Monday, August 31, 2009

A little tidbit about Ellie Bellie Boo...

I like to paint pictures...

play dress-ups and dollies with Emma...

and playing with my friends.

I like sweets...


And when I can't gorge myself by drinking maraschino cherry juice straight from the jar I like to sit and quietly ponder about what it would be like to gorge myself on an entire cake.

Day 243--Like Mother, Like Daughter...

I had to laugh when I caught a glimpse of Emma walking through the park with Ellie studying the pictures she'd just taken on her camera. It was funny that I had my camera right with me to take a picture of her and it was even funnier that she thought it was totally normal to tote a camera around with you while playing at a park with your friends.

Cami, on the other hand, is WAY cooler than I was at her age. I still had buck teeth, weird hair, and was totally awkward at age 12 (still am). How Cami got to be so cool and sociable is beyond me!

Blogging x 3 = ♥♥♥

Most people think I'm crazy trying to maintain three blogs on a regular basis, but the fact of the matter is that I love each one of the three and am attached to them for very different reasons.

1. The recipe blog is my way to organize all the recipes I try and it keeps me motivated continually trying new recipes and different ingredients. Plus I love "meeting" other foodies and knowing that in some small way I'm making it a little easier for people to feed their families easy and good-tasting recipes.

2. The 365 blog I totally love because I feel like it's a biopic view of our lives. I don't care about being entertaining or whether I get any comments. I just like that I can blog about all the boring details of our lives without any strings attached. I'm already working on the book version on Blurb and can't wait for the detailed view of our year that it will be.

3. And this blog? It's hard to summarize since it varies day to day, but mostly I feel like it's an outlet for my pent up goofiness, ranting, and random thoughts. I love trying to tell our stories, observations, or thoughts in a "different", hopefully somewhat entertaining way! I feel like this blog captures a little bit more of our personalities (especially mine) than the other blogs do and I think it's fun to look back and see how we (and the blog have) evolved over the last 2+ years I've been doing it.

Most of all I just wanted to take this opportunity to say, THANKS for being my supportive (and tolerant) friends. None of this would be anywhere near as fun without all of you!


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Instructions for starting your own WWLSWF chapter

What on earth is WWLSWF, you ask?

Good question, but after this blogpost no one will ever have to ask that question again. This is certain to be as big as tetherball soon enough and you will be privileged to have been in on it since its very foundations.

orld Wide Light Saber Wrestling Federation

Sounds complicated, but in actuality it's a fine new sporting organization dedicated to developing the humility and confidence of boys everywhere and we are its illustrious founders.

Since I believe this sport is destined to be the wave of the future I thought I'd just pre-empt all of your questions and just give you the low-down on starting your own chapter first thing.

1. Procure (either by force or creativity) at least 2 light sabers made of swimming noodles and PVC pipe handles, fastened with hot glue.
2. Procure (by marriage) one big burly man to be referee.

3. Procure (by multiplying and replenishing the earth) at least 2 boys in addition to whatever other assortment of children may come your way.

4. Assign one of the boys (Boy A) to be a good intentioned, but merciless tease, making others cry at least a couple of times a day.

5. Assign the other boy (Boy B) to be smaller and extremely competitive.

6. Give Boy A and Boy B each one light saber.

7. Let the dueling begin.

8. When Boy B begins crying and the intervention of other assorted children seems to be in vain, then it's time to bring in your big burly referee.

9. Big burly referee is to disarm and subdue Boy A

10. After Boy A is finally subdued, then Boy B and other assorted children are then given a free-for-all attack on Boy A

11. Free-for-all tactics may include light saber whacking, full blown wrestling, and swatting with "corner blankies".

12. Victory is achieved either when Boy A is in an arm-lock on the couch and has been whacked to the satisfaction of Boy B or one of the other assorted children accidentally gets injured in the commotion and starts screaming, whichever comes first. In our case it was the screaming.
13. If you are interested in owning your very own WWLSWF franchise, dues are $9,208 per year and include autographed photos of the very first WWLSWF wrestling match ever....sure to be worth millions someday.


