Pie for those who don’t like pumpkin (and you know who you are)

Although we usually bring the same things to Thanksgiving dinner at the Tighe family gathering, this year I volunteered to bring the pies as well. Of course pumpkin was on the agenda since Papa Tighe loves it, but a couple of our ruffians don’t really care for it. Those who don’t like it appreciated this alternative, so I thought I’d share it with you. The recipe is nothing spectacular or involved, but it is yummy! As an added bonus, the pies themselves turned out exceptionally pretty this time. I don’t feel like I can take credit for it, though, because it wasn’t like I knocked myself out trying to create artwork for the crust. By 9:30 on Wednesday evening, honestly I was just looking to cross the next thing off my list so I could drop into bed. And since we had a disaster barely diverted with the pumpkin pies earlier in the day, I was willing to take whatever I could.

Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Pie

1 (9-inch) unbaked deep dish pie shell* (4-cup volume)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup (6 ounces) NESTLÉ TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts
Sweetened whipped cream or ice cream (opional)
Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).
Beat eggs in large mixer bowl on high speed until foamy. Beat in flour, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat in butter. Stir in morsels and nuts. Spoon into pie shell.
Bake oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Serve warm with whipped cream.
Makes 8 servings.

*If using frozen pie shell, use deep-dish style, thawed completely. Bake on baking sheet; increase baking time slightly.

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Snow! (…well, sort of….acutally, more of a heavy frost….but still! white stuff on the ground!)

This morning we woke up to the first “snow” of the season and, as one would expect any child to react (at least until they’re ready for spring), our children all responded with squeals of delight and screams of joy. As someone who grew up in Michigan, I was wholly unimpressed, but I didn’t want to squelch the kids’ excitement. They requested to go outside and play, and why shouldn’t they? By the time they got into clothes and dredged up a coat and hat, the sun had melted most of the snow, but that didn’t stop them.

Here’s what the ground looked like:

And here is how Hannah dressed Chloe:

Here are a few videos to share of them sucking the marrow out of what little snow was on the ground….

When they tired of sledding, the girls came inside and the boys (minus Patrick who is with Todd shooting another video this morning) moved to the backyard to make a snowman. Here’s the finished product:

All in all, in the eyes of a kid, it was a very good morning.

CC Thanksgiving Feast

One of the best Mondays of the semester on our CC campus has to be the Thanksgiving Feast Monday, partly because we get to share a turkey dinner together after the morning classes, but also because everyone is encouraged to dress up as anything (or anyone) that we’ve studied during the year so far. It can be an historical figure from the timeline or history sentences, or something more abstract from any of the other subjects. Last year one boy was a Tin Whistle and one of the tutors dressed as Mt. Vesuvius. I was impressed with everyone’s creativity and enjoyed seeing their interpretations. Our family became The 7 Wonders of the Ancient World (one of our history sentences) and had fun decorating cheap top hats we’d found at the local party store to look like the Temple of Artemis, the Hanging Gardens, the Great Pyramids, and others. Ken from Ken and Barbie fame even got in on the action and became our rendition of the Colossus of Rhodes. It was a fun way to create a family theme and since there were seven of us, it worked out perfectly.

This year, even though I had given some thought to it, nothing really jumped out at me in terms of something we could as a family. Originally I thought Hannah would not be able to be a part of the morning festivities since normally they begin class earlier than we do, so I was trying to think of a group of 5. Plus, the idea of trying to put 5 costumes together on a shoestring budget (without ending up wearing shoestrings for our costumes!) did not exactly appeal to me. Then after a brainstorming session with Todd, I started to get the idea that we eventually used. As you can see from the pictures below, we are a motley crew, but our intended theme is The Feudal System. I thought it would be clever to go in reverse order. Once I contacted a friend to see if we could raid the costume closet from our church’s musicals, the idea began to come together. Another friend sent me part of a knight’s costume from Arizona (which arrived in the nick of time on Saturday) and borrowed a few more pieces from a local friend, thus completely our costumes with almost no money spent. Todd helped me by making Andrew’s hat and the sign we held, and everything came together nicely.

Our cast of characters went as follows:

Andrew, the smallest boy, was the Pope, the head of the entire Feudal System. His hat speaks for itself.
Ben was the King, the lord over all the Manor.
Since neither of the remaining boys wanted to dress like a Nobleman in tights and pointy shoes, the position was filled by a sign instead, which you can see in the slideshow.
This meant that both Patrick and Brendan dressed as knights, but we support a strong military anyway, so that worked out well. (With pleather hats, plastic swords, and fabric chain mail, it’s a good thing there were two of them.)
I was a lowly serf and dressed like a peasant. I’m thinking about wearing those serf pants tomorrow for Thanksgiving since they were so roomy and stretchy…they would easily allow for seconds or thirds on our turkey dinner!

