Friday, June 30, 2006
This has always been one of my favorite pictures - from when I was a young child visiting the Albright-Knox to when I was an adult and visited again. It's a glimpse into another time in history (which I always love), but more than that I love the expressions on their faces! The cardinal looks very pleased with the sauce . . . his chef, not so much. Looking further into the painting, I love the detail of the food waiting to be prepared, the flooring, even the stove and pots.
It's just a fun picture!
On average, approximately how many times per day do you yawn?
I have no idea? 5? 10? 20? I've never thought about it.
What was your most memorable school field trip?
When we lived in Texas (so I must have been 4th? 5th? grade?) we visited a nuclear power plant. Whenever I think of field trips, I remember walking outside through the equipment, and the tour guide joking that we'd all go home glowing. It also must have been around the holidays, because I remember singing "Silver Bells" on the bus. This is the *only* field trip I can remember taking.
Fill in the blank: I was extremely __________________ this week.
Which color do you think of when you hear the word "soothing"?
Blue. That's why my bedroom is painted 2 different shades of blue.
What is something that, if you had to, you could save up the money to buy within one month?
A single plane ticket to visit family.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
They were yummy. Like sinking your teeth into a big, soft, sugar cookie. Topped with fresh buttercream frosting . . . they were heavenly ;)
Yesterday, we were shopping and N noticed a package of pre-made mini-cupcakes in the bakery section. We picked them up and had them after lunch. Both boys ate them and said "Hmmm, these are not as good as Bunny's birthday cupcakes!" And, I had to agree. Clearly, I've spoiled us all! LOL!
Here's the recipe - they're from Billy's Bakery in NYC -
Makes about 30 cupcakes
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.
2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.
3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about two-thirds full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.
4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Serve at room temperature.
Monday, June 26, 2006
As the boys were in bed tonight, and we were starting the rosary - C said "OH!! I was the ONLY kid who knew the "Hail Mary" and the "Our Father"! None of the other kids knew either prayer! The teacher almost didn't believe me until I said them both - just smooth like!" He went on to say that she had asked him if his mom worked with him, and he replied "No, not really. We say the rosary every night before bed, so I know the prayers. OH, and my mom always says the "Hail Mary" when she gets stuck in traffic, too. I know the "Glory Be" and the "Apostles Creed", too - do you want to hear?" Apparently she didn't let him recite those for the group. He was so proud of himself, and I was so proud of him as well. I wonder if the rest of the kids were shy - or if none of them really knew the prayers?
The rosary is such a special prayer in our family. When N was about a year old, he started having horrible temper tantrums at bedtime. I found myself so frustrated night after night - and then one night I decided to start reciting "Hail Mary"'s - mostly to find some sort of control for myself. That evolved into saying one decade. Then, I added on the beginning prayers. After a month or so, I began reciting the entire rosary with them each night; minus the mysteries, because it was dark in their room and I didn't have them memorized. After another month or so, I decided it was time to memorize the mysteries and did so - so we complete a full rosary, with mysteries now most nights before bed. The boys usually fall asleep during the prayers, or if not asleep - they are completely relaxed and ready for sleep. When DH is home, he joins us as well and we take turns saying decades. The boys usually take turns with the inital prayers, and then I take over for the decades. I like to imagine them as adults, remembering that they fell asleep to the sound of their mom praying the rosary.
C started Vacation Bible School today. I was excited because our parish is using a program that was written specifically for Catholic parishes -- Growing with the Saints. I was also excited because the saint being used this year is St. Patrick - and being 1/2 Irish - I have a special place for St. Patrick! So far, so good, right??
Well, I pick C up and I see all these pig crafts . . . he made a pig mask and a pig magnet for the refrigerator. Some of the other grades made pig banks. I asked him "So, why pigs?" and he told me that God had sent flying pigs to bring St. Patrick honey. That was as much of the story as he could recall for me.
I never heard this story before? Can any of my readers help me out? I did a quick internet search and can find no link between flying pigs and St. Patrick. I was expecting shamrocks and snakes -- not flying pigs!