Day 242--Dogpile Spencer!

Spencer has a certain reputation in our house for being a little bit of a tease. I can pretty much count on at least once a day that someone is brought to tears or screaming because of something he's said or done.

After a noodle light saber war went a little too far tonight, we decided a little parental intervention was needed.

Glen held him still while Cami and Adam pummeled him with the light sabers and Ellie swatted him with her blankie. It ended up being a lot of good old fashioned wrestling mixed with a whole lot of laughter....

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 241--Produce Co-op

Every other Saturday we get the opportunity to participate in a produce co-op that my sister-in-law Karey runs. She negotiated with a produce wholesaler who was willing to work with her, and because of the big group she's gathered she gets the produce at wholesale price. I love the great prices and the super fresh produce, but my favorite part of all is the fact that it gets me out of my comfort zone. I would never walk into a grocery store and buy leeks, yellow squash, or zucchini, but I've tried all sorts of yummy new recipes lately with these ingredients (and many others) because I had them in the house already! You're awesome Karey!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Our New House

We've moved into a new house.

Yeah, yeah. I know I didn't tell anyone we were moving or anything, but it's happened anyway.

It's a pretty big step down in size, so I'm feeling a little cramped with the tighter quarters , but mainly I'm just wishing it had built-in plumbing so the kids (mainly Adam) can stop peeing in old water bottles.

On the upside, it is already totally paid for and has a state of the art entertainment system with a 7.9-inch TV screen.

I had been hoping to put off the big move for another couple weeks after school and sports were in full session, but somehow it sneaked up on me a little earlier than expected.

I know you're all so excited to see our new house, so without further ado our new humble abode....

Actually it's not very new and unfortunately just as messy as my house, but suddenly it's become where I spend the bulk of my days.

With the advent of Spencer's high school football practices, Cami's daily middle school orientation, and a wide sundry of other activities that have suddenly crept up, my average daily mileage has jumped from about 5-10 a day to 55. Yes, that's 55 miles per day running kids around.

Unfortunately with kids at four different schools this year and three kids in fall sports I'm thinking this is the most likely the wave of my future rather than a short phase, so I'm considering doing a little remodeling to ease the discomfort.

Hmmm...I'm thinking maybe a toilet in the back and a fridge between the front seats. Ooooh, and maybe Glen will let me put in a new 9.3-inch TV screen. The kids will love it! Soon our little blue Sienna will be the envy of the neighborhood.


Day 240---Driving is for the Dogs

Today's pictures are a pretty random assortment:

One of Cami's best friends helps take care of dogs for others. Cami is insanely jealous by this and takes every opportunity possible to "help" Megan out in her responsibilities.

I don't know how my kids have such a sixth sense, but seemingly every time Megan and her brother walk by our house with their little brood of doggies, my kids know it and beeline it out the door to pet and play with them.

This is a feather that Adam found when we walked Ellie to Rachel's birthday party this morning. He was really excited by how big it was and the fact that it had the cool stripes. We thought that maybe it came from an owl or other large bird.

Finally, although we did walk to Rachel's house, most of our time lately has been spent in the car. Between the 20 miles or so each day to take Spencer back and forth to football practice, Cami's middle school "summer institute", and Cami's babysitting job ...we've been averaging A LOT of miles each day this week. I, for one, am already sick of the chauffeuring, but imagine that it will get a lot worse before it gets better.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 239--Living Up the Summer

With only a little more than a week left until school starts we're trying our darndest to spend as much time at the pool as possible. Most of the summer we've gone to the pool in the evenings, but with the arrival of hotter weather and football practices to work around we've started going in the afternoons.

At first I liked going in the afternoons because it was so nice to cool off in the heat and humidity, but then I realized that it was also better for bringing friends along (and snapping fun action shots).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 238--What was I thinking?

Painting + my family = DISASTER

I Want My Money Back...

Dear "Three Wolf Moon Shirt" Makers,
I recently purchased my first Three Wolf Moon shirt (exhibit A). I was a little nervous that something with such legendary powers could possibly be on sale for $6.99, but when I read the attached promise (exhibit B) that it was genuine and would change my life forever I knew it would be worth every penny.

