Saturday, January 31, 2009

Heart Cookies

We had made up the cookie dough needed for Bluebird's birthday party cookies when everyone got sick; and since it's only good for a few days, we decided to go ahead and make heart cookies instead!
We didn't deliver them to anyone out of fear of passing on the myriad of symptoms the family was experiencing.

Another [Bluebird] 5 Crew Member Down with Illness

Spanish Fork, Utah--Mission Specialist Little Lamb Brooke was diagnosed with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) yesterday evening and prescribed breathing treatments and rest.

She is responding well to treatment, and is not expected to require any hospitalization. Treatment will continue until next Friday, after which she is expected to continue on with her regular duties.

The diagnosis comes on the heels of the launch cancellation only a day earlier on account of [Bluebird] 5 Commander Bluebird Brooke's ear infection and stomach virus. It is now known that the Commander was not suffering from a stomach virus, but nausea symptoms accompanying her ear infection. She is also responding well to treatment and is expected to make a full recovery.

A re-launch date for [Bluebird] 5 is still tentatively set for February 14th.

Friday, January 30, 2009

[Bluebird] 5 Launch Scrubbed

Spanish Fork, Utah--The [Bluebird] 5 Mission, set to launch tomorrow morning, has been cancelled due to the illness of the mission's commander, Bluebird Brooke. Brooke Mission Control cancelled the launch yesterday after the onset of the Commander's symptoms. The physician on-call confirmed that Commander Brooke is suffering from a severe ear infection and stomach virus.

A re-launch date has been tentatively scheduled to take place two weeks later, on February 14th.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

One Word

Where is your cell? Nearby
Your significant other? Him
Your hair? Contrasting
Your mother? Short
Your father? Boisterous
Your favorite thing? Laughing
Your dream last night? Symbolic?
Your favorite drink? Water
Your dream/goal? Excellence
The room you're in? Mine
Your fear? Fire
Where do you want to be in 6 years? There
Where were you last night? Home
What you're not? Doormat
Muffins? Morning
One of your wish list items? Piano
Where you grew up? North
The last thing you did? Blinked
What are you wearing? Pretty
Your TV? Dysfunctional
Your computer? New
Your life? Stirring
Your mood? Ambivalent
Missing someone? Nope
Your car? Wonderful
Something you're not wearing? Earrings
Favorite Store? Book
Your summer? Fuzzy
Last time you laughed? Recently
Last time you cried? Forget

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Favorite Kitchen Disasters

Mrs. Mordecai wrote about her most memorable kitchen disasters, and I was going to comment and leave mine at her blog, but then I wouldn't be able to share them with everyone else that I knew, and that's just not fun.

My favorite kitchen disaster was when I was in the second grade. I had just learned to bake and particularly enjoyed making a cookie recipe out of my Mickey Mouse cookbook. I had made those cookies numerous times, and decided to make them again when I had a friend over for the afternoon. We decided to stir things up a bit and try one of the "variations" at the end of the recipe--adding a 1/4 tsp. of ground cloves to the dough. Sounds good, doesn't it?

Well, I misread that "1/4 tsp." measurement--I thought it said "1/4 cup."

The house smelled very good.

Unfortunately, my dog wouldn't even eat the cookies.

About a month ago, I found this friend of mine on Facebook and the first thing she mentioned, after not having talked to each other for seventeen years, was the clove cookies. They were that memorable.

Another favorie kitchen disaster happened when I was 12...but I didn't do it, my mom did. She was re-learning how to read after her brain tumor operations, and decided to make some Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for lunch. She got the water boiling, and I happened to walk within sight of the kitchen as she added the next ingredient--and I was witness to the impressive mini-geyser of orange water that erupted. Apparently, the powdered cheese mix and boiling water do not get along well. It was great. And no, she was not amused; especially when her children continued to laugh about it days later.

(Happily, she is fully capable of preparing Kraft Dinner without any mishaps now.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Super Duper Outer Space Birthday Party--Preparation Phase

Bluebird is having her birthday party this weekend. (How I have managed to find myself with an almost five year old daughter...uh, yeah, no idea there.)

