Sunday, May 31, 2009

Talk About My daily bread

Sunday was a wonderfully domestic day in the kitchen.  However, wonderfully domestic does not transcend to the laundry room (where I really should have been) nor the bathrooms.  In my defense, my children normally take care of the bathrooms, but I gave them the day off so I didn't have to deal with complaining children while trying to think  I could concentrate on baking bread.

Yes, yes, I get the gold-star mommy award for the day.  Thank you. Thank you.  ::bowing::

I have to admit, I am not much of a bread baker and have spent the past three weeks looking for a bread machine to "do the work for me".  Problem is, I know what I want in a bread machine and unfortunately, those bread machines cost way too much.  I even looked at thrift stores, praying before I entered "Please God, let me find a breadmaker that works and doesn't have dead roaches in it."  No luck.  Apparently God wants me to knead the dough by hand.  You are aware that God has an amazing sense of humor, right?  I'm not sure why I am always the subject of these kind of jokes, but whatever...He's God.  Who am I to question how He grows me.  In fact, if I weren't so stubborn, He wouldn't have to use such methods.  

Taking the hint, I decided to take my kids to the library and research bread books.  I've had my eye on sour dough ever since I read The Lazy Organizer's post about heavenly sour dough pita's .  First, I begged Lara for some starter and then she ignored me.  Hmmmph.  I guess she has other things to do like, make us all envy her beautiful figure (as we all gulp down massive amounts of Green Smoothies so we, too, can lose weight without trying),  express her fabulous sewing skills,  or maybe she was just taking care of her family while preparing for an important trip where she is speaking at a seminar.  Yeah...I think that's it.  She would offer me a cup of her starter if she had even a moments time to think, let alone pack, ya know.  We're, um.....tight. 

All kidding aside, I do wish Lara a safe trip and successful seminar.  Oh, and Lara, because you didn't save me, I did research on my own and now I can use words like "Mother Sponge", "Baby Sponge", "lactobacillus" and "starter" in a sentence.  Plus, the best part is....we now are the proud owners of a new "pet" that we must feed every day, unless we put our "pet" in the fridge and then we have to feed it every week.  Apparently, cold pets don't need to eat that often.  I wonder if Lilo would like the fridge?

Back to the bread.....

I'm sick of wasting money on loaf after loaf of bread.  I feel it's my duty to keep bread on hand in case any of my constantly hungry children want a sandwich.  I typically buy two loaves and they just sit there half eaten.  Mostly because it's school time and the kids prefer school lunches.  I know that doesn't mean I (or they) can't pack a yummy lunch, it just means the schools in our district do a pretty decent job of preparing healthy meals.  I'm sure I could do better, but if my children are anything like me, it's a bummer to have a soggy peanut butter and jelly sandwich waiting for you when the aroma of mashed potatoes and gravy seeps under your classroom door.   

Now I know you're thinking, "Why do you buy bread if nobody eats it?", believe me..I've asked myself that question many times.  The thing is, we do eat bread, just not often.  However, when we make sandwiches, we tend to go through two bags of bread at a time, which is why I usually keep two loaves on the counter.  We also prefer to eat more artisan type breads, sourdough, whole wheat baguettes and Rhodes rolls for sandwiches.

Despite my desire to stimulate the economy and use a months income on a new camera, I am feeling frugal when it comes to groceries.  My cart, in the past few months, has held less and less processed foods and more and more produce.  This definately doesn't make much of a difference in my grocery bill, in fact, it is probably a bit higher though I haven't really processed the numbers. Seeing my children pick an apple or slice of cheese for a snack instead of a handful of potato chips makes me feel like I'm doing something right.  I'd rather keep my kitchen stocked with fresh fruit and veggies, smoothie ingredients and a few healthier easy foods than all the crud I used to purchase.  

Which, oh yeah, brings me back to bread.  

I actually made two loaves of Honey Whole Wheat bread (that the kids and hubby loved) and piadina's on Sunday afternoon.  We topped the piadina's with turkey, avacado, bacon, tomato and lettuce for a quick and yummy Sunday dinner.  I cut mine up and drizzled Basalmic Vinegar dressing on it and instantly decided that Basalmic Vinegar dressing must go on everything.

