Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Project 365- Day 143

I remember the days of playing underneath furniture.
With six people and only three bedrooms, I always shared a room with someone; a sister, my grandmother, my sister and my grandmother.
There was never enough space in our small houses so under the furniture I went.
Playing under the furniture felt like a whole new world to discover.
My dolls and stuffed animals and I had great adventures under a huge drafting table my parents used to have. I traveled the world and back without ever leaving our family room.
Like mother, like daughter.

Project 365- Day 142

This little monkey is going to be three in just seven short weeks!
I am stunned at how fast it has all flown by. One day she was a tiny baby cooing in my arms and the next she was walking around the house in plastic heels and a tutu saying, "Where's my purse mommy?"
It seems like the older I get the faster the days go by.
I am trying to live in the moment and enjoy both of my kids and I really do enjoy being with them. But part of me also feels like we are not totally complete.
Does every mom feel this way?
I have known my husband since I was sixteen.
But it was not God's plan for us to be together until later in life.
I don't think He expected me to spend most of my 20s getting my party on, but maybe I did have some growing up to do and certainly quite a bit of soul searching.
If we had gotten married much sooner I honestly think we would have been like the Duggars, only an immature, loud and sarcastic version of them.
This little girl would probably be child number fourteen instead of number two.
I began babysitting when was 13 because I loved being around children of all ages and I remember telling my mom that I wanted to have lots and lots of kids when I grew up.
I just didn't realize that it would take me until my thirties to grow up.
My husband had six natural kids in his family and a whole bunch of foster kids who became just like natural kids so he was used a large family and he could have easily adjusted to the idea.
But he was nervous every time I mentioned having each of our two children, mainly because he worried something might be wrong with one of them.
He personally counted each of the kids toes and fingers when they were born.
He is our resident worry wart.
It is good we have the number of kids we have.
It is just the right amount of crazy for us.
But maybe one more would not hurt.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Project 365- Day 141

Our butterflies hatched! We released 8 of our 10 Painted Lady butterflies this afternoon in our backyard. We will release the last two tomorrow. It was a long process but it was very cool for the kids to see them grow from teeny tiny caterpillars to huge butterflies!

Project 365- Day 140

On Saturday our little family waited around all morning for the world to end. And by waiting around I mean I slept in and the big guy played with the kids.
When it was obvious that nothing was going to happen and he had run out of ways to entertain the little people we decided to head into the city to run some errands and celebrate our still being around with a half dozen cupcakes from a local bakery. I had purchased a Groupon from them back in January when I had credit I needed to use.
We split each cupcake into four pieces and did a cupcake tasting to see if a local bakery measured up against my Maddycakes. Sadly, we were halfway through our tasting before I remembered to take the photo. Blame it on the newly prescribed Dopamax. (The real name is Topamax, given to me by my doctor to treat my migraines. I call it Dopamax and it is also known as Stupamax, for obvious reasons. I once walked around my house cursing satan for hiding my remote control while holding it in my hand the last time I was on this medication. But it almost totally eliminates my migraines so...)
The cupcakes we got in our half dozen were Chocolate Strawberry, Banana, Chocolate, Vanilla, Oreo, and Red Velvet.
The Chocolate Strawberry was moist but the only thing that tasted like strawberry was the garnish. I think if you are going to put the word "strawberry" in your name then you should at least put some in your cupcake too. The banana was really dry and way too muffin-y. The frosting was extremely sweet. Much too sweet for my sensitive taste buds. The chocolate cupcake was nothing special and slightly burned. Burned cupcakes are never okay. The Oreo was also nothing special. The red velvet was dry and the cream cheese frosting was just okay.
The vanilla cupcake was very good.
The cupcake itself was moist and the frosting was not overly sweet and light.
It was a perfect combo of flavors.
If I had purchased an entire half dozen of the vanilla cupcakes I would have been a happy camper.
I wonder if I should have been a little more adventurous and tried the lemon or carrot cupcake?
I just knew my kids would not like those so why bother trying them?
It is a cute little store and the guy working behind the counter was friendly and courteous.
I can see why they are successful, despite not having cupcakes that taste like Sprinkles cupcakes.
But I think I will stick to eating my own cupcakes from now on!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Project 365- Day 139

I was so busy preparing for the end of the world that I completely forgot to take any pictures on Friday.
So here's one of my favorite photos from May 2009.
My two babies the day the big kid graduated from preschool.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Project 365- Day 138

This is my favorite deal of the week!
I have been hanging on to six or seven Nivea coupons for weeks now.
I got a bunch of the lip balms about a month ago at Rite Aid but I had some coupons left over after the sale had ended.
I saw these at Vons a few days ago.
They had been on sale for 99 cents each, down from $4 or $5 a piece (I don't remember exactly but I figure that amount is right since they have them on sale for $3 at CVS.)
I knew I was going back into town today so I remembered to bring my coupons, just days before they are set to expire.
The coupons were $2 off of 2 so all I paid was tax!

