Saturday, January 31, 2009

25 Random things about me

I did this on Facebook and thought I would just put my list on here for those people who don't use Facebook and would possibly like to know some more about me.

1. I'm the middle child of 5 kids - I have an older and a younger brother and an older and a younger sister.
2. My Grandma gave birth to my mom, her second daughter (4th child) when she was 30. My mom gave birth to me, her second daughter (3rd child), 2 weeks before turning 30. I gave birth to Annika, my second daughter (3rd child) when I was 29.5.
3. My last grandparent died in 2001. I miss having grandparents. A lot.
4. Don't ever ask me to sell anything. I am a TERRIBLE salesperson. And I'm okay with that.
5. The only country other than the US I've been in is Canada. For 2 days on our honeymoon.
6. I've never gotten my hair cut more than three times in a year.
7. I consider myself pretty low maintenance.
8. I worked for two years at an alternative school in Nashville after college. Boy, the stories (and bruises) I got from that job.
9. My college degree has proven to be pretty useless. Other than giving me the ability to say I have a college degree. I'm not sorry I went to college, mind you, I just wish I had studied something else.
10. I want to learn to sew.
11. I also want to plant a container garden this year. Wish me luck on that one. I have no idea how to do it.
12. I still have an African violet plant that a student from above mentioned alternative school gave me 9 years ago. And it's blooming right now, actually.
13. I always wanted to be a wife and mom. It's more wonderful and much harder than I ever imagined. And I wouldn't trade it for anything.
14. I get horrible pregnancy sickness for the first 3-4 months.....with non-stop nausea, frequent vomiting, excessive fatigue, hypersensitive sense of smell, and excess salivation (which contributes to the nausea). It's wretched.
15. I donated bone marrow for my younger brother who had leukemia in 2002. (it was a success...he's been cancer free for over 6 years! )
16. I played volleyball and basketball in high school. I was never the best but I loved them both.
17. I've never been snow-skiing. Would love to try it someday.
18. My husband is half Costa-Rican. He has distant relatives living there that he's never met. We would love to go there, and hopefully will get to someday.
19. One of my least favorite household tasks is cleaning out the refrigerator.
20. I love to bake.....desserts and breads are my favorites.
21. I hate cucumbers. And melons. So if you ever find yourself with the irresistible urge to buy me lotion, body wash, or any other such thing, cucumber melon should NOT be even a consideration.
22. I wear two wedding bands. My original one that matches Grant's got moved to my right hand on our 5th anniversary when he surprised me with a dressier, diamond-lined band to wear with my engagement ring.
23. I have terrible handwriting, unless I write REALLY slow, and who has the time to do that?
24. I love birth stories....watching them, reading them, hearing them.....babies are such miracles.
25. Chocolate is my drug of choice. Period. :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Spaghetti Sauce

I used to just buy canned spaghetti sauce and add some diced tomatoes and a little seasoning to it and call it done. Then I started getting serious about reading labels and removing high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils from our diets and realized that either I would need to buy organic spaghetti sauce, or....much cheaper....make my own. I made this a few nights ago and we had it for two dinners and a lunch.....and the kids gobbled it up every time. That's a mark of a keeper meal! Oh, and Grant and I loved it too. Here's what I did.


1 lb ground turkey
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 large green pepper, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14 oz) can Italian diced tomatoes (or regular diced tomatoes
1 yellow squash or zucchini, finely chopped
2 T. sugar
1 T. kosher salt
1 T. dried basil
1 t. dried oregano
1 T. worcestershire sauce
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Brown the ground turkey with the onion, green pepper, and garlic. Drain if necessary. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 30 minutes, but preferably up to three hours. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent sticking! Yes, it's time consuming, but it was SO good!

What do we feed our kids? Or rather....what do they feed themselves?

Taken on January 17, 2009.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A "Gill" or a Boy?

A few days ago, I casually told the kids over lunch that my friend Christen, the mom of Marissa's buddy Natalee and her little sister Lydia, is pregnant, due in August.

Both Corban and Marissa were notably excited about that news and the questions immediately started coming.

