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Sunday, November 15, 2009

We Love Spandex!

Today we turned on the TV to find men's ice skating on. Having never seen it before really, the kids were enthralled for a couple minutes, silently watching a young man in black spandex dance and swirl around on the ice.

Suddenly, eyes glued to the screen, Lillian says,

"I like dose bum-bums, Mom."

Me, trying not to laugh too hard yet, "Huh?? What did you say, Lillian?"

She just smiled matter-of-factly, pointed at the screen and said, "I'm looking at his bum-bum."

Trying not to roll onto the floor busting a gut, I attempt to play it cool, and hope inwardly and furtively that this appreciation of men's "bum-bums" ends here. Man, do I love what our funny kids have to say!

Be warned: even two-year-olds find Spandex riveting; I can't look away myself, but it's more out of horror. I never can understand what spandex-wearing men must be thinking! To have that kind of confidence must be very, um, freeing. Maybe too much so.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You're welcome, ants!

I was raised in a house where killing spiders was forbidden. Bees were caught in glasses, with a paper slid under them to transport and then release them outside. For years, I couldn't kill a fly, and felt guilty wishing mosquitos would die. Now, I have drawn a line with the creepy crawlys: you come inside my home, you will most likely end up in the toilet. I still feel guilty, but I tell myself they've been forewarned. I still think it's heartless to kill non-poisonous, non-biting insects who are outdoors, doing their thing. Which is why I was appalled yesterday as I was walking the kids back to the car after gymnastics, and Luke stomped on a big 1/2" long fat juicy black ant scurrying across the sidewalk, no hesitations. Lillian and I had just barely stepped over this ginormous ant, admiring it's size. I thought it was a good teaching experience, and a great time to encourage empathy and kindness in my rambunctious and impulsive 6 year old. For those of you who love to hunt, I did explain that if he was starving, he could kill and eat ants to his heart's content without feeling bad, even offering to go back and get it for him to eat. :)

I'm a big fan of "writing consequences." I see it as an educational form of punishment (though he wasn't exactly being "punished" this time around). So, I had Luke imagine he was that ant, going about his life before he was stepped on, and had him write me a few sentences on how he would feel if he was that ant. Yes, I know, that probably makes me crazy to many men and a quite few women out there, but that's okay! Trust me, this child needed this lesson . . . you'd thank me if you had a sweet little child in his school class with him. Here's what he wrote:

"Dear Mom,

If I were that ant it would hurt. I'm sorry for killing that ant.

Love, Luke

PS: Luke don't want to be an ant."

He brought it over to me, silently glowering, waited while I started reading, and then glared accusingly over his glasses at me as he emphatically punched the last line with his index finger, not saying a word. I busted up laughing. I think he may have got the message . . .

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

What's for Dinner, Girls?

I spend way too much time surfing through different sites trying to find family-friendly recipes. So, I've decided to start my own recipe-sharing blog. I needed a place where I can sit down and find some great family recipes quick from moms (or dads) I trust. :) The blog is "What's for Dinner, Girls?". Once you're added as an author, you can post any recipes that you or your family love. The more recipes we collect, the better this resource will be! So, if you're interested, please leave me a note with your email address to add you as an author. Once added, post a favorite recipe! I'd like for members to try to add a recipe a week so that we can grow our collection quickly, and keep it growing. I can't wait to try your recipes! Happy cooking!

Friday, September 04, 2009

One Proud Little Boy

Luke caught his first big-mouth bass! During my cousin's wedding weekend, we stayed at my parents place in NC. They own a lovely piece of land up there with a lake, a pond, and beautiful acreage. Cameron loves escaping out to the lake with whomever wants to go throw a line. He and I once caught 9 big fish in about one hour. This time, he took Luke and his cousin Gillian out, and it was Luke who got lucky. He caught it and reeled it in, where Cameron helped him take it off the line. I was up at the house with the little ones. Luckily my sister-in-law had her camera and was willing to paddle out in a canoe by herself just to take a picture for us. Thanks Buffy! Luke was just delighted.

It's not 'Andy' or 'Drew' . . .

It's Andrew! People ask me frequently if we'll be shortening his name, and the answer is a firm NO. :) At least for as long as we have control over what he's called. We said that for Sullivan, too, but now he mostly goes by Sully. No offense, but I'm not a fan of the abbreviations of the name 'Andrew'. Enough that it was almost a deal-breaker for me, if Cameron and I could have agreed on another name. We both really do love the name Andrew though.

