Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kitchen Management: Mommy Style

So, Works For Me Wednesdays this week is themed "Kitchen Management" and I know many of you who know me well are now snorting into your sleeves at the idea of the word "Management" being even remotely connected with me, or my kitchen. But relax. I am not about to perjure myself in front of God and Everybody. I simply want to share a few ideas about managing my CHILDREN in the kitchen.

Everyone knows that kids start to meltdown at about 4:00 in the afternoon and continue to behave like teenage-mutant-whiny-turtles till bedtime. Or at least till Daddy gets home. Right? No? Your kids don't do this? Oops, my bad. Anyhoo. Mine do. The bad thing about this phenomenon is (other than insanity inducing decibel and pitch) that this time corresponds to dinner-making time. Baad combo. So what to do? How to get dinner ready without locking your kids in the closet while you do it?

In a word: Include Them (okay, smarty pants, two words) Duh, you say. Too easy, you say. Well, believe it or not, it's taken me a long time to perfect this theory and put it regularly into practice. Here are some ideas:

Beans, Tupperware and Spoons (I use the large limas, so I don't have to worry about them disappearing into a body orifice-- don't laugh, there's a family history...) They like to play 'Cooking' along with me:

Safety Knives (we use the ones from Pampered Chef), so they can Help Chop:

This one's just a butter knife:

Lots of stirring:

Child-safe closet full of interesting stuff (Tupperware, in this case-- and sorry about the old pic):

And last but not least, Groovin' to Some Tunes!

(insert mental image here of "...Cher...only....like an shorter fatter albino Cher....with morals. And no Sonny." 'cause that's the closest you're going to get to a pic of me dancing!)

Here's one of our favorite groovin' albums:

Judah and Sofi both love to play in the kitchen. They stay happier, I stay sane and dinner is on the table when J gets home. All it takes is a little advance planning, and some simple childproofing and the results are soooo great :)

Check out the Rocks In My Dryer blog for more awesome Kitchen Management Ideas!

Blog Quote of the Week

"like Cher...only....like an shorter fatter albino Cher....with morals. And no Sonny."

And now, the weirdest/coolest blog post of the week:

"It's a girl/boy/boy!!"

How pathetic am I? Let me tell you...

Last night I seriously planned out how to get a shower at least every thirty-six hours all this week. Even lamer? I know for sure that I hadn't done that (and maybe in spite of doing that) I wouldn't get a shower oftener than every 48 hours, because that's the point at which I start to be able to smell myself and my bristle-y legs really start to annoy me. So here's how it goes:

I have to work backwards from Saturday night. Sat night showers are a given. Church is at 8:30 Sunday morning and there's no way on God's green earth I can get myself and two kids (and J) into the car, clothed and in our right minds by 8:15 if I have to take a shower when I wake up.

So if I know I'm going to take a shower Saturday night, then I should probably plan to take one Friday morning, which is fine, because Friday is relatively peaceful around here. And I have time to do school with S before L arrives at 12.

So then that means I could take a shower Wednesday night, but that doesn't work because we have friends for dinner Wednesdays and I never have the energy to take a shower after 10 at night. (What can I say? Conversation is more important to me than cleanliness) So I guess it'll have to be Thursday morning. Nope, wait. It'll have to be Thursday during naptime... We don't do showers when kids are awake around here. It can lead to all kinds of weirdness. School has to be finished by noon on Thursday because I have to teach and S has ballet all afternoon. SO, ok, Thursday, naptime, take a shower... And yay! That means Tuesday morning is shower-time and I can go to bed now and not have to shower!! Whoo-hoo!

How sad is that?

Friday, September 26, 2008

What's been going on around here (and why I have no Fun Monday post up yet)

The kids are sick again-- they have this

The car broke again and we're so sick of dealing with it, we're thinking of buying one of these.

The kitchen STILL isn't finished being painted, although some super wonderful people did come and cart the junk out of the back corner of the yard.

The breadmaker is operational again! Praise the Lord!

I am now officially addicted to another internet thing

I forgot to take my pics for Fun Monday! (I am such a loser, sorry guys...)

and I have nearly died in matchbox car related incidents on at least three separate occasions.

I am sooo totally addicted to this blog

No, not this one, THIS one. Go check out the post on PMS. It's rich, I tell you, rich!

