Friday, March 29, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 3/29/13

Jake 7yr, Alyssa 5yr, Zac 3yr, Tyler 1yr 


Happy Friday! This week has been filled with many ups and downs. I could try to explain how I feel, but instead, I'll share the song I've had stuck in my head the last few days. 

I've got joy
Down in my heart,
Deep, deep down in my heart.
J - O - Y
Down in my heart,
Deep, deep down in my heart.
 

No matter what, I do have joy. And that is plenty reason to smile.

1. Me: "Why don't you go get a kleenex?"
Zac: "I'm pretending my hand is a kleenex."

2. Zac calling cantaloupe camelope.      

3. Jake, holding a folded piece of paper: "Here. Feel this."
Me: "It feels warm."
Jake: "What else?"
Me: "Ooh, it's smooth."
Jake: "It's warm, but kinda wet. I had it in my shoe."

4. Me, emptying the dishwasher (Jake's chore): "I expect to hear a great big thank you."
Jake, excited: "Thank you! . . . {confused} For what?"

5. Our baby turned one!

6. Me: "Ugh, why didn't this print properly?"
Jake: "You need to show it who's boss. And who is the boss?"
Zac: "Daddy!"

7. Zac: "That tastes like yellow."

8.



9. Jake, while washing dishes, holding the cookie scoop: "Hey, I know how this works. This part moves like this. And then this part . . ." {goes on to explain the whole process}
Alyssa: "Just wash it already." 

10. Alyssa: "I can't wait til Easter!"
Jake: "I can't wait for the egg hunt!"
Alyssa: "I can't wait to find my Easter basket!"
Jake: "I can't wait to hear the story about Jesus rising again. That's what I'm really looking forward to."

11. Jake, to Tyler: "You're a funny little baby, mister." 


13. Zac: "Mommy, you look pretty. You look really pretty."
Me: "Thank you!"
Zac: "You look really, really so pretty."
Me: "Thank you!"
Zac: "You look lots pretty, Mommy."


What made YOU smile this week???


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Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Mission

There are days when everything goes smoothly. When everyone has a pleasant attitude, gets along with each other, obeys, and does exactly what they're supposed to. Mostly.

And then there are days like yesterday.

Days when all 4 kids wake up more than an hour earlier than normal. When the baby who has had a nose like a faucet for 3 days and is on antibiotic drops for an ear infection suddenly has an infection in the other ear as well and is cranky and wants mama every single second and then still cries because of the pain. Days when the oldest is picking on his siblings. When the middle two are tattling on each other. When all the kids are irritable. When mommy is irritable. When everyone has way too much energy. When everyone is trying to be the loudest. Days when the stress level is way too high.

That is how yesterday started. Quite frankly, I wanted to plop the kids in front of the television, turn on a movie, and enjoy an hour of peace. I wanted to walk in the other room, without 4 sets of little legs trailing behind, and remove myself from the chaos. 

But I couldn't.

I just couldn't justify using the TV as an easy way out, when it wasn't going to solve anything anyway. Sure, it would have given me a few precious minutes without hearing a whiny Moooom! But before the end credits could finish, those little ones of mine would have been back to jumping off the walls. Literally.

What did I do?

Why, the only thing I could do, of course.

I called the whole team into my office and sent them on a mission. Oh, this was not like any mission they had been on before. This one was was much more dangerous and required greater skills. The outcome of the entire operation was dependent on the help of each person.

Thankfully, they were up for the challenge.


As soon as they got to the location, they were given the first task: Put the letters in alphabetical order. Yeah, it sounds easy enough, but they were working under pressure. If they didn't have all the letters (except for I, where did that silly letter go anyway?) within 10 minutes, lasers would be activated and shoot across the room! They worked together and accomplished the task, minutes before the deadly lasers were activated.


There was no time to celebrate though. They had to move on to the second assignment: Use the letters to make 3 words. All 3 words had to be together at the same time, so there was no reusing the vowels. And remember, that silly I was nowhere to be found. They had to think and do it fast, because knives were going to fly out of holes in the walls in 5 minutes! Those quick-thinkers made Zac, hit, and young and were able to turn off the mechanism before the knives came flying.

