Monday, January 26, 2009

"Later today" ends up meaning 4 days later

Funny how that works... best laid plans often get mussed up with 3 kids and what seems easy to do in a few hours gets put off 4 days!

So here are, without further ado, some recent pics.

Ethan lugging our diaper/entertainment bag from the hotel to the car. It was heavy, but he's a trooper

Cousin Tyler with Elly

Cousin Tyler and cousin Matthew

Gwen and Grandma

Some of the kids playing during the get-together

Aunt Christy with Elly

Elsa on my lap opening a present

Gwen and cousin Jamie playing with a princess cd player

They both found it fascinating

I thought I had more pictures of our get-together, but I guess not. Christy or Ang, if you have more send them to me!

These are from the kid's first soccer practice

Coach Rich instructing the kids on some ground rules

Whenever Coach says, "Orange line!", all the kids have to run over there and put their toes on the line. Helps him maintain order :)

Poor Elsa wasn't feeling well

Gwen making sure Coach Rich saw her mad soccer skillz

I really don't like how our camera takes pictures in fluorescent lighting. Bah. Anyway, they're up now!

Today I hauled everyone to the store for grocery shopping. Luckily, this time when I got home, a whole gallon of milk didn't spill out of my cargo area and break open on my feet and spread milk all over my pants and sidewalk like last week. That was not fun! And it happened right in front of a bunch of people too which only added to my embarrassment.

Baby has been sleeping a lot better, well, at night anyway. Thank you Lord!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

This posting once a week thing has to stop

It makes it hard for me to blog because I know that its going to take forever and a day!

I will work backwards through our last week. Friday we left for Spokane and the trip went fairly well. The kids were in quite a mood and fought most the way though. Elsa didn't help by crying the last hour or so either. The weather was fine, but very foggy in spots.

On our way in, we stopped by Josh & Amber's house (Holly was there too!) to visit and drop off clothes for Lindy. We'd never been to their house before and I'd never been to Fairchild AFB. We really enjoyed it and I was impressed with all the amenities that are on base. It was good seeing everyone and how much the babies have grown. And I got to meet Brooke too, the newest addition to the family at only 8 weeks old! Good times.

After that we headed over for a quick visit with Grandma, Aunt Angela and cousins Jamie and Matthew. The kids were so excited about seeing their cousins! After running around and playing, our very weary crew headed for our hotel and crashed for the night.

Saturday we ran a few errands around town and then had our (delayed) Christmas celebration at Grandma's house. I do have pictures, but my camera is in the car and I'm too lazy to go out and get it. Later today I'll try to put up the pictures.

We had such a good time visiting with our Spokane area family and seeing how much all the kids have grown. Our kids really love their cousins, even though they don't get to see them that often and everyone plays so well together.

After the festivities, we headed back to the hotel and had a pretty dreadful night. Elsa didn't sleep, Ethan fell out of the bed and banged his face on the nightstand, etc. etc. Its never good to get almost no sleep when you have a long drive the next day. Unfortunately, the kids were really naughty on the way home and by the time we arrived I was feeling quite rage-y and irritated with everyone! I hate that.

Monday, my Mom and Jenni, bless their hearts, came over to watch the kids while I grocery shopped. Oh, the pleasures of a fully stocked fridge and pantry. Love it!

The kids all came down with a cold though. Elsa has it the worst. The kids were mostly healed up after a day, but their noses are still a bit runny. Everyone had a fever the first day, along with cough and congestion, then the fever eases and so does the cough and the nose seems the last to go. Elsa is past the fever stage but the cough hasn't gone away and her nose is constantly running. She's right on the border of needing to see a doctor, but I'm not sure what they would do for her if we did bring her in. Most of the time it doesn't bother her (she breathes without issue), but like last night, she gets into a coughing fit for like 30 min and gets very upset (who wouldn't?). As you might imagine, her sleeping has been exceedingly poor.