Project 365- Day 137

I found out recently that the little girl likes doing puzzles as much as her brother does. Unfortunately she is not as good as him at keeping all the pieces together. She already lost several pieces to her beloved Disney Fairies puzzle and yesterday we discovered that somehow she had misplaced Iowa. Fortunately the wee one is resourceful. She located the lid to an empty coffee can and placed it over the missing puzzle piece. She said, "There ya go mommy." Sorry Iowa, but it looks like you are not needed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Project 365- Day 136

I love these little people and I am delighted whenever I see them playing so nicely together.
Of course like all siblings it comes in spurts so I try to relish it when I see it because you never know for how long it will last.

Project 365- Day 135

The kids were playing "Guess what I am" a game similar to charades that the big guy taught them. The baby girl always does the same thing, and she looks nothing like what she says she is.
So, what are they?

Give up?
Doesn't look like it, does it?
The funny thing is that the tiny tot does dolphin every time and she sounds so excited when you guess right.
I wish I were that easy to entertain!
(And yes, I am aware that the baby is wearing the same sweatshirt as the last post. It was in fact the day after and I had washed the sweatshirt the evening before. She loves wearing it right now so you should plan on seeing it a lot. She does have other sweatshirts but none other with a pink and purple butterfly.)

Project 365- Day 134

Sunday morning, watching the big guy read a Bible story to the little people.
The baby's eyes got big when he was explaining how Jonah was swallowed by a whale.
She's still talking about it, two days later.

Project 365- Day 133

A few weeks ago, Groupon in our area had a deal for a local thrift store, $7 for $15 worth of stuff.
I thought, how thrifty do you have to be to buy a coupon for a thrift store?
I guess as thrifty as me because I bought two!
We were going to be close to town on Saturday anyway for the boy's baseball wrap up party, so we thought we would head into the big city for errands.
I love thrift stores. I bought most of my high school wardrobe there and even though the prices have gone way up (Remember the good 'ol days of $2 for a bag full of vintage clothing?) they still have some great bargains if you take the time to look.
The kids were hungry so we didn't spend a lot of time looking but I did find a book on questions kids ask about God. Yes my seven year old is already asking for me to explain how Jesus and God are two but the same person and you better believe I am holding off on bringing the Holy Spirit into the discussion. I'm a mom not a theologian!
He also wants to know who created God, why there is evil, and how can Jesus protect me from bad things if he is so tiny that he fits in my heart. I love the tiny Jesus question. But man, this kids wants all the answers and they sure as heck better make good sense! This book is geared towards high school students and I found most of the answers to his questions. Except for the tiny Jesus dilemma.
I also found a fabulous book, written by local teachers who are part of the San Joaquin Valley Writing Project, on how to teach vocabulary to kids from kindergarten through high school. Since we are 97% sure (I like to keep my options open) we are home schooling beginning next year I am on the hunt for any inexpensive or free books on ways to teach children the important stuff.
I read the first few pages of the book and for 75 cents it is going to be an extremely affordable tool and the best part is that it gives you innovative ways to teach vocab instead of the traditional methods.
I was also lucky enough to locate two things that I have on my wish list, a food processor and a yogurt maker. I found this exact food processor on Ebay listed for as much as $45 and the exact yogurt maker was listed for $35. I bought all the items in the photo, plus my son bought a book (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Seriously? He's seven. Who is this kid?) and a couple of small toys, all for $7.
Can you believe it? The food processor was missing the pusher thingy but I found it on Ebay for $5 and the yogurt maker is one cup short but I also saw it on Ebay. The maker gives you a quart of yogurt each time so it will be just short of that until I feel like spending the $4 to buy it.
If I had more time I am sure I would have found many more things but fortunately I have that second Groupon to use next time we are in town.

Project 365- Day 132

I thought Friday was National Chocolate Chip Day. (Turns out I was wrong and it was actually on Sunday, May 15th.)
But I was craving chocolate chip cookies on Friday anyway so it all worked out.
The tiny tot helped me in the kitchen as usual.
We used only the finest Tollhouse morsels because everyone knows that the best things are from Tollhouse, right?
And we got them on sale so they were cheaper than generic. Bonus!
Too bad these don't last long in this house.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Project 365- Day 131

