Thursday, March 29, 2012


When these two wake up before Jillian Michaels is done yelling at me to work faster, try harder, stop being such a wimp, don't cry so much, etc., they often cuddle up and get cozy under a blanket on the couch.  Sometimes they even offer helpful hints to me such as "Why aren't you going as fast as the ladies in the video?" or "But they aren't taking a break right now!"  or "Look, I can do leg extensions faster than you, Mommy."  Inspirational I tell you.  I sure do love them! 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy Weekend!

Whether yours is flavored angel lemon or chocolate peanut butter cup, have a good one!

Thursday, March 22, 2012


 Sometimes when there are a lot of chores to be done and you can't choose which one to do's easier just to sit down and blog!  On days when it's not raining, the girls and I walk to school to pick Ezra up.  The kids always want to stay at the playground and play for a while.  I have to admit that I don't always want to stay.  I know we still have to walk home, I still have to make dinner, sometimes we have baseball practice, etc.  But really, why not stay a while and let them get fresh air and exercise?  So, unless it's really too cold for me to handle, or we have something seriously urgent to get home to--we stay.  Caroline has been working on monkey bars and rings.

 Ezra has the playground all figured out from the hours of recess time he's had this year.

 Sometimes I wish I could imprison my little monkey.
 And sometimes I'm scared of heights at the playground.
 Sometimes Nora is too.  She loves to hang--but I let go a little longer than normal in order to snap this photo and she was starting to panic.  It was good to see a little fear in her face for once!
 The walk home is something that I used to want to rush as well.  But then I realized how much fun it is to just let all the kids walk at their own pace.  Home is not going anywhere, my chores are not going anywhere.   But they won't want to hold hands and skip home together forever. 
 So I'm learning to walk at the pace of a 2 year old (which has gotten quite a bit faster over the weeks) and forget time exists--because I won't be able to do that much longer.

It really is a treat for me. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Monday morning Ezra brought this to me and said "I want to give you this money for being such a good mom." with a sweet smile on his face.
I melted quite a bit and said, "Oh honey, I love being your mom--you don't have to pay me to do that!"
His response, given with a hug, was "But I just think you're the best mommy in the whole world and I want you to know that." 
And guess what, since the Lord blessed him with sisters and not brothers I was able to truthfully tell him that I think he's the best little boy in the whole world : ) 
No gift he could ever give me could compare with those words.  I sure do love my treasure of a boy. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What Do You Do When...

Your daughter dresses herself like this?  Do you make her go right back up to her room to change into something that doesn't change her eyes?  Let her leave it if you're planning to stay in the house for the day anyway?  What if you're going out to the store?  Then what?  What if you are planning on being at a dinner with 200 people, do you let her keep her chosen clothes on?  At least change the mismatched socks? 

If you were at the Kirkland meeting room last Friday night, you know whether I made her change or not.  That afternoon she said "Mommy, do you know why I put this outfit on today?"  "Oh please, do tell!"  I replied.  "Wellll, I knew we were going to dinner at the meeting room tonight and I thought that I should put on something pretty."
And really, who am I to tell her what is pretty?  I'm sure there are days when she is a teenager that I will wish to be seen with her in this very outfit rather than what she'll have on.  And I can think of a dozen specific outfits that I wore that must have hurt my mom's eyes.  And for all I know--this very outfit will be featured in Anthropologie's next catalog.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Warm Comfort Soup for a Chilly Evening

I know, I know...spring starts Monday.  But that does not mean that the weather has to cooperate.  It's been upper thirties and raining around here for the past 3 days.  I don't mean drizzle...I mean rain.  Only folks who live in the pacific northwest can really differentiate between drizzle, showers, showers at times and rain.  Rain is a large amount of water falling from the sky for hours and hours on end.  Rain cancels baseball practice (yah!).   It soaks through two sweatshirts and a coat in the distance between the car and your son's kindergarten classroom.  And if you take a very long walk through a University of Washington parking lot on your way to watch the Dawgs play in the first round of the NIT (NOT the NCAA tourney) you will  be so wet it looks like you stepped directly out of the shower in your clothes and coat.  It is the reason I don't do my hair for days on end.  What's the point?
And it's a also a great reason to curl up under a blanket and read to your kids.  The Shining Sword is our current addiction.  I love it.  While your kids are occupied with books, you can make some of this delicious soup for supper.

My camera was dead for the first few steps, thus no pictures.  First of all you are going to melt half a cup of butter in the largest stock pot you have.  Add 3/4 C of flour and mix well.  Next, pour in 3 quarts of water--yep, you read that correctly--now you know why you need your largest stock pot.  Dump in 1/2 C of beef stock granules and give it all a good stir.  Turn the heat to medium and let the potion brew.

 While that mess is warming up, chop up 1 C each of celery, carrots and onions.  I usually do extra of all the vegetables.  I do not add extra water, flour or beef stock, just lots of extra veggies.  It's a great way to have even more soup for the freezer in a healthier manner. 

