Saturday, May 28, 2011

Confession #6: The Amish may not like me.

It's true.  I think I'm a disappointment to the Amish.  I LOVE Amish Friendship bread!  The kind where a friend passes on a starter bag to you and you spend several days with a Ziploc bag on your kitchen counter.  You mash it and eventually add a little milk and flour.  Then you sit back and think it's really pretty gross to have something with milk sitting out on your counter top for days on end.  Then day 10 comes and you magically divide it out into bags so you can pass them on to your friends.  Then you quickly make your own little batch of 2 loaves or some muffins. 

There's a problem with this little scenario though.  I don't usually do things exactly according to the Amish directions.  Day 6 is a key day.  You're supposed to add ingredients instead of just mashing.  Usually I forget and do this a day or two later.  Yikes.  Then comes the real kicker.  The point of "friendship" being in the title is you're supposed to pass on the starter to your friends.  Yep.  I don't do that part.  I feel like I'm committing a crime, but I never pass on the starter.  Instead, I reserve one starter for myself and then make loaf after loaf of bread to put in my freezer.  We're talking 8 loaves or a combination of loaves and muffins.  Not too friendly really.  Yes, I could pass on the baked loaves.  But I don't.  They freeze really well, and I pop them out of my freezer and they thaw easily in time for dinner. 

The thing is, I have to bake several at a time because I usually get tired of seeing a Ziploc bag filled with batter sitting on my counter for more than 10 days.  I give up and throw it away.  Again, not friendly as the Amish intended.  But honest.  I always think, maybe this time I'll really pass them on.  But, no, I've yet to do it.  So, to the lovely Amish people with the yummy friendship bread - I apologize.  I am, unfortunately, not very friendly when it comes to baked goods.  But, I really do love your bread - despite being slightly grossed out at the bag on my counter! 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Summer's here!

It is officially summer.  Well, not officially of course.  But school's out and my kids have started fighting.  So that means it's summer.  Today, three of my kids slept until 8:15 and one slept until 9am.  Loving that!  We have a little bit of time before t-ball games start and swim team begins so this week I'm going to enjoy fewer responsibilities.   Plus, I'm saving money.  It's next to impossible to run multiple errands with all four kids.  So, I'm not currently shopping.  Too bad I'm almost out of milk and bread.  We'll just improvise, right?  Water in cereal never hurt anyone!  We're going to stay home and remember that we love each other! Some days that's easier said than done!

Last year, I used marble jars to reward my kids for good behavior and chores done.  We still use them from time to time, but they're not a giant motivating factor right now. This summer I think I'll try something different.  Lately, I've found myself saying a few things pretty repeatedly. 

"There are consequences for your actions." 
"The way you speak to people matters." 
"When someone prepares a meal for you, you should be respectful..."
"Your sisters are your best friends, treat them that way." 

The list is growing, but I'm thinking that each week I should just focus on a specific issue and really make sure the kids are getting it.  This week we're talking about the consequences for our actions.  Instead of me giving multiple warnings, I'm just giving out the consequences they know to expect. 

Today's examples: 
1.  We were at a playground and the kids were fighting.  I gave them one warning to play nicely or we'd leave.  After 3 minutes of playing - we left.  I was not a popular mom, but they know the behavior I expect from them. 

2.  Sophia was out back yelling at her sister.  I made her immediately come in for time out and we talked about the way she speaks to people. Yelling is not necessary and rarely gets you what you want. 

3.  Sophia and Anna were standing on the stairs fighting over a scarf.  Seriously?  So, I made them stand in my room, *gently* tied the scarf around their waists while they remained in a lovely hugging position for 3 minutes.  I set the timer and said when it beeped if they weren't smiling I'd restart it.  They were smiling (one through tears) and they were then sent back downstairs to play without the scarf. 

Yes, this was just one day and believe me, I've got more examples than that.  I'm not going to be very popular this week, but I'm hoping we will at least see some improvements!  There's a sign on my fridge now.  It says... 

There are consequences for your actions.

Here's hoping we all learn this lesson quickly!  Wish me luck.  I think I'm going to need it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sock Hop

Our elementary school recently hosted a parent/child dance.  I was one of the lucky few who was responsible for planning it.  Since our gym is still new, we're still supposed to take off our shoes when we're in there so we got creative and had a Sock Hop. 

Watching K - 3rd graders at a dance is a real hoot.  It was so fun to see some of the father/daughter and mother/son pairs.  Some of those moms and dads were amazing, not being self conscious about how they looked and just had a fabulous time with their kids.  Some of the parents lined the wall similar to what I remember of our Middle School dances when I was a child.  The kids all had a blast. 

