Friday, December 31, 2010

The Origin of inner-sanctum nicknames

Somehow each of our children has evoked some term of affection that sticks for a rather short duration. These are names we use only in the intimacy of our family unit, and rarely outside the home. The evolution is simplistic. They occur without any special thought or effort on our part. Jack was "Jack-a-roni" which strangely turned into "Jack-a-rone-stone" (?). Spencer was "Spency-wence" Not original, I know. Accordingly, it didn't last for long. Ethan is "E-man". The adult in a child's body, with a child's impulse control, is as applicable today as when he was 4 months old. Strangely, Olivia and Susannah both share "Deucey-do". The origin of that one is in large part due to them being feminine.

You see, their father turns to absolute mush for any babies, but when he had girl babies, he just lost all sense of, well, sense. He would pick them up and start baby-talking and saying, "You're so cutesy, woosie, deucey". Frequently for expediency, it would be shortened to "Deucey-doo!" as he would pick them up and twirl them around, which later evolved into "the Deuce". "Where's my deucey-doo?! " or "Hey! Deucy-doo!". Strange, babbling, baby talk, but it works for us, and it has stuck.

So when Reed came around, being masculine in nature, he did not qualify as a "Deucey-doo". He did however, quickly become "Reedy-boo". (Or, if you're Susannah, "Weedy-boo")

But this week, Reedy-boo evolved into:


We hope to drop the second "boo" in about 3 weeks.
(This child is a sweet one I tell you!)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What you Dream if you have 4 sleep deprived nights and then decide you need to go to an hour long Zumba class.

Your dream starts off with really, really craving Frosted Sugar Cookies. In part because after looking at the Zumba instructor and several other attendees, you realize that if you want to fit in here, you need to stop eating them, and you figure you'd better go get some while your metabolism is recently kicked up.
You then decide that as long as you're at the famous Carlo's Bakery (you did know that's where you were, right?) that you need to sample a few of those luscious cakes. So you pick out a few to take home.
Then you realize you can't possibly carry them all on your own to your car, so you ask the friendly employee for help. You are beginning to get nervous about how your husband is going to look at you as you walk in with all these cakes, and try to start thinking of a logical explanation. In a nano-second you realize there isn't one, and you decide to put that out of your mind for now. Must. Get. Cake.s.
She walks with you to a separate building where the cakes are actually made, and you start passing by all the bakers as they are leaving for the day.
"Wow!" you think. "That was FRANKIE!"

But then, be still my heart, headed the same direction you are, is none other than the host of Cake Boss, (steel yourself)

But you are cool, collected. You brush with celebrities every day. "Hi, Ryan!" you casually remark as you descend the stairs alongside him. Ah, yes. "He must be impressed with how easy-going I am. Not one of those awkward gawkers." But finally, as you are about to part ways in a hall, you figure, "I really ought to take a picture. To show the kids." So in your coolest mom voice you say, "Would you mind if we took a picture?"
He graciously consents.
As you hand your cell phone to the nice girl helping you, you become suddenly self-conscious of exactly how outdated your phone actually is.

Then Ryan Seacrest puts his arm around you, and you can't help but notice that he is holding you especially close, and especially tight. You are about to say something about your husband, lest he begin thinking the two of you might have a future, when your 6 year old daughter wakes you up.

You know, the 6 year old daughter who had to come home from school after throwing up, even though you insisted her tummy didn't really hurt this morning? It couldn't after all.

You needed to go to Zumba.

*I swear on my love of Sugar Cookies I do not have any actual attraction to Ryan Seacrest.
But if I was 14 I might.

Monday, October 25, 2010

If you give a Reed a cupcake....

He'll want some Daddy to go with it...

A boy after my own heart.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sometimes I completely impress myself.

And then I have a normal day.

Like one where at least 1 of my children has kept me from sleeping through the night, or I have to leave the house. Or someone is sick. Or it's not a full moon. You get the idea.

