Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hi, ho, hi, ho...

I'm still spending all of my limited "me time" working and not blogging, in case you haven't noticed. I've made a gigantic dent in my Disney bill, and have a goal to have it paid before we actually take our trip next month. I'm a big believer in paying for vacations before I take them to maximize my enjoyment. This will be my 3rd self funded family vacation, which I'm reasonably proud of. There is nothing like taking a vacation that hasn't touched the family budget to make you feel like a contributing member of society.

I've made significant progress this week on reorganizing the upstairs using my new label maker and Ikea bins. Warning...I'm about to wax nostalgic. When I was a little girl, my parents got me one of those old school label makers with the colored label tapes. You know the ones. You had to turn the dial to the letter/number that you wanted and then squeeze the handle to make the imprint. Words cannot express how much I loved that label maker. Apparently I was born with a deep passion for office supplies. Just the smell of an office supply store makes me giddy. Sad, but true. I should probably see a therapist about that. So, when Daniel came home and handed me a brand spanking new, fancy, awesome, hand held label machine this week, I totally flashed back to the 1980's and was immediately in love. Oh Dymo label maker, I could only love you more if you came with awesome brightly colored label tape like the old days. ~~~and we're back to 2009. Crap, I'm old.

It's rodeo time here in Houston Texas. This of course involved my children telling me at 7:25am Friday morning (we leave at 7:30am for school) that they should be dressing in rodeo inspired attire. That was tricky. I did what I could. Daniel said it best, "we are not rodeo people". True. Still, I think I may need to get them some cowboy boots and hats before this time next year, lest someone think that we are not embracing our Texas residency. I'm fully aware that you "don't mess with Texas!"

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Scenes from our house

Smurf homicide & cannibalism? No. Mama thought I had enough self control to play upstairs without constant adult supervision. She thought wrong.
4 peas, 4 baskets of laundry. How could they possibly change their clothes this many times in less than 7 days? Why is the basket containing X's clothes so much more empty? Shouldn't the baby make the most dirty laundry? Not around here. I'm thinking life would be much easier if my children were nudists.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Randomness

I can't think of a good title for this post. I'll be here sporadically this week. I am "busy, busy, frightfully busy"...name that song. I'm in a scoring session this week, so I'm working a 4 hour shift every day. I've finally found the right shift to maximize the overlap with nap time. It's been going well. I'm also finishing up testing for another contract position without fixed hours. I like working, but prefer to choose my own hours with complete flexibility. Then, I can correspond entirely with naps/nights without difficulty. It's a tall order.

We went to Ikea last night and got a storage unit with bins for the playroom. It is not attractive, but we broke down and just got what would be the most functional, disregarding looks. The picture above is similar to what we got. It is the Trofast system. Ours is the light wood, and our bins are pink, green, and blue. Once we get it done, I'll take a picture. I found a more attractive dark wood cube unit, with the fabric bins. But, I know that my little kids would tear those fabric bins apart in about a month. They are not gentle with things. We are overhauling upstairs yet again, in an attempt to resolve our disastrous mess issues. I've got shelves set up for B in her room, and told her all of her personal belongings should go in her closet. I moved a white storage cabinet we had in the playroom into J & L's closet, and told J all of her personal belongings needed to be put in that closet. A lot of the problem is that all 4 kids things get mixed together into a 4 room disaster area. The big kids are now responsible for their own things being put away in their own designated closet every night. All of the little kids toys will be organized into the new storage unit in the playroom with overflow/oversized items in X's closet. Daniel is picking up a label maker on the way home. I expect this to help with the worst spot in the whole house...J/L's closet. Their walk in closet always looks like something out of one of those awful shows about hoarding. You can't see the carpet, there are clothes mixed in randomly with all of the piles of unsorted toys, etc. Not cute.

Luck has finally smiled on me in regards to soccer. Daniel scheduled J's team practices on Tuesday evenings to coordinate with B's practice. That means he can come home on Tuesday, pick them both up and take them to practice. This saves me an hour and a half of being trapped in my car with the babies while B practices. Yay!

If you have a Netflix membership...watch the documentary "Paperclips" on instant watch. I had it on while I was working yesterday. It was great.

This ends my post of random information. I can't guarantee any mind blowing blog topics this week. Heck, when have I ever delivered a mind blowing blog topic?! Hasta la vista!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

When life gives you lemons...