I do plan to ask the priest tomorrow for more information about this story - but just wondering if I'm the only one puzzled?
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Only one other mom was able to attend, but we still had fun! My sister came also, so there were 3 of us. I worked on sorting out 5.5 years of professional portraits of my boys in preparation of putting them into albums, my sister did some rubber stamping, and the other mom finished a latch hook rug that her oldest son had started FIFTEEN years ago! She found it in his closet 3 years ago when he moved out and had worked on it a bit - but she finished it last night! She plans to give it to him for Christmas this year.
It was so nice to devote 3 hours to a project with no other responsibilities pulling at me. We have already planned to do the same thing next month, as we all have multiple projects waiting in the wings. I realized I didn't have ALL my portraits together, so I will spend the next few weeks finding them and hopefully will be able to put them in albums next month.
I feel pulled in so many directions usually, that I find myself overwhelmed and not getting ANYTHING accomplished. I realized that I really need to devote specific chunks of time to specific projects so that I can make some headway. Well, I guess I should say that I realized it AGAIN. Hopefully it will stick this time! Even if I devote one Saturday night a month to taking care of a long-neglected project, I will be ahead of where I was last month!
Saturday, June 24, 2006
When we were at the museum the other day (yes, I promise, I'll stop talking about it soon - LOL) many of the paintings that included an infant Jesus also included an infant John the Baptist. One in particular (unfortunately the details escape me!) was just the 2 of them playing together and was very sweet. Usually, when I think of John the Baptist, I think more of what he accomplished as an adult. Seeing those pictures, and realizing his feast day is today - prompted me to think about him & Jesus as young playmates, which has added more dimension to my thoughts about his life.
One of the traditions about him is that he was freed from original sin and sanctified in his mother's womb. For this reason, his feast day is celebrated on his birthday, rather than the day of his death. (Other saints' feasts are usually celebrated on their death - their birth into Heaven.)
This painting is La Vierge's L'Enfant Jesus et Saint Jean Baptiste. I know the ages of the 2 are off (since John the Baptist is thought to be only 6 months older), but I love all the bare toes and the love that shines in this picture.
Friday, June 23, 2006
Since we visited the Phoenix Art Museum yesterday, I decided to choose a piece from their collection that I have always liked. I love this piece by Eastman Johnson, entitled The Tea Party. It's such a sweet picture, and reminiscent of the times I hosted my own tea parties with dolls and stuffed animals. According to the information, it was commissioned as a memorial portrait of a young child who died, but it is thought that the artist's 3 yr old daughter posed for this - so it's also a picture from his life.
On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you like your job?
I would have to say an 8. If I could somehow get out of housecleaning as part of my job, I would raise that number to a 9. I love being home with my children . . . but to get a 10 I would need some more "alone" time.
When was the last time you think you were lied to?
My youngest is at that stage where I can watch him do something (like try to disassemble our flagstone walkway) and tell him NOT to do that -- and he will look right at me and tell me he's not doing that! So, lately, it's pretty much daily . . . but I know when I'm being lied to, and we're working on it!
Share some lyrics from one of your favorite songs.
When I think about rain
I think about singing
When I think about singing it's a heavenly tune
When I think about heaven then I think about angels
When I think about angels
I think about you
-- from Jamie O'Neals "When I Think About Angels"
What do you do/take when you are in pain?
Pain is a pretty much constant factor in my life these days. When it gets completely unbearable, I take 1/2 a prescription muscle relaxant. I try to keep it only to Motrin a couple times a day. I have a pretty high pain tolerance, but years of pain are beginning to take their toll.
Fill in the blanks: My __________ is very __________.
My life is very wonderful. Boring, but true :)
Thursday, June 22, 2006
N's favorite exhibits were from the Western Gallery. He enjoyed looking at the sculptures, especially - and really liked one that was a bigger-than-life-size sculpture of an Indian Chief and Remington's Mountain Man. C preferred the prettier pictures - mostly floral - Monet's Flowering Gardens, Giverny, and Joseph Stella's Flowers stand out as 2 of his favorites.
