Jul 17, 2011

Summer Reading

We haven't been to the library all summer. Mostly it's because I have my own personal library from teaching full of excellent, bright and colorful children's books. In fact, I have 4 bookshelves FULL of children's books. I have hundreds of books. Literally. My kids have PLENTY of reading material.Today, I didn't hear Ainsley for about a half hour. Odd for my chatterbox who flits around the house.
Guess what I found her doing? She had stacks of her favorite books around her and she was "reading" to herself. She was making up the stories from the pictures. I listened for quite a while. She had quite the intricate stories going from the pictures.
So I joined her and she was delighted. Here she is listening in fascination to the Alphabet Princess book.I love to read as much as the kids do. I always have a book club going around here. When Hunter was in school, I ordered TONS from the Scholastic book order. Now that he's not, we are part of a Dr. Seuss book club and now we have almost a full shelf of those type of books. Poor Hunter. On book club delivery day, his backpack was weighed down with a million books to bring home, but it was like Christmas to read them! I'm sure he is glad that they now arrive on the doorstep in a box.
This is a favorite book of his right now. "The Day the Goose Got Loose" illustrated by a favorite of mine, Steven Kellogg. They love to point to their favorite parts on the fanciful last page.
Here below are some current favorites. You ought to hear them giggle in the funny parts of each book. I have read these books over and over and over again in the last two weeks. Hunter even wrote his own book this week called, "Pigeon Wants a Warthog" to explain what might come next if the author kept writing in the book, "Pigeon Wants a Puppy". It is so good for kids to expand on what they are reading and make up their own stories using their favorites as a base (Yeah, seriously, I know. A WARTHOG??!! It's 6 year old humor). So when Hunter said, "Mommy, when I grow up, I'm going to write a book for the next part called, 'Pigeon Wants a Warthog'", I encouraged him to make it up right now. He loves to write and illustrate his own books. I helped him make the pages in his own paper book and he was thrilled to share his version with Daddy that night.He thought he was so clever and giggled about the whole idea of a warthog for a pet. I don't know about you, but hearing a deep belly laugh when reading a book to children and hearing the joy that comes from entering the world of an author and illustrator is a priceless thing.It didn't last long today before Hunter heard me reading to Ainsley in the next room and came running to get in on it.

Embracing the Hair God Gave Me

So for the last year, I have been letting my hair just grow.
And grow and grow.
I also really haven't been using my straightening iron but rather just let it do it's curly thing. My curl that had been lost for a while after I had Hunter came back in full force after having Tessa. Doesn't pregnancy do the weirdest things?
I am liking it so much. I love the long hair. I love the curl. It's become very easy to do and very wash and go. Something I always tried to achieve with short hair and never was able to pull off. I've just decided not to fight it and spend hours on it wielding some sort of hot iron. Just comb some anti-frizz product through it and call it done. Why didn't I do this before?

Jul 16, 2011

A Crasher

So I have been making a conscious effort lately to do more play time with the kiddos. They love to build elaborate systems from blocks, legos, tracks, and anything else we might have around here.Hunter begs for me to play with him everyday and usually I say I have something else to do. Which isn't a problem because Ainsley and Hunter play for hours together every morning, and I rarely hear a peep out of them. They have become such good playmates. Yesterday, I thought I would build a race track with Hunter, however, when both girls were taking their naps.
The tracks were booby trapped with dinosaurs who would eat cars if they didn't go fast enough.These handmade blocks that my dad made for my kids are the best toys ever. He sent a huge bin full. Simple toys are most often the best for the imagination. I think every child should have a huge set of blocks. We were having such a great time until a little problem showed up: Tessa. That party crasher who woke up from her nap.We first thought that we would distract her with Cheerios so she wouldn't destroy our track.
We started off with a bowl.
That lasted 10 seconds...maybe.
You can already see that this is going to be a challenge. She likes to crash the tracks, steal the cars, and making zooming noises with them across the floor.
I also thought I would try a little pony tail on top. It looks so dumb. I think I won't try this again until her hair is a bit longer. The girly side in me got carried away for a moment.