Anyhow, it came as no surprise that she wants to have an Outer Space party. What has come as a surprise is my enthusiasm to give her an Outer Space party! What a fun theme to work with!

We delivered the invitations last week, adorable orange cardstock rockets with "[Bluebird] 5" written down the rocket and the invitation to join the launch crew of the [Bluebird] 5 mission, launch date and time, etc. (I have found that the invitation sets a most important first impression of what the party is going to be like, so I try to make it match up to the amount of effort that I'm going to be putting into something.)

Bluebird wants an "Earth Cake." I'm ashamed to say that I did try to coerce her into picking something more interesting (to me), like an astronaut or the moon (with all its craters!), or a rocket ship; but she has held firm. She wants a spherical Earth cake with Spanish Fork clearly marked. Alright then. Planet Earth it is. Lemon-flavored. (I laugh out loud every time I think about that...we're going to cut it open and it's going to be neon yellow...perhaps I should have asked if she wanted a sun cake?)

I asked her what sort of activities and games she wanted, in order to avoid coming up with things on my own that would prove too difficult or boring for the five-year-old crowd; and she wants to do Pin the Rocket on the Moon, Find the Moon Rocks, and Musical Planets. (I have a lot of painting to do.) I wanted to get some refrigerator boxes and attach them end-to-end and then paint the inside black and make it seem like outer space, but we're getting a little too close to the deadline to feasibly complete such a project while keeping my sanity. (But it's seriously going on my lists of "must-do-in-the-near-future" because I think it would be awesome!)

I married an engineer who moonlights as a rocket scientist, and he's going to treat the young 'uns to a small rocket launch at the end of the festivities. Weather is a go; I hope it goes well with engines and the like.

We're going to just order pizza for lunch because Bluebird likes pizza and it's one of the easiest foods to feed to a crowd! We're also serving Tang and, if it arrives in the mail in time, freeze-dried ice cream, just like the astronauts eat. (I've heard it's rather disgusting...but littles will do anything to be like the people they admire...)

Now, dear readers, in looking at this projected "plan"--am I missing something? I've never done a party at home; we've always done her birthday at the gymnastics gym where the fun came with the package, so I'm a little spooked as to whether or not I can handle a small crowd of 4-5 year olds for two hours. Indoors. (Curse all of these winter birthdays!) I think I should plan some sort of art project or activity, yes? Yes, I think I will do that as well. And something else, just in case I need it? Argh, the mental strain! (If we don't get to the activity at the party, we can invite friends over in the future to do them...)

On the bright side, I've been serving for three weeks in a new calling at church: teaching the 4-5 year olds, so I've had some practice with the small crowd and two hours's not too scary, as long as you have something to hold their attention, hence my emphasis on having plenty of activities to hold us over.

This is one of the best parts of being a mom! I love it. Bring on the Birthday Parties!!!

(Little Lamb's first birthday is two weeks after Bluebird's party...hehehe, Merry Christmas to me!)

Blog, Interrupted.

I was going to blog, but then the dryer buzzer went off. So I'm going to fold laundry instead.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Super Creative Friday

We have "Creative Time" in the afternoon after naps. On Friday, we do music appreciation during Creative Time, which is just playing with Play-Doh while we listen to a specific piece of music (we're listening to Peter and the Wolf this month). Naptime was a little short on this particular Friday, so we got started on Creative Time early and found ourselves with tons of afternoon left when we were done with the Play-Doh.

So we made some cupcakes.

The girls ran off as I was cleaning up the kitchen and started doing the things that young children do to make each other scream and cry, so I asked them what they wanted to do instead of irritating each other, and Bluebird exclaimed, "Have another Creative Time!" What do you want to do? "Make puppets!" Alright then, get out your art caddies...

Frog (they insisted that he needed ears)

Yellow Rabbit

Peacock (that one was pretty fun...)

(Now Bluebird wants to build a puppet theater. I told her to ask Daddy about that because I am not about to begin juggling three kids in the garage while I operate the table saw! Perhaps we'll draw up some schematics in the near future and ask him to cut them out.)

Overall, a great afternoon. I don't know why I don't generally take more time to do stuff with them in the keeps them in one spot, no matter how messy the project, so there's hardly any clean-up to be done before dinner. It was nice. And we got cupcakes out of it as well...literal icing on top of a good thing.

