Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Random Ramblings of a Tired Mommy...

Today was one of those days where by midway through it, my goal was just to survive 'til bedtime so I could try again tomorrow. Not that I'm really complaining; after all, we did accomplish most of what we needed to do for the day. It was just one of those days.

I woke up this morning with a sinus headache, which with the changing seasons and damp weather lately is not too surprising. Then when I wasn't paying attention someone must've taped a sign on my back that read "Please be noisier and more rambunctious than usual" because that's exactly what the J-boys did most of the morning. While I was doing schoolwork with the older two, Jordan and Joey were dismantling the living room. Really. Like all the couch cushions were on the floor, chairs were rearranged, and about 300 matchbox cars and a zillion little pieces of Playmobil were scattered all over the floor. I gave up at that point and turned over the parenting responsibilities to Mean Grouchy Mommy, and by some miracle or just plain old-fashioned fear of spending the rest of the day confined to their beds, the apartment was clean by lunch time.

The afternoon was much better, mostly because Joey took a loooong nap. It's really sad to say, but things really do run much more smoothly when that child is sleeping! He makes whatever "terrible twos" the others went through look like a walk in the park. He is awfully cute, though. And he definitely uses that to his advantage! Jordan took a good nap as well, and Josh, Jon, and I were able to get all of their school work done.

After dinner, we all played board games together for about an hour, then the children went to bed. Thankfully bed time has gotten easier lately. Jeremy has started putting his iPhone on the dresser in their room playing worship music. They actually lie in bed and listen quietly until they fall asleep. He's been doing that for about a week now. Why didn't we think of that, oh, about 5 years ago?

Jeremy and I played a game of Upwords after the kids went to bed. Upwords is like Scrabble, but you can stack letters on top of existing letters to form new words. I found it at a yard sale before we moved, still in the shrink wrap, for $1. I've bought many of our games that way...gotta love those yard sales! Anyway, I don't think I've ever lost Scrabble or any other word game to Jeremy...until tonight. And I lost badly. See, I need to just go to bed and start over tomorrow! Good night!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Well, I'm slowly getting back to some of my old (as in "pre-move") organized habits, and one of the biggies is menu planning. I made a grand plan for September, but ended up scrapping half of it since we took two road trips that were unplanned as of the time I made my menu. Since we're traveling more here I'm going to try doing a weekly menu instead, and join all the great bloggers who post their menus on Menu Plan Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie.
Monday--Aztec chicken & rice
Tuesday--Pork roast and veggie soup (need to use some left-over roast), bread
Wednesday--Taco salad
Thursday--White chicken chili, salad
Friday--Out to eat...birthday boy's choice...most likely pizza!
Saturday--Chicken curry, naan, steamed broccoli
Sunday--Chili mac, veggies
I'm going to try to stick with this and post our menu each week! :)

A Little Family Project...

Before we moved to New York City, we had come here several times as a family both to vacation and on business/ministry trips. Each time we have come, the children, led by "Eagle Eyes" Jordan, have made a contest of seeing who can find the most coins that have been dropped on the ground. Jordan in particular has an amazing ability to see a single penny from 50 feet away, around the corner, and under a large display...okay, so not quite, but he is good at spotting them!

As soon as we moved here, they were at it again. Since the competition aspect of the hunt often resulted in arguing or tears (Mommmmmmmmy, I saw it FIRST!) I decided early on to turn this activity into a cooperative venture. I told the boys we would pool the coins in a common container, and when they had collected enough, we would go out for ice cream or some such.

Today Jordan and I pulled down the "money box" and counted the coins therein...they've found $9.09 in loose change since mid July. Actually, their total would be higher, except that if we pass a pan handler on the street or one of those charity boxes at someplace like McDonald's, they put in whatever they've just picked up. Sometimes they even add their pennies to our restaurant, etc. tips...and they feel like they are being so generous!

