I am wife to a magnificent man and mother to five wonderful children. Three of my children were born in the Northwest and two were born thousands of miles away in Liberia, West Africa. Birthplace is no matter, all of my children were born in my heart. This is our journey.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Before and After.

I believe that I have shown this picture before but it is a shot from our appraisal when we bought this house. Last night, Steve and I looked at it and are amazed that we saw potential in this place. We both agreed that it must have been God because with 10 mnutes of being on the property we knew we needed to put in an offer.

Here is a view from approximately the same spot. We now have a play structure out there that blocks getting a picture from the same spot.

It looks a little different these days.
It is getting more and more usable each day. We are looking forward to some fun family and friend BBQ's back here this summer and for summers to come.
We spend a lot of time around the firepit already and we used it this last winter at times. Having a fire back here makes it possible to use this space more often, even when it's cold.

When we sold our last house it was very hard. It was our first home and we had picked out most everything as it was built. 4 of our 6 children joined our family in that house. I have always had a difficult time leaving houses. I know that you take your memories with you but I am sentimental when it comes to homes I suppose. And I think that's the key. For me, each place is not just a house, it's a home and that makes it harder to say goodbye when it's time to move on. We are slowly making this place our home and there is no place I would rather be.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I'm thinking baths are in order.

Well, if our dog isn't going to use it then they might as well play in it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No fear.

With all of the sprucing up going on around here, the roof was high on the list of things to do. We have a lot of tall oak trees around here and they drop branches and "stuff" all year long. We didn't want any of that blowing off onto the newly cleaned up and restained deck. Steve is still recovering and needs to be careful with repetitive motion.

The twins practically begged to be able to do that job. They wanted to do it so badly and Steve felt they were old enough so up they went.

At one point, I thought I might pass out while watching them as I do not appreciate their excitement for being up there. Prayer was my job the entire time they were up there.

They had a great time obviously.

Quite frankly, they looked too comfortable for my taste. But I can't complain. I now am the proud owner of a clean roof and my kids love that they got to do this job.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What a weekend!

We have all been working very hard getting our yard done up for the graduation party so Friday night we let the kids get in the hot tub. We haven't had it on but the water was about 75-80- degrees and it was warm outside. The kids couldn't wait to get in. Here are some faces to enjoy.

We thought Chloe might enjoy a dip as well but she was less receptive. More yard pics from the weekend to come soon!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Just another manic Friday.

It's not all that bad actually but it very busy in our house these days. We are getting ready for another graduation party for one of Steve's sisters and it's in our backyard this time. No pressure of course. We work really well with deadlines so this is great motivation to get some projects finished. The big one this week is the step around the deck. No small task with 26 supports to cut out but Steve is doing a fantastic job. The surgeon cleared Steve to do more activity which he was thrilled to hear. He has been waiting to start this project until his shoulder was ready. He got sidelined yesterday though by a cold and is not feeling very well right now. We are hoping it is short lived and he will be good as new in a day or two.

By the end of the weekend we should have a nice step the entire length of the deck. It will be nice to exit the deck anywhere but it will also provide great over flow seating for when we have larger groups of people over. The kids and I are hoping to finish school for the day this morning and then we'll head to out to clear the entire deck for pressure washing this evening. We would like to have everything looking it's best for the graduation party.

If all goes well I might even get my garden in this weekend. As my mom always says, "We shall see!"

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I am not a hippie.

Last year for Steve's birthday two of our girls bought him a tie-dye kit. He was very excited and we have wanted to have a day to do the project. Since Steve's birthday is around the corner again, we thought we better get on it. The kids have wanted to make matching family t-shiorts for a long time. It makes it easier to find each other and count kids when we are on field trips and or just out and about when we have matching shirts.

The process wasn't very complicated.

The kids each got to help squeeze dye and they all chose their own colors and design.

Everyone could NOT wait to see what they looked like when we took them out of their plastic bags the next day.

We let the older ones use the dye themselves.

Middle ones had a little help.

We think they turned out great and they were a nice colorful addition to the yard for awhile while they dried after being rinsed.

And we made one more fun family memory.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Necessity is the mother of invention.

This morning, right before lunch we decided to plant a planter with flowers and our raised bed with salad greens. The hose doesn't stretch to these two areas so we were using a watering can to water. We were being very careful not to drown the seeds and newly planted flowers.

