Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween

We went trick or treating in our downtown on Saturday. It poured rain on us until about 2 minutes before we made it to this spot (near our car). The kids' expressions and stances crack me up.

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

This is My Life

I was making biscuits this morning, casually looking out the window from time to time thinking about the cool, rainy day.

It would be such a nice day to sit in a coffee shop sipping on a latte with a good book in-hand.

The music in the background made me long for the serenity of a peaceful place. The noise of my kids laughing and talking kept me present in my world.

And then, I recognized discontentment.

If I were at the coffee shop, I might be looking around at the people there wishing I were with a really good friend.

If I were at a coffee shop with my best friend, we'd probably be dreaming of the day when we could take a trip together.

If were were taking a trip together, we'd probably be talking about the next, even better trip.

So, I prayed:
"Lord, let me be satisfied with the now. Let me be satisfied with the life I have. Let me be satisfied with today. Lord, satisfy me and the longings of my heart in a way that nothing else can."

I will take the biscuits from my oven.

I will take the raining dreary day.

I will take a backyard with overgrown grass strewn with toys.

I will take these happy, boisterous video game playing boys.

I will take a sweet girl with crazy bed head hair.

I will even take the cobwebs.

This is my life. I'm going to pour myself another cup of coffee and enjoy it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

For the Love of Chocolate

...and coffee.

Last night, I made Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie Bar's. They are delicious! I mean, they are oh-my-stars, where-have-you-been-all-my-life, delicious.

Chocolate Chip Brownie Bars

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
4 large eggs, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 box brownie mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil with a 2 inch overhang. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar at medium-high speed with a mixer until fluffy. Add 2 eggs, beating until well blended. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until mixture forms a soft dough. Stir in chocolate chips.

3. In another bowl, combine brownie mix, oil, water, and remaining 2 eggs, beating until well blended.

4. Spread cookie dough in prepared pan. Pour brownie mixture over dough. Using a knife, swirl mixtures together. Bake 40 minutes or until edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let cool in the pan for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours (I couldn't wait that long to try these yummies.) Cut into bars.

These go great with coffee. (No, I am not having coffee and chocolate for breakfast dessert!)

Speaking of coffee, did you notice my empty Starbucks cup in the picture?

Beth from Outnumbered, Three to One, is giving away 2 Starbucks Gift Cards to celebrate 300 blog posts. Beth is a sweet Southern lady. She has a thoughtful husband, famously known at my house for bringing her vidalia onions for mother's day. She also has 2 grown sons, one of which has a peanut allergy. In short, Beth is one lovely lady that shares from the heart (often humorously) on her blog. Stop by her place to win: 300th Post Contest

Here's one more look at sweetness:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Caught Drinking and Driving

Yesterday, I went shopping with my oldest son. On our drive, he was reading. I was humming along to music and sipping a Dr. Pepper.

Suddenly, my son said, "Momma! You're drinking."

I thought he was going to admonish me for drinking a soda. I've been drinking very few sodas in an effort to be healthier and I have had several conversations with him about how the less I drink soda the less I like it.

I said, "Oh, I know..."

He interrupted me.

"You cannot drink and drive. There are commercials that say that you can get arrested for that."

It was all I could do not to laugh (loudly). I suppressed my laugher the best I could and explained the meaning of drinking and driving.

That Dr. Pepper sure tasted refreshing after our conversation.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My State of Mind

I talked to my husband tonight. He's in Indiana.
I just took the Washington State plates off of my car and put on Oregon plates.
My alma mater, Alabama, beat my husband's alma mater, Tennessee.
I grew up in Tennessee. I went to college in Alabama.
The football victory was exciting until tonight when I found out that my team's biggest rival, Auburn, is #1.
Auburn is #1. Oregon, a team many of my local friends love, is #2.
I really want to go on a family vacation to California.

I live in a state of confusion.

Orange Crush

Before the Game:

Final Score: Alabama 41- Tennessee 10

Half of the family is really happy.

Roll Tide!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I am the cat

Do you know how many posts I have started lately and not finished? No, of course you don't. I'm still here. I'm just easily distracted. I start blogging and something requires my attention or, as in the case of last night, I sit down to write and I fall asleep.

I'd like to tell you to look forward to inspiring words from me. I'd like to say that I am going to share some funny stories that will bring tears to your eyes. I can't promise any of that. I have no idea what's next or when I will write. For any of you that are wondering where I am or if I am okay, I want you to know that... things are good.

No worries, everything's good at my house.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Works-for-Me Wednesday: One-on-one Time with my Kids

I have consistent one-on-one time with my kids. I spend time with each one of them, separately.

I've been doing this for about 3 weeks now.

My new system is working. What's even more exciting is how much the kids enjoy it. They talk about our time together. If we've had a busy afternoon, they will ask if we are going to have our time in the evening. They long for it.

If you'd asked me last year, I'd have had no idea how to achieve consistent one-on-one time with my 4 kids. I had one-on-one dates with the kids but I wasn't getting that personal time on a consistent basis.

