Friday, October 31, 2008

Compromises

As I get older, and hopefully wiser, I am learning that life is full of compromises.

Thursday night I was needing to bake cupcakes for FirstBorn's Harvest party today at school as well as clean up the house for BabyBoy's intervention specialist visit Friday morning. All the while the little voice in the back of my head is saying "Why do you always wait until the very last minute?"

We went to my mom's for dinner and as we were leaving FirstBorn said "But when are we going to carve pumpkins?" At this point I did not share with him that carving pumpkins was not on my to do list this year.

I posed the question to him "Would you like store bought cupcakes for your party and to carve pumpkins or would you like homemade cupcakes for your party and no carving pumpkins?" He didn't even bat an eyelash and answered "Store bought, let's go carve."

Now I would be lying to you if I said I rolled my sleeves up and attacked the pumpkins with gusto and a good time was had by all.

My feelings were hurt that all the other moms would be looking at my child with pity that *his* mom was one of *those* moms - you know the ones who buy their cupcakes instead of making them. I was not in the mood to deal with pumpkin guts and besides, I had a house to clean.

When I shared this with Mr. Steady he gave me a guy's perspective: boys don't care whether cupcakes are homemade or store bought, they just like cupcakes. And in 20 years will they remember the homemade cupcakes or the memories of carving pumpkins?

I have reconciled myself to not making myself crazy trying to give the appearance of a perfectly groomed life. The fact of the matter is my life is not perfect and most of the time it's not even groomed.

For about 1/2 hour Thursday night I thought I would just stay up late and bake those cupcakes to preserve my image. Then I decided that going to bed and getting rest was way more important to my health and my family's sanity.

The children devoured the obnoxiously colored cupcakes with gusto and none of them asked me if they had partially hydrogenated vegetable oils or high fructose corn syrup in them. And no one refused to eat them because they "only eat baked goods made with love" which I actually heard a grown woman say one time. That would be a good way to not gain weight.

Oh and the house I was supposed to clean? Mr. Steady picked up the living room while I drove the boys to school, I closed the doors in the living room and called it sufficient. Sometimes sufficiency has to be enough. Next time I will strive for excellence or maybe even perfection but for today, it's enough.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's Time to Request Thanksgiving Books

Today* I am putting in my requests for Thanksgiving books at my local library. I like to have about 30 picture books for each holiday. I ask my boys to each read 20 minutes a day and we usually read 2 picture books each night unless we're reading a chapter book. So it doesn't take us long to go through 30 picture books at our house.


If you have never used your library's website from home before, you might want to ask your librarian how to use it. Once you've requested the books, your library will either call or email you and let you know your books are in. Then, you can just pop in, go straight to the front desk, and be checked out within a matter of 5 minutes.


Did you know that your library actually likes it when you request books from their consortium? It increases their circulation numbers which are imperative when looking at what programs and corners to cut. If their circulation numbers are up, it's a good thing.


I am the reason the library aides stand all those books up on display. Like a greedy kid in a candy store I go right down the aisle grabbing up any books with delicious looking pictures. So I don't always request as many books as I think I'll need because I am open to getting some new titles I haven't seen or heard of before.


And here's one last tip for you. If you know you are going to need want a book for longer than your allowed time (by the way, ask for a teacher's card if you home school, they have a longer checkout time) put the book on hold while you still have it. That way your name is already on the list and it will soon be your turn again.

So, without further ado, the list o' Thanksgiving books:
One Is a Feast for Mouse Judy Cox
Gus, the Pilgrim Turkey Teresa Bateman
The Thanksgiving Train Richard Stein
Thanksgiving Turkey Trouble Abby Klein
The Very First Thanksgiving Day Rhonda Gowler Greene
The Great Turkey Race Steve Metzger
One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims B.G. Hennessy
The Amazing Turkey Rescue Steve Metzger
This Is the Turkey Abby Levine
This First Thanksgiving Day Laura Melmed
Thanksgiving is Here Diane Goode
The Night Before Thanksgiving Natasha Wing
The Best Thanksgiving Ever Teddy Slater
Thanksgiving on Thursday Mary Pope Osborne (there is a companion book to this to study deeper that we will be using as well)
Amelia Bedelia Talks Turkey Herman Parish
Thanksgiving Day at Our House Nancy Carlstrom (an AR book)
Thanksgiving at the Tappleton's Eileen Spinelli (an AR book)
Happy Thanksgiving Emily Claire Masural (an AR book)
My Thanksgiving Jennifer Gillis (an AR book)
Setting the Turkeys Free Lisa Nikola (an AR book)
I Am the Turkey Michele Spirn (an AR book)
Nana's Sweet Potato Pie Gracie Porter (an AR book)
The Extra-Thankful Thanksgiving Kim Watson (I am normally against TV character books but I love Little Bill and it's an AR book)
Henry and Mudge Under the Yellow Moon Cynthia Rylant (an AR book)
Squanto and the First Thanksgiving Teresa Celsi (an AR book)
In November Cynthia Rylant (an AR book)
The Thanksgiving Door Debby Atwell (an AR book)
Thanksgiving, What Makes It Special Harold Myra (an AR book)
Molly's Pilgrim Barbara Cohen (an AR book)
Thanksgiving With Me Margaret Willey (an AR book)
Mary's First Thanksgiving Kathy-Jo Wargin
P is for Pumpkin Kathy-Jo Wargin
Give Thanks to the Lord Karma Wilson
Thank You Thanksgiving David Milgram
A Pioneer Thanksgiving Barbara Greenwood
An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Louisa May Alcott








