Thursday, October 29, 2009

All things pumpkin

In the span of a week we have made (and eaten) three pumpkin-containing, baked goods. The first was an easy pumpkin muffin kit that was dessert after dinner and breakfast the next morning. The second was a pumpkin pie. Why pumpkin pie already? Well, because Matthew came home from school with a paper saying it was his favorite fall dessert. What does a mother do when you learn your child's favorite fall dessert? Make it, of course.

I also had the realization that our oldest child, Jacob, is a mere 7 years from the flying the coop age and that means I have a very small window between the age of him wanting to be in the kitchen with me and learning to cook and then reaching the all-knowing, he-never-hears-a-word-I-say age, so I must get busy on teaching this child to cook. Where do we start on learning to cook? Dessert, of course. So Jacob and I made a pumpkin pie in the middle of last week, just because. I bet money on him making pumpkin pie early in his courtship in a few ahem, 20 years.

After hearing the jealousy rage in the house over Jacob making the pumpkin pie and listening to comments such as "why did you let him do it? why didn't you wait for me (or us)? that is so unfair!" it was quickly decided that another baked good containing pumpkin must be baked. Thankfully, I remembered a recipe that I made several times last year around this time that was delicious. Here is the recipe we made up thoroughly followed, more variations are listed below.

Pumpkin Spice Cake

1 box spice cake mix
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 egg (actually, I was lazy and dumped in a bit of Egg Beaters)
1 15oz. can pumpkin

Mix this all together, either by a mixer or with a whisk (if you're trying to find toned arms under the flab, like me.) You can bake it in any kind of pan you'd like; we chose a bundt pan. Bake at 375 until you think it's done a tester inserted comes out clean. We put ours on a pretty cake stand to make it seem like it was a lot more work than it truly was and drizzled with some leftover vanilla tub frosting from the fridge homemade icing.

-Add only 1 can of pumpkin to the cake mix; the batter is thick but it still turns out wonderfully. (This is actually the Weight Watchers recipe. We made it this way last year because I was on more of a diet kick...well, diet with a cake mix.)
-Add 1 cup of water instead of 1/2 water, 1/2 milk.
-Leave out the egg (or Egg Beaters) all together.
-Add applesauce instead of the eggs; maybe 1/4 cup or so.

Making it the way we did or making it with any of these variations will turn out about the same. Omitting the liquid will make it more muffin texture (which is our next "cooking lesson") and making it with more liquid and egg will make it more cake-like texture.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In the middle

Beautiful girl
Sandwiched between 2 brothers
Animal lover
Huge, caring heart
Hard worker
Shopping buddy
Crafting buddy
Soon to be big sister to one more

Monday, October 26, 2009

Oh Happy Day!

After 88 days of waiting, we received our Letter of Approval today from China to formally approve us to adopt Claire!

I have written a post here on what the next steps are in our process.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Things that poke

Matthew, my 7 year old, loves all things that I usually try to avoid. Most of these include rocks, dirt, tall trees, insects, snakes, mummies and pokey things, especially cacti. I'm on the 12-step program of accepting the dirt, rocks, mummies and pokey things into the house so on a trip to the grocery store nearly a year ago I let him pick out a cactus that we saw on clearance. "Mom, look, it's on SALE! Only $1.99! Can I get it? Huh, can I get it? Mom, can I get it?" Ok, fine, I let him get it even though I had a pretty good idea why there were several cacti on sale for $1.99; everyone else was too smart to bring home a stupid pokey thing!

Guess who repotted the stupid pokey thing? Me. Guess where it sits? Right by MY sink. Guess who takes care of it. Me.
And guess who gets poked by the stupid thing when I reach to get my scrubber that sits on the sink directly in front of it. You guessed it, me. This last time I reached up so innocently to get my scrubber the insanely sharp, poison coated pokers on the stupid pokey thing went up under my fingernail and poked me in the very sensitive nail bed. I yelped out an OUCH and contained myself from releasing any obscenities but really I was thinking "You little fracking cactus...who the hell let you in the house?" If it wasn't so pokey and downright evil I would have picked it up and threw it outside.