(what??? I wrote two posts yesterday!! what more do you want?? perpetual originality?? geeez...)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Autumn Babies (September's Poetic License)

tiny tired feet rustle, rustle, hustle, stumble
crunching leaves in yellows, browns and reds
September sun, apologetic, humble
slanting golden rays illuminating golden heads
as autumn babies hurry to their early beds

(Thanks, Robin, for the idea, sorry it took me so long to get it up, we've got sick Autumn babies around here...)

Mid-month Every Month at PENSIEVE
Want this button?

Sofi's Birthday

The table dressing:

The ladies industriously beading:

The cake (such as it was):

Best of friends:

A delightful time was had by all.

(A special thanks to Jessie for staying with me to navigate the dangers of a beading/soapmaking party with two six-year-olds a four-year-old and a nine-year-old. What was I thinking?)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Cade and Judah; can anyone see the resemblance? :)

(Hint: in those last two pics, just cover their eyes with one finger and then compare...)

Monday, September 22, 2008

A super cool link for you (eta: two links)

Because I am too brain-dead to post anything original. This is a really awesome site though. I am so stoked about it, it's all J can do to keep me from listing everything on our shelves!

On-line Book Swapping

ETA: This one too. The Potato Song makes me smile every time I hear it-- no matter how tired and brain-dead or emotionally exhausted I am. We sing it to Judah :) He's my Little Potato. I think I've posted it before, but it's worth another post. Have a smile, on me!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The sins of my childhood have returned upon me...

I seriously just had this conversation with my daughter:

"Mom, look, look! I found a caterpillar! Now I can have a pet caterpillar like I've always wanted!"

"Mmhmm... where'd you find it?"

"On your rose bushes"

"Oh man... I'm gonna have to spray those rose bushes.. or the caterpillars will eat all my roses..."

"Moooo-oooooom, nooooooo!!! You can't spray them!!!!! They'll die!!!"

"But honey, they'll eat my roses. I don't really want them to eat my roses."

"But moooother (yes, she calls me "mother" when she's being dramatic), what else would they eat? And what harm did they ever do to you? Why do you want to KILL them???"

And then she proceeds to flop huffily from couch to chair, out to the front porch to check on Jack, Cap and Jill (yes, now there are three of them, AND she named them) and feed them rose petals, and back in again to huff and puff dramatically at me and say,

"I'm getting annoyed with your carelessness about spraying these poor harmless creatures that never did anything to you but eat a few rose petals!!"


Seriously. What in the world am I supposed to do in the face of all that six-year-old drama? I'm thinking about taking her to Hollywood to try out for the newest afternoon soap... Mom, I bet you prayed I'd have a daughter just like this some day, didn't you? Confess now... Well, your revenge is complete, that's for sure. She's now out there giving them a pep talk about turning into baby butterflies. I just don't even know where to start.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Jeremiah has finally posted his first contribution to the promised "series" on the Pearls! Go check it out!

The Chronicles of Judah and Lillian

Once there was a little princess:

And she visited a prince. The prince liked her a lot and gave her kisses:

They played together for hours:

Until she tried to take his toys:

"Hey," says the princess, "what's up with the walking away? No fair! Hey, you! Tell him that's not fair!"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cheap dates work for me!

This is my first post for Works for me Wednesday-- hopefully the first of many. I think it's an awesome idea for ladies to share tips and hints online!

My hint comes out of our awesome anniversary this year-- number seven! Things are always tight in the summer for us, so finding something fun, special, but inexpensive is key. This year we decided to have an "at home anniversary". Earlier in the day we went to Martin's (a grocery store around here with a nice selection of gourmet foods) and bought a selection of cheeses, wines (paired according to label recommendations with the cheeses), olives and italian sausage. We rented a romantic comedy and sent the kids to bed early. We lit candles and ate at the coffee table in front of our movie. It was so wonderful! Better food by far than anything we could have afforded at a restaurant, no babysitter fees and we could stay "out" as late as we liked! Our total "bill" for our night out was right around $50. (the leftovers fed a "girl's luncheon" the next day)

We tried it again later in the summer with friends-- wine, cheese, olives and bread for five adults cost less than $75. No cooking and very little clean-up required for a classy, classy evening with friends. (And we had enough left over to have a few nice evenings "in" for the two of us after that. )

By comparison, last week we went out and even with free babysitting from a friend, appetizers, drink and a movie cost us $60!! We are sold on this new kind of dating-- especially since we found out that Martin's now has fresh-made-daily sushi and an antipasto bar! I highly recommend it to any of you that cringe when you think of the cost of spending special time with your spouse. I'm sure there's a gourmet food place in your town, and shopping for the food and planning the wine and cheese parings is soooo much fun!