*I honestly put some of these on hold before the beginning of October because there was already a list of requests. I will probably just re-request them when I get them so I can keep them through the holiday.

Wow. Just wow.

A sister in Christ shared this with me today.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

High-Low

Each night at dinner we play High-Low, where each member of the family tells what the high point of their day was and then we go back around and share what the low point was.


SecondBorn said his high of the day was (and I quote) "Taking it easy on the couch." Mr. Steady and I could not contain our laughter. Where does a 5 year old even get the notion of "taking it easy?" From Frog and Toad, of course. It seems he had been enjoying the book earlier and one of the characters said he would stay home and take it easy. So that is what the SecondBorn thought he would do too. Too funny.


At one point it seemed the boys weren't paying attention when we went around the table so we started having everybody repeat what everyone before them said. This has really seemed to help and make everyone feel heard. Sometimes the boys like to add silly things like the most surprising part of the day or most exciting.


My favorite answers to hear to High-Low are
  • High point "Right now" when we're all sitting around the table sharing about our days
  • Low point: "I can't even think of one"

What do you do to start the dinner conversation?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Because Every Man, Woman and Child Deserve Good Meatloaf

There are a handful of things that I will only eat if made from my mother's general recipe. They include meatloaf, tuna salad, pumpkin pie, and a handful of other things. Today I'm going to share my recipe for meatloaf.
Now, I know you may ask "Who doesn't know how to make meatloaf?" Well, lots of people. Take my good friend Jody for example. One day I went to her house and she asked me how I make meatloaf. I gave her the general recipe below and she shared with me that she had been taking meat and shaping it into a loaf, serving it to her husband and calling it meatloaf. I slept better that night knowing that I had saved one American family from the travesty of bad meatloaf.

Meatloaf is one of my favorite foods and my children love it too. We generally serve it with baked potatoes and green beans. But hey, make it yours.

I have found one other meatloaf recipe that I like to use in addition to this one called Cheddar Topped Meatloaf which includes barbeque sauce and cheddar cheese but this is my go-to recipe.

This will feed a hungry group of 6-8 people.

2 lb ground beef*
2 eggs*
1/2 c. oats (I prefer quick cooking for this recipe but beggars can't be choosers)
Salt & Pepper
Ketchup



*Typically I like home grown, corn feed, hormone free beef but it is the end of October which means the ground beef is all gone until butchering time which will be after Thanksgiving. Some people demand prefer beef that comes on stryofoam trays and others of us are married to their sons. Those people will also not eat brown eggs for various, weak, obnoxious reasons. Others of us are married to their sons. Which is not the reason I am using store boughten eggs and beef. The reason is because I was at my mother's when I was making this meat loaf and that's what she had. Why did I feel the need to share this? No idea. None at all. Call it therapy at your expense. {Note: It has been my experience that the sons of these naysayers could care less where their beef or eggs come from as long as the meatloaf tastes good.}




Add all the ingredients to a large bowl. At which time you remember you forgot to include onions in the recipe. So if you are daring, add about a tablespoon of minced dried onions to the mixture. But do not add big fresh chunks of onion because then it wouldn't be mom's recipe.










Add about 1/2 cup ketchup. Or more. Or less. The truth is I have no idea how much is there. It's better to err on the side of too little and add more later.

Mix it all up with your hands or a big wooden spoon if you are one of *those* people. It should be a moist, gloppy mess.
Put it in a 9x9 square pan, two loaf pans, or if you must, shape it into a loaf on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 1 hour uncovered.
Eat with lots of ketchup.
Now I will slumber peacefully tonight knowing that there is no reason why anyone in America should be slopping a pound of ground beef into a loaf pan and calling it meatloaf. Nor will anyone ever again have a reason to put a boiled egg in the middle of the meatloaf. Now that is just weird.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Not Me Monday

I am jumping on the Not Me Monday bandwagon today because I did not have plenty of things to add to this post.