We had 50's decorations, lots of yummy food and drinks, a photographer and a fantastic DJ who made sure the kids had fun!  Let's just say that I'm honestly a little proud I don't still remember the Macarena!  The chocolate fountain was a huge hit!

Chris was lucky enough to have 3 dates!  Many of the kids and parents were dressed in 50's clothes and looked so cute!  We have one poodle skirt at home and I just didn't have time to make 2 more, so I just let the kids pick whatever they wanted out of their closet.  Two of them wore former flower girl dresses.  Pretty cute! 

The girls all had fun.   Isabella danced all night long with her Daddy!

Early in the evening...

A little bit later!

The end of the night.

Sophia rocked the hula hoops when they came out!   At one point every child was lined up in a long train linked by hula hoops.  They had so much fun!

Chris tried...less successfully!

He and Anna had a little game going where he'd roll it and she'd run through it.

Anna did some dancing, but in the end was pretty tired and I had to stay late for clean-up so that made for an even later night. 

  What a great time!  Pretty easy to plan...inexpensive...and the parents were responsible for their own kids.  A great free event for the school and lots of fun for the kids!!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The (Pink) Elephant In The Room

I've always let my kids pick their birthday party themes.  I make a homemade cake because I think it's more personal and it's WAY cheaper.  But they get to pick the theme for it and the plates/cups/napkins.  This year, I think Sophia just tried to pick the most abstract theme possible.  Elephants.  Just elephants.  Um, okay, really?  Yep.  She never wavered.  So, elephants it was. 

As I started looking online for elephant plates/cups I found that most of them are either A) circus themed or B) for babies/toddlers, not an 8 year-old.  Finally I found some pink elephant party gear that is meant for baby showers.  Looking closely, some of the plates and cups didn't actually say baby shower on them so I bought those.  Then I just made the cake look like the plates.  Turned out pretty well I think.  But I had to make it out of 2 9x13 cakes.  I really need to invest in a good sheet cake pan! 
The plates.
The elephant.

The cake.
The spread.

Sophia's birthday was on a Thursday this year which meant we had Bible study and t-ball already on schedule.  So we ate some pizza, had a small store-bought cake and opened a few presents. 

The girl now has every single "Magic Tree House" book published and has only a couple left to finish reading.  We're going to have to find another similar series soon. 

On Friday she got to pick where we went out to eat and of course we ended up at Red Robin.  By the end of the night she had convinced us we needed to go to Orange Leaf as well.  Then Saturday rolled around and we had her actual family party.  The girl got pretty lucky with a 3 day birthday celebration.  We learned our lesson last year and have so far avoided the repeat slumber party. 

It's hard to believe she's 8.  I can still picture her as a newborn. 

Trying to roll over and crawl for the first time...

take those first few steps and first words...

Taking her to preschool for the first time...

and then kindergarten..

 Watching her learn to read, play ball, swim, make friends, and find a love for exploring, hiking and all types of animals.  Some days it seems as if it's gone by incredibly fast.  Other times it seems like a lifetime ago that we had just one little baby girl.  Now, she's 8!

We're incredibly blessed to have Sophia in our family!  Pink elephants and all! 

Friday, May 6, 2011


We're all busy.  Between jobs, family, church, hobbies (what are those again?), volunteer commitments, friends, and the obligations that come with owning a home, we're busy.  Certain times of the year are harder than others.  Right before the holidays are rough.  And right now I seem to be a bit over my head.   A little bit of me saying, "what was I thinking?"

I just finished planning an elementary school parent/child Sock Hop, a neighborhood Easter egg hunt, our church Easter egg hunt and the purchase of commercial playground equipment for our church to be installed tomorrow!  I've endured a yucky dentist appointment, attended preschool board meetings and more sub-committee meetings than I'd like to meniton.  Weekly t-ball practice has started (do they really need to practice?) We've survived Teacher Appreciation Week and are quickly approaching field day! Tomorrow is Sophia's birthday party for which I still need to bake and decorate a cake and clean my house!

I'm working on our fall elementary school 5k fun run fundraiser, VBS, and a summer art program.  I was elected to a third (and final) year as PTO president.   I need to get all the proper gear for Sophia's swim team soon, plan the crafts for the remaining week of parent's day out, and oh yeah, my house is a mess!  My kids need fed.  Bills need paid.  And life generally must go on! 

So, I'm making lists.  Lots of lists.  I'm a detail girl and an organizing freak when it comes to event planning.  And, I'd like to think all these little things in my life are just the next event I've got to plan.  So why am I blogging instead of checking things off my list?  It's easier.  It's avoidance.  And, well, for some reason writing it all out makes it seem a little more doable.  But, now, I really better get to work!  This cake won't bake itself!