Thanksgiving 2009

We enjoyed a quiet holiday yesterday. Earlier plans called for us to travel to St. Louis to be with Jay’s brother’s family this year, but several factors led to our staying here instead.  As my sister-in-law recently landed a wonderful new full time job that will begin in just a few days, we’d like to think we made the Thanksgiving weekend simpler and more relaxing for her by not descending upon her household with our large and noisy brood! But it would have been great to see all of them….

Jay’s folks (the Grammy and the Grandy as they are affectionately referred to over here) joined us for a fun and lowkey day. I would like to toot my own horn(e?) just a teensey bit and say that I worked very purposefully to not spend the entire day in the kitchen as I am often wont to do on a holiday, by sheer nature of the beast, er…..feast!!.  Abigail and I made three pies on Wednesday, and I baked our pumpkin bread for next morning’s breakfast that evening.  Jay also mixed up my Grandma Brunone’s celebrated shrimp dip the day before, so even our appetizer/lunch was all set. I still might have gone to bed later than I should have, given I stayed up past 1am feverishly working to hang over 60 little sparkly crystals on our new chandelier that Jay had just installed for me, so it’d be all spiffy for the Thanksgiving meal. But I digress…..

We chose prime rib for our main course instead of the more traditional bird, to simplify the sides for our dinner…if you ever make prime rib, you should try this recipe, it’s fabulous. It’s even more fabulous if you actually follow the directions and take the roast out of the oven at 120 degrees as directed, instead of making the incorrect judgement that it couldn’t possibly be finished cooking to medium rare already, and leaving it in to cook too long as I did! (The flavor was still excellent, even if the inside was a bit darker than we preferred, but next time I’ll follow the recipe more religiously!)

Our day was relaxing and fun; there was playing with and on grandparents:

HF100_3663

HF100_3656

HF100_3657

HF100_3658

Time spent outside in gorgeous, sunny weather:

HF100_3671

Shrimp dip!

boysndip

An impressive and competitive game of scrabble:

scrabble

An impromptu nap by the littlest guy who was “just so tired of waiting to eat pumpkin pie with whipp-ed cream”….

HF100_3680

The feast!

HF100_3681

After dinner cuddles and snuggles:

HF100_3683

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Thankfulness

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.

~Psalm 136:1

Procrastination Demonstrated

Alrighty, folks! I admitted to you a couple posts back that I am a self-proclaimed procrastinator. Despite being immensely freeing to admit this truth to the bloggy world, this declaration also explains why I am just today finally posting Halloween pictures of my little Star Wars children.  Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, it seems appropriate to finish up the last of the Halloween chitter chatter, if not the last of the Halloween candy (four large ziplok bags of which sadly still fill my pantry and often drop out on my feet when I open the door – sigh).

Thanks to Jay’s new job at Epsilon (oh, what a blessing to have income again, folks, after such a long time without!) the children enjoyed not one but two evenings of candy-gathering!!

Epsilon’s many different groups get together and decorate their particular areas of the office in a theme for the kids to come walk-through as they pile tremendous amounts of sweets into their Halloween bags. I wish I had thought to take my camera so I had pictures of some of the creative set-ups to share with you! There was a Dr. Suess-land, Pajama Party, Super Heroes, Circus Time, and many others.

The employees got further into the spirit of it all by dressing up to coordinate with their “sets” and the costumes were really great.

Our kids spent over an hour trick-r-treating with sweet family friends (here is the group of 8 kiddos all decked out):

Epsilon 0001

and it was a really great time.

Epsilon 0019

On Saturday the kids donned their Star Wars apparel again, and prepared for a night out around the ‘hood. We enjoyed seeing some of our smallest neighbors first:

HF100_3250

Our sweet-as-anything Mrs. Jean from next door decked out in her Halloween best:

HF100_3258

and then we posed for a few pictures:

HF100_3245

The fearsome Darth Vader:

HF100_3260

Gorgeous blue-eyed Jedi Luke Skywalker:

HF100_3254

Pretty Princess Leia:

HF100_3267

And of course the cutest “Baby Yoda” as the other kids called him…I took about a thousand photos of this munchkin:

HF100_3272

HF100_3271

Following in his big brothers’ footsteps, Yoda insisted on staying in character all. night. long. Which meant he ran from house to house all night hunched over Yoda-style (this slowed things down just a bit for the other kids) just like:

HF100_3278

I think we can safely say that Halloween is now officially over…May the Force be with you all!

