Friday, February 28, 2014

Silly Rabbit


How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

I gave Peanut a haircut.  Afterwards both Bean and I had the exact same thought:  she looks like Maria from The Sound of Music.  (Which is a movie my entire family has memorized, by the way.)  


I thought this was an apt comparison because of Peanut's behavior lately.  




She has done a lot of really naughty things.  Like painting her tongue with nail polish.  And dumping half a bottle of hair detangling lotion all over my carpet.  And rubbing half a bottle of hand sanitizer into her hair.  And unrolling all the toilet paper.  And spraying her baby brother in the face repeatedly with cleaning spray (that, my friends, is why I favor non-toxic household products!)  Every time I turn around she is into a cupboard or drawer or cabinet that is supposed to be off-limits.  



And then there was the whole reason I cut her hair in the first place.  To try to minimize the damage from where she hacked off a big chunk of it herself.  


My kids have cut their own hair before-- it seems to be a rite of passage for kids.  But never has any one of them cut so much of it so close to their head.  Not even the Rabbit.  

How do you solve a problem like Maria?  
How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Six

Here are six pictures of my little Rabbit's sixth birthday.  

She is such a sweet, loving little girl.  Her teacher says that whenever anyone needs someone helpful and/or kind, she sends Rabbit.   She has a very quick intellect and tremendous self-confidence.  She is very affectionate.  Her temper has improved in recent months.  She is such a blessing to our family.  

Here she is playing store with her toy food:


The morning of her birthday I realized I needed to make a treat to take to her class.  Using what I had on hand I came up with these cute cupcakes using leftovers from Valentine's Day.  I am not a cupcake chef... I have become quite proficient at many kitchen endeavors over the years but cupcakes are not something I have anywhere near mastered (yet!)  But I thought these turned out quite darling.



(And I need to tell you that this is my new favorite frosting recipe, especially when-- and why didn't anyone ever tell me you could do this?-- you add jam in the final step instead of milk.  I added strawberry jam to this frosting and it was The Best Frosting I Have Ever Eaten In My Entire Life.  And that's saying something.)

Here is the Rabbit in her favorite dress-up with her birthday crown from school on:



And here she is helping me cook her birthday dinner.  She loves to cook.  



There were plenty of cupcakes left over, so we just used them for her cake.  



So here's the story on this picture:  one of her reading books at school is about a boy and his mom who are spending Friday night together.  Mom says he choose what he wants for dinner and what he wants to do.  He chooses shrimp for the meal and then they watch a movie together from inside a tent set up in the living room.  The Rabbit wanted to copy this for her birthday.  I made shrimp fettuccini alfredo and then the kids watched The Jungle Book from inside this blanket tent.  It was all a great success.  


Happy birthday to my dear, darling, wonderful little Rabbit!  

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Blue and Gold

The Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet has been a part of our annual calendar for so many years now that it seems like a permanent fixture in our lives.  But as we were getting ready for this one, it dawned on me: this is Fish's last one and that means we won't go to another Blue and Gold for a loooooooong time... not until Prince Charming is old enough to be a Cub Scout.  

Our last Blue and Gold Banquet was a good one.  The gathering activity as we arrived was to have the kids make "inventions" out of collections of random odds and ends, which then became the table decorations.  The kids loved this.  



The meal was Hawaiian haystacks, which is a great way to feed a crowd.  (And it's a particular favorite of mine, too!)

And then, Fish earned a whole bunch of awards, including his Webelos badge.  I am so proud of him!  



(They always call the mom up when there's a rank advancement because there's a little pin for the boy to pin on his mom... when they call me up all the rest of my kids follow me up as well!)  

I remember when Fish first joined scouts.  He wanted to be a scout so bad we put him in a Tiger Cub group when he was six, even though in the LDS church boys don't become scouts until they turn 8.  So we found a non-LDS pack for him to be in until he turned 8.  He was so thrilled to wear the uniform and get to go to all the activities.  He has enjoyed his years in Cub Scouts.  He loves the awards and badges.  He loves outdoor stuff.  I have loved watching him grow in the scouting program.  I think it is a great program and I really appreciate what it has done for my boys.  

