Monday, September 30, 2013

Free Fall Fair

It's the week of the county fair here! Ours is a late one - actually takes place after the state fair. Our girls aren't old enough for 4-H yet, so we don't know exactly how that works out. But they are old enough for...RIDES. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. On Monday, Tim's parents dropped off a DOZEN fair donuts in the afternoon. They're kind of world famous and delicious - fried to the perfect shade of goldgoodness and covered in sugar - people wait in line for an hour or more to get them. Ours just showed up right at our door! YUM. They were gone within 24 hours.
Monday we did the rides and Felicity had her first taste of the fair (no, we didn't let her actually eat anything).
Tuesday, Nana came over and stayed with Felicity during her morning nap while Mommy took the two older girls to check out the livestock. The 4-H kids (and their parents) are always very friendly and willing to let everyone pet their animals. It was show time for the mules, donkeys, draft horses (they are sooooo huge!), and pigs so animals were moving everywhere. But we got to see a baby mule. Adorable. Plus FAIR SIZED pumpkins. The little ladies were in awe.
Thursday, back at the fair with our parish priest and Tim's parents for more rides and more food. Our neighbors across the street have a Mexican food truck at Junk Food Alley. "Super nachos, please. With your homemade salsa. And these jalapenos are so good!" Probably made those homemade, too. We'll find out. Maybe they can teach us how to do it! (Because, side story, Mommy tried to can jalapenos two years ago. Daddy did not approve of the flavor. We'll have to have a re-do. Maybe the neighbors can light the way.) The girls also got to check out their "library project" at the fair. Each kid at storytime decorated a car and the librarians, who we love, put together a poster. So fun for them to see their own work!
Saturday night, Mommy and Daddy returned to the fair with a group of friends for Daddy's birthday celebration. Need fair donuts to make it an official birthday!
So that's it for the fair this year. Hopefully. Because our arteries and large intestines are begging for fresh produce.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

On Our Plates: Taco Soup

Don't know why we didn't share this recipe first! It's so easy and yummy we made it for Felicity's baptism. We like tacos. We like soup. Naturally, we liked taco soup. Both girls eat it pretty well...Viv likes it with a heavy side of tortilla chips. We've started making our own taco seasoning. It's way easy and we keep all the spices on hand anyways. Probably cheaper, too, but don't plan to do that calculation anytime soon. Just make a quadruple batch and you'll be set for a few months. Two tablespoons of the homemade mix is equivalent to one taco seasoning pouch from the store.

In related news: Mommy broke the "crock" portion of the crockpot yesterday. Percy has died. Perhaps he will be reincarnated in another form if we buy a new insert. HOWEVER, we just went ahead and purchased a new crockpot that is 6 quarts instead of 4. More more more. That's the American way, right? So after heaving that crock into the trash bin and purchasing something new, we're still left with a problem. It's not here yet...and all our meals go in a crockpot...what are we going to eat? Apparently this meal freezing has a drawback: saps all meal creativity. So spaghetti it is.

On with the show.

Black Bean Taco Soup

1 lb lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 package mild taco seasoning mix
1 (16 oz) bag frozen corn
1 (16 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 (14 oz) cans stewed tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilis

Brown meat and onion, drain. Let meat cool for a minute, then dump into a labelled gallon-sized freezer bag. Dump the remaining ingredients into the bag, mix together-ish, and zip bag closed. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours if frozen or 2-4 hours if thawed. Serve with tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, guac, etc.

Monday, September 23, 2013

A toothy tale

A short blog post. Felicity has a tooth. After a FULL week of teething, one tooth. (Bottom front left - the dental community has assigned it a number. We just don't know which number. Nor do we have the energy to look it up. Fine. It's 24.)
And so she is ANGRY. Just wants to drink Infant Tylenol and nurse. And take tiny, angry-baby naps. This too shall pass.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Eating Your Words

You know what happens when you write a blog post about naptime and how glorious it is and how grateful you are that your children nap and how peaceful and rejuvenating those moments are? Naturally, your children stop napping and you are very, very grateful that you didn't publish that blog post. Naive, silly, dreaming/gloating you.