Just as they were reveling in their accomplishment, they were given job number 3: Return the letters to alphabetical order. Oh, if only they hadn't completely destroyed the setup to make the words! It was organized chaos as they replicated their first task. They had to work even faster this time though, as they had only 7 minutes before the floor started to crumble, and they plummeted into the hot lava below! They completed the assignment and saved their lives in the process. Whew!  



Task 4 required listening skills: Stand on the letter that the each word begins with. The only problem? There had to be 3 squares pressed at all times. The only way to break the code and stop the walls and ceiling from closing in and squishing them was by using teamwork. Each member had to listen carefully to the words. I read off the sequence (words like alligator, princess, moon, dinosaur, yellow) and the team rushed to break the code. They had to hurry though. If the sequence was broken for 3 seconds, the walls began to move! They listened carefully and helped each other find the proper letters in time.


I had been corresponding with them through satellite up until this point. But I knew what was coming. The next trap would require more experience, more expertise. That they might need my help was a strong possibility. I made the long trek there, in hopes of aiding them in the completion of the mission.


The goal was almost in sight. Failure was not an option.

There was nothing to do but press on.


They had one final job to do before retrieving their treasure. Find objects that begin with each of the letters. They immediately jumped to action since they had only 15 minutes before a giant boulder was released and came rolling through the passageway, flattening us in its wake! They rushed around, gathering the necessary items. Things like football, tiger, ogre, xylophone, corn, pillow, and Joker were found and placed on the appropriate tiles. 

Before we knew it, we heard a loud buzzing. Our time was up! The mechanism that was holding back the giant boulder was about to release! We were terrified!

Fortunately, there was a clause written in that gave an additional 5 minutes if an object were placed on a tile at the exact time the alarm went off. Whew! We were safe. For now.

We still had 3 more letters to fill: V, K and U. We scrambled around to find anything that could be used. 

U - umbrella! Jake returned with a huge one.

K - Ken! Alyssa ran to retrieve the plastic doll.

V. . . V . . . V?  Violin . . . vampire . . . vulture . . . Vietnam. We couldn't find anything that began with V

Wait - vacuum! Jake ran and got the play vacuum, placed it on the square, and stopped that boulder from rolling flat us like a pancake. We did it!


And . . . we unlocked the vault and got to the treasure. Finally! 

It was a dangerous mission, but well-worth the risk.


The only thing left was to construct a rocket and get out of there before anything else could happen.


Mission accomplished.


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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tyler's First Birthday


1 year

365 days

8,760 hours

How do they go by so fast?

Wasn't it just yesterday that he was born?

And I'm sure it was the day before that that we had realized our family was not yet complete

So then, how are we celebrating Tyler's first birthday???

I always heard people say that the older you get, the faster time seems to go by. And it's true. Time is evaporating like water drops on a hot summer's day. I can't even agree with the saying that the days are long, but the years are short. Even the days themselves are short. I often feel discouraged because I couldn't complete everything that needed to be done. There just aren't enough hours in a day. 

I'm not saying that the days are a breeze. They're hectic. And loud. Busy. And loud. Never-get-a-moment-to-think. And did I mention loud? 

My 4 little ones are with me every single minute of every single day - and I truly wouldn't want it any other way (though I would appreciate if they took naps or played quietly by themselves every now and then, ha) - and the days are mostly pretty crazy. 

And yet, I find myself saying Why are you growing up so fast? Why are you getting so tall? How did you get strong enough to do that? Stop growing up! I just want to freeze time and keep my babies as babies just a while longer. I want to revel in the craziness that comes from raising and schooling 4 children. I want to soak in each milestone. Cement each memory. Lengthen each day. 

Never again will I get this past year back. Never again will I dress him in those itty-bitty baby clothes. Never again will I watch him learn to crawl. Never again will I smile at his newborn cry. 

Of course, there are plenty more firsts and precious experiences to come. And I want to immerse myself in each one. To savor each moment. Because they will never happen again. Time is  funny thing. We think we have so much of it. And then it's gone. I want to be here every moment for my kids. I want them to know just how very much I love them, that they are my greatest ministry.


