Monday, September 28, 2009

Max - 11 months

11 months

Loves: the computer (especially the keyboard and mouse, but the tower and cords are fun, too), stuffing food in mouth as quickly as possible, dancing to music, growling, biting, CD and/or tape players, getting into things and making a mess, bouncing on the trampoline, aquarium crib toy, washing hands
Hates: being strapped in or confined, naptime, waiting for milk, having anything taken away, being quiet, diaper changes
Milestones: sleeping through the night, making up own sign for washing hands, first haircut, last nursing (weaning), feeding self with spoon

Max, your nickname has become the Monster because you are such a wild, crazy beast! You growl and yell, bite, and destroy everything in your path. You are fast, and get into things almost the second we blink. You love to scatter anything in your path, but you are being so inquisitive learning about things that we can't really blame you. You are just as loving, smart, and adorable as you are crazy, and we love you! You have adjusted to taking a bottle quite well, though dropping that last daily feeding hasn't been fun for you. I'm not sure if it has coincided with teething (you're drooling like crazy), a growth spurt (you eat constantly, and yell if you aren't eating), or if it's just been difficult to stop nursing.

As hard as it was to let you cry the night we decided you needed to sleep through the night, we were thrilled that it only took that one night. Since then, it's almost been a month before you've awoken in the night again (and it's probably no coincidence that it was the two nights after weaning). You love washing your hands and ask to do it all the time. You are becoming much more proficient with your baby signs, doing a great job of getting your point accross, particularly when it has to do with food or a bottle.

One evening last week, when your hair was particularly crazy, I decided it was time to chop it off. Dad held you and I used the clippers to give you a new, short cut. Immediately I felt remorse, as you looked a year older instantly. As hard as it was for those first 24 hours, I now love your haircut, and am proud of my big boy.

Only one more month until you are a year old! I love you, my little Monster!

A Loss of Innocence

A conversation I had with Isaiah this morning: (keep in mind that he is 6 years old, and that 4-year-old Katie was in the room)

Isaiah: I don't think Santa is real. But I could be wrong.

Me, cautiously: Oh, really? Where do the presents come from?

Isaiah: I think there is someone in every country that dresses up like him and gives everybody presents . . . but I guess he'd have to be very rich . . . hmmmm, yeah, I don't think Santa is real. But I could be wrong.

Me, staring intently at the back of Katie's head: What makes you think he isn't real?

Isaiah: Well, it would be so hard to give presents to every kid in one night. How could he do that?

Me, a bit brighter than necessary: He's magic, remember? That's how he does it! No normal person could do it, but Santa can.

Isaiah, uncertainly and just a bit sarcastically: Yeah, magic. That's how Santa could be real.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Favorite - Slow Cooker Liners

I don't know how long this product has been around (I may be the last to know about them), but I *heart* crockpot liners! I've always thought cooking in the crockpot was a good idea, but every time I did it I would hate the cleanup so much it would take weeks or even months before I would try it again. Hard, lumpy, stuck-on food and splattered sauces that had to be soaked and scrubbed--blech! Then a couple of months ago I was at Lunch Bunch, and someone was serving something in a slow cooker with what looked like an oven bag lining it. As I stood there studying it, blocking the buffet line, I knew I had to have some. Sure enough, they are awesome! I will never cook in a crockpot without one again. Speaking of slow cooking, here are some of my favorite slow cooker recipes, so if you're like me and never use your crockpot because of the mess, you can try them out with a liner!

Pulled Pork
I don't know if you can call this a recipe, more like a method of cooking meat. When I was telling my sister I didn't know how to cook the boneless pork ribs I had in my freezer, she suggested pulled pork. I made it Sunday and was really pleased with how it came out. I just put the thawed ribs in the crockpot (after lining it!) then poured barbeque sauce over them (about a cup of Kraft Original Barbeque Sauce, but you could use any sauce you like). I set the cooker on low and left the ribs to cook for about 5.5-6 hours. Anne suggested skimming the fat before removing the meat to pull it. Then I took out the ribs and "pulled" the meat (shredded it with a fork and knife) and returned it to the crockpot, stirring it in the remaining juices. I added about another cup or so of sauce, but I would just add it until it's the consistency you like, and let it sit warming until I finished cooking the rest of dinner. It was good by itself, but it's also great on a kaiser or hamburger bun as a sandwich.

Pot Roast
Awesome Slow Cooker Pot Roast is an Allrecipes classic, I don't know anyone who hasn't at least heard of this recipe. Throw in potatoes and carrots about an hour or so before the meat is done, and you have a complete meal done for you!

Lasagna is a bit labor-intensive, so being able to do all the prep ahead and come back hours later with it cooked is handy, particularly on Sunday when you come home from church hungry and don't want to wait another hour or two for your meal. This slow cooker recipe is nice for that reason, and you don't have to take the time to layer it all. However, I'm sure you can use your own favorite lasagna recipe and just cook it in the crockpot instead!

Hot Spiced Cider
It's going to be that time of year soon! (I'm actually really lamenting the end of summer. But fall and winter food is really fun.) This is one recipe that really doesn't need a slow cooker liner, but it is one of my favorite crockpot recipes, and this seemed an appropriate place to share it. Because we're not coffee drinkers, I didn't have a coffee filter on hand, but Shelli (who is a preschool teacher, Katie's preschool teacher) did and informed me that coffee filters are great for all kinds of crafts and projects, so they're not a bad thing to keep around.

