Tuesday, March 31, 2009

You're such a good cooker momma!

That is what Katie said to me this afternoon. I made the kids some really healthy granola bars and they LOVED them. The recipe is so easy to follow and includes oats, wheat germ, natural peanut butter, honey and peanuts as the main ingredients. I happened to have all of those things hanging around in my kitchen so I thought I would give it a shot! I also added some shredded unsweetened coconut and flax seeds and the kids were eating them before they firmed up. Lisa pointed me to the recipe on the food Ne*twork blog. I believe the recipe is called oatmeal peanut butter bars, give it a try the kids will love it.

I woke up not feeling well this morning. Things are starting to bloom here in the buckeye state and as much as I love spring it is terrible for my allergies. I told Chad this morning I feel like a truck just ran over my head, that is how bad I felt. Thank heaven for good allergy medication! After the meds kicked in I started to feel adventurous. I have been trying to slowly cut out sugar and white flour and while it is hard, finding good nutritious recipes is really fun. Back to the adventure.... Lisa and I ground wheat yesterday while the kids trampled through her flowers played quietly outside. I want to use the wheat before it goes bad, so I thought today was a good day to break out my new tortilla press. I mixed up the dough in the mixer and let it rest for the required 30 minutes. While my dough was resting I started the taco meat and had it simmering on the stove, threw some chicken in the crock pot for dinner, heated up my tortilla maker and started my granola bars. This is where all the fun began. We use natural peanut butter. You know the kind with the oil that you have to mix. I hate mixing the oil in by hand so I usually use my small hand mixer. I had only been mixing for a few minutes when I started to feel my hand get oily. I had the jar (which was plastic) close to the tortilla press and the side melted, so I had peanut oil everywhere. Not to mention I now had plastic melted to my brand new tortilla press. I got all of the oil cleaned up, mixed the peanut butter, found a new jar for it and made my granola bars. Once my bars were cooling I started on my tortillas. They are SOOOO hard to make! I will never complain about the price of whole wheat tortillas again. I had dough hissing at me and literally shooting out of the sides of the press. The first 6 or so where a nightmare. I managed to get it somewhat figured out and they tasted great.

There is just something so wonderful about watching your children eat wholesome natural foods that you made them from scratch. I felt like Laura Ingalls Wilder with my kids sitting at the kitchen table doing school work as I made tortillas with flour I ground from wheat berries. I could imagine a pioneer mother in her bonnet and apron with a baby on her hip kneading bread while the older children completed school assignments happily while she worked. They would lovingly look up at her with smiles on their faces and appreciation in there hearts for all of the things their mother did just for them. This is where I had to stop daydreaming. My children were fighting over a pencil sharpener, disappearing every time I turned my head, trying to sneak the TV on, touching one another, someone was sitting to close, someone called someone else a name, so and so was in their spot..... and so on. It was back to reality for me. At lease for the few minutes there mouths were full, they were quiet and I could pretend they were appreciating all of my hard work.

As a treat for myself I am making homemade chocolate ice cream. The kids are in bed and it is the machine as I blog. I can not wait to sit down, watch mindless television the news and enjoy my ice cream in the peace and quiet.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Cheer Video

I found a video on Youtube of the girls on the first day in Florida. It is not the best quality video (I don't know who posted it) but it gives you an idea of what the girls do. We went level 3 in Florida so they are only throwing handsprings and tucks. The looked a ton better on Sunday but you get the idea! Leanne is to the right of the little girl in the center in the first stunt (she is in the air). She is also right next to her again when they tumble toward the back. She is the one who bailed on her tumbling coming across from the back corner (she threw it on Sunday). She is in the third group during the tosses. If you look really closely you can see her head almost hit the ground during the basket toss. Thank the Lord her back base got to where she needed to be and caught her before she actually hit. She would have been seriously injured! In the pyramid she is to the right of the little girl in the center. Other than that it is really hard to figure out who she is. You can try following her from the beginning stunt, but even I lost her a few times.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

4 Girls, 5 days and 11 bags!

We had such a wonderful time in Florida. I am so blessed to be able to take Leanne on this trip each spring. I hope as Katie gets older she and I will also be able to take solo trips to share special mother/daughter time together. I said I was taking her along next year, but as I settle in to being home again I realize she really was fine while I was away and this is really special for Leanne and I. I really enjoy Leanne's company and am so proud of the wonderful, sweet, caring and funny young lady she is growing into. She has such a kind and gentle spirit. I can not wait to see what the Lord has in store for her.

