Girl Books

I had a sweet passionate request from a reader for girl book suggestions.  I have to help her! I understand the plea, and the pressure, and the pain...the pain that bored children can cause us moms. :)  You all came through for me, beyond my wildest dreams, with my 13 year old boy book suggestions.  Could I please ask you to offer up some 10 year old girl book suggestions?

I know Abbey loved Sammy Keyes mystery books and as much as we wrack our brains, we can't remember much more than that.  That was all of 6 years ago!  (My brain is sleep-deprived, Abbey's is full of chemistry, math, psychology...)
Thank you in advance!


Easy Pasta Primavera

Here is a quick and easy meatless Lenten dinner....a little change from my old grilled cheese and/or fish sticks Friday.   

If you have Lenten resolutions, how are you doing?  I gave up sweets and so far so good-and boy does it make me feel better anyways.  Of course for the first week, I desperately wanted to stick my head in a chocolate fountain, but the cravings have calmed somewhat.  I still have to avert my eyes when walking down the candy aisle at the grocery store, so they haven't subsided completely.

3/4 of a 32 oz. box of pasta (I use rotini or ziti)
1/4 cup butter
1 envelope Knorr's vegetable soup mix
1 1/2 teaspoons all purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 TBS grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add pasta.  Cook till al dente, and drain.

2. In a saucepan melt butter.  Blend Knorr soup mix with flour and milk, and then add to saucepan.  Stir.  Bring to a soft boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 7-10 minutes.  Stir in grated cheese.

3. Toss with cooked pasta and serve.

(This makes enough for all seven of us....I usually serve with a salad and garlic bread.)



Angela DeMuro sent me a copy of one of her cute books in her Land of Mu series-she wrote them and illustrated them herself and boy, what talent!  This story is about a boy and his friends wishing for snow. (Which we are not, as you know, doing here!)  So cute.  You can purchase her books from her website and here is her blog.

A reader suggested this book for my boys and we picked it up from the library and loved it-it's called Brothers at Bat.  It's about a large family (16 kids!)-the 12 boys formed their own baseball team.  All I thought of the entire time I was reading this book to Patrick was, "Oh that angel of a mother-12 boys!!!"  She was smart no doubt-she sent them outside to play all day long!


Spring Fever

We have AWFUL cases of Cabin Fever over here.

Anyways, I love this photo above-my Matthew, on a warm spring day long long ago in a far away land, taking deep breaths of that sweet-smelling green grass.  He made me laugh so hard when he did this-flung himself out the door and onto the ground in our front yard-and that moment always comes to my mind on days like we are having now-long, cold, dark, dreary, gray days of February.  One day soon we will see color and light and feel warmth, right?  I'm not sure we can stand it all much longer.



The happiest baby ever.  We adore her.


Ordinary Days

We celebrated Valentine's Day on Tuesday before Ash Wednesday like our schools did.  It was very low key-I bought little presents for the kids and Jeff and we had pancakes that were supposed to be heart shaped but turned out to be blob shaped.  

This was an "I only have eyes for you" Valentine-what a cute idea.  We gave out store bought cards with suckers which didn't stop me from lamenting the fact that my kids all came home from school with bags of candy.  Is Valentines Day the new Halloween?  Thank goodness it all disappeared quickly.  

Isaac came home this weekend and it was nice to visit with him even though it was for such a short time.  I had run out with the younger boys to get haircuts, thinking we would make it back before Isaac arrived (he hitched a ride with a friend.)  When we got back I walked in the house and didn't even notice Isaac was sitting right in front of me till he said, "Hi Mom!"  I jumped a mile and yelped and the boys came running in all smiles-within minutes they had a basketball game going.

Janey gave him a giant stare-down, wondering just who this new guy was.  Which makes me sad!  But I am trusting all of you readers who write to me and tell me about your close relationships you had with your much older siblings.

Isaac was amazed at Patrick's new dunking skills and took some great pictures of him.

My dining room table always turns into a closet when Isaac is home.  It is always Abbey's homework station anyways.

Look with horror upon these socks that he was wearing.  The minute he took them off I threw them away.

Abbey getting ready for the dance.  The flower was my touch and it was quickly removed. 

Last week they had Spirit Week at Abbey's school and had dress up themes every day.  The theme from this photo is "Dynamic Duos" and she and her friend were Mary Kate and Ashley. 

This is Janey, dressed up as Mary, (tricked you! :) thanks to Patrick.  