2 quarts apple cider
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp whole allspice
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp salt
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 large orange, sliced or quartered with peel
Place spices in a coffee filter and tie in a bundle, securing with a piece of string or a twist tie. Pour cider, brown sugar, orange slices or wedges, and spice bundle in slow cooker and simmer on low for a 4-6 hours. Remove spice bundle before serving.

Happy slow cooking! (I think I'm in the mood for some cider now . . . )

Monday, September 21, 2009

Special day for a special girl

Katie's birthday--September 16, 2009

I love this butterfly cake! Almost foolproof, which is a good thing for me. I found the design among a bunch of other super cute, really easy cakes at Katie was a big help in making the cake. She helped spread and place the candies. (Lucky for me, she is open to suggestion, or it would look pretty funny!)

And to make the cake easier to tote and serve at the park, we made the remaing cake batter in cupcakes and used the extra candy to decorate. It's amazing how much kids like candy on their cake!

Because I told the older kids their birthdays would be much lower-key this year, I gave them each a choice of a "special" place to take a couple of friends. I suggested to Katie we could get manicures, go out for ice cream, or go somewhere special for lunch or dinner. What did she want to do? Go to the new "spinny park!" (Can't argue with free!)

Yeah, Katie loves this thing; she had to be bribed to give anyone else a chance to spin on it.

Isaiah catching the spinner at a rare free moment.

Here are the kids enjoying their ice cream cones. This birthday was by far the easiest, lowest-stress one I've done for the kids, ever. (Of course, I did have a bit of criticsm for not having party favors . . . but really, do they need them? They still had fun!) One of the things I will do every birthday from now on was pre-scoop the ice cream into muffin cups and then re-freeze. I threw them into a little cooler to take to the park, then just transfered the scoops from the muffin cups onto sugar cones. It was so fast and so easy, and much less waiting, mess, and waste.

All three girls spinning! Whee!

Handsome Max, enjoying the park

Princess Katie

Happy four years old, Katie-girl!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Rite of Passage

Everyone has their own opinion about when/if a girl should get her ears pierced, and it is usually affected by our own experience. Case in point: I had my ears pierced when I was 4, so when Katie brought it up a few months ago, Adam and I told her she could do it when she was 4 if she wanted. Since then, I have worried about it and every time she mentioned it, I asked again if she was sure, etc. A few weeks ago, she asked, exasperated, "Why do you keep asking me that?! I want to get my ears pierced!" So, I backed off and just waited for her birthday. Sure enough, she was ready, and so brave!

I took her to WalMart (they have rounded backs that cover the post, and Claire's didn't), and let her pick out the earrings she wanted. Of course, she picked out the most expensive (and prettiest) ones, a pink CZ in the shape of a heart (I love them, I'm so happy everytime I look at her!). Anne has been visiting, so she went with us, and I'm so glad she did! It was a much more fun outing with all of us, and Anne brought her camera so there are pictures to remember the moment.

The "before" picture:

The brave, but serious, look:

The "after" picture:

I was happy we went to WalMart because the ladies were so nice, and they gave her a sticker, a bracelet, and a Certificate of Bravery afterward, which made her feel like a million bucks (as if the earrings didn't!). She was so brave, didn't cry or fuss, and has been good so far about cleaning and turning them. So proud of my big girl!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Katie Turns Four

My sweet little girl is four! I can hardly believe where the time has gone. The other day someone saw a picture of Katie as a baby and was surprised by her dark hair and it struck me how much she has changed over the last few years. She's such a fun-loving, spunky, beautiful, intelligent little girl, and I'm so proud of her. Happy birthday, Princess!

2005, 6 weeks old

2006, 11 months old

2007, 2 years old

2008, 3 years old

2009, at age 4

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Favorites

Since I rarely have anything to post as a "Friday Flashback," I've decided that I want to start something new: "Friday Favorites." I always have something I love that I want to share with others in the hope that it can make their lives easier or more fun, too, but I feel like I'm bombarding my loyal readers (all five of them) with a commercial marathon when I periodically lump them into one giant list of links. So, I'm going to save them for my Friday Favorites, and you can read or ignore as you like.

Here is my first Fave to share:

I think we picked this book up at a yard sale, but it is one of my all-time favorite children's books. The illustrations are beautiful, and the story quite well-told. A fun read for Mom and Dad as well as kids.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Katie, as she gets her shoes and bag for preschool: "I hope I have homework today!"

County Fair

As I was going through pictures this last week, I realized I'd never blogged about the County Fair. It was so fun this year!

Usually we go to the petting zoo right off, but as we arrived, there was "The Great Bear Show" near the entrance. It was pretty cool seeing the bears play (they didn't do very much performing, but what they did was fun), and it was actually very educational. I felt much better when they said that all the bears in the show were rescued cubs that could never live in the wild, and doing shows for part of the year helped pay for their care for the rest of the year. They seemed pretty happy and relaxed despite the crowd.
Because it was the 50th anniversary of the Washington County Fair all the rides on opening night were 50 cents, which is a huge discount from the normal prices. Because of this, we could ride many more rides, and let the kids go to town. We also met up with Shelli and her kids and Grandma Bubbles, and also saw Echo and her family while we were there. You can tell the kids were enjoying their cousins.

This was Max's first opportunity to ride fair rides, so he went on the train with Grandma Bubbles, then on the carousel with me. He seemed to have a good time, and wasn't as faced by the noise and heat as his siblings had been at his age.

Fun times, good memories!