We roomed with my friend Shelly who happens to be the mother of Leanne's BFF Emily. We stayed at a really nice hotel with most of the families from out gym as well as the coaches. We got to sit around the pool in the evenings talking and watching the girls play. We also had breakfast together most mornings and set up dinner dates and fun activities with each other. Our girls even hosted a Twilight viewing party in our hotel room and we popped popcorn for them and about 7 of their friends. It was a really fun trip filled with many good memories for Leanne and I.

On our trip we drove to Orlando to have lunch at the Rain forest Cafe and shop at Downtown Disney.

We had a team dinner at Buca. Leanne tried calamari for the first time. She said she had to take a picture because the boys would never believe her.

The girls cheered on Saturday and on Sunday. They preformed beautifully. They looked great, had a ton of energy and hit their routine both days. They didn't finish as high in the standings as we had hoped, but there were a lot of great teams and the scores were very close. Leanne's youth team finished 3rd and her senior team finished 5th. We were very proud of how hard they worked and are now looking forward to this weekend in Columbus.

We finished our fun on Sunday. We took the monorail system in downtown Jacksonville around town. We stopped at the Landings and had lunch with about 10 other families. We had a great time getting to know people outside of cheer. We had a wonderful trip and can not wait to do it again next season. Of course I forgot my camera on this day so there are no pictures. A few of the other moms are supposed to email me some. I will add them when they do.

Home Sweet Home

We are home! Leanne and I had a wonderful time, but I was ready to get home. I am really a home body and I missed the rest of my family terribly. I was getting daily calls from Katie pleading with me to "call the hairplane man and tell him to bring you home!" It was so sweet, yet so sad at the same time.

My dear friend Shelly dropped Leanne and I off last night. We missed our connecting flight in Atlanta because there were mechanical problems on the first plane in Jacksonville. We were stuck at the Atlanta airport for an extra 4 hours. We got off of the first flight and ran to try to make our connecting flight. We got there with a few minutes to spare and the gate was already closed. We were standing there looking at our plane and they would not let us on it. It was not only Leanne and I who missed the flight. There were around 25 people who missed that plane. It was so upsetting. We finally made it home around 1am and I just had to wake my babies up to hold them and shower them in hugs and kisses. I was pleasantly surprised that Chad had the house sparkling clean and even bought me a new sweeper. He is a keeper!

Leaving was really hard! Katie did not want me to leave her and I did not want to leave her either. I tried to get her a plane ticket two days before we left. There were seats left on the plane, but they had increased from the $160 I paid for them in January to over $1,100. I was so upset that even the customer service representative from D*elta was reassuring me that Katie would be fine and that my older daughter deserves this time and how special it was for her..... She must have been customer service rep by day and a therapist by night. She was very sweet and helpful. While I was packing Katie climbed up on my lap and said "Momma please call the hairplane man and tell him you need a ticket for your baby girl so she can go to the competition." I cried almost the entire time I was packing. As I was finishing up this is what I saw:

Katie had packed her suitcase, put her coat on over her pajamas and was sitting on top of her luggage waiting to go with us. It was so sad I was ready to pack her up and drive to Florida. By morning she was better and I was able to leave without and tears from Katie. However there may have been a few from her old momma. It was very hard leaving Chad, the boys and my baby girl. Next year Katie will join Leanne and I and I will be planning a getaway for Chad and the boys as well. We are all going to Disney World in September, so they will get to go to Florida this year too.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The big trip

