Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We Can Haz Veggie Soup

As it starts to get cooler we eat a lot of soup. There are at least four or five different kinds that I make on a regular basis and most everyone likes it. Today I made some vegetable beef. And then I took pictures of everyone enjoying it. I love when people like my food, especially when it's kids getting some good veggies in their systems. (I also hid a cup of butternut squash in the breakfast this morning!)

Tigger's cheeks slay me. The eyelashes are pretty good too.

Asking for bowl number FOUR. You may notice it's a different color- he ate his and his sister's.

Silvermist had multiple bowls as well. She told me, "I enjoy this."

Mater made a valiant effort and then had to take a rest.

Well, I said most people liked it.... :) Hercules looked at the bowl and decided it wasn't even worthy of being put down in front of him. But this is one of my most favorite pictures of him. His mouth is actually full of milk.

Yummy Vegetable Beef Soup
1 lb ground beef
1/2 chopped onion
2 stalks celery
2 diced potatoes
1 chopped carrot
1 chopped bell pepper

Saute those all together. Add:
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
about 6 cups liquid- I used 1 can beef broth and 4 cups water with powdered beef bouillon
1/2 bag frozen corn
1 can mixed vegetables
2 bay leaves
Lawry's season salt and Mrs. Dash to taste

Let it all simmer about half an hour or so.

It's yummy! Kanga and I added the rest of last night's leftover yellow rice to our bowls. Even more yummy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Naming Trends

This really has nothing to do with anything, but sometimes I come across random stuff that I find interesting. I love names. I always like to know the whole names of the kids. I like knowing why they got named that and who it honored and how it got chosen. It's just fun stuff. Even though I don't plan to have more kids of my own, I still think about what I would name them if I did.

I think this Swedish study is interesting. We don't have any boys here who end in -y. I do tend to notice that a lot of little boys go by the y-nickname and then change it as they get older. Joey to Joe or Joseph, Nicky to Nick or Nicholas. That kind of thing. And I do know a grownup Billy who doesn't seem to be a criminal. :) y-names do make me think of Italian mobsters sometimes though.

Another study I read years ago has stayed on my brain. I can't find a link to it, but basically it said that moms with lower education levels tended to name their babies after expensive objects- stuff like Crystal, Porsche, and Jade. Moms who were college-educated trended names that ended in -n.

On our current roster we have no expensive object babies. However, Duchess, Tod, Copper, Alice, Tarzan, Hercules, Tigger, Roo, Lady, and Mater all end in -n. I'd say the theory works well in our case.

*of course, there are MANY lovely and educated names that just don't end in N. That's what the rest of our kiddos are. Don't be thinking that I'm trying to hate on your education level. Just mulling on a study.....

Monday, November 28, 2011

"Friday" Focus: Perdita

Gotta get these focus posts done whenever I can! :) Happy Monday!

I haven't really said a lot about the babies lately since I've been focusing on getting the holidays started with the big kids. Perdita is five months old now and is just cute as a bug. A ladybug, in fact...

I babysat for her the Friday night before Halloween and we took her to the fall carnival at Duchess's school. We ran into Silvermist and her big sister Queen Clarion there, who was most pleased to find that they were both ladybugs.

Hermione Granger and Robin were very excited to take an honorary baby sister to the carnival with them. She was an angel and we got tons of comments on her cuteness.

She's very bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. We get the big eyed look quite a lot. I took this picture from the other room hoping to catch her playing in bed, but you see how well she notices things.

Alice has been very interested in Perdita. I think she really enjoys not being the smallest anymore and being able to crawl around and inspect babies littler than she is. The flash caught them both in a kind of crazy red eye thing, but they were both really happy about hanging out together.

Perdita's doing the standard five month old thing at the moment- life is just better when she's not sitting on her own bum. She's the happiest baby in the world as long as you can hold her. Unfortunately school is not always like that. She and I are having some summit meetings this morning regarding the five days off for Thanksgiving and the getting back into group care and all it entails. :) She's very convinced that being rocked to sleep and held by many extended family members is better than school. Shocking, I know. I feel her pain. No matter how fun school is, family vacation days are better. It's a sad, terrible lesson to learn....

