Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Sweet Memory

It was the spring of 2010.  We were living in Utah.   Every Friday I would take my kids to a homeschool P.E. program that met at Utah Valley University.  Bean and Fish would do P.E. activities while Roo and Rabbit and I would mingle with the other homeschool moms and their small children. 

There was a mom there that had twin girls about 8 months old or so.  Every week she would have them there in a double stroller with cute bows in their hair. 

Four-year-old Roo had never seen twins before.  She was absolutely enchanted.   Every week after we got there and got settled she would come up to me with her eyes shining and quietly ask, "mom, can I go see the twins?"  I would tell her yes and she would shyly and quietly walk over near them and just Look for a long time. 

Knowing that twins run in my family I had always wondered if someday I would have them (or maybe deep down I always knew?)  And so these little encounters made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  I would tell myself, "well, if I do have twins someday then I know Roo is going to be a marvelous older sister to them."   Sometime during that spring I discovered I was expecting Peanut and I wondered if I was expecting twins.   I hoped I was.  But, no, and it was for the best at that time.  

But now I am.  And they are going to be completely adored by this entire family. 

Flavor Announcement

Yesterday was a pretty amazing day.  Watching the ultrasound of my twins was so incredible and beautiful.   An ultrasound is always an amazing thing, but there was just something about seeing the two of them interacting with each other.  They have their own special relationship in their own private world and it felt almost sacred to be taking a peek.

It was so reassuring to see that they are both growing as they should and that the reason I have felt most movement on my left side is that Baby A, on the right, has a placenta in front and a placenta behind to cushion her movements so I can't really feel them. 

Yes, I said her.  Baby A is a girl.  Baby B is also a girl.  We are finishing up our family with two little twin girls.  I can't even tell you how happy this makes me and how excited I am and how absolutely right it feels.  

Until now I have had a hard time feeling connected to these little people, which isn't too surprising since I have had a hard time feeling connected to anything these last few months, including myself.   But with some of my kids I have had more of a sense from the get-go, or even before, of who they are-- gentle impressions about their personality and talents.  With these two all I have had had up to this point is girl vibes.  But now I feel so much more connected to them.  They are two unique individuals to me, beautiful creations of God that are different than anyone else who has ever lived.  And I love them so much. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Things

I just took a batch of bread out of the oven.   It felt good to bake again,  though it may be the only thing I get done today.   It's hard to say whose bread is better these days... mine or the Badger's.  He has baked dozens of loaves over the last few weeks and he has become extremely efficient at cranking out lots of good bread pretty quickly.  He shelved the natural yeast for now since it is more time consuming.   But baking our bread is kind of a must around here.   We go through store bought bread like water and our food bill skyrockets.  Once you get in the groove it's not really a big deal to make it yourself.  However, the Badger is seriously low on gas lately and so I am trying to get back into bread baking to give him a break. 

Bean spent all week at Boy Scout camp.  He said he had a great time.   He earned merit badges in First Aid and Horsemanship, and is very close to finishing a couple other merit badges that I can't remember.  I am glad he is gaining these skills and having these experiences.   I sure missed him while he was gone though. 

Fish has been spending a lot of time with his friend from the next street over.  I am so glad to see Fish with a good friend.   Fish is a very unique person and we have raised our kids outside the main stream of popular culture,  so for him to find someone who likes the same kinds of things he does is just fantastic.   Mostly lately they have been working on learning magic tricks and putting on magic shows together.  I attended one yesterday.   It was very entertaining.  

As I sat watching that magic show, I looked over at Roo, Rabbit, Peanut, and Prince Charming lined up on benches watching and I thought how great it is to have a big family.   It's so nice to have a whole gang of kids around when you want an audience for a show or to play a group game. 

Prince Charming was sick this week with a virus.  He often would only sleep when he was right next to me with his face pressed against mine, his arms wrapped tightly around me, and his little hands clutching my hair.  I loved the feeling of those little arms and hands holding on to me so tightly.   I am treasuring these last few months where he is my littlest baby.  He is such a sweetheart.  He is going through that fun language explosion stage.   My favorite word of his is "goh-ghi-goh," which means popsicle.  

Fish just brought me lunch in bed so I will end this for now. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Best Toy for Adolescent Boys

You can't go wrong with remote control helicopters.  


