Monday, June 27, 2011

Exciting days

Oh where to start? We've had some busy, exciting days recently.

Firstly, let me just begin with my thoughts on this blog.

I occasionally get visions of blogger grandeur in my mind and I think: I am going to consistently pay good attention to my blog and build it into something good and helpful and entertaining: a real real blog. But the truth of the matter, as you may have already guessed, is that I just simply do not have the time to devote to it, on a consistent basis. My life's priorities just don't allow it. So you'll just have to tolerate my on again, off again, mediocre style of blogging. =)

Now, on to the glad happenings of late:

Last Sunday, Father's Day, Madison trusted Christ as her Saviour! Yeah!

She is 4 and a half and has been, for quite a while, been discussing matters of eternity with both Seth and I, and her other spiritual advisers, her cousins- ages 8 and 9. ☺It's only natural for a child who has been in church since birth to ponder Heaven and Hell a bit younger in life than most... but still, sometimes I wonder what people who are not in church, or not as involved in church, would think of the unusual conversations we have with our young children. It probably seems bizarre, or even morbid, for my 3 and 4 yr. old to easily talk of Hell, Heaven, the Devil, God, Jesus, sin or eternity. And I'm sure I have raised eye brows as I push my (at the time) 2 yr. old Maddie around in a shopping cart in Wal Mart while she happily, and loudly, sings about God hating our sin. I did try to direct the song's theme to more happy truths about God but no, God hating sin was all Maddie wanted to sing about that day. But this is how our girls are raised. In church. With the Bible, and it's topics, openly discussed. So we talk about what Heaven and Hell are like. They play baptism in the tub. We pray for healing when we have boo boo on little knees. And we are okay with youngsters thinking about where their souls will spend eternity.

After eating out for Father's Day, we had stopped by to visit a family who had unexpectedly lost a loved one. Maddie wondered why the house was so full of people. Why had the man died? And then she really wanted to know where that man was right now. All of these topics have been covered many times, of course. After leaving the house full of mourners, I took the younger girls home for afternoon naps while Seth and Maddie went off to run some errands. In the van, on Father's Day, Seth got to lead our daughter in a prayer to become a Christian.

The following day, Seth went off the a week of summer camp.... as a counselor. I think. ☺ Camp went really well. The boys from our youth group who went seemed to open themselves up and allow the preaching to work in their hearts. There were many fun activities for them and they all returned very tan, sore, tired and smiling.

I was exceedingly glad to have Seth home!!! I do. not. like. being home at night without him. I'm really fine during the day. I miss him, but I get things accomplished... do my own thing. Eat yogurt for dinner. Put the girls in bed at 7:30 in the evening. ☺Put them back in bed for the next hour and a half. Regret trying to put them to bed too early. Take Motrin Pm so that I have some hope of falling asleep. Turn the fan on super high to drown out the noise of every axe murderer walking by. Wake up freezing. Then repeat it all again for 5 days.

Somehow we survived. There was an embarrassing moment during the week, however...

In the 7 yrs. we've been married, Seth has always filled the tank with gas. I don't really even pay attention to the gas gauge at all. Occasionally, if Seth knows I plan to drive all over the state to shop or visit friends, he'll remind me to look at the gas gauge once in a while. But generally, he takes care of it completely. Well.... his perfect record is now tarnished. With a bazillion things on his to do list before leaving for camp (it was the last week of school, so lots of records work, preparing for schooling program, preparing for Father's Day at church, financial mumbo jumbo at church, etc) he did not fill up the tank before abandoning... um I mean leaving me for his life's work. ☺So as I headed to the park on Monday with the girls all sun blocked and ready to play, I for some reason looked at the big "E" on my dash. Uh-oh. Do I even remember how to pump gas? It's embarrassing... I know. A 27 yr. old mother of 3 really should be able to pump her own gas without issue. So I pull in, and start the process. I'm simply following the prompts. But something isn't working!! I did everything like I'm supposed to but the stunkin' (and it really does stink) gas is NOT coming out!!!! I'm started to get flustered. And yes, a bead of sweat or two is forming on my brow. Grrrrrrr. I'm pretty sure the other customers are looking at me wondering how an idiot like me even has their license. And then, from the back window of the van, I hear the sweet voice of my 4 yr. old.

"Mom, what's taking so long?"

"Mom, maybe you should just go inside and ask for help."


Cell phone out, calling Seth... in the middle of whatever he is doing, 5 hrs. away from me and our gas-less van.

"What am I doing wrong?"

He doesn't know. He can't see. He doesn't have good reception where he is.

