards, pack up their cookie tins and attach the ornaments as the kids finish making them. Ryan and I need to move the little couch out of the family room tomorrow night, move the armoire and get ready for the couch to be delivered on Thursday (yeah)!

Then....all I have to do the rest of the week and ride out to the farm for milk, go grocery shopping for the holiday cheer foods and wrap about a million presents - along with fold and wash a thousand loads of clothes :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

BLAST

Haven woke up sick.

The wee hours

So it is 5:12 and I have been up since 3:30. Seems like everything from the weekend just hit, along with all I have to do to get ready for next week. After a week of a sick kid and planning to get a bunch of stuff done over the weekend, and then not being able to due to Gray being sick, I am swamped. I have at least 7 loads of clothes to fold, another 7 to wash, my house is a huge mess, I have two more batches of cookies to bake and all the wrapping. I only have to buy a few more presents, but I need to get the teacher gifts done, the kids need to make the ornaments they are giving and we still need to cut, paint and install the kitchen shelves. I accepted that the lights will not get on the house, so I bought candles for all the windows (15!) and as long as I can get the clutter and all of the stuff I have purchased in the last week organized and put away, we will be OK.

Thankfully I am on vacation, no work at either school and no school for me. The kids have a half day on Friday and then they are home for two weeks, and we have company from Sunday Dec. 23rd-Dec 30th. My parents come on the 23rd, and my sister and her family will come that day too. My parents will stay through dinner on the 25th, and on the 24th we will also celebrate Ryan's birthday (#31). Late on Christmas Day, Ryan's mom, his brothers and Kristin will come. His brothers and Kristin have never been to this house, actually the last time they were in VA was when we moved into our townhouse 7 years ago, so this is a really special occasion. On the 26th, I will make a big holiday feast and Emily, Ben and the kids will join us (b/c lets face it, they are more family than friend) and I hope it is crazy, loud and wonderful!

The boys and Kristin will probably leave on the 27th and Ry's mom will stay on until the 30th. My kids are so excited that everyone is coming for Christmas, they have never had so many people, and being that we have been more doom and gloom here rather than Christmas cheer the last week, I am so happy they will have so many people to visit and play with.

Now if only I can get and keep Grayson healthy, make Brittan well again and keep Haven healthy, it will be a wonderful Christmas.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My sweet boy...

So, the hell is over now. Gray was sick last week with croup and asthma issues. Friday we had a good day, Ryan, Gray and I ran some errands, and I noticed as we were leaving one of the stores that his cheeks were really red. First thought I had was scarlet fever (which is just strep and no big deal) but the redness got better. The girls came home from school, poor Britt had no voice and didn't feel well, but she and Haven came with me to order our new couch (YEAH!)

We ordered the couch, ran to Lowes, came home. Kids went to bed, we settled in to relax and then we heard the screaming. Ry went up, came back and said Gray had a fever. I went up, we gave him medicine and I noticed he was shaking, took the temp and he was 102. I told Ry we were going to the hospital, he thought I was nuts, I got the girls coats on, grabbed a bucket in case Gray got sick and we left for the hospital. On the way, we got caught in a police checkpoint-loads of fun with a screaming child in the back, then he began vomiting, a lot, violently, while I drove....good thing I had grabbed the bucket :)

Got to the hospital, I ran ahead and told the check in people that I had a 3 year old, croup this week, asthmatic on three steroids, vomiting and fever of 102. They were awesome, took us straight to triage then into an ER room. By then his fever was 104 and he was soooo sick. My poor girls sat there, they were so scared, but they were brave as they waited for Emily and Ben (who are saints for coming to get them). Girls left and poor Gray was so sick, he kept passing out and just screaming. They took blood, chest x-ray, put in the iv, etc. A number of hours later, his temp was still over 101, his blood work came back and they told us he was staying. Seems along with slow breathing, wheezing, vomiting and fever, he had a very high white blood count. The doctors were worried that he either had a raging infection or he had leukemia. They admitted him, the pediatric ward was great and the staff was excellent. He stayed another night and came home to us tonight.

His white blood count is still a little high, but it looks like it was so extremely high in the ER because he was dehydrated and the steroids he was on caused a jump in the count. Thankfully, he had no blood infections or anything awful. Two nights in the hospital but now he is home, back on the oral steroids and has to see the doctor tomorrow to follow up. Brittan is sick too, so she can visit the doctor as well, but that is OK, they are all here, in bed and safe and sound. What a terrible ordeal, but I am so glad we took him in, I am thankful the doctors were cautious and careful in his treatment, and relieved that he is OK, because it just wasn't the same with him not home!

Good news

Looks like Gray will come home tonight. I am very relieved, we miss him!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

My poor baby

Grayson was admitted to the hospital last night. We thought we had a good day and then BAM he spiked a fever and began throwing up. We took him in, they admitted him b/c he white cells were too high, and they are keeping him again tonight to keep an eye on him. Hopefully all the tests will come back better, and he will come home tomorrow. The hospital staff is great, and he is as comfortable as a sick three year old in the hospital can get. I hope he has a good night.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The test of love

Grayson is still sick. He was up every 15 minutes last night while laying in bed with me. He yelled at me for over an hour about being hungry, then yelled at me for two hours about wanting to go outside and play (this was from 3:30p5:30 am)

He has been crying and screaming and demanding things all day. He screamed at me the whole time we were waiting to see the doctor, he screamed at me when we left, he is screaming right now. My boy is usually so easy going and good natured, but he hasn't slept in days and the heavy steroids he is on affect his mood. I love him, I have been telling him and myself all day how much I love him, but boy is he testing my patience. Usually I could look at the situation and know that in three hours he will be in bed, but since he hasn't slept in three nights, I am not expecting much relief. I have two papers that I must complete tonight, plus three more by Saturday. Arghh.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Take a shot

So Grayson had a rough night again. I am happy I stayed home, especially since Ryan kept telling me today how he was fine and doing better, while I thought he was worse. By the end of the day, I was sure he was worse, called the doctor and asked to come in. We went in at 4:10, saw a different doctor from yesterday (which helps me know I am not crazy and he is sick) and while his oxygen levels are good, he is retracting on one side. They gave him a breathing treatment, and still he was retracting. This is not good, especially since it is on the one side, and he has taken two doses of oral steroids, an inhaled steroid and the Xopenex. They gave him a shot of another steroid, a more potent one, and told us to come back tomorrow, if we make it through the night.

My boy was a trooper, and was his usual chipper self, even though he looks like death. He let them poke him and listen to him, he sat there and did his treatment and he took the shot like a champ. I am very proud of him, and also worried that he will have a bad night. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Croup

So, I should be driving to Pittsburgh, but my baby is sick. He started with the cough and a low temp yesterday. Last night, he was up all night just coughing and gasping to breathe. I thought that maybe my want to stay home was making me think he was worse than he really was, but he really is sick. I took him in and the doctor was concerned, seems he has really bad croup and his asthma is really bad. They gave him a dose of oral steroids in the office and he will be on them the next few days, along with the inhaled steroid and the xopenex. We are under strict orders that if his temp reaches 101 or he takes his meds and is still wheezing or having trouble breathing, we are to head to the hospital. It is never good when the doctor tells you to be ready to go to the hospital.