Bean bugged me about getting one for a long time after he played with one at a friend's house ages ago.  I would see them in the stores and they were usually rather pricey ($50?)  Last Christmas I was shopping on Amazon and I found one that was $20 that got decent reviews.  I decided to buy it for Bean.  

That little thing was the absolutely funnest thing about our Christmas Day.  The boys played and played with it all day and we all got a kick out of it.  But the best part was Prince Charming:  whenever he would see the helicopter start to fly around, he would get all excited and say, "hoooooo!  hoooooo!"  It was utterly adorable and will go down in our family history forever.  I tried to get it on video and of course it didn't work.  But it made for a wonderful Christmas Day.  

Anyway, the boys crashed that helicopter into the walls and ceiling and furniture so many times that by the end of Christmas Day it was pretty much ruined.  I was disappointed it hadn't lasted very long, but we had so much fun with it for that day that we all agreed it was worth the $20 we spent.  

When the Badger was shopping for birthday presents for the boys, he saw that the same helicopter was going for $15 on Amazon.  He decided to buy them each one, and we would know to be more careful with them so they would last longer. 

The boys were both over the moon when they opened them.  They have been playing with them constantly ever since.  They take a lot of time to charge and then run only a short time (Bean thinks it's about 15 minutes of flying for 45 minutes of charging) but what do you expect for $15?  

The boys are getting very skilled at flying them, and it really does require quite a bit of skill.  They hardly ever crash them into things anymore.  The spatial management skills are fabulous for them to develop, especially since their dad's a pilot and if they follow in his footsteps this will actually help them with that.  I love watching those little critters buzzing around my living room with my boys concentrating on them so carefully.

I think the Badger likes the helicopters just as much as the boys do.  He gets a big kick out of grabbing them out of the air as they fly past him.  


And of course he likes to fly them himself.  

 
Alas, Prince Charming doesn't say "hoooooo!" when he sees them anymore, but they were still money very well spent!

Happy Boy

When my niece was visiting, she said that Prince Charming was the happiest baby she had ever met.  


His smiles sure are one of the best things in my life right now, and we do get a lot of them.  

Bean's Cake

Bean had a hard time when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday.  He hemmed and hawed and then said "to tell you the truth, I don't really like cake."    

Huh.  

So the Badger decided to make him a homemade ice cream cake.  Apparently as a teenager the Badger did stuff like this quite a bit but he has never made an ice cream cake for our family until now.  

And, wow!  What a cake!  





Everyone loved it, including Bean.  Crushed Oreos on the bottom, then vanilla ice cream, topped with coconut, caramel, chocolate syrup, and more crushed Oreos.  We may just have a new tradition on our hands.  

Bean Thirteen

I remember when I had little toddlers I had some friends whose oldest kids were turning thirteen.  They talked about how old they felt being the mother of a teenager.  I could not even imagine.  It seemed so far away.

But life has a funny way of going on, and now I find myself in their shoes.  My oldest just turned thirteen.  I have begun a phase which will last almost the next twenty years of my life: mothering teenagers.

I've heard a lot of scary things about mothering teenagers.  So far, it's been fine and I'm feeling very confident.  Of course, it's only been a few days.

We gave Bean a guitar for his birthday.  It seemed like a very teenager-y present.  I've been wanting to have a guitar in the household for a long time.  I play a little bit, and I am sure one or more of the kids will take to it.  Bean, with his love of cowboy music, is a highly likely candidate.  He was very pleased with it, at any rate.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fish's Yo-Yo

One of Fish's presents was a good-quality yo-yo (it was this one, actually.)  It's a really cool yo-yo and he was very happy with it.  


We have all enjoyed playing with the yo-yo.  I discovered that the Badger is quite the yo-yo whiz.  (The things you learn after nearly 15 years of marriage!)  The other day Peanut wanted a turn with the yo-yo.  I thought it was so adorable how the Badger spent some time helping her with it.  She had to stand on the piano bench because she's not tall enough.  My pictures weren't great, but they give you an idea.  






Traditional Birthday Food

Every year we ask Fish what he wants for his birthday dinner and he always says "chicken noodle soup."  It's his favorite, favorite food.  The Badger thinks this is so weird because in his mind birthday dinners should consist of party food like pizza or barbeque, so he always tries to talk Fish into doing something else.  But Fish is adamant.  Chicken Noodle Soup It Must Be.  I have to say, we make pretty good chicken noodle soup around here (we like it creamy!) so I enjoy Fish's birthday meal.   And so does he.


