Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sleep, Glorious Sleep

I rolled over in bed this morning to discover it was 8:33. (Well, the clock is around ten minutes fast. I never understand that - setting your clock fast to trick yourself to get up. I always know it's fast, and I compensate accordingly. Maybe Ryan forgets, and it helps him. I don't know.) Anyway, as I continued to stay in bed for another good 15 minutes, I knew it was going to be a good day. I went downstairs and ate an entire grapefruit before I heard all three of the kids waking up. Ryan called soon after, and in a very chipper voice, I answered the phone (I knew it was him), "Good morning! It's a great day at the (our last name) house!" He was probably a little concerned, but really - a good night's sleep makes me very giddy. We accomplished a lot, and the kids didn't even watch t.v. all day. (edit: Tornado did watch an episode of "Word World" later when I was making supper.) This story is only significant if I point out one particular day last week. I was so tired because the kids woke up early (made worse because Dash has been in a bad habit lately of waking up in the middle of the night once or twice to tell us something...he's thirsty/has a mosquito bite/wants to go to the park tomorrow/whatever - it's like having to wake up to a nursing baby). I staggered down the stairs, flipped on PBS Kids, sleepily poured granola, raisins, and veggie booty on a plate and set it on the floor (like I was feeding the dog or something), then went back to bed. (I didn't fall asleep; I just had to have time to actually process...waking up.)After breakfast, the kids used stickers, stamps, and crayons to decorate a birthday present I wrapped for cousin Winnie. Winnie, we know you are excited!
Next, we had a dance party. Here they are participating in "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear" (turn around, touch the ground, etc.).

Lots of fun today with homemade play dough...I had it in my head to take it outside this time, but I somehow forgot that, and they made the usual mess. I'm not really sure how it spread from this small area to almost both rooms. Well - one of the only good things about having a concrete can't do anything to hurt it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Today at the Academy

A few years ago I put together these art drawers made from a tool/tackle box I got at Wal-Mart. Tornado has always loved digging into it and creating pictures. It is full of leftover scrapbook die-cuts, craft sticks, buttons, dried beans and noodles, pipe cleaners, pom pons, toothpicks, glitter, beads, sand, craft hair and eyes, raffia, shells, string, foil, and any little pieces of whatever that I find around the house that could be recycled into a craft project. At our old house - when Tornado was the only one big enough to get into it, it was sitting out on the desk so he could delve into it anytime he wanted. He's just always been trustworthy like that. Now it's in the closet and is only brought out under Mom's supervision or when the other two kids are at preschool, like today. Dash would have eaten, glued to the walls, thrown, etc. all of the contents by now, otherwise.
Dash drew this picture of a "bat chasing a horse. The horse is trying to get away from the bat."

Afternoon snacktime...yogurt parfaits...layered with back to Nature Sunflower & Pumpkin Seed Granola, chopped bananas, three different flavors of yogurt - blueberry, keylime, and banana strawberry, and flax meal sprinkled on top. I have been trying to phase in coconut milk yogurt (SoDelicious brand) more into their world, but they don't like it as well as soy yogurt. When I can mix it with other things - in smoothies, baking, or parfaits, etc. they don't really notice the difference.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Banana Splits

Banana splits made with SoDelicious vanilla, bananas, Santa Cruz organic caramel syrup (sadly, has been discontinued since we purchased it), Ah!laska chocolate syrup, crushed pineapple, walnuts, and frozen strawberries and mangoes.

I Am What I Am...but by the Grace of God

Wow, Paul (in Romans 7) was just as confused as I am.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do...I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature...For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out....For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing...Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it...What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

But I'm counting on 2 Corinthians 12:9.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

...and His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain. (1 Corin. 15:10)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Friday Night Mystery #2

This week the kids were ready for another Friday Night Mystery. They handled it great from the start this time and immediately began asking for clues. We got it narrowed down to 1) It doesn't involve water - not really. 2) We aren't staying at a hotel. 3) We aren't going to Woolly Hollow again. 4) We're not going somewhere to play, but it will be fun. 5) We're going to Little Rock. In the car, on the way, I asked them who was excited about our surprise. Sissy immediately began making these surprised and excited faces. I couldn't really capture how hilarious it was; there were faces I'd never seen her make.