Leanne and I are leaving Thursday afternoon for our big trip. We will be flying to Jacksonville, Florida for 5 fun filled sunny days. This is becoming a tradition for the two us and we look forward to it each year. We started going to Florida Leanne's first year of cheerleading. She was 8 years old and it was so cute to see her little team out there cheering and flipping. She has come a long way in those three years. She was once a shy, soft spoken little girl who didn't like too much attention. Now she is a flier and enjoys being the girl in the center of the routine. She is often challenged for her spot and I am proud to say she has not lost it yet. As we begin to wind down yet another cheer season it is nice to look back and see all that she has accomplished in such a short amount of time. I am also looking forward to the exciting new things next year will bring. I am also looking forward to a short break. Our last competition is April 3-5 and then she will only have tumbling twice a week until tryouts in May. Then it all starts over again.

Here are some pictures of Leanne when we were in Indy. There were not a ton of great shots, but there were a few cute ones. Notice the cheer faces. Even Katie opens her mouth like this when you ask her for a cheer face. They are too cute!
High Flier:

I love this face:

The home of the Stars only champions can enter. The world famous (clap, clap, clap) Cheer Center:

Getting ready to stunt:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Prima Ballerina.... Maybe not!

I must admit that I have been rather surprised at how well Katie is doing in her ballet class. Not with the actual dancing, but going into the class alone. As I have been told many times "all good things must come to an end". And they ended today! Katie did well initially. She walked into class and participated for a about 10 minutes. The teacher let her come and get me to use the potty and that was the end of it. She kept saying "I don't want to do it any again!". I think she meant ever again, but she was getting her point across. To get her to go back in the class I sat her in a chair in the room and gave her a small bag of toys. I figured if I took her home when she was demanding it, I would never get her back in the class again. In my mind it was better for her just to be in the room not participating than to just pack up and go home. The teacher on the other hand did not agree...

I do not know if I have mentioned anything about her dance school. This is a dance school ran by world champion dancers. They are almost all Eastern European and they can all dance. They are really beautiful dancers. However beautiful dancing comes with a price. They are very strict. They are nice to the kids don't get me wrong. But communication skills with the parents are totally lacking. They actually have a sign in the lobby that reads PARENTS: NO FRATERNIZING WITH THE TEACHERS. Since when it is it inappropriate to talk to your childs teacher? I don't mean corner her after class and demand a report on your childs dance skills. But I do not think a "hi how is my daughter doing?" is out of line. They are also very particular on dress code and attendence. While I think all of these things are great for older kids who really want to pursue dance for a future, it may be to much for a 4 year old.

Back to the story... Katie never rejoined the class today. She did end up staying the last 30 minutes and she just sat in the chair and played with the little bag of toys. When class was over the teacher came out and wanted to talk to me. I was shocked since I had read the sign! The teacher waited until I gathered all of Katie's things and then says to me (while pointing at the toys) "I let this happen this week, but it will NOT happen again!" I was a bit taken aback, but gave her the benefit of the doubt. I explained my reason for allowing the toys, and she seemed to understand. Katie was tiered, she is having a hard time with me leaving this week and she is spoiled. We will finish out the session, since grandma paid for it, but we may just stick to cheer.

Pinewood Derby

This year was my boys first year in Boy S*couts. They were so excited about joining. I will admit Chad and I really are not that into it, but we will stick it out for the boys. We didn't do as many activities as we should have, but thankfully this is a pack only for our homeschool group and they are very understanding. We have vowed to try much harder next year! Anyway- Saturday was the BIG Boy S*cout Pinewood Derby. The boys have been working on their derby cars for a few weeks. Aside from using the band saw to cut them out they did everything themselves. It was very obvious which boys made their own car and who's dad made their car who had a little help.