That's what's happening in our house. Miriam and Vivian have stopped napping. No napping. They'll go to their room and read kind of quietly for a while. An hour, TOPS. For the sake of honesty, after 30 minutes, it is not quiet in their room. It gets louder and louder until they are set free. Last week it became crystal clear that if we let them nap, they don't fall asleep until 9:30 or 10 at night. After lots of fighting with their parents and yelling at each other to be quiet. Their parents finally saw the writing on the wall. Miriam is almost four - we had a pretty good run of naptimes with that girl.
How did this happen? How did they grow up so quickly? Why were we so blind to the beauty of naptime when Miriam was a baby? (Drama for the sake of drama, today.)

So goodbye hours of peace each day. Goodbye opportunity to pray, sew, clean, launder, read the newspaper, eat, sleep, expand our lungs, etc. It was nice knowing you.

*We're fully aware that publishing this post will push resttime into a blackhole and we'll be missing that, too.

Monday, September 16, 2013

On Our Plates: Lazy Day Stew

We ate up all the food from the pre-Vivian's birth great freezer filling extravaganza. So Mommy immediately got to work and filled it up all over again. Some of our recipes were repeats and some were new to us. And this is a new to us that we were pretty sure wouldn't be on the favorites list. But we'll try anything around here. And it was soooooo soooooooooooooo good. Seriously, even Viv, who is mostly a carb loader getting ready to run marathons, asked for MORE. More carrots and lima beans, specifically. It was some kind of miracle. And then when we ate the leftovers, she asked for seconds again.

Don't let the lima beans scare you. We're born knowing deep in our genes that lima beans are a cousin to hemlock and should not be eaten. Unless prepared this way. In which case they are velvety and delicious beyond expectation. So throw this in your crockpot and be very happy. 

PS This recipe makes enough for two freezer bags. Double the flavor, double the fun.

Lazy Day Stew

4 lb cubed stewing beef
4 cups baby carrots
4 cups red potatoes, cubed (about 2" or so)
2 onions, chopped big
10 oz package dried lima beans
2 cups celery, chopped
4 tsp quick-cooking tapioca
Salt and pepper to taste
1 15 oz can tomato sauce (1/2 in each bag)
2 Tbs brown sugar

Split between 2 bags, seal, mix, lay flat, freeze. You know the drill.

Directions for Bags: Add 1 cup water. Cook on low 6-8 hours

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Little Picture

There are some days with little, little kids in the house that don't feel like a success. And those days probably happen with Big Kids, too. But we don't really know about that first hand yet. And when we're having that kind of day, we like to look at the little picture and be grateful for the small things that are happening that make us smile a little through the clenched teeth.

*Thank goodness for children who are starting to be able to buckle their own carseat belts. It seemed this day would never come, but there is a light at the end of the it-takes-20-minutes-to-load-and-leave tunnel.

*Thank goodness for Eenie-meanie-minie-mo. It is a true measure of justice in our house and the results are always accepted at correct. It has thwarted many an argument.

*Thank goodness that even if they won't sleep, the big girls will at least lay in a bed for a bit during napresttime.

*Thank goodness that Felicity is a good little eater. She loves to eat and does so frequently. Keeps her growing.
*Thank goodness we live in a safe neighborhood with kind, normal neighbors. The girls love talking to them and they don't mind taking a minute or five to say hello back.
 *Thank goodness for our librarians. They see Mommy coming with three small children and instead of comments about "you have your hands full" or a grimace because we're not the quietest patrons, they SMILE. Every single time. And they know all three of our children by name.
As you can tell, today isn't perfect. And tomorrow might not be either. Actually, let's just go ahead and manage our expectations and say tomorrow won't be perfect. But if we're not looking at the bright side, it'll be too much of this:
Or this:
And not enough of this:
Time for a chocolate break.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

5 Months

As ever, a very bit late with the monthly update. But yesterday we actually showed up earlier than expected for something. So that's got to count for...well, it doesn't exactly balance things out in the grand scheme. Let it be.