So my boy is sleeping and I am hoping for the best.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Concerned

I am planning to leave tomorrow to go on a trip to Pittsburgh for work. I really don't want to go, but am looking forward to meeting two of my coworkers face to face. There has, however, been a lot of illnesses going around our area, and I am worried that one of my kids may get sick while I am gone. The virus seems to be causing high fevers and coughs, and last night my neighbor's little girl (7) went to the ER with a high fever and it looks like she hasn't come home yet, more than 12 hours later. My son had a slight fever last night and a cough, but so far, so good today...only time will tell. I just hope that my boss understands if I don't make it up there.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Recycle your dinner

Dinner was yummy, but we had a ton of leftovers. The chicken bones became stock along with an onion and a few carrots. Stock was strained and has since become soup with the leftover chicken, some rosemary, carrots, corn, peas and noodles all mixed together with a little salt and sage. The final ingredient is our secret weapon and it is what takes watery, bland chicken soup to tasty, wonderful chicken soup, and I owe it to my husband who figured this out. We add a few dashes of Frank's Red Hot to the soup and WHAM-Fabulous, flavorful soup. It doesn't make it spicy, it doesn't overpower the taste of the chicken, veg or herbs, it just gives it a little something special.

So....how are you going to recycle your dinner tonight?

Evening buzz

It has been quite a day, and we are getting ready for the Sunday feast. The house is completely decorated for Christmas, and I have one of the papers I needed to write completed. Dinner is ready, a roast chicken (a Sunday favorite), stuffing made with my homemade bread, roast sweet potatoes with local honey and cinnamon and salad. The crew is hungry, husband should be down any minute and I have all of my research ready for tonight's paper. If possible, I will write at least three pages and grade 25 of PT school's exams. Tomorrow I have to finish all of the grading for PT school and write another 3-5 page paper, plus finish packing and get the girl's stuff together. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed!

The Morning Report

We had a nice start to the day, a perfect Sunday morn. The kids and I slept until 8, two little heads in my bed and the third not far away. We lingered upstairs until 8:30 then came down and I made the girls sausage and french toast and Grayson had eggs and sausage. I made the plan for the day-and it is jam packed! Grabbed the wood for the fire and got that going, and I must say I have become quite the little fire starter:) Did the dishes, switched the laundry, vacuumed half the lower level and laid out all of the decorations that still need to go up.

The kids have been playing well, and I decided to be kind to myself today and have a nice lunch. My kiddos voted for leftover pizza and salad, I took a small spaghetti squash and roasted it, added some of the meatballs and sauce from last night and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese and I will have it with a nice salad. Yum!

I also am baking more cookies (big surprise I know). Today I am making chocolate chip cookies, maybe not the fanciest, but a special request from Ryan. It is now just after noon, we are actively into our day and I am getting ready to start some schoolwork. Busy, yet wonderfully warm, Sunday morning.

Daily Grind

So one of the biggest problems I have faced as we are making the move to eating local, whole foods is my first love, coffee. As there are no coffee growers in Virginia or 100 mile radius, I obviously cannot get local coffee. In my world, the next best option is to buy free trade coffee. For those who don't know, free trade items such as coffee, chocolate, etc, means that the growers and/or producers of the product are paid a living, fair wage for their products. Many coffee growers who are not free trade are not paid a fair wage for their product, and often work very hard but do not earn enough to support themselves and send their children to school. Fair trade ensures that the groups, often women, are paid enough to live in a clean, safe environment. I always try to buy Fair Trade Organic if possible, and will begin roasting the beans here at home once I order my home roaster.

I also plan to start making out own juices when fruit is in season. My kids drink juice, but not a lot, so I may start making homemade apple and orange juice.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Busy minds

I now sit in my bed, and am so thankful that the day is over, or at least I hope it is. Ryan ended up going in to work simply because they are so understaffed that he had to go :( I hope he is OK, he thinks it is just a really bad migraine, but sitting at work sucks when you feel badly.

Needless to say I did not get anything I wanted to completed tonight. I still have that paper looming, there are dishes in the sink and I need to get packing for the trip. Tomorrow I will have to get up, feed the tribe, do the dishes and get going on that paper. I think I will also try to get packed up, so that I can mark that off of the list. I want to have as much done as possible tomorrow so I can worry about cleaning the house and organizing everything for Ryan and the kids for when I am gone.

It is so strange to think that in just a few days I will be in Pittsburgh. I hate travelling away from home, and sitting in meetings all day doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun, but I have to go. I figure I can do anything for three days, so I will go, meet people, hopefully have some fun and accomplish a few things.

Ah now, if only I could sleep.....

Spoke too soon

Ah well, the dream night is gone. Husband woke with a raging headache and heartburn, and is now very, very sick, I am not sure he will make it to work tonoght. I am hoping it is just a migraine and not the dreaded stomach bug as I am due to leave on Tuesday and I don't want to be sick on the trip or have him dealing with three sick kiddos. It has already been a rough winter, and we are just getting started, so I am ready to get this trip over with so I can get the crew healthy. I am hoping that two weeks off from school will be enough time to build their strength.

As an aside, I have to say that I am amazed daily by Brittan. She is so quiet as compared to the rest of us, and she has always been a bit of a mystery to me. She tends to be aloof, doesn't like noise, and is not as manic as the rest of the tribe who loves big, hates big, etc. As Brittan has grown older, she is truly a neat kid, smart and sweet, a child who thinks before she speaks or acts. She is really, really trying to read, and she is doing a great job. She just filled another treasure map for school, and she wrote the names in so seriously, taking this task to heart. She may be different from the tribe, but it is a refreshing change, and without her, our family wouldn't be complete!

Pancakes

The tribe, Ryan and I went to the girl's school this morning for the annual Pancake Breakfast and Book Fair. The kids and Ryan had some pancakes, juice and sausage as I helped out with pouring juice. This is a PTO event, and my neighbor is the chairperson, so I went, poured and helped out the school. The event was packed, so hopefully a lot of money was raised for the kids!

While I finished pouring juice, the kids headed to the book fair, and they each came home with a new book. Brittan did a great job reading her new book, she is doing much more reading than Haven did in Kindergarten, but she is also a perfectionist, so she will work until it is right.

Afterwards, Britt and I went and grabbed haircuts, just a trim for her, a few inches for me. Then home to lunch, I made some peppermint meringues and meatballs and pasta for supper. Graded for FT school, will write a paper tonight, and hopefully, I have a quiet evening of work and toasty fires ahead.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Oh Christmas Tree!

So, today started off cold and drzzly, but the school opened on time. Ry took the girls to school, I held down the fort here and the day began. We had a quiet day at home, I worked on cutting, baking and decorating the gingerbread men and gingerbread snowflakes. I started putting the Christmas decorations out, did a little work, had lunch and gave Gray a nap. For dinner I used up some leftover chicken and made tortilla soup and quesadillas for everyone. The soup was good, but subbing canned jalapenos for canned green chilis made it a little too spicy for the tribe. Some soup doctoring later, we had dinner and the kiddos ate their soup.

After dinner, we started to decorate the big tree. We cut the tree down from a local tree farm last week, and now the lights are on and it was ready to be decorated! I love getting all of the ornaments out and telling the kids who made each item, or where we bought it or when. We even have the paper stocking with the glue glitter that I made in kindergarten circa 1980! I admit I got weepy a few times, seeing all of the "First Christmas" and homemade goodies from the kids. Quite a few tears were also shed when I found the ornaments that Ryan bought me the first year we were dating, little did he know how what he was getting into!

Now I sit here, the tree is done, the cookies put away, the fire glowing and the kids almost ready for bed and I am so very thankful to be the mama to the tribe and the wife to Ryan. We may be a crazy bunch, but there is a lot of love and strength in our family.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Brrrrrr

It's cold.... really, really, really cold. As of right now, our temp is 18 degrees....brrrrrrrrr. They are also talking of delayed opening tomorrow. I am not sure I am up for an delayed start, I would rather they be home all day or go regular time. Time to go bundle up!