But sometimes, I do a really great job. And then I feel great about myself. And then I think how much better I must be than somebody else. So the Lord grants me a normal day again.

And I get over it.

Until I pray desperately for some sense of relief, or the ability to do more than it seems I think I possibly can, and I manage to pull off something pretty awesome again.

Obviously, today was more along the lines of normal. But that's ok. I'm due for an impressive day within a week or so. So when I post about it, don't be intimidated. (In case that's an issue for you)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dappled Apples!

For the first time since we moved to MN, we managed to get to the apple orchard!
I looooove going to pick apples. It just feels so "Fall-y". Not to mention, the apples make the BEST apple pie filling, which I make and freeze for later. I am very, very picky about my apple pie. If I'm going to blow 600 calories on a slice, it had better be up to snuff. So I make my own.

I would can my pie filling if I knew how. I keep hearing it's easy, but I can never bring myself to invest in the equipment to do it. The apple orchard manages to get a larger chunk of my cash than I always plan for to blow any more money on jars. Besides, if our power goes out here in the winter, I can stick it in the back yard to keep. Assuming it makes it past Christmas anyway.
So here are a few pics of our adventure! It even amazes me to see how big my own kids are getting, scary!
Even with the shadow, he looks cute!

Something about "Monkey's swingin' from a tree..." comes to mind...

I'm wondering if my lips have always looked crooked when I smile?

The biggest apples were up really high, so Jack had to help. I think this may be the last year he gets on his Dad's shoulders!
Olivia was happy to help as well.
Reed was just chillin'

Friday, September 17, 2010

What?! I have a blog?

Since my last blog post:
I have turned one year older
My oldest child became taller than me
Reed sprouted 2 teeth (a nighttime bonding ritual I can't imagine missing someday)
Susannah became hyper (usually cute, but not when she screams "for fun")
I crawled across the end-0f-summer finish line and sent 4 of them back to school, most notably, on a bus. yipee!

I also realized:
I'm getting better with age
even if my thighs aren't.
Being crafty is not now, and never will be, part of my soul.

And the metaphor I've been saving for weeks is:

Having 6 children makes you feel like the ball in an old-fashioned pin ball machine. You know, where you are constantly pinging around the board with lights, and bells, and chaos until you sink down the hole. Then 2 seconds later you get shot out of the start position to do it all again.

But its fun, even if it is crazy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My day was really off to a fine start until...

the nice older gentlemen holding the door open for me remarked how spoiled my baby is to be carried around "like that".

Pleasant enough conversation until he said, "Who's doing the spoiling, mom...(obviously waffling), grandma?"

Lucky for him I was wearing sunglasses, or my evil, laser glare, the one that makes my husband pee his pants (almost), would have melted him on the spot.

I then went home and burned the faded denim capris that I'd been wearing that I have long suspected made me look older than I am. I also think I need to buy some wedge sandals instead of my comfy and ever so practical cushioned flats. Stat.

The longer I let this one marinate, the worse it gets.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Summer Fun (thus far...)

Cousin Lucas came to visit. They went to bed right away. Not.
Olivia loves tennis. Clothes.
Cousin Creed came to visit. Went to Basketball camp with Spencer. Same age. Not same size.
Slidin' Susie.
Dizzy Olivia.
Dutiful brother.
Because baseball games can be really slow.
Until this happens...!


Thursday, July 8, 2010

It's Great to be Eight!

Congratulations to Ethan who is now an official member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! We had a great day with lots of friends and family in attendance!
He was especially happy I bought him his very own grown-up suit.

Here's the whole gang in attendance. We had given up serious and went for silly at this point.
(Honestly, how come it's so hard to take group pics?!)

We love you Ethan!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Blessed Baby

We finally got around to giving this child an official name and blessing. Welcome (officially) Reed Douglas Damiano.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

End of Middle (school, that is)

My congratulations to Jack for surviving 7th grade MUCH better than I did.