Tuesday I made a recipe from the Top Chef cookbook (Top Chef is a GREAT competitive cooking show, way better than say Hells Kitchen which is barely about cooking at all). Most of the recipes are complicated and overly fussy for a home cook, but this one, Moroccan Cubanos, sounded good. The recipe I linked to has the stone fruit chutney which is NOT in the cookbook and I didn't make it, but I did make the pickled veggies, which are really very tasty. While everything tasted good, it wasn't exceedingly good and likely won't be repeated. I did like the instructions on doing a quick pickle though and may use that again. Tonight I'm making Red Curry Chicken from the same cookbook, with a few substitutions because its hard to find kaffir lime leaves and galangal in my suburban grocery stores :)

Wednesday the kids had their first soccer practice (yep, I have pics, but they're in the car....). There are only 4 kids in the class and the kids were all over the place, but I think they'll have fun. Ethan is the oldest of the 4 and he was cracking us up the whole time. He had the answer to everything. Coach asks, "What is the first rule of soccer?". Ethan says, "I know! Don't step on people". Coach says, "Well that is true too, but the first rule is not to use your hands". Ethan, "Ok, but don't step on people too". Later, he ripped his hangnail a bit and interrupted Coach to show him. Coach says, "Do you want to show your Mommy?". Ethan replied, "Oh, she already saw it and said it was ok". Then all the other kids had to come up to the Coach and tell him that they had a cold or an owie or whatever. Oh man, it was hilarious. I'm sure further weeks will bring more actual playing and less of these conversations, or maybe not. Either way, its good exercise and experience for them. We've noticed that Ethan is not terribly coordinated. Poor little guy was tripping all over the place, while Gwen could almost stand on her ball without falling. I sense that in a year or two we'll need to start separating them for sporting events (that'll happen naturally anyway I guess) because Ethan will be intimidated by Gwen's natural ability. Ethan is much better than Gwen at a lot of things, but physical grace and ability is full in Gwen's court.

Wee baby Elsa did NOT sleep well last night and so once again we are sleep deprived. She also does not want to be out of my arms. Yesterday I had to hold her for two hours while she napped because me even making a movement that could be construed by her as laying her down caused her to wake up crying. I'm not handling it well to be honest. I'm hard pressed to describe my feelings. Its frustration, irritation, even some anger. Because of no napping, my hobbies, things that bring me a lot of satisfaction, haven't been touched since Thanksgiving. I resent that. I resent that every day I'm unable to enjoy things but just want to lock myself in a dark room for some peace and quiet and alone time. These things shall pass, I know. But I'm really having a hard time with it right now. I did not expect that my youngest child would never sleep during the day.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Making something out of (almost) nothing

So we're on this budget thing... I've mentioned it before. Its the plan from The Total Money Make Over by Dave Ramsey. Can't recommended it highly enough. Its not exaggerating to say that his concepts have totally changed our life. And not in the "Eeew budgeting!" way, but in the "Wow, we can live on what we make and not have to put essentials on the credit card (or use credit. At all)" way.
Anyway, that is not the point of this post!

We're on this budget, and that means that I get x amount of dollars every two weeks for groceries and household stuff. And sometimes, a person just really wants to go to Costco. And sometimes that person gets a little carried away at Costco and spends almost all her allotted money on beautiful cuts of meat and other lovely proteins.

I was left with very little money for other things to cook with those proteins, so all this week its been an interesting scavenge in the cupboards.

One of the things I made was this dreadful, and I do mean terribly dreadful, crock pot recipe of brown rice and chicken. It only cooked for 4 hours, and I started with frozen chicken breasts even, but it was bone dry and the rice was a solid mass of overcooked rice. Bland too. No one took more than the tiniest nibble.

Last night I made my Grammy's Overnight Lasagna, but didn't overnight it. Just gave it about 5 hours in the fridge. That came out good luckily (we needed a good meal after the night before), even with my substitution of cheddar for mozzarella.

After nearly a week of having to stretch my creativity around whatever I could scrounge up, I'm so glad I'm almost done. Tomorrow is payday, and although we are leaving for Spokane for a few days, when I return I can restock my cupboards and fridge and actually have some fresh fruit (yay!) and veggies and peanut butter.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Lots to catch up on

So where to start?

Well, the most fun news is about Elsa. In the past two weeks, this little girl has been developing so fast. A few days ago she said, "dada" as well as "baba", and even something that sounds like "hello". She has been progressively getting scootier and scootier and the last few days in particular she's been getting one knee under and doing a hobbled crawl. I can set her down on one corner of the rug, go away for 5 minutes and find her sitting at the opposite corner! This afternoon I got her up from nap and found her sitting up... another milestone! She can now go from laying down to sitting. Wow! She's just surprising us each and every day lately.