It's been five years now since I started making this amazing chocolate cake for Fish every year.  This is a tradition I really look forward to because this cake is absolute heaven.  It is my perfect chocolate cake recipe frosted with chocolate whipped cream.  Most years I decorate it with a yummy rich chocolate frosting, but this year I was tired, so we improvised with Legos and M&Ms.  



For Bean, it has been something of a tradition to have lasagna.  The Badger definitely considers this a party food because it takes all day to make and Badger Lasagna is incredibly yummy.  This year he really outdid himself making it in a huge pan that held almost two lasagna's worth of ingredients.  It was a masterpiece, but it was so thick it took forever to bake.  We were all so hungry and we could smell it and it was torture. But when we finally got to eat it we all agreed it was the Badger's best lasagna ever.  





Monday, July 21, 2014

Finished




The bunk bed for the girls is absolutely perfect and they sleep on it happily.  I snapped this picture of them early yesterday morning.  (Coordinating bedding is on my wish list, but in the mean time at least they're comfortable.)  

Oh, Badger, you genius!  Thank you so much!  Especially for painting it, which I know was a pain.  But it really looks great.  

Roo loves her top bunk.  She feels like it's her own little space where she can hang out and do things like make those little rubber band bracelets that are the current tween fad.  However, both Peanut and Prince Charming have no problem climbing up to the top and do so frequently, so I keep telling her that she shouldn't try to keep special stuff up there she's trying to keep away from the babies.  After the novelty wears off they probably won't go up there so much anymore and she can have it more private.  

Oh, and the mattresses are great, in case you were wondering.  I've laid on the Rabbit's bed and it's very comfortable.  I could totally sleep there.  

A Visit from Uncle Horrible Beast

When I was a little girl, one of my most favorite people in the entire world was my brother Horrible Beast.  He is fifteen years older than me, so from the time I can remember he had moved out of the home and I only saw him a couple times a year when he would come to visit.  Oh, how much fun I had with him on those visits!  He is very good with children, endlessly patient, and a master teacher (he is now a math professor).  He taught me how to solve a Rubik's Cube when I was about eleven.  And he LIKED it when I called him Horrible Beast (he called me Small Beast.)


Alas, now that I am an adult I don't see him very often.  And my children have been growing up not knowing the awesomeness of Uncle Horrible Beast.  But finally, almost five years since we last saw him, he and his two children were able to come see us as they passed through our area on their way from here to there.  


And the kids immediately adored both him and his delightful children.  We had a wonderful visit.  Now the kids are all begging to have Uncle Horrible Beast come back again.  I hope he does soon!  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Building a Bunkbed


The bed situation in our home has been a little inadequate for awhile.  The problem that we have is that every time we move we end up getting rid of as much as possible, especially of bulky items, and that ends up being the old junky stuff we were given for free, which is usually beds and dressers.

Since we moved into this house, Roo and Rabbit have had to share one twin mattress that sits directly on the floor.  Bean and Fish did this for years... in fact, when I had separate beds for them they would still sleep together in one of them, so it hasn't bothered me.  But we knew that eventually the girls would need a bunk bed.  And Bean's mattress is not very comfortable, so there was that issue also.  Plus, we've been getting a lot more company around here lately than we used to when we lived in Oklahoma and we have been dreaming of a bed in the downstairs office that we could use for company or for when the Badger or I wanted to take a nap somewhere Quiet.  But it's not like we have lots of extra cash sitting around, so we had to wait for some really good deals to come along.

The Badger recently discovered these interesting mattresses on Amazon.  They shipped them to you tightly compressed and rolled up, but they are "real" mattresses with springs.  They were on sale for a really reasonable price (we paid even less than what they're listed at today), so he bought one (twin-sized).  We were very impressed with how comfortable and nice it was for being so inexpensive and being shipped in a roll.  So we bought another one.  And the Badger decided it was time to get serious about a bunk bed for the girls.

When we first moved to Oklahoma, I bought a bunk bed off Craigslist for the boys.  It ended up being one of the best things I've ever bought because it is incredibly sturdy.  Most of the bunk beds I see in stores, unless they cost more than $500, look like they wouldn't stand up to two active boys monkeying all over them.  But these are like a rock, and they will last through their teenage years.  They were hand-made, and the Badger said the design was very simple and could easily be duplicated.  So he decided to make the girls' bunk bed.  I think he is so totally awesome, and the girls are very excited that they will soon have a new bed.



