Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Cakes (Nascar and Jeep)

I was recently ogling over an adorable theme birthday party with everything very crafty and coordinating. I have longed to do that for my children but alas, that has only happened maybe once over the years. But in that post she reminded me that you don't have to have garland punched out of scrapbook paper sewn together. That was her "thing" but she didn't make all of the food or a special cake. So you take what you can do or what is important to you and make your child feel special and they will have memories because of that.

So it seems the highlight of our birthday parties are the cakes the children pick out for me to make. Pete and Re-Pete very often share one which is helpful and they agreed on what they wanted awhile ago -- a Nascar racetrack. Okay, no problem there since I've made race tracks before. Green frosting -- what's new? -- and a bit of dirt. They each have a different flavor they prefer but have been taking turns at which one to choose. Let me tell you, these two are the best at sharing (unfortunately only with each other). This year it was Re-Pete's choice of Pumpkin cake.

Yes, I know their real names appear here but need to for the full effect.
This didn't turn out as I had envisioned but that's what happens when you have a baby and life is not quite back to normal. I had major problems with my cream cheese frosting. I'm not really sure what happened since I've made it so many times before with never an issue. So, I wasn't able to pipe it on as it was too runny and had some lumps and lumps to NOT work with a grass tip.

This was one 11 X 15 cake trimmed to an oval and I plopped on the green frosting and then used some of the yellow frosting I had with Tank's cake and made it green to pipe on the grass. If I did this one again I would use chocolate frosting for the track rather than the crumbs. I didn't think chocolate frosting would taste as good as cream cheese frosting which is why I didn't. But that would have looked better and not been as messy. I piped on a ring of chocolate (very sloppy) to cover up some of the crumb edge.  My favorite part of this cake was the Nascar signs I made for their names. The checkered flag with number 10 was Re-Pete's idea.

It took Tank a bit longer to decide as he seems to take after me in his indecisiveness. For the longest time he would look longingly at a picture of a barn yard cake but then when it comes time to really choose he changes his mind. After seeing a picture of Jeep cakes I did years ago he decided he wanted that cake done in his favorite color -- yellow (Oh how I miss when he used to say "lello").

But again, being in a hurry with this I had a few mishaps. The first was that I forgot to put baking powder in the batter and ended up with a flat and rubbery cake which was very interesting. The second cake, also an 11X15, turned out beautifully and I cut off a portion to put on the top but forgot to put frosting between the layers (which I didn't notice until cutting into it). Then I ended up running out of chocolate so the top was just a thin layer of frosting rather than piping and the back and part of the side had more yellow. I was beginning to feel as if this was the first time I was decorating a cake! 

I usually make all of my own frosting but the chocolate was from a can. And in piping I used a small freezer bag (which I typically do) and it burst open on me spilling onto the counter. Oh well, Tank didn't mind all of this. He wanted to help and so he took a turn doing some of the piping too. He would have done more if I was doing it at a reasonable time of day. :) 

The chocolate donuts for the wheels were hard to find as I could not remember where I got them last time. I thought from the bakery but apparently not seeing as I went to three stores with no success. My Dad found the Entemann's boxed donuts for me and saved the day! My favorite part of this cake is the small picture of Tank in the window which is an idea I took from a cake my sister made years ago.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Another Happy Birthday!

Another birthday in our house with Tank turning 8 years old! The birth of Baby makes Tank officially the middle child having three older siblings and three younger and as I probably have said before he really acts the part. As of late he has chosen the gang he prefers to spend time with and that is the younger set. (Although he does play with the older boys too). The kids are all planning who is going to sleep where when we ever get around to making the boys bedroom in the basement. It was going to be the four boys moving but Tank decided that he would rather stay upstairs and share a room with Missy and Seppy and they have grand plans for that, obviously far ahead of our planning.

Tank at 4 months. Love his round bald little face. 
Tank enjoys reading and lately it is the Tintin books. He is my only child who learned to read easily and took off with it and I was so thankful for that! He also enjoys lego building (who doesn't?) and playing football. John has said that Tank has a natural talent there.

This past year Tank has grown-up in a few ways. First, he is finally able to find his shoes before we leave the house and that is a major accomplishment! He also overcame his fear of thunderstorms for the most part and no longer throws up when he hears the thunder. This in part because of the storm we drove through on our vacation. We haven't seen any skunks lately so we aren't sure if that fear still exists or not.

Tank's favorite food has been the same for the past few years and is lasagne and he also really likes red peppers.

In looking through some old pictures and old posts I found something I wrote about Tank that you might enjoy reading. HERE 

Happy 8th Birthday my beautiful brown-eyed boy!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Single Digits No More for Two Boys

Pete and Re-Pete have been counting down to their birthday and yesterday I was telling them that it was the last day of their entire lives that they would be in the single digits. It probably has more meaning for me in that it is a sign of how fast time is passing and they just laugh at my pretending to cry.
Pete sucking Re-Pete's thumb
It is nice to have a birthday on a Saturday as Daddy is home! Yay! We began the day with the requested breakfast I rarely make because is it not healthy in the least. Some people call it monkey bread ours is just caramel rolls. (White bread and brown sugar -- one of these days I'll make that one better for you too). We also had sausages and sparkling grape juice. The actual celebration is next weekend.

