Archive - July 2006

Happy Endings
Just Some Peace and Quiet
Book Review: Saving Dinner
The Washington Monument
Making Progress
Carnival of Family Life

Happy Endings

So ends a successful week of VBS. This was a big step for Pumpkin Girl who had never been away from us like this before. She looked nervous that first day when I left her. So did I stick around and make sure she was ok? No way! Focused on the important things, like getting Bip down for his nap so I could get to crafting, I kissed my sweet daughter goodbye and marched right out the door. Don’t worry. Not only was she not scarred for life, she came home happy and excited and eager for the next day. She even told me she was now ready for swimming lessons. Good for her!

Boo, a seasoned VBS veteran who also has 2 years of Religious Education classes under his belt, barely even managed to wave goodbye to me each day.

Today was the closing program filled with fun songs and skits all fitting the theme of “Son Treasure Island.” Following the program was a picnic lunch for everyone. Boo couldn’t believe his luck when lunch included all of his favorite things: hamburgers, chips, ice cream and something sweet to drink.

The children each came home with a grocery bag filled with kiddie crafts that they had been making during the week. See, I wasn’t the only one be crafty. However, I have to be the one to claim responsibility for the glitter in Bip’s hair.

Next week, it’s back to the same ol’ same ol’, then it’s 2 weeks of swimming lessons. Our days are just packed.

Just Some Peace and Quiet

My two oldest children are off at Vacation Bible School this week. I have to admit it, I’m sure enjoying the time alone. The church is all of 3 minutes from our house, so from the moment we walk out the door until Bip and I return only takes me 12 minutes. I’m back home by 9 am! I spend awhile enjoying the peace and playing with Bip, then he’s off for his nap and the rest of the hour and a half are all mine! Amazing what I can get done when I’m alone!

I have reclaimed my craft/guest room. We had guests at the beginning of May, so all my crafting things had to be packed up and stored in other areas of the house. Then the room became overflow storage as we worked to unpack boxes and sort through things to give away and sell. Now the yard sale is over and there is nothing else on the schedule, so I’ve been using the time to take back my room.

First off, I baby proofed it so Bip can join me in there if he’s awake and I’m feeling crafty. Then I worked on clearing space for my craft table to open up and on bringing in the craft supplies. I worked on the room for close to an hour yesterday and this morning I was ready to craft! I made a promise to myself to work at least 15 minutes in that room, putting things away, before I can sit down and craft. Today I moved a big box of office supplies out and combined it with another box of office supplies, giving me one empty box. That box went back to the craft room to hold some clothes I found for Bip to grow into. That box will go live in my closet, just as soon as Bip wakes from his nap. At last, it was time to stamp. I am woefully, pitifully and embarrassingly late on some stamping commitments I had made back when Bip was a napping baby. I got right to work on those cards. It felt so wonderfully good to put stamps to paper again. Ahhh, a quiet house, a craft table all set up, complete with a natural light lamp, just stamping away. I was in my groove! I was very good, though and stopped at 11:00 and came down and did some housework.

I’ll be able to finish the cards tomorrow, I think. I love, love, love rubber stamping! Plus, having a rare break from the children just makes me appreciate them more. I am happy and smiling again. I’m even willing to listen to their long-winded stories. (I even encouraged them to talk!)

I have often bristled at hearing others say things like “I can hardly wait until my kids go back to school.” I like my children, as difficult as they can be. I enjoy spending time with them. They are funny and smart and challenging. I am glad I don’t send them off to school on a regular basis. But you know what, I need a break. Not just an hour or so of quiet time a day, but an actual break. I think this is the first time ever that both the older children have been gone for any real amount of time. It’s refreshing. I can do whatever I want with the time. I could even get a babysitter to be in the house while Bip sleeps. Cool. For now, I’ll stick to crafting at home.

I’m enjoying this week while I can. My children are really, really enjoying VBS. It’ll be nice when this week is over and we return to being together full time and I am a happier, more refreshed Mama.

Book Review: Saving Dinner

I don’t like to cook.  There are about million other things I’d rather be doing than cooking, but since my family likes to eat, I don’t have much choice.  At this season in my life, I have to stick to meals that require no more than 30 minutes prep time.  As a result, we’ve been eating a lot of pasta dishes.  However, I have just discovered two wonderful cookbooks: Saving Dinner and Saving Dinner the Low-Carb Way, both by Leanne Ely.  You can visit her website at

So what’s so great about these cookbooks? Well, the whole premise is to create healthy, easy dinners that the whole family will eat.  The recipes are divided by season to take advantage of the fresh foods that are in season.  The summer recipes are mostly for either the grill or the crockpot so you can avoid heating up the whole house with the oven.  Winter recipes include lots of soups and stews.

Each season is further divided into 6 weeks, each week has 6 recipes.   You go through each week twice a season, giving you plenty of variety throughout the whole year.  Another cool feature is the shopping lists that are included for each week.  You could just take your book shopping if you’d like, but even better, each week’s shopping list is available to download and printout from her website.

But really the heart of the books are the recipes of course!  They are quick and easy to make and only use ingredients that you’ll find in any supermarket.  One thing I found very cool was that often one recipe will use only part of one ingredient, only to use the remainder in another recipe for that week.  For example, last week I used 1/2 a cucumber in a recipe one day.  Two days later, I used the rest.  No soggy, rotten 1/2 used cucumber in the fridge next week!  Another cool thing – if you use the recipes from a given week in the order they are listed, the last line of a recipe will often be a reminder to marinade the meat overnight for the next day’s dinner.  She thinks of everything!

