Friday, May 20, 2016

Ordinary Days

Just some notes and things I want to remember and rambles:
Patrick had a great field trip at a farm with his class-his nicest teacher took pics and sent them on. I told him to bring me home a baby bunny, but thankfully he did not. (I believe that's a chick he is holding but the bunnies were to die for.)

He had track and field day the other day and came home with a bunch of first, second and third places. He had one purple participation ribbon and he said to me, "Mom I am going to throw this in the garbage because everyone got one so it means nothing,"    My heart leapt with joy! :)  He gets it! This generation might be saved!  Now we just have to eliminate the snacks after games/practices (which seem more rare nowadays?) and we might have just added a teeny tiny bit of common sense back into parenting.

I was talking with a friend the other day about the benefits of a large family-just how incredibly beneficial it is to the kids naturally. 

(That DOES NOT mean there are a not a whole lot of benefits to other sized families, it's just that I see it now more than ever especially in the culture of parenting today. And also big families are rare today, the drawbacks being the things that are pointed out-financial commitment, work and more work for the parents...) 

One day I want to make a list just for the fun of it.

I have a million examples, and yes maybe a lot of them are generalizations, but still they stand. I don't have the time, energy or brain space to over-parent, to coddle, to micro-manage, to baby (you are ok, get up, unless your arm bone is sticking out or you are losing massive amounts of blood you are ok-I tell this to my kids about sports-we don't stop games ever for God's sake, in this family, you know your brother has run into you harder than that and you got up with raised fists, plus we don't waste other people's time), "You get what you get and you like it", you are in charge of your own school work, uniforms, and entertainment, and eventually your entire life (and as quickly as possible because someone needs/wants your bed or room), work if you want money, work even if you don't because you need to be busy, save your money, you'll need to buy your own car/shoes/house one day, don't ask me to remind you about anything, my brain won't remember, it's too full.  If you want something bad enough (a team, travels, a school, a job) you will have to be self-motivated, because I don't have the time and energy to magically pull it all in place for you. And gosh, picky eaters?  Who notices picky eaters in a big family? They must be pretty hungry.

Natural consequences are big, BIG and I think SO important and something that just comes without effort or thought in a big family.  Gosh, there is no correction to normalcy like that of sibling correction.  For example, if you are making annoying sounds with your mouth, or talking too much too loud too early in the morning, or using all the towels, or eating all the cookies, or God forbid chewing with your mouth open, someone will let you know, and if you don't stop they WILL stop you somehow.  It might be a hard punch in the arm, but you know what? Maybe you deserved it. Dare I say that?  Yes I do.  I see some kids today that just might need a hard punch somewhere. I bet a lot of teachers would agree with me. This is how kids used to solve things before so much parental interference, before they needed to be taught to behave certain ways-siblings helped us parents tremendously.

I am reminded of a cousin, one of ten, who stood in front of his class as a high school teacher and said, 'I grew up with nine siblings, I've been called every name in the book already, so don't even bother."  Ha! Resilience, and perspective.

Image result for ralphie and the bully
I also remember the scene from The Christmas Story-that bully finally getting his due, and bawling after poor Ralphie just had had enough. What a lesson for both Ralphie and the bully! Nothing any adult could do would replace that lesson.

Earlier this year one son came home about some complaints about what was happening on the playground-an older kid picking on kids two grades younger during football games-hitting a little too hard being a little too rough.  I told my son, "Well you have some choices, don't play with him, avoid him, or show him that you guys can hit just as hard, or run faster."  (I might have also said something about The Christmas Story, to which my son smartly replied, "I am pretty sure I'd be expelled if I did something like that.")  I'm not getting involved with playground drama. (Eventually because of other parents the principal did and I LOVED the way he worked it out-making the kids work it out themselves while he monitored the meeting.)  

Natural consequences. And some kids need them, nothing else will work. And other kids need to know that there won't always be a rescue, to make their world perfect and easy, because the world is NOT perfect and easy.  Nothing ever really falls into place perfectly. They won't always get the cupcake they want, the nice teacher, the seat up front, the A, the trophy, the place on the team, the invite to the party. Kids are mean to each other sometimes, adults are also.  Life isn't fair.  I've said that statement so many times as a parent.  Some kids learn that little by little, some have really tough intense learning years, it's not always easy to watch, but our support, not our constant interference, is what is necessary. Our ears are necessary, hardly ever our fix-it skills.