...buy donuts! Daniel had to go to a stupid camp out last night. Abandoning us on a Friday night/Saturday morning should be against the law. The worst thing after a long week is being left alone half the weekend too. We tried to make the best of it. The peas and I watched City of Ember last night, which we quite enjoyed. I had scheduled myself to work today from 10am-2pm (because I thought Daniel would be home). So, we woke up this morning and made a trip to our local donut shop. I looked like a crazy woman with 4 kids, and I could tell my insistence on letting them individually choose the donuts was driving the employee crazy, but too bad for her. The kids had fun, and if she had to wait an extra few seconds while they made their decisions, oh well.
We came home and ate our donuts. Even the little Mr. had a glazed one. How could I deny him his own donut on such a rare occasion? Then we took a walk to the park and played for about an hour. I wish I had brought the camera. L was having so much fun on the swing that she breathlessly shouted "Awesome!" I think she picked that up from her sisters. The little chuckle head was enjoying the baby swing a lot this morning too. Laughing like a crazy man and showing us all of his gums. Have a good weekend!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Jammie Day

Yesterday was a non stop busy day. Appointments, groceries, soccer practice, etc. Today we are doing one of our favorite things...a shower, a clean pair of jammies, and a long day at home, times 3. I'm sure Daniel and the big girls are so jealous! Motherhood is a great gig.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Summer Activities

We have a family policy on extra-curricular activities. That policy is, that you can choose one thing to do, at a time. I'm a firm believer in not over scheduling my kids, and giving them plenty of time to play and relax. Exceptions may be made on occasion. For example, B participates in Girl Scouts, but we haven't been counting that as her activity, and it is not every week, only twice a month. Luckily J has not had an interest in scouting, which is great. B won't be scouting any more after this year...her interest is waning quickly. I'm rambling. So, the girls wanted to play soccer again this spring, and they are. They had decided to join swim team for the summer. I was all ready to register them, when I decided to confirm that they were still dedicated to the idea. I reminded them that they would have practice almost every day, early in the mornings in the summer, and every afternoon for a month before school lets out for the year. They were not feeling quite as eager in the face of an every single weekday commitment. They decided to request an Art class (B) and violin lessons (J) for their summer activities. I'm sure we'll still be found at the pool quite regularly, but we won't be committed to such a strict schedule. Maybe they will feel more inclined to commit to swim team next year. We shall see.

I know that I can get B into an art class through our neighborhood youth programs. I'm not so sure where I am going to find a violin teacher for J (preferably not a super expensive one). Does anyone have a suggestion for a violin teacher? Feel free to email me... peapodpink@gmail.com Thanks!

Book 3: Eclipse

You may remember that there was no love lost between the book Twilight and me. I mildly enjoyed the story, but hated the writing. So, I listened to book 2 on my MP3 player. I enjoyed it more than book 1. I could really identify much more with the storyline. I am now listening to book 3. I may not finish it before my digital checkout expires tomorrow. I do have one thing to get off my chest though. Try not to freak out if you are a raging Edward fan. Here I go...

I prefer Jacob. If I were a character in this story, I would have fallen in love with Jacob, not Edward. I am not Bella though. So, I understand why her character loves Edward. I just don't. He doesn't do it for me...Jacob does. I know that this means I will inevitably be disappointed in the end.

Ok, I feel better now that I have vented this into cyberspace. Back to your regularly scheduled program.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Free Zoo Day

Today was free zoo day. The little peas and I packed a lunch and headed out with some friends. It was fun. The weather was beautiful. Now they are napping and I'm doing nothing productive. I need to clean up, do laundry, and figure out dinner. It's almost time for big kids to come home.She is inside a tube here that goes through the fish tank.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Good Valentine's Day

We hope you all had a happy Valentine's Day. I thought ours was great! Simple and relaxing, and wonderful.I made pink heart shaped pancakes for breakfast, with purple eggs (they looked gross) and bacon. We exchanged some handmade Valentine cards and the kids opened their little Valentine bags that I put together every year. Nothing fancy, just some little holiday trinkets and boxes of Star Bursts, Star Wars puzzles for B&J and a book for L. Since most things are inappropriate for a baby, I just gave X his Valentine card, which he promptly sucked on, and some of his new favorite Gerber snacks. We then proceeded to spend half the day in our pajamas while we watched Prince Caspian. Daniel had at least half of the family sitting on his lap through the whole thing. The little kids took naps, the big girls played. I started working on an itinerary for our Disney trip and had Daniel measure the girls for ride height restrictions. B is 48" and J is 45". That means not only is B now tall enough for every ride (J is tall enough for all except 2) but she is also finally tall enough for the water slides at our neighborhood pool this summer!

We fed the kids dinner, got them ready for bed, and they finished the tail end of a movie they had started earlier in the week called the Princess Stallion. Then they went to bed. Daniel and I managed to maintain our Valentine tradition. I think it has been running strong since B was born 7+ years ago. We ordered dinner, he picked it up, and we ate a late dinner in bed. Some traditions should not be trifled with. There was one year when I was pregnant with L that he waited too long to order dinner and I fell asleep hungry. Hungry and pregnant...it was a travesty of justice. He hasn't made the same mistake since. I wonder sometimes...when we don't have young children anymore, and have the option to actually go out somewhere on Valentine's Day, will we? I don't know. I'm pretty happy with the tradition as it stands.