Their current plan is to take the cash to a cool little place called Dylan's Candy Bar, which is a 3-story candy store at about 60th and 3rd. After all, all they really need is more candy!

Anyway, just thought I'd share this little family project, just in case you wanted to know!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Our Manhattan Boat Tour!

Today we got up bright and early to go on our Circle Line cruise around the lower half of Manhattan with my Dad. It was a cool, dreary, drizzly, overcast morning, but we decided to stick with our plans for the boat ride anyway. The plus side, we figured, is that at least it wouldn't be crowded!

We managed to stay relatively dry getting to the boat. The boys really enjoyed the cruise...after all, what young boy doesn't like a nice boat ride? We all learned all sorts of interesting facts about Manhattan as well. We had a choice between a 2-hour tour and a 3-hour tour, and went with the 2-hour. Turns out that was a good choice--as interesting and fun as the tour was, the boys' attention span didn't quite cover the two hours!

Joshua, in his bright red rain poncho, on the boat before we actually left the pier.

The highlight of the tour was definitely cruising past the Statue of Liberty. We all went to the outside deck to get a better view and take pictures, even though it was cold, raining, and very windy!

All 7 of us with Lady Liberty in the background.

My Dad and I with 4 of the J-boys. The wind is doing such attractive things to my hair here, lol!

Jonathan with the Manhattan skyline in the background. It was so cloudy that many of the tallest buildings' tops were hidden in the clouds.

After our tour, we went to lunch at an Irish pub on 10th Avenue, close to the pier. I don't remember the name, but the food was tasty. Here are my Dad and Jonathan in the restaurant.

Jon and Josh in their rain ponchos. They thought they looked like (very brightly-colored) Jedi knights, and were pretending accordingly.

We discovered that one of the other ponchos made a good combination Joey and stroller cover. Yes, Josiah is underneath all that. He stayed snug as a bug in there and slept the whole way from the restaurant back to our apartment.

A funny thing happened while we were walking back to the subway station that both made me laugh and reminded me to be content with and thankful for what we have. As I've mentioned before, I have a weakness for cute baby/children's things. Since we've been here, I've seen so many children out in cute rain slickers with matching rubber boots in fun kid prints, and I have to admit I've been coveting those for my boys, even though they are perfectly content with their cheap, adult-sized ponchos from CVS. So today as we're walking down 42nd street back to the subway station, we pass 2 young children who are wearing these cute matching rain sets. As I'm silently admiring how cute they are, the little boy points at our boys, then turns to his mom and excitedly starts telling her how awesome their ponchos are and can he please get one just like those! My boys, engrossed in their imaginary Jedi-knight world, were oblivious to this conversation, but it really reminded me that we have always been provided with whatever we need, and I need to be content with what we have instead of longing after something else that my kids probably wouldn't like any better anyway!

Well, tomorrow is our last full day to visit with my Dad. I'm not sure exactly what we will be doing yet, but I'm sure we'll have a great time together! The boys are really enjoying their time with their Peepah, and will be so sad when he has to leave on Sunday!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Dad is Visiting and We're Having a Great Time!

We're having a wonderful time visiting with my Dad, who is here until Sunday. Today we spent the day in New Jersey, running a few errands and then spending a few hours in Nutley, where Dad grew up. He took pictures of the J-boys sitting on the front steps of the house he grew up in, that was built by his grandfather. We also drove by the schools he attended, and then ate lunch at Rutt's Hut, a hotdog place that is apparently pretty famous around here. After a quick run to Costco, we headed back to Manhattan, this time through the Lincoln Tunnel, which, of course, is very exciting for little boys!

I'm slowly getting used to driving in Manhattan, and was actually pretty calm. The first time I drove up through midtown I was anything but! I'm learning the rules of driving around here. One of these rules seems to be that if you have the bigger car, other cars will get out of your way...unless it's a cab...they follow their own rules! So while the cars are avoiding my SUV, I'm avoiding all the commercial vans that look beat up enough to not care who they run into, and the taxis are wildly zooming in and out around all of us. Jeremy compares driving in Manhattan to one giant game of chicken. While I laughed the first time he said this, I don't think he's too far off!