I'm sorry for the lack of pictures.  It probably makes my blog posts rather boring, but with all the clean up and the kids scarfing down everything...I just didn't have time to take a photo.  Next time I will.  I still would like a bread maker, just because my Kitchen Aid wasn't handling the dough very well.  The last thing I need is for that to burn up.  I would cry if I lost my Kitchen Aid.  

Here is the piadina recipe if you are interested.  

Now I must go feed my "pet" and research sourdough pizza crust recipes.  I'm thinking a garlic chicken alfredo topping sounds wonderful.  Don't you?  

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How to make the other shoppers jealous.

This evening I went shopping for fruits and veggies at Sunflower Market while Rob had the kids at church for Jr. and Sr. High activities.  While standing in the check-out line a woman approached me and excitedly asked, "Where did you get those bags?"

She told me I should sell them after seeing the bag I made to store them in.  

As far as selling them, I'm sure she doesn't realize I have five children and I work four days a week outside of the home.  Plus, I'm an Irish Dance mom and that's, you know, my life. 

However, after some reflection, I realized I could make the changes I want to the bag*, stuff it with the mesh produce bags and give one away on my blog.  How about that for generosity?  I'm really not about selling things.  I'm more of a gift giver, but who knows what will happen.  I do have lots of dental work to pay for.  

*The colorful bag in the photo was my first try.  I've since exhausted every creative bone in my body to come up with a much nicer one.  You would be impressed!  Well, you know, once I find time to actually sew it.

Is anyone even remotely interested in using reuseable produce bags?  If you are, just leave a comment and you will automatically be entered into the drawing. 

Good Luck!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Teeth. They can be such a pain!

Due to a couple requests to see me with braces on, I snapped this via Photobooth when I got home this afternoon. Excuse the lack of least my hair is somewhat done. I, however, will not apologize for my big lips that get in the way of seeing all the braces.  I love my lips.

The next two years will be full of dental appointments and, of course, payments.  I used to be embarassed about all of this, but it's not like any of it is my fault.  I take care of my teeth.  All of this major stuff was due to an accident when I was seven years old.  Ok, so the accident was my fault, but are you seriously going to hold that over my head?  I was more self-conscious because my front tooth and eye tooth started to turn dark because of the trauma.  There was also decay and infection that helped all of this along. Plus, where my eye tooth should have been..there was a small gap that made me a little uncomfortable.  

Here is a list of things that need to be done. 

1. Extract fractured #8 (front tooth).  Completed 5/19/09
2. Braces (top & bottom). Completed 5/20/09
3. Extract #9 (also damaged in the accident, but not fractured).
4. Extract impacted #10 (eye tooth that never came in).
5. Do bone graft where #10 was.  
#9, #10, bone graft will be done at the same time.
6. Get 2 implants where #8 & #9 were.  Let heal for 4-6 months.
7. Get braces off (16 months total is the plan)
8. Whiten teeth (I'm excited for this!!)
9. Get two crowns to into the implants.

Oh, I should mention that the braces are purely for selfish, cosmetic reasons.  If I have to go through all of this, I think having straight teeth will be awesome. I never wanted braces when I was a tween because I was too self conscious of what other people thought. Now, I really don't care. How's that for growing up?  To be honest, I'm sure my feelings would be hurt if someone told me I was fat and ugly, but it wouldn't be because I believed them, it would be because I couldn't believe someone could be so cruel. I'd probably end up praying for them and hoping that whatever their issue was, that God would help them through it.  

The tooth that was extracted yesterday was the one that was causing me major amounts of pain due to it being fractured.  The fractured portion of it stuck out of my gums behind my front tooth, began to decay and caused so many infections.  The eye tooth also causes infection and I will be glad to get that one out, but that surgery is one I will be asleep for. 

Unfortunately, neither my medical or dental insurance will pay for the bone graft so the cost went from $499 to $1312, just for the extractions and bone graft.  OUCH!  The implants are another story and the crowns are separate, too.  

Anyway, I am focusing on the braces right now and learning how to eat.  I also have to deal with healing from the extraction.  Right now I am on an antibiotic because there was an infection when he removed the tooth.  

Friday, May 15, 2009

And the WINNER is.......

......hold your horses, I'm getting to that!!

After a few weeks of not forgetting about the Give-Away, it's time to reveal the winner of my very first contest.  However, before I tell you who the winner is,  I just have to answer some questions regarding cloth menstural pads.