It is still sitting on my counter behind the sink but I'm thinking the boy who loves all things dirty should be caring for it in his room; maybe then he will rethink the $1.99 deal the next time.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Not Me Monday

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

Ever feel guilty that you skip a nightly bath time simply because you can't take one.more.minute of fighting siblings, or have a "make your own PB&J" dinner night, or maybe even think "God Bless Teachers" as your loud children run off to the bus? Well stop feeling guilty and join in on "Not Me" Monday where we can be brutally honest about our imperfections. Here we go.

I did not let the kids' backpacks sit for three weeks while they were on cycle break and then decide to clean them out the night before they went back to school. Gosh, there were probably important papers in there that should have been addressed or even study materials for the three week break. No, we decided a schooling on Iowa farmland and amusement park physics would serve them much better.

I did not buy one of my favorite foods (chocolate filled croissants) with the intention of thawing one overnight once in awhile and enjoying it in the morning with some coffee and then declare I was going on a diet and make them all in one day. Of course I did this with the intention of sharing with everyone to use up the croissants and end my temptation. I did not split one three ways for the kids and then eat the other three myself. Nope, I would never gorge myself on fat-filled chocolate croissants the night before my new diet.

I did not plan a short vacation and then come home with absolutely no pictures on my digital camera. No way, I always lug around the camera to amusement parks. The only pictures I did take on vacation would never be found solely on my cell phone.

I did not attend a culinary class with Emily and then proceed to tell the entire audience that cilantro tastes like soap while the chef threw it into the white chili. Gosh, that would be rude!

While walking through a cave, I did not have my wonderful (taller) husband walk in front of me so if a bat flew down the corridor it would hit him and not myself.

After two days of amusement park fun I did not park myself in a heavenly bakery with a magazine, sticky bun and a coke and let my husband run the roller coaster round with the kids one more time.

And lastly-
It was certainly not my child you might have seen vomiting in Panera this weekend and I certainly did not stand there next to him feeling all of a sudden paralyzed and not sure what to do. Also, I did not position my other children around it to try and hide the fact that there was vomit on the floor only 2 feet away from where someone was eating. Boy, if you could have seen the looks...OK, if you did see the looks, please tell me they weren't that bad because I never actually looked at anyone because I had the "swine flu stare down" fears and refused to look up. (Thankfully, Jacob really doesn't have the swine flu, just a terrible migraine and also a HUGE thank you to the wonderful customer who saw my paralyzed self and came and covered up the specimen with napkins.)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

a way to have a great end to the week

So, this week I've been on pins and needles waiting for my phone to ring from someone other than my mom, sister, husband or dentist (yes, I really spend that much time there) but as the quietness on my blog (and in my house) conveys, it did not happen. Despite this unfortunate week I was able to maintain a good attitude about it all. I think everyone in my house is happy all these things didn't happen during PMS time; wow wee, that would have been ugly.

Thursday morning:
I get to spend some time with my favorite dentist so as soon as the kids get on the bus I grab my clothes and head upstairs to get showered. On my way through the dining room I see a familiar BROWN truck outside. Seriously?! Did our agency not call us and just go ahead and overnight the LOA to us instead? I see the man in brown grab an overnight document envelope and start walking to the door. Somehow my mind thought "do I have time to grab the camera to take a picture of this stork delivery?!" instead of "OH SNAP, I'm in my pajamas with some whacked out hair that seriously needs a shower!" I skip the camera and open the door and patiently wait for him to walk to the door; somehow I contained myself from screaming because that would have seriously freaked him out. On my way to flip the envelope and rip it open I see it has a different last name. NOOOO! I double check- our address, someone else's last name and the sender was not our agency. I very humbly told him that it wasn't our package; he took the envelope and went on his merry way in his brown truck.