As I sat here and read Tyler's birth story again and reminisced about that day, I got teary-eyed. These monumental days always make me nostalgic. I think about all that he's been through in his short life and the stories we'll tell him when he's older. We'll tell him that he was so excited to meet us and came 4 weeks early, just in time for his big sister's birthday celebration. We'll talk about how he got sick and spent nearly 2 weeks in the hospital. We'll give the details of rushing him there in an ambulance because of his reaction to the medication. We'll recount how he always smiled and never complained, no matter how much pain he was in. We'll talk about how much his big brothers and sister always fought over who got to play with him and who was "always hogging him." We'll tell him how much he adored them too and mimicked what they did. We'll mention how he absolutely loved bananas. We'll say that he still wasn't walking at a year old and how that was completely ok with mommy because that meant that he was still going to be a baby a little while longer. We'll tease him about being a mama's boy and never wanting anyone else, about making mama hold him constantly. We'll vouch that he's always been the sweetest boy.

Over the years, we'll add to the stories. The memories will grow. Our hearts will get bigger.

Though I don't understand how we could love him even more.

But I know, we thought the same thing just yesterday. 


Tyler Joseph Leaf
5 lbs. 10 oz.  19¾ in.
March 24, 2012 4:12 p.m. 


2 months


 5 months


7 months


10 months


1 year


Happy Birthday, Ty Juice. We love you, sweet baby boy.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 3/22/13

Happy Friday! What a fun week we've had. We had a great time at my niece's wedding on Saturday. It was a busy, busy weekend and wore the kids right out. Alyssa turned 5 yesterday! She and I spent the day together today, just the 2 of us. It was a week filled with lots of memories . . . and lots of pictures.   


1. Me: "You're such a blonde."
Alyssa: "No, I'm not. I can see fine."
Me: "No, honey. That's blind."

2 Zac: "There's no letter N on my shirt."
Me: "No, but it's kinda hard to tell anyway because the mirror makes everything backwards."
Zac, turns around and looks in the mirror: "There's nothing on my back."

3. Zac, before dinner: "Can I have some cereal, please?"
Me: "No."
Zac, fake crying: "But can I have some cereal, pleeeaase?"
Me: "No."
Zac, sweetly: "How about may I? May I have some cereal, please?"

4.


5. Jake: "May I give a shark a tract so it can come to our church?"

6. Alyssa  always had a hard time with words beginning with S blends. She drops the S altogether. Star becomes tar, stand is tand, stop is top, etc. I've tried having her slow down the S. Ssssssstar. Ssssssstand. Ssssstop. She could do it, but it still wasn't a true blend. Until this last week. It all of a sudden just clicked! She has mastered her S blends, finally!

7. Me, surprised: "Alyssa, your room is a disaster!"
Alyssa: "I know. And thank you!"

8. Zac, counting: ". . . seven, eight, nine, ten, eleventeen."

9. Alyssa: "You have spider power! You can go through spider webs."

10. Me: "It looks like you need a kleenex."
Zac: "Don't worry, I can do this - {wipes nose with sleeve.}"



What made you smile this week???


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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 3/15/13

Happy Weekend! Things have been crazy. Extra crazy. My niece got married yesterday and the 3 older kids were all in the wedding. They were so cute! But that really should go in next week's smile list, but that's why the list is late this week.

Let's see, this week . . . The kids and I made a special day for Leighton last Saturday, just because. The whole family went for a walk one evening since it was a bit warm. I gave the latest update on Tyler. We took the boys for their final tux fitting. (So cute!) We all went to the wedding rehearsal and calmed some of the kids' nerves. And somehow we managed to squeeze some school in, too. It's been a good week. 


1. Me: "Hey, can you do me a favor?"
Zac: "What?"
Me: "Be careful."
Zac, laughing: "What? That's not even a favor."

2. Zac, holding a foam letter h upside down: "Do you want a number 4?"


3.

4. Jake: "Is the new pope a girl? 'Cause Frances is a girl's name."

5. Me: "Are you throwing things over the fence?"
Zac: "No."
Me: "Did you throw Jake's baseball over the fence?"
Zac: "Yes."

6.