Q.  How can using cloth pads change your periods?

A. Honestly, there have been no studies (that I've found) that prove they do. However, I and many other long time cloth pad users, have personally seen and felt the changes within our own bodies.  Some say, it could be a placebo effect and others just make the claim based on personal experience and/or chemical knowledge.  Although I couldn't find the link, I did read once that the chemicals used in making paper pads/tampons come from petroleum.  Putting those chemicals against tissue that is absorbant is probably the reason.  I wish someone would do an actual study.  For more information about the benefits of using cloth, I would just Google it.

Q. How many cloth pads do you have?  

A. In the beginning I only had one, then I felt I could get by with six.  Pretty soon, I just started stocking up on Essence of Eve pads, just so I could have my choice.  These cloth pads are so absorbant, breatheable and comfy that you really don't feel like you need to change them very often.  I change my pads 2-3 times on my heavy days.  Other days, I just find the thickness I know I'll need and I change them 2 times each day. Once in the morning and once before bed.  

I will give you one suggestion though.  I tend to like materials like velour & cotton sherpa next to my skin.  Stephanie dyed a bunch of white velour and sherpa and I fell in love with it.  I had her make me six for heavy days and six for light days.  Each level of absorbancy was backed with different color micro fleece so I could instantly tell which was which.  I do not use PUL on my pads since I am comfy enough with my periods and know the pads will not leak.

Q. How do you wash your pads?

A. I would love to find a pretty pot w/ a lid to keep them in until I am ready to wash, but I haven't found one I like yet.  I'm constantly looking though.  I do fill up a sink until the pads are covered in cold water to let them soak. After a few minutes, I will go back in and start ringing them out using fresh water.  If you don't like touching blood you can wear disposable gloves, but's no where NEAR as bad as changing a poopy diaper or cleaning up your kids puke.  Seriously.  Once they are ringed out well enough, I throw them into the wash with a load of towels.  Even though I have a Kenmore HE front loader, I refuse to just wash a few tiny pads.  Since you aren't supposed to use fabric softener with towels and we have a family of seven, that's the most effecient way to wash them.  Then I just dry them with the towels.  If you prefer to hang dry, I would throw them in the dryer for a few minutes to soften them up.  You don't want stiff/scratchy menstrual pads.  The kids will even snap them closed and stack them neatly as they are folding the towels.  

Q. What does your husband think of you using cloth pads?

A.  He always wanted me to be comfortable.  Sometimes I don't get to the sink quick enough and he'll go in the bathroom and remind me there's a sink full of hamster sleeping bags that need to be rinsed out.  Ahh....he's so funny.  He even snaps them closed and puts them away in my pad drawer.  I think he should get some sort of award for just doing that, don't you?

If there are any more questions, please do not hesistate to email me or ask in the comments.  

Without further delay, I am proud to present The Essence of Eve $15 gift certificate to..... 

Congrats Sarah!!  Get in touch with me by email.

And for those of you who didn't win this one....I plan on doing more cloth pads in the future and maybe even some cloth diapers.  Who knows, maybe I'll even have some fun organizing stuff to give away!!  You'll just have to wait and see. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!!

(Chloe's present to two of her dance friends was a pedicure.  It was a first for all three of them and they enjoyed every relaxing and ticklish moment.)

My sweet baby girl turned ten years old on Mother's Day.  Gamma gave Chloe exactly what she wanted...a shopping day.  We took her to the mall to buy a summer outfit and ended up at Aéropostale.  Hmm..I wonder if she had this planned out all along?  This is Chloe's favorite store even though she doesn't have any of their clothing.  I figured the shirts would be a little long on her and there was no way the shorts would fit, but I was okay letting her get the shirts. We found a few items and sent her into the dressing room.  Alone.  I wish I would have remembered my camera. It was such a precious milestone to see her model the clothing for us.  Nothing could compare to the huge smile she had on her face when she realized that she did fit into the size "00" pants and "xs" shirts.  I was shocked, she was estatic and there we only daughter beaming and me, well....I fluctuated between being proud of my little big girl and fighting back the tears because it's obvious she is growing up right before my eyes. 

(slightly over exposed, ya think?)

Chloe is a Prizewinner Irish Dancer and will be going to her second Oireachtas this Fall.

