Friday, September 27, 2013

A Day in the Life.

Ever wonder what a day in my life looks like? Well, here is what my Thursday looked like this week...

Alarm went off at 6:45 and between then and 8 it was my breakfast, packing lunches, last minute review for a spelling test, signing planners, feeding the kids, picking bus line order, and getting the kids on the bus.


From 8 to 10am it was cleaning up the morning dishes, playing with Matthias, plugging into my favorite podcast, and going on a walk with the little man.


From 10 to 11am I had a snack, picked some basil, made some pesto, took Huckleberry out, and started laundry load #2 of the day.


11 to 12? Playtime with a happy Matthias, watching Matthias and Huck "play", catching up on emails and reading through some articles my friends posted on Facebook like this one and this one.


From noon until 1pm, I had lunch with my boys, emptied and reloaded the dishwasher, and went over Nathan's sight words with him.


1 to 2pm.  I wrote and published a post for my adoption blog, folded and put away laundry load #2, re-made the bed that had been load #1, and read Nate's library book to him and Matthias before laying Matty down for a nap.


From 2 to 4, I spent a little time doing some writing exercises from this amazing book I'm reading, went outside and hit baseballs with Nate, and watched Krypto the Superdog with my boys.


From 4 until 5, I helped with homework and FINALLY took a shower (which is not always guaranteed to happen).


5 to 6.  I made dinner, began sorting through the pictures I had been taking of my day, fed Matthias (he couldn't wait another second), and gave him a bath while sneaking in a little time with my book.


From 6 until 8pm, we ate dinner, I played (and beat) Adele in cards, we enjoyed some cookie bars that Elise had made us, had some book and bible time, and put the kids to bed.


And finally, with the kids all in bed, from 8 until 11pm, we spent a little time on our computers, drank some tea, watched Project Runway, I worked on this blog entry, played Anthony in cards (and lost), I folded and put away laundry load #3, and we read a little in bed.


There you go!  All in all, I'd say it was a good day.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Buttermilk Biscuits.

Few things make you feel as warm and cozy as a nice, fluffy, buttery biscuit.


We love the biscuit recipe that's in the trusty Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that we got as a wedding present.  It's simple, quick and super yummy.  Before I give you the recipe though, I should note that while the ingredients are from the book, I have my own way of making the biscuits and the directions are entirely my own.  Guess if you want their way of doing it, you will have to buy the cookbook.

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Directions:
Cut butter down into small cubes and microwave for about 15 seconds to soften.  (The original recipe has you cutting cold butter in, but you will get fluffier biscuits if it is a bit warmed up.)

Add all of the dry ingredients on top and combine with the butter.  Pour buttermilk into mixture and gently combine.  You never want to overwork biscuit dough.  If you feel as though there is too much of the dry ingredients that aren't combining, add a little more buttermilk, but don't add too much because the dough will get really sticky to work with.

Turn dough out onto a cookie sheet with raised sides.  (The butter tends to melt and pool, which makes a great crispy bottom if contained and a big smokey mess if not.)  Form dough into a large rectangle about 3/4 inch in height.  Cut into squares.  I usually cut it down into 12 squares.  Separate out the squares on the cookie sheet.

Bake in the oven at 450 degrees for about 10 to 12 minutes or until their tops are beginning to brown slightly.  Remove and eat them while they're warm.

So so good.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

YouTube Tuesday.

Listen, I have a mild YouTube addiction.  There are times when it just sucks me in.  Anyway, so what is an addiction if it isn't shared?!

So, here is one of my favorite clips ever.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 23, 2013

What is Normal?

So after almost a year of adjusting to life with Matthias, I got myself walking again in hopes of FINALLY tackling the last decade (yes, DECADE) of baby weight. It's been almost 6 weeks since I have been walking and I have recorded over 125 miles so far. As of this morning, my total weight loss so far has been...wait for it...+2lbs. WHAT. THE. HELL.

Here's the thing, when I was growing up my parents never worked out. NEVER. They were both active in life, ate decently and looked great. Like 2 "normal" adults should. No six-packs. No large fat roles. They didn't live an extreme life one way or the other and they didn't look extreme one way or the other. They looked normal.

And I guess I figured the same would be true for me.

But it isn't the same. And I'm really frustrated.

I am someone who loves balance. I'm a healthy eater for the most part, but I love a good burger or a slice of pizza, and I'm not going to refuse an offered bowl of ice cream. That would just be plain rude. And when I am in a restaurant, I find it so disheartening to have the person I'm with order a bowl of lettuce, with all that makes it worth eating removed. But I don't eat out much and we don't splurge much with burgers and stuff, so to me, when I get the chance, I go for it.