Helicopter parenting? Smother-mothering?  It doesn't exist in big families. It just can't, we moms and dads of many kids just don't have enough time.  And what a gift, thank the Lord, one less thing I have to worry about screwing up :).

Do you know what I think? That this might be the one single factor in how things have changed over time. The Greatest Generation?  Maybe had a little to do with war and poverty but more to do with how big families shaped some incredible characteristics in people.  As families became smaller and smaller, things became a little crazier and crazier.  The problems that exist in schools today, maybe that has more to do with the decline of big families. Teachers having to jump through hoops to please every child and parent, constantly catering.  Kids being given everything they want, without having to work for it. (Entitlement!)  Every program imaginable for disorders that used to be personality characteristics.  Elimination of all struggle. (Which also eliminates drive, determination, strength and resilience, duh, the VERY things that make a person flourish!)  The quest for fairness, equality in all aspects of life, "I am special, I deserve....".  No you are not and your siblings would have told you and showed you in so many ways from the moment you were born.

And the stories-gosh that alone is worth it. We have some great neighbors who have been raised in huge families, and I can't get enough of the stories.  I swear you can't make these things up and they would make most parents today gasp in alarm and dismay at the utter neglect and danger of just about all of it.  I've heard so many hilarious stories from my aunts and uncles.  It gives me hope as a parent, it gives me a little reward for the hard work of raising a big family-all the incredible memories that sometimes even involve the hardest of times.  I bet there isn't a mother of a big family who doesn't pray, and pray often. 

So much more to say on that subject, but I have to get some laundry finished.

Andrew, once last in every cross country meet as a small child (he was so cute, he just could not understand why everyone was always ahead of him! we laugh so hard about it now) has progressed to doing pretty darn well in a class 2 mile run.  He has an incredibly nice class of kids, they have two more years together but everyone agrees this is one special group.

Dress like your favorite book character day. (Don't ask I don't even remember now.)

My parents back deck this last weekend. I would have cried.)

I have officially burned myself out of sweet potato chips. This was my last batch for a long long time.

Eating lunch with this sweet girl. 

I've been awful about taking photographs this last month, forgetting my camera everywhere, or not wanting to break myself away from the real moment by taking a picture. 

Isaac graduates this weekend from college, so excited for him. Praying that we all (well Janey especially) make it through the 2 1/2 hour ceremony-the fact that it's outside will help a great deal.

We are NOT ready for summer around here (heart-ready but not mind-ready) but next week I will only have the two boys in school for a few last days so I need to get on the ball and get my head into gear.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Ordinary Days

We've had a series of special events:
My sweetest best baby ever Matthew turned 17!
Gosh he was so good and I always tell him he had a double dose of baby smell.
It was heavenly.

I really wanted to try new things for his party. Finally I feel like I have more time and energy and guts to do this. I had so much fun with it.  Last year I was in a massive cooking rut and I thank Whole30 for getting me out of it.  

I made these little chocolate chip ice cream cups. I used my favorite chocolate chip recipe.
Next time I will use a full ice cream scoop of dough. I used cupcake liners and sprayed those and that worked well. The secret is really making sure they are just finished perfectly. (Mine were a little overdone.)

That recipe makes the BEST chocolate chip cookie bars, and that would have been much easier.

For dessert, a box chocolate cake, the cookie cups, a sundae bar, sugar cookies and a homemade apple pie (I taught Andrew how to make one this time, and then he was so sad because he never ended up with a piece before it was finished off.)

For the dinner:
Matthew LOVES Doritos so I made this excellent Dorito dip. I wish I had a picture of it but it went so fast I didn't get one.  

Here is the recipe (I will be tripling it next time and putting it in a 8x8 pan.)

Most Excellent Hot Dorito Dip
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz sour cream
1 small can chopped green chiles
1 small package of bacon bits
1/2 tsp garlic power
1 package shredded cheddar cheese

Mix all together.

I sprayed a loaf pan with non-stick spray and baked this for 25 minutes at 400 degrees.
Serve with Doritos of course.

I also made 3 batches of soft pretzels and served those fresh out of the oven.  Those went fast! Andrew helped me roll them all out about two hours before the party and then we started baking them when everyone arrived.