Hannah’s class had decided earlier that they were going to dress in a general medieval theme, so she was able to dress with them and with us and looked like royalty in her queenly garb. While we were in the costume closet, Brooke found a medieval princess costume that she said no one had ever been able to wear. It fit Chloe perfectly and she was tickled to be able to dress in such a cute costume! Little did I know that she would have to wear it all day. As we were packing up to leave for the day, I threw what I thought was a dress in the bag for her so she could change into something more comfortable after our costume parade. Later I found out that I had actually packed a tunic, so she was unable to change. She kept telling me, “I don’t have any pants! I don’t have any pants!” Oops. At least she took very good care of the purple dress.

At the end of the costume contest, our family won second place for some amazing category that none of us can remember. Does that make it even more special?

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One other note: There is one picture included of Hannah and two of her buds from the Challenge class, and one from my class of boys pus Chloe minus one boy who couldn’t be there. What a great group of energetic future men!

Baby Fever

As I reported in an earlier post, my double classes just finished a week ago, and I looked forward to a bit of rest from childbirth for just a few weeks before a new class starts. I had one couple out of ten who approached me about being their doula, but because of the project I had scheduled to work on full-tilt as soon as my classes finished through the end of the year (in addition to school with the kids, trying to keep up the house, getting ready for Christmas, and just breathing in the free minutes), I felt that I had to decline. Another deciding factor was that they lived and were planning to birth their baby about 40 minutes outside Lexington. That decision held until Wednesday, however, when I received a message from said couple who shared devastating news. The midwife that they’d chosen and worked with through 39 weeks of their pregnancy had suddenly lost her husband and would understandably not be available for their birth. With the doctor in the same practice being less than intervention-free friendly, the couple came very close to full panic mode. When they called me and asked (I wouldn’t go all the way to begging!) me to consider reconsidering, it was clear that they needed support. Todd and I talked about it and after looking through our schedules, realized that the only answer was yes.

That evening, we talked on the phone and discussed a few days that I knew I would absolutely not be able to join them if they were to go into labor–our homeschool co-op was one, and Thanksgiving was quickly approaching. Since birth (when it is left alone and allowed to progress on its own) can be very unpredictable, that was about all the planning we could do. It added one more thing to our already packed schedule, but I was also excited to have the chance to help out at my first birth since last December.

Early the next morning the far-away sounds of my phone beeping with a text message alert slowly woke me up. The message started with ‘her water broke’ and went on with other details. At 4 in the morning, my brain wasn’t working that well but even after a minute or two, I still didn’t recognize the number. “Surely not,” I thought to myself…. The mom I spoke to the night before had reported that she hadn’t had any signs of labor. “Surely not,” I repeated as I desperately tried to think of who else it could be. Sure enough, it was her.

For the next couple hours or so, we communicated back and forth and thankfully her labor started soon after her membranes ruptured. Spontaneous labor is such a good thing. I tried to get some sleep, but it seemed that every time I dozed off, I would get another text message. By 6:30 or so she was already complaining that they were close together and hard. It was obvious that baby day would be today and that it hadn’t even been 24 hours earlier that we’d talked about working together. Sometimes I wish I embraced spontaneity more than I usually do, but it was a good day from my selfish perspective to be away from the house and with them. I didn’t rush to get ready, but had breakfast with the kids and gathered my things to be ready to leave. As the kids got ready for their day, I tried to prepare them to carry on without me here and remind them of the many things they had to do that day. Todd was able to be at the house to help out tremendously, so that was a huge blessing, and now that Hannah’s old enough, she can also watch the brood if need be. Before I left, Chloe and I were talking and I said, “I’m going to go help a baby be born today!” She looked at me and asked, “Is there a baby in your tummy, Mommy? Is it YOUR baby?!” Laughing, I said no and tried to explain that it was someone else’s baby, thinking that was the end of it.

I left, and for the next 8 hours, was gone either traveling back and forth or helping a wonderful couple work through a fantastic birth with no interventions. It was hard work for all of us, but mom and dad were amazing. I won’t give details here, but I think I can sum it up in one word: “WOW.”

It was after 5 when I left the hospital and knew that Todd and I had plans to go to a play at Asbury that evening with a group of friends, so if I hustled, we would be in good shape to meet them by 6:30. After stopping for my first food of the day (which really didn’t occur to me until after sitting down in the van to drive home), I tried to jet home, which rush hour traffic impeded at various places along the way. Finally I arrive home at 6:10pm. Happy to see the kids after a long day, they all had hugs for me and different news bits to share. Then Chloe came up to me and looked very confused. When I asked her how her day had been, she asked, “Mama, did you buy a baby today?” Now it was my turn to be confused. “Chloe, I had to help another mommy have a baby today….” She dropped her head, looked profoundly disappointed, and said, “I thought YOU were going to buy a baby today and bring him home…. I wanted a boy…..” So sweet. Later, Hannah told me that she had been trying to explain the situation to Chloe all day, but that little three year old was convinced that Mommy would be bringing a baby home that night. Hmmmm………

We made it!

