Monday, November 30, 2009

This Is My Thanksgiving Post

For Thanksgiving, we did what we always do (since Tornado was about 2, I think) - honorarily adopt a turkey from Farm Sanctuary. This year, our turkey's name is Mello. $25, which gets us this photograph and certificate, plus membership to Farm Sanctuary. Thanksgiving is...not really my favorite holiday. Don't get me wrong; I'm all about celebrating anything when the time comes. But I just hate that it's all about the poor little turkeys (and it makes me think of the Native Americans getting their land taken away and everyone who got killed on both sides back then...). I don't really understand why we have a holiday based primarily on eating an animal that suffered. A very smart animal with a good personality. Am I the Grinch who stole Thanksgiving?

Okay, but it's really about getting together with family and having a day set aside to feel thankful for everything, right? I'll try to play along. I really do like the "feeling thankful" aspect. We should really do that more often. And I won't even post the "videos" because I already did that on facebook, but if you want to see how most commercial turkeys are treated, you can see it here. Other than that, please understand my negativity (like I said, it's just not the best for me personally; some people don't believe in celebrating Halloween, Valentine's Day stinks for single know, it's kind of like that for me), and I really do hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving Day.
I did, in fact, have one pretty, little pilgrim at her preschool Thanksgiving program. She very sweetly smiled on stage and every once in awhile she would sing a few words of the song - just when she would look at me, and I would mouth the words animatedly so she would sing, too. She and I ate lunch together after the program with the other kids and parents.
And one brave Indian boy. He did fabulous at his school's program. Papaw, Sissy, and I got to watch him and eat with him afterward. Googie came at the end and about started crying because she missed it.
We stayed put for Thanksgiving dinner this year, and it was just the five of us.
Tofurky is a joke of sorts that gets tossed around at Thanksgiving time. Well, we are one of those families that eats it and loves it. You know what I love as much, maybe even more than the Tofurky itself? The Cranberry-Apple Potato Dumplings that come with it. So good (but there are only 8 of them in the box). I did a lot of prep work for our meal the night before, and at one point I said to Ryan, "...I accidentally ate one of the dumplings." The box even comes with "Jurky Wishsticks" in case you just can't live without that tradition.
You know what I am most thankful for? No, not pumpkin pie, although I seriously LOVE pumpkin pie (I was in PANIC mode when I realized I only had one organic 365 brand crust in the freezer, and I had to MAKE another pie crust from scratch.). I love it so very much. I don't know why I don't make it all year round. Like every night. I am thankful for God's mercy and love. I am thankful for all of the many blessings He has given me (and really, there are so many...I don't deserve, and most of the time I feel whiny inside about what I don't have). I don't write that very often. I mostly always think it goes without saying how I feel about my relationship with the Lord. I don't speak enough about it, I think, because I don't want to sound trite or phony. I err by not saying it enough.

What is Tornado thankful for this Thanksgiving? "Googie" was his automatic reply. (That's my Mom.) Don't feel bad if he left you out; he didn't say my name either.

Oh! I'm also very thankful for my warming drawer. Such a non-necessity, but it's such a nice thing to have when I'm making big meals. I love it.
I loved, loved having the kids at home all week from school. I loved, loved that I didn't have to get up every morning in our panicked rush. (I can't wait for a snow day!) We got to snuggle in bed and do little projects together. We made crayons one day in preparation of making leaf rubbings. I have made these before, years ago as gifts. Lots easier when you have 3 eager kids helping. They really participated with this, and I guess it's a good fine motor activity, eh? (And uses up all our nubby and broken crayons.) Sissy loved it most of all, I'd say. Look how serious she was about it. I told her I was proud of what a great job she was doing and pointed out that she was making such a neat pile with her wrappers.
And then Dash asked, "Do you like my crazy pile?"
It just looks pretty.

One of our crayons has a big finger print in it because after I took them out of the oven, and they had cooled for a bit, Dash wanted desperately to touch them. I said, "You can touch it VERY lightly, but it's not completely hard yet. Don't push down on it." Well, of course, he pressed his finger down into that crayon as far as it would go. Of course, he did.
On Thanksgiving Day, while I was busy cooking, Ryan took the kids outside to gather leaves, then they worked on their big leaf rubbing sign, using our new heart shaped crayons.
The kids enjoyed making the sign so much, they made another one. This time they watercolored over the crayon rubbings like they did over at Filth Wizardry (fun blog, by the way).
Sissy, posing with their sign
Our noon meal consisting of rolls, mashed potatoes & gravy, green beans almondine, Lemony Roasted Brussel Sprouts with garlic, Cranberry Cornbread Stuffing, Asparagus, Sweet Potatoes with cranberries, apples, and walnuts, and Holiday Rice (Thanks Tofu Mom, for the brussel sprouts and rice recipes!). And of course, the Tofurky roast surrounded in roasted potatoes, turnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, and onions.
I took a picture of Ryan's plate...because I was so impressed at the sheer volume. My plate wasn't that full.
He even went back for seconds.
He's going to LOVE that I documented this. :) Then he had a big piece of pie. Ryan always likes to have dessert or something sweet immediately after a meal. I like to save a little something for later.