Less than a week after I ordered my vanilla beans they arrived! I got my cheap bottle of vodka and my glass jar and began cutting open the beans.
I am not sure how I drank quite as much vodka as I did in my twenties because just the smell of this alcohol made me a little nauseous. And believe me it was not because this bottle was so cheap. I was not drinking the good stuff back then either. I guess it's a good thing that I rarely drink.
Anyway, I did not chop the beans. I just made a slit down the length of each one, leaving about 1/2 inch at the bottom. I placed 40 of them into my big jar, poured in all the vodka (while plugging my nose), put the lid on, and then gave it a good shake.
I put the jar in the back of a dark closet where I store all my baking junk and that was that.
From all the different versions I read, the minimum amount of time before using the extract should be no less than two months, but some people say up to 6 months for really nice flavor.
I don't think I go through that much extract in a year, (although I did make cookies, cupcakes, and pancakes this week and the bottle I bought less than 2 weeks ago is almost empty)the good news is that extract does not go bad! Ever!
I can continue to use this and as the liquid goes down I can throw in some more vodka.
This can be done with any liquor and from what I understand it does not matter whether it is top of the line or the cheap stuff. It is all good.
And I still have a ton, and I mean a ton of beans left over. I plan on putting some in sugar to make vanilla sugar and I guess I should make some vanilla bean cupcakes too!
I bought my vanilla from Vanilla Products on Ebay and I followed the extract making directions from one of my favorite blogs, Heavenly Homemakers. If you love making things, cooking and baking from scratch, then you need to check out her blog!

Project 365- Day 130

The tiny terrorist and I paid a visit to a couple of our most favorite people!
And gosh, the time it quickly goes.
Here they are two years ago.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Project 365- Day 129

I don't think I can go more than a few days without the urge to bake and today I just had to make something. I had more strawberries so I made Sprinkles strawberry cupcakes. I also made their strawberry frosting. I have never had a Sprinkles cupcake but mine were so good! The pickiest kid in the world was even begging for more than one after telling me he did not like strawberries anymore and he especially did not like strawberry frosting.
As always, the little girl helped me in the kitchen. I can't keep her out!
She now has two tiny tot sized aprons and I won't be surprised if she is making whole meals by herself by the time she is five.
In two more months she will be three and she is looking less like a toddler every day.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Project 365- Day 128

I just realized that I totally forgot to take a self portrait last month. Boo! And yes I actually have to remind myself to take them since I am always the one taking the photos of everyone else.
Here's me and my little girly in the Swagger Wagon this morning. Not too bad for both of us just having rolled out of bed and into the car for the boy's morning drop off.
By the way, this little girl who can beat up her older brother, often refuses to wear shoes outside (and if you have seen the wild jungle we live in you would know that's never a good idea), loves to play in the mud and dirt, hugs all of our animals including the stinky goats, and basically could not possibly be anymore tomboyish if she tried let me know today what she wants to be when she grows up. A princess. She wants to be a princess. Can you believe it?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Project 365- Day 127

Today was Mother's Day.
And I don't want to make anyone jealous but I think I might just have the best kids in the world.
They both gave me presents that made me cry.
My sweet little baby girl picked this out for mommy.
And my darling boy made me this.
Now, the troll? gnome? is a little scary to look at. I admit I won't be keeping him on my bedside table for fear he will be watching me sleep, waiting to make his attack. But I cried when she gave it to me. It reminds me of how innocent she is and even though she is growing like a weed she is still so little. I think the toddler/preschool years can be some of the toughest on us parents and also some of the most emotional and rewarding.
I also cried when the boy gave me his drawing. He has been drawing me exactly like that,with a ponytail to the side and no nose, since he was 3. And his words? Wow.I can't imagine how such a little heart can hold so much love but I am completely blessed.

Project 365- Dayzzzzzz 107-126

Twenty days.
It has been twenty days since I have posted a single photo or word.
I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with a good excuse.
But sadly, I have none.
I used to see a psychologist that was very fascinated with how people perceive the passage of time. He explained to me that the world was mostly made up of three types of people. One lives in the past, always looking back at what was and what they should of or could have done. Another lives mostly in the present, thinking about the here and now and never reflecting. A third type lives in the future, things will be better when I do such and such.
Then there is a fourth type.
This type is not common.
This type lives outside of time.
An hour can seem to pass as slow as a week or a month can fly by without even realizing it.
They cannot grasp why or how they always seem to be running behind.
And this type very seldom wear watches.
It is as if time means nothing to them.
Guess which type he pegged me to be?

Now it seems I need to play catch up.
Even though I haven't been posting any I have still been taking photographs daily.
Well, except for a few days where apparently time got away from me once again.
For those handful of days I will post a photo of the same day, just in another year.
Hey, it still shows the passage of time, maybe even more blatantly.
So here goes, the past almost month of my life in one long pictorial.