Click on picture to view larger.

I was most particularly interested in the weight loss, free food, and large sums of money promises. I was also secretly hoping that my blogging would go from "goofy lady with five kids and a weird sense of humor" (exhibit C) to "witty lady with a lot of insightful things to say". A tall order, but surely not beyond the realm of three wolf moon magic.

Well, where do I begin to tell you about my experiences?

First...the weight loss promise. Since the promise clearly stated "extreme weight loss" and I only have 20 pounds or so, I thought I'd offset it with a new diet of brownies and cupcakes (exhibit D). My scale broke when I stepped on it so I can't give you any solid numbers, but I'm pretty sure this promise is going great. My husband has never told me how slender and lovely I am so many times in such a short period of time.

Second...the free food. I don't really go to many fast food restaurants, so I was hoping that the promise would carry over to the grocery store instead. This one isn't going so well. Not only have I not gotten any free food, but I can't seem to leave the grocery store with less than $150 worth of stuff. To add insult to injury, I've had to go home and cook it myself. Seven times last week I had to make dinner for my family. Seven times!! What kind of magic is that? (exhibit E)

Third...the large sums of money. I did wrestle away a dollar bill from this scary guy with a gun the other day (exhibit F). That may not seem like much, but since it increased the cash in my wallet by 100% I'll give you a little leeway on that one.

Lastly and most importantly...super sweet blogging skills. I was really hoping that this would fall into the "and a host of other incredible feats that you never would have conceived of" promise, but clearly the fact that I conceived it must have made that promise null and void (exhibit G).

In short, while an intriguing experiment into the supernatural, I am officially asking for my money back. All $7.34 of it. Please send it to my New Moon Edward Fan Club fund at...


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 237--Hot, hot, hot!

After a relatively mild summer, the heat and the humidity have arrived en force!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Allowance Debate

As the new school year quickly approaches Glen and I are once again faced with a recurring debate in our home... to pay allowances or not to pay allowances.

It seems like it should be a simple answer, but there are so many philosophical questions attached to it that after 14+ years of parenthood we've never really come to a strong stance of where we stand on the issue.

When I was a kid my family did a neighborhood paper route together. We took turns and each helped out with the monumental task of waking up early in the frosty mornings of Minnesota, rolling the papers and binding them until our fingers were black, and finally running up to each house and placing them inside people's screen doors (unlike the lazy paper deliverers of today who are lucky to toss it past our mailbox). Man oh man, did we ever learn to work hard and to value our hard-earned money, but the brunt of that burden definitely fell on my parents' shoulders who never got a day off for the several years we did that. As much as I like the concept, they don't do little neighborhood routes anymore and Glen's work schedule definitely would not allow that kind of early commitment.

As parents we've tried paying the kids dependent on completing their chores and then requiring them to set aside a certain percentage to savings, but it's never lasted more than a couple of months. We're just disorganized and not that great at keeping track of what they've done and haven't done, plus I don't feel like they've ever really valued the money they receive. The little ones lose it and the older ones waste it.

So last night, Spencer began begging in earnest for us to reinstitute some kind of allowance for the new school year. He argued that it was only fair now that we're expecting him to pay for his own fun activities that he have some kind of set income. I personally think it has more to do with a little sibling jealousy over the fact that Cami is raking in the dough with her babysitting jobs and as yet he has not found as many opportunities for him to earn money on a regular basis. He gave us the full deposition of why he needed an allowance and soon had a whole chorus of kids joining him in the effort.

As per our usual Glen+Lara style, we hemmed and we hawed to the kids and promised them once again that we would think about it. Which we did and still came up empty.

This morning when I checked our Google Reader I came across this article on one of the blogs I faithfully follow. It was Michelle's (a stranger to me) well-thought out position on allowances. I was floored at how well it encapsulated a lot of the feelings and the concerns that we had and I felt like it gave me a new perspective to look at the issue from.

It made me really think about what is it that we're really trying to teach our kids...about how to manage money, how to work hard, how to contribute to the family, and how to not to be selfish or materialistic. So how can we best teach these to values to our kids?