I suppose you could say we also went on an early Valentine Date last Friday night. My parents watched the kids. We had dinner at a little Italian place that I like and went to see Daniel's cousin perform in a high school play. It was a major production, that I was surprised to see at a high school level. They have an enormous theater including an orchestra pit. The actors had the little wireless forehead mics and everything. Very impressive.

That sums up our Valentine related activities. It was a fun, family day. I think my favorite part was the Valentine card/book that B made for Daniel and I. It had little one liners that she made up on each page, including "Nothing is more valuable than my parents" and "You are my specialest treasures". Priceless.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Boys

I was running a bath for X this afternoon. He was standing outside the tub looking in while I stripped off his stinky clothes. Why is it that when he makes a stinky diaper his clothes stink for the rest of the day? 4th child, first experience with this ongoing problem. But I digress...the moment I unfastened his diaper and it dropped to the floor he laughed. Then, proceeded to urinate all over the side of the tub in an arc like he was watering a tree. Good times.

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes

I'm trying not to make this blog all about food, but it seems I get on a food tangent quite often. My apologies. So, I'm on another of my food kicks lately. Does anyone have the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes? I read something about it on another blog and decided to try out this recipe. A few years ago I dabbled in keeping refrigerator dough and making fresh bread with dinner most nights. I like this recipe better. Daniel went crazy for it. Something about it tasting exactly like the bread he ate in Panama. It only took about 5 minutes to mix it up and I've made a loaf the past couple of nights out of the big bowl of dough. Super easy and quite good. I've never had the touch for bread. I tend to screw it up. So, don't be hesitant if you have a "brown thumb" with bread like I do. Try it!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

BBQ Update (try to contain your excitement)

Sometimes I laugh that anyone actually reads the stuff I post on here. But anyway, I decided after I made the last post, that I would email Park Avenue BBQ and see if they were bottling their sauce and if I could buy a case. Yes...you heard me...a case. I don't mess around when it comes to barbecue sauce. Why yes, I would consider carrying it in my purse to a restaurant around here if I could find one that even sells baby back ribs (there's always Chili's). I love food, so sue me.

The exciting news is...the CEO/President emailed me back the same day, personally. Who doesn't appreciate that kind of consideration? He said that he is working on getting the sauce bottled, and would send me one as soon as they are rolling on that. This does not solve the problem of me needing like...a case, but I won't look a gift horse in the mouth...or a sauce horse for that matter. The more exciting news is that he said he has recently started to consider opening locations in other states, including...Texas! Would it be inappropriate to pray for this to happen? Probably. But I would be thrilled if it did!

I wonder if I started some sort of letter writing campaign to sway him toward opening a Houston location as his first out of state location would accelerate the process. I suppose I'm unlikely to have much luck since I only know one other person locally who even understands the glory that is Park Avenue BBQ. Do you hear me Carol? I know that you are not afraid of providing feedback to businesses via email.

A Pressing Issue (not really)

I was not informed when I moved to Texas that I would no longer be able to get a decent rack of baby back ribs or some pulled pork to save my life. If I had been informed, I might still be living in Georgia, or better yet Florida where they knew how to bbq and how to make a vinegar based sauce. I know this sounds uber dramatic...but I would probably pay to have Park Avenue ribs, coleslaw, and fries and a bottle of sauce shipped to me right now. The website does say "home delivery now available". I wonder if they have a 1200 mile delivery radius? What I'm saying is I NEED SOME BABY BACK RIBS!!! Not nasty, fatty, gelatenous beef ribs, LEAN, PORK, BABY BACK RIBS. A vinegar based red bbq sauce would be ideal too. Extra points, my undying affection, and a thank you gift to anyone who can point me to someplace in the Houston area to acquire such a thing. Sigh...oh ribs...I've missed you so.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I'm going to drown in Thin Mints

I'm picking up the 150 boxes of girl scout cookies that we ordered tomorrow. Now I need to figure out how to unload at least 130 boxes, because I don't need more than 20 boxes of girl scout cookies for my personal consumption. I decided to just order the amount to meet B's goal and sell them when they come in. It is so annoying to try to get people to "commit" to cookies and then have to wait until they come in. I'd rather just offer them to people with an immediate supply to hand over. I'm a little nervous about who the heck I'm going to get to take them, and that is $525 worth of girl scout cookies that I don't want to have to eat myself. So, if you are local to me and have any urge for girl scout cookies, let me know and B and I will personally drop them off to your front door. They are $3.50 per box and we have...
Thin Mints (60)
Lemonades (30)
Peanut Butter Patties (20)
Caramel Delites (15)
Thanks A Lot (15)
Shortbread (10)