 The soup calls for one package of frozen egg noodles.  If you have a package of frozen egg noodles, you can use them.  If you don't--don't panic.  Egg noodles are easy to make.  Do a google search and choose your favorite one.  They only require eggs, salt (don't omit, I've tried it), flour and water.  One recipe of the dough makes more than enough.  I usually mix up the dough, use half of it for one large batch of soup and freeze the other half for some other day.  Once your brew is boiling you'll want to add your egg noodles.  They take a good 15-20 minutes of hard rolling boil time. Don't cover the pot to make them boil faster and then forget about them.  I ruined my mother's stove that way.  Halfway through the noodle cooking time, add your fresh veggies.  They will also take a while to get tender. 

 While your noodles and veggies are boiling, brown up 3/4-1 pound of lean ground beef.  After it's browned and drained, toss it in the pot with the rest.

Finally, you add the frozen mixed vegetables.  The recipe calls for 10 oz of frozen veggies.  I buy the large package--I think it's around 32 ounces.  And I add it all.  
 Add 1 pound (or so) of stewed tomatoes.  You can skip them if you'd rather, but I really like what they add to the soup.  They bring some Vitamin C to the party.  And some great flavor and color as well.  While your soup is mixing and spilling its flavor into the broth you'll want to figure out what you'll serve with it. 

 Around these parts I either open a quart of canned peaches or grab a quart size bag of frozen apple sauce.  With all those veggies in the soup, salad just feels redundant.  We also like some sort of bread with our soup.  Rolls, french bread, biscuits, toast.  This particular night I went with "Giant Sweet Cheddar Biscuits"--a recipe from one of my favorite cook books A Passion For Baking.  I had never tried these before--but I really liked them.  Even with a lot of cheddar cheese they still tasted good with honey.  They happen made delicious bacon and cheese breakfast sandwiches the next morning.

 Having helpers on hand to mix biscuit dough is always a plus.

 This recipe makes enough for our family to have dinner plus two nights worth of dinner in the freezer.  And we tend to eat a lot.  But I do basically double all of the veggie ingredients.  I simply store the left overs in gallon freezer bags.  Then the next two times we want this soup it's as easy as getting it out in time to thaw, tossing it in the crock pot before going to baseball practice, basketball practice or gymnastics class and then coming home to dinner.  When I was a child my mom would make this soup.  We would often take a canning jar full of it to my Great Grandfather and his 2nd wife, Helen.  Helen loved the soup.  She would exclaim about how "luscious" it was.  We loved to hear her say that.  Grandpa and Helen always had pink peppermint lozenges for us to eat.  I know most people think they are nasty and associate them with pocket lint, but to this day I love them.  Only the pink ones.  We lived close to my Great Grandfather for about two years and it was very special to be able to visit him and get to know him.  He had perfect eye sight and hearing into his 90's.  About the time they started to fade my brother Brett was born.  He would ask "what's his name again, Brat?"  Hehe.  And he called me "Brooks".  Always.  I find that most men over 80 do that. 
 There are two of those reading children mentioned at the beginning of the post.  Ezra is reading to Nora for the first time.  I tried not to cry and snapped a picture. 
Tomorrow it is supposed to rain harder than it is raining today.  I do not know how that is possible--but that doesn't mean it won't happen.

Klinkerdagger Soup
1 C butter
3/4 C flour
1/2 C beef stock base--granules
3 quarts water
1 C each chopped--celery/carrots/onion
10 oz frozen veggies (I recommend much more)
1 pound stewed tomatoes
3/4-1 pound browned ground beef
One package OR 1/2 recipe frozen egg noodles

Melt  butter and add flour.  Mix well.  Add water and beef granules; stir.  Bring to a rolling boil and add egg noodles.  Cook noodles until they are firm and floating--about 15-20 minutes. Add fresh veggies.  Boil another 10 minutes or so.  Add ground beef, frozen veggies and stewed tomatoes .  Cook until warm--about 20 minutes.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Favorite Toys These Days