My boys were so proud of their cars and could not wait for the race. Cameron's car didn't do to bad. He almost made it to the finals. Poor little Justin's car just did not run fast as all. He actually made it into the "snail race" and his car was the second slowest of the day. He got a second place plaque (with a turtle on it) and was THRILLED! I tried to explain to the little guy that he was not in fact in 2nd place. I just didn't want him going to scouts talking about coming in second and one of the boys telling him he lost. Honestly I just let it go, because he was so excited. I don't think he would believe someone if they told him he lost. When we walked in the house he said "where should I hang this trophy"? I am going to mention to the scout master that I think the snail race was a little much and only added insult to injury. I don't think rubbing it in that you had to slowest car of the day was necessary for a group of small boys. Unless of course you are my child who can turn second to last into second to first. To be 8 again...
This is what Katie was doing while I was getting the boys ready and taking their pictures.

She kept saying "momma look at me", "momma take my picture". I think she may have a problem with sharing the spot light. I will also mention that while I was taking this picture Justin was behind her freaking out and begging me for a lock for his bedroom. Little sisters are so much fun.


Sherry asked about Leanne's face painting in my last post. That photograph is just one of my favorite pictures of my beautiful girl. It was taken at Kings Island on Halloween 2008. We were there with Leanne's best friend and her mother celebrating the girls 11Th birthdays. Since the girls both cheer (on the same team) and we have to work around practices, competitions and fundraising this was the only day we could go. The girls loved it and had a wonderful birthday together.

With 4 kids celebrating birthdays each year (as much as I don't like them getting older) it is so much work. It seems like every time I turn around it is time to plan another party. Because of the expense and time involved in each party I had to come up with a new system. Our new system is easy. Every other year the kids have a birthday party with friends and family. On the opposite year they will have a family dinner and and activity with one friend. It seems to be working well and it is much less stress. I also implemented the party rule that all parties take place outside of the house. The kids are fine with this and it is really fun to try to find a fun place every other year. This year is party year. Katie and Justin had a joint party at the World of bounce. Cameron's Birthday is next and his party is being planned for a local YMCA park with climbing walls, zip lines and obstacle courses. That's a dream party for boys! Here are a few more pictures from Leanne's birthday activity at Kings Island in Cincinnati Ohio. They had SO much fun!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Missing in action....

I have been busily getting ready for the big mother daughter trip Leanne and I will be taking this week. Leanne decided to grow a lot this winter and none of her summer clothes fit. As difficult as it was I have been replacing her summer wardrobe. Which means a lot of shopping. I know it sounds so hard dosent it;-) Anyone else tried to buy a new swim suit for an 11 year old girl? It is sooooo hard! We are leaving on Thursday and can not wait.

I have about 4 posts I am working on right now. I hope to have them all posted tonight.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Does it count as on time if you start the post on the right day???

Thursday Lisa and I took the kids on a little field trip. This field trip was different than usual, because it was for the moms. Lisa goes to a really nice little church with some of the nicest families. They have kind of taken Lisa under their homemaking wings and I have been invited to tag along. So Lisa and I were invited to bring the kids over for a day of learning. There were 14 kids there ranging in age from 3 months to 11 years old. Except for a few brief moments (Katie) you would have not even known there were children there. They all occupied themselves without television, music, computers or video games! This family lives on a small farm with a few cows, sheep and chickens. The kids played in the hay barn for about 3 hours and never once complained they were bored.

While the big kids played in the hay barn and the little girls played inside the moms had a wonderful time of fellowship. The Lord even opened the door for me to talk about foster care adoption to someone who has a heart for the parent less. Even though this family has 7 children they still want to open their hearts and home to a sibling group in need of a loving family. What a blessing that would be! While we were chatting we were also learning some very interesting things. We watched her grind wheat and she explained the soaking thing and I think I can do it. She showed us how she stores her grain and her canned goods. She also showed us how to make Keifer and re-sparked my interest in making yogurt. I also got to see and smell raw milk. I have issues with raw milk. I have always pictured it with grass and hay in it, but to my surprise it looked like milk. Very thick milk, but there was no grass, hay or dirt:) Lisa was brave enough to taste it, I on the other hand decided against it. While she was so open to sharing all of the thing she does in her home, she also reinforced to Lisa and I the fact that this was all years of progress. She did not just pick up and change everything overnight. We will get there one day as well.

