Monday, November 1, 2010

Sharing My Pot Roast "Recipe"

Happy November!

I've decided to document that I cooked today.

Because... wow.  I cooked.




Fact:  You never notice how dirty something is until you set up to take a picture of it.  At least the front of my crock pot isn't too hard to clean.
I'm making a pot roast for dinner.  My sweet Bond isn't usually really excited about pot roast, but for some reason he really likes mine, and I think I know why.  (It has nothing to do with me, though.)

1)  We start with the right meat.  Ranch Foods Direct is where we prefer to buy our beef from.  (This is also where Drifter's gets their meat from.  Drifter's is my favorite burger joint.  And yes, I know I keep putting 'from' at the end of my sentences and you're not supposed to do that.  I'll teach my kids better.  I promise.)

2)  I use worcestershire sauce.  According to Bond, that is the magic ingredient in anything you use beef in. (Bah hah!  Another preposition at the end of a sentence.)  I use worcestershire sauce in hand-made burger patties, in chili, in spaghetti sauce... you get the picture.  If it has beef, it also has worcestershire sauce.  But, I don't use it in taco meat.

That's all that makes it special.  I think.  Here's everything I used today, in case you're curious:

1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 packet of dried onion soup
1 cup beef broth (I use Better Than Bullion for my broth)
8 carrots, cut in 3 inch slices
6 potatoes, quartered
1 med-large onion, sliced

Today I actually browned the roast.. I don't usually do that.  But between the America's Test Kitchen show I saw last week, and the movie Julie and Julia.. or whatever it's called.. I decided I should brown it.  So.. I tried that.  I dusted each side with garlic salt and a few splashes of worcestershire sauce first.  I threw the potatoes and carrots in the bottom of the crock, set the seared meat gently on top (doesn't that sound nicer if I write it that way?), salted and peppered the meat - just for good measure - sprinkled the onions on top, then poured on the mix of soups and broths.  Put the lid on, set the temperature and TA DA!!  Look!  I cooked!

I'm going to have Sunshine help me make bread in the bread machine later today, call that Cooking for Kindergarten 101, and we'll have fresh bread with dinner too.  Should be yummy.

If I remember, I'll take a picture of the finished product before we dig in!

Are you hungry yet?


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reminiscing and Birthdays

I've been spending a lot of time going through old pictures the last few days.  I should be organizing them.  But I'm not.  I'm just having fun reminiscing.

This one was taken in May.  Newbie was seven months old.

These are from April.  She was 6 months old.
 Hello first tooth!

*Gasp!*

Sweet little hands going for sweet little feet.

:)

Newbie doesn't have to wear her 'stickers' anymore.   No more clunky oxygen machine!

These are from April too, at Tank's 3rd birthday party.
Sunshine (looking over my shoulder): Who is that?
Me: It's you, silly!
Sunshine: Oh is that me when I was four?
Me: Yup!
(He does look young, doesn't he!)


Yay!  We blew out the candles!
Here's the awesome b-day cake.  Look!  Optimus is picking Tank's nose!

Here's one from Sunshine's 5th b-day in June.  He had a bunch of his buddies from preschool come and they played at the playground.
I got him a Spiderman Ice-cream cake.

For an outdoor party.
In the afternoon.
It was like, 90 degrees or something by the time the party started.
I'm smart.
It melted.

Since we're doing birthdays...  here's Newbie on her first birthday this month!


She got two cakes.  One was a round flower one that I didn't get a shot of.  The other was this one, made by her Auntie.
 Auntie also made Tank's transformer's cake.

Turning 1 is tough....

So that was fun, right?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sunshine in the Fall


Sunshine started kindergarten this year.  That's my excuse, by the way.  For my absence.
It's a valid excuse because I'm homeschooling.
And it's the hardest thing I've ever done.

Ever.

Giving birth is easier and less straining on my mind and body than homeschooling.

And I've even got a smart kid to work with.

Oh thank you, Lord.. for giving me smart children.

It's hard, but I'm positive this is the path God wants me to walk.  I'm stubborn enough, I don't think I'd learn persistence, patience, or discipline any other way.  God knew this about me and even though I fight it tooth and nail on a daily basis, He has given me the very clear calling to homeschool.

Frightening, isn't it?

All the hard work (all 8 weeks of it so far) comes with great reward.  Math hasn't been an issue.  It's fun and easy for Sunshine and it's just a matter of working through the curriculum.  But even though it's comparatively easy, it's still such a great feeling to hear him count to 200.. and then hear him count in 10's and 5's.. and then ask to learn to count in 2's.  I'm actually trying to give him enough to keep him busy and entertained in this subject.

