Tuesday, July 27, 2010

WFMW - A Tasty Summer Treat

We call this refreshing summer snack
"Lemon Fizzy-Twizzy."

It's so simple to make that I'm not sure it can be called a recipe.

Here's what you need:

~As many drinking cups as you have people
~ White soda, cold (I use Ginger Ale)
~ Lemonade, cold (Right now we're using Country Time)
~ Twizzlers - they have to be the regular kind, like that shown (We like cherry the best)

Here are the super-difficult directions:

1. Fill the cups a little more than halfway full with soda.
2. Top it off with lemonade.
3. Give each person a Twizzler & tell them to bite off each end.
4. Put the Twizzler into the cup and use as straw*.
5. Eat your straw when your drink is gone, or as you drink it.

 *Note: Occasionally the "straw" will close up at an end. If this happens, just bite off the collapsed part & keep going.
That's it! My kids think it's fun to use their edible "straws." And, as an added bonus, if you happen to have a youngster with sensory needs (like those from autism or ADHD), this is a great sensory snack. The hole in the middle of the Twizzler is really small, so kids have to work all those oral muscles to get their drink. Plus, the cold temperature, fizziness and tart flavor all provide sensory input.

I do want to mention that the handsome (and very enthusiastic-looking) chap in the above photo helped to concoct this snack. I promise, he likes it a LOT more than it looks like in that picture!

Oh, and kids who don't have sensory needs think it's a yummy treat, too!
I know it's not exactly healthy, but on a hot summer day, this snack works for me!
For more Works for Me Wednesday happiness, check out We Are THAT Family.

Things I Should Be Doing Today

~ Turning my thoughts toward going back to work in three weeks.
~ Dusting and vacuuming the house.
~ Doing a day of education with Tyson.
~ Emptying the dishwasher.
~ Tending my garden.
~ Painting some shelves for Ty's room.
~ Working on Riley's quilt.
~ Planning out a project.
~ Finishing a project.
~ Cleaning out my laundry room (so we can work on it this weekend).
~ Exercising.
~ Tackling Mount Wash-more. (At this point it's beyond a K12)
~ Reorganizing the boys' closets & dressers.

The problem is that I've had a terrible time with self-discipline lately. I've been staying up much too late, sleeping much too late, eating too much junk food, yelling at my kids too much, letting household tasks pile up, letting the laundry back up, neglecting my Bible time, skipping exercise, indulging in too much crabbiness, reading too many books, watching too much TV...

...and generally letting myself get off track.

The problem is this crazy be-a-work-outside-the-home-mom-for-nine-months-and-be-a-stay-at-home-mom-three-months thing.

During the school year, the wheels come off the household wagon. That's because I'm out of the house for 8 hours a day, and I'm generally exhausted from the strain of the whole thing the other 16 hours of the day. Add to that Ty's hectic cub scout/tennis schedule and my guilt over putting Riley in daycare, and I'm pretty much useless most of the time.

I know, I know.  That doesn't sound very Hellen Reddy, I AM WOMAN of me. The truth is, I don't know how other working moms do it. I suspect most of them hire house cleaning services and feed their families fast food or something.

So I always start the summer with a bang. My house gets cleaner. My overall mood improves. This place works like a well oiled machine.

And then, when the school year begins to loom on the horizon and I realize this family wonderland is not going to last... well, I think I sort of get a little blue.

I feel disappointment at the fact that all of my great systems and habits will be interrupted, terminated, harpooned.

I feel frustrated at the fact that the school year allows me the burden opportunity to have a job and a family, and to do a piss-poor (pardon me) job of managing both.

I feel cheated by the culture that helped to raise me to believe that I could have it all and look beautiful too. When you have it all, you have to manage it all, and it's really hard to look beautiful with those dark circles under the eyes.

I feel tired of the guilt over constantly feeling that I'm failing at everything at once; I feel tired of the constant conflict - Part of me wants to be that super-successful career girl; part of me wants to be barefoot, pregnant & in the kitchen, tending to my children & husband.

So with 17 days left of this life, I'm feeling tired, apathetic, crabby and just generally blah. I long to enjoy these last days of summer...

I guess I just need to figure out how.

How do you pull yourself up and get the wheels put back on your wagon?

Monday, July 26, 2010

13 Years...

A guy rang my doorbell today.

It was the FedEx guy, and he brought this:

I haven't received a box like this before.

This is what I found inside:
Delicate (and perhaps suffering from a touch of heat exhaustion... but they're already looking peppy-er)


And the card?

13 years ago today, Matt I promised to love each other in sickness & in health, in good times & bad... as long as we both shall live.

Thank you, Matt. These flowers are beautiful.