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Here we are, very serious about our mashed potato jobs:

Tarzan and O'Malley took charge of the washing and drying. Duchess and I peeled and chopped.

Silvermist scooped them all up and put them in the pot.

Aurora ran the water. (I was beginning to run out of jobs at that point, but she thought she was the bee's knees so it worked out fine.)

And then we ate tons of lovely food! I survived! Poor Kanga has bronchitis and had to stay home, but Mrs. Potts helped out and I did more of the cooking last night than I ordinarily would have, rather than letting the kids help. They like it a lot, but they are SO SLOW. :)

I forgot to take pictures while everybody was here. That makes me sad. But it was a little busy. I said 11:30, and it was closer to noon by the time I had everything on the table. I think it went well though! Some people were asking about various menu items, so here's what I have links to:

the Pioneer Woman's mashed potatoes I put much less butter than it called for.
cornbread dressing
Ellie Krieger's cucumber salad
candy apple pie

We also had smoked turkey breast, sauteed green beans, and a lime jello salad that my family always makes for holidays. Real coca-cola is the key to that- all I had in the house was diet coke and so it separated into layers. Still tasty though. And I have to say, I'm kinda proud of myself that with the exception of the graham cracker crust on the pie, the entire dinner was gluten free AND soy free. (not dairy free though. I live for cream cheese dishes on holidays. My record is 8 blocks in one meal, spread throughout various dishes. I think only 3 this time. Maybe 4.)

Copper was trying really hard to get to Mater's lunch. But he had already eaten most of it. Plus it's not so sanitary to just let them all feed off the one tray. :) So I put Copper in a chair of his own and gave him some mashed potatoes.

I love the look on his face. Okay. I have successfully hunted and trapped my food. It is squishy. What the heck do I do with it now?

His answer? Finger paint awhile, then throw it on the floor. Don't think he ate one bite. But he had fun. And also ended up with potatoes in his eyebrows. Nice.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Focus: Tigger

Tigger is a hot mess these days, which is to be expected for his age. He's into everything! He can climb way higher than he knows what to do with, and he's the reason there's a lock on the fridge. Definitely a kinesthetic learner right now. And smart! He watches me pretty closely during the morning just to check where I am. While I'm in the kitchen making breakfast I can see most of the playroom from there, but he always hides around corners to make mischief, or else tries to climb over the couch and banzai off the top in the hopes that I won't get there in time. Then after breakfast when I go in the playroom to do circle time and play, he's in the kitchen trying to climb inside all my major appliances. Silly, silly boy. I love that he's so careful about it though. It's kind of funny. And you could never say that he isn't learning a lot through all his sensory explorations.

I am seriously in love with this hat. It's hard to see the floppy dog ears on it in the picture, but they are SO great. And I love even more that HE loves the hat, and will cheerfully wear it around the house for us. If you ask him what the dog says, sometimes he just looks at you. Other times he'll say "ruff" with a straight face and no sound effects whatsoever. Just the word. "Rough". :)

What? I know we sit in the red wagon outside. Why not this one too?

It's a real shame this child is so ugly. Just look at him. Pitiful. Not at all photogenic.

Tigger has two great loves these days: bringing me the paper in the morning, and my father. Kanga says as soon as they turn into my street he starts yelling for both things. He knows my dad's truck and if he doesn't see it in front of the house, he starts in with the "where POP! POP?! where?" It's really sweet. When my dad comes home from work in the afternoons, he usually looks for Tigger before his own grandchildren. He gets a much more exciting reception that way. My kids are just, "oh hi pop." Tigger is running with open arms and fat dimply cheeks and drool, screaming for his honorary pop. So cute.