She even had Dash, the King of Funny Faces, laughing.
As soon as we pulled into the parking lot at Alltel Arena, Tornado made the correct guess about where we were going because he'd seen and expressed interest in the Disney On Ice: Mickey & Minnie's Magical Journey advertisements. And he and I had gone to see The Incredibles on Ice when I was pregnant with Sissy, and he remembered the location. We were about ten minutes late because there was a wreck on I30, backing up traffic. However, I think it was good that it had already started because it was so MAGNIFICENT to open the curtain and walk down the steps toward all the lights, music, and splendor. They were definitely captivated.

Tornado, munching on our contraband snacks - we polished off a big bag of grapes, big bag of baby carrots, two packs of Tofurky jerky, freeze dried pears, a bag of yogurt covered almonds, and a bag of chocolate covered cocoa nibs (That one was almost entirely me.). There was only a moment of freak out over not being able to purchase the $10-15 cotton candy and brightly colored sno-cones. I know; I'm a mean mommy. They soon moved on.
Tornado and Dash always have the same reactions to television, movies, etc. Tornado is roaring with laughter, twisting in his seat, unable to control his amusement and excitement - just as he was last night. When Dash is enjoying himself or interested, he gets very still and quiet, sometimes leaning slightly forward in expectation. Perhaps a slight smile - but mostly just wide-eyed, and he does the thing I love with his little hands held together. He loved the whole thing.

After the performance, most people leave, but those who stay get to watch a "Behind the Scenes" look at the making of Disney on Ice. A sweet girl that Tornado went to preschool with, remembering him from four year ago, spotted us from far away and came to talk to him. She went to sit in the empty seats on the front row, a few rows ahead of us, then patted her seat and motioned for Tornado to come sit with her. I just found the whole thing very sweet, like he was going on his first date or something, I don't know why.

Very fun night! 2/3 of the kiddos fell asleep on the way home. Ryan and I hit the couch for another two episodes of Friday Night Lights. It is our new favorite show. We are just on season one right now. If you don't watch it, I highly recommend it. Definitely a good one for husband and wife to agree upon. We love the characters, and it's the most realistic show we've ever seen.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Aloha Friday

I figured it was time I participate in Island Life's Aloha Friday. Her question was "What makes you happiest?" My answer (although I could come up with 50 answers, I'll spare you with just one) is slowly waking up on a weekend morning, cuddling with my husband, and then my children slowly making their ways in to join us (but only after I'm good and awake.) I remember doing this as a child, and I think it's one of those things I always equated with having a family of my own. My other answer is the times my family gets together with my parents and siblings and their families. There's nothing like being with the people who know you the best, the people you love the most in the world.

Now my question to you is this: What is the greatest thing your spouse could do for you? (And you know, you could always mistakenly leave your answer on the computer screen for him to "find.")

I guess my best answer would be - pray for me. Beyond that, I think the greatest thing he does for me is take the kids out of the house for a few hours. It is unbelieveable how much I accomplish and how clear-headed I feel when they return. House is clean, lessons are prepared, and I'm ready to get back to it. I guess that would be a close tie with a foot or head rub. Or you know, back, arm, whatever.

If you feel like answering, all you have to do is leave your response in the comment box. And if you want to get in on more questions, link up at Island Life.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Sometimes I have friends who tell me how guilty it makes them feel to read my blog because of the activities we do, how healthy we eat, the amount of exercise I accomplish...which is meant as a compliment (I think) and is a nice thing to hear because I do want fun, exercise, and healthy living to be parts of my life. However, I would definitely never want to make my fellow woman - the sisterhood - feel worse about herself or the job she is doing. I often look at other people's lives and think I am failing miserably. I am the quintessential "work in progress." I get motivated and inspired by ideas from other people, and I can also laugh along with empathy when I read "mom" stories I can relate to so well. I would hope that both of those things can be felt here.
I never really wanted to be anything other than a mom and wife (friend/sister/daughter, etc.) who was trying her best to follow the path God had laid out for her. So I try to do it well...however, the results aren't always pristine or perfect. I'm definitely not the best disciplinarian - it's something that does not come natural to me. I let things "go" too often because I'm passive and easygoing. And I already told you I'm not a morning person. Sometimes we even...gasp...use paper plates.
We have definitely have our share of whining, tears, and meltdowns - like this. and this.