I am going to miss going to the Blue and Gold Banquet for the next six or seven years.  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Brotherly Love


I know I post a lot of pictures of Bean and the baby on here, but I never get tired of them.  Prince Charming was sick this week and didn't want to be put down ever for several days on end.  Luckily, he feels Bean is an acceptable substitute for Mom.

Valentines 2014

So, I mentioned before how I didn't want to just buy Valentine cards at the store for the kids to take to their classmates.  I also didn't want to kill myself making anything really elaborate.  So we got on Pinterest and looked at various ideas and found a happy medium.  We had fun making them and the kids were really happy with them.  

The Rabbit wanted flower lollipops.  This was what we ended up with.  They were the most work of any of the kids', but still not too bad, and the Rabbit did a lot of it herself.  She is a very motivated kid with excellent fine-motor skills and I can see a lot of really neat craft projects in our future.


On one side of the petal she wrote the To and From stuff and then she decided all on her own to write "you are my friend" on the back of each petal.  What a sweetie!


Roo wanted to give Reese's peanut butter cups to her classmates.  Roo has a thing about Reese's-- she is absolutely crazy about them.  It's pretty cute how when she sees them she says "oooooohhh..... REEEEEESE's...."  We had to figure out some way to make a peanut butter cup Valentine-y, and this is what I came up with:  



Simple and easy.  I just printed them and Roo did the rest.  



So then when we were on Pinterest, I saw these Yoda Valentines with a free printable and I loved them so much and I knew Fish would too so I just had to go get them color-printed and go to the dollar store and buy glow sticks... you understand, don't you?  


Here's Fish with his Valentine box he made in a hurry the morning of... using Christmas wrapping paper.  This idea of having the kids make their Valentine boxes at home was new to me, and I must admit I wasn't very motivated to get creative with it since I had enough on my plate with the Valentines.  I was glad he put this together himself and was happy with it.  When I went to the school for the parties I saw that some of the kids had these really elaborate boxes that were really fun to see... but Fish's wasn't the only one with Christmas paper on it so it was totally okay.  


Once they were out the door on their way to school I got going on the treats for their class parties.  The Rabbit's class was having ice cream sundaes and all I had to do was bring a bag of gummy bears.  For Roo's class I just had to make a tray of cheese and crackers with the cheese cut in heart shapes (this was super popular, by the way.)  But for Fish's class I got to have some fun baking.  I found this recipe on Pinterest for chocolate Valentine kiss cookies.  They were so fun to make, especially with Peanut helping!  



Balls of chocolate dough rolled in Valentine sprinkles... as soon as they come out of the oven you pop a Hershey's kiss in the middle of each one.  


I forgot to take a picture of them when they were all done, but they were adorable.  Mine did look exactly like the picture on the website I got them from, so take a look.  They were very popular at Fish's class party, and they were really yummy, if I do say so myself.  

One of the things I love most about being a mom is doing fun stuff for holidays.  I always looked forward to that and then in my early years of motherhood I used to get so frustrated that doing the fun holiday stuff never turned out as picture perfect as I had imagined.  I would beat myself up over not doing enough and I would blame my kids for being so difficult.  Once I learned to get over that and not stress I have really enjoyed holiday activities with my children.  We do what we can do and don't worry about what we can't do and I'm starting to learn to take little people holiday melt-downs in stride.  We had a great Valentine's day this year!



A Marvelous Day for a Marvelous Little Girl

A couple of weeks ago our little Roo was baptized.  She was so excited during the days and weeks leading up to it.  Roo is one of the most intrinsically Christlike people I have ever met, so choosing to make a commitment to follow Christ was as natural for her as breathing.  

We live in an area where baptisms are rare enough that she had her own baptismal service just for her.  This meant we could plan it whenever we wanted (on her birthday!) and she got to choose all the music and speakers and everything.  We decided to have it mid-morning and then invite everyone over to our house afterwards for lunch to celebrate.  

The morning of her baptism there was lots of fresh snow on the ground. We had talked about the symbolism of the color white and she had been excited to have a new white dress and a white birthday cake, and now the whole entire world had turned white just for her baptism! When I spoke at her baptism I read Isaiah 1:18: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." I told her I hoped that throughout her life every time she saw fresh snow she would think of Jesus and her baptism day. 

