Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday afternoon

What does a typical Sunday look like in our house? Well, I did this:
Lainie and Maggie's clothes laid out for the week.
And this:
Natalie's outfits for the week. A must, since Jay gets her ready every morning, solo.
While Jay did this:
New greenhouse. Once it's wrapped in plastic, the high tunnel within will be disassembled and moved.
And Natalie did this:
Natalie aka Cinderella
And Lainie did this:
Rock-star dress-up!
And Katie and Maggie did this:
Nail boutique, sister-style
All to avoid this: 
Test tomorrow. I'm still procrastinating studying; can you tell?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


My aunt Lucille asked me what adjective (alliterative adjectives) I would use to describe each of my girls. Well, in my sleep-deprived, adrenaline-high state this afternoon, I wrote them each a haiku instead.

Exuberant she
mighty in mind and in mouth
Always in trouble

Lovingly lovely
Wants to please you, everyone
Brain bustin', beauty

Angel entrusted
Mighty spirit overcomes
Person locked inside

Destined for stitches
Keeping up, climbing up, NOW
Free hugs on demand

And how about one for me:

O.R. today ROCKED!
Loved the fast pace, blood and guts
Hope to do more soon.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Our Favorite Potato Soup!!

I found our favorite potato soup recipe!!! It's been missing for months and I wasn't quite able to duplicate it without the recipe. But what was lost is now found!!

Wow. I think I just likened soup to the biblical prodigal son. ouch.

Anywho, here is the World Famous Hearty Potato Soup Recipe

6 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, diced
6 celery ribs, diced
2 quarts water
1 onion, chopped
6 Tablespoons butter or margarine
6 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups milk

  1. Cook potatoes, carrots, and celery in water until tender, about 20 minutes.
  2. Reserving the liquid, drain the vegetables and set them aside. (I set my strainer on top of my Pampered Chef super-sized measuring cup to catch the liquid.)
  3. In the same pot, saute onions in butter until soft.
  4. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper.
  5. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly until thickened.
  6. Gently stir in cooked vegetables.
  7. Add reserved cooking liquid, 1 cup at a time, until soup is the desired consistency.
  8. Serve as is, or make it a loaded hearty potato soup by sprinkling crisp bacon and shredded cheese on top.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Waffle cones

Sometimes the circumstances that drive me to try a new recipe are beyone strange. For example, today Jay treated three of the girls to Call Hall for ice cream, Maggie snuck sugar multiple times today (tomorrow's going to U.G.L.Y.) and I'm hungry for a snack and too broke to go out for ice cream.

Thus, waffle cones. Because I don't have to share (they are full from the sweet snack) and it doesn't have to be sugar/cinnamon free (because Maggie is in trouble) and I have all the ingredients (so no run to town.)

And if you're going to do waffle cones, who better to mimic than Miss Butter Herself, Paula Deen.

1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 stick butter, melted (see, Paula Deen at her best!)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
Nonstick cooking spray

  1. Beat sugar, vanilla, and eggs until cream.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. Whisk the dry ingredients into the sugar/egg mixture.
  4. Spray waffle iron (or even better, a pizzelle iron, but since I don't have one of those, a waffle iron)
  5. Pour 3/4 Tablespoons batter onto iron and cook until baked and brown.
  6. While still hot, I pushed them into a cupcake pan to make little waffle bowls. They'll come out squishy but will harden to a crisp as they sit.
  7. Once cooled, serve with a scoop of ice cream.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Second verse different than the first, please

When I get worried or scared, I tend to get angry. And, Natalie is really starting to make me mad.

When Maggie was 2, she started getting sicker. She would get one ear infection or upper respiratory infection after another, getting better as long as she was on antibiotics. But as soon as the meds wore off, she'd get sick again. And then, her body was too stressed and she threw a seizure. It was diagnosed as a febrile seizure, but in hindsight, with a fever of just 99, according to Lainie's neurologist, it wasn't febrile.

And if you know our family, you know Lainie's story. Her first seizure was also after 3 months of continuous illness, nothing major but just many consecutive illnesses. She too would get better with meds and get sick again as soon as the meds were out of her systems. Her fever was also 99 when the first seizure hit, but all her seizures were synced with illnesses.

Now, Natalie has been sick since Thankgiving. She gets better with antibiotic but once it wears off, she gets sick again. Last night, she spiked a 103 fever with no other apparent symptoms. She was twitchy but no seizure, thankfully.