GO check out Rocks in my Dryer for more cool ideas!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What I have been doing while I've been sick, instead of blogging

The reason these p.j.s look so weird is that he's wearing them on top of his clothes

This is what I call a "Paddington Bear coat"

Yes, they are puppy dog buttons :)

Now I am almost ready for fall. Each kid needs a pair of corduroys and Judah needs a sweater or two and then... let it snow!!

A list of what has been keeping me from my blog lately

Kids sick
Husband busy (like, insanely busy. as in going to bed at 1:00 am kind of busy)
Getting woken up a lot by husband (see above)
Cold again
More sicker
Sewing (more on this after I get pics)
Blog launch postponed because of technical issues
Less writing
More sewing
Laughing at Sue
Feeling better
Sick again
Hate cooking
Watched "Supersize Me"
Hate food altogether
Late to bed (again!)
Finished sewing!

(Hopefully the next few days will be better and I'll be well enough to think interesting thoughts and share them with you.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hilarious new blog for you guys tonight

Just what you need to get your Monday morning started off right! Here's a wonderful new blog by Sue-- 'navel gazing at it's finest' Be sure to check out her on-going saga of the blogger (now revealed to be many, many bloggers) who stole one of her funniest posts!

Solid Joys

The feel of rock at my back
And earth at my feet
A child in my two arms
And rain on my cheek

The sound of rocking chairs creaking
And streams over rock
Of wind on a high hill
That makes the grass talk

The sight of firelight on faces
The sun on birds' wings
A circle of true friends
The perfection of rings

The love of a strong man
The joy in pain
The pure life in laughter
The light through the rain

The road that was taken
The fight that was won
The name of the True God
And the gift of His Son

(Inspired by the final verse of a hymn by Isaac Newton)

Savior, if of Zion's city
I through grace a member am,
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in Thy name.
Fading is the worldling's pleasure,
All his boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasure
None but Zion's children know.

Friday, September 12, 2008

There will be no Headcolds in Heaven

I have a rotten head cold. Bleh, bleh and again bleh. BUT, I plan to nobly lay that aside and share with you a conversation and revelation I had recently...

Sofi and I got to talking about being dead during lunch the other day (don't ask-- if you don't have a six-year-old girl, there's just no way I can describe to you how we get from Peanut Butter Jelly sandwiches to death in a fifteen minute lunch time), and I said how cool it would be to be in heaven. Yes, she agreed, she would get to watch tv ALL DAY. Well, said I (choking down my horror and thoughts of guilt about how I have failed as a mother), perhaps, but I thought there would be so much more awesome stuff to do! Like ride elephants and pet the lions and swim with dolphins and fly with the eagles. And then she got all excited about it and we spent the next ten mintues talking about all the cool stuff there will be to do, see and eat (she really loves pomegranates, so I'm hoping the Lord won't mind hooking us up with some, I practically promised them to her...). I did my duty and steered her gently towards the idea that being in the presence of the Lord will be the greatest joy, but she's six. Honestly, dolphins hold a lot more appeal at this point. But we're getting there.

I imagine she's largely forgotten about the conversation by this time, but it's been hovering around in the back of my mind for days now. Especially since she's completely obsessed currently with the final book in the Chonicles of Narnia-- The Last Battle. It's the one that is kind of the Book of Revelations of the series and talks about the ending of Narnia and all the characters (dying and) going to Aslan's Country (Heaven). So I'm getting bombarded with this on an hourly basis the last week. I think we've listened to the entire book on tape about four times now. Plus, Jeremiah is reading it to her a chapter at a time every night.

It's been good for me to contemplate this subject. I am far too ready to get caught up in "the things of this world". Frustration, irritations, hurts, busy-ness, ambition, disatisfaction (mumble, mumble-politics!-mumble)-- all those things that I carry around and make myself tired and weary with. But a good, long contemplation of the following excerpts have really lightened my load lately.