Here is a picture of Roo and her dad, who baptized her, right before the service began.




There was such a sweet spirit present during the service.   We had about 30 people come-- mostly friends from church but also two of Roo's teachers from school.  My four oldest children sang the same song they sang at Fish's baptism:  Come Into the Water by Melanie Hoffman.  I love that song, and I love that it is becoming a tradition at our family baptisms.  It always adds so much to the spirit present.  

"Come into the water
Come and be baptized
Come and follow Jesus to a better life
Come and take the first step
Leave the world behind
In the water"

Most everyone came over afterwards for lunch.  We served a nacho bar: chips, chili, cheese sauce, salsa, tomatoes, lettuces, etc.  I had also baked a ton of cookies.  The house was full to the brim with happy, well-fed people.  It was great.  



Here comes the Badger with Roo's cake:



Here is Roo's reaction to her cake:




Some people had brought small presents for Roo (though they weren't expected to) and so we let her open all her presents with everyone there to watch.  I thought it was cute how all the kids crowded around.



Here's the white cake.   I forgot to buy white candles.  I also forgot to buy ice cream.  But if that was the worst thing that happened that day (and it was) then it was a pretty awesome day (which is was.)  



We bought her a beautiful white dress to wear after she was baptized.  What was fun was that I ended up picking out the same one (on Amazon) that my sister-in-law picked out for Roo's cousin, who got baptized in December.  It was short-sleeved though, so the next day when she wore it to church she wore a pink bolero jacket over it to keep warm.  (This picture was taking Sunday morning.)


My sweet, beautiful Roo.  I love you more than I can say.  You are sweet and kind and gentle and loving.  I love to listen to you laugh and I love how you are always finding things to laugh about.  I love to watch you run-- you look like a baby colt when you run, with your long slender arms and legs flying out to the sides.  I love how you are always drawing pictures and giving them to people along with sweet notes expressing your love.  I love how you take on every new challenge with confidence.  I love how you still desperately want me to sing you to sleep at night.  And I love your shining eyes.  Thank you for being such a good example to me and for being so patient with me.  It is such a privilege to be your mother.  

Random Snapshots

I am trying to get caught up with blogging.  Here are some random slices of recent life at the Birrd's Nest.  

The Badger and more of his wonderful bread:


Babies and smartphones... it's funny to me how they get ahold of them and then sneak off to remote corners to mess with them:


Going.... going....


...gone...


(The Rabbit has assured us that now she is six she is done with binkies.  I will believe that when I see it.  And as appalling as it is to see a pacifier in the mouth of a five-year-old, at least it is not a thumb.  In a couple more months I will throw all the binkies in the whole house away and Rabbit and Peanut and Prince Charming will have to be done with them.  If it was their thumbs they were sucking on my Rabbit would probably keep it up for years to come.)  

Yes, Peanut, your binky days are numbered!


Prince Charming is a climber:



They're so glad when Daddy comes home!



And finally, Cinderella's Ball is happening on my dining room table.  Good times.   Good times.  


Friday, February 21, 2014

Just for Grandma

Dear Grandma,

You asked for pictures of Roo in the skirt you made her so here they are.  She loves it so much!




Old-Fashioned Jam



I fell in love with making jam about ten years ago when we lived in Idaho.  We often had access to large quantities of free or very cheap fruit-- plums, apricots, peaches, strawberries, blackberries... sigh.  Those were the days.  Making jam was the logical thing to do, and I discovered it was a lot of fun.

I got pretty good at making jam, and I even played around a lot with low-sugar or no-sugar recipes.  But I always very carefully followed the instructions on the box of pectin.  Pectin is a mysterious substance that I don't fully understand and I don't want to cross.

Every time I bought a box of pectin at the store I would wonder how they did it in the old days.  I knew that pectin occurs naturally in some fruits, but how did they harness it for use in their jam?

This last week, for the first time, I made jam without store-bought pectin.  Wow, was that ever liberating!

I have a bunch of rhubarb in my freezer that needs to be used, so I decided to make strawberry rhubarb jam.  I bought pectin, but the instructions didn't have anything for rhubarb, so I looked up some recipes online.  I tried two recipes: the jar on the right in my picture is made from a normal recipe using a box of pectin.  The jar on the left is made the old-fashioned way using the natural pectin in the fruit.