I'm biased, but really, this is the cutest little guy ever (along with my other 2 boys)! ;) Andrew's been a great addition to our family. He's almost 5 months old, and he's mellow and sweet, but lets us know in no uncertain terms when he needs something, which is good with all these other noisy little kids running around. True to form, he wants to eat every 2-3 hours throughout the night, just like my other 3 did. I need to figure out how to curtail that habit. Any tips, moms? With my other 3, they were about a year old before they outgrew it. I don't think I can do that a 4th time!


Andrew's first dip in the ocean. I was trying to lower his toes in gently, but he kept lifting them up higher and higher out of the water. He wasn't too sure about it, but he was a good sport!

Back to School!

Summer went by much faster than I expected. Right about when we had got a routine down and were really starting to enjoy having all the kids home, it was time to go back. Luke wasn't sure he was happy to go back until the end of his first day, but Sully has been looking forward to this day for a year! They both have really great teachers, and I love the school that they're at this year. The week before school started, my sister, Jean, and my sister-in-law, Buffy, came out to visit us with their sweet children while Cameron was out in UT visiting his family. We had so much fun! My sister-in-law Buffy taught us some basics in making and working with fondant, which was really neat; I would've been to scared to try it on my own. We made crayon cakes for a mini-back-to-school party for the kids. One cake was made out of Rice Krispy treats for an allergy-free option, and that worked really well, too. It was really great having the 9 little cousins together that week.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Nancy's Wedding

Here are a few snapshots from my Cousin's wedding in Greenville, NC. We had a delightful time! Luke and his cousin Claire were the ring bearer and flower girl. Nancy was so sweet to involve them - they were so precious.

Nancy and Kyle are both historians--he loves the Civil War period, and she worked as a tour guide at Monticello (the gorgeous home of Thomas Jefferson, in VA). They are both wonderful people and a terrific match! I love this picture (taken by their photographer).

Andrew was a great sport. He was dragged all over the place for pictures, rehearsals, the bridesmaids chambers, and the wedding! He's getting so big. :(

Cameron with my Uncle John at the rehearsal dinner.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Busy Few Weeks

It's been a whirlwind around here lately! In the last 30 days, we celebrated Sullivan's 5th birthday, moved into a new house, and celebrated July 4th with friends. We've had a great time despite the hectic-ness, especially now that the move is done! Here are some random pics of our last few weeks.

I let Sullivan pick whatever kind of cake he wanted this year (I realized that may have been a little bold once I heard some of his ideas). He opted for another train cake, which we have done for the last 3 years. This time, after watching too many "Ace of Cakes" shows, I was more ambitious. While it wasn't as awesome as I imagined, it turned out okay--which was a relief since it almost fell completely apart before the birthday. Structural support is everything! I would do it very different next time, but, it survived long enough to blow out the candles. Whew!

We closed on the sell of our beautiful home back in April, and the new owners kindly rented it back to us for two and a half months until they moved down. While that was very nice and a huge help, it was a relief to finally move out. The move had been looming over us, along with the sadness of knowing that we would soon have to leave our wonderful home and 1 acre lot. We had lots of great times there, but it we knew it was time to move on. Now that we're out, I feel much lighter! It was a big move. We filled this truck 3 1/2 times! Luckily we were only moving about 4 minutes away.

Another sewing project for Lillian: this is actually my second test of the same pattern from Sew Sensible, slightly altered, with the bloomer pattern as well. I used leftover fabric from kitchen curtains I made a few years back, and from covering our bar stools. I look at this outfit and think of our kitchen, but hey, it was economical and still cute!

Luke goofing around while we ate watermelon waiting for fireworks!

Back me up, moms: A husband is never more attractive than when he is carrying a child or cleaning supplies! You look fantastic, Cameron--screaming babies suit you well. Very thinning . . .

I took a picture of myself to prove to future-Andrew that I really was present and involved during his childhood since there won't be many pictures . . . It looks like I have cellulite on my wrist that was holding the camera--not good for the vulnerable, post-baby self-image. :)

Hope you all had a great July 4th!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Back to the Sewing Machine!

