Monday, November 30, 2015

Happy Birthday Peanut!

My little Peanut is now Five years old.  She is such a happy, giggly, fun little person.  She is still really struggling with all the turmoil she has experienced in her years.  We've moved four times and she's lived in four different states, plus she's had three younger siblings born, including twins.  She seems to be a barometer for the stress level in the household, and we've had a lot of stress over the last year plus.  So she has struggled, and we have done our best to help her feel loved and secure so that more and more we see her default setting, which is cheerful and loving. 

Despite the fact that she tends to act quite young for her age, she occasionally says the most uncanny things... for instance, there was one day a couple years ago when the Badger was feeling bad about the state of his car (a 1995 Honda that has seen better days) and was looking into buying a new one that would have really been a stretch to our budget.  Peanut comes up to him out of the blue, not knowing any of this, and says, "love your car, Dad.  Love your car!!"  She also every now and then will tell us that Jesus told her such and such.  I know kids pretend and make things up, but I also know that Jesus is close to little children, so who knows?  Out of the mouths of babes....  

For her birthday, we decorated the dining room with streamers.  She was so thrilled!  Then we made her the cupcakes she requested.  She loved the pink frosting and clear, shiny sprinkles I put on them.  She enthusiastically thanked me several times for all this.   I love this age, when such small things are so magical to them.  

Here are a bunch of random pictures from the day.  First, here we all are sitting down to a birthday meal of sandwiches, potato chips, grapes, and Izze sodas.  

The birthday girl:

Twig is ready to party!  

So is Leaf:

The Rabbit is starting to get a little silly:

Peanut is enjoying her sandwich:

My two adolescents look a little surly, but they're loving the food:

The Rabbit is getting a lot silly:

Meanwhile, Roo is demurely eating her sandwich:

The Rabbit is entering the zone of extreme silliness:

The Rabbit is now completely out of control...

Cupcake time!  Frog wants to help.  Your turn is coming soon, Frog.  

Happy birthday to a wonderful Peanut who is dearly, dearly loved!


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because I love my family, I love to cook, and I love to eat!

It seems like every year we are somewhere completely different doing something drastically different for Thanksgiving.  We have had Thanksgiving at the Oregon coast (2007), in southern New Mexico with the chile peppers (2008), and in a log cabin overlooking Bear Lake in southeast Idaho (2004).  We have eaten roast out of a crockpot for our dinner because our kitchen was torn apart for a remodel (2011).  We have had a huge crowd of cousins over to eat with us just days after moving into a newly-constructed house (2002).  Last year, I came home from the hospital with the twins on Thanksgiving Day, and my family all went to the Badger's sister's house for a feast while I stayed home and snuggled babies.

This year everything was very traditional.  It was just the ten of us at home because my Kansas cousins weren't able to come. We told the kids no going to the neighbors' houses and no screens. The weather was gloomy and rainy, but the house was warm and full of good smells.  The Badger cooked the turkey (I have still never cooked a turkey in my life, thanks to him!) and made potatoes and gravy.  I asked each of the kids what they wanted to help me make.  Fish and I made stuffing.  The Rabbit and I made rolls.  Roo and I made green bean casserole and sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce.  Peanut and Frog helped with the appetizer buffet.   I love cooking with my kids. 

When we had Thanksgiving with the Beaver family two years ago, Mrs. Beaver introduced me to the idea of setting out an appetizer buffet in the hours preceding the dinner so that everyone has something to snack on while they wait for turkey.  We decided to do that again this year, and we did it Mrs. Beaver-style: cranberry bread, cheeseball and crackers, olives, grapes, and pickles.  The girls enjoyed helping me decorate the table.  I love having kids old enough to help with decorating.

 It was a huge hit from noon until we finally ate dinner at 6:30 pm.  By that point, it was pretty much all gone (and we suspect that Bean ate half the cheeseball all by himself!)   The downside was that the little kids weren't at all hungry for turkey.  Frog literally ate nothing for Thanksgiving dinner, and Peanut only ate a couple of bites of potatoes.  The rest of us were so full after only one helping that we didn't even have room for pie.  But there was plenty of time for pie and leftovers in the days following.

I wanted to write down some of the highlights of my day.
  • I read aloud Louisa May Alcott's An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving to the older kids during the morning.  I love that story more every time I read it, and I loved watching my kids enjoy it.  It was great having them pinned down (away from friends and electronics) so that we could do things like this together. 
  • Roo helped the younger children make a gratitude tree, pictured here as a decoration on our improvised Thanksgiving dinner sideboard.
  • The Rabbit surprised me by rolling the roll dough out into a perfect circle with much skill, and then she and Peanut had a blast rolling up the wedges of dough.  The rolls turned out Absolutely Perfect.  I shall have to make butterhorn rolls more often now that I have kids who can happily take care of the time-consuming part for me.
  • While we waited for the Badger to put the finishing touches on the turkey, I led the kids in singing a couple of Thanksgiving songs, including my favorite Let All Things Now Living. They sang readily and it was a beautiful moment for me.