On Thursday, the kids had their Christmas program which had been delayed due to the snow. Its really sweet, we wait outside the classrooms and the kids escort us in to the sanctuary and find us seats. Then they go and get cookies that they made and punch and serve all of us.

Grammy, Aunt Jenni, Nana and Daddy were able to come and participate. The kids loved having them there. Thanks guys!

I like this picture. Elly looks a lot older than she is... like she's having a chat with Grammy or something.

Elsa again (well, she IS my most easy to photograph child)

My pictures of their actual performance didn't come out. The church was dark and my camera really is poor in any sort of lighting other than daylight. I miss our super high tech camera that we sold :(

Do you see Ethan and Gwen?

The teachers gave them all a goodie bag and the kids could not wait to break it open and see what was inside.

Back at the table, Grammy was helping Gwen unpack her goodies and Mom was playing a rousing game of peek-a-boo with Elsa.

This picture warms my heart

We tried to get a decent picture of all three children. This was the best shot.

We had a great time and the kids did very well with their songs.

This next picture may offend some. See, well, Jason was trying to get the kids to eat their peas and was telling them to open their mouths while he tossed peas in. Yes, we are immature like that at times. I made a joke about, "Hey, be careful there Gwen or a pea will get stuck in your nose". Not 2 seconds later she's crammed a pea up there.

And about 2 seconds after I took this picture she started freaking out big time because it wouldn't come out. Luckily, a gentle nose blowing solved the problem. Mommy and Daddy learned their lesson :)

Both the kids were given $5 from their great-aunt Margaret for Christmas and we took them shopping on Friday to pick out their items. Gwen purchased a tiara, ring, necklace and earring set. Ethan got a small Lego set. Gwen got all dolled up in her "Cinderella" dress she got for Christmas and all her jewels.

She is a true princess. Its funny how when she gets all adorned like this, her whole attitude changes. She becomes a little more mellow, a bit more aloof. She curtsies and bows formally and with great poise and grace.

Oh, one more thing. I was shown this article on my message board and tried it last week. I made a few changes, but wow, it makes bread making very convenient! Basically you prepare a dough and refrigerate it for up to two weeks. When you want bread, you pull out the dough, lop off a 1lb hunk (grapefruit sized piece), shape and let rise for 40 min or so. Bake for 30min and voila!

Ya'll should give it a try... 5 Minutes a Day for Fresh Baked Bread

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Cake in a mug

Have to share this recipe that was posted on my message board today. We tried it tonight and while definitely not anything gourmet (by any stretch), it was fun, fast and gosh-darn edible. The kids thought it very very cool.

Make Cake In A Mug

Mrs. Fix-It

So to add onto my distress on Sunday, our washing machine stopped working. We've been having issues with it from time to time, flashing an F21 error code. We'd just restart the wash and all would be fine. But Sunday, it returned the error time after time. Turns out the code means that your drain system is clogged somehow. We knew it would take a good chunk of time to repair it, or at least look into repairing it ourselves, so we decided to do it Monday after the kids were in bed and J was home.

Unfortunately, we were very backed up on laundry and since we weren't sure if we would be able to fix the machine on Monday, I toted a great many baskets to my Mom's and spent the day there doing laundry. Got home at around 3, as did J. The baby decides she doesn't want to sleep, so she watches.

After forging ahead and removing 3 bajillion screws (that's a true number there folks) to remove the back panel, Jason chastises me for not waiting for him because he would have told me that we only needed to remove the front panel, which had a total of 3 screws. Sigh.

See that white turn-y thing there (that's a technical term)? That's the filter, and that was our first stop for finding out why the tub was not draining. It was wedged in there very tight and it took both hands and a lot of umph to get it off. As I twisted it, water leaked out (good thing we'd turned off the water) and a most foul stench was emitted. Kinda like... er... fermented dog hair, if you can imagine such a thing. Now if you have a queasy stomach, just pass over this next picture. While it is rather gross, its also fascinating. The picture is poor because Jason was in the next room gagging and I had only one hand to take the pic and didn't want to get too close.

Yes, somehow... and really it almost defies physics, pens were in there. But most of it was dog hair. I thought that perhaps it was just a light coating covering a filter fabric, but no. Its all packed in there tight.

After a good shake into the bucket, it all came off. There was a shocking number of coins present as well. After a good scrub with bleach, it was in much better condition but still not pretty.