I love to sew, but it's been a while! I've been wanting to sew again, but it's hard to find the time. I finally dusted off my machine the other day, and volunteered to try a test pattern for Sew Sensible . The designer has really cute patterns, and it felt so good to be sewing again! I turned in my review last night, with pictures, so here they are! The actual pattern is for a top with ties at the shoulder, but as it was a test pattern, it still needed some tweaking in the size department, so I altered it a little bit to make it fit better. I have to pick up some fabric-covered button kits before I can finish it, which is why there are pins instead of buttons. I'm going to put little buttons covered in the contrast material. I must say, the fabric didn't look quite so neon yellow in the shop--darn fluorescent lights! I picked it out quickly--it's VERY bright in person.

I am going to have too much fun sewing for Lillian!

Friday, June 12, 2009


1) The other day, Lillian wanted to hold Andrew, who was on my lap. I lean him forward, and just as she comes in to hug him, he throws up all over her shirt. She's usually pretty tough, but this really grossed her out. "Yuck yuck yuck! Take shirt off!" She then steps forward, looking Andrew straight in the eye, and says fiercely "Don't spit on me, stinky boy!" Where she got this from, I have no idea!

2) Last night, we had a trip to the ER (a not-that-uncommon occurrence in the last 3 years) after Lillian fell backwards off a bar stool in our kitchen, bumping her head. She seemed really out of it right afterwards, and then vomited in the sink, so I took her in. She quickly recovered on our way to the hospital. As she was waiting for her precautionary CAT scan, the sweet elderly nurse was befriending her by chatting niceties with her about her age, her name, her Nana, and her new baby brother. Lillian answered her questions appropriately and cutely, scoring lots of points. Nurse then asks, "What is your baby brother's name?" Lillian looks up at her and says, "I have gas." Luckily the nurse thought it was hilarious, and was too busy laughing and telling the technicians that Lillian had diagnosed herself with gas, to notice when the smell hit.

We love you spunky Lillian!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Kindergarten's Over--let the summer chaos begin!

This is all of us at Luke's kindergarten graduation! We loved seeing him in his classroom with his friends.

Yesterday was the last day of Kindergarten for Luke, and I am honestly terrified. I had been looking forward to this: no more schlepping 4 children around in the car, picking up and dropping off. But, today solidified my worst fears for the summer: 4 children, home all day long, with not enough to do except for driving mom bonkers. Today was a day full of couch cushion/pillow/blanket forts in the living room, "What can I eat???" all day long, lots of crying from children fighting and hurting each other, fits being thrown in resistance to the time outs mandated for the hurting, one child being shoved off the trampoline by the other, another fit for then being sent to their rooms, a much-needed naptime for the youngest 3 (whew!), an entire thing of bubbles dumped on the floor (twice! once upstairs, once down), a whole jar of Carmex smeared around the bathroom, and you get the idea. Most of the action takes place while I'm nursing the baby, then I clean up all the messes until it's time to feed him again--it's a wonderful cycle.

I love my children . . . but I am dreading these next 3 months! Today made me realize that I REALLY need to do some planning and get some structure going to keep us sane. I would love to hear you share your best summer tip for staying sane with kids--leave a comment!

Luke with his wonderful teachers, who I can't thank enough!

Below are the gourmet candy apples that I made (and LOVED) for Luke's teachers. These are some of my favorite treats, and they cost a fortune at the candy stores, so I was thrilled that they turned out. The best was the one on the right: dipped in caramel, rolled in crushed peanuts and Heath bars, and then dipped in chocolate and flecked with white chocolate. Sooo yummy. I think I'll make these each year for the teachers. I got everything I needed at Walmart, made them in one afternoon, and we get to enjoy the extras!

Andrew, 8 weeks old . . .

"Are they ALL really going to be home all summer, mom??" Hang in there, buddy!

Saturday, June 06, 2009



Awesome modest dresses! Man what I wouldn't give for a dress this cute! They're having a giveaway . . . hope I win! :)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Give your sister back her nose!! NOW!"

