Thursday, March 31, 2011

Project 365- Day 90

I found a finger in the laundry today.
I am used to finding some weird stuff in there.
The big kid usually leaves gum wrappers, those rubber fishing worms, crushed dried leaves, rocks, and tiny Lego guns inside his pants.
And the big guy is notorious for throwing his pants into the laundry pile with latex gloves, traffic citation slips, and bullets forgotten inside the pockets.
But this is the first official finger I have found while loading the washer.
Of course it is not a real finger.
But I screamed like it was.
Once I got over the shock it made me laugh and almost cry to see that faux finger in there.
The big guy turned 35 a year and a half ago.
As a surprise I sent him and his good friend to Las Vegas.
Sin City.
And when a lot of guys would be imagining how to hook up with some show girl, he was at the magic shop finding tricks he could do with the kids when he got back home.
And maybe he was also dreaming about show girls.
But the point is that he is never far from home no matter how far from home he travels.
And he loves making the kids laugh.
He has done this missing scarf trick with the kids dozens of times and they never tire of it and he doesn't seem to either, no matter how many times they request it again and again.
I still don't think they have figured out he shoves the scarf into his false finger.
Good thing I caught it before it ran through the wash.
I would hate to see that joy end.

Project 365- Day 89

Yesterday the little girl and I got to visit two of our favorite people in the world, my dear friend and the little girl's future BFF who is just two months younger than her.
It had been about 3 months since we had visited which we both decided was way too long to go without visiting a kindred soul.
The girls had a lot of fun playing together.
And my friend and I got a chance to reconnect even if only for a couple of hours.
I took about 25 adorable photos of the girls together but this one was my favorite.
They were running around the house holding hands and laughing.
They are both such spirited little ones and their energy is contagious.

Project 365- Day 88

I almost forgot I am trying to do a monthly self portrait.
Here is the little girl and me in the car Tuesday morning.
We had just dropped off the big kid at school.
It is probably around 8:24am.
I don't think I am wearing any makeup.
I am also pretty sure I didn't brush my hair before we drove him there.
These are my weekday mornings, I get up, throw on some sweats, get my coffee, make the boy's lunch, feed both kids breakfast, get the little one dressed while directing the big kid, and then drive.
Oh, I think maybe I threw on some tinted chapsticky stuff.
Soft lips are always important, even while wearing sweats.

Project 365- Day 87

She loves peas. If she could choose any food to eat at any given moment it would be peas. The big kid also used to love all his veggies. Now at seven he will only eat corn. I decided it would be appropriate to document the little girl's love of green before she decides to give them up too.

Project 365- Day 86

The boys stayed up until 10:30pm, which is about three hours after my son is normally asleep on most nights. (He comes from a long line of chronic oversleepers, on his father's side of course.)
Despite the various sugar highs throughout the day before and the subsequent sugar crash and lack of sleep, they were all up early and with just as much energy as the day before. We sent them outside to expend that energy and the little girl joined them.

Project 365- Day 85

Saturday the big kid had a sleep over with two of his cousins. He had asked me to make him a cake shaped like his dog, Oscar. It was pretty apparent that I was not going to be able to sculpt a dog shaped cake. I decided I could take the brown gum paste and make his bunny, Buddy Lite instead and then just put him on a regular shaped cake. I made the frosting green for the grass and gave the little guy a carrot. I even made some bunny droppings. He's seven. It's a common topic at our house. Despite the horrible lettering and the similarity to an Easter cake, thanks to the jelly beans, he loved it! And the boys thought it was hysterical that I put fake bunny poo on their cake slices. Boys.

Project 365- Day 84

Friday was the little guy's 7th birthday. Thursday when I picked him up from school his teacher spoke to me about how he developed a fever of 102 the last half hour of school and how I would need to keep him home the next day. I almost dismissed it but when we arrived home there was a phone message from the school nurse as well so I decided that I should plan on keeping him home despite him no longer having a fever. When he woke up on his birthday he still had no fever but he said he felt a little run down and had a headache so we had a quiet morning and I gave him some pain reliever. By the afternoon he was back to his normal energetic self. I am not sure what if anything he had or perhaps he had just overexerted himself at school but we decided to make the most of his day. My family was here from the bay area to help us celebrate so we took the little guy to John's Incredible Pizza Co. for a pizza feast, games, and rides. They all had a blast, including my big kid! Where did seven years go?