I love you!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

WFMW - How I Cook Bacon

Okay, let me start with a confession.

I cannot cook bacon in a skillet.

If the world was coming to an end and its very salvation depended on my ability to cook bacon (to an edible state) on a stove top, we'd all be in trouble.

But I LOVE BACON. I cannot think of any food that is not made better by the addition of bacon.

So I have learned to adapt. I nuke the bacon in the microwave.

I start by getting out the bacon, two dinner plates, two paper plates and a roll of paper towels.

I put one paper plate on the dinner plate, then add a paper towel (or two if it's thick-cut bacon) on top of that.

Then I put my bacon on top of the paper towel. Be sure it's in one layer.
I was making BLT's for dinner this night, so I cut the bacon strips in half before I cooked them. When I make it for breakfast, I leave the strips long.

Then, I put another layer of paper towel(s), another paper plate and another dinner plate on top, and pop it into the microwave.
Cooking times vary, but in my microwave, I cook it on high for approximately 1 minute per whole strip of bacon. (I cooked this batch for 6 minutes.) Also, if you're doing more than one batch, you might need to decrease the cooking time a bit for subsequent batches... at least I have to.

When it's done, you'll need to take everything out of the microwave carefully. The whole thing will be extremely hot. I put it on a pot holder next to my sink. I remove the top dinner plate and set it aside, then I remove the top paper plate & paper towels and put them into the sink until they're cool enough to throw in the trash.

The bacon comes out really flat, which makes it perfect for BLT's. Oh, and see all that bacon grease on the paper towel there? I would rather have it there than on my sandwich.

So there you have it. That's how I cook bacon. I know that it's not exactly eco-friendly, with all the paper towels and paper plates, but this is what works for me!

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, visit We Are That Family.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chucking Rocks

One of our favorite outdoor activities is chucking rocks.

We find a place on a gravel bar where there aren't any other people. Then we wade in a bit and start letting the rocks fly. What boy (old or young) doesn't want to here the words, "Well, for pete's sake, throw that rock!" I think it's interesting to watch my boys approach this activity in their own ways.

There is some tandem wading,

...usually at first as everyone gets used to the cold river water.

And then they sort of do their own things.

Tyson enjoys the feel of the water on his feet:

He likes to search for interesting rocks and share them with us:

He is fascinated by the skipping of rocks, and he both loves to watch Matt & my dad...
...and "teach" his little brother how to skip rocks:

Riley takes a completely different approach.
He loves to watch the boats go by:

And other than that, well, Riley just loves the

...and complete...
...that comes from chucking rocks.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Camping We Will Go...

Summer is for relaxing, slowing down and recuperating from life's crazy pace the rest of the year. The best way we know how to unwind from the hustle & bustle is to grab the pop up trailer and head into nature.

So, what do we do while camping? Well...

We relax. I know it looks like a whole lot of nothing, but there is some serious rejuvenation going on here.

We read. A lot. This is my dad. What you don't see in this picture are Matt, my step-mom, my step-grandma and myself, all reading while the boys chase bugs nearby.

We eat fabulous summer foods. Watermelon, foil dinners, hot dogs roasted over a fire and s'mores are our favorites.

And we sleep. All that fresh air makes for some tired boys and long slumbers.

And yes, sometimes one of those tired boys leaves the campfire (on his own) to commence with the slumber... with unbrushed teeth and s'mores still on his cheek.

We also enjoy chucking rocks, but you'll have to come back tomorrow to find out what that looks like.

What do you do to relax in the summertime?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Where Have I Been?

Well, for starters, I've been here:
Last weekend, we went camping at Onondaga Cave State Park, in Leasburg, MO. This was our second trip to this particular park, and this time we decided to take the tour of the cave.

The tour was 90 minutes, and took us very deep under the park. Despite the fact that I'm not crazy about small places, and I might be a complete sissy little afraid of the dark, I love cave tours.

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I love nature. I love anything that has to do with the outdoors (or in this case, the most natural of "indoors" possible).

My love of the outdoors is closely related to my relationship with God.

When I am out, in the parts of the world that have hardly been touched by humanity, I feel the closest to Him. I feel free to marvel at His power, His grace, His love.

I love that He put in us ~ as part of our humanness ~ curiosity, wonder, and appreciation for beauty.

I think that when God created this earth, He delighted in leaving for us interesting places to explore...

...interesting treasures to discover...

...hints of His power...

...and beauty to stand in awe of.

I found comfort in that big, dark space.

Because looking at these wonders, I was faced with the reality that God has always been here...

...and that He left his footprint, this beautiful reality of His power & might, for us to find.

And I'm certain that as I delighted in each new sight, He delighted in my curiosity, awe, and appreciation of the beauty He put there.