I'm also becoming an expert parallel-parker, which came in handy this afternoon. The PERFECT spot was open...literally right in front of the entrance to our building. The spot was about 2 feet longer than my Yukon, and Dad didn't think there was any way I was going to fit, much less actually be able to get into it, but THAT SPACE WAS MINE! He must've bragged on me to about half a dozen people afterwards about that parking job, lol! I'm discovering that you really do learn to do things when necessary that otherwise you wouldn't even attempt...after all, parking several blocks away with 5 children and groceries is not a logistical practicality. Therefore, I've learned to park in tight spaces!

Dad took us to dinner tonight at a nice French place in the neighborhood. Jordan tried (and promptly spat out) his first bite of escargot, but we praised him for being brave enough to try it anyway. The others wouldn't even try it. I guess for little boys, snails are supposed to be more of a garden pet than an appetizer. We ate at a table outside (much better with busy boys in tow!) and while we were eating dessert a man approached us, impressed with how well they were behaving. He and his wife had just had their 3rd child, and he wanted to know how we managed taking them all out to eat and having them behave (his words) so well. It's always nice when strangers tell me they're impressed with our children...in my mind they hadn't been behaving particularly well AT ALL, which I usually take personally. It's nice to be reminded that we ARE blessed with really great children, and we ARE doing a pretty good job, with a lot of grace thrown in, of course!

Tomorrow we're going to take Dad sightseeing in Manhattan. It's supposed to rain, so that might add a bit of complexity to our plans. But I'm sure we'll have a great time and make some great memories anyway!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How to Make Homemade Applesauce

This is a great activity to do when you've recently gone apple picking and picked way more apples than your family will actually eat before they go to mush. It's actually pretty simple to do, which is a nice plus. No, it's not as simple as picking up a jar at the grocery store, but pretty easy nonetheless.

First, you'll need a recipe. We used this one. Then you'll need to gather your ingredients. For us, those were apples, cinnamon, and some insanely expensive organic sugar (it was all they had) from the store up the street.

Next, gather your helpers. If you are as blessed as I am, you will have a ready supply of small boys who love the opportunity to play with, I mean responsibly use knives.

I strongly recommend that Mom cores the apples and does the peeling, since those require much sharper knives. Unless, of course, you're in the mood for a field trip. Emergency rooms can be fascinating places. Don't ask me how I know.

Have your helpers chop the apples into bits. It turns out that randomly-sized bits work just fine.

A big bowl of apple bits.

Next, your helpers need to transfer the apple bits to a pot. Oh, this is a good time to remind you that you should have had them wash their hands before starting this activity. If you forget, you, like me, can just hope that the boiling process will be sufficient to kill anything they may have gotten into.

Add your other ingredients...in our recipe, those were sugar...

And cinnamon...

...and water. If you triple the recipe like we did, this is also a great time to throw in a lesson on adding fractions, for added homeschool math credit. Bring to a low boil and simmer for 20 minutes, unless you added too much water. Then boil 'til the excess water evaporates and the applesauce splatters all over your stove top.

Mash with a potato masher...

And serve to grumpy two-year-olds who have just awakened from their naps.

Two of the boys (Jordan and Joshua) did not care for it and had pretzel sticks instead. They thought it was too sweet. (But they'll eat pounds of candy if you let them...go figure.)

Jonathan, Joseph, and Mommy thought it was yummy and ate the whole pot!

Believe it or not, we still have too many apples left. What should we try to make next?

Welcome to Our Home Sweet Home (part 2)

Welcome! Jordan, my good little helper, will hold the front door open for you!