7. Zac: "Can we have some of Daddy's cake?!?"
Me: "Yes. It looks like Alyssa is already stealing some frosting off the sides."
Alyssa: "I'm just making it look better."
 
8. Zac, while going potty: "Look! It's like a super waterfall!"



What made you smile this week?
 





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Thursday, March 14, 2013

READS



My love of reading began when I was a child. I could often be found by myself, book in hand. I can remember getting a series of books for my birthday one year. I devoured one book after another. Every 20 minutes, I would come into the kitchen to tell my mom that I had finished another book. After the third or fourth book, my mom became skeptical. There was no way I could be reading them that quickly and comprehending them, right? I started with the first book and related every single detail of each and every book until she finally said, "Ok, ok, I believe you!"

Not all kids comprehend that well though. That's where READS Parent/Child Reading Comprehension System from EMG Educational Systems, LLC comes in to play. 



The system includes the parent's manual, question cards & ring, reward chart & stickers, magic finger & reading guide strip, and Speedy Speller, all kept in a reusable storage pouch. READS (Really Easy And Dynamic Strategies) works a little differently. Instead of asking the child to relate the story or details after he reads, you choose a question before the book so he has something specific to listen for.

  • Describe your favorite character.
  • Tell about something you read that was interesting.
  • Select 2 vocabulary words from the story. Give a synonym and antonym for each.
  • Tell how the story ended. Get creative and change the ending.



The program suggests that the student reads on his own and then comes to the parent to answer the question(s). Unfortunately, Jacob (7) did not inherit my love of reading. He will sit and listen to me read all day long and has just recently started enjoying reading himself. He does not read a book just because he wants to very often though. Instead, we used the questions for both my read alouds and his reading time to me. 

He has always done very well in retelling the story and remembering the details. He and the two younger kids did enjoy the question cards. They gave us a fresh look at each story and got the kids thinking deeper about each detail. The loved trying to be the first one to answer the questions.

One thing that Jacob loved was the magic finger. As soon as I opened the box and pulled it out, he got a huge smile on his face. I was less-than-impressed. To me, it looks like a witch's finger, and we don't do witches. He placed it on his finger though and proudly proclaimed, "It's a dragon finger!" And then proceeded to chase his sister around the house. Yes, he's had a lot of fun with his dragon's finger. As far as using it to point to words in the story? It slows him down and distracts him. Same with the reading strip. He refused to use it because he didn't "need it." I could see those two items working with a child who is struggling. Jacob reads great. He just doesn't like to.

The Speedy Speller is pretty cool. It's a handbook that contains 1,400 words along with common abbreviations, numbers, symbols, punctuation, and more. It's designed to help your student learn the proper spelling of words. Jacob asks me all the time how to spell something. Usually, I'll ask him how he thinks it's spelled. I can remember when I'd ask my dad for a spelling, he'd always reply, "Look in the dictionary." Now, I can say to my son, "Look in your Speedy Speller!"


READS is geared for grades 1-4 and costs $19.95. It works with any reading material, helps develop critical thinking skills, and helps increase verbal expression. I think that if you have a student who is struggling with both reading and comprehension, this might be a good fit.


Many more families had a chance to try out this program. To read more reviews, head over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.


* Disclaimer: I received this product as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was paid. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations. 
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Hot Chocolate Mix

I know it's not Tuesday, but I really wanted to get this recipe posted before winter is over.

Not that you can't drink hot chocolate in the summer - because my kids totally do - but because if I posted this in the middle of July when the temps are climbing into the 90s, people would think what is wrong with her???

Ok, so people might be thinking that anyway. But for completely different reasons.

And besides, we got one final dusting of snow today before spring joins us next week, so today was the perfect day to make some hot chocolate.

We've been making our own chai tea mix for several years now. Seven? Eight? It's been a while. The mix is a family favorite. We've given many batches away as Christmas gifts over the years. And we drink our own fair share, pulling out the jar and mixing up a cup of hot chai tea as soon as there is a crispness in the air.

I've made that mix many times.