Day 107
Big brother teaches little sis how to break dance.
Day 108
Dinner. Shrimp tempura roll, miso soup, and sunomono. Yes, fried shrimp is not the healthiest choice but this was a vacation I was on so...
Day 109
The little girl and her similarly wild cousin, sporting the same forced smile.
Day 110
That's better.
Day 111
Okay you see this was one of those days where my head was in the clouds or something. This photo is from four years ago. What's the first thing one does when one moves to the country (after purchasing the required cowboy hats)? Well you buy mini farm animals of course!
Day 112
This is pretty self explanatory.
Day 113
Headed off to Grandma and Grandpa Herrick's to hunt for Easter eggs with the cousins!
Day 114
Picked up a flat of delicious strawberries in Gilroy. The big guy washed and hulled all of these so I could freeze them. I make smoothies a lot especially during the summer. It is a great way to sneak in things my son needs but won't eat, like veggies and protein powder. Shhh.
Day 115
Discovered that the big guy had also bought strawberries so I used some of those to make a strawberry pie, almost from scratch. I don't do homemade pie crusts. They taste good, but boy are they ugly.
Day 116
After patiently waiting for two years watching his friends rake in the dough, the boy came home from school with a wiggly tooth. Seven years old and it finally happened for him. I figured it would be wise to take a snapshot of his perfect smile before it changed forever.
Day 117
It took me less than a minute to go from the bathroom to the kitchen, grab my sunglasses and car keys and walk to the door. In that minute she got a hold of my mascara. Thankfully it was not waterproof so I had her cleaned up and out the door for the morning school drop off rush just as quickly. Naughty girl 0. Tired Mom 1.
Day 118
While searching on craigslist for more mini farm animals I spotted a friend's email address in an ad. She was trying to re-home some very adorable kittens. What luck. We stopped by after school and picked up two. Meet Spot, the boy's kitten, and Nemo, the little girl's new friend. They are adorable, full of energy, and the kids are in love. Thanks T!
Day 119
The boy and I went into town to buy groceries. The big guy stayed home to do some yard work and watch the little girl so I didn't have to lug her around to several stores. This is how she was dressed when I got home. All aboard!
Day 120
The boy had one of his cousins over for a play date. They played in the sprinklers and ended up cold so to the hot tub they all went. And yes, that is the same sucker from the day before. Thank you Dollar Tree candy, cheap and long lasting.
Day 121
The little girl and I went to the zoo with my sister in law and her girls that morning. Her favorite animals at the zoo are the elephants so while everyone else was checking out the monkeys we visited with the elephants. She insisted on having her picture taken on this elephant as well. Sorry that it's so grainy. This was taken on my Blackberry.
Day 122
Yes, no photo this day either. This picture is from seven years ago. My two favorite bald guys, when the smaller guy was almost one month old. A few days after this photo I was in Stanford Children's Hospital with the little guy having surgery to treat his pyloric stenosis. Those were some pretty scary times and the big guy had to stay behind. I remember calling him the second he was safely out of surgery and hearing his whole academy class cheer when he relayed the message that the baby was fine. I once read a quote from Elizabeth Stone that said, "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." That was never more real for me than in that week.
Day 123
Cookie batter tester extraordinaire!
Day 124
Okay, perhaps I should have waited a day to get a less gory looking photo, but he had just lost his first tooth. He was so very excited. Another milestone checked off the list.
Day 125
This is what I see as I drive down our road every morning. I am trying to savor all the beauty of the green grass and wildflowers because the hills are already turning brown as the valley heat makes it's yearly appearance.
Day 126
Today was the start of Mother's Day weekend. Oh no, it is not just a day any more. The big guy took the tiny terrorists into town this morning so I could have peace and quiet. It was lovely.
I made some homemade bread and while organizing my kitchen cupboard I got the urge to research how to make homemade vanilla. I had read it was easy and that it just took time. I found the biggest jar I could find in my house, an oversized pickle jar, no doubt purchased at Costco, the land of abnormally large condiments. I washed it out and then ordered some vanilla beans from Ebay. Yes, they even have vanilla beans. The big guy picked up a big bottle of Vodka for me and now I just have to wait for my beans to arrive. All you do is add the vodka (or any other alcohol; gin, rum, whiskey)to your large jar, make a small slice in about 20-30 vanilla beans, drop them into the alcohol, put the lid on, and find a cool dark place for them to sit for the next 2 months. I have heard 1-2 months is fine but some folks recommend up to 6 months for the best vanilla extract. I am really looking forward to it. I spend at the very least $3 on that small 2 ounce bottle of generic (not imitation) vanilla extract. That's $1.50 per ounce minimum. And I go through 2 bottle of that a month, sometimes 3. With my homemade extract the total cost for 80 ounces will be $26.50 or 33 cents per ounce! Saves a ton of money and it tastes better? Who knew. But if you bake a lot then you need to make your own extract. I also discovered that most store bought vanilla extracts add corn syrup to their mix! Corn syrup? Don't we get enough of that already?