Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Practice, Practice, Practice

It's that time of year again where we learn lines and memorize songs and cram in long practices twice and sometimes three times a week. The kids are getting ready for this year's 4H Music and Drama Festival which is held mid-February. This year we are doing a fast-paced musical called "A Kid's Life". It is about kids in a tech-savy family who find themselves without power and nothing works. No cell phones, no computers, no video games. They have no idea what to do with themselves until their grandparents show up and show them how to play and have fun together.

The only thing my kids don't like about it is there aren't any fun costumes. In past years we have dressed as a King's Court, figures from American history and last year circus performers. A lot of fun. This time it is everyday clothes. And too we have a lot of kids in this play and there aren't enough lines to go around so the parts are quite small. But they all said they are having a lot of fun with it.

Pete and Missy are kids in the family. There are 9 children in this family which is actually how it was written and Re-Pete is their Dad. George and Tank are part of the chorus. George doesn't have many lines but being that he is also involved in a homeschool production coming up in April he was reluctantly okay with that.

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Here they are singing a song about games. George is a bingo caller. Tank and Re-Pete play charades during a brief time during the song. You cannot see Missy but she is playing cards at a table on the other side of the chorus.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lego Hobbit Birthday Cake

While I love to celebrate birthdays it is not always the easiest having children that share a party and each want their own cake. January is especially difficult in that three boys share the celebration. Pete and Re-Pete have never had a problem sharing a cake but Tank really enjoys his own. Only one year they shared a large castle. This time we searched pinterest of course and found ideas for a football layered cake for Pete and Re-Pete and a Hobbit hole cake for Tank. But as the day drew nearer I dreaded having to make two different cakes and came up with the idea of making three hobbit holes. Afterall, John had just taken the four older boys to see the movie which they thoroughly enjoyed. Thankfully we convinced the three boys that it was a good idea also. In the end, I am not sure that it was any easier than two different cakes but it was fun and turned out better than I had hoped.

The boys and I all collaborated on various ideas to add or change things based on the Lego Lord of the Rings game and pictures of Hobbit holes. Each boy would have a door in a favorite color (Re-Pete decided on blue instead of his favorite orange).

Now, the hardest part for me is all of the baking and frosting making. That was especially the case as Re-Pete and Tank wanted chocolate and Pete wanted carrot. And according to the boys, in the movie Bilbo has a green door which is at the top of the hill but we could not be technically accurate on this point because Pete wanted a green door but in keeping with the different flavors of cake his had to be in the middle. I don't know that it really matters.

I am posting a few pictures of the assembly as that is what I always wish I would find when looking for ideas online. Here is the chocolate side. You can see that it doesn't have look nice as one of my layers didn't come out of the pan very well (or rather I was in a hurry and didn't let it cool long enough). The hobbit holes are made out of round layers. So for the chocolate side I baked two 9X13's and one 9 inch and one 8 inch round.

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For the carrot side I baked one 9X13 and two rounds the same as with the chocolate. I cut a portion off the back of the 9X13 and added it to make the back of the hobbit hole. If I was doing only one hobbit hole I think I'd try baking it in a batter bowl instead to avoid having the tiers which I suppose I could have leveled out. The chimney's were made out of scraps from the chocolate cake. The reason the chocolate side has frosting is because we were waiting for the carrot cake to cool and didn't want to waste time. George and Pete took turns piping on some grass after I put a thin layer of green. Didn't get this all together in time to freeze it first to avoid crumbs but that is the beauty of piping. It covers crumbs quite well!

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Here is the next day -- cake complete! Next time I really, really need to bake a week in advance! 

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Let's go on a tour. We'll start at the bottom which is Re-Pete's door. We all liked this hole the best in how it blended into the "hillside" so well. Re-Pete put Sam at his door sweeping up the gravel. You can see I was getting lazy as the grass is kind of crazy in places. But the boys reminded me that Hobbits don't have lawnmowers so that was okay. :)

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Next we have Pete's green door which is Bilbo's door. At this point in time though we didn't have Bilbo so this is Frodo I believe (if it matters to you). The doors were made out of Wilton candy melts. I put 5 in a circle on wax paper, melted, and spread out then put a cookie cutter over to make the perfect shape. It has to be cut out before it dries or it will break. We lightly cut the lines in the door and the boys used a toothpick to make it look more rustic.