This is our foyer/entryway. To the immediate right (unpictured) is the little hall/room that leads into the kitchen. To the right in the picture is the dining room. The door on the immediate left is our coat closet. You can see the door into the hall, bedrooms, and bathroom on the far right, and on the far left you are looking into our living room.

Peeking into the dining room...we'll come back here later!

This picture turned out terribly blurry, but this is looking from the foyer into the living room. We finally have it gated to keep Joey the wonder mess-maker either in or out depending on where we are at the moment.

The living room from the doorway. Joshua is sitting at the table that used to be in our playroom back in Austin working on a history project.

Looking from the windows back to the entrance of the living room. We bought the cabinets behind (in front of?) Joshua for much-needed storage...one is full of board games and kids' videos, one is full of miscellaneous household "stuff," and one is full of my scrapbooking supplies. :)

Looking back down the foyer from the hall door side. We don't wear shoes in the house, so we use the two slatted shelves under the long, narrow table for shoe storage.

Looking from the dining room into the foyer and the "shoe keeper" (as we call it) table.

Here's the dining room, which also doubles as our school room. This is definitely the most "lived in" room in our apartment, as far as how it looks on a day-to-day basis! That's my desk and chair against the wall. The boxes are all of Jeremy's office things...he just needs to find an office space to put them all in! The posters on the wall are school-related.

The other wall. The wicker bins on the shelving unit keep toys and school supplies out of sight. In the back corner sits our chest freezer and in front of the window is Josiah's swing. In the foreground is, of course, our dining table.

Looking from the windows to the other side of the room...

Here's our hall, which doubles as our library. The door at the very back is the bathroom. On the immediate right is the boys' room, and our room is around that little corner at the very back right.

The hall from the bathroom end. The door on the right is a tiny closet. The door is regular size, but when you open it up there is about 8" of shelf space then a wall that comes to the door.

Stay tuned for part 3, where I will show you around the bathroom and master bedroom. They're uh, needing a little TLC at the moment, but I will take those pictures soon!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Welcome to Our Home Sweet Home! (part 1)

Since several of you have asked to see what our new apartment looks like, and since I've posted pictures in the past week of both my older boys' room with piles of clothes and my kitchen with lasagna on the floor, I thought this would be a good time to share with all of you what it is supposed to look like, starting with those two rooms.

I'm not sure what to call this "room." It basically connects the foyer, dining room, Josiah's room, and the kitchen. The phone you see on the wall connects us with our 24-hour doormen, who call us if we have visitors, deliveries, or if we've received a package that won't fit in our mailbox.

Here I'm standing in the dining room doorway, looking through the no-name room into the kitchen. Where the wall comes out on the right is the pantry. I plan on putting in another cabinet next to it for more pantry space. The door on the left (beside the phone) is Josiah's room. Since our building was built in 1926 when I suppose it was common to have live-in maids, Josiah's room is actually the maid's room, which is pretty tiny and has it's own (also tiny) bathroom.

Closer to the kitchen...Josiah's door on the left, pantry on the right.
Here is one of the biggest adjustments I've had to make, as far as our actual living space is concerned. This is my little kitchen. For someone who loves to cook and feeds 7 people three meals a day, the tiny space is taking some getting used to!
From the side...
This is the part on the other side of the refrigerator...I suppose if we had a "normal-sized" Manhattan family, we could put a little table and chairs over here...but we don't, so this nice butcher-block topped cabinet from Ikea gives me both extra storage and another much-needed counter top. Excuse the random stuff in and around the window...I'm not quite fully organized yet!
Standing between the sink and the stove, looking toward the opposite wall. Since I wanted more than the two drawers currently in the kitchen area, we bought this dresser (also at Ikea) for the wall opposite the butcher-block cabinet. I use this for rolls of foil, etc., dishtowels, sippy cups, spices, paper plates, napkins, measuring cups & spoons, etc. My 18 qt. roaster oven, my Kitchenaid mixer, and my blender sit up on top, as well as a few other random bits who have yet to find a permanent home.

