Monday, August 24, 2009

one week to go...

i LOVE the first day of school.
i love the first week of school.
ok, let's face it, i'm a big fan of school in general. it's a good time, all around. and, i'm very, very grateful that my children feel the same way thus far.

chuck went back to school today for a week of teacher in-service and preparation. i can't help but laugh about that first year that i didn't go back to school because i was 9 months pregnant and waiting for my firstborn to arrive. i realized that i had enjoyed a "first day" every year since i started kindergarten in '80 (from school to college to my career as a teacher), and i was so sad! i kept bugging chuck to let me go out and help him with his back-to-school shopping. you know - the posters and red pens. he wasn't having it. he's a low-maintenance, bare minimum kinda guy and it shows up in his classroom. so, instead, as the neighborhood children stood on the corner awaiting the bus with their shiny new shoes and lunch boxes, i sat in my house, all fat and pregnant, waiting for a child that was in no hurry to arrive.

well, he did eventually arrive. and i was quite distracted for a while. then #2 came the next fall. and the following fall i discovered i was expecting #3. by the time #4 came along the year after that,... well, let's just say that school was not at the forefront of my mind. i always got a little nostalgic around the beginning of september, but that was the extent of my longing.

the longing, however, has returned. not for me to return to school but for my children. and, i don't want to get rid of them. really, i don't. in fact, i'd have to say that this summer was a lot of fun having them and chuck around (i'm not too proud to admit that my love of schedules and structure has made previous summers... uh... less than appealing). but my kids are ready to get back to "normal." they're bored (don't even get me started on my well-practiced sermon aptly entitled "How the Heck can You be Bored; Have You Seen How Many Toys You Own?"). and this year, as i shopped for their supplies and clothes and shoes, and as i read their back-to-school letters and talked over their teacher assignments, i actually wasn't reliving my longings. i think i've finally let go of my love of school as a student and a teacher; now, i love school as a parent.

i love to see my kids learning.
i love to help them with their homework (really).
i love hearing my kids' stories and my husband's stories at the dinner table.
i love volunteering in their classrooms, watching their teachers do their hard job and appreciating, from experience, the effort they are willing to give for the sake of my children.
i love watching them interact with peers and sometimes learn the hard lessons that come with that.
i love the structure our days take on as my children assume the responsibility of their lives (albeit, in small ways).

now, i'm not saying that's what all mom's mean when they say they're glad their kids are going back to school.
but that's my story.

Friday, August 14, 2009

the day's bounty... and the fruits of my labors.

one day last week, my daily garden harvest resulted in this.
in all fairness, this was quite an abundant day for our little garden, but as the summer progresses, abundance such as this is becoming more and more common.

i decided it was a good time to make some tomato sauce. i discovered a really simple and relatively quick way to make homemade tomato sauce when i was inundated with someone else's "abundance" a few years ago. i've enjoyed using it so much that i thought i'd pass it along...

i can't give you exact amounts here, because everyone's produce is different sizes. i figured the pictures would help, though.

Roughly chop enough tomatoes to fill a 15 x 11 sheet pan. you can also do 2 pans at once. on top of the tomatoes add one onion and one pepper and about 3 cloves of garlic (you can adjust according to your preference) all roughly chopped drizzle with olive oil and season with coarse salt and pepper. i also add some basil and oregano (fresh or dried).
place the pan in a preheated oven (350 works well) for about 30 minutes to til the vegetables begin to break down. they should look like this.
after allowing the veggies to cool for a bit, place them in a blender. i've learned from experience that putting the tomato mixture in a spouted bowl first will save a lot of mess and hassle, even if it means cleaning another item.
the veggies will only need to pulse in the blender for a few seconds. when blended, they'll look like this! the other bonus of using a large measuring bowl is that it is easier to tell how much finished product you end up with.
pour the sauce into a large ziploc bag and carefully remove as much air as possible. label with the contents and amount. lay the bag flat in your freezer, and don't forget it's in there the next time you need sauce!

ps) forgot to add that i often sprinkle some sugar into my final product depending on the flavor of the tomatoes. another trick is to season your sauce further once you are ready to use it. tweaking it to make it your own seems to be the key!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

weekly report...

my children are outside enduring their daily torture, aka "playtime." i thought maybe that would give me time to post, but i seem to spending more time acting as referee than writer. i am counting the days 'til summer is over - not because i don't like having my kids around,... but because they are tired of being home!

we were glad to have chuck and patrick arrive home safely on friday after a full week of camp. however, by saturday afternoon, patrick was complaining of a headache and woke up sunday morning with a fever (apparently, a few other campers had it, too). by sunday evening, tucker was complaining of a sore throat (surprise!) and fever, but it was not the same virus patrick had. tucker had been exposed to hand foot and mouth disease earlier in the week and had finally come down with it. thankfully, both boys were back to normal my monday afternoon, but tucker's throat was sore for another day or so.