Reading and writing on the other hand.. has been more of a challenge.  It's a whole lot of memorization and as I'm teaching Sunshine all the sounds that go with all the different letters and letter combinations, I've come to a decision.

English is stupid.
Why did we think it would be smart or useful or anything but completely ridiculous to give a single sound so many different spellings?! And a single letter combination so many different sounds?!?!

Dear History of the English language,
I want a rewrite.  I thank you in advance for your rush to fulfill my request.
Looking forward to your reply,
Concerned American Homeschooling Mom
I've got the whole history of English available to me.. and I get why we have all these different rules with exceptions and so on with how the language developed.  But it's still stupid and I think it would be a lot easier to homeschool if we were speaking German instead of English.  And maybe Americans wouldn't appear so dumb if English wasn't such a difficult language to master.

So there.

Rant over.


Meanwhile.. back at the farm.. 

Sunshine loves to read and has been begging me for a year to learn.  So we finally started this Fall and he's actually doing very very well!  He's so proud of himself when he can sit and read a book to himself.  He's sounding out all kinds of words and starting to point out words he knows when we're out and about now.

Writing is tedious, but he's doing a fantastic job.  I'm really amazed at how much growth I've seen in the last couple of months...

And.. speaking of growth...
Look at this kid!  He just got that shirt a few months ago for his 5th birthday and he's almost outgrown it.

The child eats more than I do.

And I'm not even exaggerating!
Last night, he ate a whole can of Spaghettio's and a package of fruit snacks.  He got up from the table and said, "Mom, I'm still hungry."

I'm afraid.  Very afraid.  I might actually have to start cooking huge meals for every meal, just to keep him satisfied.

The kid is 5!  What am I going to do when he's 15??

Eek!

Daredevil

August?!

Really?!?!

Can it really have been so long?

Sorry.

Sooo.... (awkward pause)
Newbie walks now.

And she totally loves it, as you can see by the huge smile on her face!



I love how her hands are up in the air like that..

I don't love this...
 Okay, so Sunshine wanted in.. and Newbie is sitting sweetly on her Choo-Choo train.  I don't mind that..

It's this.

 Climbing up on her train..

 Standing up and posing for a picture...

 And then shaking the train back and forth trying to get it to move...
I don't like it.

Newbie is turning into a monster baby...


 

I know... how can I call that beautiful face a monster baby?
 
 
SIT DOWN NEWBIE!!!

 At least the dog listens...
 And does her very best to protect my daredevil daughter...

See what you've missed?



Monday, August 9, 2010

Sweet Mess

Tons of fun.

Tons of love.

Tons of laughs.



And tons of sugar on my stove top.  Holy sweet mess, Batman!

Moments before this unfortunate event, Tons - my baby sister -  and I were wiping up a smaller spill from the stove top.. maybe 1/4 cup.. and discussing how it's actually kind of hard to get sugar off of a stove top like mine because of the lip-edge that comes up over the ceramic.  I ran upstairs to put Newbie down to bed.  When I came down Tons had her head in her hands and was moaning.  I kinda thought she was going to puke all over herself when I noticed a mountain of sugar on my stove.

Why is there so much sugar on my stove?  Did she dump the whole thing out trying to sweeten her tea?

"I totally melted your sugar container," Tons confessed.

Why did she do that?

"I didn't know the burner was hot."

"You mean.. the burner from which I just took a boiling kettle of water to pour into your tea cup?  That burner?  You didn't know it was hot?"

"No! I was distracted... by the previous spilling of sugar."

"You mean.. when you poured sugar into your tea and missed?"

"That's SO not what happened!  I didn't miss!  The big pour spout wasn't closed all the way!"  There was a brief pause here..  "Oh my gosh.. I'm so sorry."

So then, naturally, I grabbed my camera.  Notice the "hot surface" light is on.  Notice the spiky plastic melt at the edge of the bottom of the container.  Notice the I'm-About-To-Cry look on my sister's face.  I couldn't let her cry.  It was too awesome!  And I'd finally have something to blog about.

Not that there isn't plenty going on.  I'll save that for a future blog, lest it take away from the hilarity of my sister.