They also enjoyed a number of the Renaissance period Madonnas that the museum has. N kept saying "Hey, there's another Mary! They must know how important she is since they have so many of her!"
My favorite piece this visit was one called "Amid the fireflies" (or something like that). You walked through a curtain into a darkened room that had hundreds of hanging tiny lights that changed colors and the walls were covered in mirrors. It was really neat to stand in there - but it freaked N out. He was afraid he was going to fall. It wasn't a very big room - but with all the mirrors, and N so worried that I had a hard time finding the exit (you exited the opposite side you entered from). Thankfully, one of the guards peeked in and flashed his light towards the exit for me. It was neat, too, because they only let one group in at a time.
A visit to the gift shop (where I purchased a couple books - they had a kids book about Degas clearanced! - and the boys got magnetic rocks) and then home again! Definitely a nice outing!
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Once they were old enough, I would save it up for a while, and then allow them to drop the change into their piggy banks. I figured among other things, it helped build fine motor skills.
In the last few months, the original piggy banks were full, so I changed over to using large mason jars with a slit cut in the top. We've also been working on learning more about money - so we take the jars down and separate the different coins out and they exchange their coins for paper money. They're learning the different coins and their monetary value. They understand that 100 pennies equals a one dollar bill, etc.
Another thing I've started doing is paying them for chores. I have read various things about how important it is for kids to do chores to be part of a family vs. the importance of learning the importance of earning spending money. I've decided I fall more into the importance of earning money for jobs well done. While I don't necessarily receive a paycheck for taking care of my family & home - I do have the ability to take money from our budget to purchase things for myself and the boys. I decided it made sense for them to have more of an understanding of how money is earned and spent. This way they can purchase their own small items when we're out and plan their purchases. I don't think they're too young for that. C definitely thinks twice about his purchases now that I can tell him that something costs the equivalent of making his bed for 30 days!
I pay a dime to each boy for making their bed and bringing their night-time cup into the kitchen each morning. They have made their beds in the past - but never with the excitement and creativity that they are now! They arrange their stuffed animals in different patterns every day. As long as their bed is made before bedtime, they earn a dime.
I debated about keeping a chart and paying them for a week's worth of work - but I think they're too young for that. It means much more for them to receive their "pay" immediately after a chore is completed.
They also earn a dime for picking up their bedroom. At this moment, they're earning a nickel each for picking up each and every plastic animal in the playroom. (and they will continue earning nickels for all the different items that need to be picked up in there - I have closed the door to that room for TOO long!)
It's amazing the different attitude they take in completing chores. They're excited about it, and talk with each other about ways to make the jobs easier and/or faster. N has negotiated with his brother to make his bed and then C earns 20 cents for bed making. It doesn't happen every day, so I've let that slide for now.
I think as they grow, I will shift to specific weekly chores, and paying them once a week. We have also talked about savings, and I need to take their original piggy banks to the bank to deposit into their savings accounts. And, then there's charity to consider - they are familiar with our tithing at church and donations to the food bank and other places - but I want them to participate in it with their own money.
This is definitely a work in progress. It will continue to evolve and change over the years. I hope to instill in them a good sense of money management - something DH & I still struggle with at times.
Considering that our temps have been over 100 for weeks now -- I look at the first day of summer as being closer to monsoon season and the rains here in AZ. There are usually some very intense and dramatic thunderstorms during monsoon season -- including torrential rainfall which can cause short-term (but FAST) flooding. Our first summer here I went in to get my hair cut. The sun was shining when I went in, but the rain started while I was in the hair salon. When I left (maybe 40 minutes later?) the parking lot was flooded past my ankles!