And...sometimes I get so disorganized, I find something like this in the back of my fridge. :0

This is exactly what our laundry room...I mean, my daughter's room looks like right now...and yet, here I sit.

Tornado and I ARE going to get the homeschool room clean TODAY...I just know it...

Thanks for reading my blog. If you've never commented before, consider doing it sometime. We bloggers love comments. Many of you give me your comments over the phone, on email, etc. - consider leaving one here sometime as this is currently my main form of "scrapbooking," and it might be fun for the kids and I to look back upon the comments one day. And it would make me feel popular, too. :) All the time, I find out about someone new who reads my blog, and it's really fun to know. So come on out of the closet. My settings even allow "anonymous" commenters (but sign your name) in case you don't have a google/blogger account; I don't even mind a little constructive criticism now and then, but if you're very mean, it will ruin my day. :)
Now off to spend some time with my little guy. He wants to draw category 9, 10, and 11 hurricane pictures. He does not want to draw category 12 pictures because those involve "violent destruction," according to his book.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Tornado

Ryan and I often say we wish we had our kids' lives. What lucky, little, stress-less people. I sometimes agonize, though, over whether I'm doing the best thing for Tornado, keeping him at home. Would he learn more/make more friends/have more fun if he went to school? There are questions I continue to pray about, but I have to admit, the little guy's got a pretty decent life. This morning after we got back from taking the little ones to preschool, he got into my clawfoot bathtub filled with bubbles - celebrating our return of hot week without it :0 He always wants to take a bath in there and try out my magazine caddy with the wine glass holder. He read Highlights and Ladybug and drank rice milk out of a goblet. :) After he got out, I gave him a full body massage with lotion. (I know you're a little jealous now, Aunt Cary.) Tornado used to get daily massages for years before the other kids came around and took over. We read our devotion together while he ate his breafast of oatmeal with walnuts, apples, and flaxseed. Our devotion was about using the special gifts God has given each of us to be the special people he intended us to be. When I asked him what he thought he did well in a way to help others, he answered that he always helps Dash when he needs a lift at Jumpzone or Playworld. I agreed that he always does that very well.

Next, he was eager to delve back into his The Ultimate Book of Kid Concoctions. He chose to make - what else - a tornado in a bottle. He read the directions, measured, and put in the ingredients of water, glitter, and dishwashing liquid. His brother and sister enjoyed playing with it when they got home.

Next, he chose to make cotton clay. It was strange stuff. I think it ended up too mushy, and I would have deemed it a failure. However, the three of them played with it for a good 30 minutes while I made supper tonight.

He watched Sid the Science Kid while I ate my lunch. I love the catchy jingles on that show. I can't help but "rap" along. "I love my mom. My mom is cool. Now it's time...for having fun in school!" "I'm lookin' for a friend. I'm lookin' for you! There's Gabriella. Watch what I can do. La-la-woo!" After he watched the episode that involved scientific tools like making charts, he wanted to make a chart, and so he made a chore chart on He picked his chores to be sweeping the front steps, dusting, cleaning his 4-wheeler, taking out the recycling, and cleaning the kitchen. And then he immediately set to work doing his "chores" and checking off the list.

He ate his lunch (avocado on rice crackers, earth balls, baked tofu, carrots, and apples) up on his bunk bed while he watched a little bit of Tom and Jerry. It's good for him to have a little bit of quiet atmosphere when his brother and sister are at school. Next, he wanted to make another recipe out of his Quick and Easy Cookbook, and he chose the carrot-raisin salad.
I made him read the recipe, gather the ingredients, measure - everything. It turned out great!