During dinner, while we were talking about our day, I asked Bluebird what her favorite part of her day was and she responded, "Having two Creative Times." Awww.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Menu for the Week

Tonight: Everyone but me is eating out in order to allow me more time to get ready for hosting Recipe Club at home...I'll eat whatever; probably snack on some of the fixin's I make up for the get-together.

Thursday: Thai Stir Fry, Coconut Rice, Chinese Chicken Salad

Friday: White Chicken Chili, Buttermilk Biscuits, Mixed Vegetables, Fruit Salad

Saturday: Black Bean Tacos, Spanish Rice, Corn, Green Salad

Sunday: Spaghetti & Meatballs, Breadsticks, Peas & Carrots, Green Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing

Monday: Waffles with Spiced Fruit Topping, Scrambled Eggs with Cheese

Tuesday: Peanutty Noodles, Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Hazelnuts, Cranberry Raspberry Spinach Salad

Wednesday: White Bean Soup with Rosemary Oil, Wheat Dinner Rolls, Pumpkin Baked with Tomatoes & Rosemary, Caesar Salad

Treats: Cream Cheese Brownies, Cupcakes, Cinnamon Rolls

What Does Water Do?

Last night, as Mr. Brooke was finishing up with tucking the girls in (I'd already doled out my hugs and kisses and left the room...), Bluebird asked him a question:

"Daddy, what does water do for my body and bones?"

Mr. Brooke: "Water goes inside your body and cleans everything up, and then turns into pee-pee."

Bluebird: [look of amazement] "Water turns into pee pee?!?!"

Mr. Brooke: "Yep, and that's how your body gets rid of yucky stuff from inside it."

Bluebird: "I need to drink more water so all my boogers will go away!"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'm Feeling a Little Bit RaNdoM Today...

I always have little snippets of blog post ideas swirling about in my fabulous cranium, but the day-to-day activities of raising three young 'uns, coupled with various other activities that attempt to provide mental and emotional stability for me and my husband, tend to crowd the post ideas into a shadowy corner from where they sadly look out upon the brilliant carnival of higher priority ideas. Then the neglected blog post ideas get sadder and sadder, and gorge themselves upon my brain matter and get fatter and fatter and start spilling out into the carnival of priority ideas and it just gets ugly in there, an all-and-out melee of carnage as each idea starts in with hastily constructed methods of self-defense, which I swear are made from my all-too-precious-and-limited brain matter.

So, in an attempt to calm down the little crusading beasties in my head, I shall now commence with spewing forth all recent blog post ideas and wandering thoughts into one cohesive post. Let us begin:
  • I'm feeling rather project-less lately and I think it makes the blog boring.
  • I'm getting tired of people trying to politely disagree with me and delicately trying to sway me to see why they are right. Seriously, I've already thought my opinion through; moving on...
  • I don't trust the sincerity of people who, after not talking to me for a long time, say "I'm glad to see that you're happy." How does one take that sort of comment?
  • With all the technological advances we humans have made, you'd think that someone out there would have come up with a baby-proof wipe dispenser. I am so tired of picking up wipes after Little Lamb has located the dispenser and pulled them all out.
  • Visiting teaching is hazardous to your health. Especially during cold and flu season.
  • I don't understand why Mormon-haters move to Utah. It makes about as much sense as Amish-haters moving to Lancaster County.
  • I'm saddened by how one of my neighbors treats children.
  • An acquaintance is internet-snubbing me. When I found out, I laughed until tears rolled down my face.
  • I think I look better with blonde hair when my hair is short, but I came to this conclusion after I dyed it dark again. I'll try to remember this bit of wisdom at my next hair appointment.
  • _____________
  • ______________
  • The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People...very good book.
  • The weight loss mojo is non-existent.
  • Victoria's Secret has super cute *regular* pajamas.
  • What interesting things are there to do in Wyoming and Nebraska?
  • The gym is packed with New Year's Resolutioners. You can spot them in their brand new shoes and workout clothes; and they're hogging all the equipment. I can't wait until March when they've all given up and I can run in peace. The gym is not a social club where you yell conversations across the space to friends and associates.
  • Which would make one happier? Excelling, but being lonely because others are jealous or intimidated by you; or denying the urge to excel, but having lots of friends because you're just like everyone else and people feel better about that?
  • What are reasonable expectations when you've got three kids under five years of age?
  • Bluebird's having an Outer Space Birthday Party, which is really fun to plan.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Patching Up the Blankie