But, in the honor of the first official day of summer - I'm going to make a watermelon cake today. Just a white cake, colored with cherry Kool-Aid, with some mini chocolate chips mixed in to look like seeds. Then, frosted with green around the edges (rind) and pink on top with more mini chocolate chips sprinkled over the top. I'm trying to decide if I'm going to use a boxed cake mix, or one from scratch? If I use a box, I'll end up with 2 cakes - which I could share with the neighbors? Hmmm, maybe I'll do that!
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Ahhh, and then there's my husband, B. He never hid the fact that he desired children, and although he thought he only wanted one child when we met -- he is thrilled to have 2 and would love for our family to grow even larger. He didn't have many good male role models growing up, but that didn't stop him from becoming an amazing husband and an outstanding father. There is nothing more important to this man than moments shared with his sons. It melts my heart to see him on the floor playing with our boys, sitting in their darkened room with his arms outstretched so he can hold each of their hands while they're falling asleep, listening to him recite the rosary with our sons, snuggling them whenever given the chance. Everything he does he does to provide for his family and make things easier for me. I am extremely blessed to be his wife and the mother of his children. I love him.
Friday, June 16, 2006
My selection for today is "Mother & Child" by Karoly Brocky, an Hungarian artist from the 1800's. I chose this painting because I love the sleeping babe nestled into the mother, and the sweet look on the mother's face. I also chose it as a hat-tip to my Hungarian great-grandmother, and her love for her children. Click the link for more information about the artist.
What is a word that you use that would not be considered common?
Hooligan. My DH cracks up when I use it - but now even my kids will say "He's acting like a hooligan" when somebody is acting up. I don't really hear other people saying it - but it's something my parents said and it just fits some kids!
What theme of calendar do you have on your wall this year?
No calendar on my wall. The calendar I carry with me is the Catholic Woman's Planner.
Name 3 people you speak with by telephone a regular basis.
Daily - husband. We probably talk on the phone 2-4 times a day while he's working. He almost always calls between appointments. Every other day or so - my mom. At least once a week, usually more - friend D.
If you could buy a new outfit for someone you know - who would it be and what would you purchase for them?
Maybe a nice nursing dress for my friend who recently had a baby -- or a nice maternity outfit for another friend expecting her 5th child this summer. I think they'd both appreciate something nice about now ; )
What is the last beverage you drank?
Coke with ice
Thursday, June 15, 2006
He has made friends and avoided bullies and enjoyed every moment of it! They took group pictures today and uploaded them to a password-protected album on Shutterfly. What a wonderful (and inexpensive) way to share the pictures with the families! I was thrilled to find out that is how they are handling the pictures.
It's been interesting spending the mornings with N alone. I realize there are very few times when both boys are not together. More than anything, I realized that N gets many more chances to speak without his brother there to take over and hog the conversation. I need to work on that as his speech is a little delayed and I think his older brother has something to do with that. After a couple hours, though, N is through being without his brother and begins asking how many more minutes until we pick him up? I love that they are so close, and I hope it continues.
I signed them up for t-ball today and N was sure to tell the registration clerk that he and his brother needed to be on the same team! She thought it was cute, and assured him they would be this year. He thought that he would immediately get to play - and was disappointed to find out the season doesn't actually start until August.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
First thing I did was switch out the spare changes of clothes in the car. During the cool months, I keep extra sweatpants, t-shirt and underwear for each boy in the van. This time of year, I make sure the sizes are right, and swap out the sweatpants for shorts. These extra outfits have come in handy many times!
Then, I found the cold bag. I keep this in the car for frozen items from grocery trips. It's not really necessary year-round - but in the summer, I come home with 1/2 melted popsicles and ice cream if I don't protect them. I used to keep a cooler in the back, but the cold bag is much smaller. The trick now is to always remember to put it BACK in the van after a grocery trip!
The last thing I do is carry a small cooler for each trip in the van. I throw in a couple freezer packs, bottled water, and snacks. I usually bring drinks & snacks - but in the summer, the cooler keeps the water refreshing. The freezer packs also come in handy to cool down the boys if they (or their car seats) are uncomfortably hot. Rubbing the seats down with the cold pack is a quick way to cool off their seats.