Lord Digory: "Listen, Peter. When Aslan said you could never go back to Narnia, he meant the Narnia you were thinking of. But that was not the real Narnia. that had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow or copy of the real Narnia which has always been here and always will be here: just as our own world, england and all, is only a shadow or copy of something in Aslan's real world. You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy. All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn intot he real Narnia through the Door. And of course it is different; as different as a real thing is from a shadow or as waking life is from a dream."

The Unicorn, Jewel: "I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Come further up, come further in!"

"The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the MORNING"

Praise God! Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'm excited! Wanna know why?

The new channel on Blissfully Domestic, Inspired Bliss is launching the first of next week! And I am going to be on that cool little bar at the bottom where they put the names of the regular contributors!!!!!!!!!!

That's right, folks, I am going to be a Regular Contributor to an online magazine. It's soooo cool. Honestly, it's the coolest I've ever been in my life-- high school and college were not kind to me.

So what am I doing on my column, you ask? (well, I'm gonna tell ya, even if you didn't ask) I am going to be reviewing books! I love books! I love writing! What could be better than writing about books? Nothing.

I'm tossing around in my head some ideas for how to do cool, new things with the old-as-the-hills idea of The Book Review. For starters, how to choose what to review? I don't know that I want to exclusively read and write about popular, new Christian fiction. Some of you know my views on that. One friend gave me the idea of doing a monthly post about a "Lost Book"-- an old book that has gotten lost by the wayside, but deserves to hauled back off the shelf and re-examined. I also want to do a monthly children/young adult selection. Any other ideas? What do you look for in a book review? What favorite books of yours would you like to see talked about? What authors do you feel deserve a second look? What books do you return to again and again for advice or comfort? Who have you just read and are crazy about?

Comment, email, call and help me get my column off to a roaring start! I need help! I need encouragement! I need readers and lost of exclamation points!!! I need you to post about it on your blog and tell your readers to come help me too!!

Just think, now is your chance to have an impact for good on a brand-new book reviewer. Think of the influence you can have on future generations.

(removes tongue from cheek and goes to lie down for a nap)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

To set the record straight

J and I believe that abortion is wrong. It is murder, albeit (in many cases) un-informed and un-intentional murder. And what is more, it is the murder of an innocent and defenseless child. It is wrong in every sense of the word, and in every instance (no loopholes in my mind for "health of the mother" or other special circumstances).

Regardless of how you may feel about our wisdom in considering a particular candidate, this (for the record, and any of you Googling in on a search with "abortion" as a keyword) is our dearly held belief. Please respect that and let us discourse together civilly as Christian brothers.

Post on if you will!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Who Sofi's going to vote for....

(over dinner...)

"Let me think who I'd vote for... I have to think which name I like better...(long pause, eyes tightly shut).. I think McCain. You want to know why? Because when I think of his name I think of a candy cane and I looooove candy canes."


I really hate to talk about politics.Mostly because all the people that I love/work and go to church with have such a vastly different idea about the situation than my dh and I do. But I've just got to say a few words here about McCain's VP pick.

Why, oh why, is the Christian Right so gaga over this woman? Why are the same people that "support" the family, care about old-fashioned Biblical values and encourage traditional gender roles tripping all over themselves to send a woman with five children, including a 4-month-old (with special needs, no less!) to the White House as a second-in-command with more responsibility than any other in the free world?? I'm just asking...

And secondly, which of you women who've had children can look back and honestly think that four months after giving birth you were mentally, physically and emotionally ready to be "a heartbeat from the Presidency"? I was barely capable of getting two kids into the car and out the door to grocery shop, much less organizing an army to invade a country armed with nuclear weapons. I'm just saying...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Scary story

Here's a link to make you get your conspiracy theory on...

Disappearing Baby Girls

I have yet to check up on all the facts, but it seems to be a fairly well-documented phenomenon... Scary, indeed.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Brother and Sister

Post-nap cuddles:

Reading together (Judah's lion book):

Friday, September 5, 2008


...you talked me into it :)

(the Valentine one)

A song of love, a song of joy
Running, laughing, girl and boy
Beyond the ken of common mind
The highest state of humankind
Nearer heaven we cannot fly
Than living, loving, you and I.

(the one Josh remembers from Storysingers-- our music/drama club)

Love life, my friend
But hold it lightly, in an open hand
Drain every moment of its essence
But equally, be it joy or sorrow
Take all as coming from a loving Hand
Give all as giving to the Master's plan
Laugh, love, weep, die and do it thoroughly.

Judge them kindly. I was only in high school...

