After four kids, ten moves and nearly two decades, we are still blissfully in love (most of the time) and I found myself back in the state I was born and raised in. It has definitely been a journey. In fact, on our 18th anniversary we pulled the last of our stuff up over the pass and into Montana, leaving our surprise love, Idaho, behind. But Montana is a great place. The last best place according to some. And we fully intend to explore as much of it as we can! Join us on our continued adventure through life, love and other stuff that comes with it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

For the first time in at least 14 years, we stayed home on Thanksgiving.  I will admit that I was a little worried, but last night I decided we were just going to have a grand time.  I will preface this with the statement that this post is aimed directly at the grandparents we missed today.  We love you!  We missed you! But we sure had a great day!

So this morning we all got up, got dressed, ate breakfast, and put on our aprons.  Except Carsten.  He doesn't have an apron. Daddy technically doesn't either.  But he was game. 

Here's the clan--all on the table and ready to get cookin'.

I admit that I didn't do much preparation for today--except yesterday I made rolls.  But really, I had everything we needed and since I cook for just us every day, I figured it wouldn't be too difficult.  AND, as a bonus, daddy was home.

Here's the clan making sure the turkey feels okay.  It didn't go in until about ten.

Next item of business--pumpkin pie.  Grace is on the filling.  She's a great little cook, actually.  Reading recipes and everything.

C and V are on the crust.  They did a great job.  Even if they are little snitchers.

Mommy helped (and offers proof that she was there).

But mommy forgot to put the CREAM in the filling until AFTER it was all poured in the crust.

Violet was very upset about it.

Actually, she was upset about just about everything.  But that's par for the course these days.  It's called "two."  But don't worry, the cream got in the pie.  I stirred it in and it was still just as yummy as ever.

Calla is planning Christmas break.  Honestly, that looks pretty fun.

Now with the turkey cooking, the pie done and a few hours to kill, we headed to the basement and got to work.  I decided that everyone needed a new place mat and napkin.  Daddy decided everyone needed a napkin holder.  So out came the fabric and the toilet paper rolls. 

Behold, six turkey napkin holders.  Daddy is brilliant.

All V wanted to do was glue. They teased her with it until the very end and used it to glue the beaks on. Everything else they stapled--you don't have to wait for staples to dry.  But she was really quite patient.

Here's the littlest helper hanging out with daddy, peeling potatoes, making cranberry sauce and such while mom is still furiously sewing in the basement.  I love babywearing!

The turkey on the table. 

He is a little turkey. 

But really, check out all those nifty place mats and matching napkins.  Everyone picked their own fabric.  I did the rest.

The feast, minus the stuffing since we forgot it was still in the oven.

The anxious crowd--and the stuffing--which was amazing.  

Bacon grease from breakfast made it super yummy. I don't even like stuffing normally. (Confession: Daddy did quite a lot of the cooking since mommy was sewing furiously in the basement. Mommy did make the gravy, though. And mixed the stuffing.)

This is what Violet thought of dinner.  Those are potatoes on her face and cranberry sauce on her dress. 

Now, I don't have the pictures because they are being dumb, but Thanksgiving just isn't complete without whipped cream.  Calla and Violet shared what was left in the bowl after they finished off their pie and initial generous helping of whipped cream.  Everyone is happy.

What a great day.  I'm thankful for days like this.  And everything that goes into making it what it is on every level. 

Brent's comment:  "Normal families sit around and watch football."

I guess we're not normal.  I'm good with that.  I'm also thankful I'm not getting up at some awful hour and going shopping in the morning. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lots of snow. Lots of wind. (And lots of sewing!)

Really, snow and wind are amazing.  The last few days have been really quite nice.  The snow and wind closed all the roads to anywhere and we were all stuck at home.  No, it wasn't nice outside, but inside it was.

Daddy was stuck at home. (Insert sarcastic "Darn" here) They cancelled school all week--a whole two days since we only went Monday and Tuesday this week.  And we just hunkered down and watched it blow.  It was pretty nice.  Inside at least.