I believe that food was meant to be enjoyed. If it wasn't than God could easily have just provided us with what we needed for nutrition and left out beautiful things like mangos and chocolate and wine...but He didn't, so if we aren't enjoying food, well, I'm not convinced that we are living as God would have us.

And then there is exercising. I HATE running and have no desire to be a runner. I don't want to do CrossFit or go to the gym 5x a week. I want to be active and healthy. I want to feel good about how I look, but have NO desire to wear a bikini again. I don't believe that our bodies were meant to be pushed the way that we expect to push them these days. Were they meant to move and work, yes, but run 6 miles? No.

Some people are going to say that they enjoy running. Heck, Anthony is training for the KC marathon and I'm really proud of him for it. Others are going to try to convince me that they actually do enjoy that sugar-free, wheat-free crap that they pretend is food. Whatever. But to me these things are extremes and shouldn't be necessary to look "normal".

I don't want a rock hard body. I like a softness to a woman. There is something so feminine and lovely to gentle curves compared with jutting out bones and overly sculpted muscles. I personally think that having 5 extra pounds on your frame is worth it if that means that you aren't obsessing over every calorie consumed and burned.

Of course, I've got 20 extra...and that sucks.

But most importantly, I have 3 girls that I am raising in this house and I want them to do this balance well. I actually don't agree with the whole sentiment that mom's should never reveal that they are having a fat day to their daughters. Look before long they are going to look in the mirror and feel that way, and I want them to be able to come downstairs to me, knowing that I understand and can give them the hug and the "that sucks" that they need. The struggle is real and okay. And I hope that I show them not only that but that in the grand scheme of things, fat days aren't what matter.

I want them to feel "normal" in their bodies even when 4 pregnancies give them a stomach that resembles Kate Gosselin...post-sextuplets...pre-tummy tuck. I want them to enjoy food and being active without all the guilt that so often comes along with it. Even now at 9, 8, and 6, they are noticing the way other women in our family eat. They see the differences and are asking questions. And I want to teach them about balance...

But I also want to lose 20 lbs. I just want to feel normal, but instead I feel a little lost.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam.

Our breadmaker has a jam program.

Now canning has always made me nervous, but I can put things in a breadmaker, so this summer as we filled our house with fresh picked strawberries, I bit the bullet and made some jam.


OH. MY. WORD.

I have since made strawberry rhubarb and blueberry lime jams, both from recipes in the handy-dandy little recipe book that came with our bread machine. And let me tell you, we loved it. In fact, not counting the jam that came this week in our CSA, we have not bought any from the store since our first trip to the strawberry patch back in June. And we are a pb&j at lunch every day kind of family, so we eat a good deal of jam.

Anyway, so just in case you are lacking the little recipe book that came with our Cuisinart Breadmaker, and have a hankering for jam, here is the recipe.

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, stemmed and quartered or halved
  • 12 ounces fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered pectin [I actually use a touch more than that]
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:
Place half the strawberries in a bowl with 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar.  Use a potato masher or fork to mash roughly until strawberries are still slightly chunky, with some liquid. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Transfer the bread pan fitted with the kneading paddle. Place the bread pan in your bread maker. Press Menu and select Jam. Press Start. Scrape the sides of the pan 10 to 15 minutes into the cycle.

Transfer jam to clean jars. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate. Keeps refrigerated 4 to 6 weeks.

There is just something so wonderful about seeing little mason jars filled with homemade goodies in the fridge that makes me so happy.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Party.

On Sunday we threw a little 1st birthday party for Matthias...monster themed.

As a rule, we no longer throw kid parties.  Let's just leave it at when it came to the point where the parties no longer felt like they were about celebrating our kiddos, I nixed them.  But this was Matthias's first birthday and sometimes exceptions just need to be made.

I took some pictures of the party and then my sister-in-law sent me the pictures that she took...I'm only sharing hers.  She rocks.

Enjoy!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

One.

Matthias is one.  Just like that, my baby is one.


There is something about no longer saying his age in terms of months now that is so bittersweet.  I love each new stage and watching my kiddos get older, but this is my BABY.  And he is becoming less baby every day.


This last year has been amazing.  Not easy, but truly amazing.  Tonight as the seven of us sat together in the loft, watching Matthias spin in circles on his butt (that's the extent of his "crawling"), we talked about all that we love about the tiny little man.