We have loved every recipe we’ve tried so far.  Sometimes the children  don’t really care for the sauce, like a sourcream-horseradish sauce for salmon, but they have always enjoyed the main part of the meal.  Most of the sauces are supposed to be on the side or added after cooking, so leaving them off the children’s servings has not been a problem.

The recipes generally are sized to serve 4 but are easily adapted for a larger family.  The website has a chart to help you adjust the serving size up or down.

Overall, I give these books 5 stars!  If you’re looking to simplify your meal planning or just want to get out of a cooking rut, check these books out.

The Washington Monument

My Fourth of July was muted, but my family had a great time. A friend of Philip’s- from way back when we were stationed in Houston – was in town with his children. We invited them to our house for the Freedom Fest on base, BBQ and to see the fireworks. We can see the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial and Capitol building from the base, so we have an excellent view of the fireworks.

All was set until I started feeling very tired and achy. I took a nap right after lunch and woke up feeling worse. I ended up sleeping through most of the afternoon. Philip, the children and our friends went to the Freedom Fest and a fun time until a pop-up thunderstorm soaked them to the skin and closed down the festival. You may have seen the people on the National Mall get caught in the storm with no where to go. Fortunately, they got home safely and we were able to provide clothes for our friends until theirs dried. The plan had been to walk down to the river for the fireworks, but the threat of a thunderstorm still loomed, so they drove instead. I had a perfect view from our house, so I didn’t miss out entirely.

Our friends had 4 extra tickets to the Washington Monument for today (Thursday) and they invited us along. We couldn’t pass that up!

The weather was wonderful! It was cool, almost cold when the wind blew and the skies threatened rain, but it never did. We rode the Metro there, which was a thrill for the children! Boo was very interested in learning to read the map and in tracking our progress. Once out of the Metro we had a bit of a walk to the Washington Monument, but it wasn’t too bad, even for Pumpkin Girl’s little legs.

We all really enjoyed looking out the windows at the top and finding all the local landmarks. We even picked out our base and the approximate location of our housing area.These pictures are all from the top of the Washington Monument:

Jefferson Memorial
the US Capitol

The Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool and WW2 Memorial

The White House

After the Washington Monument we had lunch with our friends and then they left for their tour of the Capitol. We walked through the Mall, back towards the Metro stop. In front of the Smithsonian Castle is a carousel I’ve been wanting to take the kids to, so we stopped there. Much fun was had by all. Pumpkin and I practiced our princess waves, which we learned from “The Princess Diaries,” as we rode our royal horses.After the carousel, we popped in to the Smithsonian Castle, just to see what they had there. It’s mostly the information center for all the Smithsonian museums, but it’s a beautiful building, plus one wing was a sort of sampler of what the rest of the museums house. We even saw a pair of Kristi Yamaguchi’s skates. She has a very small foot. We were very surprised to find that this wing of the building resembles a gothic cathedral on the inside. Who knew?

And one last silly picture, just because.



Making Progress

Our Very Fat Baby has acheived crawling! He still can’t lift his great belly off the floor, but he has definitely mastered the alternating left-right arms and legs motion. He’s pretty darn pleased with himself. When properly motivated, he’s pretty fast, too. He had been scooting around on his belly and Philip walked into the room and sat down on the floor about 5 feet away from him. Bip saw him, stuck his arms and legs straight out (“Like Superman,” my mom said), gave a big “eeeeeeee,” and began low-crawling to his daddy. Very cute. Now that Bip has finally acheived this milestone, maybe his sleep issues will resolve, too. I brought him up on the Sonlight Forums and I was encouraged by the number of people who said that their own children had also had sleep issues around 10-11 months of age. One recurring suggestion was that maybe he’s just dropping one of his naps. I think I’ll try moving his nap later and later until he’s napping in the early afternoon, at the same time that the Big ‘Uns have quiet time. That’ll give me back my much needed break and also lessen the time between Bip’s nap and bedtime. Hopefully we’ll see some more progress in this area, too.

We’ve made a lot of progress on the clutter front, too. We took part in the community yardsale a couple of weekends ago. We made a lot of money, but oddly enough, didn’t sell a large amount of things. We ended up bringing 12 boxes of stuff back into the house. Philip left for Hawaii the very next day so the boxes had to stay where they were. But we’ve been working on them over the weekend. We gave 5 boxes of books to the base library and there are 3 more boxes in the car for the thrift store. The rest of the boxes are filled with things I’m not willing to just give away. Baby slings from my now-closed internet store and a LOT of crafting/scrapbooking items. Ebay has gotten kind of crazy over the last couple of years, I’m not sure I want to go that route. In any case, that’s 8 boxes that are already OUT and only 4 more to go.

Carnival of Family Life

The Carnival of Family Life is up!  Check it out…



So what is a blog carnival?  It is a collection of blog posts that all have some kind of theme – in this case, Family Life.  One person gathers the entries and makes a list of the authors and their posts, then posts the list to their own blog.  You can read the list of entries and click the link to go read whichever posts interests you.  Look for an entry by yours truly!

If you would like to participate in the next Carnival of Family Life, follow the link here.  The information about the Carnival, plus the submission guidelines are located in the sidebar on the left.

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