I abandon that gas pump. It's obviously defective. After pulling up to a different pump, I start anew. It doesn't work. The whole station must be broken. Was there an explosive episode in the OPEC nations that I hadn't heard about? Can a girl just get some gas????

We go to the park. Still on "E".

I drive home, stopping at the only full service station I know of and pay a ridiculous amount of money for my ridiculous gas.

I'm ready for electric cars. I think I can mange plugging in a cord.

After the week of Seth being gone, we were so happy to have him home again. He came home 15 shades darker and tired to the bones. After a day of recovery, which was actually a busy day as all seem to be lately, we celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary on Sunday. I intend to dedicate an entire post to our anniversary but for now, the highlights:

Steak dinner. No children present. Amen.

I brought my wedding veil to church with me and plopped it on my head for a while. Just wanted to make sure everyone knew that it was no ordinary day. ☺


Monday, June 20, 2011

Do I win an award?

Mundane Mondays? Nope, not here, not today, at least!

Starting shortly after breakfast, my girls and I:

- Went to our favorite park, bringing Maddie's bicycle along, and went around a long trail, picking flowers, trying fancy bike tricks and "looking" for frogs (just between you and me, I wasn't looking too hard).

- Played at the playground, swinging and sliding with glee, for about 2 hrs.

- Ate lunch at McDonalds. Played in Play Place for over 1 hr.

- Napped/read books at home.

- Had pancakes for dinner

- Went to a Farmer's Market

- Walked to the library, checked out 8 books and a video.

- Had ice cream cones at home.

- Watched rented video.

The girls are filling out the nomination forms for my "Mother of the Year Award" as I type. Of-course we all know that tomorrow could disqualify me.

But for tonight, it is a house full of happy little women.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

My favorite Daddy's on Father's Day

Dads everywhere woke up this morning to coffee mugs, t-shirts, card or banners reading "World's Greatest Dad" In fact, those are all inaccurate because I just so happen to know the world's greatest dad - the real one.

It's Seth.

Honestly, he is amazing. My girls are very blessed to have the Daddy that they have.

We gifted Seth with our customary photo coffee mug, a giant poster declaring our love and appreciation and a batch of "No Bake Cookies", which the girls helped make him. Maddie also had a the idea of wrapping up a DVD (one that we already own) for him. ☺ She picked Pride and Prejudice. {ha ha ha ha} That was funny. We also took Daddy out to the restaurant of his choice. Of course, since I have no income, he paid. ☺

On Father's Day, my mind goes straight to my husband. Then to my father in law. It wasn't until today, as I observed others celebrating Father's Day, that I realized my mind doesn't naturally go to my own father. I don't think of him at all. I do have a step-dad that I call Dad, and send him pictures of my girls periodically, but I honestly don't think of him primary on Father's Day either. There is no anger or ill will for either of them in my heart. Honestly, I feel mostly pity, concern for their eternal destinies and just plain old acceptance of the circumstances of my childhood. There is no changing any of it. God knew what family I was born into and in His mercy, He came to me. He sought me and saved me, in more than one way. I can be nothing but grateful.

As I see my husband interact with our daughters... the pure love between them, the security the girls find in Daddy's arms, the fun they have in his company, the instruction he gives them, the material needs he provides for them, the genuine interest he has in them.... all the elements of this vital relationship in their lives, and I am filled with hope for their future. By God's grace, they'll have a foundation they can stand on as adult women one day.

As for me, I distinctly recall the day when I was 12 yrs. old when in prayer I said to God, Be my Daddy. He was already my Creator. When I received Christ as Savior, He became my Father, and I became His child. But I needed Him to be even more. I needed Him to be my Daddy. I needed Him to protect me as a Daddy protects his little girl. When I was interested in a certain boy, I had to go home and ask my Daddy: my Heavenly Daddy. When decisions came my way and the counsel of an earthly daddy couldn't be found, I turned to my Holy Daddy. As a 16 yr. old girl headed across the country to college, I needed my Daddy to make sure my school bill was paid. And to make sure I wasn't joining the wrong crowds. And I needed my Daddy to check out the handsome young man that wanted to date me. My Daddy said Seth was a keeper. ☺

So Happy Father's Day to my wonderful husband, and to my Father, the King of Kings.

"...your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things" Luke 12:30


Friday, June 17, 2011

Commenting Issues

Several people have mentioned to me that leaving comments on my blog is difficult, if not impossible at times. I'm at a loss why that is, but I dug around in Blogger Help to try to find some solutions. I changed some settings on my end, and I am hoping it helps. I am sad thinking of all the comments I've missed! But I also understand how annoying it is to try and re-try to leave a quick little comment with no success!