She is the baby of my 5 half-sisters.  She's been staying with us for the last 3 weeks, and leaves for home on Saturday.  I have cherished each moment she has spent with us this summer.  I even had the privilege of singing a special with her at church. (Apparently, she was so nervous that she looked like she was going to puke all over herself on stage.  Wouldn't that be embarrassing? And what's with all the sickness?  The world may never know.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summary of a Road Trip

It probably wasn't the wisest decision I could've made.. you know... the one where I decided to go on a 3-week-long road trip.. with 3 young kids... and without my hard-working husband.  Really, what was I thinking?

It got interesting even before we left.. because 2 days before take-off Newbie was diagnosed with pneumonia of all things!!  I KNOW!! (She's better now by the way.)
Along the way we've encountered a random bout of diarrhea (poor Sunshine - was on the B.R.A.T. diet for 3 days and only got to drink chocolate soy milk), potty regression (thank you Tank), and tons of poop-splosions from Newbie.  What's with all the potty trouble on the road trip, hm?

Really though, it's been an amazing time. I didn't get pulled over once (so far) and I've driven about 2000 miles by now!  I got to see some of my favorite friends and God really worked me over while I was with them.  He really brought me some peace through these friends.

I also got to see my Gramma, the coolest Gramma who ever lived because she's confessed to me all the stories of her crazy antics as a youngster and beyond.  She also rode a motorcycle.  Yup.  She's that cool.  (She's probably reading this too. But I'm not just brown-nosing.  She can attest to the time I called her a "Cool Gramma" when I was younger.)  I also got to meet my Gramma's partner in crime, which was so neat after hearing all the stories of the trouble they stir up together.

Oh!!  I also got to experience Small-Town Texas at it's best!!!!  So.. here's a little side-story for y'all. *wink*  On my way into Ft. Worth, I stopped in a town called Bowie (said "boo-ee" like the knife, not "bow-ee" like the David).  I'd heard that the Dairy Queens in Texas had more than just ice cream (really?) and pulled up to the town DQ.  And everyone was staring at me.  They stared at me when I walked in.. when I set my 3 kids down at a table.. when I ordered... every move I made, I was being watched.  Of course, plenty of people oo-ed and aw-ed at my little Newbie, because she's only the cutest little baby anyone had ever seen this side of the Panhandle.. *wink*  But anyway.. I was worried that maybe people in Texas didn't have 3 kids.. or maybe they didn't wear spaghetti straps.. or maybe there was toilet paper sticking out of my pants that got stuck there at the last rest stop!  It freaked. Me. Out.

I got over it though.

But then, on my way OUT of Ft. Worth, we stopped in Bowie again, but this time for breakfast.  So we hit up the McDonald's, which was immediately next door to the DQ.  The first thing I noticed was there weren't any parking spots left.  Small town, small parking lot.  Okay.  But then, when I was on my way inside I was stared at again!!  I got in the door and looked around and every single seat was taken.  I'm not even kidding.  It's McDonald's people!  Not two steps in the door, a lady, prolly in her 60's, walks up to me and says, "Do you mind if I babysit the little one here while you order?"  I didn't even finish stuttering over the first word, which was "uh," before she carried my Newbie to a table where she and another man had been sitting about 10 feet away.  I nearly panicked, but reminded myself I was in Texas.  Texans were different than the people in Colorado.  Plus, she was older and I was younger, and the building was small and there was only one visible exit and I could totally run faster than her. And then I could sick Tank on her while I pried my sweet Newbie from her hands. I kept a close eye on them while I ordered.  Newbie started to cry and I handed Strange Stranger Lady a bottle, and that made Newbie happy while I waited on the order.  It finally came up and I took the tray and my boys and we walked toward the table as the man who'd been sitting with Strange Stranger Lady stood up and said, "I'm on my way out, have a seat. You take care now."  It hit me then that Strange Stranger Lady and this man weren't married.  We sat down and I noticed that everyone was talking to everyone.  People were hanging over seats and talking over shoulders and laughing at someone's joke from across the room.  And everyone was at least 60-something.  It was like.. near-geriatric junior high.. people switching seats and laughing and everyone knew everyone.  It dawned on me.. that's why they stared.  I was clearly not from around here.  It wasn't that I looked funny, it was that they didn't know me!
Anyway.. breakfast was good and so was the conversation.  I got to hang out with friendly people who loved my babies and thought I was crazy for liking the Texas sky as much or more than the Colorado mountains. And that's my Small-Town Texas Experience.  Thank you very much.  Now back to your regularly unscheduled blog post.

So after some time in Texas, Land of the Awesome, we headed up to see Bond's family and spend some time with my dad and sisters, plus some old friends from college. (College friends are old now? Hm.)  I've almost adjusted to the bitter cold and dryness of Colorado again. Maybe someday God will plant me in His Second Promised Land that Moses forgot to write about in the Bible... (okay, don't hit me!)