This is what my front window looked like.

On Monday evening it calmed down some and the sun peeked through at sunset.  It's so beautiful when it does that.

And it did the same thing yesterday evening, too.

One thing about being hunkered down with a husband home is one can get a lot of  sewing done!  I have a table at the local bazaar next weekend and I have NINE Sammy Bags done! 

What's that one on the end you say?? 

This one? 

Yeah.  That one. 

Isn't it great!?!  I didn't have a ton of that fabric, so I accepted the challenge and it is even more stunning in person.    A little applique makes it pretty fun.  Caren!  Thank you!

I'm working on number ten.  Hoping to get at least another ten done before next weekend.

I'm glad we didn't run out of coffee.  Another day and we may have been out of luck in that department. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Encouraging news from the CPSC regarding baby carriers

Last month I took a whole day of my life and wrote this blog post on the CPSC and a pending recall on baby carriers.  Since then there has been no recall.  That's good news.

Today I got an email from the BCIA--Baby Carrier Industry Alliance.  It read in part:

We want to be certain you're aware of today's sling safety announcement  issued by the CPSC. We have issued our own concurrent statement. While we were unable to negotiate a partnership with the CPSC for this statement, CPSC did reach out to BCIA regarding this statement and would like to improve communication and dialogue between our organization and the agency.

We agree with the CPSC that sling safety is of utmost importance. It is clear from today's statement that the CPSC would benefit from partnering with our industry toidentify and promote 'best practices' in babywearing.

We are happy that the CPSC is looking at education as a viable alternative to mass recall of our industry's products. This is a direct response to the pressure that you have helped us put on the CPSC in the last few months, and a powerful example of how working together has made our industry voice stronger. We need to continue our efforts to ensure that the CPSC and the new Congress understand the importance of the babywearing industry in the US.
This sounds to me like a step in the right direction.  The CPSC does seem to be emphasizing education over mass recalls.  BCIA is also working with Health Canada to develop a babywearing safety education program and hopes to do the same with the CPSC.

If you can, please consider letting the CPSC know that you support safe babywearing, and would like to see them partner with the BCIA on a national education campaign, such as the one currently being planned in cooperation with Health Canada. (CPSC’s Hotline at (800) 638-2772; or visit

I'm totally on board with that.  GO BCIA!!  And frankly, I'd love to cheer for the CPSC for being smart about this.  Babies are safest close to their mothers.  Babywearing is amazing and benefits everyone involved.

If you haven't already, please consider joining BCIA, or at the very least donating a few dollars

You know, Christmas is coming!  And what better gift to request from folks who don't know what to get for you, or for you to get for that impossible-to-buy-for person!  One more step towards world peace--happy babies and mothers and all your Christmas problems were just solved!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Milk n' Honey sourdough!

Here they are!  And I shall tell you their story. 

But I shall preface their story (and recipe) with a warning.  Grace missed the bus yesterday, the day these were to be made.  The day they were made.  But as many of you know, missing the bus in the morning has the potential to throw the entire day off.  Going from having one hour to get three kids ready, in the car and to town to having fifteen minutes is a bit jarring.  But we did it.  And nobody yelled, though Grace did get kicked in they eye by her little sister.  And nobody was late.  PHEW!

A couple months ago Grace went to a friend's house and came home with a loaf of bread.  It was yummy, so I called and asked for the recipe.  (Thanks, Monica!)  It wasn't a sourdough recipe, but it was a place to start. 

Milk n' Honey Bread

1 T yeast
2 1/2 cups warm milk
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup butter
2 tsp salt
8-8 1/2 cups flour

It makes two loaves.  And I'm assuming you dissolve the yeast in the milk and then mix and knead like you normally do. 

I knew there was a way to convert yeast recipes to sourdough, so I searched and found this method.  I used the first method--Jack.  Of the two others, one is the "simplistic computer generated method" and the other one involved math.  I'm not a math person and not a computer geek.  Honestly I am one who tends to use recipes as a general guide rather than actually follow them.  So far nobody has died, so I decided anything computer generated or involving math was not worth my time and went with Jack.  Mostly.