I made my Asian Salad (I couldn't have any-too much sugar in the dressing) so I made a new salad knowing that was the one thing I could eat on my modified Whole30.  It was DELICIOUS!

I combined a bunch of different recipes and came up with this:


Strawberry/Raspberry/Pecan Salad
1/2 olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 TBS honey (must omit on Whole30 but this is one of two modifications I've allowed past my Whole100)
1 1/2 tsps garlic powder
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic salt

Shake well.

Romaine (3-pack) lettuce
Quart of strawberries, sliced
1 cup of salted pecans (I crushed lightly)
Pint of raspberries
2 cups of grilled chicken breast, chopped

I use one of those 3-packs of Romaine lettuce and slice them up small.  A large bag of spinach would work just as well with this recipe.

I put the rest of the ingredients neatly on top (it looked so pretty but didn't get a picture) and then topped with dressing.

I love how Patrick is looking at Matt!

She was so tired after the party!

I've been using guacamole for my salad dressings lately (I "water" it down with lemon or lime juice) and loving it. This is my "taco salad"-I use ground turkey.

This is a TERRIFIC recipe:One-Pot Dijon Roasted Chicken Thighs.  I subbed sweet potatoes for the red skin potatoes and at least doubled the vegetables. I will make this often as everyone loved it. We had this when Abbey invited her boyfriend over for dinner. It was a hit. (I tripled the recipe.)

Early morning run in the fog. Love hearing the birds in the morning. I made the mistake of running four days in a row and then could hardly walk (also because I never stretch which I can NOT get away with at 47 years old!)  I need to take days off in between I think or at least not so many in a row.

We picked up Abbey from college! Janey and I took the trip-she of course was an angel.  I can't believe her first year is over.  

We went to Cheesecake Factory on the way home because I love that place and we don't have one.
So many good salads and sweet potato fries! I'm also glad we don't have one, I would crave it too much.

This was funny-I got a call from the school secretary that Andrew needed to be picked up because he threw up. I was so surprised because none of my kids have ever thrown up at school (knock on wood.) That would horrify them and me. Well...
his class was allowed to go out on the new playground, and there is a twirly ride and all the boys pushed each other so hard and so fast and so long to the point of sickness.  
Andrew made it to the nurse's office garbage can thank the Lord. A few other boys had to go back to the classroom and endure the rest of the spinning day (they didn't throw up), but Andrew "got" to go home. (He loves school so he didn't especially want to but felt sick enough to have to.)
I said, "Why in the world would  you do that to each other? How could you ever think that was a good idea?"  His answer was "I don't know." But the real answer is "Because we are 6th grade boys." 

Matt finished a great tennis season. He started a clinic this winter so he could play on the team this spring and wow, these kids pick things up fast. It was fun to watch him.

Abbey started one of her two old jobs at the ice cream store, so we visit sometimes on bikes, in strollers or when we go for a "ride" in the car on weekend evenings.

On Mother's Day Patrick begged me to take him fishing so I did.  He caught nothing and broke his pole to boot and was a sad camper. Darn.

Isaac asked me to send him some pics of him and I for Mother's Day and I went a little crazy taking Iphone pics of old photos.  
Isaac and Abbey-they played together so well.

Abbey and I. (Notice the morning sickness wrist band I had on-gosh I remember those useless things-I was pregnant with Matt.)

Isaac and I before Abbey was born.  He was so big and chubby and such a happy baby, and is now a happy young adult graduating from college in two weeks.  Crazy.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Workout (80's Style:)

Ok I am NO expert, do this at your own risk, that is my disclosure. I also SO SO SO DO NOT have a Pinterest bikini body so I won't guarantee results either.  BUT this is hard, and it has helped me lose a lot of poundage and get stronger than I have since a long enough time ago that I can't even remember.

Also, when I started this on January 2nd, I could hardly do a thing.  By that I mean not ONE boy push-up, maybe 3 girl ones. EVERYTHING was hard, really difficult. I started with lighter weights (maybe 10 pounds?) and worked up to 15 pounds.  I was in the worst shape I've ever been in when I started this, and never thought I'd be where I am now. I am glad I persevered and didn't give up. Sometimes for lunges I didn't use weights at all. The good thing was I never was too sore, and I swear it was Whole30, and the water I was drinking and the healthy food.  I have been really amazed at how my body has become stronger.