Corban: "Is it a boy or a girl?"
Me: "They don't know will be awhile before they can find out."
Marissa: "I think it's a gill" (that's the way she says girl)
Me: "Well, we just don't know yet."
Marissa: "What's the baby's name?"
Me: "I don't think they've picked a name yet."
Corban: "I think they should have a boy, they already have two girls."
Marissa: "I think they should have a gill."
Corban: "It would be better if they had a boy."
Me: "Why is that, Corban?"
Corban: "Because boys can fight! Well, girls can fight too, but not as good as boys."

So there.

My Grossest Story of the Year

Annika, seen above in a moment of intense giggling, has entered a new stage of mobility and subsequent orneriness in the past month or so.
Our little angel baby, with whom we really never had many issues, is suddenly creating all kinds of problems. For instance, now that she can climb on just about any chair, she's more than happy to get better access to the table (and cups of milk left behind by forgetful older siblings) or the computer keyboard, which she'll bang on as fast as she can before she gets caught.

She's constantly into the dog food, carrying pieces of it around the house to try to feed Monty, and if he refuses, (which is nearly always), she leaves the little pile on the floor and heads back for more.

But the worst is the bathroom. If someone has forgotten to close the door, you'd better believe she'll discover her easy access to the toilet paper and the joys of unrolling it as far as possible in no time. Yes, that's annoying. But not nearly as bad as this.

A couple of nights ago, I was running the kids through their nightly routine of pjs, brushing teeth, one last potty break before we read a story. I left Corban using the toilet to check on Marissa in her progress in changing to pajamas and discovered Annika making a huge mess in Marissa's room. I started cleaning that up and neglected to notice that Annika had left the room. Seconds later, just seconds, I'm telling you, that realization hit me and I jumped up, making all kinds of haste to the bathroom, where I had a sneaking suspicion she'd be.

I was not wrong.

Corban had finished peeing and was brushing his teeth.......and Annika???

She had snagged Marissa's cup from the counter and was (I cringe to even say it) dipping it into the non-flushed toilet and taking sips.


You have it.

My grossest story of the year.

I was, in fact, so grossed out that I just grabbed her and stood there hollering gibberish.....and Grant flew up the stairs to help me.

The joys of parenthood. Wouldn't trade them for the world!

Friday, January 16, 2009

More Photos from Christmas

Just in case any of you didn't get enough pictures of my kiddos from Christmas, here are a few more. All of these pictures were taken by my sister Anna, except for the one she's in....don't know who took that one.

Marissa goofing off.

Annika's about to head down the slide at the park.

My sweet sister Anna with the kids.

Corban walking across the bridge at the playground.

Annika making one of her many expressions on the swing.

Another funny expression from the "baby".

Annika's checking out her new purse....this girl loves purses. So fun to carry!

Riding on the bouncy horse! Very fun.

Corban with Ethan (9) and Jonathan (4.5) - my brother Jeremy's sons.

Marissa getting read to by Eva (7), with Helena (almost 4) nearby. These are two of Jeremy's daughters. The cousins had a lot of fun together!.

Anna with Jeremy's other daughter Christine (9), Jonathan, and Annika.

Got a Canker Sore?

I despise canker sores. I have a tendency to get those painful little mouth ulcers fairly often, and they almost always last at least a week. But not this time!!!

On Tuesday night, I began to feel like one was developing under my tongue. I decided to google "Natural Remedies for Canker Sores" and found a plethora of results.....many of which sounded downright weird (or used products that average American households do not have readily accessible). But one stood out as a no-brainer.

Hydrogen peroxide. Gee, I have a humongous bottle of that under our bathroom sink just waiting for some useful purpose.

I mixed a little solution of 1/2 peroxide, 1/2 water and held it in my mouth for several minutes. Spit it out and went to bed.

The next morning, I had barely any pain at all. I repeated the solution in the morning and once in the evening for good measure.....and have been completely pain and symptom free since.

That has never.....I repeat....NEVER......happened with a regular canker sore, so I am confident the peroxide was the trick.

Lesson learned. Very useful lesson learned. Now if only that peroxide would work its magic on the mountain of a zit plaguing my face........