His smile.
The fact that he gave Nate the brother Nate has so wanted.
The way he loves all of us.
How he loves books.
What a good eater he is.
How cute and sweet he is.

More than anything though, I have been so thankful for how we all have enjoyed him together.  We have never had jealousy amongst the kids...it has truly been one big Lovefest over this rusty haired little buddy.


Happy Birthday, Matthias.  I'm sorry I got all teary and held you so tight to me today.  But you are my baby and while I hope you grow up to be an amazing man, please, don't do it too quickly.

I love you sweet boy...we all do.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Picking GOOD books for your kids.

Let's talk about how to build a child's library.  Not that we are authorities on the subject per se, but we do have 5 kids...so let's just call us experienced.

It took us 8 months to get pregnant with Adele, and during that time I began acquiring books for her.  I had gotten some Scholastic thing in the mail.  You know what I'm talking about, those mailers where you get 10 books for $1 or something like that.  So I started ordering and Anthony, bless his sweet heart, just smiled at me.

That was the beginning of our book collecting and you know what, they were all the wrong books to collect.  In fact, I'm not sure we have any of them left.

Building a good library for your kids is an amazing thing to do.  But just filling your kids bookshelves with crappy books is not.  So, what are the right books?  Here's what I have learned...

Buy hardcovers when you can.  There is definitely a temptation to buy the cheapest version of whatever book you are wanting, especially considering the fact that there is a good chance that they are going to destroy the book anyway, but this is a mistake.  Consider it one of those great opportunities to teach your kids that there are things that they can't do whatever they want to.  Teach them to treat books with respect.  You'll be amazed at how young you can teach them to turn the pages at the corner.


But if you are in a pinch and really need a book for your baby to just go to town on, try one of these indestructible ones (Matthias loves his)...


Avoid teaching books.  I get it.  You beam with pride when your kiddo says "duck" while pointing at the picture of the bright yellow ducky.  But there are plenty of opportunities during everyday life for lessons on which animal is which.  Those books are PAINFUL to read at best.  Spend time with books that are wonderful to read.  Especially considering the fact that you are going to read it again and again and again and again.


Get classics.  Collect the books that YOU loved as a kid.  There is nothing sweeter than sharing something that you loved when you were their age.  Plus, you'll enjoy the trip down memory lane.


Buy books that are beautifully illustrated.  I'm amazed at how many books there are out there in which the illustrations seem like an afterthought.  The books you collect should have illustrations that your kiddo can "read" as they grow older.  And again, the better they are, the less it will bother you when you read it for the 50th time that day.


DON'T buy books based off TV shows and movies.  We had a plethora of Disney and Sesame Street books and I have gotten rid of ALL of them with the exception of...


Your kiddo is getting plenty of princess and Elmo attention on the TV (yep, we sure do watch TV), so open their eyes up to other stories.  Plus, those books are rarely worth it.  Most of them are just slapped together, trusting that you won't care since you already know the story they are telling.


Find books to create traditions with.  There is no sweeter way to teach kids to love books than to attach special meanings to them.  I still love the copy of Twas the Night Before Christmas that my dad read every Christmas Eve to us.  And part of me pictures him reading it with each page that we turn as we continue the tradition with our kids.  I love that.  And we have our own book tradition that our family loves.  Find one for your family.


Reading books with your kids isn't just about helping them get ready to perform well in school.  Good books can teach them about the beauties of story telling and art.  They can inspire them to be more imaginative and empathetic.

Good books are worth it...so don't fill your shelves with crap.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thank you...


Any Jimmy Fallon fans out there?!

So far this year we have had two family assignments sent home...one for Nate and one for Lucy, both for me.

Each assignment was a page that we were supposed to fill with photos, pictures from magazines...a bunch of stuff about what our kids love and do. Now we have done a million of these things over the years and each time I could be found the night before, stressing over finding all these pictures to represent our kids.

This year, however, I wised up...or at least got smarter with my procrastination. Here's how both projects have gone down...

Kid:  Mom, tomorrow is the last day for me to bring to school that page that we were supposed to do.
Mom: Crap!  [said in my head or at least quietly]  Ummm.  Okay.  Hmmm.  I know!  Grab the camera!

The next 15 minutes then consisted of the two of us running around the house taking pictures of them doing things...


Anthony:  Shouldn't you have them change clothes or something?
Me:  [death stare]  Did you want to be in charge of this?
Anthony:  I'm sure it will be great.

