August 31, 2012

Weekend Plans Labor Day 2012

Labor Day Weekend is here. As sad as I am saying goodbye to summer, I am soooo happy that autumn is here. I always consider Labor Day the end of summer, even though the calendar may disagree! In any case, I can't wait for all the beauty and comforts and food that fall brings with her each year. Our Labor Day Weekend is full of goodbye to summer and hello to fall activities.!

Friday night, Rhett has his first soccer practice. Since Steve is his coach, he does too. For dinner, I plan on making a new recipe I recently found on the Gooseberry Patch website. It is called Taco-Filled Pasta Shells. I will let you know how it turns out! Madison has cheer practice and then work, so I expect her to eat and sleep when she gets home!

Saturday is my coffee visit with my father. After that, Madison cheers at her very first Varsity football game. I am so excited for her! We plan on attending the game and then mass. Saturday dinner is pierogies with steamed broccoli and fresh fruit. Just something simple, because by that time i am sure I will be ready for a nap!

Sunday afternoon we are going to visit my sister and her husband. They have no children of their own, and therefore, spoil mine like crazy! We usually get down there to visit at least 2 times a year... Labor Day and during Christmas vacation. We always have the same thing to and wings! We love it and always look forward to visiting with them at their home. They come here quite a bit more, but the kids just love visiting Aunt Margie's house!

Labor Day is always a day we claim for our own. No cookouts, no picnics, no fuss. We stay home and spend the day finishing up summer and preparing for the new season just ahead. I hope to put all the Americana decorations away, both inside and out. I put them up for Memorial Day and leave them up all summer for 4th of July and Labor Day. Now is the time to dust them off and pack them up until next spring. I plan on sweeping off the porch in preparation for fall decorating! My favorite!!! Then a simple dinner of hot dogs on the grill with steamed zucchini and dessert, whatever Peyton wishes to make!

 Well, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend, whatever your plans may be. Thanks for stopping by!

Madison all ready for the Family Picnic and Bonfire

And  Flynn was excited to go too!

August 29, 2012

My Middle Ones

Peyton and Rhett used to be referred to as "the little ones." When Flynn came along, they became "the  middle ones." Peyton was exactly 2 years old when Rhett was born. For as long as I can remember, they have been grouped together. It has always been Peyton and Rhett. And that is just the way they like it.

I remember carrying Peyton around before Rhett was born. She was my baby. My mother warned me that when I saw her for the first time after the new baby was born, she might look a bit older. Well as they say...mother knows best! When my little Peyton walked into the hospital room for the first time to see her baby brother, I cried. My little Peyton looked like a giant compared to my newborn! In she marched, sucking on her binky and clutching her blankie. At that moment she became a big sister, and she is the best big sister around. She took to caring for Rhett like a second mother. I remember like it was yesterday her picking out which sesame street diaper he would wear, or what color sippy cup he would use. She used to call him" my little buddy," but it came out bubby. To this day, Rhett's nickname is Bubby.

Rhett is a wonderful brother. He has endured way too many games of Strawberry Shortcake Memory and watched his fair share of Disney princess movies. He was so patient with Peyton when she wanted to play just one more game of grocery store or kitchen center. These two just go together. They balance each other so well. Peyton is the organizer to Rhett's chaos and he is the confidence to her uncertainty. They have collected Dum Dum lollipop wrappers to buy prizes and have had too many clubs to count. I feel so blessed they have each other. And I know that despite the occasional disagreements, (ok... fights!) they feel the same. They will always have a best friend in each other. For that I am thankful.

August 27, 2012

My Oldest And My Youngest

This is a picture of my oldest daughter Madison and my youngest daughter Flynn. They are almost exactly 13 years apart. They look almost identical. Well, at least Flynn looks almost identical to Madison at that age. Steve and I joke that we are doing the exact same thing we did 13 years ago...raising the same child all over again. But of course, I know that isn't true. They are two very separate people who just happen to look very much alike.

They are being raised by a very different mother as well. While I may look the same as I did 13 years ago (well, alright I may be a tad heavier...!) I am a different parent to Flynn than I was to Madison. I know as an older mother, I am not as active with Flynn. It takes me a little longer to get off the floor after playing Little People with her. I sit outside and watch her and the others play ball rather than play myself. And I may encourage a bit more television snuggle time together with her as opposed to another afternoon walk. That is the reality of being blessed with a toddler at age 42.