She's looking up at her big brother. She wants to do whatever he does. I'm pretty sure he doesn't feel the same way about her.
She is showing off her new trick where she attempts a summersault. She's brilliant and attempts this on the hard tile one foot away from soft carpet. But she spies a Cheerio behind her which distracts her from that crash the head.
She thinks she can get it.
Since we wouldn't let her touch the track, she found some other things to get into.
Mostly she likes just sitting in the same room where all the action is and pretending she's a part of it all.
By the way, she can stand now all by herself. She can even get to a standing position without pulling up on anything. She'll stand for a quite a while solidly without holding on to anything, and even dance and sway to music, but she won't take any steps.

Jul 15, 2011

Banana-Butter-Pecan Ice Cream Recipe

I just thought I would share my new summer love: This Banana-Butter-Pecan homemade ice cream paired with peanut butter cookies with mini choco chips in them. Practically heaven on a plate.

Here is the recipe for the ice cream:
Banana-Butter-Pecan Ice Cream

1 cup of pecans
1 Tbs. butter
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups milk
3 eggs yolks (slightly beaten)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 tsps vanilla
1 mashed banana

In a skillet saute the butter with the pecans until they are toasted on all sides. Set aside.
Mix sugar, salt and egg yolks. Pour on milk. Cook in a saucepan over medium heat until bubbles begin to form or mixture coats spoon (be careful not to scald). Remove from heat and cool for a half hour. Add cream, vanilla, banana and pecans. Pour into your ice cream mixer and freeze per directions. Makes a little over 1 quart.

I also just make my favorite Betty Crocker peanut butter cookies, but add mini chocolate chips to the dough before cooking them. They are amazing when paired with the ice cream. The brown sugar and the toasted pecans in the ice cream just make it sooooo incredibly good!!!!

Jul 11, 2011

A Date, Anniversary, Wedding Shower, and Clint

So this last weekend saw me traveling the couple hours home to Salinas to help throw and attend a couple of wedding showers for my dear friend, Lisa. She's been my buddy pal since my freshman year of high school. My youth group set of friends from church are still all good friends, and so a wedding is also a reunion. Here we all are. One drove from Sacramento, and the other three are relatively local still. Heather, who helped throw the shower is 39 weeks pregnant. Wow that was commitment to a friendship! She is ready to have that little guy! Ashley is about 7 months pregnant too. I love these girls and it was a super treat to spend an afternoon with them all. Though not the oldest in the bunch, I happen to be at the "latest" life stage with the most children and the longest married. It's amazing how we've been to each wedding for each other, every baby shower, and have been there through most major events, as each one reaches those milestones.
Ok, I could talk about our loyalty through the years and our deep friendships and go ultra mushy on you, but, nah. Though all that is true, I really just want to mention my dress (I'm a really shallow girl I guess). I'm in love with it and found it on a "shopping date" the night before with my mom and sister (correction: mom found it for me). I bought that rainbow flouncy thing at Forever 21 and it also has a huge ruffle on the bottom in the same material (think 70's style). With my boho earrings and Grecian sandals it's rather amazing. It's perfect for our 1000 degree Fresno heat waves. I didn't realize I could rock so many colors at one time. Oh, and my feather necklace is turned sideways. Ok, that's all on that.

One more motive for going into Salinas was that our wedding anniversary was this last week. Nine years. Truth.
So we used my parent's babysitting service and had a very nice dinner at a favorite restaurant of ours in Carmel, Forge in the Forest, and then went over to this hotel/restaurant owned by Clint Eastwood because we heard they had a fun piano bar. Ok, ok. I know. I guess people our age don't usually pick piano bars. So, we like piano bars. Please don't say we're old fogies. We think we're still pretty cool. So we went in this crowded little bar and restaurant and we were about the youngest ones in there. But the pianist was good and the singers were good (jazz, Elvis, Patsy Cline, etc.) and the place had good atmosphere. We were especially getting a kick out of one of the singers. The cutest little white haired man in a tweed coat who was trying to hit on the other pretty older women in the bar. Then he would come over and give us the local "who's who". A-DOR-ABLE!
So we were kickin' it at the Mission Ranch with older yuppies of Carmel Valley and having a good laugh people watching when Tone nudges me.
"Clint Eastwood is right behind you." He whispered.
And yes, yes he was. Like "1 foot away" behind me.
No big deal. Just kickin' it at a bar with Clint Eastwood. He didn't stay long though. People noticed, the cameras came out, people got annoyingly paparazzi-ish, and he left. Still, it made my day. Ha, ha, get it?
"Go on. Make my day." He did. He did indeed.

