Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Claire's 8th Birthday

My baby girl is 8 years old today.   It's official, I sound completely crazy when asked what ages my kids are- 12, 10, 8 and 8.  Let me tell you, that raises an eyebrow; especially if I tell them my last two are 8 months apart and my kids aren't with me.  I tell them sometimes just to see their face.

It has been a joy watching Claire enjoy and soak up the special attention her birthday has brought.  She has shared with us that she would have a small cake on her birthday in China but never a birthday present.  She was very loved by her foster family and having a small cake is more than most children waiting for adoption receive but she has definitely been waiting for those presents.
She patiently waited through all the birthdays in the family and commented frequently about "my first birthday in America!"  I was a little worried she was expecting a pony or something with the amount of her excitement, but no, she was just looking very forward to her special day.  I found this t-shirt months ago and tucked it away for today.  Now the whole world will know it's her birthday and I'm sure she will be quick to tell them it's her FIRST birthday in America.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


This is the day of the year we are supposed to pause and ponder what we are thankful for.  I've been trying to explain today's holiday to Claire, who is celebrating her first Thanksgiving with us.  I think she understands what being thankful means; after explaining it to her the best I could she stopped, thought and then said "I'm thankful for being in America."  So are we babe; so are we.

We are doing our big Thanksgiving meal on Friday but I've already been in the kitchen for a few hours this morning preparing.  It is about now that I wish I had an entire wall bank of ovens.  I have my recipes all printed out and organized, just as any Type-A Thanksgiving cooker would.  You all do that too, right?

I am so thrilled to open our home to our family and fill their bellies with good food, at least I hope it's good!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Disappointment with a side of anger

Do you anger easily?
Sigh, this is one of my many shortcomings and although it's taken quite a long time, I am now able to see that my anger is usually a front for disappointment.  I am able to see that even more clearly when my tween carbon copy, my mini-me storms out after something not going as well as she'd hoped it would.  Hmmmm, anger?  No, disappointment.

Just this morning I had high ambitions of power washing the front of the house, despite it being a crisp 45 degrees outside.  I figured the water wasn't frozen so I might as well be productive.  I got bundled up, everything covered except my nose and mouth and headed outside.

1. Drag out the muddy tools that need to be cleaned so I can do everything at once.
2. Drag out the ladder.
3. Drag out the hose.  Upon reaching the hose reel I see the spigot on the side of the house has been dripping for quite some time.  It's closed as much as possible but still leaking; sigh, another task to add to the list.  I get it all hooked up and drag the hose out to the driveway.
4. Hook up the 2 connections for the wand, both of them want to strip and I'm willing them to screw on correctly with a few choice words under my breath.
5. Hook up the hose to the power washer.  Again, it does not want to screw on and is just begging me that Nov. 3rd is the day it will strip the plastic threads.  Who puts connections with plastic threads on a piece of power equipment, anyway?
6.  All is hooked up, trek back and turn on the water.  Gusher spraying everywhere from the spigot.  I think the neighbor may have heard my frustrating grunt that time.  I try to tighten it, no luck so I say forget it and let it spew.
7.  Get the tips in the wand.  The wand says "forget you" and won't close all the way due to being cold.  Oh, and the tip I need for soap is gone.  Oh well, I'll try to figure something out.
8.  Power washer started- holy GUSHER.  Every connection is leaking, spraying and looking downright ridiculous.  Who hooked this up, a 5 year old?!
9.  FORGET IT ALL.  I was so pissed, just down right MAD.  

I turn it all off, unhook all the connections, throw the hose off the driveway so I don't have to look at it, push the power washer into the garage and come inside.  The dog was moving slower than I wanted so I yelled at him too, just for good measure.

Looks like anger but really it's disappointment.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Not like Mom

Clue #1 that I don't do laundry like my mom:
After telling the kids to bring their laundry down and sort it by color I was inundated with replies like "what?! what do you mean?"
I mean sort it by light colors or dark colors.
"So, this dark pink, where it would it go?  And gray, what do you call it?"
Not kidding, every.single.child said the same things.

Clue #2 that I don't do laundry like my mom:
My kitchen currently looks like this. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The view this morning

Matthew had time to turn a few cartwheels before catching the bus.