on tuesday, i took tucker to the ENT for his consult regarding a possible tonsillectomy. although his current symptoms were not due to strep, the spots in his throat were definitely convincing, and the doctor agreed that a T and A was the best option, stating that tucker being sick so often at that age would "only get worse." we'll be scheduling the procedure for september - as soon as the kids are in school but before the next "strep season" begins.

for now, it seems that everyone is healthy. despite the presence of 2 viruses in the house at once, the girls both managed to escape getting sick. this week, the older three are enjoying CFC's vbs. tucker is enjoying having mom and dad to himself each evening (and a few dinner outings...) he's finally caught on to wii sports, so we've played a bit of that. he and i enjoy playing golf... although a 3 year old trash-talking golfer is something to behold.

i've spent a lot of my free time this week catching up on photo organization. the most current pics in my photo albums are from this past christmas, which is really not that bad. i did some online investigation and, through website sign-ups, coupon codes, and photo credits, ordered around 400 prints this week for just the cost of shipping (woo hoo). i love having my albums up to date... and because i keep them out, the kids look at them a lot. i know this is one of those things that's slowly becoming out-dated, but one of my fondest childhood memories is looking through family photo albums which my mom so faithfully update. i'm glad my kids can do the same thing.

in addition to catching up on prints, i've also been taking advantage coupon codes for different photo projects. a few weeks ago, was offering 25 free photo cards (for just the cost of shipping). i cashed in on this offer three times (3 email accounts = 3 website accounts) and ordered our christmas cards. premature? maybe. but that's one less thing i need to remember or budget for in december. this week, i used shutterfly's offer for free shipping and 30% off all photo books to create 2 different books (one of tucker's train trip and one of lucy). although i do keep my albums current, i've wanted to start scrapbooks for each of the kids - with a page or 2 for each year of their lives. however,... this has not been happening. with a good coupon code, i can make a photo book with less effort and about the same cost. i'm not planning on doing this each year for each of them... but i know they'll enjoy them just the same.

chuck has been home all week and will be home next week, as well. after that, he's back to school! i'm kinda glad he opted out of any summer work for these two weeks, because it's allowed him some time to work on other projects around the house - like painting patrick's room and the living room. he also replaced 3 ceiling fans that had mysteriously begun to die (after only 4 years!). we were going to just buy new ones, but he decided to call the customer service number he found on the motors. upon talking to a service rep, he discovered that we were able to return them to Lowes for a store credit equal to the original price of the fans. most fans have a limited lifetime warranty - i guess most people don't pay much attention to that, though. it worked out well, though, because we got 3 new fans for way less than what we were prepared to pay for 2 fans. i use coupon codes,... chuck uses warranties. it's all good.

well, the kids did their time and are back inside now. time to make lunch...

Friday, August 7, 2009

trying to keep up

am i the only one who blogs in my head?

some nights, i lay in bed plotting my next post as i fall asleep. my problem, lately, is that those well thought out posts never get posted. hmm... this could be partially because updates that involve pictures require the extra "camera" step. this week, though, i think it's been because chuck's not here. although i am with the kids most of the time on a regular basis, it is much different when there is no reprieve at 5:00. oh, we've survived just fine, and i've kept the house in order,... but i haven't had a moment where i'm not with kids - and that is a substantial difference. a decent bedtime keeps me sane - because then i get an hour or so to unwind. but i'd like some alone time to be productive. or to not be productive. ok, let's be honest,... i'd just like some alone time.

then maybe i'll put blog on paper. or,... screen. we'll see.

Monday, August 3, 2009

my girl

chloe came home saturday after an extra week at the beach. we were so glad to see her. she seemed twice as tan and twice as tall. funny what 7 days can do.

five minutes after she walked into the house, she informed me that her front tooth was "really wiggly." one little jiggle and i said, "oh, i can get that out." a few seconds later, and it was in my hand.

here's the new look...

sometimes a week away from mom and dad can result in some, shall we say, "heart issues." maybe it's just that, at this age, every moment counts when it comes to parenting. i don't know. but i've had to talk to her more than i'd like to about attitudes and kindness and words and all that fun stuff. this morning she woke up in a particularly foul mood, so i sent her back to her bed so i could contemplate the best course of action.

i decided we'd have a talk.

i pointed out that when she was little, when she "sinned" it was always against me or Daddy. that's why we would punish her. but, now as she gets older and is more aware of "life," she's not just disobedient to her parents. instead, she's also disobeying God. i think this was something of a revelation to her and it led to a lengthy discussion about Jesus and sin and forgiveness - and what it means to really have Jesus in your heart.

a miracle cure? not really. but i believe she is one step closer in working out her salvation. and sometimes those steps are pretty miraculous.

a few other pics of my girl...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

my garden is still growing...

it was nice to return from vacation and see its progress since we had been gone. we're learning that zucchini don't take long to get out of hand.
at the moment, we have an abundance of unripe tomatoes. and i mean, an abundance. i'm working on a plan for what to do when they all ripen at once.