I put the 2 1/2 cups milk (cold because I didn't want to warm it up) in my bowl, added about 5 cups of flour (I used wheat) to get a batter and stirred in my starter--about a cup.  (I did leave a bit of starter out because I didn't know how it would turn out and didn't want to use it all and then be a complete failure and have ruined starter or non at all.) 

Then I covered it and let it sit on the counter overnight.

We got up the next morning, missed the bus and lost our minds.  So, I was feeling rushed.  But I melted the 1/3 cup of honey with the 1/4 cup butter.  Then I stirred about 1/2 cup of flour into the honey butter mixture to cool it off as to not kill my sponge I had lovingly let sit on my counter overnight.  I added that with the salt to my sponge and stirred.  And finally I added the flour a bit at a time and kneaded it.  But because I had lost my mind when we missed the bus, I didn't add enough flour.  So it was really sticky after it was done kneading.

But I decided I didn't have time to remedy that and I set it to its first raise. 

And then I went to get Calla at preschool. 

When it was doubled in size I punched it down and put it in the greased pans and set it on its second raise.

When it was looking like it had double in size, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and stuck them in for 30 minutes.  Don't forget to butter the tops when they are done! 

They turned out beautiful. And melt in your mouth yummy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

They really should pay me for this idea

So last year sometime I had this idea.  It's my idea for a Food Network show starring regular moms cooking regular foods.  Kind of like a game show.  To quote myself:
For example, the assigned meal was a regular dish like tuna noodle casserole. But when the clock starts they discover they only have 1 can of tuna, or no tuna at all. And then the Pastor is coming for dinner and he can't have gluten.

Or the assigned meal is hamburgers. The clock starts and the burger is still frozen solid. And there are only 1/2 the number of buns as there are people to feed.

The judges wouldn't be culinary experts who judge on all the merits of a meal like presentation and . . . I don't even know what they judge on, really. I missed that part of the show when I was helping with dinner I think. The judges should be regular moms, maybe even picked from a studio audience, who judge only on whether their family would eat the meal or not.

And the winner gets her pantry stocked for 6 months. Or a trip to Hawaii. Or something that a practical mom who can cook killer hamburgers in 45 minutes or less even if she's given frozen burger and 1/2 as many buns as she needs.
So I've been thinking about this more and I think the winner should get her dream kitchen.  And the runner up should get her dream fridge, or range, or any combination of dream kitchen gadgets she can dream up.  Wouldn't that be great? 

Oh!  And if they win the new kitchen, they get an all expense paid vacation along with it so they don't have to live in the construction zone and have to cook in a construction zone! And maybe they can do a separate show on that whole construction thing!  Don't they have a completely different channel for that kind of show?? 

Back to my idea.  Maybe the contestants are moms called out of the audience, like on The Price is Right.  I love that show.  Except I haven't seen it since Drew Carey took over.  Or since he's been skinny.  Do the girls kiss him, too??  That's just odd to me.  But lots of things are odd to me.

Anyway, they get called out of the audience and immediately they get an apron (a cute one), their assignment and have to go cook like crazy ladies!  And then they get the normal interruption, like the frozen hamburger or other missing ingredient, or an unexpected guest. 

But I was also thinking that to complicate matters even more, the kids have to be gone.  I know that this sounds weird, even with the whole "on television" element and whatever that creates, but I've decided that when people say our hearts are walking around outside our bodies when we have kids they are wrong.  Dead wrong.  At least in my case. It's my brain walking around outside my body and when I don't have our kids, I can't think!

I've done EVERY time I don't have kids.  I'll be driving around town alone on some errand and then I'll suddenly realize that I am on the WRONG side of town.  And then I'll wonder how I got there.  And why I'm in town in the first place.  And where are my kids anyway?? 

It is like my brain is gone.  But of course it's gone.  The kids have it!