  •  Frog interrupted everyone constantly during dinner by yelling repeatedly various Frog-phrases at the top of his lungs.  "Do you wanna dance, Hot Dog?" was a favorite.  (We've been watching a little too much Night at the Museum lately.)  
  • The babies happily enjoyed a tub of turkey-and-sweet-potato baby food for their Thanksgiving dinner.
  • I sliced my finger on a chipped glass platter just a few minutes before dinner, which meant there was no way I could do the dishes... oh, rats!  
  • I spent much time throughout the day pondering what I was grateful for.  The thing that was foremost in my mind this year was being grateful for all the grief I have been spared.  Shortly before dinner, I opened the oven to take out the green bean casserole.  It was on the bottom rack under the stuffing, so I was having a hard time getting it out.  Usually when I open the oven I first check to make sure the babies are nowhere near, then I open and shut it as quickly as possible.  This time, I was totally distracted by trying to figure out how to get the pan out from under the lip of the rack and I didn't notice Twig crawling up.  After I had fiddled with it for awhile I finally got it out.  Just then I looked over and saw Twig sitting there just a couple feet from the oven and my heart skipped a beat.  In the blink of an eye she could have been right there and put both her hands down on the inside of the oven door.  That's what she always does with the dishwasher.  There was no reason for her not to do that, and I would have been too distracted to stop her in time.  I don't know why she didn't, but for that and so many, many other griefs that I have been spared, I am profoundly grateful.  

Let all things now living
A song of thanksgiving
To God, our creator, 
Triumphantly raise

Who fashioned and made us
Protected and stayed us
Who guideth us on 
To the end of our days

His banner is o'er us
His light goes before us
A pillar of fire
Shining forth in the night

'Til shadows have vanished
And darkness is banished
As forward we travel
From light into Light!  

Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy Birthday Leaf and Twig!

We made it through the first year with twins!  What a milestone!  It was a crazy, hard year, but oh, so worth it.  Those moments of wanting to break down and cry because there are two of them needing more than I had to give were more than compensated by those times when I thought my heart would burst because there were two sweet smiles and two sets of shining eyes.

None of my kids walked before 15 months, and it looks like the twins won't either.  They recently have started standing on their own for a few seconds at a time.  The kids get so excited when they see them do that.  It's so strange to think that the next big thing for them will be learning to walk, and then all my kids will have that highly useful skill.  It will be nice to have them not always getting the knees and legs of their clothes so filthy and torn. 

They are so adored by all their older siblings, who love to play with them.  They have all sorts of strange nicknames for them and the twins get called the oddest things, such as "Wubba" and "Beans." 

Twig is actually slightly more verbal than Leaf, but both of them are babbling a lot now.  I love baby babbles. 

They are really starting to interact with each other lately.  Sometimes this is Leaf conking Twig on the head.  But sometimes it's one of them waking up and looking over to see if the other one is awake and then crawling over to babble a greeting.  I can't wait to watch their relationship unfold. 

Here are a zillion pictures from their very simple birthday celebration.  On the day of Leaf's birthday we made gingerbread and served it with applesauce.  They had fun demolishing their little cakes.  Then on Twig's actual birthday we gave them their presents: they each got board book and a pair of leather shoes.   The pictures of the present-opening session mostly didn't turn out because I kept trying to shoot without flash and there really wasn't enough light for that.  So they are not the greatest pictures, but I know my family will appreciate them.





Leaf again:

Leaf on the left, Twig on the right:



And finally, Twig:

Happy Birthday Badger!

So, the Badger just turned 40.  I told him that when I was growing up in Minnesota, the 40th birthday was a big deal.  Black balloons, tombstones, signs that said "Over the Hill."  Gag gifts.  And someone would probably fork your lawn.  He said, "no thank you" to all of that.  It was just as well, because we had the stomach flu going through our house the day before and we were busy cleaning up. 

However, despite the puking, he says he had a very nice birthday.  He wanted an apple pie.  I have had trouble with pies in recent years.  My crust has been difficult, and so I rarely attempt anything with a top crust.  But I was determined, and I worked very slowly and carefully.  And my crust came together so perfectly that I decided to make a lattice top.  The kids were awestruck... it's been so many years since I've made one that I don't think they'd ever seen me do it before.  Anyway, I was pretty pleased at how it turned out. 

We also made salmon and potatoes and had a candlelight dinner.  The kids LOVE it when we eat by candlelight.  So do I. 

Yes, we put our Christmas tree up early this year.  We had to go buy a new one because our old one got left behind when we moved, and Target had a sale last weekend so I went and got one and when I brought it home everyone was so excited that we just had to put it up RIGHT THEN.   Bring on the Holidays!

The kids all wanted to buy Daddy a present.  I took them shopping with me and they picked out chocolate bars and other such things.  I was touched that they wanted to spend their precious money on presents for their Dad.  They also made him some darling homemade cards.  All was much appreciated and enjoyed.  

We are so grateful for our Badger!  Happy Birthday, dear!

One More Random Twin Picture

Okay, two more.  You're welcome, Mom.  

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Twins Explore

Having two little babies climbing around exploring the house is quite delightful.  It seems everywhere you turn there is a little person having an adventure.


Leaf on the left, Twig on the right



This is Leaf's new thing: she loves to peek through her legs and giggle.  So utterly delightful.  Especially when she has a birdie on her bottom.  Life just doesn't get any better than this, folks. 

And then when they're all tired out, there are plenty of people who are willing to snuggle them for a nap. 

A Game of Golf

We had these free mini-golf coupons, so on one of the gorgeous days in early November I took the kids mini golfing.  Bean thought he was too old for that, so I left him home with Frog and Leaf.  That left me with just five kids!  Trying to golf while wearing Twig in a wrap was a challenge, but we figured it out.  And she was very cute trying to grab the golf club and do a little putting herself. 

Peanut did not like it at first, but once she got the hang of putting she had a blast like all the other kids. 

On a November afternoon, we had the course to ourselves.  That meant the kids could mess around and repeat their favorite holes.  It was a lovely outing!