Back in July when more than the usual number of women contacted me about childbirth classes, I had to make a tough decision for our family: could we all handle running two classes at once? It seemed that everyone who had inquired about the series had either specifically sought out this method or had heard from a friend about it, so I didn’t have much luck sending them in other directions. Although it was a nice boost to my teaching ego (one of many alter egos I seem to have grown into), with our homeschool group scheduled to start for the year the same week as the two classes, I was in serious doubt as to whether we could handle the workload. After much prayer and consideration, we (or should I say, *I*) decided to go ahead and do it. Financially, it was a providential blessing, and while that weighed heavily into the decision it was by no means the only reason.

So, the week of August 23, we began our CC group on Monday, the first class on Tuesday, and the second class on Thursday. By Friday I was exhausted, but after meeting my ten new couples plus a doula sitting in on a series, it was clear I had made a good choice. The “students” appeared excited about the classes and all seemed to get along well from the start. My family all had to adjust to extra work and a different schedule, but on the whole it wasn’t too much of an upset in our lives. Besides, it was just for twelve weeks, right? Anyone can put up with a lot of..(insert your own adjective here!)….less than ideal situations when they know it won’t last forever.

Like labor, our two-a-weeks caused me to go through the very reliable emotional signposts I talk so much about in my classes. At first, it was fun and exciting to be able to teach two large and energetic groups. I didn’t mind the work and it even worked out that because I ran them simultaneously, if a couple had to miss their usual day, they could catch the other class of the week. Even though several couples were able to take advantage of this ability to switch, the two classes quickly had a certain amount of pride in being either “the Tuesday class” or “the Thursday class.” By about class 5 or 6, the excitement had worn off of the classes and it was getting to be more work to prepare for classes and more tiring by the end of the week. But still….it was doable and we were making it. Having to encourage the family that it was only for twelve weeks also helped me to put it in perspective.

Then came my transition, somewhere around class 9 or 10. Thankfully, the 10th class is one of my favorites to teach, so that helped a lot, but still….I was tired of cleaning twice a week and making snacks that everyone liked, let alone preparing for class and trying to keep mental notes on what I had already talked about it one class so I didn’t repeat myself constantly. When I told Todd the classic transitional phrase, “I don’t want to do this anymore,” he only laughed and replied with, “I knew it was coming. I just figured it would happen a lot earlier…like in class 6 or 7.” HA! He was right; it was just a matter of time. 🙂

And now, as we get ready to say goodbye to “the Thursday class” tonight, I’m thankful for a family who stuck with it, even when maybe they didn’t want to have people come in and take over their basement and eat all the snacks. I’m grateful that they allowed me to do not only what I love, but do it twice as often. We’ve already had two of the ten babies arrive and it’s my hope that the classes stay in contact with each other long after their babies have been born. I have truly enjoyed each person’s unique (and some were REALLY unique!) personality and am thankful for all the laughs we had throughout the series. Honestly, though, I also have to say that I’m relieved we all made it to the end in one piece.

Lest you think we’ll be sitting on our hands between now and the end of the year, as my orchestra director used to say, “No rest for the wicked and the righteous don’t need it.” Starting tomorrow, we’ll be on to the next overly ambitious project. GO TEAM!!

Snacktime throwdown…but not really

If you’re familiar with the book The Five Love Languages, you’ll know that Gary Chapman speaks of quality time, gift giving, acts of service, words of encouragement, and physical touch and closeness as specific ways that different people give and receive love. My love language, however, I firmly believe is the sixth in the series that for some reason he left out of his list: making food for others. It should come as no surprise then that one of my favorite parts of teaching childbirth classes is making food for snack time. I probably shouldn’t serve as much as I do, but I really enjoy it. I try to keep them healthy and showcase different food groups to give moms alternative choices if they are getting bored with what they eat. Once in a while, however, in every class series, I like to have what I call “cheat week,” where I just throw ‘nutritionary caution’ to the wind.

Having said that, this class series has also brought a baker into our home, and four times now he has brought us delectable treats. The couple own their own cake business, and if you check out their website at http://www.tinkerscakeshop.com, you will see why we have all gone ga-ga for the Tinkers. Last night, they brought amazing truffles and something I’d never heard of before: cake pops. There were collective oohs and aaahs during snack time and everyone agreed that both offerings were delicious! My mixed berry bars were almost untouched, but it was for good reason. When you can choose between dark chocolate and granola….isn’t there really only one choice? I’m hopeful that my couples will recall some of the important information we covered in terms of labor progress last night, but I know for sure that they will easily remember how lovely the chocolate tasted…

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