Something exciting for me!

Ever since I can remember I have wanted to be a Writer. Not just to write, I've been doing that forever. My first story (that I remember, Mom will have to verify) was about a baby gorilla named 'Dommy'. I think that was in first or second grade... I've written books for children, poetry, short stories and even launched into a full-length teen novel in early college. I've sent countless packages off to magazines, publishers and contests. But only twice have I gotten any results. One time I had a poem entered into some national vanity publishing contest-- for the purchase of the $75 book, they'd publish just about anything. However, I did actually get into the book without paying for it-- some consolation. The other time I won a local newspaper's Valentine's Day contest and a t-shirt that said something about who needs food, buy another book.

But I want to be a Writer. I want to write regularly in a disciplined way, because I have a deadline. I want editors breathing down my neck. I want loyal readers. I want to hold in my hand the finished work and know that it's in the hand of (at least) hundreds of other readers at the same time.

Well, peoples. The day has come. I am going to be a writer on the E-zine Blissfully Domestic, writing for their channel, Inspired Bliss. The site is under construction currently, pending the re-release coming soon. Now I realize that I'm blowing this a little out of proportion. There's no salary, no physical publication, and I'm a contributor, not the sole author. But there's an editor! And deadlines! It's close enough for nuts, as far as I'm concerned. And I am thrilled to pieces!!!!!!!!!!!!! (see all those exclamation points?)

The only sadness mixed in with this sense of surreal exhilaration is that my dear Grandfather, Jerome Cunningham, is not around for me to call and gloat with. You see, Papa Jerry has been one of my biggest cheerleaders for twenty years, when it comes to my writing. He's read pretty much everything I've ever written. He encouraged me to keep on sending in submissions, to ignore the rejection slips because "Someday you'll get in...someday". Every time I saw him he'd ask "So... gotten anything published lately?" He and my grandmother are prolific writers themselves and have tons of journals and poems that will be a treasure to those of us in the following generations. This dear man never doubted that some day, some editor, somewhere would see the value he saw.

So, Papa Jerry, this one's for you!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

In the Life of Sofi

She loves to find cozy places to snuggle up with her books. Always has been a good snuggler...

She's learning to use the sewing machine, too. Here's her first project, a skirt for her doll, Sarah:

We used fabric glue to attach pieces of lace to the skirt fabric before we gathered the drawstring:

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Yummy Summer Veggies

Two of my favorite vegetable recipes, to contribute to Robin's request for suggestions!

Jessie's Grilled Summer Squash

(I got this recipe from my friend and tweaked it a bit to suit my tastes)

Yellow squash or zuchinni, cut in 4 inch wedges
Basalmic vinegar (I've used other types when I'm out of Basalmic)
Olive oil

Put the squash wedges in a large bowl. Add vinegar to cover. Drizzle in about 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add salt and dill to taste. Marinate for 15 to 20 minutes. Cook on hot grill until tender-crisp, about 5-8 minutes. Sofi calls this "squash pickles". It's the only way my squash-hating husband will eat it!

Greens with Bacon

(My mother always cooks her greens this way and my family loves them, too!)

Fresh greens (kale, collards, mustard, beet or turnip-- to name some possibilities)

Wash and slice enough greens to feed your crowd. Fry up bacon-- one slice per person. Remove bacon to drain. Add greens to the hot bacon drippings (watch out! they'll spit!). Cook until wilted-- about 5 to 10 minutes. Crumble bacon slices into the pan. Drizzle vinegar over each servings and salt well.

My husband, the math god

Seriously. I don't know how he does it. Here is his method of teaching place value to a five-year-old (well, okay, I grant you, she'll be six next month, but still...).

Materials (graph paper glued to craft foam, total cost: about $5):

Visual Aids:

Then you plug in a number, choose the correct set of foam blocks to represent that number (so many hundred blocks, so many tens, so many ones) and then count by hundreds, tens and ones to figure out what the number is:

By day two we're adding two three-digit numbers by adding in each group (adding hundreds, adding tens, adding ones) and "trading up" for the next largest blocks size whenever we can. (Ten ones blocks can trade in for one ten block, etc. Here comes long addition and carrying!)

And in two days he has her correctly defining and understanding place value to the hundreds. All over the Labor Day weekend, while he's "on vacation". You know, "just for fun". Because they both love math. Can you hear the incredulity in my voice, people??