These are days

Today I had the unusual chance to have breakfast with a few of the kids by themselves, since they woke up at different times. Instead of trying to do something else while they ate, I felt like I should just sit down with them. While I was spending the time with Ben, the topic of boats came up (who knows what train of thought led to it, but who cares?). A few summers ago, my parents had Brendan and Ben spend some time alone with them and they did lots of fun things with their grandparents while in Michigan. One of their favorite days was when they took a trip up to Port Huron and rode a boat called “The Huron Lady.” Ben was trying really hard to remember the name of the boat, and he said, “Mom, remember that boat? From Nonnie and Papa’s house? …..You know, I think it was called “The Moron Lady?” Oh yes, I most definitely would have missed that if I had been sitting in the other room and he had been eating by himself. I had to look away to cover my laugh.

Ben is constantly full of surprises, though. Later in the day, when we picked them up from kids’ church, all the kids informed us that Ben had been dared to eat a worm for $5. He showed us the $5. GROSS!! Here’s a sample of my conversation with him.

Ben: “Mom, I ate a worm today in church.”
Me: “You ate a WHAT!!? WHY!?!?”
Ben: “A worm. Pastor Jeremy said he’d pay me $5 if I could do it.”
Me: “Gross, Ben!!! Was it gross?!”
Ben: “No, not really. But I did spit it out once and had to put it back in my mouth. I almost barfed it up.”
Me: “OH, WHY!?!?! GROSS!”
Ben: “I also had to chew it.”
Me: “OH WHY!?!?! GROSS!!!!!!”

Etc., etc., with me saying “gross” and you have a good idea of how the rest of the conversation went. In addition to pocketing $5, he also moved up in status in his brothers’ eyes. That kid is something else. God was certainly gracious to me when he blessed us with him.


favorite recipe friday–procrastinator style

Is it Saturday already?!?!

Despite good intentions of getting together with every one of my childbirth classes after all of their babies have arrived, I’m sad (and embarrassed!) to say that it’s actually happened very few times out of the 30 groups I’ve taught. To be sure, some groups “gel” better than others and want to see each other after the 12 weeks, but there are others that probably just want to move on. In 2005, however, when I was pregnant with Andrew, I had the pleasure of teaching 3 classes that year before he was born that were all special. I had two of them running at the same time since there seemed to be a baby boom (or an interest in Bradley® class boom), and they were somehow linked through knowing each other beforehand or other situations. I am blessed to keep in touch with almost all of them even today–and many of them keep in touch with each other. As a teacher, that’s a good feeling!

I put all of that background in just to say that these classes were ones that actually did have a reunion. We met up a year after our babies were born to share birth stories, admire how cute everyone was (the babies, of course), talk about how life had changed in just one short year, and of course, to EAT. (if you’ve taken my class, you know that I like to make snacks.) One of the families brought this delicious corn dip to the party and I couldn’t eat enough of it–neither could anyone else. It was fantastic, but it was a while before I got her recipe for it, so I went hunting for my own version. It’s well worth trying, and definitely easy enough to put together. I have made it with and without the chiles, so don’t feel like you have to include those. Every once in a while I just get a craving for this cool and creamy treat, and today was that day! (I had a little help from Laura, my sister-in-law, who had the craving first and asked for the recipe a few days ago.)

Spicy Corn Dip

1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
2 (11 ounce) cans Mexican-style corn
4 green onions, chopped
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 (7 ounce) can diced green chiles
1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

In a medium bowl, mix together sour cream, mayonnaise, corn, green onions, jalapeno chile peppers, green chile peppers and cheese. Allow flavors to combine at least one hour before serving (more if you have them). Serve with tortilla chips or veggies. Yield: 4 cups

*Quick note: 2 things I add to this recipe are minced garlic and paprika to taste. FYI

One of my favorite bowls...even though it has a chip taken out of it....

Casty McCasterson

Just a few pictures of Chloe’s cast after we all signed it and drew pictures for her. If there had been more people in our family, I think we would have run out of cast! Hannah drew a kitty at her request, and Brendan drew a few caterpillars and a cute frog for her decorations. She has done so well during her casting days: she eats with her left hand (keeping her casted hand under the table and out of the way as much as possible) and I saw her coloring with her left hand today, even though she has already chosen her right hand as dominant. 3 weeks hasn’t been too tough on any of us, although it has been a pain to give her a bath and wrap her arm, and swimming hasn’t been the easiest. Still, if it comes off tomorrow, it will prove to be one more thing we’ve walked through and survived, and on a sliding scale, this one was one of the easier challenges.

Below was a photo op with two of Chloe’s biggest fans: Ben and Brendan.