Pete and Re-Pete are 1 hour and 8 minutes apart in age and we had fun with that today. They are very similar in personality and are each others best friend. The bond is so close, although no, they cannot feel each others pain or know what the other is thinking. Being identical they still do things at the same time or very close to it. They wake at the same time in the morning before the rest of us, getting dressed right away and then often hop in bed with me when I finally wake up. They still have to use the bathroom around the same time. They both have the same response when upset and both enjoy math or anything to do with numbers. They both have struggled learning to read. Neither of them will wear the others clothes and are very possessive about that. (I guess they share everything else that this bothers them).

They also weigh the same (except during growth spurts when they maybe off a pound or two) and are the same height. They wear the same size shoe and have the same teeth loose at the same time.

They do have a few differences. You will almost always see Pete wearing his favorite color -- green and Re-Pete will be in orange. George would love it if they would try to trick people by switching shirts but they never agree to that. Re-Pete is more athletic and very competitive when it comes to playing football and he loves sports. He also likes to watch football with Daddy, any team that happens to be on. And while Pete enjoys it to an extent and especially the Packers he is not as intense. Pete enjoys cooking in the kitchen with me and also is a natural with little children. He will take Baby boy and hold him even when crying to get him to sleep. I also noticed yesterday how he took a puppet and came up behind the little ones having it give them kisses. Re-Pete does enjoy holding Baby too but not quite in the same way. Pete also enjoys gardening.

Some likes for both are: collecting football cards, playing games such as Settlers of Catan, Life, Risk and other games of logic. They can't get enough of building with legos and prefer to keep the models together.

Favorite foods --
Pete: chicken potpie, apple pie, granny smith apples
Re-Pete: hamburgers, pizza, apple slices (similar to apple pie), oranges

Happy Double Digit Birthday Boys! We Love You!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

What a difference a day makes

The past few days have been gorgeous weather here! January typically has snow and cold temperatures but we have only a trace amount of white on the ground and that is only in the spots that never see the sun. And the temperature got up to 50 degrees for two days this week! I took advantage of that washing all of the sheets and hung them out to dry. They smelled fresh, although with a completely different scent than when everything is green and growing. I can't recall a time I have ever hung out laundry in the winter and I really could get used to it. But alas, the cold front came through and we now have 4 or 5 inches of snow today so back to reality we go. I must say having winter come so much later makes it seem more bearable. We'll see if I am still saying that come the end of February.

On another note -- I mentioned in Baby Boy's 4 month update that he has been wheezy. Well, that increased this past weekend and so we began breathing treatments again. That didn't seem to accomplish anything and I began brainstorming with a few moms. I ended up taking him to the chiropractor who said he was very tight and adjusted him. George got a kick out of watching his baby brother hanging upside down but Baby loved it and looked around as if nothing was out of the ordinary. She did agree with me that if he wasn't better by the next day I would take him to the doctor.

Happy Wheezer
Of course the wheezing continued and while we watched for any other signs of something serious like difficulty breathing, retracting chest, etc. our little guy remained happy, and was eating and sleeping well. But I took him into the doctor because obviously something was wrong. Our doctor was quite surprised at how his lungs sounded after seeing no visible sign of sickness other than the wheezing. She ordered a chest x-ray and that came back that Baby has pneumonia. John and I thought they would send Baby along with me to spend some time in the hospital but thankfully his oxygen level is normal and his breathing is not labored and we were not admitted to the hospital. He gets breathing treatments every 4 hours and is on antibiotics so should be on the mend. John in talking to Simon asked if he is so happy when he is sick how much happier will he be when completely normal. :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Our New Mode of Transportation

Well, we did it! We are now the proud(?) owners of a 15 passenger van. The first time I rode in it I sat there amazed at how far we have come with vehicles since those early years of marriage.

Oh, how I remember my brand new Ford Contour in dark iridescent teal. (I tried in vain to find a picture I have of it which started me sorting old pictures). I leased it right before I got married. I loved that car - the smell, the color, the thick steering wheel. It was a step up from the old Cutlass I had been driving with the seat that was at a permanent tilt. But alas, times changed, babies started coming and vehicles needed to change too. We have had various cars and trucks since that car. Some new, some older models and even a fun, sporty and fast Dodge Charger that was my favorite of all.

When we had twins we knew we needed a minivan to fit more car seats and were very happy with our Honda Odyssey. Being that we leased at that time we were able to get a new van every few years and that worked well for us for a time but then John decided that was enough and purchased our current minivan. (I really do miss that new car smell!) When we found we were expecting baby #7 we knew the inevitable was here. People had been questioning when we were going to get a big van for quite awhile by now. After all, our church parking lot is full of them -- white and burgundy and loaded with children. I don't know that either of us relished the idea. But it was already a tight fit and 7 children do not fit in the back of a minivan.