A Big Thank You

Oh my goodness, you guys really came through for me.  Thank you SO much!  When I quickly typed out that post last Sunday night (after a frustrating argument with a boy who insists that there are NO good books and he's soooo bored to death because I never let him go on the computer or play video games...wahhhh!), I woke up to so many terrific comments filled with book suggestions.  I took the liberty to order a bunch from the library and you all gave me this incredible resource of books to have for this "bored boy" age group for the rest of my life.

Parenting is hard sometimes in this day and age and it makes me sad.  Sometimes I doubt myself for sure.  I am told often by my kids that we are the only family that doesn't allow this or that.  Now I know this isn't true, and I try hard to be fair about rules but I have to trust my maternal instincts also, and insist on the standards I feel comfortable with in my house.  But I get weary sometimes of all of it.  It's so much easier just to say yes, go ahead, rot your brain out and stop bothering me.  I want my kids to be readers, I want them to be smart, I want them to not grow up staring at a darn screen their whole lives.  I miss the days when us kids had a few choices:
1. Go outside and play-with or without friends.
2. Stay inside and play.
3. Read a book.

Thanks again for all your suggestions!  We have a stack awaiting us at the library.


Sugar Cookies

We are giving up sweets for Lent here, but I made these last week just to get our pre-Lenten fix.

Here is our favorite recipe:

1 cup white sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup corn oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
4 cups flour

Cream together first six ingredients and gradually add the flour, tartar and soda.
Refrigerate for an hour until firm.
Roll out onto floured surface and punch out with cookie cutters. (We like thick ones!)
Bake at 375 degrees for 7-9 minutes (watch carefully for the right timing-just lightly browned on edges) on greased cookie sheets.

For the frosting:
3 cups powdered sugar
6 TBS butter
1 TBS vanilla extract
2 TBS milk
food coloring 

Adjust for thickness, adding a little more milk if necessary.


Sweet Little Angel

Abbey was letting Janey chew on her finger the other day and said, "Mom I think she might have teeth!" I brushed it off and said, "No, not yet."  And Abbey said, "Mom really something feels pretty sharp."  I looked and sure enough her little gum had broken and a tooth was poking through.  What a surprise!  For two days she hadn't taken a great nap and wanted to nurse more than normal, but I thought it was just a growth spurt, nothing as big as a new tooth.  

She is such an easy baby now, always smiling, almost never ever fussy, and if she is, all I have to do is pick her up and she is happy again.  But those first few months-oh, they were hard.  She was a very very fussy newborn, and add that to the nursing issues we had in the beginning, it wasn't easy at all.  I know of course, by experience, that "this too shall pass" but when I was in the thick of it, no matter with #4, or #5 or Janey, (all fussy newborns), it sure seemed like it will last forever.  

Each time I felt like every day I was pushed to the max-emotionally and physically exhausted.  Fussy babies take a lot of tender loving care from their mommies.  A lot of exercise ball bouncing, a lot of nursing (a whole bunch of nursing!), a lot of pacing and shushing and rocking.  Of course, Jeff would relieve me when he was home, but if my baby is crying, my brain rattles and my hormones make it impossible to not just take her and do it myself.  

One day magically, Janey turned from high maintenance to completely utterly enjoyable.  They all did.  The hard part is not knowing when that magic day will happen, but with each of these darling babies, it did.  The days that were once a blur slowly become days when I might just have more chances to come up for air and it sure feels good.  I think what I learned over the years is that it is completely OK to have time stop for awhile-for those hard months.  I tried so hard to give myself a giant break-and give Janey a big old chance to get used to this world while giving her as much love and care as she deserves.  

I feel sometimes like there is a message out in our society today to "get back to life" as quickly as possible after our babies are born.  Back to our old selves, back into shape, back to work, back to our old routines-just keep life going like a truly amazing miracle didn't just land into our lives.  To go on and appear as if nothing ever happened-this makes me mad that this is applauded and praised today-it's truly ridiculous, but very sad also.  It's an indication of a deep chasm in the most important bond of mother and baby.  

I think babies deserve to rock the world of those around them a little.  To stir things up, to make us rethink priorities, to bond-totally and completely giving ourselves to them when they need it most.  Even if that means little things like fat pants for awhile, or a makeup drawer that goes untouched for months, or big things like lots of "no's" to invitations and commitments, or everything that once seemed so important plummeting down that priority list and maybe even disappearing.  Of course we can rebuild slowly-on the baby's timeline-but things shouldn't look the same ever.  We all need to move over and make space for this precious new life we brought into the world.  Babies deserve it, and we moms do also.