The things we say as moms. I found myself yelling the above phrase from the kitchen this afternoon. A month ago we discovered that the old "got your nose" trick was a lot of fun with Lillian. It didn't scare her, but she was not satisfied till you "put it back." So, it's morphed into a family game. We take her nose, throw it in the air, put it in our pockets or our mouths, and she laughs as we grab it and stick it back on. Better yet, she'll "grab" it: out of the air if we throw it, dig it out of our pockets, etc, and stick it on her own face. Now if you don't give it back to her, or let her get it, she will eventually flip out: "Gimme back my nose!!" or more common, "Mom, he won't gimme my nose!"

This afternoon, she was bothering Luke, so he methodically takes her nose and won't give it back. Now starts the ear-piercing screaming and crying which mights as well be nails on a chalkboard. Prompting me to yell the most ridiculous phrase to date, and not be the least bit joking.

Sullivan graduated from Pre-school! One grade down, 17 more to go!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Best Brownies Ever!

I'm trying to lose baby weight, but my cravings for chocolate, peanut butter, and sweets keeps getting in the way! The other day, I succumbed, and made some brownies which came out slightly overcooked around the edges. To cover that up, I looked online on a whim, and found the best recipe ever for Peanut Butter Frosting, which would satisfy my other craving and pack on more pounds. Yay! Thanks to the frosting, these turned out to be the best brownies I have possibly ever had, and made me feel so incredibly sad for people with peanut allergies. Here's the recipe, Enjoy!

Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting (from Allrecipes.com)

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk, or as needed

  • Cream the butter and peanut butter together till well-blended (and try to ignore the fact that you are about to eat all of that fatty buttery goodness). Add in the sugar gradually, mixing well. Finally, add in the milk. Mix just till blended and creamy. If you overmix, it may start to look grainy. Supposedly you can fix that by microwaving it for a couple seconds and then mixing it a bit more.

I only made HALF of this recipe to frost my pan of brownies, and I am telling you, it is soooo GOOD! The frosting tastes similar to the insides of Reese's Pieces, so if you like those, you'll love this.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Introducing . . . Andrew

Our little guy was born April 8th, weighed 7lbs 11oz, and was 20.5". Labor was fine, thanks to an epidural, though long (it was an induction), and the delivery was short--a personal record of about 2 minutes worth of pushing! He looks like a blend b/w all three of my children as newborns: Lillian's mouth, Luke's hair, Sullivan's head shape, and a blend b/w Luke and Sullivan's nose. Everyone says he looks a lot like Cameron, too, but everyone says that about all of our newborns who are born with dark hair, so time will tell.

We chose a nice, classic, neutral first name that Cameron and I could both agree on, which is not easy. I was pushing for Phineas so we could call him Finn. Cameron was still rooting for Matai, which is both his and Luke's middle name. "But it makes a great first name too, Sara!" Andrew's middle name, Knox, was chosen in honor of my grandfather, John Allen Knox, one of the most neat and admirable people I've ever known.

We had several scares during this pregnancy regarding Andrew's health, one of which actually was valid. He had Wenckebach heart block, a very unusual heart rhythm to be found in a fetus, and it was considered to be a high risk pregnancy. We were lucky to live near one of the best pediatric heart care programs in the nation, MUSC, and attended weekly ultrasounds and echocardiograms for a while there to monitor his heart and make sure the condition didn't worsen. We had so many wonderful friends help us out. Luckily, after a lot of worrying and some special blessings, Andrew's heart block, (an interruption in the electric circuit which controls the rhythm of the heart) disappeared suddenly a few months before his birth, and did not return. We're so grateful for that miracle. He had a temporary heart murmur for about 24 hours after his birth, and while more common and not considered a big deal, it of course caused me a little worry, but that cleared up as well. His heart was monitored after his birth for a couple days, and he's been given a clear bill of health. We're so grateful to have him here, seemingly healthy and strong, and very sweet.

The kids have really enjoyed having a baby brother. Lillian is constantly telling me, "She's so cute!" (everyone's female to her). Sullivan just adores everything about him, and is always telling me, "You need to feed him" every time he makes a peep. Luke is a terrific and helpful big brother. Luckily, they all give him space enough that it's not overwhelming or dangerous! 4 kids feels good, and for the moment, complete. (And yes, we think we're done).

Oh and by the way, Cameron found a job here in town that he started last week, so it looks like we get to stay here a little longer after all--though we'll still be moving to a new house next month! Thanks for all the kind words and prayers for us over these last months. They've meant a lot.