Project 365- Day 83

I ran out of doughy snacks for the little guy to take in his lunch so I made some from scratch. I found two great recipes, one for homemade wheat thins and the other for homemade cheese its. They didn't take long to make and they both tasted very similar to the real deal, only fresher and yummier. The cheese its cost me about $1.40 to make the same amount in a $2.50 box at the store, and the wheat thins only cost me 47 cents for a comparable $3 name brand box! And the butter I used for both was Tillamook so this was not cheap generic flavor here. The little guy snubbed both crackers. Perhaps they didn't have enough chemically taste to satisfy him. But I shared them with my family over the weekend and they devoured them.
Here is where you can find the recipes for homemade Wheat Thins and homemade Cheese Its.
The recipe for the cheese its includes reduced fat cheddar cheese. I used regular cheddar because that is what we had in the house. The taste was very similar to name brand although the crackers were more puffy. I am not sure how the reduced fat crackers would taste but if you are counting calories and craving them then it is worth a try.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Project 365- Day 82

Yesterday my son was craving something sweet.
He mentioned that I hadn't made cupcakes in a while and I obliged.
I had some bananas that looked a little overripe so I made banana and chocolate chip cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting.
Sadly, I was totally out of butter so I substituted applesauce for the butter in the cupcakes and I made the frosting with veggie shortening.
The cupcakes were awesome because I think the applesauce makes them more moist but the frosting is just really not the same without the butter.
(You can substitute applesauce for any fat in baking if you want to cut some of the calories and fat. Just use a 1:1 ratio.)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Project 365- Day 81

So happy the sun came out today, if only for a brief visit.
There is more rain in the forecast for tomorrow so we spent lots of time outside and I made homemade chicken stock for the soup I plan on making tomorrow.
Might as well enjoy the last few rainy days of the season and send this cold weather out properly, because the valley heat is just waiting to make its appearance.

Project 365- Day 80

The rain came down all night and this morning there was snow, about 200 feet above our property.
It literally just missed us.
The whole valley had snow covered hills when I drove to pick the little guy up from school this afternoon.
It was a gorgeous sight to see; the colors of spring against the backdrop of winter.
"One attraction in coming to the woods to live
was that I should have leisure and opportunity to see the spring come in."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Project 365- Day 79

I love Sundays now that my husband is home for them.
We did a quick home church with the kids, enjoyed a nice breakfast, and then just relaxed.
It was raining nonstop so we had a toasty fire going in the wood stove, pulled pork in the crock pot, and it was just the way I think Sundays should be.
Of course, the kids get bored every few hours if we don't give them something exciting to do so we decided to hot tub for a little bit.
Yes, we hot tub even in the rain.
Just add rain boots and we are good to go.
I had also promised the kids we would make homemade chocolate chip cookies so we made a batch after dinner.
I can't wait for the warmer weather so we can get outside more on our weekends at home.
I have been listening to this song in anticipation of the warm weather arriving:

Project 365- Day 78

We pretty much stuck around the house on Saturday since we are trying to get our spring cleaning done. But my husband did head into the city to shop for our son's birthday gift and while he was there he picked up my Johnson & Johnson baby products that I had received a rain check for last month.
Remember I said they will adjust the price for the +UP rewards that had expired?
Well, that means he got all of these baby products, well over $30 at regular price, for nothing more than the tax!
And I think that completes my stockpile of baby wash and shampoo for the next 6 months, at least.