My Little Helpers

I think one of the most precious blessings of having a much younger sibling is the opportunity to learn how to love and care for babies and toddlers.  Each of my older children has had this opportunity many times, but seeing Andrew and Patrick so interested in Janey just fills my heart up.  Andrew has been waiting until I would say it was ok for her to hold her and carry her while he was standing....he was thrilled and so careful for the few minutes I let him.  (When I was reading The Kitchen House I told him about children his age whose daily job was care of babies Janey's age-his eyes were pretty big at that responsibility!)  I also taught him how to change her diaper and clothing which is not small feat because she certainly has the wigglies.  He is going to be such a good Dad.  

And Patrick of course needed to get in on all the action also, although his favorite thing to do is giving her hugs and kisses.  When she was fussy for a few minutes the other day I asked Janey, "Why are you so fussy baby?"  And he said, "I think it might be because we've all given her too many kisses." 


Book Help

Does anybody have any good book suggestions for a 13 year old boy, bored out of his brains?  I am desperate.  So is he.  We would forever be indebted to you.  I'm so frustrated with the lack of good books for boys-maybe I'm just not looking in the right places, but how many times can one read the Harry Potter or  Pendragon series?


Brace Face

One very early morning Abbey drove herself to the ortho's office and came home with a new and improved and happier than ever smile.  Yippee!  At last...she waited a long long time to get those braces off and could hardly take it one more minute.


March Madness, February-Style

February-it's SOOO boring!  I told the boys the other day, attempting to make the month of 'bored-out-of-our-brains a little better', "It's February, the month of love!"  And one of them said, "Eewwww that makes it worse!"  

Seriously, February, in the winter, with a bunch of boys, is enough to make any mom go bonkers.  I usually am worn down by now.  I don't think twice about walking past a boy hurling himself off the arm of a chair (my good chair!) to slam dunk.  One day years ago I let them take the sleds down the stairs-they had so much fun landing in a nest of blankets.  A few nights ago, Andrew found an old kitchen timer and set it up to see how fast he could run relays back and forth down the hallway-it was right before bedtime and I figured he hadn't met his entire energy expenditure of the day and had a few extra bursts to get out of his system.

We (I!) am looking forward to more light in the evening, warmer temperatures and being able to send everyone outside for long lengths of time.


Childhood Favorites

Nancy Plays Nurse was just about my favorite book ever.  Can you tell?  It's all taped up and falling apart.

I LOVE Home For A Bunny.  I also own the newer Golden Book edition and Patrick and I read it often.

And my all time favorite-"Spring, spring, spring!" 
Another very worn copy. I think it was an Easter present from the Easter bunny when I was very young.
Hamilton Duck's Springtime Story.

I'm so glad my mom saved these for me, so my children could enjoy them also.


Flying Years

I found this picture the other day-I had posted it back in 2008. I remember this night and it seems like yesterday but it was four whole years ago.  It was a rare warm November evening and we all went out and played for one last hoorah before the cold winter air came in for the season.

I don't know if I really knew that time would fly so quickly-Isaac is now in college, Abbey is so much older today than she is in this photo-those years from 12-16 are just huge, and Matt and Andrew just seem so young.  And look at my baby Patrick.  Now he is no longer a baby, and we have little baby Janey who was just a little star in the heavens at the time of this photo.

This always makes me cry-this feeling like time if just flying faster than I can keep up with it.  I feel like I shouldn't feel this way-I have six beautiful happy healthy growing children-children are supposed to grow up to be adults-it's not like I didn't know that.  But it is so bittersweet to me.  And in four years when I look at a photo of all of us from this year, I am sure I will feel the same way.  It tightens my chest up-I want to bawl.  Am I crazy?  Do other mothers feel this way?  I just want the years to go on and on like the way they are forever.  Just our family, here, under my roof.  And in some ways it's worse than ever with my baby Janey.  Will this be the last time I fish tiny socks out of the dryer?  The last time I buy little diapers or Johnsons baby shampoo or little onesies?  I want to hold on to everything forever.  I want the days to go slower, I want the years to go slower, I want to never ever wish one day away, unappreciated, or waste an inkling of time being the mother I want to be to my family.