Felicity is now 5 months old!!
This was a tough month for her because she got her first cold which led to an ear infection which led to an antibiotic which led to too many dirty diapers which led to Mommy pumping more often than normal and adding probiotics to the milk. Finally we had a healthy, happy baby back! Felicity also became a drooler of droolumental proportions. Which meant a bit of a rash on her face and in her neck rolls. So we're working on that.
It's body part time! She's rolling every which way now and flinging herself in any direction she wants to travel resulting in a few minor bumps. She can get up on all fours and rock back and forth. So crawling is in our not too distant future. Yikes. Someone please remind her that she doesn't actually need to keep up with her sisters! Her hands are in full GRAB MODE. And her sisters' hair are the #1 target. (But that doesn't deter Miriam who wants to hold her alllll the time!) Target #2: her feet. Babies rolling around on their backs holding their feet or trying to get them to their mouths are about the cutest thing. And her tongue...Felicity found it. She's blowing bubbles, wagging it around, and showing it off all the time. Which doesn't help the drool situation at all but is pretty hilarious for the rest of us. The baby in the mirror is a favorite playmate and she loves to catch Daddy's eye and grin at him. At church she's starting to make her presence known and isn't always content to just be held quietly. Songs are for singing and homilies are for talking, right?!?! Right.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Solid State

*Daddy may be the only person who gets the title of this post. Because it has to do with hard drives.

Felicity is trying solids! She's doing preeeeetty well so far and this is one of Mommy's favorite little milestones. Babies tasting "people food" make the best faces at the different flavors and textures. (And Mommy doesn't mind not being the only source of nutrition.)
This time around Mommy's managing to avoid the baby food in a plastic box so far. It's harvest time and there is so much yummy produce in season right now! Making baby food at home couldn't be easier. April babies are the best!
NOW what are we doing???
Her first taste was pears. That went well. She also likes bananas and sweet potatoes. Homemade applesauce caused a pucker face and was rejected. We'll have to try that again later.
She doesn't take much in one sitting yet and every few bites she pops the thumb in her mouth and turns her head away. Needs a little breather. Felicity is grabby and tries to steal the spoon, so we keep an extra one around during feeding time to distract her.
Today Miriam got to give it a try. She could not have been more thrilled to be able to help take care of Felicity. What a good big sister.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

On Our Plates: BBQ Ribs

So you've noticed by now the very obvious: our crockpot is an busy little bee. It's over worked and has submitted a request for PTO. But like any busy hive, the request was denied. Sorry, Crockpot, we're going to work you to the bone. Actually, it's time for Crockpot to get a real name. It's clearly a boy, because Tim is already overwhelmed by the female to male ratio around here. How about...Miles? Billy? Randall? Percy. Yup. Well now that that's settled, on to the recipe.

We don't really ever eat ribs around here. They just seem complicated. There's a lot of pressure to make the perfect ribs. There are rib festivals, rib reality TV shows, rib restaurants, rib competitions...and so make cuts of ribs! Plenty of room to screw them up and fall short. And failure isn't something we're good at. SO then we did the Great Freezer Fill 2013 prior to Felicity's birth. And these went into the freezer. Then into the crockpot. Then into our bellies. We ate them all in one sitting. There were no leftovers. In conclusion, you're welcome...a simple, delicious way to make fall off the bone ribs!

Slow Cooker BBQ Spareribs  

1-2 lbs of country-style pork ribs 
1 1/2 cups ketchup 
1 1/2 Tablespoons seasoned salt 
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke 
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1/2 cup white vinegar 

Place pork in labeled gallon-sized freezer bag. Mix remaining ingredients together in a bowl and pour over pork. Mix together in bag and zip closed. Freeze flat. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 6-7 hours.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Seven Quick Takes (take 2)

So...we're linking up with Conversion Diary again to update you on the good, great, and mundane around here. Let's start with some great...

1. HAVE. YOU. HEARD??? Mommy is sooooo excited! Downton Abbey is coming out with a fabric line. Remember Captain Planet? "When our powers combine..." That's what this feels like. A super hero will be born out of this fabulous combination. Going to be AH-MAZE-ING.

2. We got the walker out for Felicity. She's loving it.
3. Went to the zoo again...and then again. Twice in less than a week. You are probably sick of reading that. We go alot. Anyways! This time Aunt Annette came, too! She was home from Canada for Labor Day weekend and we got to take her.
4. And while Aunt Annette was in town, so were Uncle Michael and Aunt Bridget! It was partytimeallthetime. 
Pile On Uncle Michael
  5. The garden is winding down. We're still picking some tomatoes, eggplant, and jalapenos.
Viv's getting the idea (most of the time) that we only want red tomatoes. And both girls have learned the hard way to leave the peppers alone. Hopefully we won't need to re-learn that lesson next summer.