Thursday Fun

We had a school delay this morning, so the kids had a leisurely morning filled with pancakes and french toast made by Daddy! I took Gray and we dropped the girls off at school and headed towards the farm. A quick stop for new PJs for my trip, and a bagel for Gray and soup for me for lunch and we headed out to the country. We got to the farm, got our milk and had a few minutes to chat with the farmers and met the man who supplies the meat. I got the prices for the quarter and half of cow, and now will research to see if the cows are grassfed and organic. I love going to the farm, Grayson had fun chatting with the farmers but alas today, no chicken!

We came home, did some cleaning and then the girls came home. We had our neighbors youngest here as well since her mom was at the dr with her sister, but the she came home and came to play as well. While they were here, I made the gingerbread dough for our gingerbread men and potato pancakes for dinner. Yum!

Now all I have to do is finish a paper and have a nice quiet night at home with the husband.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My little cookies

Here are some pics of the girls and the cookies I made yesterday. Grayson ate his too fast, so I threw in a pic of my favorite guy from NC!









We have snow

OK, I was just as disappointed as the kiddos when we woke up this morning and there was no snow. The kids wanted a snow day, and if they had gotten one, I would have been jealous because I have to teach today and am gone all day! I live for snow days, I love the surprise of the kids being home and they are always in good moods and up for fun. Alas, no snow day, but they might get home early, poor Ryan.

But when we left for school this morning, the kids were thrilled to see snow falling. So far, not much has fallen, but hopefully we will get the 2 inches forecasted. I am also keeping my fingers crossed that we will get a good snow before Christmas and have a much loved White Christmas :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cookie crumbles

OK, so managing three wild kids and making chocolate florentine cookies can be a bit trying. I love these cookies, they are so lacy and delicate, but I never make them. I actually believe the last time I made them was about 11 years ago when I was dating a certain German boy. The cookies are a pain, so I think that is why I haven't made them in so long, but I will keep at it! Pictures to come :)

Chilly

It was cold this morning, only 34 when I left to take the girls to school. We dropped them, Gray and I ran to the store and then home to straighten up. Emily picked us up at 11 and we went and grabbed her girls from preschool and met her husband for lunch. Then we came back home, and Em's girls are here so Emily and Ben can go to a meeting. The kids are playing well, and I have a warm fire for them. I also have a batch of cookies in the oven, a treat for the kids and more to stash for Christmas and a pot roast that is about to be put on for supper.

I love winter, and there is some snow forecasted for tomorrow, but I hope it holds off. I am giving my class at PT school their final tomorrow as I will be in Pittsburgh for FT school next week, so a snow day would not be a good thing. That being said, once I get back from the Burgh next Friday, it can snow all it wants!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Happy Monday!

We slept in this morning, and didn't rise until a very late 8 am. I was nervous that we would have a rough morning, but we got going and out the door a bit late, but early enough to have the girls at school on time. After dropping the girls off, Grayson and I ran to Lowes to bring back the stupid train and get a new tree stand. We were successful, came home to clean the house and for me to grab a shower. Emily and Maggie came by, and then we all left to pick Killian up from school. We had some errands to do in Fredricksburg, so we headed down there so Em could buy a new dishwasher (a moment of silence for her, life with three kids and a broken dishwasher is hell) and then I had to return a few things. I also got a new purse for my trip so I can look like a grown up. Back home, got the snack for the Brownies, dropped it off, Em the kids and I drove around, the babies slept and then Brittan and Declan got home. After the Fallons left, we made dinner, I did some work and now I will feed the tribe and get ready to run a faculty development call at 8. Whew...but overall, the kids were good and my stress is low :)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Success


So the consensus was that the pasta and bread were delicious. The kids ate every bite, quite the accomplishment as someone always hates something I make for dinner. I served the pasta with oregano, broccoli, sea salt, a little butter, olive oil and fresh Parmesan.


Not a stunningly beautiful meal, but healthy, hearty and homemade. Interestingly, the kids seem to prefer the whole wheat bread over the white bread I have been making, seems never buying white bread from the store has trained their palettes :)

I am hoping that when we get to spring and the produce is coming in, we will get involved in some of the Eat Local challenges. This whole meal could have been local if in season, except for the cheese.

To note

Don't make homemade wheat bread and homemade wheat pasta when you feel like crap. The pasta was an ordeal, but by the end I got the hang of it. Currently I am laying on the sofa, bread is baking and pasta will be started in about 15 minutes. I am also counting the seconds until Ryan gets up so he can go get me a Coke for my very, very sick stomach.

Not quite supermom...but trying

OK, so maybe I was a bit over ambitious today. I did go get the batting, and I did get it on the cut board. The problem was that the train was too big and didn't fit on the board, ah well, I will return it. The stand that Ryan picked up was too small, so I will be returning that as well :(

I did, however, get a nice tomato and onion frittata made for lunch, there is whole wheat bread rising by the fire, and I will start the pasta in the next half hour. Not the best day, but I am trying. I will also admit to yelling at the kids when I was frustrated, but they have forgiven me and we have moved on with our day :)

Gray Mornings

Today is a gray day,and I am a bit sad that we are missing all of the snowy fun that those just north of us are getting.

It is just after 10:30 today, and the kiddos and I have been busy! We got up and they had a breakfast of eggs, sausage and cereal (I swear they are addicted-and it was Special K!) I did some cleaning, made the morning coffee and discovered that my coffee maker is injured. I love my coffee maker, it is a Melitta Mill and Brew and I have had it over 5 years. It is a bit sad, the top latch is broken so a bag of pastina keeps it closed, but still I love it. Today it sprang a leak, I repaired it with some electrical tape,but alas, I fear it needs to go. I ordered a new one and it should be here by Wednesday, and yes, I got the same one, so very brand loyal!

The kids have been busy making ornaments and paper chains for their tree. I got the pasta machine out so that we can make some homemade pasta today for dinner, and I think we may whip up some bread as well. I made the fire, went out to the woodpile and gathered the days wood and made our home warm and cozy. Whew, we have been busy!

When Ryan gets home, he will put the family tree in the living room, and cut the board for the kid's tree while I run to get the batting. Then he will head up to bed, I will set up the kid's tree and they will go to town decorating. While they are busy, the bread will be made, the pasta rolled and then the kids will cut the pasta for me. Pictures to come!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

All grown up...

Haven lost another tooth today, and she came to me and told me that she knew Ryan and I were the tooth fairy. At seven years old, and the oldest of my children, it hurt that she was ready to know the truth about this. We have always sworn to tell them the truth about anything they asked, something that I hope will help us when they are teenagers, so I checked that she REALLY wanted to know. She did, and she promised to keep the secret, so I told her the truth. I know she will not tell her sister and brother, she is too much of a mother hen to do that, but a piece of me is so sad that she is already past the point of wonderment.

Christmas greenery

Today was the big day...time to get a tree. Once we hauled ourselves out of the house at nearly 12:30, we stopped at the Fallons to drop off their chocolate milk and get the free, fake tree that will live in the playroom. Then we were off to lunch, which was pretty enjoyable, a surprise as the kids were VERY hungry and VERY sick of waiting :) After lunch, Ryan and I made the executive decision to go get the tree at the Christmas tree farm that is closer to our house, rather than the one that is almost an hour away, but a pretty country drive. We went to Nokesville to the tree farm, and on the way Brittan, Grayson and Ryan fell asleep! We got there and went looking for the "perfect" tree. We found one, but then a family came over and they had been looking at that tree and another, so we let them have the tree they wanted. Then from across the farm, I saw it, the perfect Kelley Christmas tree, so we went and cut it down. We ended up with a White Pine, even though Ryan really wanted the Norway Spruce, but it is tall, and full and the needles are soft.