The bad thing about consuming all of this food is that we immediately had to clean up and drive 3 hours to see my brother and all of the rest of my family. Ryan said he needed 5 minutes to lie down. I gave him 5 minutes, then it was rush, rush, rush. That's okay, though. Spending time with my family is much better than a nap any day. More about our fun trip tomorrow!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

REI Passport Activity/Hiking Trip

We went hiking today at Woolly Hollow State Park. It was our dogs' first hiking adventure. It was also a good time to pull out an activity that my sister had told me about: REI's Passport to Adventure. You can pick up a journal at your local REI or print off a copy online. (More about this activity at the end of this post.)We took off on the 3 1/2 mile Huckleberry Trail. And how perfect that we had just ordered Trail Mix Caramel Corn from Vegan Essentials.
Caramel popcorn, raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, pretzels, and walnuts. It went fast.
Our pups may have "poo" in their names and wear pink dresses, but they went full force on the trail. Sissy had to have several rides, though.

Dash is back there, throwing rocks into the lake...well, we were too far from the lake at this spot, but he gave it his best shot. Tornado is lounging with some carrots.
The boys climbed the hill to inspect a possible fox hole/animal den.
Taken right after Dash accidentally stepped into the water...he immediately looked horrified when he stepped into the water, and he cried for half a second, then burst into laughter.
What we did find out on this trip is our pups can indeed swim. Dash was SO concerned about them. He's always that way about his dogs and animals, in general. (He gets so mad at me when I let them outside alone at night. As he should be.) He never wants them to get hurt. Even when we're saying, "They're fine! It's fine!" he is still looking back at them, checking on them, etc. He was so worried the dogs would fall into the water...and they did. The mossy rocks were so slippery, they slid right in. They were shocked but immediately swam to safety. They were swamp dogs covered in leaves by the time we got back to the car...Ryan and Dash are giving them a bath upstairs right now.
Dash and the dogs weren't the only ones who fell in the water. When we were climbing down a hill with mossy, wet rocks and running water, Sissy started sliding down on her bottom. I was holding her hand...I went down, too, trying to save her. My poor camera even got a little wet. It was like a comedy act. It all seemed a little slow motion, and it was right after this that the dogs plunged in, too.
The kids were so well-behaved and had a super fun time, as always when there are rocks and wide-open spaces involved. However, we were about 3 hours past time for Sissy's nap, and at the very end of the trail, she started to tank. She was griping at me here to leave her alone. I think she even used the words, "Go away!"
She was getting so mad at me for taking her picture she chose to walk away. But I did get her cute, little, wet rear-end.
When we finished our walk, we sat down at a table to work on our Adventure Journals. There are activities (madlibs, mazes, word searches, etc.) in the journal, along with pages for the kids to document their outdoor excursions. There might be prizes involved after you complete the activities if you can visit the store (looks like you used to be able to fill out form online for prize but maybe not anymore). Regardless, the journal itself is fun and worthwhile.
The page on the left is one of Dash's. It is the "What did you see today?" page. He drew pictures of walking the puppies, the fox hole, a rock, the puppies swimming, and...a zebra. Not sure how he came up with that one. On the left Tornado filled out the date, where we went, what we did, and circled the appropriate weather. On what he saw today, he wrote, "I saw moss. I saw broken trees." He wrote that he heard a car and water. On Sissy's page, I asked her what she did today, and I transcribed, "Going hiking...and going to Hobby Lobby (we did not go to Hobby Lobby today...focus, Sis)...and I fell in the water, and you fell in the water."

Two kids and two dogs were asleep before we got to the main highway...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Big Girl Bed

We finally took the crib rail off Sissy's bed and replaced it with the toddler rail. We could have done this already, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I finally found it in storage, and Sissy was very excited about getting a "big girl bed." She did a really great job the first night. The second night, she had a very sad face and wanted her other bed back. She was fighting back tears in a very sweet, brave way - her little lip was quivering, and it was apparent how attached she was to her other bed, a place she felt safe. She is used to it now, though. I personally wanted her out of the crib so I don't have to get up when she wakes up and calls for me. (Somehow she never realized she could crawl out of it like Dash did, oh so much earlier in life.) She can come into my bed and cuddle until I officially wake up or go downstairs and get her own drink, if that's what she needs. 9 years of being a mother, and I'm still not used to waking up early.

We really can't believe, in general, how much she has grown up lately. (It's like it's practically time for another baby, ya know? Hee hee - sorry, Hon, I have to throw that in there every chance I get.) She says the biggest things, and sometimes her voice is so clear, I'd swear she was 6 or 7 already (but mostly, she still has the tiny little, stuttery voice that I understand most of the time). Ryan is always amazed at how detail oriented, opinionated, verbal, social, and GIRLY she is. And she wants what she wants, and she likes what she likes. Which all seems very normal to me, the other female of the family. He's still learning the ways of women, even after 12 years. She always talks about the kids in her class by name and gives details about her school day. Which, of course, we have to pull out of the boys with 20 questions. This morning, we were dropping off Dash at school, when another boy was getting out of the car next to us. She said, "That's Ben. That's Dash's friend." (She said it with their real names, of course.) It was totally random; I really don't know how she knew that was his name as she's only seen him in passing. It's not like he's ever been to our house or anything.