The best trick is to plan all the errands for early morning, and get back home by 10:30 or 11!
Friday, June 09, 2006
(cross-posted at my picture blog)
Michael C finished our mural this morning. We are thrilled with how it turned out, and love the fact that we have artwork on our back wall. He did a fantastic job, and happily added in a few features I asked for (dinosaur tracks and a rosary draped over a rock). He will be coming back in the fall to complete a dinosaur mural behind the boys' playfort and another mural near our pool.
Next year, when there are more (and bigger) plants in this garden, it will look even better. Now that the heat has started, I won't be adding more plants -- and unfortunately I lost quite a few to the heat while I was gone. But, this fall will find me planting again -- and again next spring. By next summer, I should have some established plants that will fill in the garden with green and colors.
About how much money did you spend on gas this week?
I filled up my tank for $56 earlier this week. DH has spent $138 on gas this week so far (he's an outside sales rep.)
What is your favortite brand of toilet paper?
When was the last time you discovered something that you thought was pure genius?
I can't think of anything?
What is the least amount of sleep you can get by on per night?
I would say 6 hours. I function best when I get 8-9 hours/night, but can get by a couple nights getting only 6. It's the one thing that scares me most about having another child -- all the sleepless nights.
June is a popular month for weddings. Do you know anyone who is getting married this month?
Nope! But my parents celebrated their 39th wedding anniversary on the 3rd!
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
We started with a 10 foot piece of white plastic gutter and 9 brackets from our local Home Depot. B cut the gutter into two 4' pieces and one 2' piece. The 4' pieces just fit best on the wall we wanted to use. We had C stand against the wall to determine the best placement, and then put the remaining 2' in our bathroom.
We spent about $20 for materials, and it took B about 30 minutes to complete the project -- including cutting and attaching to the wall.This picture is 3 years old, but I've talked about these shelves no less than 5 times this week -- so I thought I'd post here as well! Hopefully it will help more people. While we don't have many board books out any more, these shelves still work well for books the boys are interested in now.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
For almost 5 years, our backyard has been mostly dirt. We've done a few things to it, but not enough to counter-act the dirt that covered most of it.
It was a priority that the boys had a play structure, so B built that and that has been the focus of our yard.
But, now, things are changing. Finally.
A week before I left for vacation, we determined that we would have a pool installed this summer. A beautiful, in-ground, 80 foot perimeter pool. We got the estimates, chose our company, and now we WAIT for permits. But, that's okay - because even though we won't be able to swim until August, we'll be swimming from then on out!
We have planned on a pool since we purchased this house almost 5 years ago. We chose a smaller home with a larger lot just so we could have plenty of space to do whatever we wanted in our yard. The plan had been for me to return to work when C turned one . . . but then a month before he did, we found out I was expecting N . . . so our yard hasn't had much attention since I never returned to work.
But, things have finally changed for the better, and we're able to do everything we've wanted to in the yard. I put in the gardens I wanted and today we had the flagstone center placed, as well as a flagstone walkway. On Thursday, guys are coming to fence off half the yard to keep the pool safer.
Last night, I saw our neighbor's mural and asked that he send the artist to me. He came by this evening, and will be starting tomorrow! He's going to paint a mural to surround my flower/herb garden, and then probably come back in the fall to paint another mural by our pool area.
I'm going to have a patio built in the next month, and then we'll have rock delivered to fill in that half of our yard and it is going to be absolutely fantastic. I've dreamed of having the yard finished for so long - and now it looks like we'll have the yard of our dreams by September.
OH, and we also purchased new flooring for the living room. B will rip up the carpet (nice carpet, but stained due to the kids and the dog) and lay "rustic maple" flooring down in the living room -- which will be much nicer. The boys are already thinking about how much easier it will be to play cars.
I'd also like to paint the rooms we haven't painted since moving in . . . definitely all the doors need to be painted. And re-do the closets. And get some more bookcases. Then, there's the fire pit we will put by the pool. And B plans to build a built-in grill over there. And more landscaping.