And Claire had time to laugh. Of course, when doesn't this girl have time to laugh? It's one of the things she does best.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Picture Story

One evening we decided to hike up to a lookout to view the sunset while overlooking the river.  I bring you a picture story of how our evening went.

The kids started off with way more energy and stamina than I did.

But Claire stopped and said something like "don't worry Mommy, I wait for you."
Oh, thanks sweetheart.

Me: Lets get you all together and take a picture, OK?

Yea, they were all thrilled about that, Matthew obviously the most thrilled.

Me: Well, I need new pictures for my frames so let's get one of each of you alone.  Thankfully, that did work, the pictures from this post are their individual photos from that night.

Claire: I need to go potty!
Me: Hmmm (looking at my wonderful husband),..well, honey I'm toting around this camera, would you mind taking her?

So off they went.

The other kids were growing restless and trying to find things to do at a place that doesn't really have things to do; except look out over the river, of course.

Let's make our footprints in the sand.

Me: How about let's take some pictures of the views from here guys.

Jacob: No, that is kind of boring Mom; let me think of what we should do.

Yes, that park bench looks like a mighty fine place to entertain ourselves.

We kept moving towards the general direction of the only restroom, hoping to intersect J and Claire on their way back to us.  But, it was still taking quite some time for us to meet up so Jacob pondered more activities.

This looks like a fine hill for us to run down and nearly fall on our faces.  Sound good to you?

Wow guys, that was fun.  I think we should really try to make ourselves one with nature.  Care to join me?

Well, since we're doing this lovey dovey thing and you can lean on me and all that, how about you remind me to take my allergy meds next time.  OK, bro?

Me:  All right, Claire is back!  OK guys, gather together and let's try getting a few pictures of you before it gets too dark.  Mmmkay?

Emily takes charge of the gathering and gets her long arms around all of them.
Matthew:  Do not touch me!  Get your arm off me!  Don't!

Claire: Will you please don't touch me?
Matthew:  *Insert scream grunt here* Get off me!
Claire: I don't want any picture.

OK, well that was fun!  Let's move on.

Dad is always best at changing the mood so we find a picnic table and he starts making up "I dare you to fill in the blank" games.  These start out simple enough but the kids must always out do each other.

Shortly after this last picture the inevitable happened; Matthew fell off the table as he escalated his tricks.  The only other people at the lookout were totally giving us looks and I wanted to yell, "Yep, we're THOSE parents!"  I was really disappointed that I didn't get any pictures of Matthew falling off the table because after he promptly stood up, brushed himself off and let out a smug "I'm fine!" my mother's panic turned into "darn, that would have been a great picture!"

I chased Claire around for awhile trying to get her picture because she had been avoiding me.  I got her to slow down enough to put her hair behind her ears.

When she realized I got her picture she laughed and said "I don't know why you always take my picture, Mommy?"

Because I can, and because I love to!

With that we got a picture of the sunset we came for and made our trek back down the hill.
What a fun, impromptu evening overlooking the river.

Friday, September 10, 2010

While Mom's Away

I'm squeezing my beauties a little tighter this morning before they run off to school.  Why?
Because I'm leaving this morning for the weekend with just the ladies from my family; my mom, sister, grandma, aunts, and cousins.  I'm so excited to shop all day for 2 days with some of the ladies closest to me.

Are the kids worried about me leaving, or sad that I won't be here when they get off the bus today?
I don't think so based on Matthew's realization the other day.

Matthew: Mom, so you are leaving and we're staying home with dad?
Me: Yes
Matthew: And how long will you be gone?
Me: 2 nights, 3 days  (I'm thinking he's worried that I'll be gone long enough for the house to run out of toilet paper or something.)
Matthew: (as his eyes are rolling around to indicate he's thinking hard)  All right, that means we'll have enough time to eat at all the places you won't let us!  Mom, did you know that Dad takes us to eat where you don't like to go while you're gone?
Me: Yes, I know that
Matthew: (covering his mouth) Oops, maybe I shouldn't have told you that!

So, my kids aren't disappointed at all that I'll be away from them for a couple of nights.  Nope, instead they are already dreaming up the milkshake concoction they will be slurping from Steak and Shake in the very near future.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday School

And, not in the traditional sense.  