After we picked up the kids from preschool, they spent time playing outside - riding their 4-wheelers, playing in the sand, hitting sticks on the ground - you know, whatever it is they do. They played with their clay, ate supper (rice pasta with lima beans and edamame plus garlic-cooked spinach), dessert (vegan "jello"), and he just did his thing around the house - reading, drawing, playing outside some more. Daddy was going to take them to the park after supper, but he has a sinus infection(ish). Those seasonal allergies can really get Ryan down. He played with them outside, though.

It was carrot salad for their nighttime snack because we forgot to put it out a supper...and then a plethora of other snacks - he snacks like crazy at night. Mommy read library books on the couch (we especially enjoyed Hog-Eye), and after our little bedtime regime, tucked them all into bed. It's just another day in the life of Tornado.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I love my new food processor. (And my new toaster and my new food dehydrator...I commented to Ryan that I sure was a lucky woman that my husband got me all these new appliances. He made some kind of crack like, "Don't take it as a hint or anything." haha) The first recipe I tried (which I got from Green and Crunchy) was Earth Balls. They were so easy and tasty, too. The boys were rolling their own balls, and you can see there is only one sitting out because they were eating them as fast as they could make them. I am sure these are going to be a staple in our house.
We made four different kinds. All of them started with 2 cups of nuts (we used cashews, walnuts, and almonds). Once we ground them to a fine meal, we added 1 1/2 cups of pitted dates (one at a time as the food processor was running). The first batch we also added raw cacao nibs and hemp seeds. The next batch we also added goji berries to the nibs and seeds. The next batch was just nuts, dates, and ground flax seeds. Finally, we tried adding carrots. I didn't anticipate how moist that would make them, and I had to go back and add more seeds and nuts (which I wouldn't recommend adding un-ground because they wouldn't ground up very well at the end.) They were yummy, though, and tasted like carrot cake. Tornado has been asking recently if he could be in charge of a meal. They love playing restaurant, but I am usually the "waiter." He wanted a turn at being the waiter, and I thought this would be the perfect day to do it - plus it's a great "school" activity. We had also been practicing with the new food dehydrator, and I thought it would be an easy meal for him to serve. He created this menu, which we photocopied. He wrote "(Tornado's) Helthy Restaurant" on the cover and decorated it with Fast Food (you know, the objects they create using fruits and veggies) stickers.
These were the ten menu items. We had dehydrated the first eight (plus peas and lima beans). I had made a batch of green smoothies and popsicles and mentioned to Tornado we needed to think of a name for them. He immediately replied, "Hulk Slime." So...Hulk Slime it is.
Dash was his assistant, and they were very darling about seating Ryan, Sissy, and me at the table and taking our orders. Tornado wrote down on his little notepad the numbers of what we ordered, then went to the counter and very carefully made our plates.
Dash served us our Hulk Slime (spinach, cherries, mangoes, ground flaxseed, raw cacao powder, green superfood powder, orange juice, almond milk). Later, he came to the table and sweetly asked, "Is everything alright?"
He was very adamant about carrying our plates on a tray, just like a real waiter.
Finally, the hard little workers got to sit down and enjoy the meal for themselves.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friday Night Mystery

I called Ryan about 4:00 p.m. to see if he wanted Friday Fondue or something else for supper. He suggested we take the kids to Woolly Hollow State Park for a cook-out. I told the kids we were going to do something fun, but it was a secret. At first they hated the fact it was a secret, and they whined to know. This is typical, which always takes the fun away from me, the lover of all things "secret" and "surprise." However, after a minute, they soon got into the "mystery." I gave them a few clues (involves food, might want to wear your bathing suit in case you get wet, etc.), and answered a few questions (no, not going to a hotel, etc.) It was so sweet hearing Tornado and Dash try to figure it out between themselves. "Do you think we're going to swim in the pool?" "No, she said we weren't going to a 'tel (hotel)." When we got to the park, they said it was a good surprise and Dash, in a very grown-up way, added, "I thought we were going to the movies." Ryan and I decided that Fridays should be our new mystery night - plan something fun/different each week, even if it's something as small as renting a movie and making popcorn, and let the kids look forward to the "surprise" aspect of it.
This photo wasn't set up. I looked over at them, and they were all holding their noses when Ryan started the fire. Sissy must have seen her brothers doing it.
cooking our tofu "dogs" and baked beans

