Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Spring Teaser

Today we were out full-force! After breakfast, the kids dug into their chores, with Chad and I assisting. I find more and more that Chad and I just seem to divide and conquer-him with the boys, me with the girls. That's true with bath time, bedtime, cleaning, etc. It works. Besides, the girls are definitely in the 'mommy's girl' stage. They won't be satisfied with anyone else. Chad tries not to be offended, and it's a double-edged sword for me. I'm thankful they need me so desperately right now...and it can be tiring.

We worked all day long--inside and out. I came in and realized I got a teeny bit of a sunburn. I'm out of the habit of being sure to wear moisturizer with sunscreen. Dad Barnett came over, brought some supplies, and helped us out with several things we're needing to do in preparing for selling the house. We so appreciate his help. Chad took some of our clutter from the garage to my parents' garage. I'm sure they'll be thrilled when we finally take bake all the junk we've got stored over there. Hopefully sooner than later!

The kids played outside all day with a couple of neighbor friends. Spy games, trampoline games, ball, etc. They were just loving the sunshine. The snow is melting and I couldn't be more thrilled. I know we'll get a few more snowstorms, but this peek at spring is just delightful.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Radio

I heard about an awesome site: http://pandora.com. Pick any artist/song. I'm loving it! Duran Duran, Rod Stewart, everything!

My Snuggle Bug

Here's my cutie-chubby-cheeked Mira. She loves dresses more than anything. I've had to start hanging them up high in her closet because she'll try to change her clothes a hundred times a day. She'd wear her Cinderella or Christmas dresses everyday if I let her. She is in the habit of removing every stitch of clothing when in her crib. Every night, when I check on her, there's a good chance I'll have to re-diaper her. She says "Ella" well. Micah sounds like, "Ah-dah" and Colin is, "Aw-fwin".
Today Chad was able to, miraculously, convince Mira to wear pants so he could take her to the mall playground (a favorite!). She is such a helper when it's time to clean up toys and she pitches right in when I tell one of the other kids it's time to do so. Mira doesn't appreciate when I'm on the computer and tries to press buttons and make a mess of it so I have to get off. She's just adorable and fun and sweet and we love her!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Parenting Class: Fostering Confidence

A successfully employed 24 year-old was reared in a loving home by parents who recognized her accomplishments and abilities. She did well in school, had many friends, and was involved in many school and church activities. Looking back on her life, she said: "I wasn't afraid to try new things because I knew where I stood with God, my parents, and my close friends. They all encouraged me to do my best. The recognition I received at home was very important when I was young, but it became less important as I grew older because I came to know that God knows and loves me. I know that if I live righteously, according to His plan, the things that matter most will work out for me."

We, as parents, need to help children gain confidence in areas where they lack confidence. Chad and I love the Scout motto: Do your best. Whenever one of our children is discouraged because they aren't good at a particular skill, we encourage them to give it their best and see if they don't improve. Amazingly, they do get better, and it just builds them up for the next challenge.

Look for your children's good qualities. Tell them that you love and appreciate them. Never say anything negative about them. I need to be more aware of the way I speak about my children. There have been times I've been on the phone with another parent and passed on something that Colin asked/told me. Colin will hear me saying this and become completely embarrassed and insulted. I know I need to be more careful about what I say about him because he's very aware of it and doesn't always appreciate it even if it's not necessarily negative!

When your child approaches you with a problem, encourage him or her, at a level the child understands, to consider personal convictions about the matter. Ask appropriate questions, such as "How do you feel about it?" "Do you approve of the way that you've handled the problem?" "You've told me what your friends think is right, but I'm interested in what you think." "What is the proper thing to do?"

Show interest in children and care for them. Be interested in what they're interested in. Take time to play, visit, etc. We cannot always block out a half-hour, but we can catch moments to get to know the child better. Ten minutes of quality time may be the difference between a fussy, clingy child the rest of the evening, and a content child.

As our children get older, the reins will loosen and our children will become more independent. We want to give them opportunities to choose and help them evaluate their choices. We can help foster confidence in them so they will be able to make wise choices.

On a side note, at the end of class, our instructors were talking to a few of us about sleepovers. Chad and I have already discussed sleepovers. I know, from personal experience, that sleepovers can lead to dangerous situations. Here is an article you might want to take a look at:
http://ldslivingmagazine.com/articles/show/1898

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Micah Turns Six

Micah shows his excitement as he returns from his birthday date with Grandma and Grandpa Miller. Burger King and a toy-shopping trip to Target were right up his alley.