Project 365- Day 77

This is my handsome husband posing for me in the car on our way home Friday night.
Yes, on our way home, as in we actually went somewhere without the kids.
It was a semi date night.
I say semi date because we went to an employee appreciation dinner given by the city for which he works.
I was worried it was going to be boring since you know, employee appreciation dinner?
But we had a lot of fun!
It was a casino night and they actually had real dealers.
They had craps, roulette, and I think poker but we stayed around the blackjack table.
That's my game.
Not that I win all that often but I really like it.
It is easy to understand, except for all the adding numbers in my head while under pressure of course, and it has good odds.
It was also the one and only time I will ever gamble with $100 chips!
What a rush!
And I got to meet a few more guys that my husband works with and it is always nice to put faces with names.
I also met a couple of their wives.
I had a lot of fun laughing with one in particular and I hope we get more opportunities to get together!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Project 365- Day 76

"I believe we would be happier to have a personal revolution in our individual lives and go back to simpler living and more direct thinking.
It is the simple things of life that make living worthwhile, the sweet fundamental things such as love and duty, work and rest, and living close to nature.
There are not hothouse blossoms that can compare in beauty and fragrance with my bouquet of wildflowers."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

Project 365- Day 75

I have this friend.
We'll call her Trixie.
Trixie has a serious knack for finding four leaf clovers.
It's a little annoying, really.
Every time she takes her kids to the park, she finds one.
Every time.
Every single time!
Okay maybe not every time.
But often.

I grew up with clover all over our back yard. I would sit outside for hours combing through the multitudes of green leaves and I never found a single four leaf clover.
Recently we got bunnies and the kids and I have been collecting clover and grass as a treat for them.
And because of Trixie's ease at finding them I am convinced that it is much easier than it seems.
I just need to try harder.
I guess you could say I am a little competitive.

It's become an obsession.
The kids will have lost their interest in playing with the bunnies.
They head inside the house and I, saying I am just collecting for the bunnies, will spend the day searching for one.
Just one.
Until the light has left the sky and I am searching with a flashlight, I continue on my quest.
Alright, alright.
I am not that obsessed.
But I am maybe a little mad that Trixie can find all the four leaf clovers her heart desires and I can't even find one.
I am half Irish after all.
Don't I deserve a little bit of luck?

Today, I got my wish.
And this time, I wasn't even looking.
I was bending down to pick up some trash one of my rotten messy kids had left on our front walk.
I looked to the edge of the cement and there, amid a sea of green clover, I saw it.
But wait, why does it have four stems?
Aren't they supposed to have only three stems?
What kind of a messed up clover did I find?
Turns out, I found a clover whose mutation was due to genetics rather than environmental reasons.
I did some internet research and here I found this:
"The Classic 4-leaf clover has, well, 4 leaflets. Most mutants have three leaf stems in which one has split into two leaves,one usually smaller than the other. These types are probably produced by environmental factors more than genetic factors (not that genes don't play a part). Shamrocks with 4 leaflets, evenly shaped, and 4 separate leaflet stems are, from my experience, rarer, and probably strongly genetically influenced." 
So my clover is the rarest of the rare.
How's that for luck?
Top this one Trixie!

* I should add that I hold nothing personal against Trixie. She is actually a very good friend who I believe might in fact be a Leprechaun, which is perhaps why she has such an easy time finding her lucky charms.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Project 365- Day 74

Forget wind turbines and solar panels.
If I could harness even a tenth of this tiny person's energy,
I could literally take our home off the grid.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Project 365- Day 73

Pirates they be!
We were house bound today because both kids felt sick.
By the early evening they were feeling a little better so they decided to dress up like pirates.
A sword fight ensued.
The little one switched to a lightsaber shortly after this photo was taken.
She won.
Does anything beat a lightsaber?

Project 365- Day 72

Which one do you think belongs to me?
If you guessed the disorderly one you would be correct!
My amazing husband (who I am convinced either loves me very much or is having an affair and is trying really hard to keep me happy so I don't find out) took the kids to the zoo on Sunday with a friend and his two daughters, so I could have a little peace.
And he spent the whole day out.
And he went to the grocery store.
And it's not even Mother's Day or my birthday.
It was one of the most quiet and relaxing days I have had in a while.
I might be the luckiest woman around or the unluckiest, you know, depending on the whole affair thing.
He is the one who took this picture since I was not there, obviously.
Of course, I am not sure if this breaks the "take a picture a day" rules for my Project 365 but I didn't have a camera to use since the big guy took mine.
Well it's my project so I guess it's my rules too!

Project 365- Day 71

My lovely family.