But I had never made my own hot chocolate mix. 
Crazy, huh? Sometimes I bought a big ol' canister of Swiss Miss. Other times - if I got a really good deal - I bought the individual packets. Most times though, I'd make it from scratch. 
Here's the thing - making things from scratch takes time. (I know, I'm just full of surprising information today.) Every time my kids come in from playing when it's cold, they want hot chocolate. Every time. But not every time do I feel like pulling out all the ingredients and starting up the stove. 
It was time to make my own hot chocolate mix. Not only is it more convenient, it's cheaper and tastier too.
I started searching for a recipe and found one that boasted it was The Very Best Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix. Well, who would want to settle for less than the best, right? I found my recipe.



Sure, anyone can label anything "the very best" just because they want to. Just look through some of the recipes on allrecipes.com that claim that same thing yet have not-the-very-best reviews.

But this one???

Really is the very best! All 3 kids informed me, "This is the best hot chocolate ever!" And that was without knowing its true name. Ha.


It is rich and extremely creamy. It honestly is better than any from-scratch hot chocolate I've ever made.

And to think, every time one of my little darlings peels off layer after layer of snow-covered clothing, dropping each piece randomly on the floor and asks for a warm, chocolatey drink, all I have to do is toss some mix in a mug, and press a button on the Keurig.

Simple. Fast. Yummy.

And the very best.


And as a bonus . . .

It makes the very best chocolate milk, too.

So I could have published this in July after all!




Hot Chocolate Mix
Ingredients:   
25 oz. powdered milk
32 oz. Nesquik chocolate milk powder
16 oz. powdered creamer
1 lb. powdered sugar

Directions:
Mix all the ingredients together in a very large mixing bowl. (I used the one in this post. Anything smaller won't do.)


To prepare: Stir together half a cup mix and one cup of boiling water. Garnish and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from somethingswanky.
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Wordless Wednesday 3/13/13


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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tyler's Update

I haven't finished Tyler's story that started back in December. I had good intentions. But between the everyday responsibilities and taking care of my little sickies, I just haven't done it. Also, it's long. I want to document everything (mostly) so we have this reminder of God's grace in our lives. I struggled at first with how lengthy it was getting. I  kept trying to figure out how to make it shorter because people might not care to read it if it were super long. But I realized that ultimately, I want it for us. So we can look back years from now and be thankful for all the he overcame. Not to be bitter because it happened, but thankful that he made it through.  

My main reason for not completing it yet though? It's painful. Every time I rethink the details, I get a hollowness in my chest. When I repeat the circumstances, my eyes fill with tears. My sweet baby went through quite the ordeal. (And it's still not over, as you will see.) Yes, I praise God for protecting him, for healing him, for caring for him. But it's not easy seeing your child suffer. It's not easy feeling helpless, knowing there is nothing you can do to fix it. It's not easy going through the trials. 

So, even though I haven't written the first few segments of his story, I know that I need to pick up here. If I don't do it now, it will most likely never get written.




Tyler spent the first 9 months of his life completely healthy. No fevers. No cough. No anything except two days with a sniffly nose at 7½ months. 

Then came the shock.

Since finding out about his mastoiditis around Christmas, he's had some sort of illness the majority of the time. We kept him at home the entire month of January while his PICC line was in. Four weeks of antibiotics killed all the bacteria in his body, including all the good flora. We began trying to rebuild his immune system as soon as we returned home from the hospital. Yogurt. Probiotics. Colloidal silver. Echinacea. Vitamin C. 

Every time we'd head to the hospital, he'd come home with something. When we started taking him to church again, he'd catch anything that was floating around. 

He'd get sick. We'd keep him home. He'd get better. We'd take him out. He'd get sick.

It's been a vicious cycle.



The other day, my mom noticed that his incision from his surgery - his surgery from 2 months ago - his surgery from 2 months ago that should have been healed by now - was infected. We hadn't noticed it before. The doctor did such a great job with the placement of the incision. And Tyler's ear returned to its normal placement after he healed. You can't even see it without pulling his ear out from the side of his head. After everything he's been through, he does not like his ears touched, so we try not to bother it. Besides, the doctors were all impressed by how well he was healing.

I called his ENT doctor and explained the situation. Deep red. Slightly swollen. Some pus. Low fever.     