If you have a child who carries a blankie, you'll totally understand the necessity of tending to whatever injuries the coveted item encounters. Rabbit's blankie has had this ouchie for a while, but then it caught on something the other morning and tore some more and she seemed rather distraught about it--so I decided to do something about it.

I located some random pink gingham flannel (which isn't too terribly random when you consider that this a house with three young girls living in it!), cut out a heart, hefted the sewing machine upstairs and started some intense blankie surgery, while Rabbit anxiously looked on.

End result:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Reading to her Stuffed Animals

The Trumpet of the Swan

The Trumpet of the Swan

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

My review

Rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love sharing my favorite books from childhood with my children! The Trumpet of the Swan was one of my all-time favorite books and it quickly became one of my girls' favorites. Even my husband started hanging around during evening read-aloud time, and when I pointed it out to him, he smiled and said, "I like it and I want to know what else is going to happen!"

The Trumpet of the Swan is a great read-aloud for young children; even my two year old loved it and now points at any picture of a swan she sees and squeals, "Louis!"

View all my reviews.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Make-Ahead and Freeze Meals

I love soup for freezing. Any soup recipe makes enough for a small army (or so it seems), so we have it for dinner and then I take the leftovers and ladle them into quart-sized freezer bags and freeze them flat. To re-heat, just throw the bag into a pot of water, and heat the water until the soup melts a little in the bag. Dump out the water, open up the bag of (mostly frozen) soup and maneuver it into the (now empty) pot and reheat it the rest of the way! Instant dinner!

Breakfast Foods
I'm sure many of you are already aware of my penchance for waffles. One of the reasons I love them is because they do freeze so well. Pancakes freeze good also. The next time you make either, just double the batch, spend an extra 15-25 minutes cooking them up, cool them in a single layer (stacking them will make them soggy) and then stuff them into freezer bags. You can reheat waffles in the toaster or the microwave, and pancakes warm up best in the microwave.

Use either frozen bread dough from the freezer section or your favorite pizza dough recipe. Get the dough ready to go, shape it into however many 6-9 inch circles you can get. Pour a little pizza sauce* (2-4 Tbsp.) into the middle and spread to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Add some grated cheese (mozzarella and monterey jack are my family's favorites), some sliced veggies and some sort of meat (or not). Fold the circle in half and pinch and fold over the edges to seal. Place the calzones on a baking sheet and place in freezer to freeze. When frozen, place calzones in a large freezer bag until needed.

To Bake: 325 degree (F) oven. Brush calzones with beaten egg and bake on a baking sheet for 30-40 minutes. They're done when they're quite golden.

Variations: Try different sauces, such as alfredo and pesto (in moderation, pesto packs a punch). Think outside of the "Italian" box and try different ethnic flavors in calzones. Find inspiration for other combinations at any pizza chain's website. (Papa Murphy's)

*Pizza sauce: I use two cans of tomato sauce and mix in the following (estimated amounts of) dried herbs and spices: 1 Tbsp Oregano, 1 tsp Basil, 1 tsp Marjoram, 2 tsp Parsley, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp chili powder. I then add a bit of sugar until the metallic taste is gone.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Why I Don't Comment on Anyone's Blog

Because my stupid FeedReader won't work and I can't remember anyone's blog address anymore, so I haven't read any of your new entries in months.

But I'm trying out Bloglines now and we'll see how that goes. I'm not ignoring you on purpose, just out of frustration. :) Now I'm off to manually import every single blog address that is included in my blog roll posts...if you're not on them, leave a comment so I can add you and eventually visit your "living room."

Feeling Overwhelmed?

We all do from time to time. I'm going through a big bout of it right now...and I like to read through Diane Hopkins' thoughts because I think she's an amazing (and refreshingly honest) mother. I've never met her or spoke to her through any form of communication, but she is a kindred spirit to me.