Look at the proprietary look there. I wouldn't try to make him get down anytime soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanksgiving Countdown

Menu is set! I'll have a signup sheet for ingredients in the living room today, just because people are asking what they can bring. Don't feel like you have to though- I know this week is going to cost more at the grocery store and I plan accordingly. :) It's something I just like to do every year. But help is nice too, if you want. I'm good with it either way.

People were also asking why I start so early and what on earth I'm doing with the kids all that time for weeks ahead. Their attention spans aren't so long for most things and I don't want to overdo it, but they're perfectly happy to work on something everyday for fifteen minutes and then it takes us a month to get it done. For example? Turkey place mats with leaf feathers for all the guests.

After this day, I realized it was somewhere between lunacy and suicide to set that many of them loose with Mod Podge at the same time. I'm still cleaning up sticky. So, one at a time now, we go outside to choose leaves from the neighbor's yard and then come in to stick them to the paper turkeys. After all the kids have made one for themselves and for the babies, then we go with round two, and three, and sometimes four, to make sure that attending family members can have a place mat too. They're turning out cute and I'm going to laminate them all. You'll get to take them home after the feast is done.

So that takes a long time.

Then, as I mentioned before, for a week or so we were looking through grocery circulars and cookbooks and Pinterest at different recipes, and reading books about Thanksgiving to give them ideas about traditional foods. We get on all kinds of tangents explaining what various vegetables are, and what they taste like, and if they have gluten and I can or can't cook them.

Now that the menu is done, we'll do things like put graham crackers in ziploc bags for them to beat into crumbs with plastic hammers. They'll beat happily for twenty minutes, I'll have to transfer the pieces into new bags two or three times as they rip through them, and when they're done? We have ONE tiny step of the candy apple pie done. So I put the crumbs away and we do another step later on. Takes awhile.

The day we do the mashed potatoes, every kid who wants to help has his own job. I've got somebody at the sink washing potatoes and one with a towel to dry. For awhile I had to be the peeler, but now that's Duchess. Yay third grader! Then I chop them, and somebody else puts them in the pot. After they cook then we have mashers and mixers and butter people... it's a huge affair and takes all morning.

And then we take days off to do important motor skills work like hammer golf tees into a big pumpkin.

They hammered for almost two hours over the course of the day. Then I pulled all the tees out and they started over. Fun times.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sum Up

In Inigo Montoya's voice... no, there is too much... let me sum up...

I have gotten completely bogged down in the fact that it is Tigger's turn for Friday Focus, but my computer ATE about fifty pictures that included four really cute ones I was going to use of him. I'm at a stall while I keep thinking of the post in my head that makes no sense without those pictures, and I couldn't possibly write a post about anything else while it's HIS turn...

I'm one of those people who make a lot of rules for myself in my head and then feel terribly guilty about breaking them, even though very few other people even know them or would care if they did.

So. I'm just gonna move on.

We're getting ready for our Thanksgiving feast. O'Malley, Aurora, Tarzan, and Silvermist are super excited about doing some cooking and planning. Hercules and Tigger are able to help some too, even though they're a bit clueless about the reasons. We've been looking through grocery store ads and I've been trying to talk to them about traditional holiday food. Turkey has sunk in. That and pie. Other than that, they keep thinking we're planning a tea party. They want to make cucumber sandwiches and cookies and strawberries and tea. You can tell we've had tea parties before. :) And those things would be fun, but I really want to do the whole big holiday meal. Hopefully today or tomorrow we'll have the menu settled and I can start having them do things to freeze.

In the meantime we're practicing on breakfast. They love to help me pour and stir.

Hercules is happy to be tall enough that he can climb up and help with the preschoolers but he's not quite sure what to do when he gets there. :)

We're also doing some fun fall crafts that I found on Pinterest. I am SO loving that website. I have a board now for daycare ideas. We take walks and save leaves to make all sorts of things, and I think we're going to do some other stuff for Christmas presents for moms and dads. We're just about done with the Mother Goose body work and instead of buying something else before the holidays we're just filling in with crafty stuff, reading, and cooking. It's nice.