She loves Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and Zoe Girl. She excels at English/Spelling/Grammar and loves to read & write stories. I am grateful that I was chosen to be her mother.  She's has such an amazing spirit and her compassion runs deep within her.  She is a true friend and while she seems to be popular in her class, she tells me about the friends she makes that the other girls don't like.  She doesn't want them to be left out and quite frankly, she thinks they are "nicer than the others anyway".  She marches to her own beat and doesn't do anything she doesn't want to.   She is a rule follower (like her mommy) and can't quite see beyond the black and white for those *sometimes grey areas.  If anything she bends the rules to be more strict.  Huh?

How did I raise this child?  I was extremely self conscious, fearful of others not liking me, afraid to do or say the wrong thing.  I didn't like myself, didn't think I was pretty and didn't feel I was worth anyone liking me, anyway.  So, how did I raise this confident child?  She is very tender hearted and cries instantly if I raise my voice to her.  She has her sassy and extremely sassy moments, but we love her all the same.  

Here's a little organizing tip for you moms of girls out there!!

Chloe had a few American Girl (AG) items, and then was gifted an amazing amount of AG stuff. 
The trunk is full to the brim with actual AG accessories and clothing, so we needed a small space to hang some of those cute (and expensive!!) outfits.   I didn't want to throw everything in a plastic tub and shove it in the closet, so I had to be a little more creative.  Chloe would use her bookcase for everything that didn't have a home or anything she didn't want to find a home.  Books were rarely found on her bookcase, but I would always reorganize it to find some room.  When we were spring cleaning her room this past March we ended up going through all of the AG items.  Then, it hit me.   I was staring at the perfect spot the whole time.  Chloe and I took an IKEA towel/hanging basket rod ($1.99) and attached it to the bottom of one shelf. It made a perfect wardrobe for her AG dolls.  

You know what I learned in the process?  Bookcases aren't necessarily just for books. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

trying times

First let me say that I haven't forgotten about the Mama Pad Give-Away.  I've just been inundated with so many things I can't keep them straight.  I will post the winner on Friday morning, so get your entries in before then.  

We are going through a bit of a storm, which is why I have not posted in a week.  Has it been longer?  It's always one thing after the other and lately, the things aren't so little.  I'll post more in detail when I have some time. Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe next week.  I really can't say.

I will ask that you pray for my oldest son, Brenden (15).  He was assaulted at school on Monday and is suffering from tracheal edema, acute laryngitis and T4-T10 Costal Contusions from being severely choked, punched and kneed in the ribs.  He might have been knocked out momentarily, too.  He is on mega doses of steroids and cortisone to reduce inflammation.  He already has tracheomalacia and this is just making it worse.  The swelling is also bringing back headaches/migraines and he's having coughing fits because of the swelling to his trachea.  

This child can make me so angry.  He's alot like me and we clash.  I love him to bits though and it breaks my heart to see him in pain.  I can't imagine the humiliation he felt on Monday afternoon and now that his adrenaline is gone, he's feeling a whole lot more than humiliation. His youth Pastor called him today and is taking him out to lunch on Thursday.  Brenden seemed really upbeat when he got off the phone with him this afternoon.  

I'm exhausted and ready to call it a night.  It's been a hard day for us all.  

Sunday, May 3, 2009

So help me....

I am done with television!  I am at the point where I feel this is our only hope and to my husbands great surprise, I freaked out and threw out our TV's today.  Chucked them right in the trash.  A 40" Sony flat screen and a 32" w/ DVD RCA flat screen.

Okay, okay....before my mom has a heart attack I guess I should confess that I didn't really throw them out, I just had hubby put them in the storage room for the next thirty days, at least. Okay mom, you can breathe now. 

"Why did you get rid of the TV's?".   I've had a few people ask me why on Facebook, so I thought I'd post about it here.  Below are just a few of the reasons we got rid of the tv. 

1. I'm extremely tired of my children being so media focused.  
2. I'm tired of being ignored because of the tv.
3. I want more time with my kids and husband.
4. I would rather see my children playing outside than being couch potatoes.
5. I would rather see my children reading a book than watching mindless TV.
6. I would rather play a board/card game or put a puzzle together with my kids.
7. I believe that my children will start communicating more respectfully to each other and to us.
8. I believe our family will appreciate making this change.