On our way home we stopped at Lowes for the sealant for the new marble on the island and a piece of wood to make the base for the kid's tree. Needless to say, the wood was huge and had to be tied under the tree, but we got it home in one piece. Tomorrow I will cut down the wood, wrap the batting around it to make snow, put the kid's tree up and the train underneath. They have been busy making ornaments, and while it won't be the prettiest tree, they will love it!

Tomorrow night I will make a pot of cocoa and we will decorate the family tree in the living room. Then I will put out the rest of the decorations and we will be ready to enjoy Christmas.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Glass bottle yumminess

The new market was great! The girl who was working there was helpful and told me where all of the items came from, which towns, farms, etc. They had some of the creamline milk I wanted in, so I grabbed a half gallon, and a half gallon of chocolate milk for my kids and a quart for Emily. We also got some local raw honey, locally grown and milled cornmeal, and eggs. I placed an order for more creamline milk that we will pick up next week, and I will be heading up there every other week to keep us in milk. The kids were so excited to have the milk, it is smooth and creamy and sweet.

Finding a path

Today was a bad mental health day for me. Let's face it, it isn't easy being crazy, not for the family and not for the crazy person. Some days I can control the OCD really well in my own head, I can keep the plan going, adjust as needed and stay together. My life always needs just one thing I can count on or one place to go to get calm, one clean orderly perfect room or a simple plan of action, if I have one of those, I can survive. Today I had none, and I kept trying to roll with everything and deal with everything changing quickly, but I was tired and crabby and just couldn't get everything to sit right in my head. When this happens I just fall apart, it is like trying to put a puzzle together, and each time you find a piece that fits, someone takes ten away. I had a meltdown, cried a bit and finally Ryan came and gave me a plan. He can be difficult a lot of the time, but he knows that I try so hard to keep everything together, that when I break, I break hard. He gave me a plan to get dressed, take Gray (b/c he makes me smile) and go to the farm market (which also makes me smile) and then to get a few other items. I got dressed, got Gray in the car and off we went. Driving has always calmed me, and driving through the country really makes me happy, and I let my mind drift to when we finally get to move to some land....The radio was going, I was singing, Gray was happy and we found the new market with no trouble. I came home calmer and happier.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Milky goodness!

As I was searching for a Christmas tree farm nearby so we can go cut our tree this weekend, I came across one farm and saw that they had free range fresh eggs. I was excited that we could go there and stock up on eggs too and as I looked through the page I saw they had milk from a PA creamery, and it looks like they may have organic creamline milk! I will call and check tomorrow, but even if they don't stock it, I can probably order it since they get deliveries from the creamery. My family loves creamline, this is milk that is pasteurized but not homogenized so the cream rises to the top. We can use the cream to make whipped cream or shake it into butter. The milk is so fresh and delicious and it is better for the kids, free of hormones and antibiotics. Research has also shown that homogenized milk makes the fat worse for you than non homogenized milk, something to do with the way the process damages the fat globules. Oh I am sooooo excited, I have been searching for a local milk supplier!

Let the baking begin

I am usually not a baker. Oh I trudge through the cupcakes and cookies of life with kids, but I prefer to cook rather than bake except at Christmas. I LOVE Christmas cookie time. Every year I start right before December 1st and I bake and bake and bake. I always make at least six types of cookies (and dozens of each kind) and as I bake them, I pack them up and freeze them. Then the week before Christmas I start bringing the cookies out. We pack them up for friends, family and teachers. I put a plate out after dinner for the kids to snack on, etc. Usually the weekend before Christmas, I make a batch of hot chocolate, top it with marshmallows, and the kids, Ryan and I snuggle up in front of the fire and watch the Christmas specials.

Today I began the madness. I made a batch of fudge, but I am not sure if it came out right or not, time will tell. I also started the jam print cookies. As Haven cannot have nuts or any pit fruits (cherries, peaches, apricots, etc) we use seedless raspberry jam. The batch I made was wonderful, so Thursday I will use the rest of the dough and finish those off. Next in line are the shortbread cookies with chocolate, macaroons, cathedral fudge and meringues. I will make peanut butter chocolate chip cookies (havey's faves) and sugar cookies that the kids decorate. I also have a few more recipes to try, so I may make it to double digits this year :0

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Child's Winter Wonderland

We have always decorated the house very traditionally, with white lights and wreathes, etc. Now that the kids have grown up a bit, they want all the glitzy, spinning, blow up things. This year we totally indulged them...there is an area in front of the garage that is now a kid's fantasy. A blow up Santa in a plane, a blow up snowman, oversized light bulbs, a train and a reindeer. Along with this, they will have their own tree in the playroom with crazy colored lights and any ornaments they want.

I want the kids to feel that they are involved in what we do, and that their opinions matter to us. While I will have my traditional tree with the ornaments that have been handed down and the white lights in the living room, they will have their tree with the train on the bottom and paper chains and homemade snowflakes in the playroom. As they grow, I hope that they continue to decorate "their" tree and that it is something that always makes them happy to look back on. Once the rest of the house is decorated, I will take a picture and post :)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Chilly Beach

We went to the beach when we were in NC. It was chilly, but the kids had fun. I love this picture :)


Winter night

Sundays are my favorite evening in the winter. Right now, it is just getting dark outside, my family room is warm with the fire that has been burning since 9 am. My kids are playing well, Ryan is sleeping before work tonight, and I have a toasty supper cooking away. For me, winter meals are hearty and warm, and they make you feel cozy. Tonight we are trying something new. I had some thin round steaks that I needed to cook, so I mixed up some feta, sundried tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper and spread it on each steak and rolled them. I then cooked up some sweet onions, added white wine, salt and tomatoes and made a sauce. I put some sauce in the bottom of a baking dish, added the rolled/stuffed steaks, and then covered with the rest of the sauce. It has been braising in the oven for a while and smells delicious! We will have it over rice with a big salad and some rolls. A nice hearty dinner, full of winter coziness.



As an aside, if everyone can keep their fingers crossed for us it would be great. Someone at Ryan's work is leaving, so Ry is going to try to move into that position. Pay should be better, but what is best is it is an AM shift position, 4 -10 hr days a week. For us, Ry would leave around 4:45 am and get home by 6 pm the four days, and the other three he would be here and on our schedule. He works the 4/10hrs now, but it is nights, so we lose a day off so he can sleep before work. I REALLY need him to be on our schedule, so please keep your fingers crossed!

Stress and Reminders

The stressors....

So I am battling some stressors today. My house is still in upheaval, the china cabinet is still in the Living Room, and it's contents are all over my desk. We need to solve the moulding issue in the Dining Room, put it in, and then we can move the cabinet back. This wouldn't be a huge issue, except that the cabinet is sitting right where the Christmas tree is supposed to go. The other thing causing me stress is the island I bought for the kitchen. Currently the island is sitting in a weird location in the kitchen, and I need to get shelves before I can move it. Again, this is something I need Ryan to help with, and with our schedule, I am not sure how we will get it done. The last thing causing me stress is my upcoming trip to Pittsburgh. I have to leave on December 11th and I come back the 15th. I HATE being away from home, especially right before the holidays. I have no choice and have to go, but I am dreading it. At least once I come back I will be off from both jobs and will have a few days to concentrate on Christmas. With the trip coming, I am feeling pressured to get the house decorated, the cookies started, etc.

Reminders
These are things I have to try to remember everyday, no matter what all the chatter in my head says :)

1. The house is way cleaner than I think.
2. There is more time tomorrow, and some things can be put off.
3. Laundry will never get done, just stop trying.
4. Kids are loud, crazy, and messy...but they also make you smile the widest and laugh the hardest.
5. Husbands are annoying, slow and messy...but they hold you when you are stressed and offer to so things that wouldn't really help, but they don't know better
6. Best friends are a unique blessing, they are family that you actually like to hang out with.
7. It is all ok in the end.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Good days, bad days...