We're skipping the common areas of the apartment for now, since I haven't thought to pull out the camera at the same time as they were actually tidy yet, and heading back to the boys' room. We have a nice hallway closed off by a pretty glass-paned door at the back of the apartment, and off that hallway are the two big bedrooms and the main bathroom. The hallway itself is being used as our homeschool library, with two side-by-side 7-foot bookcases lining the wall.
Looking from the hallway into the boys' room. The bunkbed in the foreground belongs to Jonathan and Jordan. The bed has a built in desk at this end which is Jonathan's school desk. We still need to find him a chair...lest you think his school work is suffering for lack of a chair, I'll inform you that most school work is actually done at either the dining table or the coffee table in the living room. The far bed belongs to Joshua and Joey. We haven't done any decorating in here yet, although I plan to. I want to start by getting them all matching bed coverings.
Looking from the corner back to Jonathan's and Jordan's bed. The edge of Joshua's desk is on the right. The bookshelf you can see on the right is actually out in the hall...you are looking through the open bedroom door.
Looking from Jordan's bed towards the closets and Joshua's desk. We actually have a lot of closet space for a Manhattan apartment, although a good bit less than we're used to. Joshua and Joseph share the one on the left, Jordan and Jonathan share the one on the right.
I'm scrunched down on Joey's lower bunk to take this picture. Here you can see the door and out into the hallway, as well as Jonathan's and Jordan's dresser and Joshua's desk.
We really are enjoying our apartment, and feel like we've been blessed with a great place! Now that we're pretty much settled in, I'm looking forward to adding those finishing touches that will make it feel so much more like "Home Sweet Home!"

Just Another Busy Day at Home!

Today was a pretty uneventful, though fruitful day at home. The older boys and I worked hard on our schoolwork today, since we want to finish most of this week's worth of work before Peepah arrives for his visit Wednesday night. I'm finished with the older four boys' clothing, but I'm trying to weed out all the baby clothes to garner myself more closet space. I have a weakness for cute baby clothes, and tend to keep waaaaaay more than I need or than the current baby can actually wear in each size. This afternoon I was humbled as this mommy who at least used to have a photographic memory got thoroughly whooped up on by 4-year-old Jordan in a game of Memory (which he calls "remembory cards" lol), then he proceeded to beat Joseph and me in a game of Sorry with an amazing come-from-behind last minute charge!

Dinner tonight was Tortilla Soup, from a recipe I got several years ago from my Grandma. It's one of my favorite soups, and I like to make homemade soups once the weather starts cooling off. I thought I'd share the recipe, in case anyone's interested.

Tortilla Soup

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and chopped (I usually omit this for the children)
2 cloves minced garlic
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in strips
1 large can (28 oz.) tomatoes (I use diced tomatoes)
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes
3 1/2 c. chicken stock
1 can tomato soup, undiluted
1 tsp. cumin (I usually double this)
1 tsp. chili powder (I double this as well)
1 tsp. Tabasco
salt to taste

Cook chicken, onion, and garlic in butter and olive oil until chicken is done and onions are soft. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer about 1 hour. We serve this sprinkled with crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese, and a dollop of sour cream. Diced avocado is good on it as well.

I usually make this on the stove, but on those occasions where I'm really organized or won't have time around dinner time, I've been known to start it much earlier in the day and throw it all in the crock pot after the cooking the chicken and onion step. This is super yummy! Let me know if you try it and like it! :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Special Day with Joshua

I spend a lot of time with my sons, after all, we are home together (or out and about together) almost all of the time! Still, sometimes I'm caught off guard as I look at my oldest two and realize just how big they are getting and how fast the years are speeding by.