I have never liked gyms (too much time, feel awkward working out in public, having to leave kids). I am a firm believer in doing whatever exercise you love. If it's running, taking exercise classes, won't work if you hate it or it makes you stressed or it doesn't work with whatever season of life you are in. The sunmer before I was married, I was living with my parents and did a Cindy Crawford VHS tape every day when I came home from work-that is such a fond memory of mine, I don't know why, but it just was so nice to be home one last time and I was determined to feel good on my honeymoon.  After that I would sometimes do The Firm (the one with the yellow leotard and leg warmers). I don't really like watching exercise tapes-especially after I had kids, because it was constant pausing, or not going fast enough for me, or a few parts I wanted to skip (the jogging in place in The Firm.)  So I would memorize my favorite exercises and just do my own routine. After I had four kids, I stopped almost all exercise all together because I just couldn't work it in. In fact probably in the 21 years I've been a mom I've been consistent with exercise in super short bursts that could amount to maybe a couple years.  If that isn't proof that I have no business posting exercise routines on my blog I don't know what is.

That is what I do now. I listen to music and sometimes "Abbey Downtown" (Janey-speak).  Janey plays with toys in the basement but most often just jumps on the sofa the entire time. For me afternoon workouts always work best. Mornings I like to get all my duties finished. I get ready for the day in the morning, and then I keep my workout clothes in my workout area, change, and then change back when I am finished. I don't sweat much so I'm ok with that, and it's a major time saver.

I try to get through leg days in about an hour, and arm days in a little less (I do not rush, I'm sure others can go faster!)

Right now I alternate legs and arms, abs everyday.  So M W F legs. TR(S if I can) arms. I might change as I need to switch something out for a yoga day.

I use 15 pound weights, and I worked up slowly, sometimes even switching back to lighter weights on days when I feel like it.  When I change weights, I start with 8 reps and then work up to 12, and the change to a heavier weight.  In my mind I divide this routine into little sections, which helps me get through it.


First Section-Squats and Lunges-get the torture over first.

- One set of regular lunges 8-12 reps.


-This squat routine...all of them in a row-8-12 reps EACH.
 Repeat both lunges and all squats three times.

After that is finished I do:
-Side lunges without weights 10 reps.
-Squats with exercise ball in between my lower back and wall-these are really low squats 10 reps.
Repeat three times.

Floor work with ankle weights:

Now I put three ankle weights on each leg(started with one, worked up):

Using a 20 pound weight, I rest on my knee in addition to ankle weights, I do these:
Image result for floor work legs laying on side knees bent

I do 20, then do 10 touching my knee to front and kick back to a straight leg, and then 10 more holding my leg straight behind me.
I alternate that with laying on my back, legs straight up, opening and closing, 30.

Repeat three times.

Then these (with ankle weights), 20 each leg, then alternate with-
Image result for leg work floor fire hydrant

-glute kick backs, 20.
Image result for glute kickbacks
Repeat three times.

I then stand up and do 60 each kickbacks, just tiny ones, standing up right.

Take off ankle weights.

Floor work with resistance band:

This is the kind of band I use, it's medium resistance. Bought it at Meijer for about ten dollars. These are small movements, I put the band about around my ankle.

Leg's straight:
Laying on back, V's with band, 50.
Image result for leg exercises on back opening and closing
Leg lifts (alternating legs) semi-reclined, on back, legs straight, lift one leg up and down, the other leg stays still, 50.

Lay on side, leg lifts like above, 50 each side.
Repeat 3 times.

Stand up, legs straight, band on, pulse leg 50 to front, 50 to side, 50 to back.
Repeat 3 times.

This can be as hard or easy as you want it to be depending on how much your stretch band. (Sometimes I can only do 30 reps if I am pushing hard.)

Image result for butt exercises
With 20 pound weight resting on top of thighs.
100 reps.

And these:
Image result for inner thigh floor work with weights
Weight resting on inner thigh, 50 each leg.

And these:

3 sets of 10.

Arms is almost this exactly, again 3 sets, working up poundage. In place of bench I use the ball.
I also do 3 sets of 10 push-ups.
Gym Arm Workout:

Stomach, I do everyday.  I do 100 reps of these three things, but I usually take a quick breather in between each 20 just to stop the burning.