And showing off the goods he got from Grandma and Grandpa Barnett. They went to Wendy's and he got to pick these out. Aunt Amber even came!
Since Ella's recent birthday cake fiasco, Micah thinks you can put just about anything on the top of a cake. These toys have been sitting on the top of my microwave for weeks now, in preparation for being the cake toppers. The frosting was supposed to be red. I should've known, no matter how much red dye you put in the frosting, it will never actually turn red. Just a hotter pink. Micah told me to add some blue. I did, and a muted purple is what we got. He was fine with it, thank goodness!
Ian, Mira, Emily, Ella, Colin, Adrienne, and Micah having hot dogs and homemade french fries. When we were cleaning up all the plates, Chad commented, "Hm. They enjoyed a little french fries with their root beer." True. That was what they ate the most of.
Chad and I belayed for the kids. Colin was quite the climber. Micah enjoyed climbing partway, then swining the rest of the way down. Ella even asked to join in the climbing. It was more difficult for her, but she gave it the ol' college try!
The kids found a spot in the shade and were being silly.
There goes Colin!And Micah.

The whole group outside the IRock.

video video

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Little Stinker

Last week Micah's little friend, Emily, offered to buy Micah something for breakfast at school. I know what you're thinking, "Breakfast at school?". Well, apparently, the schools offer it now probably due to parents working and no breakfast at home. I don't know. Here's the thing, if others want to have breakfast at school, fine by me. But we eat at home. We all get up nice and early to do that and scripture study. Since the beginning of school, Micah's asked numerous times why he can't eat at school. "But Mom! They have pop-tarts and all sorts of really yummy food. You never make that for us at home!"

I just got a call from the school secretary. Of course, the first thing I'm thinking is that I forgot something or someone's sick. No. It looks like Micah's been having breakfast at school. And he owes them $2. I said, "Are you kidding me? He eats breakfast at home. That stinker! I'll send the money tomorrow." I got off the phone just laughing. Micah thinks he can just go into the lunch room, help himself, and no one will be the wiser. He already did it once with Emily and didn't have to pay. Oh, Mom won't know if he does it again. Too funny. But we'll have a talk this evening.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tired to the Bone!

I haven't had a day this busy in a long time. Here's how it went:

6:40 rise and shine, baby
9:00 gym
10:00 errands to 4 different places...with the girls, in the slushy snow. In and out of the car again and again.
11:30 pick up Micah and friend from Kindergarten. Attempt to make it into my driveway--no such luck
12:00 turn on a video for the kids while I go shovel a foot of snow and dig out my car. Why did I go to the gym?
1:00-3:00 Bake chocolate chip bars (for Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet), laundry, dishes, etc.
3:00-4:00 Again shovel another ton of snow.
4:30 Snatch Mira from her slumber, take the 4 kids, a pot of chili, choc chip bars, 30 baked potatoes, and other sundry items down to the church. Set up and decorate for the banquet.
6:00 Attend banquet and rush around like a chicken with its' head cut off while allowing my kids to attend to themselves (Chad's the Cubmaster). Mira Catherine covers herself in chili. Lovely.
8:00 Basically throw the kids in bed and crash on the couch.

But we made it! Chad did a great job conducting the ceremony. The boys had a lot of fun. There was plenty of food. And tomorrow's another day. Just hopefully one without any snow.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Porcupine Meatballs

One of the best wedding gifts we got was a Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book. In it is this recipe:

1 beaten egg
1 10 3/4 oz can condensed tomato soup
1/4 cup long grain rice
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp pepper
1 lb lean ground beef
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed

Combine egge, 1/4 cup of the soup, uncooked rice, onion poder, and pepper. Add beef; mix well. Shape into 20 meatballs. Place in large skillet. Mix the remaining soup with the worcestershire sauce, oregano, and 1/2 cup water ; pour over meatballs. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover; simmer, stirring often, about 20 minutes or till no pink remains in meat and rice is tender. Skim fat. Pass Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serves 4 or 5.

Stuffed Mushrooms

This makes a great appetizer or side dish for a group of people. The filling is rich.

*1 lb ground mild italian sausage
*1 pkg cream cheese
*fresh mushrooms (it's tough to gauge an exact number depending on their sizes. I'd suggest around 30 or more)
*shredded mozzerella

Brown sausage. Add in cream cheese and mix into sausage til it's all melted. Remove stems from mushrooms (they really will pop right out if you pull the stem to one side). Wash mushrooms and allow to dry. Fill mushrooms with sausage mixture. Top with mozzerella. This is how I do them in the oven (you might have thought of a better way): Place them in a dish and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, then place under the broiler until cheese is nice an bubbly--not more than several minutes.