 Between birthdays and Christmas, we've had a lot of new toys kicking around the house.  The fun educational kind!  It's always lovely to find new ideas on educational toys.  So, in case you're looking for gift ideas--here are a few.  When I was a teacher I got a PTA fund each year to spend on classroom items--and I usually spent those funds at Lakeshore Learning Company.  Thankfully, we have one located in Bellevue.  There are not a lot of the actual stores--but anyone can order from them online.  This year for Christmas and Ezra's birthday I headed into Lakeshore for some learning fun.  A big Tupperware of pattern blocks was my pick for Caroline.  Right now she can sort them by shape and color.  She also tries to fit them onto those pictures.  I got those from my mother-in-law.  You could probably do a google search and find some to print out at home.  As the kids get older we talk about the name of the shapes, the number of sides and angles each has, etc.  For now they are just good fun.  
 Unifix cubes are good for pre-school through mid-elementary years.  They can help teach about patterns, counting, one-to-one correspondence, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, estimation....the list goes on and on.  They were my best friend as a kindergarten and 1st grade teacher.  I bought these ones back when Ezra was a baby.  Amazingly we are only missing three.  They make great meeting toys as well.
 Plastic magnetic letters were purchased after Ezra's kindergarten teacher recommended it to us.  He can use them to spell out sight words and practice reading.  If you don't like having your fridge cluttered up with magnets, get out a cookie sheet and let your child practice with the letters at the kitchen table...or in the living room.  These come in upper or lower case. 
 Geo boards!  These were a gift for Ezra.  Fabulous tool and toy.  I bought this pack at Lakeshore.  It came with 6 geo boards and a bunch of rubber bands.  Geo boards can be used throughout the elementary years and even into junior high.  They are a great hands on way to learn geometry.  Of course, if you have tiny tots around the house, you want to be extra careful with the rubber bands.
 We love to play games around these parts.  Along with all the usual suspects of Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders and the other beginning board games we started learning Uno.   Target, Fred Meyer and Walmart sell various kinds of Uno.  We started out with a "Handy Manny" beginners version.  It has fewer cards, no "draw four" cards and the numbers are in large print.  After a couple months of learning the rules, we've moved on to the original version. 
 Spot it!  This is my new favorite game.  I was given a sample pack at a toy store at Christmas time.  The cards are round.  Each card has multiple symbols on it.  Each card has only one matching symbol to all the other cards.  The game helps the brain work at making connections.  It can be frustrating for Caroline.  Ezra finds it a lot of fun.  A little bit of age goes a long way in this game.  I looked for Spot it! at Fred Meyer and couldn't find it.  I'm not sure if Target or Walmart have it.  I did find it available on for $12 plus shipping.  If you have a local learning toy store you might try there.  This is a really fun game for adults also.  They call it a "party game".
There are more toys I could share with you--but I think this is enough for now.
A few words of wisdom to end on:
If you have rice bags in your house and if you like to heat them up, don't do it for twelve minutes and thirty four seconds.  That is too long.  And if you take a shower (how dare you take a shower!!!!) and if when you get out it smells like the house is on fire, and if you panic remember--rice bags are not meant to be heated up that long.  If you come downstairs and find that one of your munchkins was heating up a rice bag for the baby sister who got "an owie" and the munchkin happened to punch in "1, 2, 3, 4" for the time on the microwave, try not to blow a gasket.  The munchkin was only trying to help.  The munchkin will be horribly freaked out when you show him/her the smoke billowing from said rice bag and when you show him/her the scorched holes in the bag.  They will promise never to do it again--with real fear in their eyes.  A lesson will have been learned.  Don't forget to praise the Lord that the house did not burn down and that the kids are alive and unharmed--other than the small, insignificant ouchie the baby got while you dared to take a shower.  And also that you did not have to run out of the house wearing only a towel in front of all the neighbors and fire fighters.  And have to explain it to your husband later.  Ya know, if that ever happens in your house.  I'm sure it won't.  I'm sure you don't dare to take showers.

Friday, March 9, 2012

More Science: Bouncing Eggs

Sometimes when you have two girls obsessed with painting their toe nails (and entire foot, in some cases) you just have to allow science to save you.
 We had another book from the library calling out to us to get experimenting!  This one does take some patience, Natalie : )  But not because it's hard or really messy.  It takes three days of waiting--which is torture on the kids' part.
 First of all you need to gather up one egg per child, one container per egg--we used small jam size mason jars, white vinegar and a separate pouring container if you'd like. 
 The title of this book is The Bouncing Egg, which is quite intriguing to young minds, as you might guess.  They were convinced that these eggs would turn into bouncy balls. 
 Placing the egg into the jar without breaking it presented the first challenge.  I had to intervene. 
 Next, add your vinegar.  So that the kids could pour their own vinegar, I poured it into a Pyrex liquid  measuring cup.  Pour in enough vinegar to cover the egg.  It took just over a third of a cup in the container we used.

 The hardest part was leaving them on the counter for three days.  I wasn't sure if it was kosher to put the lids on the jars--but I didn't want the jars to tip and spill, and I didn't really want all of Tadd's various coffee roasts to fall into our experiments.  So, I took the lids off at night and left them on during the day.  We felt the eggs each day and within a few hours we could already feel the vinegar beginning to break down the shell.  It started to feel leathery.  And there was a thick white foam on the top of the liquid.  The eggs were starting to float and looking bloated two days in. 
 Three and a half days after leaving our eggs, we reached in to take them out....
 and Ezra's leathery egg skin broke when he touched it.  His  heart broke along with it.
 I tried dumping out the vinegar and then the egg with Caroline's. 
 Nora had to cry because Ezra was crying.  And she seemed really upset about the whole experiment. 
 Caroline was thrilled to make her egg bounce.  And bounce it did--from low heights. 

 She let Ezra take a turn too.
 But raise it up a little and....splat!
I'm not sure whether this experiment was more fun or traumatic.  I had two crying and one happy at the end.  That's science, folks!  Sometimes you cry and sometimes you have a break through that makes you a millionaire.  I would recommend doing this experiment in conjuncture with a snake unit if you can--the eggs feel exactly what I imagine a snake egg would feel like.  I will never know  because you couldn't pay me the a fore mentioned million dollars to touch a snake or her egg.  Happy weekend--and happy experimenting!