So the last post was about a bad day. To clear it up, Ryan was exhausted, he had been working late on top of the OT and started the week with laying the floor. He decided to come with us, we left that day and all was fine...with us at least. We ended up leaving my mom's early since putting my family, my sister's family and my parents in one place is enough to drive me batty. We got home late last night, did a few things today, started getting the Christmas decorations up, and are having Emily's crew over for game night. A nice fun night for the grownups and kids, good day :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It's not as easy as it looks

I know that many people who know me, know my life, and know what I do day in and day out think that I do sooo much and am efficient and happy, etc. You know what, more days than not I feel like a giant screw up. I feel like I am being pulled in every direction possible, none of which are the ones that would be the "best" for me. There is immense pressure on me to make money, plus I want to be there for the kids and all that entails, plus school, which is the only way I can get out of the hell that is my life and two jobs. I don't feel successful, I don't feel like I do anything particularly well, and I feel most days like a walking fraud, as so many people I encounter are so "impressed" by my daily life.

Here's the real scoop...many, many days are spent with me ending the day a wreck, truly falling apart because I cannot do one more thing, I am exhausted, and have usually done what many people do in a week in a mere 12 hours. I am mostly hated by my husband, not sure why, but he seems to hate me a lot...I might be horrible to live with, and I am sure it is intense to be married to me. I have such high expectations that many people in my life assure me the rest of the world cannot meet these....even I can't meet my own expectations, so it is unreasonable to ask anyone else to I guess.

Right now I am sitting here with three papers hanging over my head, a few hours of work to do tonight, a husband who is MIA, kids who are expecting to go to my parent's house tomorrow, and me with a horrible choice. Husband claims he is not going, so do I stay home where I am not under pressure, don't waste 12 hours in the next 4 days driving and am in my element or do I load the kids up, drive to my parents where I wrangle three kids with no help (they really don't help, I am not sure why, but they don't), deal with the kids not sleeping, me not sleeping, try to cram the papers and work in on no sleep and no kid help, etc? Two really splendid choices, eh? The worse part is, I was really looking forward to this trip, with Ryan working so much overtime, I wanted us all to spend time together as a family. I have been running around the last few days doing everything I can to get ready to go, and now I have to choose between two options that just make me depressed.

So...it is nowhere near lollipops and rainbows here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Getting into the holiday week

Had a rough start this morning, I woke with a bad headache and three loud kids. Headache seems to be leaving, kids are upstairs playing and I have gotten a few chores done. I have to get everyone dressed in a bit, we had a small change of plans, we need to head out and buy the inflatable Santa in the plane.

We have long avoided the inflatable lawn decorations and always use simple classic decorations, especially since our house is a very classic colonial. The kids ask every year for some big, bright blow up thing, and this year we are letting them have an area to decorate. I figure each year, they can decorate that area as they see fit, and our house will be classically designed for me, and fun for them. I am also decorating the playroom for them this year. We are getting a tree from a friend and I am putting lights in there for them. They will be making a bunch of ornaments for their tree and we got them a train to run around the bottom, it should be the perfect children's Christmas room. No worries for me, we will have the fresh tree in the living room with our collection of decorations, a little something for everyone!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A much deserved day of fun

I had planned on taking the kiddos out today for an Ikea run, but it was chilly this morning and we were all snuggly, so we stayed home. They are having a good day, playing well and enjoying each other's company. The fire is blazing, the kids are eating their lunch and we have a special snack baking for later. Since we are heading to my mom's this week, I am not baking any bread, but wanted to make some snacks to bring with us. It always seems that trips mean tons of junk in the car, and more junk when we get there, so this year I am prepared. I just made some simple granola bars, these are maple, raisin and cinnamon. Tomorrow we will get some dried cranberries, apples and blueberries, along with wheat germ and flax seed to bring the protein level up. I use applesauce instead of oil and honey and maple syrup to sweeten, loads of good oats and fruits make them soft and filling. I will pack these up and take them with us, and of course I will bake a treat, probably peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, but will hide those at the bottom of the snack bag :)

I still have a ton of laundry to do, I promised the girls we could play a game, I have to make dinner and do some work. I need this relaxing day, it feels great to hang with the kids, play and joke with them, with no rush to do anything. Ryan requested a simple dinner, just hamburgers and the sides, so even that will be easy tonight. I have a few beautiful butternut and spaghetti squashes that I want to use before we go, so tomorrow I will make chicken with roasted butternut squash. We must head to Ikea tomorrow, I saw some great big glass jars that will work well for dried goods, and I need a shelf for the microwave. Tomorrow we will run, today we will relax and play.

Friday, November 16, 2007

New Dining Room Floor

We have been busy the last few days. We purchased some cork flooring and installed it in the dining room. We have had really nasty carpet in there since we bought the house, but I never knew what to do in the room since it is bordered by tiles in the kitchen and peg wood in the foyer. We found this cork and fell in love, especially since it is supposed to be really durable! I also love that the cork is a renewable resource, a big bonus in my world :)

We took out the nasty carpet and the tack strips, fixed an uneven area of the concrete sub floor, repainted the lower portion of the walls, laid the vapor barrier and then the cork planks. We moved the new rug in, and put the table and chairs back a big relief since they were in the middle of my kitchen. I still need to paint the moulding and then we can install that and put the china cabinet back. Phew, a lot of work, but it looks great!





Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dreary day

It is Wednesday, and as my children were awful little devils yesterday, I was not able to finish my grading so I am sitting here at school. I really wanted to go home between classes, but oh well, as least grades are done for PT school. Now I have to get on and do some work for FT school, plus look at what is needed for my class. Even stretched as thin as I am now, I am considering taking a class on campus at PT school in the Spring. My doctorate is so business focused, and I have been taking things like "Leadership Studies" and "Global Economy" and blah blah blah. I want to take something I am interested in, and although I was planning to wait until I was in dissertation stage to take classes at PT school, I think I want to start now. They have a cool Grad certificate in Women's Studies that would help my research on gender and marketing. The certificate is only 5 classes, and I can take them for free here, so I really want to do it. The main problem is that I don't feel like I have any time to do anything, and having to leave my house at 6:30 on a Thursday to attend class may be too much. Maybe I will wait until Fall since Gray will be in preschool and I should have a bit more down time. Ah well, now back to the grind :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Update...

If I thought it was bad last night when I was watching Sesame Street at 11:30 pm, man was I wrong. It rapidly went downhill from that point, lots of nasty gross things happened that don't need to be elaborated on, and I got 3 hours of sleep. If we average up the last two weeks, I have slept an average of 2 hours a night. Between the utter exhaustion, Britt being home from school sick, Grayson still sick and me not eating, we are not having a good time here. I finally broke down at 4:30, while trying to grade papers so I could make dinner and the kids just fighting, screaming, bugging me, etc. It is now 10:15, I have five more papers to grade in the morning, plus getting the kids out the door, cleaning up, getting ready for work and getting on a conference call. I planned to come home in between classes tomorrow, but am now thinking I will stay on campus, just to enjoy the peace and quiet. Fingers crossed I sleep tonight...hmmm, Haven has been feeling well, maybe she will go down tonight. Argh!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sesame Street...at 11 pm

We are still fighting this cold, and Gray has had it pretty bad. Added to that is the fact that he is three and the magical age when children begin having nightmares and waking up REALLY freaked out. He has had a rough night, up three times and it is only 11:23. Each time he was just screaming and crying, so upset and he couldn't tell me what was wrong. I thought maybe his leg had a cramp, or his tummy hurt, but I think he was just in a bad sleep cycle. This last time I brought him down so he wouldn't wake the girls and actually bribed him with a Hershey's kiss. Usually I try to get him to take a sip of water or juice and that helps break him out of the hysterics, but he refused so I went for the big guns. After he ate the kiss, he settled a bit and asked to watch something on my TV. I had Follow that Bird saved to the tivo so he is happily sitting on a blanket with just one leg covered (he said that was the only cold leg) and seems OK. In just a few minutes, I will head up to bed and get him settled and hopefully that will be the end of his bad night.