So give it another try and let me know of your experience. I do moderate comments so it will not appear immediantely, although you should be told that it was entered successfully.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nephews of mine

I am by no means a photographer, but I would like to save up for a SLR camera. I have not made any progress with that actually.... boo. But recently, I had my handy point and shoot camera and happened to be a lovely location and so I forced two of my nephews to sit still for me. ☺

"You don't have to smile if you don't want to. Just sit for me." So they did.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Didn't think it would ever be done....

 I'm FINALLY done stenciling Leila's bedroom. The walls were painted the boring beige last year when we moved into the house, and I left two walls untouched. Just the walls in the picture got the lavender stencil action. I plan to install a chair rail onto the wall with a solid lavender bottom half. I'm even considering tackling that on my own since my handsome husband is a very busy man right now. Keep ya posted on that adventure...
I'm happy with the result but will probably never attempt this again. The hardest part was keeping the stencil clean. The ornate nature of the design made paint goop up a real issue. As paint dried on the stencil, the design would begin to look smudged. So I had to stop and clean it often, which was extremely tedious. I know that I spent more time cleaning the stencil (peeling away at tiny strands in between the scrolls and curves) than actually painting.

In case you care, I used a 12x12 wall stencil I found at Hobby Lobby. I sprayed the back with stencil adhesive, which was useful but I found I also needed a few pieces of blue painters tape to really be safe. Don't want a paint filled stencil falling down on your floor! I applied the paint with a 6 in. sponge roller but I think a crafting sponge (the natural sea sponge kind) would have worked better. But once I started with the roller, I wanted to finish with the same technique for consistency. It was not hard to line the stencil up and repeat the pattern, because it has a nifty guide system which was easy to figure out. Getting the stencil into corners and along the window was NOT easy. I think I say "super easy" in half my posts but I will not be using that phrase to describe this project! If I ever do stencil an entire wall again, I'll be picking one without a window! Or corners... ☺

To complete the room, I need the chair rail and possibly some sheer curtain panels (the lilac valance will stay... snagged that at a garage sale!). I'm also planning to paint an old toy box to match. And of course the crib in and the elliptical out. Unless Leila expresses a desire to get in some cardio. ;) Pictures will be shared!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fajitas with homemade salsa and guac

My house smells like a Mexican restaurant right now. And I like it.

Being born and bred in Southern California, in an area where "wedos" were in the minority, I am physically required to consume food of Mexican origin at least 3 times a month or my big toes shrivel and my left rotary cuff twitches. My husband has the same condition regarding pizza.

In case you are lost right now, "wedo" (or the feminine "weda") is a derogatory term us white folk were called. It's okay. I've accepted the fact that I am white. I no longer try to wear deep brown lipstick. And I've burned all pictures of that phase.

As for my toes shriveling and my rotary cuff twitching, it's personal. You don't want to hear any more.

Back to my Tex-Mex, spicy food addiction.

I love NY. Mostly. But it does have it's flaws. For one thing, a church pot luck in my region consists of pasta, sausage and peppers, more pasta, greens, pasta salad and something half of you will not recognize and shouldn't bother with anyway: tomato pie. Tomato pie is a local favorite, and is basically a pizza that the cook got tired half way through making and called it quits before adding pepperoni or final baking. Sounds bad, right? It is.

As any good California girl knows, a church pot lunch SHOULD contain carne asada, chili quillas, and sub sandwiches. (Hey, every pot luck, regardless of ethnic preferences, should have subs!)

So in the interest of my toes and shoulders, I make dinners containing tortillas, chili powder, and cilantro often.

I love cilantro. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it. If marrying herbs were legal, I'd marry cilantro. I might date basil, because it's pretty good too. But definitely would make it official with cilantro.

Tonight's menu:

Steak fajitas with homemade salsa and guacamole.

Steak, lettuce, peppers, onion, salsa & fresh cilantro on flour tortilla = party in my tum tum

Early in the day... btw, starting dinner early in the dinner is pretty much always a good idea. Make sure the meat is defrosted, marinate it, chop veggies, pre-cook what you can, etc. Makes that stressful time between 4:30 and 5:30 pm, when the kids are up from naps and grouchy, the hubby is just coming home (and wants a glass of cold water and a smooth from his honey), the baby is hungry.... all that chaos! Makes that much more manageable if dinner is already off to a good start.