Taco Soup

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 pkg taco seasoning mix
16 oz corn
16 oz kidney beans, drained
28 oz tomato sauce
tortilla chips (optional)
grated cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)
guacamole (optional)

Brown ground beef. Stir in onion. Add taco seasoning, corn, kidney beans, and tomato sauce. Stir gently. Simmer 20-30 mintues. Serve with chips, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Alfredo Sauce

If you're feeling like you need a day's extra calories...

2 cups cream
1/2 cup milk
8 oz cream cheese
1 cube butter
1 cup parmesan/romano cheese
1/4 tsp salt
garlic

You know what to do with it (just don't burn the milk whatever you do!). Fettuccini noodles. It's too good. Chad's staple meal whenever we go to Olive Garden!

Shrimp Scampi

This is one I love.

Frozen, cooked shrimp, tails cut off (Find these in the freezer section. This is the recipe for half a bag)
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bundle green onions chopped (only the green ends)
1 tomato, diced
2 tbs salted butter (or whatever you have on hand if you're me)
1/2 box Barilla (that's what the recipe says, but I don't care!) angel hair pasta
Parmesan cheese

Thaw shrimp in a bowl of warm-hot water. Bring large pot of water to boil and cook pasta for 4-5 minutes. Drain. In a pan, melt butter. Add shrimp and garlic- saute until shrimp are hot and garlic is translucent...don't burn the garlic. Add green onions and tomato and cook til warm-only takes a minute. Put pasta in a serving dish and pour contents of pan over pasta--sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and enjoy!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

I already gave this recipe to some of you. It is one of our favorites! Really great. I got it out of one of my ward cookbooks (I just love those things when they're not misprinted!).

1 to 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp salt
dash pepper
1 tsp worcestershire sauce

Sauce:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tsp prepared mustard
1/4 cup barbeque sauce
1 tsp worcestershire sauce

Combine all first 8 ingredients. Form into meatballs. Place in casserole dish. Combine sauce ingredients; blend and pour over meatballs. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Chicken Teriyaki

From Rach, I believe!

1 cup soy sauce
1 cup sugar
2 cups water

Heat in frying pan (or on stove at low boil) til sugar dissolves; add chicken. Cover and cook 30-45 minutes. Remove lid and boil down to make thick. Serve with rice and broccoli, cashews, bamboo, water chestnuts, whatever strikes your fancy!

Marinated Chicken

8 pieces chicken
1/2 cup veg oil
1/2 soy sauce
1/2 c 7 up or Orange Crush
garlic powder (I don't know how much...maybe 1-2 tsp)

Combine ingredients and chicken in a ziploc or plastic container. Let marinate 1/2 hour to overnight. BBQ and enjoy.

Russian Chicken Bake

Rachel Miller gets the thanks for this one. It's delish!

1 bottle Russian dressing (8 to 16 oz, depending on how much chicken you're doing)
1 pkg onion soup mix
3 tbs apricot jam (trust me, it's good!)

Mix ingredients and pour over chicken into 9x13. Bake at 350 for 45 or so minutes.

Chicken Supreme

This is from my sis-in-law, Rach. All her chicken recipes are 'supreme'!

6-8 pieces chicken
2 cans cream of chicken soup
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz cream cheese with green onions and chives (comes in a tub)
1 pkg italian dressing (dry)

Sprinkle italian dressing over chicken. Mix c.o.chicken soup and cream cheeses together (may be lumpy). Pour over chicken into 9x13" pan. Bake uncovered at 350 for 1 hour. Serve with rice.

Barbeque Sauce

3/4 cup bottle catsup
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbs worcestershire sauce (I loove this stuff!)
1/4 tsp tabasco
1/8 tsp each garlic salt, onion salt, pepper, and salt

Great with chicken or boneless spare ribs.

Fajitas

1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 tsp vegetable oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1 envelope lipton onion soup mix
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup salsa
flour tortillas

Cook chicken strips in oil, add bell pepper and garlic. Lastly, mix in onion soup mix, water, and salsa. serve in tortillas. Simple.

Stroganoff

Amber, I 've actually never made this, but a friend (whom I trust with recipes) gave this to me and it's so simple, I thought you'd like it.

1 lb ground beef, browned
1 cup cream of mushroom soup
2 beef boullion cubes
1/2 cup sour cream
enough milk to make saucy

Serve over rice, potatoes, noodles

I guess this is probably hamburger gravy over potatoes, huh? Oh, well...there you are.