A Soccer Vent

Excuse my rant...this has been building since last August. My kids play on a "recreational" soccer league. The official practice days fall on Mondays-Saturdays, Sunday is not listed as a possible practice day. Since last fall, B's team has insisted on running practices on Sunday. They do not care that it is not an official day, they do not care that it is a religious conflict in our case. Our kid has been punished by this because she gets half as much practice as everyone else. Now, I either need to hope that they decide to change their practice schedule for this season, or pull my kid out of soccer. She is no help because, she is firmly against Sunday practice (more adamant then I am about appropriate Sunday activities) and yet she wants to stay on the team with the girls that she has been with for the past year. Why do things have to be so hard? Why do we have to be the only oddball family who objects to Sunday practice? Why do people have to be so inconsiderate? It is not on the league schedule as a practice day for Pete's sake! Ugggghhhhh! I'm hating people today, and I am usually not one to dislike people. One of the coaches is supposed to be getting back to me tomorrow about whether we should have her change teams/pull out or not...after today's first practice/parent meeting...which I won't be at because I'll be in the middle of church. Vent over.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A banner day for solid foods

X has heretofore shown disdain for any solid food that is not pureed and emblazoned with a Gerber label. I've been surprised at how long this has gone on, because I can only compare him to his sisters, who at 8-9 months started pounding fistfuls of pasta and Cheerios like they were stranded on a desert island. I've been joking that I would need to send him to college with all of his meals pureed and in a cooler. After trying many different options, today's combination struck his fancy...shredded colby jack cheese, torn up whole wheat bread, and diced peaches. It was a very exciting development. I may actually be allowed to sit down to dinner one day and not have to spoon feed him while my food gets cold. Yipee!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

If you are looking to book a Disney World trip...

If you are looking to book a Disney World trip, I would suggest looking into it now. There are some great discounts available at the moment (look under specials from the main page or click the book 4 night packages get up to 3 free advertisement). They seem to be filling up really fast. The week that I was trying to book, I had to squeeze us into one room and cut down from 7 to 6 nights to get any availability, but I got a crazy awesome deal, and they are giving away $200 gift cards on the packages to boot. Our last Disney trip was 2 years ago this month, and we are itching to go. I don't think we've ever gone this long without Disney World before. The girls are super excited (including me because I never get tired of Disney World)!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Joke From B (she claims that she made it up)

"What do you call a tree that is a teenager?"

...A "treenager".

She's Growing Up

I'm so proud of J today. Apparently, a girl in her class (a girl who she shares a mutual friend with) wrote "I hate J" on a piece of paper and decorated it with flower stencils. She saw or heard what the girl was doing and was about to tell her teacher when two of her friends stepped up and reported the incident to the teacher. The teacher supposedly tore up the paper, threw it away, moved the girls clip from green, and sent a note home to her parents. The kid in question tried to claim that her sister had written "I hate J" on the paper. J says this kid lies a lot. Kindergarteners are hilarious. Did she really think she could get away with blaming this on a sibling who isn't even in the class?

I talked to J about it. And B and I explained to her that sometimes people say and do mean things because it makes them feel better to make other people feel badly. We don't do those things in our family, but sometimes other families are different. She was very calm about the whole thing and even said that she was thinking maybe this girl was jealous about not being invited to her birthday party (we only invited 2 kids in the class), or jealous of J's friendship with the friend that they share. I was impressed by her reasoning skills. She is definitely growing up. While I'd rather these things not happen at all, growing experiences are necessary...even the unpleasant ones.

Miscellany

I'm cleaning my refrigerator and pantry today. Don't let the excitement of this topic overwhelm you. I know it's difficult. Why is it that no matter how many times you clean the refrigerator and (too small) pantry they are a complete disaster again within two weeks? It is a mystery. So I clean them...again. And I try not to complain too loudly.

I teach/take care of the littlest children for 2 hours every Sunday at church. They are delightful. I had a nice conversation with the woman who helps me regarding gratitude this week. We were saying that a nice side effect of all of the economic problems right now is how it helps us to be more grateful for everything that we have. I've been thinking about this topic a lot lately. I am so grateful for the opportunity to appreciate things.

I was watching something in the past week discussing how the more plentiful and common things are, the less we enjoy them. For example, they were saying that getting oranges in your Christmas stocking (back when my parents were children) was a big deal. They were special, and people derived much more enjoyment from them. The fact that we can get basically anything we want, any time we want it has ruined our enjoyment of everything. I think this is so accurate and fascinating. I often think that the more affluent people are, the more difficult it is to raise good and happy children. Not to say that it is impossible, it just seems to take much more careful parenting. It is hard not to give your children everything they could think of wanting, at least it's hard for me. However, I worry that giving them too much of everything will rob them of their ability to enjoy and appreciate things and be happy. Just another parenting dilemma that I struggle with on a regular basis. I'm not entirely sure what the answer is.