Anyway, early in the day, I put a chuck steak (about an inch thick... of course flank steak or any better cut of meat would be awesome, but I just used what I had) into a plastic bag with the following:

2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. crushed cherry pepper (that jarred stuff I love so much and elaborated on here)

I totally just made that little marinade up... anything with some sort of acid (lemon juice or vinegar of any kind, even Italian dressing from a bottle) along with the flavors of your desire with do the trick. I might try cumin, soy sauce, or just a pre-mixed Mexican spice blend.

With the meat getting happy in the fridge, I made salsa using this SUPER EASY recipe. I had all but given up on homemade salsa. Because NY's other major flaw is that tomatoes here are not that great. And they're not that cheap. So when buying tomatoes you're taking a gamble: when you cut into it, will it be red all the way through, or that nasty white mealy business? It's a gamble I've lost too many times. In the list of things I miss about California, after family and the weather, is fruit stands. We would buy the biggest, juiciest, reddest tomatoes from some dude selling produce from under a tent on the side of the road. They were so yummy, you could shake on some salt and eat it like you would an apple. Anyway, the recipe I used today calls for canned tomatoes, and as sad as it is to say this, canned worked much better than fresh in my salsa today.

I set some salsa aside and mixed into 2 mashed avocados and called it guacamole. I don't know if that is actually how you make guac, but it works for me.

Those both are best when refrigerated a while to mix and mingle and let all the ingredients get to know each other better.

Then, all that's left to do is cook the meat, caramelize some onions and peppers, and serve with tortillas, lettuce, cheese, salsa and quac. Sour cream? Yes that too. Spanish rice? Absolutely. Corn? Hey, good idea! Olives? Well, all right, if you want to go ahead but I'm not.

I cooked my chuck steak in a skillet. A grill would have been wonderful, but sadly, we don't own one. Booooooo. I think next time I have a cheaper cut of meat and want to make this, I'll slow cook it and shred it. But pan searing about 5 minutes on each side, then slicing worked pretty well tonight. When the meat was removed from the pan and covered with foil, I threw the onions and peppers in. When they were done to my satisfaction, I sliced the meat and set it on top on the cooked veggies.

The Right Way (ie. Kayte's Way) he he he
Then you set it all the table and let everyone make their own, to their own liking. A handy tip I think I learned from my sister in law, Tara, is to warm the flour tortillas in up in a microwave. First wrap them up in a damp paper towel and zap 'em for 15 seconds. So easy.

Seth's magic mix - steak, lettuce, nacho cheese, salsa
Maddie's "Purist" Fajita- Just meat and hot sauce

So there you have it: everything you never cared to know about what we had for dinner tonight. ☺

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mini Vaca

I'm a big believer in the power of a mini vaca... 5 - 10 minutes to just relax, recoup, recharge.

I can not manage a power nap. No matter how tired I am, I always require a good half an hour to fall asleep. It's one of the things I literally envy about my husband. He's asleep before his head hits the pillow. Attempting a power nap only leaves me groggy, grouchy and longing for 3-4 days of solid sleep. But taking a hiatus from duty and work in the middle of the day is my salvation. I often play a mental game with myself: Finish this difficult / boring / tedious task and then take a mini vaca, such as:

Cup of tea and a few chapters of a good book.

Soaking in a bubble filled tub

Lawn chair, sunshine, cool drink. Must have sunglasses.

Reading my favorite blogs

Occasionally, my husband will send me off to the bookstore without children and I'll get a ridiculously over priced Chai Latte, and sit and read for a while. Oooooohhhhhh so nice!

And then there is this highly effective mini vaca:


I know. I just lost half, if not all of you. It's not that cleaning is fun fun hip hip hooray! But I speak from my own experience that when I feel frazzled... irritated.... ready to snap at any moment (don't pretend you've never been there! ☺) I know that one thing will immediately have a positive effect on the whole scene:

Pick up the junk. Throw away the trash. Finally scrub away at that stupid smudge of raspberry jam on the carpet that has been screaming at you since yesterday. Deal with the sink full of dishes. Put away the basket of clean laundry taking up real estate on the couch.

Am I suggesting doing all of that and pretending that it is a vacation? No. But I do say pick one... the one thing that is gnawing at you the most... and just get 'er done. And then sit back and enjoy your raspberry jam free carpet.

Doing what I don't want to do (but need to) leaves me feeling good. And a little less overwhelmed. And much more able to really enjoy the mini vacations I mentioned earlier.

How about you? What do you do for a mini vaca?


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Over-reacting Mama

Do you ever feel that you are one? Asking the mamas right now, of course. Because if you're a man and you feel like an over-reacting mama, you might want to get that checked out.