All these things, however, are offset by the positive aspects of being an older mom. I am so much more relaxed with Flynn than I was with poor Madison. After all these years, I know that every fever isn't strep throat and every fall doesn't result in a broken bone. I know that Flynn will eventually go in the potty, and I don't need any fancy incentive kit with bright stickers to help things along. We have a potty. She plays with it. Someday she will use it. I know that if she doesn't eat carefully measured organic food from matching dishes complete with coordinating silverware, she will survive. Sometimes she even has ice cream for breakfast and a pop tart for dinner.

The parenting book I dug out when I was pregnant with Flynn sits untouched on my nightstand. When I started this wonderful journey called motherhood,  I needed others to tell me how to be a good parent. Now I KNOW how to be a good mom. I have learned from my children what they really need. It isn't found in parenting books. (Although they are useful at when your toddler has a weird looking rash and you totally forgot about 2-year molars.) What my children really need is me. They need a confident, relaxed, happy mommy. It doesn't matter if that mommy is 27 and pushing a stroller three times a day, or 42 and snuggling on the sofa watching Cinderella yet one more time.

Oh...  and my deepest apologies to you, my dear Madison, for not allowing you to eat poptarts or watch The Rugrats. Sorry for all the unnecessary trips to the doctor. And sorry for the " no chocolate until age 4 "  rule. What was I thinking!

August 24, 2012

Weekend Plans

The weekend is here! This is our first weekend back in school and our last one before the fall activities begin. That being said, we plan to do what we love best...nothing!!!! No, really, it will be fairly quiet around here with just a few things on our list. Friday night Steve and Rhett are heading to camp. The girls opted to pass this time, so that means a quiet night of tv and take out. There is a place near our house that has the best steak salad ever! I love to think I am doing something good eating a salad for dinner. We won't mention the french fries and melted cheese on top!

Saturday morning is my coffee visit with my father at the nursing home. Saturday afternoon I have some errands to run and Madison has work. We have Saturday mass and this week Rhett is serving! It is so special to see him up on the altar as a server now. I look up there and see the place where he was baptized and it feels like yesterday! We are having tacos for dinner after mass, and then I begin again my Saturday night routine. Are you ready for this excitement? Ironing!! Yep...that is my favorite Saturday night activity! I actually do enjoy pressing all the school uniforms and Steve's work shirts. I like to do it all at once, just once a week and Saturday night works best.

Sunday is a quiet day! Madison has a few hours of work and after that, I plan on spending some time outside playing with the kids. Steve needs to mow our yard too. That is an afternoon job in itself! For dinner on Sunday I plan on using some garden tomatoes my mother brought me. I have a wonderful, simple pasta dish with fresh tomatoes that is a favorite around here. Then it will be back to our Sunday night routine of showers, backpack packing, and early bedtimes. Well, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, whatever your plans may be. Thanks so very much for stopping by!

August 22, 2012

First Day of School 2012 and a Pumpkin Bread Recipe

The big day finally arrived, and we were ready! I set out the first day of school breakfast of chocolate chip pumpkin bread and fresh fruit, snapped our annual first day of school photo and they were off!

Madison-10th Grade, Peyton-7th Grade, Rhett-5th Grade
(And that would be Flynn in the background, frantically trying to put on her sandals so we wouldn't leave without her! )

Once they were off Flynn and I settled right back into our routine. She was happy playing with her Cinderella dolls and watching her favorite Cinderella video yet again. I got busy with making beds and setting out the special little gifts I have for them on the first day of school. I like to shop all year long and pick up little things here and there when I find them.  Then I store them in a special place until I need them. My grandma Mildred did the same thing. She called it her little store! This year the girls got small hair straighteners. They will be perfect for their gym bags! I also got them some body wash and lip gloss from Philosophy.

For Rhett, I found a few new T-shirts. Just in case the 50  he already has aren't enough! I also got him an X box game he has been eyeing for quite some time and some Harry Potter stickers.

We received a sweet little First Day of School treat from our neighbors. Yummy zucchini bread and cookies all tied up in a ribbon of our school colors. Thanks, Sue!

And finally, when Flynn snuggled down for her nap, I sat down myself! I enjoyed a piece of pumpkin bread with my afternoon coffee. Then it was off to pick up my littles! It was a busy, happy, and yummy first day of school!

And because I feel like I have mentioned our chocolate chip pumpkin bread way too many times, I thought it only fair to share the recipe with you! :) It is soooo good and has been a favorite of ours forever. I can't remember quite where I first found the recipe, but I think it was in a Gooseberry Patch Halloween Cookbook. In any case, try it. You will love it too. I promise!! Have a great day!

               Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:  3 cups flour  
                     2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
                      1 teaspoon salt      
                      1 teaspoon baking soda
                      4 eggs
                      2 cups of sugar
                      1 15 oz can Libby's Pumpkin
                      1-1/4 cups vegetable oil
                      1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
 Directions:   In a large bowl, combine the flour,
                      cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.
                      In another bowl, beat the eggs,
                      sugar, pumpkin, and oil.
                      Stir this into the dry ingredients  
                      just until moistened.
                      Fold in chocolate chips.
                      Pour into 2 greased loaf pans.
                      Bake at 350 degrees for
                      60 to 70 minutes.
                      Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans. Enjoy!

August 20, 2012

Ready For School!

Well, we are ready. The backpacks are packed. The forms are filled out. The uniforms are washed, pressed, and ready to go. We don't start school until Wednesday, but the kids and I like to have everything done so that our last day is free to do whatever we please! Today Steve and I took the kids out to lunch at a little local place they love. We have been doing our "back to school" lunch for several years and it is always something they look forward to.

Tomorrow should be a quiet day. I plan on making chocolate chip pumpkin bread for the first day of school breakfast, and also an apple pie for Peyton's back to school meal. She also asked for beef with peppers and onions and jasmine rice. I am thrilled because that is a crock pot meal and I can put it together in the morning and let it cook all day! I  plan on changing the bedsheets too. I know that sounds weird, but I just have this thing about fresh sheets to start a new school year!

That is about it. As much as I hate summer to end, I am excited that autumn is near. Hence, the abundance of "fall desserts" around here lately! I am sure a few tears will be shed tomorrow night, but I hope I can wait until my littles are in bed! Wishing you all a wonderful new school year! 

August 17, 2012

Weekend Plans

Our last weekend before school starts is here. Wow, that was fast! Friday night Steve and Rhett are heading to camp to finish up all the little things that need to be done since the renovation was completed. Rhett is so excited about camp now since he can go to Hunting Camp this year. How did he grow up so fast? Madison is working at my favorite ice cream place, so it will just be me, Peyton and Flynn. It looks like rain soooo a cozy, lazy evening of macaroni and cheese in front of the tv is in order. Yay!
Saturday morning I am visiting with my dad. After that, I think I will make a trip to the grocery store and pick up things for the kid's back to school meals. They each pick a favorite meal and dessert and have a special dinner during the first week of school. After the grocery store, we have Mass in the early evening followed by... The Hunger Games!!! Rhett has been waiting for that to come out on DVD and is so excited that the day is finally here. So, popcorn and a movie it is!

 Sunday afternoon I am having my parents here for dinner. I am so excited because I have been talking to my dad about making him Chicken Cacciatore since he had his brain surgery last January. I have told him all during his recovery that as soon as he is able, he will come for dinner. He has worked very hard and is now able to leave his nursing home for longer periods of time. I called him and told him I was making his Chicken Cacciatore on Sunday. He was very excited!  Peyton is going to make one of his favorite desserts too. It is a bundt cake with pumpkin and apples and cream cheese icing. And it is good! Well,  I hope you all have a wonderful late summer weekend, whatever your plans may be. Thanks for stopping by!

August 16, 2012

Making Beds

I have a confession to make. I love making beds. Really. There is just something about freshly made beds that makes me happy. It goes way back to when I was a young, newly married elementary school teacher. Every morning on my way to school, I drove past the house of a woman I knew. Sometimes in the darkness of the early morning, I saw lights on upstairs. I knew she was busy in there, getting her young children ready for school, packing backpacks, and making beds.

As much as I enjoyed teaching, I wanted that to be me. I wanted to be the mom at home, pouring cereal, brushing hair, and making beds. Thankfully, that is exactly what I am blessed to do every day. Steve and I have a good system going. He takes the kids to school, and I pick them up. Flynn loves to ride along with Steve in the morning, so as soon as they leave, I head upstairs to make beds. I open the blinds to let the sunlight in. I smooth comforters and plump pillows. And I think about how blessed I am.

I know some may say, "Can't they make their own beds?" Yes. Yes, they can. And they do. Mostly. They make their own beds on weekends and during summer. On school days, however, my two oldest need to be out the door by 7:15. It is just easier for me to do it. I make my own bed every day, and I certainly don't mind. As the school years fly by, I am reminded of how blessed I am to have 4 children's beds to make. ( Yes, I even fold the blanket in Flynn's crib!) I know someday these beds won't be slept in. They won't be covered in stuffed animals. I am reminded of the woman whose house I passed all those years ago. Her children are all grown now. But she has something else to do. She became a teacher... : )

August 13, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Peyton is going to a back to school party tonight. And lucky for me, she wanted to take some cookies with her. Yay! When she asked me if she could make some chocolate chip cookies to take to the party, I jumped for joy. Ok not really, but I was happy. Even though I love to bake, I love even more having a 12-year-old who loves to bake! Peyton has always helped me in the kitchen. I remember her as a toddler mixing up brownies on her little stool. Now, she can make all our favorites without my help, except for the cleanup. A small price to pay for fresh baked cookies, I guess!