Mmm...S'mores...using Sweet & Sarah gelatin-free marshmallows and Newman's Own dark chocolate bar

After we ate, we walked down to the water's edge and played around bare-footed for awhile. Of course, they threw rocks. We also played in the playground area until it was too dark to see anymore. There was another boy who suggested they play "Pirates of the Caribbean," and oh, how they took off with that. It's always kind of nice to have another kid around for them to play with - lessens our parental obligation to run around and entertain them/allowed us to sit and delight in watching the little sweeties' imaginations at work. We were laughing so hard at how fast Sissy would go down the twirly slide all by herself, run (her little waddle run) as fast as she could back to the ladder and back up/down again. I've mentioned before how much she loves slides. We never knew how she was going to come down - on her stomach, back, and even backwards on her back. (You wouldn't believe how fast I jumped up to make sure she wouldn't land on her head, when I saw that one coming.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

SPINACH Popsicles?!

Just when you thought we couldn't get any crazier...we go and make spinach popsicles. I found this blog Green and Crunchy the other day, and it has inspired me to try new things. We do eat really healthy, I think, but there's always room for improvement. I've always been interested in making/eating more raw foods. (I've been SO impressed when I eat at raw food restaurants.) We do eat a lot of raw food (salads, fruit, raw veggies, nuts, etc.) by default, being vegetarians. Ryan and the kids are actually a lot better about this than I am because those are the things they snack on, especially late, when I'm not hungry. We jokingly argue about who the "better (healthier) vegetarian" is (he insists he is), which is funny because I can recall a certain debate he and I had in college about whether or not we were going to take our kids to McDonald's. Hee, he has grown. :)

I do love to cook, but it's really hard, as any mother knows, to find balance. I think "making meals from scratch" has really been one of the things that has slipped around here. We've started relying on "Amy" too much. Anyway, I needed a little push in the right direction, which is what Sheri, the homeschooling mother of five at Green and Crunchy , has done for me. I have been stocking my pantry and fridge with all the ingredients I see in raw foods recipes. I have purchased more storage containers's more fun to cook or to eat raw if everything is pretty and organized. :)

My first foray was spinach popsicles and spinach smoothies. I'm not going to lie...when I first thought about it, it made me make a face. (Much like my dear mother who exclaimed something like, "Yuck!" when her excited grandchildren told her about their green popsicles...she quickly realized what she'd said and recanted with, "Oh, that sounds good!") The first day I poured myself a spinach smoothie, I used a tiny glass. However, the next day I used my tallest glass. It's good! It really is. I use almost a whole bag of frozen spinach with each batch. (I will try fresh kale next time; we just have a lot of spinach in our freezer from the 10 for $10 sale at Kroger.)
She was smiling and saying, "Mmmm. Yummy!" I knew that Tornado would willingly try them because that kid will try and eat anything (unless it's really spicy). I figured Sissy would give it a shot. I did not know what to expect with Dash, but he loves them, too. They ask for them all the time now. However, we call them "green" popsicles. One day, Dash wanted to make them with me, and I pulled the spinach out, and he said, "But I don't want spinach in mine." Oops. I put it back in the freezer and said we'd make them later (and I did when he wasn't watching). I think he knows there's spinach in them; he just doesn't want to face it - ya know? :) I've made them a little different each time...I think in these I used spinach, frozen cherries, flaxseed meal, hemp seeds, frozen acai berry puree, Green Superfood powder with cacao, and water and a bit of orange juice to get it to blend.
We've also experimented with chia seed "milk"shakes and raw "chocolate" pudding. (I'll post pictures and recipes soon.) One thing I've learned is my kids will eat anything if it has been frozen, and they can eat it with a spoon like ice cream. I just got back from the store, and I can't wait to try out my new food processor and food dehydrator. Let me tell ya, it's going to be an EXCITING night at our house. ;)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Kid Concoctions