I was very relieved to see that his teachers apparently know him well enough to honor him with a truly appropriate (while not entirely somber) award. If you can't read it, it says "Most likely to be Constantly Moving". Amen.

I was even more relieved to see that even if his report card grade doesn't reflect it and his attitude is not entirely positive, he IS managing to learn some Latin, as evidenced by a "Certificate of Merit" on the National Latin Examination. (Woohoo!) He officially now has a subject I can no longer help him study for!

And for your amusement, Jack shared with me some of his favorites from his Art Teachers "Quote Wall". As I'm sure you imagine, any Middle School teacher has to have a great sense of humor to keep sane. Mr. Kamarath keeps himself in a mirthful way by keeping a list of his favorite things actual students have said. (Some of the below may or may not have been contributed by Jack himself)

"Hey, it's like a rainbow without the colors!"
"Stop being egoistic!"
"I want to be the first president of the United States when I grow up."
"I need a bland-aid."
"They make ten dollar bills?"
"Your hair sounds Jamaican."
"Ouch, I just painted myself."
"I meant the flavor was 'white'."
"I get itchy when I lawn the mow."

And my personal favorite:
"Girls can tell colors just by looking at them."

Friday, May 21, 2010

My Favorite Go-to dinners!

(I can't find my camera to take a picture of my chili, but I thought you'd enjoy a shot of me with my TEENAGER on his birthday. And yes, he loves both these dinners!)

I am posting these 2 recipes not only for my friend Amy (who's about to have a baby and wants some good make and freeze recipes), but because I have been asked for the recipies more than once.

These are great, not because it's necessarily my first choice to impress company, but because they consistently taste great, are cheap, and most importantly, the kids gobble them up.

Another tip, I always brown my ground beef in the crockpot. Weird, I know. I dump it all in (sometimes from frozen cubes, or the fresh big costco packs!), sprinkle with dried onion for flavor, and set it on high. I then do whatever, stopping to stir it occasionally, and about an hour later I have perfectly browned ground beef! Easy-peasy. I will usually brown 2-3 lbs. at a time and divvy them up for these 2 recipes. Sometimes I'll just bag it and freeze to reuse in these recipes later. The chili is really fast if you have the beef all ready to throw in the pot.

First up: Weeknight Chili

I actually got this recipe off the grocery store shelf on one of those little cards shortly after we were married. It's been a keeper ever since. I can't tell you how many people have told me they love it, and they don't normally like chili. Please don't do anything to make it weird. You just won't get the same results. I am even very strict about which BRAND of chili powder to use (McCormick ONLY please). I have tried others and it ruins it. If you do insist on going rogue, don't attach my name to the recipe. I have a reputation to uphold.

1/2 lb. ground beef
2 cans red kidney beans undrained (white and black acceptable in a pinch)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 T. white vinegar
2 T. McCormick Chili powder
2 T. instant minced onion
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. sugar

Brown the ground beef until no longer pink, stirring frequently, drain fat.
Dump in everything else, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes
Serve with sour cream, cheese, fritos (yummy!) or whatever suits your fancy.

**This is better the longer it simmers. I usually double (quadruple actually, but we're a big family), then freeze half for later. The frozen stuff is always more flavorful from the flavors melding.

Beef and Bean Chimichangas:

1 lb. ground beef
3/4 Cup chopped onion (or dried onion already in ground beef)
3/4 cup diced green or red bell pepper
1 can whole kernel corn
2 cups taco sauce (1 reg. size jar, large one if doubling)
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 (16 oz) can refried beans
flour tortillas
16 oz. shredded cheese (Monterry Jack or cheddar)
1 T. butter, melted