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 does a body good???

I've been reading again.....a dangerous pastime, I know. Thanks to a random blog post I happened upon yesterday, deriding the "healthy" foods offered at fast food joints and talking about the benefits of real food, I've started doing a little research on the nutritional value of commercially available milk.

It's positively scary.

I almost feel like I'm poisoning my children (and myself) by drinking that milk I have in my fridge right now.

When you take into account the hormones, antibiotics, feed, living conditions and sicknesses of those poor cows, and the dramatic consequences of pasteurization and homogenization, well, suffice it to say I'm feeling a bit sick to my stomach.

And organic milk isn't much better. It's ultra-pasteurized, which basically means that they kill the milk at an even higher heat than with normal pasteurization, so it no longer even resembles milk! (They later add synthetic ingredients back in, like vitamin A & D.) The milk is so dead, it doesn’t even need refrigeration, but stores sell it in the refrigerated section or else no one would buy it, they’d be so turned off. This processing technique for milk is ONLY to lengthen the shelf life and therefore increase profits for the milk companies.

I'm thinking very seriously about buying a cow-share so we can have real milk.

Read this article to get the scoop. Just be warned......your stomach may turn just a little too.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Our Christmas Trip 2008

This is a little late, but I thought I'd write a bit about our past few weeks.

The week before we were scheduled to leave for our Christmas vacation, Grant started having headaches, really severe ones on the left side of his head. We thought they were just caused by stress (from work, not me!) and would eventually go away, but we began to get truly concerned when he discovered swollen, painful bumps on the back of his neck and a quarter-size flat-ish bump on his forehead.

He got in to see a doctor on the 18th and was diagnosed with cellulitis. Okay, we had never heard of that. It’s basically a bacterial infection underneath the skin. So he got on antibiotics right away.

On the 19th of December, we loaded up our entire house kids, luggage, and Christmas gifts and took a 12 hour, 15 minute (730 miles) drive to Tennessee. We arrived at my sister Sarah’s home around 7:30 p.m, finally got the kids to bed around 8:30, and spent the next two hours trying to get Corban and Katie (who were sharing the bonus room during our stay) to settle down and go to sleep.

Here are some shots of us making sugar cookies. Very fun!

Corban, Katie, Marissa, Sabrina, and Annika - all dressed up for church. Aren't they cute?

We were at Sarah and John’s home for three full days. Grant got progressively worse each day. He would wake up with more bumps on his face, blisters, extreme pain and itching, and what made it even worse, it spread to his left eyelid. Now that was alarming. After nearly a full day of hassling with our doctor’s office back home and calls to the insurance company, we got him into see John’s doctor. Well, the doctor was out, he actually saw an assistant. Or something. She was very nice. She decided that Grant had shingles. Contrary to popular belief, shingles is NOT just an old person’s disease; she said they even see middle-schoolers with it sometimes. Thankfully, there is an anti-viral medicine called Valtrex that is very helpful for treating shingles, and Grant got started on it that night.

The next morning, he wasn’t really “better”, but it was the first day he wasn’t worse, so we proceeded on our journey to Arkansas. After another 8.5 hours in the car, we were more than relieved to arrive at my parents’ home.

That evening I got the chance to visit with a dear friend, Liz, whom I first met when I was ten years old and she was 24. Several years after that, she was a missionary to Costa Rica for seven (I think) years and I didn’t see her often, but she was faithful to send me beautiful postcards, which I have to this day. We’ve lost touch over the years, except for running into each other at church when I was visiting mom and dad, and this was the longest time we’ve had to just sit and talk. It was a very precious time.

Christmas Eve was spent with the family. Dad told the story of Jesus' birth to the family...very sweet! My older brother Jeremy and his family were there, as well as my younger two siblings, Joseph and Anna, who still live at home.

On Christmas day, we did the gifts and all that, and of course practiced extreme self-control threw caution to the wind and stuffed ourselves to the gills and then some.

We also got a visit from my cousin Adam, his wife Mary, and their three kids. That was an entertaining visit, to say the least.