For me, I have had fought the urge to over react since the day the two pink lines showed up on the at home pregnancy test. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I don't. It seems, however that I am usually surrounded by people who tend to under-react... so there is balance after all is said and done. My husband is Mr. Steady. He doesn't get overly excited about too much. And the other man involved in my children's well being, our pediatrician, is the most mellow man you've ever met in your life. One time, during a well child visit, I told Dr. T that Madison's head occasionally falls off and I have to fasten it back on. He still gave me his standard reply to just about every concern I bring to him: That's perfectly normal; she'll probably outgrow it.

Okay, so I did not actually have that conversion, and Madison's head has never actually fallen off. Came close but never did entirely dislodge. And I'm not complaining about my doctor or my husband. They're good for me. They help me take a deep breathe and count to 10 and pop a sedative and put my head in between my knees and visualize a beach with tranquil waves. All right, they do none of those things; I guess I'm in the mood to write fiction today. They simply help me to refrain from over reacting.

Like I did today.

The older girls are in the habit of picking flowers for me all the time. Just about every time they go outside, they find a dandelion or buttercup or some other plant to pick and proudly present to me. I looooove this stage. It's just so cute to see them frolicking around with handfuls of wildflowers. Sometimes, when they pick an abundance I put them into a mason jar on my window sill. Beautiful. Sometimes, when the girls have braids in their hair, I weave the stems into the braids. Even more beautiful.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the couch nursing Leila, while the girls ran around outside while Seth did some yard work. Suddenly, Eden came charging through the door, running full speed at me with a squirming lizard in her hand! My heart just about jumped out of my body and plopped onto the ottoman. Reptiles and amphibians are. not. welcome indoors. The welcome sign on the door does. not. apply to lizards. I started screaming, "Get that out of here!!! Go! Out! NOW!"

Leila started crying, and Eden's jubilant expression was immediately replaced with shock and bewilderment. She did as told, turned right around and headed out the door. As I watched her leave, I looked more closely at the Evil Lizard of Doom, and realized it was leaves. Unusual, fern-like light green leaves that she had picked to bring me. Not a lizard to contaminate my home and infant child. Just leaves.

I called her back and she very timidly, slowly inched her way back with her now rumpled gift. I told her about my misunderstanding, which she thought was quite funny. And the funniest part of all is that I never need fear Eden even touching something slimy like a lizard... it's Maddie's who I need to take a closer look at what she's mashing in her hands. (Yes, caterpillars have met their demise by her over adoring hands.)

So there you have it. My latest episode of unwarranted hysteria.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Now accepting applicants

Some people call it the "Terrible Twos"... some just call it life with kids. Some, I've heard, deny it's existence.

I'm referring to that age in early childhood when your sweet little cherub adopts the misguided philosophy that they are the ruler of the universe.

For Maddie, it happen young: 14 months. It was like a switch went off and she put on her crown as Queen of our home. And for the next several months I worked very very hard at dethroning her. For, as I say, she may be the Princess, but I am the Queen. ☺

Eden has always lacked Maddie's amazing persistence (ie. stubbornness). The stiff necked, dig in your heels for all out war did not come at 14 months. Or age 2.

I thought I was home free.

I was wrong.

Though her campaign for world domination takes slightly different approach, she has none-the-less decided she would like to be the CEO of McCoy Enterprises. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that she would like the become the guardian for every child under the age of 5 within the Northeast corridor. So, be forewarned, children within a 50 mile radius, that if Eden even suspects you are being naughty (which is loosely defined by her personal appraisal of your behavior) she will emphatically rebuke you and quite possible administer a spanking, with or without a signed parental consent.

We are currently accepting applications to enroll preschoolers and toddlers for Eden's day care services. Sign up only if you hope of reformation by Eden's unorthodox techniques.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Guess what I'm up to....

Stenciling a crazy intricate design all over Leila's bedroom wall.

What was I thinking?

It's looking pretty but I am calling it quits for the night. I'll be sure to show you the finished product when it is done... which may be a while! This afternoon, I had the two big girls napping, Leila was freshly fed and bouncing happily so I started. And then Maddie woke up needing a breathing treatment. And the Leila was no longing happy in the bouncer. And then Eden was up. Then it was dinner time. And time to clean up after dinner. Oh well. The days of starting a project and working on it until it is done, without any distractions are NOT these days. These days are days of pick away at projects when you can and don't expect to have more than 1.32 seconds at a time.

As for my other decorating issue, the china buffet, we've decided to look for a bench second hand and sell the china cabinet. If by the end of summer I can not find what I want, I may refurbish the cabinet. Seth would prefer not to do anything permanent yet though. Looking at the ideas you all posted however has me itching to paint a inn table I've had (but neglected) for a while. First, though, I must finish the crazy stenciling.