One of my favorite articles that she's written: Don't Serve From an Empty Platter

A list of some others that are equally great at buoying me up on down days: Home School Helps (not just for homeschoolers, in my opinion; for all mothers)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Books in the Crib

She won't sit still in my lap during our evening storytime, so she gets to sit in her crib with her own books while I read out loud to the older two girls in their beds. I figure it's win-win; she gets to do something interesting in a safe environment and still gets to hear the story that I'm reading aloud, and I get to read out loud to ALL of my girls. Start 'em young.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Girls' Wall Art

We finished it up over the break. Each girl got two 10x10 canvases and one 16x20 canvas, and I provided them with paint colors that matched their bedspreads. They could paint whatever they wanted, but only with the colors provided.

Bluebird's paintings

Rabbit's paintings

They're now hung up in their room, and the girls seem rather proud of their art. I think it means more to them than something I could have bought at the store or even painted myself.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Diminishing Authority of Wifedom

Allow me a moment of frustration here.

I am Mr. Brooke's wife. We are equal in the eyes of God, we are in a civil contract of union, we live in the same house and share our money and the upraising of our children.

But, because I have no "real occupation," I cannot qualify for basically anything (not even my own cell phone, I needed my bacon-bringer-homer to set that one up for me). I understand the reasons behind this, and it really would be OK with me if I could have some amount of access to the stuff that he qualifies for.

He may earn the money, but I literally pay the bills and I need to be able to access our accounts.

So a big, fat, sarcastic THANK YOU to everyone who has made this daily part of my life so difficult--hackers, ID stealers, terrorists, spiteful ex-wives...thanks so much for making simple tasks like paying bills extraordinarily harder. You suck.

Now excuse me, I have to rifle through stacks of statements and itemize them for Mr. Brooke to phone and set up some glorified "account access" for his wife. Oh, but wait, everyone closes at 5pm and he won't be able to get through anyway, so basically I'm going to go waste my time organizing something that won't be able to be done.

I try to expound the virtues of being a full-time homemaker, but it's daily stuff like this that make me feel like I do not exist beyond my front door. Seriously--just because I don't bring home a paycheck does not mean that I'm a second class citizen. Children and pets get more respectful treatment than the women who raise them.

And perhaps all you snarky "customer service representatives" should consider that I also control where our accounts are word from me and you will lose our business because, even though my husband makes the money, I'm the one that manages it. Respect the homemakers. (Although, of course, this is a rather empty threat because I can't close the account or open up a new one somewhere else...but I do turn the head of the person who can, so in 6-8 weeks [or however long it takes for him to catch a business during its business hours], you really could lose our business.)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to Normal, with a perk

The holiday season is nice, but it's always a little sigh of relief when they're over and we can re-commence with our normal schedule. We took the last two weeks of December off from homeschooling and will jump back into the water today. (Bluebird started begging to do school about two days after Christmas, so she's thrilled to get back into the swing of things as well.)

The two weeks off was good for everyone, though. We did fun things, like decorating a gingerbread house and cutting out snowflakes...but I also insisted on a little more "free play" time for the girls where they had to just go play without me. (Hey, it was my break as well!)

Bluebird was pretty excited to be able to watch Playhouse Disney in the morning...for about two days. The past ten days or so have found her spending a large portion of her mornings in her beanbag chair with a book in her lap, her face scrunched up in concentration as she tried to figure out what the words meant. She seems much more grateful when I offer to read something to her now!

Prior to this Christmas break, her phonics lessons were met with, "I don't want to learn how to read!" (I've actually backed off of phonics for the past few months, just playing a game here and there having to do with letters.) However, the past few evenings have found her saying, "I'm not good at reading this, but if I practice more I will be good soon!" Let's hope that thought sticks in her mind...

I'm not an advocate for ignoring your children, but it seems that they do benefit from some "figure-it-out-on-your-own" time. I could have reasoned with my girl for months about the value of being able to read on her own, to no avail.

But two weeks of having to amuse's true, they educate themselves; I'm simply a guide and a resource facilitator.