Full pantry

I needed to go to the store today to get the snack items for Haven's brownie troop. As I was going anyway, I figured I should do a stock up since we will be away next week and I don't want to have to come back to empty shelves. Now I am a giant freak about food, not only because of Haven, but also because I like having a very full pantry. I have an entire room, about 10 x 7 as my pantry. There are two big shelving units, a standing freezer and a full fridge w/ freezer. I am one of those people who adhere to the concept of stockpiling, that is I buy a lot of stuff when on sale and store it for later. It is one of the things I began doing when I stopped working after Grayson was born, and I have found that if I keep up with it, I rarely have a huge grocery bill. I just pick things up as needed, especially if I can get a good price.

Ryan and Grayson came with me today, and we did pretty well getting everything we needed. My big freezer is packed, I have at least 35 meat meals, probably closer to 45. The pantry is loaded, I have all of my staples put away and I shouldn't need to go to the store for anything except milk and fresh fruit and veg. for at least three weeks. It makes me so happy to know that the house is stock full of all the things we need to sustain ourselves.

A day off? Don't make me laugh!

Ryan took last night off, he has been working a lot of overtime and we have been sick. I have only been sleeping a few hours a night and have a ton of work I needed to do, so I was really excited. He came home yesterday morning, played a video game, went to bed at 1:30....so far, not much of a help. He got up at 5:30, I went and got dinner (now you know I am tired if I ordered out!) we ate, kids got baths and he passed out at 8:30 pm on the couch. I sent him upstairs since the snoring was distracting me from the paper I was writing, so he was in bed just after 8:30! I was really sick and when I tried to go to sleep the snoring was so bad, I couldn't sleep. I got up with the kids all night and ended up getting just two hours of sleep again!

Today he keeps telling me to go back to bed, but I don't have the time to do that. I have work to do and I need to go to the store to get the stuff for Haven's brownie troop. I cannot take time off in the middle of a day, I need to get some sleep at night.

No rest for the weary, I am now going to get dressed to go to the store. YAWN!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hearty lunch

The kids and I have been fighting a cold, so everyone is a bit under the weather. Eating the way we are trying to is not always cheap, and I try to be as frugal as possible, so I am always excited when I can use leftovers to make something new. To keep us toasty today, I have a big pot of soup on the stove ready to be eaten with a hunk of yesterday's bread and a salad.

What I did was take the leftover chicken from yesterday and chop it up. I cooked a small onion until soft in a bit of olive oil, added three cloves of chopped garlic, the diced chicken, a cup of leftover green beans and two sprigs of rosemary. Once everything had cooked together for about 5 minutes, I added some leftover tomato basil soup I had in the fridge (about a half a cup), a large can of pear tomato strips with basil, two cups of chicken stock and a cup of water. Along with this, I tore up six large basil leaves, added sea salt and pepper. Everything cooked together for 10 minutes, I then added a cup of quinoa and a half a cup of pastini and a few shots of hot sauce and I will serve it with some Parmesan on top. A fantastic hot lunch, healthy and full of protein to fill bellies and warmth to soothe little throats.

The happy morning hum

On weekends or days off in the winter, we have a comforting morning routine. We get up and come downstairs, I give the kiddos breakfast, they feed the dog. While they are eating, I grab a sweatshirt and go out and haul a load of wood for the day (if Ryan is home, he will haul the wood) I then come in, start the fire, do the first vacuum of the day (always the family room and kitchen), start the coffee and clean up from breakfast while the kids head off to play. I am a sucker for a routine, the kids and I find it comforting to know what we are doing and in what order, there is no rushing or arguing, and we start our day off happy. It's the days we have to rush to leave that we do not to enjoy the slow start, the warmth of home and the calm ease into the day. I wish every winter morning could start like this.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sweet smells

I believe we may have the best smelling house on the block. The yeasty, doughy scent of fresh bread, rosemary from the bread and the chicken, roasted garlic, mmmm. I also have a skillet apple cobbler I made for dessert, now I just need to get Ryan to run and grab vanilla ice cream. Yum!

Kitchen changes

I have been going back and forth over what kind of island I want in the kitchen. I had planned to buy a butcher block topped unit, but being that I am making so much bread, I opted for a marble top. It should be here this week and I am so excited that I can pull it out and the girls and I can work together. When we start Christmas cookies (which should be next weekend) they will get a chance to really work with me, what a great learning experience!

As they love to cook, and we do a lot of it here, I purchased them each an apron for Christmas this year. Haven's has a tie-dye pattern (perfect for my little hippie) there is a pink retro butterfly pattern for Britt and a tractor pattern for Grayson. I am going to get them each a few little cooking items, measuring cups, spoons, etc, and they will be able to keep everything in their own basket in the kitchen. I cannot wait for Christmas!

As an odd aside, my mom expressed total support for the changes we are making here at home. With all of Haven's health issues, most of which relate to food and digestion, she thinks it is great that we are trying so hard to create an environment where Haven is getting the purest foods possible. It is a slow process, and we are just starting this journey, but I really believe that this is the best thing for her and that we may be able to help keep her from developing other food issues in the future.

Our glorious home...

Today I seem to have shaken off the funk I have been carrying. We slept well, and woke up late at 8 am. As part of the new food plan, I am really trying to get the kids to eat a hot breakfast each morning (less unknown ingredients than the cold cereal they love). Grayson always opts for eggs and today the girls took english muffins. We had an easy morning, made a nice warm fire, got some cleaning done and the kids played. For lunch they wanted pizza so I made some pizza dough for them (the one quick rise was great as they were hungry) and Haven wanted a calzone. The girls helped, Britt shaped the pizza and Haven the calzone. We used our fresh basil in the calzone and on top of the pizza and the kids loved their lunches!



As it is Saturday, I am baking some bread. The two loaves I make each weekend tend to make it through the week, and any leftovers or stale bits get crushed into breadcrumbs and thrown in the freezer to be brought back to life in meatballs, meatloaf, chicken cutlets, etc. One of the loaves I make today will be a rosemary bread to go with the rosemary roast chicken we are having for dinner :)

Friday, November 9, 2007

Calmer evening

I am feeling much better, amazing what a good cry (or a few) and a talk with a great friend can do to calm you. I cleaned the house, picked up Haven from school (with a sick Gray and Britt in their PJs), came home and made dinner (Sicilian Meatloaf, baked sweet potatoes, green beans and breadsticks) and ran some errands. While the family ate, I went out to a favorite shop of my girls and bought them each a sweatshirt, purse and a bunch of stocking stuffers for Christmas (shhh don't tell them!) While out I just made the time frame for the free coffee at Wawa :) Got home, husband and kids had cleaned up from dinner, talked to my neighbor for awhile about kids and activities, did some work and finally got to relax. It may be 10 pm, but I still have a fire going, a few minutes to myself and a calmer soul.

PS..thanks em, i know you have had a shitty few weeks, it was amazing of you to take care of me today and listen to me sob, you are the best!