I'm trying to be faithful, to put it in God's hands. I am really listening as I say "Thy will be done" but I hope he takes requests. I'm not even worried about a seizure and not even requesting no seizure; my request is for no damaging or life-threatening seizures. Please don't hurt my baby... that's not too much to ask, is it?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Keep Stacking

I think Jay and I would kick some serious tail at a Jenga tournament. After all, we are champions at stacking one thing on top of another in a precarious position, just barely maintaining some semblance of balance.

It seems Mr. Slick needs 4 credit hours by next December in order to renew his teaching license. (It's a state rule; to renew for the next 5 years, he must have at least 4 credit hours.) The good news is, we are planning ahead. We know that growing season plus teaching plus classes for Jay will be too much. So, he found a course that meets all his criteria:
  1. Is online delivery
  2. Focuses on Math
  3. Focuses on Technology
  4. Doesn't cost a fortune
  5. Meets his renewal requirements
  6. Is done before the garden kicks in high gear
And so, from January 24 to February 13, Jay will be taking a 3-hour graduate-level teaching course, parenting, working full-time, starting a few thousand seedlings, and finishing the new high tunnel, while I am going to school full-time and parenting ...

Suddenly, I look like the slacker.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Holy Crepe!

I made my first-ever crepes on Sunday morning, and have just one question: why didn't anyone tell me they were that easy?!?! They didn't take many ingredients, everyone was full before I ran out of batter, and holy moly they were delicious!

First make the crepe batter:
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt. 
Whisk until smooth. (See? EASY!)

I didn't have any fresh fruit or the ingredients for the recipe book's filling, so I made my own:
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2-3 Tablespoons apple pie jam
  • 2-3 Tablespoons peach jam
  • 1-2 Tablespoons honey
Beat until smooth.

Now put it all together...
Heat a pan to medium-high heat and spray lightly.
Pour in about 3 tablespoons (not quite 1/4 cup) of batter.
Lift the pan from heat and swirl it slowly to spread the batter in a thin circle.
Return pan to heat and cook the crepe until it is golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.
Flip the crepe onto a paper towel or a plate.
Dollop a line of filling down the middle of the crepe.
Roll jelly-roll style and serve warm.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pampers Rocks

Last month, I bought a jumbo box of size 4 Pampers diapers for Natalie. To my surprise, one-third of the diapers were size 5. Now, normally I wouldn't worry about it and assume we'll just use it eventually. But she's actually pottying in the potty and just moved to size 4s, so it's possible that she might never wear size 5s. (How's that for an optimist?!) So, since I had a snow day, I decided to contact Pampers and see if I could at least get replacement product.

Two days later, I got this response:

Thanks Linda for contacting Pampers. 

I am sorry that the box of diapers you purchased had the wrong size of diapers in the package. I understand how frustrating that can be.

Our goal is to produce high quality products that consistently delight our consumers and I'm sorry this wasn't your experience.  Please be assured I'm sharing your comments with the rest of our team.

Since your satisfaction means a great deal to us, I'm sending four $10 off coupons by postal mail, which will be good towards your next purchases of any size or version of our Pampers diapers.  You should receive my letter within the next 2-3 weeks.

Thanks again for writing.
Pampers Team

One more reason to love Pampers. They don't leak (on my kids), have great coupons, and apparently have pretty awesome customer service.

And, sometimes it pays to send an email.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Saving Social Security

I don't know if you've heard, but social security is in trouble. There are too many people drawing on social security, with that number only going up as the Baby Boomers reach retirement, and there aren't enough paying in.

Well, I read an article the other day in the latest Reader's Digest that quoted Ken Dychtwald of the NY Times as he suggested one way to fix social security: "Be part of a smaller generation. Then you need to give birth to a large generation, so when you are in your 70s and they are in their 40s and 50s, they'll be (generating) enormous amounts of taxes."

In other words, Jay and I are doing our part to fix the social security crisis. Heck, most of the families in our church are doing their part.

So next time someone says something derogatory to me about the size of my family, I'll just say, "You are welcome!"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Prayers for a friend

A friend of mine just got diagnosed with breast cancer. She's so young, has three little kids, and is braced for a fight. She and her family could use your prayers. At this point, she doesn't know what stage it is, so the prayers are that it's stage 1 and caught early.

Follow her on this journey and lend your support on her blog at:

And God Bless all of you who have, have had, or will have to battle this disease.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Snow Day!!!

Thanks to 6-ish inches of white powdery snow, my first day back to school turned into the first snow day of the year. Yay!!

So what did we do with our family time?