By the way, the home dates are still continuing. I bought an ice cream maker to make ice cream together one night, but the last two dates were creatively lame because we were pretty tired after fun days out on the lake. Tone got a new ipad, so home date night saw us snuggling under a blanket watching suspense movies on the ipad on our laps with some mixed drinks in hand.
Lest you think I should have tried harder, I'll have you know that the lake can be a long day in the sun and can wipe you out. We take the boat out about once a week. Hunter loves to tube with me which involves Tone driving donuts out in the middle of the lake so that we are flying over our own waves and getting whipped in circles. The last time out, I also wakeboarded, caught my front edge going out over the wake, completely belly flopped onto my face with a huge splat, which knocked the wind out of me and chipped my front tooth slightly (luckily it doesn't show). Uh, huh. Yeah, that was pure grace and poetry in motion for sure. Yeah, so don't judge the lame date nights after a day like that.

Totally off topic:
I think last week I posted a picture of my Gladiolas which were stealing the show out front. They have just about died down now, but my lilies are now stealing the show out back. There is almost always something going somewhere in my garden. I plan it that way, but can't ever bring myself to cut them and bring them in the house and ruin the affect. I like the showy yard.
I just had to share. Ok, so I did.

Jul 3, 2011

A Price for Freedom

For the fourth of July, I thought I would a post a couple pictures from my recent trip to Washington DC with my family and the area around. Here is Gettysburg. Those trees back there mark a spot called, "bloody angle", and a place where most of a regiment was wiped out while storming up the rise.

Here is the White House. There are snipers up on that roof. Yikes!

Oh, and I saw this plane. It took me a brief second for the name on the plane to click into the place it belongs in history. Wow.
And from the top of the Washington Monument, here is the pentagon. We all remember 9/11.
Yeah, there were many prices paid for our freedom. I am so glad our children get the opportunity to live in a land built on sacrifice and a dedication to that freedom.
Celebrate the fourth with gratitude in mind. Happy Fourth of July!

Jul 2, 2011

A Recycled post about "Me"

I came across this list I made a couple years ago on my Facebook page and laughed reading through it. A couple things have changed, but overall, it's still very "me". As you will quickly see, I am no domestic goddess though I can act the part. So here goes:

25 things about me:
1. I think peanut butter MMs and a Dr. Pepper could be a completely satisfying full meal. Don't knock it. Ever try it? I have many times. MMMMMMMM!
2. I enjoy dancing very white style with my children to very nerdy songs. Again. Don't knock it. Every try it?3. I have always wanted to be a ventroliquist and secretly practice.
4. I love mysteries, but find them only enjoyable if I read the ending first. Then I can sit back and enjoy the book. It drives everyone who knows me nuts. Personally, this is why I have a hard time watching movies, I can't watch the ending first.
5. Every movie I watch seems real to me. So I can't watch violence or suspense very well. I prefer a comedy with Owen Wilson personally.
6. I could shut myself up all day everyday in my craft room and craft to my hearts content. This is my definition of heaven.
7. Shut me up in a kitchen and have me cook everyday....this would be my definition of hell. I hate cooking. What's the point? It gets devoured quickly and then there is the massive cleanup. Do I cook? Yes. And quite well, though reluctantly. Now baking is different. I love to bake.
8. The best color to decorate with is RED. Of any shade. Though green is a close second.
9. I have never been able to nail down my personality. Those dang quizzes always come back different. So I change my mind a lot? So? One time I read the descriptions (all of them) to see if that would help me. I could identify with parts of each type, but never the whole type. I give up. I'm just special!
10. I have serious issues with boundaries. When people ask for outrageous things from me, I usually say yes. But to my children....somehow, I have no problems with boundaries or saying no.
11. I hated gardening growing up. With a passion. Now I LOVE it. With a passion! I don't think there is anywhere else I can shove a new plant, and yet I still buy them and shove them in. There is not much symetry. Things just grow over each other. The more color and chaos, the better, in a garden.
(Note: This photo is my garden this week in the heat of summer. Not bad, eh?)
12. I never remember to water my plants. Without a drip sytem they would all be dead.
13. Speaking of remembering, I never remember anything of importance when I leave the house. I always get to where I am going and realize I forgot something. Mostly this is because I am last minute and don't have a handy list to check off, and then the kids or Tone distract me. Talk to me while I am putting things in the car, and I am doomed to forget something.
14. I make lists. If I am actually planning something, I never forget, because I put every miniscule detail on a list. And I check them off in a very satisfying manner.
15. I love to write and take pictures. Half the time it never makes it to my blog, but I am composing blog entries all day in my head. Don't worry, I am totally sane. I just compose whole paragraphs in my head to organize my life. It organizes my thoughts and helps me blow off steam. Sometimes I even laugh out loud at the latest joke I just composed in my head. This would be the "I-think-I-might-be-kinda-off" part of me.
16. Don't make me eat peas or beets or anything fishy, or involving the word, sushi. All are nasty. Though I love split pea soup, shrimp, and crab. Those are exceptions to the rule. I believe all rules need some exceptions.
17. I'm one of the lucky few who can say my husband really "gets" me. We are best buddy pals. I look forward to our week or two away every year traveling somewhere random on the globe. This year....two weeks in THAILAND! And no, the kids do not get to come.18. I am completely independent, and don't mind getting up an traveling somewhere by myself with the kids just for fun. Sometimes, completely last minute. Me and the kids have the airport down to a fine routine!
19. There is nothing more beautiful than the foothills of the Sierra Mountains. Though I love the high Sierra mountains too. Someday, we plan to live there. In house surrounded by lovely old trees. Well, and a dirt bike track out back for Tone.
20. Summer is my favorite season. I love swimming, hiking, and being outdoors. Just try to keep me in on a nice day!
21. I have fetish for flashy jewelry and shoes. I cannot go out until I have picked just the right earrings and necklace. It turns a blase' outfit into a bah-bam outfit. My opinion.
I have trained my daughter to feel the same way about accessories. She could care less about pants and feels even a diaper is optional, but she begs for shoes, necklaces, and hairbows. Makes me proud. *sniff*22. I talk too much. I also laugh too much. When bad things happen (like someone falls down and it looks funny), my first instinct is to laugh. Uncontrollably. But it's not because it's funny. I have no idea why. My soul must be deeply scarred I guess.
23. I have "cats" eyes. It's true. They are dark blue with a ring of yellow around the iris. Which can make them look green. Ainsley has it too.
24. I secretly wanted all boys, but am delighted God gave me a girl. She is my sunshine.
25. I just read my list and realize I look like a scattered ditz. But I am not. I am probably one of the most responsible people you will ever know. Though I am quite good at procrastinating. I have a sixth sense about how long I can put something off and still accomplish it by the deadline.

Since this list was written, I now adore my girls and know that I made to raise them rather than a pack of boys, my fave color to decorate with is green rather than red, I have finally nailed down my personality type (ISFP), and those two weeks in Thailand WERE absoluting amazing. I no longer seem to have boundary issues and can say no and know my limits better, but overall, everything is pretty spot-on and very me. I still want to laugh at very inappropriate moments, and no one will ever break me of reading the ending first. Netflix is my new best friend because I can quickly go to the end, watch, and then return. Sad but true. But still, so very very sad, I know.