Basically, I just had to bring the jam to a full boil and then boil it for 30 minutes or more until it reached the consistency I wanted.  It will never set as thickly as the box-pectin jam, but it's definitely jam.

It was a lot of stirring.  I think my pioneer grandmothers would have been amused to see me sitting there on a stool in my kitchen, stirring my jam while enjoying social media on my smartphone.

The jam turned out really fabulous.  Everyone in the family loves it.

And I just feel so, so cool that I can make jam without boxed pectin.

What pioneer skill should I tackle next?

Jacob's Ladder

One of the things Bean and I are doing for homeschool is the Discover the Old Testament curriculum.  We are doing the Grades 4-7 version, which I think should maybe be labeled "Grades 3-5" or so because Bean thinks it is a little beneath his level (and I could see Roo getting totally into it.)  I guess it's one of those things where it depends on the kid and on the family.   Anyway, I think it is a great curriculum for a child who is just getting into reading the scriptures independently.  And despite the fact that Bean thinks it is too easy for him, he has had a really good time with the projects included in the book.  Which is kind of weird because Bean is not usually a "project" kind of kid when it comes to homeschool.  But he happily made the salt dough map of the land of Canaan and had a great time painting it.  I should take a picture of that.

Anyway, for the lesson on Jacob and his dream about the ladder, the project was the "Jacob's Ladder" string game.  Bean totally got into it.  

Here he goes:


"Cat's whiskers,"  halfway through:


Here we go....


Ta-da!


Bean is very good with his hands.  I look forward to seeing what he does with that talent.  

Friday, February 14, 2014

Phew!

Wow, I can't believe how busy this last week has been!

I've got all kinds of pictures, but Picasa's "Blog This" feature is on the fritz again, which means I have to hand-compress, save edits, and upload myself.  It will be awhile before I have time to do that.

Last weekend was Roo's birthday and baptism, which was an absolutely marvelous day.  I can't wait to share a bit of it with you.  We had everyone over for lunch at our house after the baptism, so I was busy for days beforehand cleaning and prepping food.  It is hard to get my house ready for company, but we sure had a wonderful time.

Then this week... I can't believe how busy I was getting three kids ready for their Valentine's Day class parties.  Of course I signed up to help with all three parties, so I was gathering ideas and making shopping lists and buying stuff and making really cute treats that I found on Pinterest.  Then each one of the kids needed a container to hold all their Valentines in and only one of them made their container at school (which was weird to me because we always made them in class when I was a kid.)  So we had some containers to make.  And then, of course, there were the Valentines for each of the kids to give out.  And I didn't want to do it the easy way... no, just buying a box of Valentines and having them address them quick would be boring.  We got a little more creative than that and had a lot of fun in the process.  It was just a challenge to work all this extra creativity around all our normal evening activities, which don't leave much time for craft projects.  Especially when people want to eat dinner.  Which, for some reason, everyone in my house seems to think they need to do.  Every. Single. Night.  Go figure.

But anyway.  They had so much fun today at school.  They came home beaming.  It was all worth it, even after-effects of all the riotous eating.  I really think the kids feel more connected to their classmates and like they have friends at school.  This is very important to me... the situation between my kids and their peers is something I constantly obsess about.  I enjoyed going to the class parties today and watching my kids interact with their classmates.  There are some neat kids in their classes and I liked seeing the friendly interactions that were taking place.  I need to do better about getting kids from school over to play on the weekends.

So now we've gotten through Valentine's Day, but the February craziness is not over yet.  I am speaking in church on Sunday and then I have to get ready for the Rabbit's birthday and all that entails.  Plus at some point here I need to put together a "friend birthday party" for the girls (my kids get them in the years they turn even numbers.)  I haven't even started planning in earnest for that yet... just lots of possibilities crowding my brain.  Friend parties are hard for me and I tend to get really wound up about them.  But once I get it all nailed down I am sure it will be great.

And that's kind of how this whole month has been.  Stressful, but fun.  Lots of fun.  With lots of yummy food to boot.  Good times.

And I can't help but put in one picture.  Because I love Peanut's eyes.


The end.