Lillie said that she would be right back and this is what she came back with.

I was so impressed! It was the perfect solution for this planter. The plants got watered and I am happy to report that no drownings occurred. I love that my kids have lots of opportunities to think creatively.

We also got this whole bed planted in lettuce, green onions and radishes. But for now, all you can see is the pretty marigolds we planted at each end. It won't be long before we see a bed full of salad greens. I just love this time of year.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Because you asked.

I had several requests for the recipe for my Cheese Alfredo Sauce. I am happy to indulge but I would like to tell you first that I cook by instinct and I don't keep track of measurements very well. What follows is very close to my recipe but my recipe is slightly different each time. I hope you enjoy it!

1 pint cream
1 cup milk
1 stick butter
1 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated romano
salt to taste

Reoux -
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup milk

Place cream, milk and butter into sauce pan over medium/high heat. When the mixture begins to get hot add the cheeses to the pan. Stir often to keep cheeses from sticking to the bottom. Just before boiling add reoux made up of cornstarch and milk. Let complete mixture boil while stirring for approximately one minute. Remove from heat and salt to taste. Let sit for a few minutes to thicken.

(You can make this thicker by adding more cornstarch and milk or thinner by doing less.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

No pain no gain.

We have been wanting to put a good layer of compost on our garden since we moved in three years ago. $35/yard at a local mulch and rock company was less than appealing. But yesterday we went to a local farmer who sells it for $8/yard. Now you are talking my language.

Last night, Lil and I spread the truck load all over the garden. It will be worth every scoop that it took to move it when the fresh veggies start rolling in. We got in on the garden just in time too. It is supposed to rain on and off the rest of the week. This weekend or early next week we will till the compost in and begin planting.

See those potato plants? This makes me very happy. 7 of the 10 potato holes have plants emerging. I imagine the rest will appear soon and then we can start our second planting of reds. Also, take note of the green hue in the background up there. We are getting a lawn!

I like to stagger plantings so that harvest times are a little easier. I will can one planting of carrots first and then later on, can the second planting. It spreads out the work a bit and helps keep the canning from being too overwhelming.

Enjoy your Tuesday!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Me and You and You and Me.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers out there. It's a special day and one I very much enjoy. Of course there is more meaning to it for me with five children that I am blessed to be mother to every single day.

To say that I take after my mother is an understatement. I take after her in looks. When I introduce her as my mother, people laugh and sarcastically say that they would never have known that. I also have her hands. I will be doing something around the house or sitting with my children and I will look down and I will see my mother's hands. I love that.

We both love lilacs, shoes and chocolate and prefer tic tacs over gum. We are babies in the heat and air conditioning is our best friend in the summer. All of my mattresses have mattress protectors on them and there is chocolate in my purse. Both things I did not come up with on my own. We also enjoy shopping alone as a way to unwind but also love shopping with each other. We also both get stressed when there is too much to do and we feel out of control. I also inherited her laugh. I laugh late at night so hard at funny shows just like I remember hearing my mother do as I would fall to sleep growing up.

But I think the things that I get most from my mom are those traits in my character. The strongest being a sense of justice. To see things that have been wronged righted. My mom has a heart for children and for all children to have forever homes. There is a fire deep in my heart for the same. Now that's a rich inheritance and one that I am very proud of.

Happy Mother's Day Mom! I sure did get the better end of the deal. I love you.

This post was written in connection with Parent Bloggers for their blog blast sponsored by Johnson's Brand in conjunction with the Celebrity Mom's auction. All proceeds from the auction will go to support the Johnson's No More Tears Clean Water Initiative. All items are donated by moms Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Just 15 minute Challenge

Just about anybody can do just about anything for 15 minutes. This is what I tell my kids and I believe it myself. There are some chores that seem so overwhelming. Looking at them, one would think it would take so much time. But, I have found that some chores that seem daunting really don't take that much time. Making a bed takes just a couple of minutes, changing sheets just a few more.

Yesterday I used the 15 minute rule with my kids. It begins with me telling what the 15 minute project will be and then we set the timer. They know that 15 minutes is it. When the timer goes off we stop. They also know that if they don't work hard for that 15 minutes the timer will be re-set. This helps with the occasional lollygagger. Nobody wants the timer reset.