I get to my favorite dentist and they get me checked in without even asking my name; what personal service! My permanent crown was ready to cemented on so this visit would be so much less drama than the others. After much finessing, the crown went on with permanent cement only to have something go wrong and my brand new porcelain crown was drilled through and chipped off. I now get to visit them again in two weeks; what a pleasure!

Thursday lunch:
Despite starting my new diet I caved into my craving from a local favorite sub shop. To try to stick to my diet plan I ordered a kids meal in my favorite flavor- chicken parmesan. My mouth salivated as I sucked from my little kiddy glass and waited for my food. I was delivered a chicken cordon bleu sub; what a disappointment. I am much nicer than I was in my early days so I did not make them redo it; I ate the chicken cordon blue. It was fine but it definitely did not satisfy my chicken parmesan craving which meant I had to come back again. Sorry diet.

Friday morning:
I got ready to run some errands and timed my departure just before lunchtime so I could return to my favorite sub shop and get my much desired chicken parmesan. I got up to the counter to order and reach into my purse; my wallet was at home. I had placed an online order earlier and due to the frequency of my online shopping taking a nose dive, I no longer have my debit card memorized so I had to actually look at it to make a purchase. I had to leave the sub shop empty handed, er, empty stomached.
I had my checkbook with me so I decided to continue with my other errands and use a check (oh, how old school!). I didn't find anything to buy at Toys R Us so I headed to Target. There is always something to buy at Target!
So I spend an hour in Target and find plenty to buy and decide I should check out and go home because too much time in Target can actually be a bad thing. I write out my check and realize- OH SNAP, my ID is also in my wallet and of course this is the transaction that it asks for a license number to go along with my check. Hello Embarrassment! I had to leave Target without my purchases and look like a total lowlife. Thankfully, they held them at the service desk and I came back with my wallet and made my purchase.

Two hours after starting my trek for my chicken parmesan I came home and ate some crackers and 1/2 of a PB & J sandwich. Guess what we had for dinner last night? Yep, my chicken parmesan and after all my misfortunes I skipped the kids meal size and had a regular sub.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The story behind the song

I grew up in a traditional Baptist church singing traditional Bible hymns. While I have now changed my preference to worship with contemporary music those traditional Bible hymns will never leave my being. I can still break out in song (no dance, that is a no-no!) with words memorized when I hear the music of many childhood hymns and of course it always makes my husband and children laugh.

But, one of the hymns that I still remember by heart still brings me comfort today. A few years ago I learned the story behind the hymn, It Is Well. Wow, if someone like Horatio can be at peace with God and themselves after such horrible tragedy than why do I find it hard to let go of my plan and let all be well? I hope you are as moved by this video as I was and still am each time I watch it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

For your Angels

Today, October 15th, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

I have been profoundly blessed by God to conceive and carry three children into this side of eternity. I will never know the pain of releasing a child back to God during pregnancy or shortly thereafter but I do not want this day to pass without acknowledging the grief and pain of the many women close to me who have. I know you will live with your loss every day, forever, while the rest of us acknowledge it publicly only one day a year. I want each of you to know that I think of you and your babies often and they will never be forgotten.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tips on Tuesday

If you have the fortunate experience (and I mean that wholeheartedly with the state of our present economy) to work as a cashier at an establishment that sells bananas, I have a tip for you. So grab your chair and saddle up.

Do not drop the bananas into the bag, just don't.
You never know if you might be dropping the bananas of a crazy lunatic woman that has waited 75 days for a letter of approval to adopt her daughter and also just finished staring at government paperwork for three hours before taking a much needed break to the store, just to look at something other than monotonous forms. She may have painstakingly looked at many banana bunches to find the ones with the least amount of bruising because she knows the three children at home will not eat a banana with mushy spots. She may just freak out on you; I'm just sayin'.

No, I didn't actually freak out on the young cashier today but I didn't give her a strange look when she took my bananas and dropped them into the bag from about 18 inches high. Now, if I had gone through the painstaking process of picking out my Honeycrisp or Pink Lady apples and she dropped them into the bag it would have been a different outcome because not even I will eat the apples with mushy spots.