HF100_3282

Remembering Muffin

This morning, Abigail’s little pet gerbil, Muffin (named for the golden brown color of her fur) passed away. It has been a hard day for my girlie in many ways. The gerbils are the first pets she has had almost sole responsibility for: their cage was in her room, and other than occasional help from her Daddy cleaning the little gerbil house, she has been Muffin and Mitten’s “mommy” and done a great job caring for them for 2 1/2 years!

Here is Abigail in June 2007, soon after she and Jay brought home Muffin and Mittens – I love this shot of her and Muffin:

IMG_8281
Here are the gerbil sisters together:

IMG_8277

After Muffin died, Abigail and I looked at the verses in Matthew 10 where we are told that God cares for each little creature that falls:

29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.

Those verses brought some comfort to her in the midst of her sorrow, but there were tears aplenty all day long.

Jay arrived home early from work so he could dig Muffin’s grave before it was too dark. Abigail carefully chose a casket in which to bury her little fallen pet – this is a box which she loves, it was a gift from her Grammy:

HF100_3631

Our whole family assembled to have a small graveside service, and through tears, each of the children choked out a remembrance of little Muffin:

Abigail remembered that when she and Jay went to the pet store to look at gerbils, that she didn’t choose Muffin; Muffin chose her! by climbing into her open hand and resting there happily as if to say, “I’m yours…please take me home!”

Nicolas mentioned that he always loved Muffin because when he would try to hold her, she wouldn’t run away from him (like Mittens does!).

Jonathan, trying to be brave through his tears, shared the encouraging and wise, “It is very hard when things like this happen, but we must always trust God in what He does, even when we don’t understand.”

For my part, I am not a gerbil lover…but even someone who finds gerbils somewhat icky is moved to tears when their children hurt. So instead of sharing the notion that while I wasn’t a huge Muffin fan, I did actually prefer Muffin to her sister Mittens because to me, Muffin with her golden-honey coloring looked less like a rat…..I reminded Abigail that she helped a tiny creature have a warm, loving, and happy life here on this earth, and that we knew God was pleased with how she loved and cared for one of his smallest parts of creation.  And that though it hurt so much, to draw comfort from the precious times she shared with little Muffin and to be thankful she had such a sweet little pet.

Jay prayed, and we buried Muffin.

HF100_3635

I cannot believe I am sitting here sobbing as I write this…I will close with this last picture of Abigail at Muffin’s graveside. I love that sitting right next to her is another faithful pet.

HF100_3636

Shasha and Lucy stayed near to Abigail all day long in her grief, clearly sensing something was very wrong.  As sad as this picture is, it also makes me thankful, because it reminds me of the goodness God showers upon us when he gives us animals to love and share our lives with.

Sadness

Muffin the gerbil has gotten very sick today, and sweet Abigail is fretting over her with tears aplenty. I will not write much tonight, as I want to spend some extra time with my little girl…

More tomorrow.

Eureka! Or Perhaps Better Titled “Banana!”

I am a procrastinator, pure and simple. Why do today what I can put off till tomorrow?? Sad, but true.  Not always, but in many aspects of my life I struggle with procrastination. Or as I prefer to think of it, “Having a lot of amazing ideas of what clever things I will do next time I have nothing else looming to do”.  Hah!

So if you should ever happen to visit my humble casa, one item you will often see on my counters are a group of dark colored (some would call them “rotting”) bananas. Because well, once they get past the point of being edible with breakfast, no one wants to eat them. I of course always have great plans to turn them into banana bread or banana muffins or (our favorite) banana chocolate chip pancakes….tomorrow. And then, the next day. And so on….

Failing to actually set aside time in my day to make the dreamed-of banana bread, I finally toss the now-black bananas into the freezer. Which truly can work – they will last now until I am ready to use them in a recipe! But they always seem to be precariously stored while still in “bunch” form. And inevitably one of these bunches of frozen black bananas will fly off the door shelf when my husband is rummaging in the freezer for something, and hit him in the head, or cause some other equally annoying and painful injury.