Yesterday we set the timers and the project was their bedroom. It also helps when we do bedrooms that we have a boys bedroom and a girls bedroom. When the timers started there was some healthy competition going on between the rooms. They didn't cmopletely finish the rooms in the alotted time but when the timer went off they were ready to stop. Another day we will do it again and they will most likely finish.

At the same time they are doing a 15 minute unsavory job I also pick one. In yesterday's case I chose ironing. I had been putting it off and I had 10 shirts from husband and two sons. When the timer went off I had finished 5 but at that point the kids were now enjoying their cleaner rooms and playing. I was also quite pleased to be blazing through the job so I let the kids play for another 15 minutes while I finished all of the ironing. That felt so good!

So here's my challenge. Get a stop watch and pick some chores. Have the kids go around with you and time each other doing various chores around the house. It really will be surprising to you and to them how little time it takes to do certain things. Have fun!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Eating In

It's not news that eating out is expensive. Around here we really like to eat out. Well, it's more of a situation where Mom really likes the night off from cooking every now and again. But for seven people, fastfood tends to be more economical if we do venture out for food. But I really like a few restaurants with more "sophisticated" meals. So instead, we try to have a few meals here and there that are favorites that we go out for on date night but share with the whole family.
We have a favorite pasta place and about 5 years ago I decided to try and duplicate their cheese alfredo sauce. It's now a family favorite and we have added the salad and homemade breadsticks also. We have this once a month. Every month, but only once. It keeps this meal special.
So instead of spending $60 plus on all of us at a restaurant, I only spent approximately $10. Not too shabby!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Not Me Monday

Mckmama's Not me Monday is back!!! It's the place to confess our less than stellar parenting moments while pretending we did not do them and it feels so good to be honest. So strap yourself in, get on over to Mckmama's and settle in for some good laughs.
Here we go...
*This last week I most certainly did not need to head out to the store wearing pj bottoms deciding that they kind of looked like cute capris and think to myself who would notice, it's 9:00pm? Nope, not me.
*I have not ignored all of the ironing hanging in front of the the downstairs laundry/bathroom window because I needed the curtain from that window in an upstairs bathroom leaving said laundry/bathroom curtainless thus leaving those using the bathroom exposed. Thus leaving the ironing. And I don't write run-on sentences. Not a chance that is me.
*In an attempt to get ready for my garage sale, I did not borrow a clothing rack and then take the clothing of the person using the clothing rack and put them in my van for the garage sale and haul them around for 4 days moving them from place to place each time we used the van instead of moving them into the shop. No, not me, that would be lazy and such a waste of time.
*I also most certainly did not say goodbye to my family and watch them drive out while waiting for someone who was coming to look at something I had for sale. I did not then see my family drive back in minutes later and think how uncanny it was that the person coming over had the same van as us and was hauling around a similar pile of clothes in the front only to discover it was MY family coming back home. I most certainly am not that clueless.
So that's it! Head on over to Mckmama's blog and follow the links to other Not Me Monday mom's being brutally honest. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Reflection

I have been drawing a blog blank this week. It's raining this morning but summer is just around the corner and we have all short timer's disease I think. I know I do. We are nearing the end of our planned lessons for the year and sometimes when it's really quiet...ok, well maybe the one time is was really quiet, I could hear my garden calling my name.

I have 12 onions up and doing quite well in a container in the front of the house and 10 holes of potatoes in the back in what I lovingly refer to as "The Patch". The kids are anxious to have a piece of land to call their own this year so we are going to mark off spots for them to work themselves. I like the idea of summer project that they can take ownership of.

Things are moving right along in the yard. There are blades of grass out there now and it should start to fill in over the next few weeks. The kids have all kinds of plans for that grass when we are able to occupy it. The lilacs in the post are a sign of new life to me this year. This lilac bush has never bloomed since we have lived here until this year. It has resided for many, many years under two oak trees that soaked up all the sun above it. Last year when we removed the two trees, it got buds on it but they never really opened. This year, however, look how beautiful. Oh, and the smell. I cannot get enough. There is a family history with lilacs and we didn't even know what this bush was for the longest time since it didn't get flowers on it. I love that this bush is here. It gives me a connection to my mom when we can't be near each other. Each time I smell the flowers I think of her. I love how heavy they are with the drizzle of this morning.
Enjoy your Sunday...