I did NOT delete all my HGP posts because I haven't been doing my weekly deep cleans. Not me, I have completed everything on my list each week.

I did NOT tell my children on countless occasions that they could snack on whatever they could find in the kitchen this week. And when FirstBorn said all he could find was a piece of gum I did not say "Okay, that sounds like a great snack". I always have a well stocked refrigerator full of healthy, ready to eat snacks.

I did NOT let my children play on the Wii for an unknown amount of time yesterday because I was too sick to care and as long as they were letting me sleep they could have been building a bomb for all I cared. My children are always actively engaged in mind stretching activities.

I did NOT let my children go to school today in clothes they wore Saturday because I didn't do laundry last week. My laundry is always caught up and my children always go to school in clean clothes. Their underwear and socks were clean for the record.

I did NOT do a Wii Fit Body Test this morning when I knew I would have a lower weight from being sick all day yesterday. Nope, that thought completely did not even cross my mind.

I did NOT take home the box that the toy came in from Burger King last week and promptly make a pattern off of it, cut it out to make sure it worked and then try to plan a party around the possibility of handing out little favor boxes. I have way better things to do with my time, like cleaning my house and making healthy snacks for my three precious children. I NEVER revert to crafty things like this when I want to disengage myself from reality. I am always present and in-the-moment when my children and husband are awake.

And I am absolutely, without a doubt, am NOT sitting here blogging, eating junk food and watching a soap opera at my parents when I am supposed to be working right now.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Where Have You Been?


Hello dear ones,


I can't believe I didn't make it over here all week. Familial duties (or would that be duties de la familia?) kept me away this week.

Monday found Mr. Steady and I schlepping BabyBoy to the thrift store. We had a lot of fun and bagged some really great bargains. It was 50% off day so why not pick up the $0.29 picture frame? I snagged a great chandy for $2.50! I'll post pictures when it's finished. In the afternoon the piano tuner came. He was to be here for 2-3 hours and ended up being here for about 5 hours and still did not get the first tuning done. Wow. The good news is he told us our piano was built in 1914. The bad news is the last man who tuned it has been dead for 37 years so that should tell you how out of tune it was.

Tuesday I had class and SecondBorn had snack duty. I had written on my calendar to take pumpkin cookies and milk but had a change of plans and instead took vanilla yogurt with oreo crumbles. It was a hit.

Wednesday I woke up at 3:00 AM to head to Shipshewana! Five crazy ladies and two insane girls went fabric shopping. We had a wonderful time and I am a blessed woman. Thank you dear friends!!!

Thursday I had class again, FirstBorn went to the Columbus Zoo and had a grand time. Since the two older children didn't have school on Friday they camped out with Grandma. Mr. Steady painted the new office (formerly BabyBoy's room) - thank you dear, it looks fabuloso...even if you don't adore the color.

On Friday BabyBoy had an assessment from HelpMeGrow and they confirmed his speech delay. We're not jumping into speech therapy right now but he will have another assessment in two weeks from an early intervention specialist. BabyBoy also had a harvest party at his school Friday. He doesn't go to school on Fridays but we went and shared in the fun anyhow.

This morning I had Bible Study. I am so blessed to be able to join the wonderful ladies around a table to open God's word. Today we were continuing the study on James. I haven't been able to be at Bible Study for a while and I had forgotten how much I enjoy it. It has grown so much over the past year (or has it been two? My, how time flies) since we started it. When I got home Mr. Steady was in the process of moving our monster of a desk out of our bedroom and into the office. I "helped" him with that and then made a modest lunch.

Consequently, but not surprisingly, I am way behind on my HGP. Nevertheless, the crusade will go on, leaving behind but not forgetting our fallen comrades known as the bathroom and the boys' room. Next we will attack and conquer the kitchen. It will not be pretty and there will not be pictures. I've too much pride for that. But I do have a plan which is more than I had the past two weeks. I will share it with you next week - come back and join me!

Now I am supposed to be working but thought I simply must check in with you. Love to you all!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Heading Out

I'm headed out of town today, I don't even know where I'm going. I'm loading up in a van and headed to our Women's Retreat somewhere in Indiana. I am letting someone else take care of me for a full 24 hours. I didn't plan the trip, I didn't plan the meals, I didn't plan any.thing. I've got a bag for one person packed, a meal for 4 prepared plus a meal for the dear crazy sweet sister who agreed to watch BabyBoy, and I'm not even looking back. I'm anxiously looking forward to my time away. I know the boys will be taken care of and I am praying for some much needed time with the One who has been holding me up for the past several months.


Don't do anything crazy while I'm gone!


Speaking of crazy, how crazy do you think I'd be if I had this printed and framed? I think it was an accident but after I stared at it for a minute I decided I liked it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008