Project 365- Day 70

Okay seriously.
Anyone else have one of these?

Project 365- Day 69

Last weekend we got the kids bunnies and the novelty has yet to wear off.
Every day the baby asks to take her bunny Fluffy out of the cage and let her hop around.
While my husband hates that our grass grows fast and out of control, the bunny seems to like it. She spent a good hour hopping here and there escaping the clutches of the tiny terrorist chasing her and she ate clover and grass to her heart's content.
Action shot on my point and shoot camera! I am pretty impressed with my $40 Kodak.

Project 365- Day 68

I have been doing a lot of spring cleaning this week and have sadly neglected my blog. I really do not want to disappoint the 4 people that actually read this so I will try and get caught up tonight!

Last Wednesday, Susie Homemaker, one of my multiple personalities, took over my body. Not only did I keep my house clean ALL WEEK but I also spent an entire day mostly in the kitchen. I baked bread and cookies, made my husband an awesome dinner from scratch, made smoothies for the picky kid and his sister, and I made these lovely little treats.
They are roasted peas.
I have never been a big fan of peas in any form but my daughter loves them. She will eat them straight out of the freezer. So I thought it would be nice to have a snack handy whenever she gets the craving for them.
Turns out, even though she loves peas, she did not love them roasted.
But I did! Never thought I would choose to eat peas but these babies were good.
All I did was take 2 cups of frozen peas, defrosted them and then patted them dry with a paper towel, put them in a bowl with olive oil to coat, then added salt, pepper, and paprika. (You can add more seasonings depending on your taste but I like things simple.)
Then I put them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, and baked them at 375 degrees for an hour.
My husband and I devoured them the next day after the baby girl rejected them.
Hopefully this summer I can the big guy can grow some fresh peas so I can make a couple jars full of them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Project 365- Day 67

The wee one and I went in search of eggs this morning.
There were none.
But we did find four lovely hens enjoying the warmth of the sun.
The fourth one was relaxing in the shade under the coop.
We stayed and just watched them peck at the ground for a while.
It was very relaxing just listening to their muffled clucks as they happily searched for bugs.
How will we ever name them when they all look the same?

Project 365- Day 66

The baby and her dad went and collected eggs from our new residents this morning.
She loved bringing in the eggs, something she was too little to do the last time we had chickens.
But she didn't want to let go of them.
She asked if she could put the eggs in her room.
She wanted to see the baby chickens.
Luckily she was satisfied with me saying that we can't have babies unless we have a rooster and these were just the plain eggs God gave us for eating.
How would I have explained fertilization to a 2 1/2 year old?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Project 365- Day 65

Today was a cloudy, rainy day.
Thankfully, spring is less than two weeks away and knowing that we will be outside a lot more when it warms up makes me want to go through every room and organize, declutter, wipe down, dust, sweep, and mop.
So today, while the kids mucked around in the yard, the big guy and I tackled the kitchen and living room.
We worked all day purging these very lived in spaces and by the end of the day we had two squeaky clean rooms.
Just seeing the kitchen this spotless and the cabinets organized and decluttered makes me want to cook something.
Doesn't it look lovely?
Of course, if you come to our house and are expecting to see the kitchen looking exactly like this, then you might want to bring a copy of the above photo with you.
We cook 95% of our meals at home, often with one or two little people assisting, and that does make for a very lived in look.
But tonight I will enjoy it in all it's shiny glory.

Project 365- Day 64

Despite a rough start to our morning which involved a six year old boy and a tantrum to end all tantrums, today was a wonderful day.
We headed out to Cherry Lane Auction in Fresno to see about some chickens. We use a lot of eggs around here in baking, cooking, and just to eat plain, and it would be nice if we could have those eggs be free of antibiotics and all the potential problems associated with store bought eggs.
We got to the auction around 10:30am and it was packed. The weather was perfect and the food was fabulous.
We found our chickens and came home with four. While we were there the kids spotted the cute little baby bunnies and begged for us to get them a couple. Since we just buried our fish, Fishy, this past week, we agreed to get them a bunny each.
(While burial at sea is the preferred method for disposing of a fish friend, it doesn't have the same appeal when the poor thing ends up in the septic tank instead of drifting gently to the ocean, therefore we buried him by the creek.)
But the guy wanted $15 for a regular "we multiple faster than you can count us" bunny and so we left. The kids were upset so we decided to try one of my favorite ways to shop, Craigslist.
We found a guy in Kingsburg that had lots of different types of bunnies and the kids picked out their two favorites.
Then we enjoyed the lovely drive home through the countryside admiring all the early signs of a much anticipated spring.
One of those chickens even laid an egg en route!
The kids love their new bunnies, Fluffy, which is what the baby named hers, and Bunny Lite, the little guy's new pet. Now we just have to come up with four new chicken names.
Any ideas?