Dash got a new book from Patsy and Chuck called The Ultimate Book of Kid Concoctions. Tornado and I sat on the couch last night and looked at all the fun ideas. Then we decided to try out the sidewalk paint. It involves mixing water, cornstarch, and food coloring. Tornado is all about mixing anything together. He loves to stand at the kitchen sink and mix together leftover drinks with leftover food, add in some spices, stir, etc. This book is right up his alley. Where was Dash during all the fun? Sadly, he was upstairs in his room...he would not take his nap and continued to crawl over the gate and come downstairs everytime I returned him to his room. He missed out on television, his 4-wheeler, and making paint. If he doesn't take a nap, he tries to fall asleep about 6:00, and then he's up all night. Lately, if he takes a late nap, we can hear him tiptoeing around the hall in the middle of the night or feel him coming in and staring at us in our doorway...I say all of that to say - he has to take a nap when I tell him to, and if he doesn't, there are consequences.
We were pleased with the outcome of the paint. We added more cornstarch than the recipe called for, which thickened it up a bit. The consistency is watercolor-ish in that you have to keep putting your brush back into the paint to keep up the color. But it was fun, and they enjoyed painting the sidewalk...and the car apparently, as we noticed when we got in it later that night. The authors of the book, John and Danita Thomas, have a website:, and there are online games and a new concoction idea to try each month.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Day

For Easter Sunday breakfast, I made this Easter Bunny (I know it kind of looks like a lion, though.) made from bananas, apples, kiwi, grapes, sliced almonds, sprinkled flax meal, and Clif Kids fruit twists. We all sat together in two chairs pushed close (two kids on my lap, one on Ryan's) and gobbled it up.
This is one I made another year; they always vary slightly. It looks a little more like a bunny, perhaps? I think the idea originally came from A Taste of Home.
sleepy eyes finding their baskets by the door

They were squealing with delight (one of these days I'll figure out video on here) with every single item they pulled out of their baskets. You would not believe how excited they were about the "oranges." "We've got oranges!!!" (Cuties brand clementines...incidentally, I just read this: "Generally, seedless clementines are made by spraying the flowers with a chemical that mimics a growth hormone." Why do I read these things after my children altogether consumed over 25 of them the past two days? I know, I know - there is something wrong with a hundred things we eat. I'm just sayin'. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. They lined them up and counted them, carried them around, hid them like eggs, and loved peeling them by themselves.
They also all received Play-Doh filled eggs, sketchbooks, crayons or colored pencils or paintmarkers, Clif fruit twists, raisins, and other healthier type candy snacks. The boys each got a California Baby bubble bath, and Sissy got this little pink travel potty. She immediately wanted to sit on it. Later that day, she pooped in it twice and ran to show me each time, excitedly. Oh, how we screamed and jumped up and down. However, as usual, potty training is exhausting. Lately, which is why we bought the potty, she has been stripping off her diaper every time she pees, even at inopportune times. It's funny; she has been only wanting to sit on the potty when it's sitting in this totally random spot next to the rug in the living room because that's where she went in it for the first time. Like she marked her territory or something.
We went to church, then the boys went out to eat lunch with Googie. Ryan and I actually watched a movie (Slumdog Millionaire...really good) IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY. Not Easter-y, of course, but it was raining...and we were tired. I always try to pack so many activities into one day so I decided the rest of our activities could be spread out over the week.
Dash is standing by his bunny he made at school last year. My parents came over for supper. We ate salad, guacamole and chips, and Cheesy Bean Enchiladas. The recipe is here; it's yummy and soy-free for all you tofu-phobics.