Monday, April 22, 2013


With four children and a busy husband, I often find myself struggling to balance all of the demands of my many roles.  Demands on my time and attention vary day to day, and I try to fit in as much as I can.  This afternoon, with the older two boys in school, lunch finished, naps over, my little ones seemed in need of some extra face time.  Today, I ignored the very dirty floors, the half-finished dishes, and the sewing projects.  Just for a little bit, I pulled out the pots and pans and a few interesting utensils and we played. 

We banged on the pots with wooden spoons and laughed as they loudly clanged.  We enjoyed the boisterous music for a bit. 

They explored the soft, tickling bristles of the silicone basting brush, the smooth plastic of the spatulas, and the contours of the wooden spoons. 

They discovered that different pots make different sounds.  They may have also tried out the spoons and brushes on each others heads, backs, and tongues.

Although I admit it was hard to not think about the extra load of dishes that I would have to clean after the music faded,  I made the choice to let play come first.   

Then, as they all peacefully slumbered, I mopped the floors, washed the dishes and finished my sewing project.

I may not always get down on the floor and join in on the fun with my children.  Sometimes dinner needs to be prepared and other obligations need to be attended to, but when I choose to let the to-do list wait for a few brief moments, I feel the joy that comes from mothering these sweet souls.  And I remember that I chose this busy life.  And I am so grateful I made that choice.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Force is Strong With This One... Mr. Three Turns Three

Mr. Three has taken to a mild obsession with Star Wars along with his older brothers.  On any given day, he is Yoda, or Luke Skywalker, or Darth Vader, or a Storm Trooper, or Chewbacca...  He is often found gripping his light saber pen as we drive around town running errands.  His Star Wars figures are left in various places around the house as evidence that he has been occupying that particular space.  Darth Vader, Luke, and an occasional Batman are regulars at the breakfast table.

We have seen this Darth Vader video so many times, I have lost count.  So it just made sense to feed the Star Wars fascination for his birthday.  Right?

When asked what he wanted for his birthday dinner, he told me he wanted cake pops.  Nice try Mr. Three, but not going to happen!  On second thought, he decided on pizza and a chocolate cake with white frosting and chocolate sprinkles.  So off to Grandpa's and Grammy's house for pizza on the grill and a chocolate Oreo-studded cake we went.

He received lots of Star Wars gifts and he was a very, very happy little boy!   Love the pizza sauce smudges on those cheeks.

 Look!  The Millenium Falcon, Mommy!  Two Han Solos, several droids, a few bad guys and a speeder bike or two later, and we enjoyed a piece of cake (after peeling all the boys off of the loot).

With all of the excitement and attention on Mr. One and Mr. Four during the weekend, I think Mr. Three just enjoyed being the center of attention for his special day.  We were all glad to give him a little extra love, too.  How can anyone resist those big eyes and adorable chubby cheeks?!  I love this sweet boy!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mr. Four Turns One

We had lots of family in town for Mr. One's baptism, so we opted to celebrate Mr. Four's first birthday on Easter, just a few days before his actual birthday. 

He didn't mind having a little extra attention for a few days.  He liked the ribbons and wrapping paper just as much as the gifts themselves.  He especially loved the presents that made noise, dancing to the music that some of them made.  He can really rock!


Mr. One really dug into his first cake, literally, but Mr. Two and Mr. Three wouldn't even touch their's.  We had high hopes for our food-loving Mr. Four.  And baby didn't disappoint! 

He dug right in and started picking off the M&M's from the top, then kind of lost interest. 

Funny enough, he got a knee in the cake, then realized how much fun squishing cake was, and got a fist- and foot-full of chocolate.  That was fun, but starting to get messy, so we had to put an end to the cake-stomping fun and put the birthday boy in the tub.

After a bit of cleaning up, we enjoyed some Easter cheesecake and chocolate pie with everyone before our out of town family had to hit the road. 

We saved a few gifts for him to open on his actual birthday.  I couldn't resist the piano and few more good books!

What a fun celebration!  I am in love with our happy, rosy-cheeked cherub.  What a perfect addition to our family he is! 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Mr. One Turns Eight

Mr. One turned eight earlier in March, and on Saturday, he chose to be baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I still can't believe I have an eight year old already.  How the time flies!

We knew that his baptism, especially being on Easter weekend, would be a big event, so we opted to let the focus be on this special ordinance, and we had a simple birthday party for him with family.  No friend party this year.  His birthday fell on a Saturday, so we had a fun, relaxed day together to celebrate.  The morning began with french toast and a late morning soccer practice.  After soccer, it was time for lunch.  Because this was a special birthday, we offered to take the whole family to a restarant of his choice for lunch.  He chose Ned's Crazy Subs.  So, off to Ned's we went!

After lunch, the boys played Lego Star Wars on the wii together for a while.  He opened some presents and we let him build some of his Lego sets (notice the Star Wars theme is still going strong at our house?).

That evening, we went over to my parents' house (they have a big tv and surround sound) for dinner and a movie.  Some of the aunts and uncles came over for the fun as well.  We ate pizza as we watched "Return of the Jedi."  I'm pretty sure that was the highlight of the day for all the boys!  They loved every minute of it.  I have to admit, I actually enjoyed watching too!