6. We've had a couple theme weeks...first was Ice Cream Week. We made homemade ice cream and did a few little crafts. The girls loved the "sensory bin" best. Mommy filled it with small balloons, real ice cream cones, little puff balls, popsicle sticks, spoons, measuring cups, feathers. All the fun stuff for imagining their own little ice cream workshop. Kept them busy and it was something they wanted to come back to over and over again during the week.
This week was Picnic Week! We had lots of picnics (including one at the pool with Nana and Papa), talked about the letter P, did several fun crafts, played "Toss the Fake Food into the Picnic Basket", and more more more. But their favorite activity was weaving their own paper picnic blanket. Mommy let them choose a few of their favorite sheets of her scrapbook paper and then showed them how to weave the strips of paper through lines cut in the big paper.
Both girls let Mommy help a very little bit and then insisted that they could do it! "No, I can do it! Don't touch." Love that independence!
Miriam liked this so much that after the first blanket, she asked to weave another. She whispered to herself all the time, "I like weaving. Weaving is fun. I can weave." Yes, you can, little girl!

7. Last night we went to a town fair close by with some friends and were kind of in awe of the thing. It was, as Daddy said, "Real Americana." It was a peaceful little community with a whole long weekend of fun, simple activities for everyone. We ate real beef and noodles and an elephant "kneecap". The girls participated in the watermelon eating contest...
waiting for the word "go!"
...Daddy did the "ring the bell with the big hammer", the girls did a few rides (These were family owned! The Dad, Mom, Son, Daughter, and Grandpa ran the whole show!), kids walked around with balloons tied to their wrists, a quartet sang in the middle of the street.
kiddie Ferris wheel
Pretty happy this sort of fun still exists.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

On Our Plates: Beyond Easy Pulled Pork

Another week, another meal for you to try from our favorite freezer/crockpot meals. Serve it as a sandwich, as nachos, or over lettuce for something different on a salad...actually this works for pretty much any cuisine. Maybe throw the leftovers (we had LOTS) on a pizza? Mix with some rice, veggies, an egg, and stir fry? We'll flatter ourselves and call it fusion cooking. Warning for the very sensitive tongues: it's got a little kick. Very little. But very good.

Beyond Easy Pulled Pork

4-5 lb pork butt roast
2 yellow onions, sliced
Dry Rub
3 T chili powder
1 t coriander
2 t cumin
2 t onion powder
1 T dried parsley
2 t salt
Label your freezer bag. Mix all dry rub ingredients together. Rub the entire roast with the dry rub (you should use it all.) Dump onions and rubbed pork into bag. Seal and freeze. When your ready to cook, put the contents of the bag into your crockpot. NO LIQUID NECESSARY! Cook the roast on high for 5-6 hours and then turn down to low for another 3-4 hours or until the roast is literally falling apart and easy to shred. Shred and mix with juices left in crockpot before serving.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Goin' to the Chapel

About two weeks ago we threw Aunt Annette, Sarah's sister, a surprise bridal shower. Weeeelllll, let's say a almost surprise shower? A not exactly surprise shower? Was it the fact that people came to town with her from Canada? Was it Sarah's three youngest sisters voluntarily getting out of bed to go to 7:30 AM Mass that morning? Was it the fact that they took fruit with them to Church? Perhaps Miriam or Vivian let something slip? We'll never know...but if there ever was an ill-fated surprise...
Oh well, she still turned the best shade of Annette Red when faced with all her adoring guests... this one.
Uncle John, Grandpa, Daddy, fiancee Tom, Great-Uncle Gary
So after the menfolk were fed and shoo-ed away, we let the partying begin.
Aunt Annette ate brunch with her lovely flower girls, played some games, and got down to business opening gifts.
And then the moment finally came that Miriam and Vivian had been waiting on their whole lives...or at least for two hours. But by their behavior you would have THOUGHT it was their whole lives.
Time to open that really, really big present with all the pretty ribbons. As a side note: ever heard the tale about not breaking any ribbons at your bridal shower? Apparently the number of ribbons broken is equal to the number of children produced during the marriage. Rumor was that Annette broke 48. Yowzers.
 Back to that huge present. It was full of wonderfully entertaining packing materials!
A million group shots later...
Annette with her sisters
Annette with her bridal party and a sleeping Felicity
Annette, her mom, her sisters, and her nieces
Annette and her grandmas
 ...and the beautiful bride-to-be was one milestone closer to her wedding day!