Now, my 3 littles get hordes of attention because, well, they need my physical help more and frankly, when they aren't directly getting my attention they are likely to get into all sorts of trouble! Joshua and Jonathan, however, aren't as "needy" and sometimes I realize with regret that days have gone by and outside of our day-to-day group activities and helping them with their school lessons, etc., I haven't really connected with them individually in a meaningful way. I want my boys to remember their childhood relationships with their mommy as more than just teaching, training, disciplining, etc. I want them to know that they are cherished as individuals, and to have memories of times when they each got mom or dad all to themselves for a little while, to play or share stories, hopes, and dreams, or just hang out for a bit.

This afternoon after church, Jeremy offered to watch all the children and suggested I go downtown to shop for a much-needed outfit I can wear to church. As convenient as it would have been to go alone and have an afternoon of total freedom, I really wanted to spend some time with Joshua so I took him with me. I'm so glad I did! We had a really sweet time together.

We started out by going to lunch together, at Chipotle a few blocks away. I was able to give him my undivided attention and listen to his ideas for a magic show he wants to put together, as well as several other thoughts he wanted to share...Joshua loves to talk! Then we took the subway down to 34th street and went to Macy's, where Joshua at least seemed to enjoy helping me find a simple, long black skirt to go with some nursing shirts I just won on ebay. After finding a skirt (yay!) and listening while Joshua talked the ears off our friendly salesperson, we headed down to SoHo to check out a paper shop I had heard about. The boys are really enjoying writing letters, and I've been promising them I'd get them some fun stationery. Well, it was more artsy-craftsy than kid-friendly, but Joshua nonetheless chose some brightly-colored cardstock and envelopes for him and his brothers that we will be using along with some of my scrapbook stickers and supplies to make fun cards. Then we headed back to the subway for the return trip home.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with Joshua alone, and to hear everything he had to say. He really is an amazing young man, and I'm so blessed to be his mom. I sincerely hope our time together today was special for him, too!

Fall Photos of the Boys, Part 1

Every once in a while I get this grand notion to take cute, matchy-matchy photos of my children. I don't do it often, and when I do it usually ends up being an exercise in futility and chaos as I try to get a bunch of busy boys to cooperate, smile, and look at the camera at the same time. I usually want to get individual pictures of the boys as well, and well, trying to photograph them one at a time while the others run about going crazy is an even more heroic feat than getting them all to smile at the same time.

Well, while we were in Boston I stumbled upon a Children's Place downtown that was having a pretty good sale. Since Children's Place is one of the few places I've found where I can get matching clothes for all my guys, the picture idea surfaced again and I was on a quest! These cute polo shirts were only $5.99, and while they didn't have all 5 sizes I needed in the same color, they did have them in 5 different colors in the same pattern, which as far as I'm concerned works as well. Jeremy, who doesn't understand that visions of cute, matching, smiling boys aren't meant to be mixed with boring things like practicality, insisted that the short-sleeved polos were entirely unsuitable since it will be too cold for them soon. After being stumped for a minute, I added long-sleeved cream-colored tees under each one. Problem solved!

Now that I had the necessary props, it was time to take pictures! I decided to try a new strategy this time, and do individual photos first, with just a couple boys at a time. Today I walked Jonathan and Joseph over to the park for their pictures, then brought them back and immediately put the shirts away so they'll still be nice for the group shot. I'm only going to attempt the group shot when Jeremy is available to help with the necessary herding!

Here are the results of today's session:


Jonathan again, showing off his toothless grin.

Now, Jonathan doesn't go in much for picture posing, so I only got a few of him before he was off climbing rocks. Joey, however, is a huge ham and would pose all day long, especially if he gets to look at his picture on the back of the camera each time.

He's not really smiling, but I thought this was cute!

This is a classic Joey expression. I call this expression the "Mom, I'm about to go do something that you're going to regret" look.

My two little cuties sitting on a park bench...

If I have time tomorrow, I'll take Joshua's and Jordan's pictures, then hopefully get to the group picture soon after that! Enjoy!!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...