Hot 'N' Spicy Stew

*2 1/2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1" cubes (find beef and simply ask the butcher to cube it for you. It's a courtesy they do for anyone who asks)
*4 medium carrots, cut into 1/2" pieces
*2 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2" pieces
*1 onion, chopped
*16 oz jar salsa
*1/2 cup water
*1 tsp salt
*1 tsp chili powder
*1/4 tsp ground cumin
*6 oz can pitted ripe olives, drained (I don't like olives, so I omit them)
*1 tbs cornstarch
*1/2 cup water

1. Combine all ingredients, except olives, cornstarch, and 1/2 cup water, in slow cooker. Stir well to blend
2. Cover and cook (6-8 hours on low, 3-4 hours on high) until meat and veggies are tender.
3. Increase heat to high. Add olives. Combine cornstarch and water. Stir slowly into stew mixture. Cover and continue heating for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low for serving.

Sunday Evening

Here's a great spaghetti recipe from Reader's Digest using the crock pot:

Meaty Spaghetti Sauce

1 lb ground beef
1 lb Italian sausage (I recommend mild!) cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
3 cans (14 1/2 oz each) Italian diced tomatoes, drained
2 cans (15 oz each) tomato sauce
2 cans (6 oz each) tomato paste
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbs Italian seasoning
1 tbs dried basil
2 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Hot cooked spaghetti

In large skillet over medium heat, cook beef and sausage until no longer pink; drain. Transfer to slow cooker. Stir in green pepper, onion, garlic, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and paste, sugar, and seasonings; mix well. Cover and cook on low 8 hours or until bubbly. Serve over spaghetti. Makes plenty!

Ella couldn't get enough. Micah enjoyed it. Once Mira settled down after an argument over her wearing an apron, she ate well, as did Chad and I. Colin decided long ago he does NOT like spaghetti.

Since we had extra time this evening (no parenting class today) I gave the boys and Chad haircuts this evening. While I was cutting his hair, I was reminding Colin how it used to be. We would have a drag-out screaming fit on our hands to get his hair cut. Chad would have to put him in a full-nelson. We tried Popsicles, suckers, movies...everything to get the job done. I finally gave up on the hair cutting and paid for the haircuts for several months. He finally grew out of that, hooray. He thought that was so hilarious.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Spilled Milk

I am butterfingers! At dinner yesterday, as I go to place Colin's plate in front of him, I hit his cup full to the brim with milk and it spills all down the front of him. He jumped up, so insulted, as I command him to strip down right there. Later that evening, I'm getting Chad a cup of milk to go with his chocolate chip bars, and, while gesturing, knock over HIS cup (but onto the floor, not him). Still later, I'm holding an empty cup of milk and am goofing off and splatter the remaining drops on my leg. There was nothing for Chad to do but laugh his head off. What is wrong with me? :)

BTW, is anyone else having problems getting onto facebook, or linking up (like from an email) to fb? I think I need to call the geek squad.

Monday, February 9, 2009

My History with Cars

I can't complain. All of my driving years I can give thanks to my wonderful parents who provided me with a car to drive. I got around. My parents gave me more than I deserved. But let me tell you a little about these cars. The first car I drove was a red chevy pickup. You could hear it coming a mile away. If I was going to pick up a friend, she knew I was there before I was there. At the end of it's life, it had a short in some wires in the steering wheel, and whenever I turned left, it honked nonstop. Totally embarrassing. And it had the tendency to overheat...a LOT.

Next, we inherited, from my Nana and Grandpa, a red Nova. Now, maybe if you're 70-something, a Nova in the day was alright. For my generation it was associated with NOT being the greatest. But, hey, who am I to complain? Well, the day this baby died, I was rounding a corner just close to home, and smoke starts billowing from under the hood. Bye-bye baby.

If memory serves, the next car was a red (seeing a pattern here?) VW bug. It was cute. My friend, Michael, who had a brand-new car (Saturn? Accord?) wanted to trade me for a full 24 hours. Hey, I'm willing to sacrifice for friends. My bug was not so quiet either. And it had problems. It was on it's way to give up the ghost, but we were able to sell it once we were in Utah. We were just thankful it survived the drive to the buyer's home.

In Germany it was an Audi. Not perfect, but a beautiful car. The best I'd ever driven. Unfortunately, because of the specs in the states, we couldn't bring it back with us. :(

Once we got back, I owned a Fox. That puppy was a problem all-around. My brother, who inherited it after me, plowed it into some barrier on a snowy day, or something like that, I'm told.

So you see I've had my fair share of cars. Like I said, I'm grateful I just had one to drive! But with every car I've ever driven, there have been problems. I can smell them coming a mile away. Chad thinks I overreact. Well, our Sienna has been having some electrical/battery issues for months, now.