Meanwhile, the neighbors had a garage sale and sold us a queen bed set for a great price.  Now we have a guest bed downstairs too!  It is really nice to know that all my kids will now have adequate space and comfort at night and we have room for guests as well!

Scripture Time


In our family, it is our intention to have a daily devotional where we read the scriptures and pray together, and maybe sing a couple of hymns too.  I will be honest and say that we don't do a very good job doing this consistently right now.  However, I can see that even though we haven't been doing it every single day without fail, we do it often enough for it to be a pattern around here.  I know this because now when we call for family devotional my little guy immediately goes to the scripture shelf and gets a book for himself.  Then he gets comfy with it on the floor and starts "reading."  


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Outside Evening

I took these a few evenings ago when I was out front keeping an eye on the kids' play.  The girls were playing princesses or something with Kate next door and the baby was just being adorable as usual.  






Pretty decent shot of Peanut's pixie cut... I'm still getting used to it, but I think it's cute.  It makes her look a lot like Fish at this age, which resemblance I never noticed before. 







This little suit Prince Charming is wearing was a baby shower gift when I was expecting Bean.  I'm sure it was chosen for him because of the airplane on the leg.  I love it, and I love him in it.  


Summer evenings really are lovely.  

Fourth of July Lunch Pictures

Just found these on my camera.  The Badger must have taken them.  A happy picture and a silly picture.  


One Month Later

On June 12th I posted about my garden, saying I couldn't wait to see how it looked in a month.  I realized this morning that it's July 12th, so I took some pictures of my beautiful garden.  I can't believe how happy my tomato plants are!  The potatoes are doing great too, and the pole beans are starting to climb up their strings.  The transplanted strawberries are bouncing back.


I opened up some tomato cages and used them for pea fences in the little strip of dirt between the sidewalk and the garage.  Those peas are coming along!  It's still so weird to me how behind everything is here because of our short growing season.  So even though my friends in other zones are picking tomatoes already, I am happy with how things are coming along.  We just have to wait a little longer.  


Meanwhile, the kids are learning and having good experiences in their gardens.  Even though Bean was super stoked about his garden going into the season, I have a hard time getting him to thoroughly weed his plot.  He picks at it, but never really gets the job done.  However, in his defense, it's a pretty large chunk for a kid and the dirt in some places has lots of clay and is hard to weed.  So really his garden is doing pretty well.  



Fish loves to take care of his garden and make it look absolutely perfect.  He has been able to harvest some nice radishes so far, and that makes him happy.  This little piece of ground is just the right size for him and the dirt is not as hard here, so he does have an easier time than Bean.  


Roo's little garden sits in one of several places that is completely infested with bindweed.  We were starting to get that under control when we had a huge purslane outbreak.  So she's had more than her share of weeds, and they grew a lot during this last week while she was at day camp.  So now I am helping her clear them out.  It's a slow process getting all those itty bitty purlsane plants separated from the itty bitty carrots and broccoli and things, but we're getting there.  She and the Rabbit have also been enjoying picking radishes and bringing them to me.  I enjoy eating them.  