One night about a month or so ago when I was making my bedtime rounds, visiting each child in their bed, I realized that I wanted more time with each of them. They wanted to talk to me. I'd be trying to get them in bed and they wanted answers to questions or they wanted to tell me a story. We needed more time together- individually.

I don't remember what inspired my idea. All I can tell you is that it is working wonderfully for us.

Our One-on-One Time

I set up an area for our time together in a room away from the family room. I put up a card table and two folding chairs. In our house, this is set up in the office. The key is to have it in a room where you can have privacy (where you can shut the door).

We are consistent. Every school day, we have our "office time". I was going to call it "table time" but the kids took to calling it "office time" and the name stuck.

The kids know what to expect.
When I am with one child, the other children know it is not their turn. They have to wait. They can read or play, as long as they are not right outside the door making noise.

The time together is somewhat routine.
We talk about school and take care of school items (papers, planners, reading together).
I ask them to tell me their low point and high point of their day. Sometimes I learn such interesting information during this time!
We are all now working on scripture memory. I also take time to pray with them. I've had conversations about faith with each child, at their own level.
The time is "somewhat routine" because I am not rigid about anything. It is relaxed. They can talk to me. They have my attention. I listen. I asked questions and I listen.

Why I think it's incredibly important:
I need to talk to my children at their level. For example, I talk to my 9 year old about things that I wouldn't talk to my 5 year old about.

It is helpful to talk about issues (like my 5 year old pushing a kid, my 7 year old getting moved for talking too much in class, and my 9 year old dealing with mean things that kids say) without the influence or listening ears of siblings.

It's a goal. I don't fail when the time isn't incredible. Some days the time is longer than other days. We are not consistent (or successful, really) about doing it on Saturday and Sunday. I don't usually do this with my 2 year old -though I have read books to her at the table so she would feel special. She gets lots of Momma's attention when the boys are at school. (Today's special moment was pretending our couch was a boat and we had a ship full of (stuffed) animals.)

Be sure to stop by Kristen's place to read other wonderful Works-for-Me Wednesday Posts: We Are That Family

Saturday, October 09, 2010

A slice of life (Where's my mop?)

Alternately Titled: Crap!

This morning, my 2nd child slipped into bed with me at 6 a.m. He proceeded to pepper me with questions off and on, as I slipped in and out of sleep, until 7 a.m. when his brothers came downstairs.

They were full of energy but I was not.

I was relieved that my 3rd son was busily wrestling with his brothers. The night before he had a fever of 100. He was all arms and legs and jumping on his 9 year old brother. And, he really wanted to play soccer in the rain.

It was pouring rain.

My daughter has been sick. I woke her up at 9. She was so congested and it hurt to talk. She refuses to clear her throat or cough because it hurts. It didn't take much to convince her brothers to get busy trying to make her laugh. Laughter clears a throat just as much as coughing.

At 9:30 I decided to call my neighbor. She was an angel to me. She took my little girl so she wouldn't have to sit in the rain watching soccer games.

At 10:30 my 3rd son started playing.
Sometime after 11, a friend arrived at the field to take my oldest to his game, which was in a neighboring town at the same time as my 2nd son's game.
At 11:30, my 3rd son's game ended. The person that was supposed to bring the snack didn't show for the game. My boys were hungry.

I realized I hadn't fed my oldest lunch or provided a lunch for him.

I ran home for some dry clothes for my 3rd son because he was coughing a lot and I figured getting him warm and dry would be best. We also stopped by McDonalds.
We were almost at the field when I proudly told my 2nd son that he was going to be early enough to warm up before the game. It was only 12:15 and he was going to have 15 minutes before his game.
We pulled up to see that the game was well under way and we had missed most of the 1st quarter. Somehow, even though I had it written correctly on the calendar at home, I had the wrong time in my head. The game started at noon.

We weren't early. We were really late.

I was not having a good soccer mom day.

After soccer, I rushed home to watch Bama play football.
#1 ranked Alabama lost.

It was not a good football day.

I ordered pizza.

By the time dinner was over, my daughter was a mess of a little girl. By mess, I mean, she had a runny nose, was coughing and was easily agitated with most everything. She had been fussy all afternoon- not a good combo when you are watching your team loose. I told her she was getting a bath and getting her PJs on. She did not balk at the suggestion. So, I got her ready for her bath. I took off all her clothes and said we were going upstairs. And then, for some reason, I decided to clear the table before I took her to the bath. This was not a smart move.

She pooped on the kitchen floor.

I snapped a picture of her to send to her Daddy. Oh yes, I did.
And the caption said, "This sums up my day."

Oh it was funny. It was really funny. The boys ran around turning on all of the fans they could find - all 3 bathroom fans and the laundry fan- as if that would help with the smell. My oldest started talking about how when we had dogs they pooped on the floor once.

It would have just been funny if it had ended there. It was pee-in-your-pants funny - only without the pants.

Right when I got her in the bathroom, she peed all over the floor.

Then she said what she normally says when we "race" up the stairs:
"I win. You loose."

Oh, sweet girl, that has never been more true.

*Just laugh. You have to laugh.*

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Thursday Thanks Tank #143

Everyday. Every single day there are things to be thankful for.