My favorite toy of summer

This past Christmas, since Todd and I bought a new TV for the house, we decided that we weren’t going to exchange gifts with each other. (Isn’t that a dangerous thing to do? Doesn’t one half of such an agreement always bend or break the rules?) Being true to form, Todd did exactly that and, after the kids had opened their gifts, he came around the corner with something hidden behind his back. I have to say I was underwhelmed when he revealed his gag-gift-of-sorts gift to me: an electric fly swatter. Really?! We laughed about it and I was relieved that he had bent the rules for a $2 gift. 🙂 Since it was December in Kentucky, there weren’t any flies for us to try out this new toy, so it sat on top of the refridgerator…..that is, until the weather warmed up.

If you have kids, you probably are aware by now that there has to be a part of their brain that doesn’t develop until…well, they have their own kids that tells them to SHUT THE DOOR WHEN COMING IN OR OUT OF A HOUSE. I’m thinking of having Todd wire some sort of device to the doors in our home so that every time they are opened, the person is treated to a recording of my incessant “Please close the door behind you!!!” so that I don’t have to repeat it 427 thousand times a day. Until that day, however, a natural consequence of having open doors is that flies get into the house. I had almost forgotten about the swatter when an especially pesky fly was taunting me one day and a light bulb went off in my head. I got the electric swatter down, put batteries in it (2 D batteries, so it’s not the weeny electric fly swattin’ variety), and embarked on a wild goose chase to catch the fly. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when and if I caught it, but I hate them enough that I was willing to find out.

You may or may not know that I have no depth perception, so it didn’t take long for me to realize that although this swatter was a great idea on paper, I was a miserable failure at actually judging where the fly was and aiming to get him. (Imagine a lot of wild, aimless swinging. Thankfully, my first attempt was done in private with no audience.) After what seemed like forever, I managed to catch him in my lair and was “shocked” to hear the loud pop that resulted! Wow! The kids heard it too and came in to see what had happened. My first fly catch!!

From then on, I have learned to love my Christmas gift (not quite as much as the TV we bought, but you know…each tool has its own unique purpose). I still stink at catching flies, though, but Patrick is a fly catchin’ king. He is so good at getting them with one swipe, so I usually give the priviledge of popping them to him. Since the kids know of my lack of depth perception issues, if I do start swinging the swatter, they all duck and cover, combined with a holler of “Mama! Watch out for us!!” thrown in for good measure. To my credit, I have only caught flies thus far; no children.

Hannah’s new haven

After my earlier post about Hannah’s bedding debacle, I wasn’t sure how I was going to get her mini room makeover finished before they returned. It wasn’t an issue for her at all, considering she had no idea what I had planned, but I really wanted to give her that surprise when she walked into her room.

Later in the afternoon on Friday, after I had time to cool down and think, I had the idea to just go ahead and order a second identical set. Once that arrives, I’ll switch out the full and twin sheet sets and return the wrong size to the store. That way, I was able to still use the bedskirt and comforter now. I found a second sheet set at the store to put on her bed now as well, so it would be finished. Back to school (ACK! REALLY!?!) sales are already in full swing, so sheets are on the cheap in many places and I found a deal.

She had been using a nightstand/table that her Aunt Laura let her borrow, a very ornate house with a glass top that she’d received as a wedding gift. Hannah loved it when she first got it, but since several years had passed, her tastes have begun to change and she was looking for something different. I was able to find a bookshelf that fit perfectly in the space between her bed and the closet. I will say that the words “some assembly required” are so much more inticing when you’re at the store! This was a small bookshelf and only a few steps, yet I still found myself frustrated with what I had gotten myself into. Once I had opened the box (and proverbial can of worms that came with it), however, I was committed to finishing.

By the time Chloe had to take her nap, we had cleaned the room, taken out the old table and replaced it with the bookshelf, and made the bed. While Chloe slept, I ironed the new curtains, so when she woke up, we were able to hang them up and pretty much complete the room. Of course I would have liked to have wall hangings and other new things, but for now, our budget allowed for only so much. I really liked the way it turned out and now we just had to wait to see what Hannah thought of it.

The boys that were home with me (Brendan, Ben, and Andrew) were a lot of help with the project and were surprisingly excited to be in on it. They helped clean without complaining and kept remarking about how excited they thought Hannah would be. That made the work fun and I was happy to have their enthusiasm!

With a quick reminder when everyone came home that the boys weren’t supposed to say anything about her room until she walked into it (which they did without a problem!), we welcomed them all home. I plan to blog about their trip in a different post, but Hannah was very excited to see her new digs. She was gushy and seemed to like it a lot! We were all glad to do it for her when she was so happy to have the change.