Today, Peyton made simple chocolate chip cookies. Don't they look good? I have used the same recipe forever. It is the same one my mother used, and the same one my children will pass on to my grandchildren. I wish I could say these delicious, crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside cookies came from some deep, dark secret recipe, but come on now, this is me. Simple. No, this is the same recipe that is printed on the back of the Nestle Semisweet Chocolate Chip bag. With one exception.....instead of butter, we use shortening. That's it, but that is big! That is what makes these cookies extra special. I have no idea why my mother tried this. I can guess that it had something to do with being out of butter! Anyway, they are super! Oh, and we never drop them...we roll them! They just look better that way. Enjoy!

August 10, 2012

Weekend Plans

Our next to last weekend before school starts isn't too busy. And I am glad! I feel like I need a rest from all this summer relaxing! Ha! Friday night my son is having a birthday sleepover at our camp. His actual birthday is in May, but since we were remodeling our camp, we pushed it back. And back. And back. But he is thrilled to be having another birthday party 3 months after his special day!

Saturday mornings I visit my father. He is a resident at the nursing home in our town. I am so fortunate he is so close by so I can pop in often. Saturday mornings are our special visiting time and I always take him some coffee from McDonald's.  He and his roommate say it is the highlight of their week!

Saturday early evening we go to Mass and then home for dinner. We have no plans this week so we can have a quiet family dinner and a typical summer evening outside. We will probably take a walk and sit on the front porch while the kids play.

Sunday we need to make one final back to school shopping trip. On top of the list is shoes! Ugh. Shoes are my least favorite shopping item. At least now that the kids are older, they don't change sizes every 3 months! My 2 older girls are also on the hunt for cowboy boots. I wish I would have saved the ones I bought during my cowgirl phase in the early '90s! Well, I hope you all have a great weekend whatever your plans may be. Thanks for stopping by!

August 7, 2012

I Found You!

My little Flynn loves Cinderella. I mean loves her. So I had hopes that sometime during our recent trip to Disney World this summer, her dreams would come true. Although I passed on the Bibbdi Bobbidi Boutique, I did buy her a tutu and crown and transformed her myself. She was thrilled! And so we waited patiently for a glimpse of  Flynn's princess.

Finally, we were able to secure some much sought after fast passes for the Princess Meet and Greet. We knew 3 princesses would be receiving guests, but not sure which ones! I couldn't wait sooo, of course, I  politely asked a friendly looking mom who was exiting if Cinderella was there. Well, politely may be the wrong word. More like yelled over a mob of people, but a mother has to do what a mother has to do, right? Cinderella was there! After a short wait, we entered the royal chambers and were happy to see that 3 of our favorites were there.  After Flynn visited sweetly with 2 princesses who may as well have been strangers, we turned to see her. Cinderella! The real Cinderella! Flynn ran right to her and yelled, "Cinderella! I found you!"  It was truly magical! And Cinderella was as kind and sweet as she was beautiful. She even let Flynn sit on her lap and show her own glass slipper! It was so sweet! And it was even sweeter when my three older children said that that moment was the best part of their trip!

August 4, 2012

Olympic Dreams

  I wonder if they give a medal for speed eating...   

because if they do

I'll get the gold for sure!

August 3, 2012

Summer's End

It seems wrong to title a post about the end of summer on August 3, but we start school on the 22nd, so there is much to be done!  My back to school list for the 3 that will to return to school (in 3 different buildings no less) is getting rather long.  I still need to schedule hair cuts, schedule a day for necessary shoe shopping, get out uniforms and check about alterations, and organize backpacks with all the needed supplies we bought way back in early July when we thought we had so much time left.

I love summer. I really do. I love the long, quiet days spent playing outside before it gets too hot, snuggling inside watching movies with the kids during the afternoon and sitting on the porch at night, relishing the fact that no homework needs to be checked and really no baths and showers need to be taken. I love having all 4 of my littles home, although at 15, 12, 10, and 2 they are not all that little anymore! But truth be told, I am ready for fall.  I am ready for a schedule. I am ready for some sense of order to replace the chaos that summer brings. 

My little Flynn at our Family Fun Day last fall!

So I say, as I check off those pesky items on my back to school checklist that will soon take 3 of my 4 away from me and back to their friends, and soccer games and cheerleading practice, bring it on!  Bring on the pumpkins, and the cool autumn air and apple spice candles. Bring on fall!