Quick download on the computer.
Quick visit to Walgreens.com.
Quick visit to Walgreens with less than $2 to spend.
A little tape and voila!  Completed family project!!

Worth taking a picture of?  Nope.  Do I care?  Nope.  Will my kids suffer academically?  NOPE.

Now that we are all done with the project and I have all this extra time on my hands, let's get back to Jimmy Fallon...

I.  Heart.  Jimmy Fallon.  Which is funny because we never stay up late enough to ever watch his show.  That reminds me...


Come on!  He is just the cutest.  And don't worry, Anthony doesn't mind my crush at all, in fact, he has would probably admit to crushing on Jimmy too!  So, in case you are confused by the Thank You note reference, meet my inspiration...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.


My love for strawberry rhubarb pie started as a child.  It is my dad's absolute favorite and we ate it a lot growing up.  (We also ate a lot of goulash thanks to my dad, but I will NOT be posting a recipe for that.)

So this summer, after some family strawberry picking, I hunted down a recipe for the beloved pie and found a beauty.  This recipe is apparently originally from Saveur magazine, but I found it on Taste of Home, where it was toted as the one Cindy Crawford makes.  So apparently you will also end up looking like a supermodel if you eat it.  In other words, WINWIN.

Ingredients:
for the crust
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 tbsp. cold milk

for the filling
  • 1 1/4 cup plus 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 cups halved strawberries
  • 2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, cut up
  • 2 tsp. milk

Directions:
for the crust
Preheat oven to 400°. Mix flour and salt. Measure oil and milk together—don't stir. Add to flour. Make crust on wax paper.

for the filling
Mix sugar, flour, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add fruit, stirring to coat. Can set aside in fridge and then drain later. Note: If adding blueberry or peach, add lemon zest.

Fill crust with filling. Scatter butter. Add top crust. Pinch edges and ventilate the top. Brush with milk. Sprinkle sugar on top. Bake on cookie sheet for 50 minutes. Can cover edge with tinfoil if cooking too fast.

Allow to cool 1 hour before serving.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Anthony.

We have had an amazing summer with Anthony around.  Truly we have been spoiled.  The kids have had a blast with their dad.  Anthony and I have loved our time hanging with the just the littlest Dummermuth since school has started.  And what can I say, I love every extra minute I get with the guy.  (Well, you know, except for those times when he is driving me crazy!)

Anthony and I have also had a lot of fun getting ready for his practice to open.  We found him the perfect office, at the perfect location, for a great price.  We got a great deal on the sofa that he just loved.  We've gotten him business cards and made him a website.  And we spent the weekend setting everything up.  He is just so happy.  And I am so happy for him.

It is a new season for us all and while I know there will be some tougher adjustments, we are so excited about it.

Anyway, so here is his new website.  If you know anyone in the Kansas City area that needs a good counselor, I'm telling you, this guy is amazing.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Belton.

Maybe not everyone celebrates their fish's birthday, but we do! It probably stems from the fact that our current fish, Belton, was our first pet to ever reach a birthday. (We've only had fish until we got Huckleberry this year.)

So, how do we celebrate a fish's birthday? Well, we buy him a new plant for his bowl...


And we eat a fish dinner!


Sorry if that offends some of you, but come on! We celebrate our fish's birthday!!

Actually, in some ways Belton is a special fish to us. We bought him a couple of months after leaving the church we had been going to for a long time and he was kind of this symbol of a new beginning. Ironically, it was on his birthday last year that we received news that ended up causing us to take yet another direction in our lives, and today, is the first official day of Anthony's counseling practice being open...so yeah, we celebrate our fish.

Happy Birthday Belton! Hope your new plant doesn't stress you out as much as the one you got last year did!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Simple Summer Salad.

We don't eat a lot of salad in our house.  I'm not entirely sure why.  It just isn't our thing.

But this summer I found a simple salad that our entire family loves.  It came out of frustration one day, when I didn't know what to serve at dinner.  I just grabbed a few vegetables from the fridge, squirted some lemon on them and called it a salad.  AND NO ONE COMPLAINED.  Since then it has been a summer staple for us.


Ingredients:
  • two medium tomatoes
  • one cucumber
  • half an onion (we like yellow ones)
  • one lemon
  • sea salt
  • pepper

Directions:
Cut the tomatoes, cucumber, and onion half into small cubes of equal size and place in a medium bowl.  (It looks nicer when they are all about the same size.)  Zest the entire lemon on top of the vegetables.  Juice the lemon and pour all of the juice over the veggies.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Toss and enjoy!

Super simple.  Super delicious.