My diet is going rather well. Would you believe I did not weigh myself the first day? I have decided to weigh in on Monday and use that as my starting weight. I will NOT be sharing that on my blog. I will keep that number safely in my head, for only me to know! I have done a pretty good job of sticking to my menu. We changed a few things up because we did not have the left overs I thought we would have. For the most part we all ate much healthier this week.

Now onto Thankful Thursday:

I am thankful for my upcoming mother daughter trip with Leanne. We leave one week from today for sunny Florida. We will be visiting St. Augustine that evening, going to the beach on Friday and then it is all business. Cheer business that is! They will compete on both Saturday and Sunday. Because Leanne is on a youth and senior level team, we will likely be there all day long. The girls look like they are ready and I know they will do great. However, please pray for my little Katie. She has not wanted me be away from her even to go to the store. This is going to be very hard for both of us. I am sure we will both be fine, but a little extra prayer could not hurt.

I am thankful for my sweet grandmother. She is in her 70's now, but is still as spunky as ever. She is coming to stay with me for a few weeks when we get home from our trip and we are all looking forward to it. We are planning to get a lot of sewing done. I have bought some beautiful fabric that I can not wait to turn into something fabulous.

I am also thankful again for good friends. I am so glad the Lord has blessed me with friends who are so wise and care enough about me to share their wisdom. I have also been making new friends this year. For many years my high school best friends and I lived within minutes of each other. We were always together. Two years ago her husband was transferred to Charlotte North Carolina. While I miss her dearly, this separation has forced us both to branch out and meet new people. We have both done that and are thankful for the wonderful women we have met in the process. However, I wouldn't mind if they moved back soon!

I will miss Thankful Thursday this week. I will be Thankful for a safe flight and warm sunny weather. Leanne told me before bed only 3 more days! I still have a million things to do...

Just for fun I am adding pictures of my sweet boys. There are never enough pictures of them.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

What's cooking?

What are we eating this week? Definitely not cupcakes! Mamma's on a diet so there will be no junk in this house. It is out with the girl scout cookies and in with whole grains, fresh produce and lean meats. Yum!!!

After two entire days I have decided to put the "diet" behind me and move forward with a more healthy way of living and eating. I think there is a lot to say for the way our past generations prepared and ate their meals. Lisa has introduced me to a few blogs, good books and the notion of getting back to the "old ways" and it really seems to make sense. Our wheat should be coming by the end of the week, along with our sucanat (evaporated cane juice) and 50 lbs of oats. Once one of us finally pushes the buy button on the Pleasant Hill Grain site and actually purchases a grain mill we will be in business. Only homemade nutritious breads and bake goods made with soaked whole grains (I still have to figure out the soaking thing) for our families. My goal is for my family to eat only whole, organic and as locally grown and raised food as possible. We will eat as little processed food as I can get away with. For what it worth, I just ordered an ice cream maker for sweet summer treats and I made homemade granola last week. The kids loved it!

We kind of started out slow on this journey. Last year we both planted huge gardens and canned vegetables and made sauce from our tomatoes. We also picked berries and made jam. We were given 5 gallon buckets of homegrown grapes and apples to make apple sauce and grape juice and jelly. Lisa even made some really delicious homemade ketchup, which I plan to try this year. Both of our families have been enjoying our labor of love all year. I will tell you it is so nice to pull zucchini out of the freezer in the dead of winter to make a zucchini bread or open a jar of summer peaches for a cobbler when there is snow on the ground.