We made the decision to put Claire into Chinese school and all of the ones in our city meet on Sunday afternoon.  Even before enrolling her I thought about how our Sunday had good potential of becoming very busy and stressful with church in the morning and Chinese school in the afternoon.  So, we made the decision to move our church attending to Saturday evening instead.  There are many churches in our area that now offer services on Saturday and we had tried it before and liked it so now it will become our routine.

Claire wavered between scared and excited for Chinese school to start.  She has forgotten most of her Mandarin so we feel as though she's at a crossroads.  Either, pick it back up by willingly partcipating in her Mandarin class or refuse to participate due to fear and lose it all together.  It sounds as though her first class went smashingly well today.  I am so excited for her to be in the company of other Chinese children and continue to learn Mandarin.  All the other children in her class are children with parents of Chinese heritage so they hear Mandarin at home.  This will make school fairly difficult for Claire because we aren't able to help her figure things out as well as we'd like.  We have the textbook and Google translate will tell you anything so we will muddle through the best we can.

While Claire was at Chinese school Emily attended sewing school with Mom.  She's been asking for several weeks if I would teach her how to sew so I thought today would be a good time to spend some time with her and the sewing machine.
In a couple of hours Emily sewed her first project, a pillow for her bed.  She was quite proud of her work and I am too; she is proving to be one crafty girl.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pizza Pot Pie

Recently we were watching a show ranking the top restaurants in the US when it came to cheese dishes.  Ranked #1 was a pizza pot pie invented by Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinders.  You can find a picture of the pizza pot pie on their website; it looks delicious!

One Sunday afternoon I decided to try my hand at homemade pizza pot pies and they turned out wonderfully.  I told myself the next time I made them I would write about it here, so you too can change up your pizza night sometime.  Our pizza and movie night are Fridays and I've been getting creative lately.  Last week we had Cornbread Pizza from here.  I'll warn you though; only go there when you have time because if you're anything like me you will be there for a very long time looking through the many recipes.

Pizza Pot Pie

4 cups flour (I used 1/2 all purpose flour and 1/2 whole wheat flour)
2 cups warm water
2 tbsp. instant dry yeast

1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt (I only used 1/2 tsp. because we are trying to reduce sodium intake around here)

Mix all these ingredients into a bowl and stir them together until a sticky dough is formed.  Cover the bowl with a moist kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm area for about 30 minutes. (I actually moved mine to another, slightly oiled bowl.)
Turn the dough out onto a floured area and knead with your hands about 5 to 10 times.  Divide the dough into 2-3 inch balls and roll the dough to about one half inch thick to make a circle slightly bigger than the bowl you'll be using.  You only need to make the number of portions you will be serving (plus maybe a couple extra for leftovers!).  You will have quite a bit of dough left over; I roll it out and spread with olive oil, garlic and cheese for cheesy breadsticks.

Ooey, Gooey, Cheesy Center
Cheese (last time I used sliced mozarella, this time I had shredded on hand.  I would have preferred the sliced cheese again but I was too lazy to go to the store.)

Your choice of pizza toppings.  We used:
olives, mushroom, pepperoni and leftover beef meatballs
pizza sauce

The source of the pizza sauce is up to you.  You can buy a jar of pre-made sauce, make some quick homemade sauce with crushed tomatoes, garlic and spices or make full fledged homemade sauce with fresh tomatoes.  I did the full fledged homemade sauce earlier in the week when we had meatball hoagies so I used the leftover sauce from that as well as the cut-up meatballs for pizza toppings.  (The first time I made this I used turkey sausage flavored with italian seasoning instead of the ground beef.)

While you wait for the crust to rise, assemble the ingredients you'll use in your pizza pot pie.  Cook any ingredients that need to be, such as the meat and warm up the sauce.  Using a well greased bowl that can go into the oven layer the ingredients from bottom to top:

Make sure the rim of your bowl is greased, then lay your rolled pizza crust over the top.  Make sure you fully cover the rim of the bowl and then pinch up the bottom so it isn't touching the pan, otherwise that will burn.  Transfer your bowls to a baking sheet and place in a preheated 400 degree oven.  Bake for 25 minutes or until crust is golden.  Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes.

Now the fun part.

Flip your bowl upside down so the crust is now on the plate, run a thin knife around rim of bowl and carefully lift off.  

Results with this version- The first time I made it I used a homemade yeast roll recipe for the crust instead of a traditional pizza crust recipe.  I personally liked the roll crust better but most of the family liked the pizza crust version better.