Either that or I'm not used to a leisurely pace and no interruptions and don't have a clue how to plan for something like that anymore. 

But dang, I can usually pull off dinner.  Even with missing ingredients and frozen burgers and unexpected guests.  Maybe I will get a new kitchen some day. 

Even though what I really need is a bathroom remodel. 

Maybe I'll have to think of a game show for that one, too.

Monday, November 15, 2010

She's four and she can WRAP!

And apparently she can do a coupld different carries. 

There's this one that she wrapped on her sister:

And today she pulled of this one. 

Yes, it's a little unconventional, but she'll get it.  I'm so proud of her!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The things we do for kids

I've never been into board games or card games or whatever.  I'm not against them, I just am terrible at them.  It's hard to get into a game you never win.  It wasn't good for our marriage in the beginning.  But sometimes I cave and do it for the family.  (The husband is into games, but it figures since he's good at them.)

Yesterday we sat down for a game of SORRY! as a family (minus Violet). 

SORRY! is always such an interesting game.  I remember that as a kid we never finished a game because my youngest brother would fling the game board across the living room.  It didn't matter how many times we told him we were sorry, it always ended that way.

My little Calla has some of the same qualities as my little brother. But we sat down and played anyway.  A SORRY! was always accompanied by a hug--sometimes a group hug actually.  An interesting twist on the game.  But that still didn't stop Calla from storming downstairs after having a pawn sent back to START.

After some coaxing, she came up and finished the game.  And the little bugger WON!   She was yellow.  Grace was red, daddy was blue. The final board view:

I was green.  I made it out of START one time.  ONE TIME!  And I was promptly sent back. 

I don't remember getting a hug. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gettin' the hang of the big sister thing

Calla is catching on.  She really is.  Yesterday Carsten was on the living room floor and not incredibly happy about it.  Not mad, but not thrilled.  Probably bored.  So, Calla to the rescue!  I came in and saw this:

She had sat him up and was playing Marbleworks with him.  One of the pieces anyway.  He was happy.  She was helping.  Awesome.

Then today she came upstairs all excited.  "MOM!! Guess what I did!!!"

She had wrapped Violet's baby on her!

And the back view for you wrapping geeks out there . . .

It's a little unconventional, but it'll do.  And they were both thrilled. 

Good job little Calla.  

Friday, November 5, 2010

No pressure, buddy!

I love this little outfit. 

Under this outfit is a onesie with a baseball on it that says, "Future Slugger."

Really, no pressure, buddy.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

My deprived children

Where we used to live we had a giant maple tree in the front yard.  Come fall, we had PILES of leaves to rake and play in. 

Here, we have evergreens and a few lilac bushes.  But, my children are really quite brilliant.  They asked their dad for a garbage bag.

Their plan?  To save the leaves for next year! 

Judging by the size of that bag and how full it is, they might need a few years to get enough.  But they have a plan!  Smart kids these are.  Smart kids. 

And I like that instead of complaining about the amount of leaves, they came up with a plan and solved the problem. 

And then went to play hopscotch. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ten bucks says your polling location doesn't have an outhouse!

Today I told Calla we had to go vote.  She looked up from her lunch and asked if she could wear her swimsuit.  No, honey.  VOTE.  Not BOAT. 

Our polling place is a mile up the road, so we decided to load up the trusty stroller and walk since it is such a gorgeous fall day.  Not so much as a whisper of wind.

This is where we went to vote.

It's an old school house.  I've heard that the school district still owns it, but the local pinochle club uses it in the winter in exchange for upkeep.  And I must say, it's the most kid-friendly voting location I've been to.  They even had snacks.

I'm standing there chatting with the election officials--which are the neighbor ladies--and it came to my attention that there are not restrooms in the school.  But, outside to the left, there is an OUTHOUSE!!!

And, it's a 2-seater!

Yes, that's a light bulb hanging from the ceiling.  And toilet paper hanging from a nail.

We voted.  The old fashioned way.  Walked down there and everything.

Idaho just keeps getting better and better.