Mistakes

A good friend blogged the other day that she and I were in her car with our six kids and she asked me if I knew how we got here. I explained that no, I didn't and that this was not the life I had planned at all. Ten years ago I would never have thought I was living in Virginia with three kids, a professor working to complete a doctorate and married to Ryan. I love my kids and most of the time my job. I love my husband most of the time, but just like all marriages there are good and bad days. We have been having a rough two days here, lots of fighting, lots of angry nastiness. Times like these make me feel like I made a mistake in choosing him as my husband and the father of my children, but deep down inside I know that these are just two days of many that are wonderful. Where I am happy that we laugh and play and enjoy each other. I really think a lot of the last few days has to do with all of the overtime he has been working, it has worn me down and worn him down, I haven't been feeling well, the kids have been sick, so all around, we are just done. I just wish that when we were mad we weren't so mean, I know that some of the things I say stick with him for a long time, and some things he says just bruise my heart. I do love him, and just hope that we can mend the fence and head back to the fun days.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Busy little bee

I have been busy, really busy, so much so that I feel like my head is going to fall off if things don't slow down. As it is Wednesday, and anyone who reads this should know, I am sitting at the library of an undisclosed university killing time between classes. I have been here for an hour, and have two more to go, but no one should worry since I have about 10 hours of work to do!

So far I have had a conference call with FT teaching gig, taught a class for PT teaching gig, sat here and graded assignments for FT teaching gig, pulled some research for paper #1 I need to write today. I still need to complete grading for FT teaching gig, grade 100 exams (all essay!!) for PT teaching gig, teach a 3 hour class for PT teaching gig and write two papers for doctoral program. Whew, that was a lot to write, let alone do-and it is 5:00 now!

Now a rant...I just have no patience left for people who are soooooo busy and can't do anything but work. Really, you can't or you have something better to do? I have somehow managed to birth 3 kids in four years, work, get a masters and now be working towards a doctorate, play housewife, etc. Come on, now I know work can be a lot for people, but it can't be all that bad, and if you REALLY wanted to do something else like go back to school, volunteer, etc. you could do it. Come on now, if we all get together and work hard, think of how much can be done in a day!!!

OK, now I have to go write paper #1....go do something good!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Sex toys and brownie leaders

Last night I went to a "Slumber Party" at my neighbor's house. Becky is about the best kind of neighbor I could ever want, she is brass and curses, she doesn't bother me for stupid things or stop by randomly, and she is fun to be around. I can always count on her if I need something, I trust her with my allergy kid and she is also Haven's brownie leader. Over the last year, we have talked more and gotten to know each other a bit better, which is a big deal for me since I tend to stick with the usual suspects (really suspect!) and am really too busy to have to put a lot into being friends with someone.

Anyway, I went to the party last night at her house, and there were a lot of the other brownie moms there, the other leader, and one of the second grade teachers (not Havens!) and the aide from Brittan's class (that was funny). If you have ever been to one of these, they are really fun and if the group of ladies are into it, you can really have a good time. I am so glad I went, even though I had to leave a bit early because Ryan had to work, and I liked getting to know the mom's a bit more. I hope over the next year, I will get to know everyone better and maybe host something at my house :)

**Oh, and I did make a few purchases, but I am not telling

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Today in pictures

We baked our first bread of the season today and the kids were so excited. They love watching the process of kneading the dough and waiting for it to rise. The girls and I discussed how yeast works, they thought it was a little gross that the yeast gas makes the bread rise :) While the bread baked, the kids roasted marshmallows in the fire, I made a pot of BBQ beef for dinner and baked a tray of brownies. Overall, a good, fun day!







Educating the Children

As I have posted, we are dedicating the next year to moving our eating to locally produced, organic and whole foods. With three little kids, there will be days we order a pizza, eat out or buy fast food, but my goal is that all other times they eat healthy homemade meals. As we were making our bread today, my girls were asking why some peope don't cook like this and that they would make homemade food when they are grownups. I explained that I hope they make choices that they feel best suit their families, and that I have made the choices I have because I feel it is best for them. I know how crazy busy we get, and I do sometimes have to get take out and order in, I am human and don't beat myself up for needing to rely on outside food sources. All I want to acheive is to have the majority of our food be homemade and locally grown organic. This should equate to about 65-75% of our total intake, although in summer we may do better due to all of the fresh veggies. I have now finalized the CSA for spring, and I will also be getting eggs from them each week until I can convince Ryan to let me get chickens. The farm owner also told me about a raw milk cow share, but I cannot get Ryan in board with that, he will do non-homogenized, but not raw, so the search is on for a new supplier. Lastly, I am looking for a beef supplier and will be trying to locate a local farm where I can purchase our beef directly. This is a lot of work, but I know it is right for us.

Warmth and joy

We slept in today, the girls and I snuggled up in my bed, Grayson slept warm and toasty in his. As crazy as it makes me that my girls still come in to my room and sleep on the floor or in my bed the nights Ryan is at work, some mornings it is sweet to wake up next to two little blond heads resting peacefully. Grayson has always been a good sleeper, when he was a baby it used to make sad that he didn't want to be in bed with us like the girls did, that he wanted to be in his crib alone in his room. Now I am thankful that he is a good sleeper and that he can go to his bed and settle for the night, and he does come in every morning, climb into bed with us and snuggle up.

Today we slept really late, until after 8 which is a big deal here. We came down all rested and happy and I made the kids french toast and sausage for breakfast. I switched the laundry, gathered wood for the fire, started the fire and started our day. We have a wood delivery coming today, and the week ahead looks perfectly chilly, so our fireplace will be going strong. My girls have been asking for bread, so I will be baking a few loaves today for them, but it will have to be french bread since I am out of wheat flour :(

These are the days I love, a fire in the fire place, a warm home filled with the kids playing (Haven and Grayson are playing together and Brittan is working hard at reading a book) What a nice, warm morning.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!


We had a great day! The girls wore their Halloween shirts to school today, and Gray wore his here at home. I picked the girls up, and grabbed a friend's son as well and brought them home. I made a holiday dinner of Witches Fingers (Chicken strips), Blood and Guts Potatoes (potatoes mashed with cheese and ketchup then put back in their shells, drizzled with ketchup and extra cheese and baked) and haunted trees (broccoli with a cheddar cheese sauce dyed blue)


After dinner and dropping the friend's son off, the kid's suited up and went trick or treating. They only did about 10 houses, then came home to have a nice hot chocolate. They went to bed late, full of cocoa and happy halloween fun!


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Thoughtful patience

I haven't been feeling well the last week or so, nothing major, but I am not eating much and feeling sick. I have not stopped running our crazy world, I have gotten my kids where they need to go, cooked dinners that I wouldn't eat, sewed costumes, etc. I asked Husband to let work know last night that he might not be in tonight, I feel very weak and just need a decent nights sleep. He told work, they said OK, and I expected that he would stay with me tonight. I really needed someone with me, someone to sit next to me, keep me company and make me feel like I matter today. Husband went to work anyway. He promises he will leave early and be home to help get the kids ready, but he never actually gets out early. I am just sad that I am sitting here again, alone and sick. I understand and respect Husband's decision, and appreciate that he feels a need to achieve at work, but sometimes I need to be the focus of his world. Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A fall day, and good children return

Today was a much better day than yesterday. We started with a big group snuggle under my big down comforter in my bed. They all had breakfast and I started getting Haven ready for her party. She was going as a pageant queen, so we dolled her up and got the rest of the kiddos ready. Husband was kind enough to pick up the present for the party and the wrappings, so I could get Haven packed up. We sent her with her EpiPen and I got there a bit early and showed the mom how to use the EpiPen with the trainer. Haven went off to her party and Grayson and Brittan and I went to the grocery store. Did the shopping, came home and unloaded and feed the two kids. We went and got Haven, and went to get pumpkins. The kids each picked a huge one, and then I picked up an extra...just in case! They were beautiful pumpkins, and really cheap due to the proximity to Halloween, so I think I will head back tomorrow to get a few more to cook up into pumpkin pies and pumpkin bread. We came home, I started dinner and then helped the kids carve their pumpkins. Afterwards, we cooked the pumpkins seeds and had a lovely fall dinner of pot roast with potatoes and carrots as well as roasted acorn squash. A nice day :)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Whoever stole my children, please return them

My children and I had a horrible day. I had planned for a fun filled day, but that went out the window early this morning. This morning, Haven decided again that since she was up, the rest of us had to be as well. My other two kids don't do this, even the three year old, but Haven always makes it clear that when she is up, the day begins. I asked her very nicely this morning if I could have until 8 to get up (she woke me at 7:47) she then proceeded to bug me and pitch a fit until I got up-at 7:51.....yes, 4 minutes later she had woken both other kids and thrown a full on hissy fit.