Project 365- Day 63

Movie night!!
The little one was fading fast and by 7:30pm was ready for bed.
She was asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow.
7:30pm is their usual bedtime but for movie night we let them stay up a little later if they can keep their eyes open.
My kids might be up with the sun, but at least they go to bed early!

Project 365- Day 62

Chocolate milk mustache.
Not quite as cute as the original.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Project 365- Day 61

The baby and I spend a lot of time playing indoors, dressing up, cooking treats and meals, and making a general mess of the house when her brother is at school.
But once he gets home they are outside a lot.
This afternoon, I heard the baby girl talking to her brother from her bedroom.
She said, "Okay cowboy. I am weh-dee for an ad-ben-sure!"
Then they came outside dressed like this.
The baby said, "We are going on an ad-ben-sure mom. See you way-tur!"
They caught lizards, played with the dogs, and spent a few hours outside.
Unfortunately, part of that adventure was the baby girl acquiring a tick in her scalp! Yikes!!
I think I see short hair in her future.
I was able to get the little sucker out but she has a little red mark on her scalp now and she is worried that she will get "spiders" crawling through her hair again.
Looks like the bug spray is going to be needed a little earlier this year!

Project 365- Day 60

On Sunday we stopped by CVS to get some good deals on toothpaste, power toothbrushes and Excedrin. I had a rude cashier who I swear was looking down on me for using so many coupons, like she was the CEO of some company instead of just a regular person like me. She forgot to give me $10 in extra care bucks and seemed bothered by having to re-ring itens so I could get it.
Hello! It's $10! Do you know what I can buy with $10?
In the midst of correcting her on this and teaching her about what "one coupon per purchase" actually means, I forgot to use some of my extra care bucks and spent more out of pocket than I wanted to spend.
So on Tuesday we went back to CVS to spend those bucks.
I got everything above for zero out of pocket dollars, but I used $23 in extra care bucks. Not bad and we are stocked on TP for a while.
The Coppertone sunscreen stick (which is great to use on little kids faces) was on clearance for 25 cents!
I also got another $10 in extra care bucks to spend next week!

Project 365- Day 59

It was nice to get back to our regular routine, school, home cleaning watching the baby destroy the house, etc.
The little dude had a swim lesson in the city so I made a quick stop at Rite Aid before his class.
I got everything in the photo (minus the children who insist that every photo must include them)for a grand total of $9.65 out of pocket and I made $7 in +UP rewards for my next trip! It is pretty easy to see that using coupons really stretches your dollar and that the dollar stores have nothing on the pharmacies.

Project 365- Day 58

Saturday was filled with sledding, making gooey smores and yummy snow cones with real snow, playing a lot of board games, and hot tubbing in the snow.
Sunday the sun came out just in time for us to pack up and leave.
The kids played outside while we cleaned.
It was a gorgeous day in the mountains.

The drive home was a little harrowing. I have driven on snowy roads before, but not snowy roads that have a couple of inclines and a drop to nowhere directly in front of you as you attempt to take the curve. It's not something I would like to do again unless the road has been plowed a lot better. Maybe that's why no one else was on the road.

Project 365- Day 57

Saturday was a lot nicer outside.
The snow was falling on and off but it was a little warmer, and the sun peeked out a little here and there.
So we piled on the layers and went outside to play.

Project 365- Day 56

By Friday the snow looked like this:

And it snowed, and snowed, and snowed. The big guy took the kids to sled while I stayed toasty warm inside.