I'm on the last leg of the trip now.  Only two more "sleeps" and we get to drive the 5-hour trip home.. over four slow and twisty mountain passes.  (At least I'm stealing my sister away and bringing her with me!)  One of the joys of living and driving in Colorado:  Everything takes longer because you're slowed down by some kind of road obstacle.. be that snow/ice, potholes from the snow/ice, construction to fix the potholes from the snow/ice, suicidal animals who hate the snow/ice, or twisty roads with gorgeous views behind the drop-off cliffs... that are covered in snow/ice 9 months out of the year. (Sunshine said the funniest thing on the way over the passes the first time when Tank said he was scared.  "Don't worry Tank!  Those pine trees will catch us if we fall!!"  Apparently Tank isn't very enthusiastic about my ability to stay on the road. Thank you Tank.)

This trip hasn't been as hard as people make it sound like it should be, but it's certainly been full of adventure.

What.. you're mad because I don't have any pictures?  When am I supposed to take pictures?!  I'm on a crazy-long road trip all alone with my 3 young children!  You think I'm Super Woman or something?!  Yeesh!


Friday, May 28, 2010

So Long, Gummy Smile - Part 3

As life would have it, I haven't had much time to blog lately. What with Newbie's new crawling gig, Sunshine's completion of pre-school, and Tank's continued refusal to use the potty... I'm surprised I have time to sleep!!!

*yawn*

Oh wait...

Anyway. :) I once wrote a blog entry called "So Long, Gummy Smile - Part 1". This was like, March. I still need to write Part Deux.. you know, the one that usually comes after Part 1 and before Part 3.. but like I said.. haven't had the time.

I still don't. But. Then I discovered THIS...


.. no no.. THIS..


Dang! Missed it! HERE!

Do you see it? Look closer!!



The beginning of tooth number FOUR! And it's a top tooth!!!

*whew!* That was hard!  She did NOT want to give that one up! And it's still barely visible.. sorry.

I discovered it during a recent (say, 5 minutes ago) game of hold-me-upside-down-and-make-me-smile-because-I'm-not-much-of-a-laugher.. so I just had to make time for Part 3.

I have taken pictures that will be used in "So Long, Gummy Smile - Part Deux."  I just haven't had time to edit and upload them.  But with Topper here coming in.. I just HAD to post SOMETHING!!!

So there!!  Part Deux to come... someday. :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

You can call me Hot Rod (Hindsight is 20/20)

Fact: 75 mph in a 60 mph zone is too fast.

Fact: Lady cops will not let you off, no matter what, but especially not if you say something stupid.

Fact: I am that. girl. who thinks of all the right things to say only after the time has come and gone to say them, and only after I said something stupid.

Fact: I got a ticket on Thursday. Apparently everyone knew (except me) that if you go even 1 lousy mph too fast on this stretch of road you'll get pulled over and written up a "traffic citation."

Definition of a Traffic Citation: Lady Cop's whack at sounding smart in order to make you, driver, feel even more stupid as all the drivers in the cars you just impatiently passed whiz by and laugh at you.

I saw her turn around and come to get me. I should've pulled over the moment I saw her turn around. Why bother make her chase me down with her stupid blinking lights? I could've done her a favor, maybe she'd have done me one then. But there was a tiny spark of hope left in my heart.. maybe it wasn't me she was after.

Alas, after what felt like an eternity, she turned on those stupid blinking lights and I immediately groaned and pulled over, carefully turning on my clicker.

"We're going to meet a real live cop today, kids!" I tried to make light of the situation. We'd already been driving for two to two-and-a-half hours.. the kids were as ready to be done with the trip as I was.

"Why?" asked Sunshine, bluntly.

"Well, Mommy was going too fast and the cop is going to give mommy a ticket."

I continued explaining what a ticket was, etc, etc, as I reached into my wallet to pull out my ID, and into the glove box to get the insurance and registration. And then I sat and waited, looking out the window waiting for the cop to come and embarrass me.

I startled at the sound of the knock.. she'd come to the passenger side. I silently wished I'd packed the passenger seat too full to open the window as I searched for the right button to roll it down. I handed her my papers before she even had time to say "hello."

And then. AND THEN she told me I was going too fast and actually asked me why!!!!!!

This was where I faltered.

"Well Lady Cop, I don't particularly like driving and I was obviously trying to get to my destination sooner, so as to reduce my time on the road!" I could've said.