We headed downstairs, did the breakfast thing and the kids fought. We were planning to go to the Fall Festival at their school, then to get pumpkins, then to get a present for a birthday party tomorrow. Brittan had soap left in her hair from her bath the night before, so I take her up to wash it out, and she throws a huge fit. So now they have been fighting all morning and throwing fits. That ended all plans for the day, we ended up staying home. They cleaned the playroom and their rooms, and helped with the laundry. I made them eat **gasp** leftovers and I think they caught on that I was really mad.

The evening was quiet, so I am hoping that tomorrow will be better. If husband can grab the present for the party on the way home, we will be able to get Haven to the party and then go get pumpkins after.....whew

Friday, October 26, 2007

New Floors

We have been in our house for four years, and when we bought it, it was a mess. The house design is great, but the interior and exterior needed alot of help. We have been steadily working on the house since we moved in, and one of the things that has driven me crazy since day one is the dining room carpet. It is a terrible brown and stained, and gross, and I have steam cleaned it to death. We could never figure out what type of floor to put in, the kitchen and back hall have a stone look tile, the foyer is old wood peg hardwood, the living room and stairs are a light tan/almost white carpet and the family room is a rustic look laminate. Being that the dining room butts up against the kitchen, back hall and foyer, I really did not want to mess with wood floors as how we laid them would be an issue. Then we found beautiful cork floors, and I am so excited that we ordered them today along with a new rug for under the table. When they are done, I will post a picture :)

Now I am planning to order a new couch for the family room, extra long to fit all of the tribe.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tea glorious tea

There is something delicious about a rainy day and a cup of tea. While I am a coffee geek, there are days that only a steaming cup of tea will do. Husband is not a coffee drinker, but he loves tea, so the kettle whistles a lot at our house.

Just now, as I settled to begin working, the kettle began whistling and my girls came running out of the playroom screaming "Tea tea tea" They then chose which tea they wanted, as did Grayson, and they are settling in at the table with their hot cups. It is so sweet to see them enjoying something that in America we see as an adult pleasure, but here in our home, on this rainy evening, my children end their day with a nice cup of tea before getting ready for bed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I *heart* Whole Foods

I am giving an exam... actually as we speak 50 poor students are taking a terrible exam that is all essay, and I am the one who is making them do it. My afternoon class took nearly 3 hours to finish the exam, so I didn't have enough time to go home between. I was sad I couldn't head home, but then I remember that I could go to....WHOLE FOODS!!!

Yes, I spent nearly an hour walking around Whole Foods. I love it there. I love looking at all of the interesting ingredients, and seeing all of those gorgeous grains in bulk bins. I got myself some dinner from the salad bar, my favorite roast eggplant salad and some quinoa. I also got a small cup of triple squash soup, my absolute favorite! I picked up a few things for the house, including some nice organic single origin coffee, but not too much since I am getting ready to place a huge grain order. I need cornmeal, quinoa, wheat berries, brown rice and white rice. I am also going to get some wheat flour and unbleached white flour for bread baking, and some yeast. It has finally cooled a bit here, we just had the fireplace inspected and repaired, and now I am ready for winter. Mmm...healthy whole grains and fires, it must be almost winter!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Running and running and running

I am tired. I am tired and I am crabby and I feel like no one else knows where I am coming from. I am looking forward to the next few days and I see very few opportunities for joy and happiness.

Husband has been working Fridays for a few weeks, and will be working them all through November. What that means for me is, he is off Wednesday night, but I teach until 10pm and he is exhausted, so we have no time together and i get no down time. He is off on Thursday, but I am running like mad, trying to play catchup for the week, and sometimes those evenings we have a few quiet minutes together. With him working on Fridays, he has to get to bed around lunchtime as he gets up to eat dinner with us and then goes to work. I miss Friday nights, they were my favorites as we usually stayed up really late and hung out in the quiet house. Then he would often let me sleep in a bit on Saturday, and I could use a sleeping in day right now.

Tomorrow I have to finish a paper, give an exam, grade 100 papers and grade for my other class. On Thursday I am not going to Brittan's class (because she requested I not come in if she is not there, and I am in when she is at music) but I have to get stuff for the weekend and I promised to donate some stuff for a party Britt's class is having on Friday. Then Haven has riding at 4 and I promised the kids we could FINALLY go get pumpkins after riding, then dinner, baths, bed, etc. Friday i have to go get a new number"7" for Haven's brownie vest as she lost hers, and she has to sell nuts at Wawa for two hours (ironic since the kid is allergic to nuts) and then Husband has work. Saturday is the Fall Festival at school, so I will attend with three kids by myself which could be fun or could be a awful. On Sunday Haven has to go to a birthday party and it is a costume party. I am making the girls Halloween costumes, so I need to have Haven's done before Sunday, along with getting a birthday present and baking her cupcakes so she has something to eat at the party.

So....I am tired and a bit weepy.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

In the quiet of the night

All mothers will tell you, there is a calm that comes with the night. The children are tucked into their beds, the dinner dishes washed (or at least soaking), and there is a quiet hum of a house that has seen too much activity and needs to rest. At these moments, no matter who long the day, or horrifically behaved the children, you can bask in the life that you live. My day was quite long, and my evening consisted of working for FT school and writing a paper for the doctoral program. At almost 10 pm, I still need to make lunches for the girls, pack their backpacks, check the weather and plan clothes. But now, just now, I walk through the quiet house and am thankful for the noise and the craziness that children bring, for the kisses and the arguments, the tears and the laughter. I am lucky to know that three little souls love and need me, and one big soul respects and loves me. I could not imagine a day not filled with "I love you" and am so happy that I have a life as full as I do.

Sunday Smells

As is often the case here on Sundays, today has been a day of baking, cooking, kid craziness and schoolwork. As Haven is allergic to nuts, I provide the snacks for the Monday Brownie meeting. I try to balance the healthy with the indulgent, as these girls are starving after school, but still have growing bodies. This week I decided to make them oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. A little healthy and a little indulgent.

As oatmeal raisin cookies are Emily's favorites, I made sure to make her a batch to enjoy. I am hoping she comes by tonight to get them so we have the rare opportunity to talk without six little voices. A nice cup of tea, fresh baked cookies and a chat, that would be the perfect thing today.

We also tend to have the big traditional Sunday night dinner, the kind where you have to start cooking at noon to eat by dinner time. This is by far one of my favorite traditions, and while I strive all week to provide home cooking, there is something glorious about the smells that fill the house on Sundays. Right now my house smells of a chicken roasting and veggies cooking up to be added to stuffing. A nice salad and some broccoli (the kid's favorite veggie by far) and we will have a nice meal together. Oh if only the weather would decide to finally become fall-like, I am so in need of a crisp evening, an apple pie baking and a snuggle on the couch under a soft blanket with a hot cup of coffee.