So, here is my new plan. For breakfast I will have a protein and a vegetable or fruit. Snack will be a dairy such as low fat yogurt (I want to make my own yogurt, after I master the soaked wheat). Lunch will always be a salad with plenty of vegetables and protein. Dinner will be a smaller potion of whatever I cook for my family. I am also planning to dust of the elliptical machine and get moving. I will also be posting my menu on Sundays to help keep me accountable. I will update later in the week, to make sure I am sticking to it and to see if I am actually losing any weight. If this doesn't work, I guess it is back to the drawing board. I will it more than a day or two:) I know this will not be the most interesting post. However, it is really for my benefit. I need some accountability and seeing it every time I log onto my blog will hopefully help. So please bare with me:)

Our Menu:
*I am only doing lunch and dinner because breakfast will always be the same. We will have either oatmeal, eggs with vegetables or kashi cereal. I will always have salad for lunch. The following is for Chad and the kids.

Sunday: Lunch- turkey brats with mac & cheese and green beans
Dinner- I have a roast and fresh green beans in the crock pot with baked sweet potatoes

Monday: Lunch- turkey sandwiches, veggie slices with dip and fruit (it is open gym
at our home school group we are packing)Dinner-enchiladas, re-fried beans and rice

Tuesday: Lunch- nachos with left over enchilada stuff
Dinner- vegetable beef soup (with left over roast) with salad and corn bread.

Wednesday: Lunch- Soup and grilled cheese
Dinner- Scalloped red potatoes with ham and salad

Thursday: Lunch- Turkey dog's with mac & cheese and fruit
Dinner- sausage and lintel soup with salad and homemade bread

Friday: Lunch- Left over soup and bread
Friday- homemade pizza (with homemade crust) and salad

Saturday: Lunch- any left overs they want or tuna salad sandwiches
Dinner- Chili with corn bread and salad

For snacks this week I already hard boiled eggs, made granola and we have a ton of fruits, vegetables, yogurt and cheese sticks. Thank goodness my kids love all of that stuff. They should not go hungry even though mom is dieting.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sabotaged by the one I love

I have a really good friend named Lisa. She and I rarely see each other (even though we live 2 blocks away), but we talk on the phone several times a day. A typical conversation can change topics at least 20 times in one call. It is no surprise when she calls me with an new idea such as "let's grind our own wheat", "do you want to split 50lbs of oats", "how many coupons do you need for free cheese" and so on. These are the many reasons we get along so well. Who else can just assume you need 25lbs of oats, or will not think you are crazy if you now have 90 bags of shredded cheese in your freezer? Our Thursday conversation was not much different. After discussing many important topics such as our children's behavior and Jon and Kate, Lisa asked if I wanted to start the belly fat diet. I still don't know exactly what it is, though I do know it involves mofas, sassy water and starvation. Being the supportive friend I am, I said SURE! I went to the store the next day and purchased all of the sassy water ingredients as well as most of the other stuff I needed.

I started our new diet very well. I didn't even eat one of the cookies Lisa sent to my family. For breakfast it was cereal and milk with applesauce and sesame seeds (the mofas). Lunch was a salad, cheese stick and turkey lunch meat. There was a berry smoothie with flax oil, but since I forgot the flax oil, I skipped it. While my family was enjoying tortilla soup and cheese quesadillas for dinner, I was having bland chicken breast with mushrooms and brown rice. By 8PM I was starving and decided I was going to go to bed very early. Before bed I checked my email and to my surprise there was an email from Lisa. In the email she said let's start south beach tomorrow "we can have dessert". I can only assume my friend was starving as much as I was.

My south beach diet started with a bang this morning. By evening it was all downhill. I was sabotaged by my sweet husband. He ran to the grocery for something and walked in with about 5 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. In the bag he had not 1 but 2boxes of Thin Mints. It is so hard to avoid the temptation of a Thin Mint. I managed the temptation for a few minutes. However, I was overcome with the thought of their minty chocolateie goodness. I caved and ate a few. Then I ate a few more and a few more... You get the picture. I guess tomorrow is back to south beach at least until I check my email.