The next evening, we had a family dinner to celebrate and Mr. One picked the menu:  salad, french bread, spinach ravioli, and cake.  He requested the "chocolate cake with chocolate shingles."  Grammy, being a chocolate lover herself was happy to buy the decadent chocolate cake.  Yum!  If there was ever a doubt of who this cute boy's momma is, just look at his birthday menu.  Pretty much all my favorite foods, too.

My little sis Jenny made this amazing lego blanket for him.  I am so amazed with her talent.  He loved it!

Mr. One was baptized on Saturday, one day before Easter.  It was the perfect way to celebrate the true meaning of Easter:  to see him follow in the footsteps of the Savior and choose to become a member of His church, to be washed clean and spiritually reborn, to be baptized and confirmed by his father.  It was beautiful.

It was wonderful to have a full room of family and friends supporting him.  We had several out of town family members make the trip here, which was so special.  He even bore his testimony afterwards, so heartfelt and honest.  It was a treasured moment.

After the baptism, we had a luncheon at my parents' home (they have lots of space and are happy to let us entertain there).  Lots of yummy food and extra play time with cousins for the kids.  At the request of several family members, here is the menu and a few of the recipes we enjoyed that day.

Baptism Luncheon Menu

sub sandwiches
Mom's famous potato salad (eventually I'll post this one)
anitpasti pasta salad (recipe here)
fruit salad (recipe here)
chips and dips
gingersnaps (recipe here)
no-bake cookies
caramel oat bars  (see below)
cake pops (recipe here although I used a yellow cake and chocolate frosting)  
(Mr. One's only request for the luncheon was cake pops and I was happy to oblige.)

Here is the caramel oat bar recipe:
Caramel Bars (made famous in our family by my Aunt Shelly)
2 cups flour
1 cup softened butter or margarine
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups oats
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream

Mix together ingredients with a spoon and pat into a 9x13 greased pan, reserving 1 cup of mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Melt 1 bag Kraft caramels with 3/4 cup whipping cream.  Stir until smooth, then pour over baked mixture.  Crumble the reserved 1 cup mixture on top of the caramel layer.
Bake again for 15 minutes.
Try not to eat the whole pan all by yourself. ;)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Note to Self: Walmart and "Quick" Errands

Life is starting to settle back into a normal rhythm again, like the glitter slowly settling into the comfort of the bottom of the snow globe.  The beautiful whirlwind of this weekend has been wonderful for sure, but I was really looking forward to the calm.

I had finally made a dent in the mountain of laundry and dishes.  The bills were paid, the children back in school, bedtime was reestablished.  I was finally feeling good about my general effectiveness in this mothering balancing act.

Then I went to WalMart.

"But I just need to make a few simple returns.  It will be quick.  I know where everything I need is.  No problem,"  I tell myself.

NOTE TO SELF:  Simple and Walmart with three kids never go together.  Especially when one is asleep and the one who needs to be in the cart insists on pushing the cart, unrestrained.

So here I am, exchanging two pairs of shorts and a broken toy piano, with a sleeping baby and two "helpers" along-side.  I get to the boys' section and find the shorts.  They only have one color in the right size, so I throw that in the cart.  Half-accomplished task checked off on my mental to do list.

On to toys... (oh, let's see if they have any cute maxi skirts in stock... Wait.  Focus.  Toys.)  Now we are hurrying, Mr. Four is getting pretty heavy at this point.  "Mr. Two, do you have Mr. Three in eye sight?  Good?  Good."  Here is the isle of obnoxious noisy toys to find replacement piano.  Yes!  They have one in stock, and it actually works.  Toss it (gently) in the cart.

Mr. Three is not in the isle.  I make the mistake of asking Mr. Two to peek around the corner to get him.  Mr. Two is too interested in aforementioned noisy toys.  Then I hear a somewhat distanced, panic-stricken cry.  That sounds like Mr. Three.  (Make that silly piano stop playing!)

I can hear him, but I can't see him.


Find clueless store employee and give him the stare-down and say I AM MISSING MY CHILD.  DO SOMETHING.  So he goes to ask someone else what to do.  (Oh panic, do not set in now.)  Then someone who knows what they are doing gets on the radio and, thank heaven, someone has found him.  I see a mom with a young child in her cart who asks me if my child is missing, and asks if his name is (Mr. Three).  She found him and took him to a worker.  Thank you, thank you, helpful mommy. 

Then I hear the announcement, "Looking for a lost mommy.  Little two year old boy with teal shirt and jean shorts here in the fitting room waiting for you." (Never mind correcting them that he is in fact three.  Why am I even worried about that?)

There on the bench by the fitting room is a tear-streaked, but smiling Mr. Three with a friendly grandma-like worker, who is reassuring him.  Thank yous to the worker, hugs and kisses for my little boy.  Now he is STAYING IN THE CART until we get to the van.  Of course he protests.  At this point Mr. Four is awake and does not want to sit in the cart either and I am exhaused, while Mr. Two is just chillin', wondering what all the fuss is about.  So I go to the customer service counter with two screaming children standing in the back of the cart to make my exchanges and get out of there AS FAST AS POSSIBLE.  Thankfully there is only one person ahead of me in line so we can make a quick getaway.  Mission accomplished, with a big dose of drama, but done nonetheless.  In to the van we go.

Then I realize I have a little time before picking up Mr. One and decide to run to the next nearest Walmart to find the other pair of shorts, so I can cross that entirely off my to do list.  I pull into the parking lot, look over at a now sleeping Mr. Three, remember my last experience at Walmart and promptly pull out of the parking lot and go home.

Maybe I am actually learning something.