"Lady Cop, I've got 3 kids and a dog back here. Wouldn't you be hurrying too?" I should've said.

"Lady Cop, I know you don't have anywhere to be right now, or anything to do but make my day more miserable, but I actually have somewhere to be right now. So rather than ask me stupid questions to which you don't really want to know the answers, would you mind just giving me my ticket and letting me go?" I could've sassed.

"Lady Cop, if you'd have kept driving, instead of pulling me over, you'd have seen the school bus I was stuck behind for 10 miles and the very long line of cars behind it. I legally passed him and decided to make up some time."

or...

"Lady Cop, if you'd have kept driving, instead of pulling me over, you'd have seen the school bus I was stuck behind for 10 miles and the very long line of cars behind it. I legally passed him and simply forgot to turn my cruise control back on."

She's asking me why I was going so fast?! I was stunned. I paused. I couldn't think of ANYTHING.. not even the best truth!

"Uh.. well I'm hoping to find a place with coffee.." I stuttered, "Because I'm really tired.." I moaned, laying my head down on the wheel, wishing I had an extra foot to stick in my mouth. Oh no.. did I really just say that?! Anything but that!

At least I stumped her for a moment. The response was so stupid it was contagious. She didn't say anything for the moment and then went on with the next thing I couldn't believe...

"Well, you were going too fast for me to issue you a warning..." she spat. (She teased me with this possible truth a few times during our little "talk.")

A warning? I could've said something witty here too... like..

"Oh really? How fast would that have been? You know.. for next time."

Or maybe..

"Lady Cop, you wouldn't have bothered pulling me over if you could have issued me a warning. Let's face it, that's not your style. You're here to write tickets, and that's it."

I could've tried this one..

"Lady Cop, we both know that's not true. You cops can fudge anything on there you want to, and you do it all the time. You get to choose if you want to let me off with a warning.. but I was speeding with a car-full of kids. Of course you don't want to spare me and let me go. You're probably a mom too and hate that parents like me put ourselves and our children at risk by speeding. You want to make me sorry for what I did, not give me an excuse to do it again. Who cares if I could've bought more food or diapers for my children with the money I'm about to spend in your county paying your salary. Don't sit here and tell me you can't let me off with a warning, like it's something you can't control. Tell the truth. You don't want to and so you won't."

I was still too stupefied by the first words that'd come out of my mouth, so I chose not to say anything at all for the rest of her scolding. She told me it would take awhile for her to write out my "citation" and left me there, where I finally cried. Poetically enough, it started raining too, so I closed the window.

I think I sat there 20 minutes before she finally came back and told me all the nonsense about my brand new traffic citation. It was her explanation of the charges that confused me..

"You were going 15 mph over, and that's a 4-point ticket," she pointed out. "It's $132 for [insert insulting cop explanation here] which is $32 for [insert more insulting cop explanation here] and $2.50 for DNA ---" DNA?! What the heck is that?! I have my own! Why are you charging me for that?

Seriously... it was like a cell phone bill.. all these extra hidden fees. Who knew? My total bill ended up being about $170. Do you know how many diapers I could've bought for $170?!

She told me about how I get my points reduced by two if I pay it, and if I don't she showed me when and where I'd have to be at court. I should've asked..

"So.. what's the benefit of going to court, other than seeing your lovely face again?"

.. but I didn't. That was probably smart.

She handed me my shiny new not-golden-win-a-trip-to-Willy-Wonka's-Chocolate-Factory ticket and told me to have a safe trip, or something. I began rolling up the window before she'd turned away, to show her how mad I was.. you know.. because she would care.. because Lady Cop had a heart. Not.

(In hindsight, I wish I'd had my phone ready to take a picture of her before she left. If she would've asked why I snapped a photo of her, I would've told her I blogged and given her my blog address. I'd have told her I was about to make her famous as the meanest Lady Cop ever. Oh well.)

As Lady Cop was walking away, my phone rang. It was my father-in-law. We were on our way to see him, by the way.

"Hello?"

"Hey, whatcha doin'?" he inquired.

"Just got a ticket!" I blubbered... crumpling up my ticket and throwing it across the car like the trash it was. I flicked my clicker on, waited for remaining traffic to pass, and pulled back onto the road.. dreading the remaining three hours of my drive.

And here begins all the ridiculing from my friends and family.. the laughter at my ticket location.. because everyone knows you'll get a ticket if you even hint at speeding there.. except me, of course. Oh well. Better luck next time.

Haha! Just kidding, Mom. About next time, I mean.