The next several days were spent with visits to see friends, family, a trip to the park, church, bowling, game playing, movie watching, and several trips to Braums. Oh Braums, how I miss thee. And the food….need I mention the food? We had all the candies/cookies Anna, Mom, and Jeremy made, plus pecan pies, brownies, apple pies (from Jeremy), a chocolate truffle cheesecake that I made, sugared pecans and almonds, and a half-gallon of Braums Cappuccino Chunky Chocolate frozen yogurt (that Grant and I ate nearly singlehandedly). Don't laugh, that stuff is wicked good!

Grant continued to show improvement and finished the five-day cycle of Valtrex, but he still has some lingering pains. He’s going for a follow-up appointment this Friday.
We headed back to Tennessee on the 31st, despite the fact that Annika had vomited twice in the middle of the night (having caught the bug from Joseph, we assume). She made the trip just fine and no-one else got sick, thankfully.

We spent a quiet, or rather, uneventful (as a house with five children five and under is rarely quiet) New Years Day at Sarah and John’s, and made the final trek home on Jan. 2. We were amazed that we completed that leg of the trip in 11.5 hours, a full 45 minutes less than the trip out there.

This is the stuff we unloaded from the van.....MOST of it, anyways. Can you believe we fit all that plus five people and some miscellaneous other junk in our Odyssey? Travelling at Christmas time is no joke.

The 3rd was spent unpacking and getting back into life, and then I came down with the stomach bug also. It was short-lived, but we still skipped church on Sunday. So there you have it……our trip in a not-so-small nutshell. Maybe it was a Brazil nut….

I just realized I didn't post many cute photos of Annika. There were tons, rest assured. I'll have to get to them later......this post is plenty long enough!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy Birthday, Grant!

Grant turned 33 today.....a day long awaited so that he could tease me about being "three years older than me", though only for three months.

Birthdays aren't a big deal to Grant.....he doesn't care much about celebrations or parties for himself and is fine with just blowing the whole thing off. I, however, love birthdays and always insist on doing something to celebrate his, whether he wants it or not! I'm sorry to admit that I really drop the ball most of the time, though.

Because his birthday is so soon after Christmas, it's difficult to plan stuff on the years we travel to see my family....since we usually get home a day or two before his birthday and are just trying to settle back into life.

One year I was in the throes of morning sickness and couldn't get up from the couch, let alone bake him a cake. Today, I'm recovering from a stomach bug that hit me last night. THAT certainly wasn't in the plans. We have to miss church and our last small group meeting tonight.

But I can still type, and type I will.

Grant, I wish you a Happy Birthday and many more to come. You are a tremendous blessing to me and our children and I am so thankful for you, every single day. There is no-one I'd rather spend my life with than you. I'm sorry today isn't the ideal birthday, but I'll do my best to make it up to you. I love you with all of my heart!

Here's a photo from Christmas that I love of Grant with Marissa.

Happy Birthday, My Love!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Out of the Mouths.....

Here are a few snippets of funny/sweet things heard from our children during the past couple of weeks.
We were at my sister's home, where Corban is always fully occupied with playing with his cousin Katie, also 5. About five minutes after dinner one evening, Corban came running in urgently to tell me something.
"Mom," he spoke with a little embarrassment, "I was having so much fun I just threw up."
"I beg your pardon? You WHAT?" I giggled.
He went on to explain that he had thrown up a little in the potty after their vigorous running and dancing around but was feeling just fine. Apparently, that old saying that you shouldn't exercise right after eating rings true after all. You might just have so much fun you throw up!

While we were driving one night, Grant made some little ornery comment to tease me and I gave him a playful smack on the upper arm.
Marissa instantly (and quite firmly) stated, "Mommy, you should NOT be mean to your husband!"
On Christmas Eve, I asked reminded the kids that the next day was Christmas and questioned if they knew what that meant. I was expecting the response that they would finally get to open presents, since especially Corban had been anxiously anticipating that activity for awhile. But instead Corban responded with just this: "Yes, Mom.....we get to celebrate Jesus' birthday". Not a single mention of gifts. Grant and I were very touched.
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