That was last Monday. The soonest they could get us in to see the doctor was today, 8 days later.

I began putting colloidal silver directly on the infection. After 1 day, it looked better. After 3-4, it was completely healed.

We kept the appointment though. We wanted to be sure that everything was healed inside. Also, I was afraid he had another infection. In his other ear.


Sure enough, his ear is filled with wax and pus. His doctor noted that it was a good thing that we put tubes in both of his ears. Otherwise, we may never have detected this infection. Instead of draining out of the ear, it may have drained behind it into the mastoid bone. Just like the first time that caused this entire affliction. She believes that he's probably had ear infections for a long time, but because his pain threshold is so high, we never knew. He never complained. He never had any symptoms. His doctor thinks that the past 2 months of illness - fevers, flu, cold, coughing, runny nose, vomiting, ear infection - all stem to that first infection. Even with 4 weeks of IV antiobiotics, his body just can't fight it off completely. 

She gave us some ear drops and wants to see him again in 2 weeks. Hopefully between those, the weather warming up, and our natural remedies, he can kill this infection once and for all. He deserves it.

Though he never even complains.



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Friday, March 8, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 3/8/13

Jake 7, Alyssa 4½, Zac 3, Tyler 11 m

Happy Friday! Are there ever times when you don't really have anything to say? That's very unusual for me. I can babble and babble about anything - nothing - it doesn't really matter. (No comments from the hubby, please!) This week though, there doesn't seem to be much to report. It's the shortest Smile list I've ever published. Is it because my kids didn't make me smile much? Nope. Either I just didn't time the time to write things down or there were whole conversations that don't translate well in written word. Some "you had to be there" situations.

I started using this curriculum again with both Alyssa and Zac. It's going very well and we're having a lot of fun. I love hearing little Zachy sounding out words. So cute! Jake is averaging about a book a week (usually a Magic Tree House.) He loves the stories, and I love hearing him read. Tyler has been sick again. I just can't get that boy healthy! We've decided to keep him home again - from everywhere - until his immune system is stronger. Poor little baby.

So much for not having much to say, huh???  Oh well, let's smile!


1. Zac, incredulous: "Are you serious-ing me?"

2. Leighton and I were standing in an embrace when Zac walked up.
Zac: "Aaaaww, how cute!"
Me: "What's cute?"
Zac: "You guys!"

3.

4. Jake spilled a cup of cereal on the floor.
Me: "Will you pick that up, please?"
Jake: "Why can't we just leave it for the baby?"

5. Alyssa: "Let's skidaddle! . . . Do you know where I learned that? From Jacob. He says that all the time."
Me: "Really? I've never heard him say that."
Jake {from the other room}: "That's because I haven't."
Alyssa: "Oh. I mean I learned it from a movie, actually."

6. Alyssa: "If you dream in color, then it's real."


What made you smile this week?
 
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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wordless Wednesday 3/6/13


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Tasty Tuesday: Chocolate Gravy


Oh, my. I started this post when we celebrated National Pancake Day.

February 5.

We've cut back on celebrating the national days lately. It wasn't intentional. It's just that we were incredibly busy the entire month of December and then dealt with Tyler's sickness the month of January. 

And now February is completely gone too??? Oh, my.

There's no way we could forget Pancake Day, even though we postponed the sharing of it. You see, there really is a good reason why I started writing this post up a month ago, yet never actually published it. Our camera - my camera - died the day of Jake's birthday party. (There's another post I haven't written yet. Sheesh.) We haven't taken it in to be fixed yet. (Remember, busy the month of December, Tyler's sickness in January, and what happened to February?) Anyway, we've been borrowing one of my mom's extra cameras. Hers is a Sony a700. Ours is a Sony a390. They're similar, so I should be able to use it, right? Right. But I can't. Now, I'm not the best picture-taker-er in the first place, but I can usually get a pretty good shot. I'm having a hard time changing the settings on this camera and not even getting a decent picture when it's set on auto. I took pictures of our pancakes that day, but was not at all pleased with them. Is my embarrassment of awful pictures and hurting my pride more important than sharing a super yummy recipe??? I think not.