100 sit ups on exercise ball.
Image result for abs lower exercisesImage result for abs leg raises

100 leg lifts squeezing a ball (just one of those play balls in the toy dept) right above my ankles. I do 20 normal leg lifts, then alternate the next 20 with leg lifts, but also bring ball down to floor and back with straight legs.

100 twisting bicycles.

Planks-I either try to do one for as long as possible, or hold one for 60 seconds, take a break, do again about 5 times.   I printed out a plank challenge from Pinterest at first to push myself when I first started out.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Ordinary Days

I have taken to writing an "agenda" every week to make sense of the busy spring season.

Andrew was "Ed" (a wart hog) in The Lion King Jr. He was hilarious!  The funny thing with Andrew is that he is SO self-sufficient he just goes about his business. So I had no idea what to expect. He had no lines but a funny laugh throughout and cracked everyone up.  It was such a great play-a lot of work for all involved.  The kids really really worked hard also-he had play practice every night before soccer practice and then would come home and do homework.  But he thrives on this, he really does. He's one of the kids who "busier is better" rings true.

Janey didn't quite like him so much with that make up on.

In the thick of soccer season!

Matt turned SEVENTEEN.  Oh wow.  He is having a party tomorrow, but on his real birthday we celebrated by going to his favorite restaurant and I made him an angel food cake with whipped cream and strawberry topping (it's that easy-blend some cut up strawberries with whipped cream and "frosting" the cake.)  He asked for a nice camera and I found a great deal on Ebay. He is a budding photographer so I know he will use it-and I get my camera to myself once again.

Finally I replaced the beautiful pink crab tree in our front yard that the kids were so mad at me for cutting down-it was so dead, only one branch had leaves, and I just had to with the promise I would find the exact same kind and replace it. Two years later I finally did!

Here's the old one-so pretty.  I hate thinking of how old I will be and the kid too when the new one is grown. Barf, hopefully time will just stand still. 

Our front door mat. A geranium picked for me by Janey and a nerf gun bullet. I love it.

I know, she looks HUGE

My sister sent me this photo of me after I sent her the one of Janey. I LOVED that uniform. Janey pointed to the knee socks and said, "What are those?"

The electric company comes by once every few years and just does a terrible number on any of the trees by their lines-they destroy them. This one ended up with only 2 little branches left so basically for a couple years I stared at a telephone pole-like tree out my back window.  I asked Jeff if he could take care of it, or we could pay someone. He said he could do it and started sharpening his ax with my kitchen knife sharpener. That's when I texted my lovely neighbor and asked if her husband was home and could he please help Jeff before someone died.  That's Jeff holding the ladder, the only job he should have. It was done safely (with a chain saw) before the hour was up.

Isaac visited my parents and took this pic on the way home. This is not my parent's home, just on the way, but I love this land-I have driven my it thousands and thousands of times. It only had that fence and house built recently and it's for sale, isn't it beautiful?  The house needs to be painted, I don't like the color but the setting is gorgeous.

Blackened veggies (just coated with olive oil and baked on high till blackened), sweet potato fries and chicken/apple sausage (so good, will be using these for cook-outs this summer-at Costco!)

I started running. And I fell one morning. And scraped both knees and put a hole in my nice running leggings BUT no one saw me, I'm pretty sure. And that's the important part. I took this picture to show Abbey who has fallen twice at the track at school, once in front of a cute team of guys. Humiliation! There is nothing to be done, but just to get up and keep going. But now she knows who she gets it from. Jeff said this is the solution, but it doesn't really work outside.

This kid would fish all day, every day. 

At the park one sunny afternoon, these two who love each other.

Are you sick of my pics of food yet? I know some asked for Whole30 ideas. Grilled chicken lettuce wraps with some sauteed onions, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes topped with guacamole.

Cracking up one dinner, she gets laughing so hard.

A nice friend gave us some hand me downs and Janey just loved this jean jacket. 

Abbey comes home next week yay!
This next photo is for her, since she told me I needed to post on this blog more often.
I didn't know she even read it, and I ruined my banana bread surprise last week because actually she does.

Found this pretty big guy in the laundry room,almost stepped on him. I put him in your room, he's waiting for you-I know how you love centipedes!  :)
Really, can't wait to pick you up and cook you some good food. Janey is so excited she woke up in the middle of the night asking "Where's Abbey? Where's Idee?"