We began to look at options (which are not many) and a friend would jokingly send us pictures of things like a small school bus or a souped up Dodge Sprinter. I found a van I really liked but it is only sold in Korea. I told John surely if he went over to Korea on business he could pick one up and have it shipped over. He explained however that vehicles there do not have to meet all of the emissions that ours do which is why it is not sold here. Well, I could dream.

You may recall that we sold our motor home this past fall so we could buy a large van. John wanted to keep the minivan for me to drive during the week to save on gas mileage. I know some people have commented that we have so many vehicles; including John's work car, truck with a plow (really only used for snow), an old mustang John rebuilt the engine on, and my minivan. While that may be true George told me the other night that "they all serve a purpose".

So, back to the story. We had been waiting and praying for the right van for us. This was a big decision and we were going to take our time making it. I hoped for a colorful van and maybe captains chairs but alas the "fun" colors are usually the large vans that only fit 7 and the same with the seating. I agreed that any color but white would be nice. John wanted a 15 passenger right away to take out the back seat and use for storage space and taking Lincoln in his crate when need be. There was a new white van at the dealer in town but we felt we still needed to wait.

Last weekend John went into town to pick up a few things and drove past the Ford dealer (he wanted a Chevy because of the better suspension) and low and behold there sat a silver 15 passenger Chevy Express. As it turns out it had only been there an hour as the previous owner traded it in for a smaller van. He brought it home to show us right away and we agreed that it was what we had been waiting for and more within our price range being that it is four years old.

We picked up our van on Monday and the kids were thrilled! They have been waiting to not be "squished" any longer. I think I may have to invest in a megaphone to talk to those in the back row. There is so much room we can have two children per seat. For now, I am not going to drive it and we'll only use it on weekends together or for trips. I have enough problems parking a minivan so don't think I can handle a "bus" quite yet.
I am so thankful for how the Lord provides especially when we wait on Him and not rush into a decision based on our own feelings and desires. George says that I have a song for everything and playing through my mind now is the old Michael W. Smith song -- "Oh the hand of providence is guiding us through choices that we make."

"The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps."
Proverbs 16:9

Saturday, January 7, 2012

4 Months Old

Baby Boy you are now 4 months old and are more fun each day. You had a well-baby check-up and now weigh #16 lbs 2 oz. (can't remember your height at the moment) and have jumped again to the next size diaper and are wearing a size 3 which is where you will stay for awhile.

This cold of yours with a bit of a wheeze is still lingering on but it doesn't seem to bother you for the most part. In the beginning your Daddy and I were admittedly a bit nervous thinking back to a few of your brothers ending up in the hospital with RSV. We kept watching for signs of a the struggle to breathe but we knew you were in God's hands and we are so thankful He has protected you from that.

 You sleep great at night no longer waking for a feeding. And so it is consistent that you sleep from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m. and sometimes longer. I end up having to pump milk once in awhile to take off the major let-down as you choke so easily with almost every feeding but especially so the first one of the day. You still eat every 3-4 hours.

Your colicky symptoms are decreasing although at your check-up they gave us a sample of baby probiotics which gets to the root of the problem and that seems to help. The rest of us all take chewables and I had read about drops but hadn't looked for them. Kind of pricey but worth it to give you a healthy digestive system. I was also very happy that our doctor doesn't jump on the medicine bandwagon right away!

We know you are tired when you refuse to look at anyone. It is kind of amusing but you like to really study objects and if we call your name or try to get in line with your view you turn your head and avoid us.

You have rolled from your back to your belly a number of times but very sporadically. You do like to be on your belly and the kids are hoping that soon you will start inching forward and crawl. (Please not too soon!)

You have the sweetest little giggle and especially when Daddy or Grandma like to tickle you.

We love you little boy!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Wishing you a Very Happy New Year! Here is a video of the children in the church Christmas program singing Listen to the Story. When I watched this I realized how much my little Miss is growing up. All but Seppy are singing here.

December Happenings

December flew by so fast... for that matter the past four months have flown by so fast and my blogging is evidence of that because I never seem to have the time to update it. And too, having extremely SLOW internet service this past month means I cannot upload pictures. Today I am at my parents house where the wireless is so fast I don't know what to do first! :) Here are pictures of some of the happenings from the past month.
Luke lead the gang in making applesauce when I wasn't getting a move on it.
Our family with my Grandpa who still sits at the large red kettle at the mall during the Christmas season. As a little girl I always liked going to the mall to visit my Grandpa with his tape recorder playing Christmas music and handing out War Crys to the passersby. I have tried to continue that tradition with my children. The older boys and I also had a fun time ringing the bells with our 4H club.
Tank and Seppy getting ready to sing at the nursing home.
George playing his guitar at the nursing home.

Singing at the nursing home with other kids from church
My favorites that the children decorated.
All of us on Christmas Eve

Tank pouring sparkling grape juice for Grandma during our Christmas brunch.
Christmas day walking in a bit of a winter wonderland up the "rock road"

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