Here she is happy about her new-ish room.

Hannah and Chloe both like the new room!

A shot of the new valance curtains I found that tie in with the dots a little bit.

Sunday evening eats

There were many Sundays that my mom made a big dinner for the family, probably because her mom always did it and it was one day a week that (at least when we got older) we’d be home for dinner. I remember her making a lot of roasts and baking fresh bread and occasionally some desserts too. I haven’t really carried on that tradition too much, because sometimes Sundays are far from the relaxed days that I remember from my childhood. (As I got older, Sundays were when I crammed in all my homework, science projects, or English papers that I’d probably waited until the last minute to complete!) Since we have our homeschool group on Mondays and I’m a tutor, Sunday afternoons and evenings are usually taken up by prep for the next day, along with the kids working on their presentations. We have sort of evolved into our own Sunday night tradition of having breakfast for dinner: it’s easy, it’s quick, and it doesn’t take me away from getting my ducks in a row for that early Monday morning.

Since Todd and the two oldest were gone this weekend, though, I thought making a big (or at least more involved) dinner would be a good idea. When dinner wasn’t served until after 7:30pm, however, I had to wonder if they would have all rather I just made sandwiches or given them cereal and called it a day. I have a great recipe for grilled tenderloin which comes out fantastic every time, but the recipe calls for a 1 to 1 1/4 lb tenderloin and I had one that was considerably larger. Working that into my allotted grilling time, I thought I had it all figured out…until the potatoes were done in the oven and the pork wasn’t even close to the temp it needed to be. So much for being on top of everything! Thankfully the potatoes kept warm in the oven pretty well without getting mushy or burned, and the roast–though it took considerably longer to finish–still turned out great. Next time I think I’ll either start with a smaller cut or cut it in half before I grill it. I wish I had thought of it earlier! Responses were more than favorable, but when you make people wait until almost 8pm to eat, you may be able to serve them just about anything.

The menu consisted of:
Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Roasted Parmesan Potatoes
Homemade Cole Slaw
Raw carrots and dip

The recipes for the pork and potatoes can be found below, along with pictures.

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

2 pounds medium red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup grated Parmesan (4 ounces)
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1.Heat oven to 400° F. In a large roasting pan, toss the potatoes, thyme, Parmesan, oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

2.Roast, stirring once, until golden brown and crisp, 45 to 50 minutes.

7-6-5 Grilled Pork Tenderloin
(taken and adapted from

1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 pork tenderloins (about 2 pounds total)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Brine the tenderloins
In a medium bowl, mix salt and sugar with 1 quart cool water until dissolved. Trim the tenderloins of excess fat and silverskin and submerge them in the brine; let stand about 45 minutes. Remove the pork from the brine, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry.

Season and grill
Marinade the brined tenderloins with your favorite seasonings. Heat a gas grill, turning all the burners to high until the grill is fully heated, 10 to 15 minutes.

Put the pork on the hot grill grate. Close the lid and grill for 7 minutes. Turn the pork over, close the lid, and grill for another 6 minutes. Turn off the heat (keep the lid closed) and continue to cook the pork for another 5 minutes. At this point, an instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the thickest end of the tenderloin should read 145° to 150°F. (If not, close the lid and let the pork continue to roast in the residual grill heat.) Remove the pork from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes before carving. Cut across the grain into 1/2-inch slices and serve immediately.

Are you kidding me!?!

Todd, Hannah, and Patrick are gone this weekend on a missions trip with our church’s youth group, so I thought this was the perfect time to re-do Hannah’s bedroom as a surprise for her to come home to. She has been wanting to update her room (which has had the same bedding since Andrew slept in her room as a newborn) and found a really cute set that was also cheap–what a deal. I ordered it earlier in the week and it arrived yesterday, and timed out perfectly. She wasn’t at the house when the huge box arrived via the Fed Ex guy and I was feeling pretty good about how well the surprise was going and how easy it was going to be to make a big change for her. That is, until just a few minutes ago when I opened up the set so I could wash the sheets and get started on making the bed, only to find that the package marked twin actually had full size sheets inside. REALLY!?!?!! I’m so frustrated right now!! I can return it to the store, but can’t exchange it there since it’s only available online. I’m trying to breathe deeply and remember that she doesn’t even know what I have planned, but it’s not easy. I’m also trying to use my self control so I don’t have to try and return a shredded set of sheets because I couldn’t get on top of my irritation with other people’s incompetence. UGH. While I thought I was paying a little extra to get faster shipping, in reality, I actually bought myself an errand.

It’s already starting to be OK…. I guess….

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