Friday, July 11, 2014

Just Stuff

I don't use the blogger app on my phone as much as I thought I would.   Maybe it's because every time I switch over to another app I lose everything I wrote unless I save it first, which I forget to do if I am answering a text or something else that needs an immediate response.   Or maybe it's because my fat fingers always hit the wrong keys on this little keypad,  so I am constantly having to back up and retype.  Or maybe it's because I have so little brainpower lately.  Even my blog, which has been my main creative outlet for years, seems too much mental effort lately. 
But, dear blog, I still do love you.  Yes I do.  And I will persevere.  
This summer has been weird.  Remember last summer?  We were living in that tiny duplex so I signed the kids up for absolutely everything under the sun and we went to every community event just to get out of the house.   I had enough energy and we had a lot of fun in the not-too-hot weather.  This summer I haven't even taken them to the splash pad or park once.  And for the first time in ten years we did not enroll in the library summer reading program (practically a cardinal sin for me).  We never go anywhere unless we have to (ie we committed to it before I was pregnant), or unless the Badger wants to, which usually means a trip to the mountains on one of his rare days off.  
But when I think about it, we have done some stuff.  The girls had a dance recital (I wrote a huge post about it and lost it and haven't had it in me to write it all again yet), the boys went to a rodeo (gotta love cowboy country!) and Roo and Rabbit went to an awesome day camp.  (We are not doing as many camps this year as we did last year, but we are doing a few.  Bean has a science camp next week.)  Oh yeah, and we did the big community-wide vacation bible school again, which was great.  That's a bigger list than I thought now that I write it all down. 
If there's nothing else going on they are still happy.  They play outside for hours.  I am such a huge believer in unstructured outdoor play for children.  We've had some ups and downs with various neighborhood friends which I won't go into, but right now the girls all love to play with the very nice girl next door and Fish has a nice friend one street over that he has been spending a lot of time with.  So that at least is going well, even if I get a little stressed trying to make sure the babies don't escape into the front yard when the boys leave the door ajar in their haste to get to their bikes. 
After seeing some posts on Pinterest, I bought a set of popsicle molds.  I remember having some as a kid and I would freeze juice or kool-aid in them and the results were so hard and icy... I didn't have any desire to buy any molds for my kids before now.  But there were some really yummy-looking recipes on Pinterest, so I bought a set.  It's been fun.  Yogurt makes a big difference in softness with fruit popsicles.   And then today I tried a recipe for Nutella popsicles.   2 cups whipped cream (recipe called for cool whip but I don't like cool whip so I whipped my own cream), 1 cup milk, and 1/3 cup or so of Nutella.   Mix, pour, freeze.   Wow.  The texture just like "real" ice cream bars and they were delicious.   I could have eaten the whole batch, but I only have six molds so the little kids have to share as it is.   I need to buy more molds, except the one thing I don't love about this homemade popsicle business is washing the molds afterwards. 
I guess the summer is about half over.  Wow.  I think the kids are having a happy summer despite my not feeling well most of the time (and truthfully, sometimes being a bit grumpy as a result.)  I hope they look back on this time with fond memories of all the time they spent using their imaginations. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Visit from my Parents

So, I mentioned that Bean and Fish were in Utah the last half of June.  They needed a way to get home, so my parents drove them back.  They could only stay a couple of days, but it was so nice to see them.  Even better, they brought my niece with them.  When she was younger I called her Cousin Fiend on my blog, but now that she's older maybe we should come up with something different (ideas, Pineapple?)  Anyway, she and Roo are only four months apart and they love each other to smithereens.   I love watching them play together.   

My dad's traveling days are numbered... he's 82.  It's not fun watching your parents get older.  So we were so glad he could come and we cherished every minute of the visit.  Here are some pictures:






Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fourth of July

I have no pictures of our Fourth of July this year. It wasn't our best Fourth, as you can imagine.  
The Badger planned to barbeque, so we could at least do something festive.  He makes awesome hamburgers (I love you, cow-in-the-freezer!) 
Most of the day, though, both the Badger and I were totally wiped out.  I see this a lot with my dear Badger lately: he has been doing nearly everything around here for more than two months and he is physically and mentally weary.  A couple of times a day he has to just go lay down on the bed and listen to some Piano Guys.  They are very good for both relaxing and recharging at the same time.  Thank goodness for the Piano Guys.  
Anyway, he finally did get the barbeque put on at lunch time and it was yummy.  I managed to make some coleslaw (I am easing back into the kitchen as sous chef) and later in the day I managed to put together a strawberry rhubarb cobbler,  which ended up being dinner.  So we ate well. 
And then in the late evening we pulled ourselves together enough to attend the local fireworks display.  We are not crowd people even under normal circumstances,  so we found a lovely place to park where we could see the show from a mile or two away and then make a quick getaway when it was over.  The Badger, Bean, Fish, and the Rabbit sat on top of the van.  That was a highlight for them.  And everyone loved the fireworks.   That is why I dragged myself out of bed: because fireworks are magical for children.  It's such a simple thing that makes them so happy.  So at least they have something wonderful to remember about the holiday. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Storytime


Nothing makes me happier than moments like these.  

Sleeping Baby

I was just going through photos and found some from June I forgot to blog, including this cute one of Prince Charming.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

First Haircut

Oh, I've known that we needed to do it for awhile now.   He's was looking kind of shaggy and I could have given him pigtails in back.  But it's such a bittersweet thing.  Little boys look so grown up after their first haircut.  I just kept putting it off.  


But when my friend was over she offered to do it.  And Prince Charming just sat there, good as gold, while she snipped away his sweet baby fuzz.  



In the end, though, we were all pleased with the results.






(He looks a lot like Bean at this age, doesn't he?)