I always write down the funny and cute things my kids say. Or the things they say I want to remember "just because." The other day we were walking along, and I asked her if she "needed me to hold her?" She said, " was thinking about it)...I need you...but I'll walk."

P.S. Thank you for all of the nice comments after my last post. I feel much better now. :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Favorite Smoothie and Playing in the Leaves

We drink a lot of smoothies around here. The kids like some of them more than others. The favorite lately is banana (we use several for one batch), So Delicious Coconut Milk beverage, coconut oil (read about health benefits), and frozen pineapple. They drink it faster than any smoothie. If there are leftovers, I make popsicles, which are eaten up quickly, too.
When we were looking to build a house, we went into it thinking, "How can we make life easier for ourselves?" One of our biggest requirements was NO YARD. This is against what most people want, but we did not want to spend our weekends mowing or with the added pressure of watering and keeping out weeds. Plus, fire ants are horrible in Arkansas, and they seem to be worse in grass. At least, we don't seem to have a fire ant problem at our new house like we did at our old house. Our 1.25 acres is wooded, and although Ryan does weed-eat a little bit during the summer (including weed whacking 4 wheeler trails through the woods for the boys), it's pretty low maintenance. So...when the leaves fall, we don't even have to worry about raking. In fact, we LOVE the extra ground cover. There are still some areas that are a little too exposed to mud from the building process. I think I might ask my neighbor for all of his pine needles next time I see him raking them up.
Ryan surprised the kids by raking up a huge pile of leaves for them to play in the other day. They were THRILLED. The pile is still sort of there, and I think they keep adding to it because every day they play in it at some point.
Miss Prissiness loved the idea of the leaf pile. She kept running full speed toward the pile, yell, "Cannonball!" just like the boys do, then would very gently lower herself into the edge of the pile. She just couldn't bring herself to fully embrace it.

Lots of frugal fun...and could someone PLEASE leave me a comment...I'm going on 7 posts in a row here with no comments. I know you're reading and coming back because of my fun, little Traffic Feed below, but I don't get out much or have a lot going on in life. Must. Have. Comments.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Out on the Ranch

As a part of their farm and horse unit studies at preschool, Dash recently went on a field trip to a local working ranch. They wore their bandanas they had decorated with stamps and paint at school. I was able to go with him, and we had a lot of fun. He loved it, of course. I loved watching him in action, playing with the other kids. The boys were chasing each other, wrestling, and laughing. Totally great stuff.

We all loaded onto the back of a hay bale-filled trailer for a ride; they got to watch a real "cowboy" riding off to the side, which was great to set the mood. If only cowboys ate vegetarian baked beans around the campfire and only raised cattle lovingly as pets, I'd totally want to be a cowgirl.
When we were driving to the ranch, which was way out there, I thought it was interesting that Dash was so shocked by the rough gravel road we had to take. I realized it had been quite awhile since I've regularly taken dirt or gravel roads myself. We're such city kids now; what's happened to us? Dash said, "Wow! This is bumpy! I don't want to hear this."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Operation Christmas Child Reminder

We've been putting our Operation Christmas Child boxes together. National Collection Week is November 16-23. The kids each have their own that they get to help fill. So far, we have included stickers, colored pencils, little pencil sharpeners, flashlights with extra batteries, activity pads, books, toothbrushes and toothpaste, notebooks, balls, yo-yos and cars for the boys, flashcards, and sunglasses and jewelry for the girl. (How to Pack a Shoebox.) We do this every year, and this year, they particularly have gotten into the idea and have talked about their "child" a lot. We're going to include letters to the children, also. A child-friendly version of the Gospel in the specific country’s language is added to each box when sent. They also ask that you add $7 processing fees for each box. I think this is the first year you can print labels with bar codes to track what countries your boxes reach. That will be fun, if I can just get my printer to work...To find out more about Operation Christmas Child and a drop-off location for your area, go to Samaritan's Purse.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Weekend Trip to the Farm

This weekend we drove up north to Ryan's parents' house for a definitely-overdue visit. We, ashamedly, hadn't been up there since last Thanksgiving. The kids enjoyed being out in the open air, with lots of new things to do. windy!

rolling-races down the hill behind Grandpa and Grandma Nona's house

and running races, too!

Aunt Kristi and Dash, flying a little kite

Tornado and Sissy, sweeping...the next day, there was a knock-down, drag-out fight over the brooms...who knew it was that fun to sweep?

Dash played "fetch" with "Cousin" Cooper and Aunt Jyldyz
Looks like trouble...lots of fun on the boys with Uncle Jeff

The boys took their eagerly-awaited turn riding on the combine with Grandpa, and then Sissy and Daddy got a ride.

Cousin "K" and Sissy, playing in the back of the truck
my brave little fella, playing up in the tree...he was pretending he was a lion or a koala bear

Aw, the little lion fell asleep...