(If you haven't pre-cooked your ground beef, brown first, then drain fat. Unless you're feeling rebellious, then skip the fat drain part. I of course would never do such a thing.) To browned ground beef add onion, bell pepper, and corn. Cook for 5 minutes, or until veggies tender.
Add remaining ingredients(EXCEPT Cheese) and mix together. Cook until heated through.
Spoon beef mixture down center of tortilla (careful not to overfill, amount depends on size of tortilla), top with as much shredded cheese as desired. Continue until you run out of tortillas or filling for them!
Roll, and place seam side down in 9x13 pan or baking sheet.
Brush with melted butter. (Don't skip this part! It makes them slightly crispy, i.e. delicious!)
**At this point you can freeze them for later, or bake right away for dinner**
Bake at 350 for approx. 25 minutes. (Longer if cooking from frozen)

Serve with lettuce, tomato, guac, etc. as desired!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Random Thoughts

1. Is it okay to let your kids have Top Ramen for breakfast? I couldn't come with a good reason not to. I made them have a banana and milk with it, just in case.

2. If you're going to plop your almost 2 year old in front of sign language videos, it would be helpful to watch them yourself a few times, so that when they are frantically signing at you in Target you know what they're talking about. Mental note.

3. I should never, ever go into Target with money in my paypal account without a destination. Destination: Target.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spring Break - A belated report, part 2

Our whole Spring Break adventure got kicked into high gear when Uncle D and Aunt S invited and Jack and Spencer to be companions for Lucas on their trip to So Cal.

Until about a year ago, D & S were "empty nesters", and even though they're super fun to be around, they're not necessarily going to go on "Tower of Terror" with a 13 year old. Everyone knows you really need someone to squeeze when you are in the throws of terror, and who better than your tween-age cousins? Plus, Jack and Spence got to see their cousin Matt, fresh home from his mission, and Amanda, busy working pro in SoCal. How could we say no?

So, even though Ethan and Liv were super jealous, we put them on a plane (all by themselves!) and sent them on their way. (It is also fair to say, I was extremely jealous myself)

Jack was good about "texting" me all the details of their adventure, and the couple times we did call, they sounded so tired they could barely speak. Awesome.

Doesn't it just thrill your heart to see your kids having so much fun?! MUCHAS GRACIAS to Uncle D and Aunt S!!!! "Next year, in the Holy Land!"

What good lookin' young men! Waiting in line for "Nemo"
Being "Goofy"
Getting Sick
As it turns out, Spencer's not a big fan of "Tower of Terror", but he did find some rides he liked.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring Break - A belated report, part 1

Even though Spring Break was a month ago, I figured I'd fill everyone in on the details!
Last year, I swore that no matter what we were going to get out of this frozen tundra for spring break! (However, getting pregnant and being due in FEBRUARY, it pretty much demolishes that.) However, as bad as not getting out was going to be, the idea of being cooped up in the house with all the kids for a week, 4 weeks postpartum, was even worse. So we devised a plan.

We split everyone up, a 3 part plan. Part A of the plan was Olivia's "trip". She was to stay home with Mom, Susie, and Reed, and have a special "Shopping and Pampering trip", full of her favorite things, shopping for clothes and "manicures". (Thanks to Aunt Shauna for introducing her to nail polish...) I arranged for a sitter for Susannah for a couple of afternoons, and we took off to the Mall of America one day, and to Target and our local Korean establishment another! In between were playdates with friends that included cupcake-baking, screaming on the swingset (not sure why...), and watching "Rapunzel Barbie" (yes, it's just as painful as it sounds.)

First, a "fashion show, of our outfits from Target...

Lovely manicure! (note the flowers on the thumbs...)
The American Girl Store is like, miniature female nirvana...
Everything you could think of, even a special hook for Julie in the restroom. (Why don't they have these for REAL babies?!)
Really, how happy (and spoiled) can a girl be?
Mommy needs a coke to keep up with it all. (Note my own lovely manicure, my first ever I might note.)

I have to say we had a lovelytime, but Mommy was very, very tired after 2 1/2 days of this. (There's just no way shopping with a 4 week old is "pampering") But we made a lot of lovely memories!
Tomorrow, part 2- Jack and Spencer's California Adventure!