We put it back in and voila, problem solved. Then all I had to do was spend an hour putting the 3 bajillion screws back in :) Let this be a lesson to those with front loaders. Empty your filter often... do not be like us and let it ferment for over two years!

Our internal water dispenser on the fridge is still not working, but that's a repair work in progress as well. Luckily, we're fairly certain that we won't be in for a gross surprise with that repair job!

Elsa woke only once last night which is better than she's done in a long time. I feel a lot better today than I've felt in awhile. Funny how sleep will do that for you.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

I'm a mess

For the last couple weeks I've been rolling something around in my brain and its stressing me out. I cannot find an answer that is satisfactory.

I made a pro-con list last night and both lists were even. One did not emerge the clear winner. This really is causing me all sorts of vexation and distress because its a topic that I've never felt any quibbles over in the past.

Added on top of that a very challenging time with Miss Elsa. She is waking up multiple times at night and barely napping during the day. When she wakes at night and I go to nurse her, she screams when there is any delay. I mean, full on tantrum. If my shirt isn't unbuttoned or lifted fast enough, screams. When I have to switch sides, screams. When I fumble around finding her pacifier, screams. I've never had a child react as strongly and immediately like she does and it makes me so frustrated. This always wakes up someone else too, which puts them in a bad mood as well.

I just feel all over the place over everything. Today and tomorrow I need to focus on getting some clarity and direction because school starts up and we have to ride a pretty tight schedule to get everyone out of the house on time. For the past, well, nearly a month, Jason has been home almost every morning and that's made us very lazy and distracted in the mornings.

On a brighter note, Elsa is getting closer to crawling. J thinks it will happen this month and I think he may be right.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a fun and safe New Years Eve.

We had Mom, Dad, Jenni, and Becki over for dinner last night. We played games (anyone looking for a good preschooler game should get The Cat In the Hat I Can Do That game. Its pretty fun even for adults!) and celebrated the East Coast New Year. I liked that. Not being a night person at all, being able to be in bed by 10:30 was nice. We were woken up at midnight though by a surprisingly loud display of fireworks and people yelling and banging pots and pans.

Last week, the kids spent two nights at my parents house (Christmas Day and the next day). We went out on Saturday to pick them up and had a heck of a time. The snow had melted enough to be extremely slippery and soggy and we had a pretty scary slide on the road to their house and we got stuck over and over on their long gravel driveway (its about 1/2 mile long I think). We decided to chain up the second time we got stuck but discovered that one chain didn't fit for some reason. We were able to get the second chain on though, and even just with one tire chained we got enough traction to get unstuck and make progress. Unfortunately, just a few feet up we heard a banging sound and sure enough, the chain had broken! UGH! I had many curses running through my head. We shoveled and worked and finally got to the base of the last part of the driveway. We had to shovel again and I opened the door to get out and the snow is to my thighs. Its almost impossible to shovel out a car when you're in that deep. But we were able to move forward a bit more, and my Dad came down to help too. I shot this video then.
Getting through the mess

After we got stuck at the top of the crest, Aaron showed up and we were able to shovel a good enough track for Jason to get up to the house. It took us FOREVER to get in and we were quite seriously considering that we may not be able to get back out.

However, Dad dug out some chains that belonged to my Grandpa's Suburban. Old school chains. However, they worked and we were able to get out with no problems at all.

This winter season has been chock full of adventure, I tell ya.

We have decided to postpone our winter trip to Spokane, as conditions on the pass and in Spokane itself are not good. Its a very challenging trip with three children under normal conditions. Under conditions where we might need to drive slower and more carefully, its not something we want to do at present. Hopefully the snow will lay off for a bit so things can be cleared up and we can make it over there in time. The kids are sooooooo disappointed. They ask us every day if we are going to Spokane now. They want to see Grandma and their cousins and stay in a hotel!

We are all ready to get back to our regular routines. Jason wants to go to work, the kids want to go to school and I'm looking forward to some predictability!

We've signed the kids up for soccer through the City of Everett. We were going to do Ethan in soccer and Gwen in dance of some kind, but we figured that we should start them out together and see how we do with activities during a weeknight. We are not used to do things in the evenings, and we want to make sure that we don't break up our family time too much. For all its trouble at times, we do enjoy our relative peace in the evenings and we want to protect that and not be overly busy. So we're starting off slow and seeing how it goes.

Well I have starving kids and a crying baby so I must cut this short.