Today I get to Micah's school to pick up him and his little buddy, Adrienne. We pile in the car, and....NOTHING. Car-no-starty. Argh! Please, no. So we unload, call Adri's mom, she comes to our rescue, along with her hubby. He hops in my car, and 'vroooom', it starts right up. I am not crazy. Cars and I do not get along. This bad boy's going in tomorrow to be dealt with.

Jennette and Clark, thank you so much for your cheerful help.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Church Basketball

Yesterday our women's church basketball games began. The night before I was thinking I didn't even want to go. The more I thought about it, I realized I was feeling that way because I didn't know anyone else and my basketball skills are dodgy at best. But I have always had fun when I've played in the past, and I knew I'd be glad I did it. So I bucked up and went for it.

Before I left, I asked Chad to give me a few quick tips. He told me to play either forward or center. This is how utterly pathetic I am: "Where do they play?" Luckily, I know Chad doesn't think a thing about my asking that and he just helps me out.

A couple of weeks ago I told Chad I wanted to brush up on some skills. We worked mostly on rebounds. So when I played at the game, I must say that my rebounds were pretty awesome. Now, that doesn't mean I got them back up for the shot very much. But I made some improvements.

Let's put the in perspective: the quarters were 6 mintues and the score at teh end of the game was, like, 16-18. Chad just cracks up when I tell him this. But I don't care. It was fun.

In the middle of a game, one middle-aged lady calls out, "Get on the big girl! I mean the tall girl!" But, hey, I was rebounding so awesomely (for my standards) that I didn't even care if she called me the big girl on accident. Whatev.

At one timeout, our team is talking and one lady looks over at me with concern on her face and asks, "Do you need to sit this one out?" I'm redfaced and sweaty. "No," says I, "this is just how I am." I am aware sweat grosses out a lot of women. I can't let it bother me because it is part of me whenever physical activity is involved. Always has been. I used to get self-conscious about it. I've had to get over it. I'm not going to let it keep me from what I want to do.

Friday, February 6, 2009

So Big

I was not planning on starting the potty training now, but apparently Mira has decided it's time. I think seeing her older siblings has inspired her. She's so interested in other people going 'potty'. She tries to be as involved as she possibly can when nature calls for other family members. When she first expressed interest in going to the bathroom, (I'm so bad) I tried putting her off. But she was insistent. So I've accepted that. She is now the proud owner of princess pull-ups.
Here she is, doing her best to get them up. She has to do a little shimmy to get them over her behind. She feels like such a big girl. It's fun to watch. She's no baby anymore.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Active Listening

At our parenting class this evening we talked about being an active listener. You are an active learner by paraphrasing what you hear. Listen carefully without interrupting. During pauses in the conversation, restate what you understand your child is saying and feeling. Let you child correct your understanding. Be respectful and empathetic. Do not distort or add to your child's message.

When a child comes to you with a problem, let him 'own' the problem. This means you employ active listening and let him be the guide to the root of the problem and the best way to solve it.

As a parent, when we 'own' a problem (the child didn't do his chore and you're not happy. He's just fine with the situation, but you're not. It's your problem.), we should use 'I' statements. For example, "I was embarrassed in church today because of the way you behaved and it makes me feel like people might think I'm not doing a good job as a mom." That way, you're not calling names or blaming, but telling them how their behavior affected you.

Here is how to send a clear message:
*How I feel (express your emotions and feelings without blaming anyone else for them
*About (describe the event that triggered the feelings)
*Because (list the concrete effects in your life)
*I want (explain what you expect)
*I hope (be encouraging, optimistic, positive, full of faith)

Here is an example of a vague message: "Who left their dishes and mess on the countertop? Answer me! Who left their mess on the counter? You guys have got to clean up your own messes around here or you can't eat. I'm sick and tired of being the maid. Get in here now and clean it up. And turn off the TV! You're not going to watch TV until you have it all cleaned up. After you're married and on your own you can live in the pigpen of your choice."

Here is an example of a clear message: "I am very discouraged about the way the kitchen looks. I had it so nice and clean before we left and now it is in a real mess. When you leave your snacks and utensils out it makes a lot more work for me. I want you to clean up after yourselves. You're welcome in the kitchen as long as you clean up."

If you were raised in a home that used berating and criticizing, it's going to take effort to change that. This may not come naturally to a lot of us, anyway. Another item that I am going to add to my goals is being interested in what my child tells me. Sometimes I am so busy doing so many things that I brush him (or her) off when he's telling me something. I need to just set down what I'm doing, get down to his level, and be interested in what he's telling me. Sometimes all you have to do is give him a couple minutes of your time. That's all he needed. And now he knows you were actually paying attention and not just saying, "Uh-huh. Oh, really?" mindlessly. The times I've done it, I can tell it makes a difference.