The beauty of all these plans is that we finally have the funds to carry them out. I am so grateful for B's new job and our ability to make these things happen.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
I dosed them with Sambucol during the trip, but wasn't as vigilant as I could have been. More importantly, I probably should have dosed them the few days after we returned home. I put in an order on Wednesday for more black spruce oil from Nature's Gift and was thrilled that it arrived on Friday. I add a few drops to massage oil and it is supposed to help build immunity. I also put eucalyptus smithii oil in a diffuser to help break up congestion - aided by cool vaporizers running at the same time. And a little lavender oil in cool water to dip cloths in for their foreheads and wrists is wonderful for relaxation.
I'm grateful (again) that we have chosen for me to be a stay-at-home mom. While it's never fun when anyone is sick, I'm free to cater to them and make sure they are comfortable and cared for - without worrying about outside jobs or commitments. I lay with N last night while he tossed and turned, crying and whimpering and I did my best to murmur comforting words and provide cool cloths and soft hands to help him through the night.
I guess they must be feeling better - as I hear them arguing over stuffed animals at the moment. I hope this evening finds more rest for us all than last night!
Friday, June 02, 2006
Your type is: infj —The “Know Thyself” Mother
“I believe the joy of motherhood is self-discovery—for them and for me.”
- Sensitive and family-focused, the INFJ mother looks for and encourages the unique potential of each child. Self-knowledge may be her byword. Her aim is to help each child develop a sense of identity and cultivate personal growth. In fact, she may value the mothering experience as a catalyst to her own personal growth and self-knowledge.
- The INFJ mother spends time observing and understanding each child. She is drawn to intimate conversations and seeks a free exchange of feelings and thoughts.
- Sympathetic and accommodating, the INFJ mother strives to meet the important yet sometimes conflicting needs of each family member in harmonious and creative ways
- She is conscientious and intense as well. Probably no one takes life and child-raising more seriously than the INFJ. She approaches mothering as a profession requiring her best self.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being highest), how funny do you think you are?
I'd say a 4. I'm horrible at telling jokes, but I can be witty at times.
Name a local restaurant would you recommend to a visitor to your town or city.
Valle Luna (Mexican restaurant in Phoenix) without a doubt. The yummiest fundidas you'll ever eat!
What's a lesson you were lucky enough to learn the easy way?
That loving my 2nd child would be as effortless and instinctive as falling in love with my first.
Where would you like to be 5 years from now?
Same house, but with an addition. Mom to at least one more child. Doing something that I enjoy that helps others and earns me a little money.
If you could see the front page of a newspaper from June 2, 2106, what would you imagine the headline might be?
Probably not all that different from the ones today.
Thanks to Friday's Feast!
Thursday, June 01, 2006
** "Red Diaper Baby: A boyhood in the age of McCarthyism" by James Laxer. I had high hopes for this memoir of the author's life as a child in a Canadian Communist family, but it fell flat in quite a few places. As an adult, I would have thought he could have brought more to the story than he did -- especially since it was *his* story.
**** "The Spice Box" by Lou Jane Temple. This was a fun read. It's a mystery based in NYC in the late 1800's with an Irish servant girl as the heroine. Interesting and lively read.
***** "Walking Backward in the Wind" by Helen Magnum Fields. I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir of a young girl living in East Texas before the dust bowl hit. She had great detail, and described daily life in an informative and interesting way. Much better memoir than "Red Diaper Baby".
**** "Chopping Spree" and "Double Shot" by Diane Mott Davidson. The 11th & 12th books in the series about caterer, Goldy Baer. Very fun series - yummy recipes - I have always enjoyed these books and these 2 did not disappoint.
***** "The Worst Hard Time: untold story of those who survived the great American dust bowl" by Timothy Egan. Chilling look at those who stayed put during the dust bowl years. Factual accounts of events leading up to the dust bowl, and living through those years. Sad, scary, and an excellent read.