I've decided that I really like Michelle's (and my parents') philosophy on having kids EARN their income and not just by doing their everyday chores which are a part of being in a family, but by doing REAL jobs.

Although it should have come easily to me, having been taught that way myself, but I'm beginning to learn that when it comes to parenting I can be a little daft sometimes. It just makes good common sense that kids would learn to work hard and would learn to manage money better, because it's their money. The money they labored for.

So now that I've finally captured what my stance on all this really is, how can we implement it in our family?

I was thinking of making a list of jobs, each with a certain "salary" attached to it depending on the difficulty level. The kids would need to have completed their normal chores first and then could CHOOSE whether or not to complete any of the other paid tasks. There will be no coercion at all, only the promise of a "paycheck" when they're done.

So now the question is what kind of jobs to offer with kids ages 4-14 in the house? Maybe mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, cleaning out a cupboard, vacuuming out the car, washing the car, organizing a book shelf...what do you think? Any great ideas?

So how do you do allowance in your family? Do you feel like it's been successful? Any helpful advice for me in my quest for raising fiscally responsible children?

Day 236--Adopted?

Today was the first day of middle school orientation. They spend the week getting to know people, learning to open lockers, and exploring the school. Cami's friends showed up at our house bright and early so they could "primp" together.

And although this picture was actually taken last night, I thought it significant enough to share it here...

She's ironing. Jeans. I don't iron anything and she's ironing jeans. Whose child is she anyway?

Cool Clouds

We've been having some wild weather lately that's gotten me to gotten me to point my camera somewhere other than at the faces of my kids. For some reason my kids don't seem to mind a bit.
These clouds in particular struck me as really cool.

Cool enough that it got me to drive to the top of the Metro garage to get a better view.

Lately though, I've been getting the strangest feeling that the sky is trying to tell me something....

now if I could just figure out what it is....

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Day 235--Sunday afternoon

Today I got a bee in my bonnet to try a bunch of new recipes (all coming to the recipe blog soon)....

Emeril's Potato Leek Soup (to use up leeks from the produce co-op)

Maple Oatmeal Bread

Crazy Craisin Cookies (I ate more dough than baked cookies)

Then we went on a long walk together as a family and stopped for a few minutes at the neighborhood park on the way home.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Somewhere Over the Rainbow...

After the coolest full-arced double rainbow today
I finally found the pot of gold at the end.

The. Best. Cupcake. Recipe. Ever. (combined with the best frosting ever)

Seriously, you must try these moist, delectable!

3 egg whites
1 egg
1/2 cup butter
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 container (5.3-oz.) Stonyfield Farms OIKOS Honey Greek Yogurt (no substitutions)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 pkg. (4-oz.) vanilla pudding mix
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 cups flour

In a medium bowl, whip egg whites until stiff. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine egg, butter, and sugar. Beat until well creamed. Mix milk and lemon juice together, then pour curdled milk and yogurt into bowl with sugar mixture. Beat until well-mixed. Spoon into prepared cupcake papers. Bake at 325° for 22-25 minutes. Makes 24 cupcakes.
Then for optimal enjoyment try this fresh strawberry frosting recipe below. This will take these awesome cupcakes to TOTALLY AMAZING and you'll never look at cake mixes the same ever again!!!!
Here's what you need:
5 medium or 4 large strawberries
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
up to 2 lbs. powdered sugar
4 tsp. (or 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp.) lemon juice

Start by washing and destemming the strawberries. Then mash them with your hands, allowing the juice and pulp to fall into a mixing bowl.
Add butter, shortening, and vanilla. (You could use all butter, or all shortening - just personal preference.) Follow with about a cup of powdered sugar. Mix thoroughly with electric mixer.

Continue adding powdered sugar a little at a time and mixing thoroughly until the mixture is creamy and frosting-ish. Add the lemon juice and blend till evenly distributed. The lemon juice really balances the sugar and brings out that fresh strawberry flavor. Now for the important part: Lick those beaters!

Now stop drooling and start baking (and invite me over when you're done)!

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