But, I digress.
  

Last year, we made fruit-flavored syrup to celebrate National Pancake Day. It was incredibly easy to make and was so yummy the kids asked to eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! All the ingredients are things that I always keep stocked in my pantry. We've made it multiple times since then, and they have loved every flavor we tried.

This year though, we made my favorite pancake topping: chocolate gravy.

Chocolate gravy.

Oh, it's heavenly. I've said before that I don't care much for pancakes. But top them with chocolate gravy, and I just can't resist!



Don't think it's just for pancakes though. Eat it on waffles. And biscuits. And crepes. And fingers. (Just don't bite!) 

Although, you may want to skip the fingers altogether and just reach for a spoon.



 We got this cute little gravy dish a few years ago. The kids love whenever we use it.



See why???

It really is kinda gross thinking about the rooster vomiting all over our food. But the comedy factor wins every time. 

And the giggles from the kids are priceless.


So, whether or not you have poor picture quality or a thousand excuses or a vomiting-rooster, make some of this delicious gravy soon.

You won't be disappointed.





Chocolate Gravy
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
2 cups milk

Directions:
Melt butter in a pot over medium heat. Add cocoa and flour, stirring until a thick paste is formed. Stir in sugar and milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.
Recipe adapted from allrecipes.
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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pantry Surprise 3/3/13


The baby has been practicing his fine motor skills. 


No, he hasn't been creating masterpieces with paints.
Or smooshing play dough into fantastic sculptures.
Or  sketching magnificent illustrations with pastels.
He hasn't even been drawing intricate designs with crayons.

(And it's a good thing, too, because he would eat the art supplies before he could finish his handiwork.)


So how has he been building up his muscles and strengthening his fine motor skills???


By filling holes, of course.  




Specifically, shoes.

He leaves little surprises for us all quite often.

Leighton tries to put his boots on for work? Surprise! A ball.
Alyssa tries to put her shoes on for church? Surprise! A block.
Jake tries to put his shoes on to play outside? Surprise! A plastic toy strawberry.

This time was a double surprise - a ball in a cup in a boot in the middle of the house. (Kinda makes you think of this song, huh?)


He's been practicing so much that he's just about mastered hole-filling. I think it's time to start working on another fine motor skill.


Maybe next week, he'll learn to write his name.




Want to see more Pantry Surprises? You can find the entire list here.
 
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Friday, March 1, 2013

Things That Make Me Smile 3/1/13

Jake 7, Alyssa 4½, Zac 3, Tyler 11 m 

Happy Friday! I'm sitting at my parents' house, listening to Jake read a book to my dad. It makes me so happy to hear him read. It makes me even happier to hear him read when he doesn't "have" to. Homeschooling has been a blessing in so many ways. Though at times I struggle with feelings of wondering how well I'm teaching them and how well I'm able to juggle the parenting, the housework, the playing, and the schooling, these little ones always amaze me with the things they've learned. They fill my life with much joy, and I feel so blessed to be the one to spend each and every day with them. I could never write down every single time they make me smile, but I love reflecting each Friday on the memories that forever will be recorded.  


1. Jake: "I think I want to be a police officer when I grow up just to get the doughnuts . . . And maybe I'll get to kick down a door."

2. Me: "What was your favorite part about vacation?"
Zac: {thinking} ". . . Eating dinner!"

3. Zac, while hugging Tyler: "Can I keep him forever?"

4. Me: "What does Daddy do for work?"
Zac: "Play games!"

5. 



6. Zac to Alyssa because her bedroom light was left on: "The batteries are gonna die in your room."

7. Zac: "Do you smell that sound?"

8. Zac, about peanut-butter-filled pretzels: "It's ok; they're good for you. There's no worms in them."

9. Watching Zac play with his "friend" (aka his own reflection in the mirror.) 

10. Jake: "Mom, can I try something new, just for today?"
Me: "Ok, what's that?"
Jake: "Can I see how long I can sit still on the couch with my hands folded on my lap without talking?"

11. Leighton: "Where's Tyler?"
Zac: "In my room."
Leighton: "What's he doing?"
Zac: "Eating the pages off my books."


What made you smile this week?


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