Well, as usual, I have had a nice group of blackening bananas adorning my counter for the greater part of a week now. Until tonight when I had a super-fantastic idea:

I peeled the bananas, popped their insides into plastic ziplok baggies, and stuck them all into the freezer.  Just like that. Where they will wait until I am ready to cook them into some delicious bakedy-goodness of some variety.

bananarama

No longer will I have ugly black bananas on the counter. No more frightening freezer fruit projectiles to injure my sweet husband when he forages for ice cream. I think I have hit on something fabulous, and because I like all of you so much, Dear Readers, I had to share this revelation with you.

So, how long do you suppose it will take me in the future to start procrastinating about actually peeling and freezing the overripe bananas that grace my kitchen counters?  Hmmmmm…..let’s just not go there tonight!

Tomatoes

All our sweat and work to start our garden was not in vain. Here are some pictures of a few of my tomato babies…I’m still working on trying to get the lighting right indoors…

HF100_3557

HF100_3562

HF100_3553

HF100_3564

Cheating

Ok, I admit it: I am backdating this post to squeak in my 30 posts in 30 days.  My wonderful hubby whisked me out on a date last night, and so instead of catching up with you, Dear Readers, I spent some quality time with Jay – we chatted for hours over a leisurely supper of prime rib. So fun.  As we sat and talked and sipped our wine, it struck me: what a blessing it is after 14 1/2 years of marriage that we can have so much fun together just talking and hanging out.  I don’t ever want to take this for granted…I am so in love with and so thankful for my husband.

Last night was actually my second date of the day as I also got to spend some lovely one-on-one time with the youngest little man in my life during the afternoon.  Josiah and I dropped the older three children off to try out an art class here, and then the two of us walked and talked all up and down Snider Plaza, his little hand in mine almost all of the hour and a half we spent together. We stopped by a toy store (to his delight!) and a book store (where he had a blast finding all the “Bativities” on display), had a coffee/hot chocolate break outside on a park bench, and truly enjoyed time together.

Homeschooling right now means that I don’t always spend a ton of Mommy time with just Josiah, so I cherish these little moments with him.  It was a great afternoon.

And as for the other 3, they loved their first time with “Miss Casey” at A Little Artsy…which came very highly recommended, and we were not disappointed. What a welcoming and happy little studio, and Casey and her staff are sweet, talented, and wonderful with children. If you live in the Dallas area and are looking for a nurturing and unique art experience for you and/or your kiddos, give Casey a call!

Thoughtful Thursday: Kids ‘n’ Chores!

Tonight I did something in the kitchen that I haven’t done in a very long, long time. In fact I cannot even remember the last time…

All by myself, after supper, while the kids were taking baths/showers, I emptied the dishwasher!

Why don’t I ever empty the dishwasher anymore?? Because these days I have a host of little people around the house who are absolutely capable of accomplishing this task, and each day they take care of it for me, the sweet things. Only the 10 and 8 year old deal in breakables; the 7 year old empties “non-breakables” and the 4 year old helps at random, very enthusiastically, but definitely still learning.  He started trying to help with the dishwasher because he watched his big siblings work at it, and wanted to help too.

Earlier this week, the 4 year old began making his bed all by himself, and not because I taught him. He has watched his big brothers, whom he shares a room with, and he hears me each day praise their efforts.  Monday morning he proudly called me to his room where he pointed triumphantly to a very well made-up bed, especially for a 4 year old’s first effort. And I was delighted!!  To think: after all these years of teaching the older ones how to do chores, they now not only complete their own work, they are training the baby of the family too…what a deal!

Of course there are days when chores are not done cheerfully, and Mommy must urge and nudge and yes, even perhaps threaten…but on the whole I am blessed with sweet help from my children.

So, all this talk of dishes and bed-making prompts me to ask you, Dear Reader: what do you do around your house about Kids’n’Chores??  Do your kids do any? Do they do none? Do they do it all while you lounge on the couch and pop Godiva chocolates into your mouth one by one??

If your children help around the house, how do you organize chores for each one, and if they attend traditional school (as opposed to home-schooling), when do they usually accomplish their chores?? Do you pay allowances for helping, or not??  How do you deal with bad attitudes toward helping around the house?

Please do chime in with your two cents on this topic; it is always great to hear ideas from other parents!  I have heard many a parent groan that it is just easier to do the housework themselves rather than go through the agony of trying to teach their children to take responsibility and ownership of chores, but I think I am finding out that once the kids learn, the entire family reaps the benefit of everyone pitching in to help as they are able.

So, pull up your favorite comfy chair, enjoy a warm cup of coffee (I will bring the Godiva chocolates!) and let’s chat chores!