Bundled kids up to play in the snow and help sweep it off the high tunnels

Natalie didn't like being in the snow, even with her Christmas-Story-esque snowsuit

But she loved it as long as she was being held.

Sadie LOVED the snow, once we got her out of her pen. Isn't she HUGE!

Home Sweet Home!
 What else did we do today?
  • Make blueberry muffins for breakfast
  • Took pictures for possible 4-H entries
  • Had crafty time (painting a jewelry box and many pictures)
  • Made Egg Drop Soup for lunch
  • Made Snow Ice Cream for dessert*
  • Jay made this cream-cheese filled carrot cake for snack
  • I made crescent rolls to go with supper
  • Took a nap!
Nap time continues for the youngest two, which is why I have time to post.  This afternoon we plan to paint the girls' wooden letters to spell their names on their walls. The rest of the time will be breaking up fights, working on the ever-there laundry, and not thinking about tomorrow.

I needed today. I am not ready to go back to school. Unlike August, I now know how hard the schedule will be on me, on my family. I know I should have a better attitude, and I know I will enjoy the classes and clinicals. But, I will miss a lot of moments with my girls. It's only until May...we can do this.

Or, it can start blowing like it's expected to, and the ground blizzard will let me put off the start of the semester just one more day.


*Snow Ice Cream

This was SO delicious! I had heard of it before, and I think we made a version of it last winter about this time, but I don't remember it tasting THIS good. Thanks to a friend, Julie, for this recipe:

Regular version
1 gal of snow
1 T of vanilla
1 C of sugar
2 Cups of milk....stir and enjoy

Maggie's Dairy-free, Sugar-Free Snow Ice Cream
1 quart of snow
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup Silk soy milk
2 Tablespoons Splenda
Stir and enjoy!

Monday, January 3, 2011

And so we begin... again

Natalie has been asking to sit on the little potty for about a month, but I, well, um, didn't believe her. I didn't feel like starting potty training yet, seeing as how she's 22 months old and her sisters potty trained at roughly 2 1/2, 3, and 3 1/2 years old. But, she's proving me wrong... or at least proving that she's interested in trying. The past two nights she asked (demanded is probably a better word) to sit on the potty before putting pajamas on. And both nights she wouldn't get up until she pottied. (In our house, we call that making yellow. I don't know why, so don't ask.) When she was done, she got up, got toilet paper, threw it in the potty, and said"All Done."

Spunky lil' one
Two times does not a trend make, but it does make for a happy mommy. It means that, sometime in 2011, I could possibly not have diapers to change for the first time in 10 years. Think about it: nonstop diapers since August 2001. Right now, we're looking at 9 1/2 years of diaper changes. Average 6 diapers a day (on a good day), 42 diapers a week for 494 weeks (9 1/2 years) equals 20,748 diapers.(BTW, Jay just bragged that he probably changed a good, solid 1,000 of those! LOL!). Anyway, roughly 25 cents per diaper calculates to $5,187. Okay, that's not as bad as I was expecting. But it would be a nice expense and inconvenience to be rid of.

So, Go Natalie Go! Literally!

On the food front, to go with tonight's chicken, Jay made this salad from the veggies on our backyard:

Napa Cabbage and Carrot Salad

(Instead of ponzu, he just squeezed a fresh orange into the dressing.) It was very fresh, spring-like. I love the crunchy texture of the Napa cabbage; it's lighter than traditional cabbage but more substantial than lettuce. Definitely a do-again.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year, New Menu

I am playing around with my menu this year, trying to use Google calendar. It lets me post the menu on the blog and update throughout, and share it easier.

The girls requested the Alphabet Menu to start the year again this year, and it makes it a lot easier to come up with menu items when I'm following the alphabet. So, we started with appetizer lunch aka leftovers from New Years, which translates to:
  • Lil' Smokies
  • Sweet and Sour Meatballs
  • Spinach Artichoke Dip
  • Pizza Dip
  • Carrots and Ranch Dip
  • Cheese and crackers
And lest you think my girls have refined palates, they pretty much only ate the cheese and crackers and carrots and dip. But I enjoyed the rest of it!

Speaking of New Years, I tried three new recipes for our New Years shindig and two failed miserably. (Roasted Carrot Dip and White Bean Dip) The third was delicious, at least to me. It had a fancy name, Brie en Croute, but is basically a wheel of brie cheese, with two to three tablespoons jalapeno jelly, wrapped in puff pastry sheet and bake at 400 for 20 minutes.

So, appetizers take care of the A. Next is Beef Burgundy, crockpot style, substituting beef broth for red wine.