I could go on and on about how I feel, but I'm not trying to convert anyone to the TV-Free side. I've had a feeling that we needed to get rid of the TV's for a long time.  This whole TV issue has been going on for years and we've just ignored it.  When the twins were little, I would have gone insane if Barney wasn't a daily part of our lives.  Most people are insane because of Barney, but my twins loved that purple dinosaur.  Those formative years, before my children started Kindergarten, were sadly spent in front of the television much of the time. I'm guilty of letting the TV be a babysitter because I was too tired to deal with the stress and not very creative in finding other ways to spend our time.  There, I said it.  I'm a mom and I'm not perfect.  

Growing up with TV:I truly believe that how television is used when you are growing up plays a huge part in how you use television as an adult.  Both of my parents were profoundly deaf and both lost their hearing when they were young.  I remember when Closed Captions (CC) came out.  We had one of those huge console TV's and a box on top of it that allowed the CC's to come through.  I was pretty young when CC's came out, so most of my memory is of TV with CC's.  When my parents were home, we would watch CC'ed shows, like The Love Boat, Knots Landing, Cosby Show and a whole slew of others.  I remember that TV was so important in our lives because my parents could finally enjoy what everyone else was enjoying, too.  My favorite part of the day was when my mom and dad got home from work, cooked dinner and we all ate in the living room with our TV trays.  Mom and dad had the tall ones, and my brother and I had the small ones that sat over our legs on the floor.  Those were good times because it allowed our family to be together and enjoy something together.  It didn't matter that they were deaf and we were hearing.  The shows on the tube allowed us to laugh, cry and sit in silence, but we were together.  Except for the words on the bottom of the screen and the absense of being told to "shhh!" while watching a show, we were just like any other family at that point.  We somehow communicated things we didn't know how to share without the TV.  Maybe we just lived vicariously through the characters on the television set? Their simple act of communication (without hands) was something I just didn't quite get.  It was wonderful, but clearly not my reality. Aside from television, we didn't play board/card games all that much because TV was such a fundemental part of our lives.  It wasn't until I became an adult when I realized why it was so important and why my parents loved to watch.

Oh, and for fun, do you remember this?
Well, to show you the difference....this is what I grew up with:

Materialism & Character Building:
My children are saturated with materialism and getting rid of the tv is just one way for me to put my foot down.  Not only do they want everything they see on TV, but they tend to act like the characters on their favorite shows.  The only reason we laugh at these children talking back to their parents, or parents being rude to their children is because we are numb.  My children are not the only ones who succumb to the Great Advertisment.  Do you know how many times I've sent Rob out to get a late night snack because a commercial came on?  Does anyone know why it's always Wendy's?  No?  Hmm...   Anyway, I can probably give at least 40 pounds in the last 15 years to late-night fast food advertisments.  ::Sigh::  Speaking of advertisements....has anyone seen the Cricut Expression one?  I NEED that!!

Ahem....'s not just children who are tempted and targeted.  Exhausted and hungry women in their 3rd trimester, men who love new trucks, the lonely single,  the closet shopaholic, the guilt-ridden mother and the obsessed organizer (me!!!) are all being tempted by commercial ads. Oh, and if you haven't figured it out yet....Visa, Discover, American Express and Mastercard are all drooling over our hunger for satisfaction and instant gratification.  

Praise God for Dave Ramsey, though!!!

The saddest part is, I spend time and energy trying to encourage our children to be more helpful around the house and they completely ignore me. I could spend hours making a fair chore chart and unless I physically force them to complete a task, it doesn't get done.  We've tried everything: family meetings, letting the kids have a say in what is fair, talking, talking loud, talking even louder, yelling, screaming and ultimately me crying.  

After fifteen years, I've finally realized that children do not need the latest gadget to be happy.  They need our time.  They do not need to relax in front of the TV after a long day at school.  They need to get out and burn off some energy.  They also need to have chores around the house.  They need parents who don't sit in front of the television and tune out the world because they've had a stressful day.  Something inside me, an instinct of sorts, tells me that getting rid of the television will give our family more time to focus on what our family is about. Hmm...I wonder why it took me so long to follow through with something I've felt so strongly about?  

For those of you who still don't get it.  That's okay.  To sum it all up:

I'm tired of just existing and trying to get through each day. 

I want to LIVE, ENJOY and EXPERIENCE my family.

Goodbye TV and Good Riddance!