This day is coming to a close and I am not happy. Still, there is much in my life to appreciate.

Every week I make a thankful list. Sometimes I share a little list, sometimes I focus on one part of my thankful thoughts, and sometimes my list is made up of pictures. Today, I struggled to be thankful. But, I persist. I am thankful, despite my circumstances.

Here's my thankful list.

1. Tylenol. My youngest has been fighting sickness. She's been struggling with fevers and feeling crummy. Tylenol helps.

2. One-on-one time with my kids. One of these days (soon), I will post about it. But, for the last several weeks, I've been doing something new to achieve one-on-one time with my kids. It's working. I love it. They look forward to it. It isn't an earth shattering event but I'd call it a success.

3. Doing the right thing. I was supposed to volunteer at the school today. My daughter had a fever of 101 last night. No volunteering. No taking my daughter to a friend's house. That was the right thing to do. My dear friend was supposed to come for a visit this weekend. She's pregnant. She needs to avoid getting sick. It's the right thing for her to stay home. The right thing isn't always desired, but I'm thankful when we make those hard decisions.

4.Family. My husband will see our families this weekend. I'm thankful. Jealous? Yes. Extremely so. But, I am thankful for the value he places on family. I am thankful he's headed to visit my parents, too. His parents are both celebrating their 60th birthdays.

5. Music. I am singing along to music right now. Yes, really. (And, no, you will never hear me sing. Don't ask. Be afraid.)

I realize this list is short. It's all I have for tonight. I'm zonked and going to bed soon. (Looks like I'm not getting the laundry folded tonight. Ah well...)

Take time to be thankful today. Even when you aren't at your best, it's a worthwhile discipline.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Easy Ranch Chicken

A couple of Sundays ago, I tried out this recipe. As I was getting it ready, I invited to some friends to eat dinner with us. I don't usually try out recipes on company. This dish was easy and tasty.

Easy Ranch Chicken

½ cups Breadcrumbs
½ cups Cornmeal
¼ cups Parmesan Cheese
1 teaspoon Cajun Season Salt
½ teaspoons Garlic Salt
1 cup Ranch Dressing
6 pieces Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs

Preheat oven at 425° F.

On a large plate mix together breadcrumbs, cornmeal, Parmesan cheese, Cajun seasoning and garlic salt, set aside.

Pour ranch dressing into a bowl and dip each chicken thigh into the dressing and then into the seasoned breadcrumb mixture.

Place on a foil lined cookie sheet and repeat until you have all of the chicken thighs on the cookie sheet.

Place in 425° F oven and bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

I only took one picture before I put the chicken in the oven (remember, I had company on the way). Once it was ready, we ate!

Check out other wonderful recipes at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Friendship: Going Deeper

Every time my husband goes away for an extended period of time, I learn about friendship.

Some people step up to help me with the kids.
Some people are there for me to call "if I need anything."
Some people are there to talk and listen.
Some people fade away.

I think about the way the change in my family situation affects my relationships with others. It bothers me. I don't like my changed perspective.

The hardest part of it all is how I always come back to square one (me) when I'm evaluating my changed relationships.

Oh sure, I know that means I will grow from this. But, it's tough.

I long for deeper friendships.

I realize I have wonderful friends. I also recognize there are many different ways to express friendship and many different levels to friendship.

I want to be a better friend.

It's hard recognizing that I haven't been the best at listening to others.
- I need to listen when others talk. I also need to be cognizant of the needs of others.

It's hard to realize that I need to be more inviting.
- I need to make others feel welcome. I need to plan activities with friends. I need to be more genuine. I need to invite people into my home, no matter how crazy my life seems.

It's hard to admit to myself that in order to have closer friendships, I need to be more transparent.
- I need to be me, despite what I wish were different.

I have many, many wonderful friends.

I could be and want to be a better friend to many.

For anyone that knows me (or even those that don't), no worries, I'm not discouraged. I just want to be a better friend.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Me Oh My, Chicken Pot Pie!

I made a Chicken Potpie last night. My 5 year old called it "Chicken Popeye." I'd never made a chicken potpie before. It was pretty simple and very tasty! (Not healthy but it weighs in quite high on the comfort food scale.)

Comforting Chicken Potpie

1/3 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons celery seed
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed
1/3 cup cold butter or margarine

Prepared the cooked chicken. You can use leftover chicken. I boiled my chicken with chicken broth (using chicken bouillon cubes and water).

In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, garlic, salt and pepper until blended. Gradually stir in water, milk and bouillon. Bring to a boil; boil and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in chicken and vegetables; set aside.

For pastry, combine flour and celery seed in a bowl. (I thought I had celery seed but I didn't. So, I used one tsp of celery salt and one tsp of cumin seed.) Cut in cream cheese and butter until crumbly. Work mixture by hand until dough forms a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll two-thirds of dough into a 12 in square. Transfer to an 8 in square baking dish.

Pour filling into the crust. Roll remaining dough into a 9 in square; place over filling. Trim, seal and flute edges. Cut slits in pastry. Bake at 425 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.

Stop by Ann Kroeker's Food on Friday for more food related posts and recipes.