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One of the boys got Bilbo for a gift and so we added him later. And if you look closely on the door you can see Gandolf's sign which the boys made sure I put on. The bricks around the door are made from modeling chocolate that John's cousin recommended I try. (Thanks for the tip Colleen!)

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And here is Tank's yellow door. For the flagstone on the chimneys and doorways I used white chocolate chips and corn syrup dyed with a bit of black (modeling chocolate as above). I didn't like the white near as much as the chocolate as it was much drier and in turn I ended up chopping much of it up for the gravel. I also found with white chips it didn't need to be refrigerated as the recipe said. Tank also added a bench and a garden made from Nerds. The yellow ones are the weeds that Frodo is removing. We thought of adding windows but there wasn't enough time to add more. And we had wanted a chocolate fence but pretzels was the last minute thing. Dirt was crumbled up cake.

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There you have it! It was quite a process but the boys all helped as much as they could and put everything where it needed to go. After all of that work it sure was hard to cut into it though! But it sure did taste good too!

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ticket at the End of Life

I was going through my posts today and found that I have a few that are still listed as "drafts" that I never posted. I was probably going to add a picture to this one and never got to it. This was originally written June 2, 2012....

George and I went to a funeral this week for a lady from church. Emma was 92 and I have known her as long as I can remember. I don't like funerals. Does anybody? Well, George seems to find them interesting. I don't like to think about death. Does anybody? But it is a part of life.

As I sat in the funeral home during the service I kept glancing over at my Grandpa often with tears in my eyes knowing that in the not-too-distant future I will be sitting in a similar situation again and again. He turned 92 yesterday. He has been slowing down considerably as of late and he isn't too happy about it. Pete cuts his grass each week to earn a bit of money and lately I've been coming along to help weed or plant flowers. Every time I do there Grandpa is, dragging barrels over for the weeds, trying to rake up the soil, anything he can with his now gnarled hands. But then he sadly tells me "I just can't do anything anymore". A few weeks ago he mopped his floor and the next day wondered why he was so "bushed" and sore. What a terrible feeling it must be to have to slow down.

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I recently asked him how he felt about coming to the end of his life. Now, I know without a doubt that my sweet Grandpa trusts in Jesus as his Savior and will be in heaven when he dies but I wanted to know how it feels to know with certainty that your days left on earth are very few. He told me that he can't wait. He knows it won't be long and he longs to leave this earth. It is just getting "worse and worse" and what awaits us in heaven is where he desires to be. Now, admittedly I desire heaven -- someday. But now? It is hard to say I am longing for it when I am here delighting in my growing family. I asked him if he always felt that way but his hearing is not good and I don't know that he understood me because he just repeated how bad this world is getting.

And while I am trusting in Christ for my salvation that doesn't stop the at times uncertainty of the unknown of living forever. And at those times I am reminded of something that Corrie TenBoom, a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps wrote about what her father told her when she was fearful about persecution or death -- “Corrie,” he began gently. “When you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?” “Why, just before we get on the train.” “Exactly. And our wise Father in heaven knows when we're going to need things, too. Don't run out ahead of him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need – just in time.” 

It seems that my Grandpa is ready for his ticket. And I know too that when that day comes God will give me the strength I need to press on.




Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tank Turns 9!

It is birthday week and today Tank turned 9 years old! Often I think it might have been easier if he had his birthday first as he has a hard time waiting once his brothers have their day. Hopefully he is learning patience in the meantime!

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Tank woke to streamers in his bedroom door but seeing as they were there two days ago as well I also strung balloons at the top of the stairs to welcome him. He is funny in how he has everything planned just so. I finished his portion of our chalkboard last night but apparently I was supposed to do it when he was sleeping. :)- He was adamant that the Christmas tree, which is very dead and dry, stay up until his birthday. And the playlist in itunes today is a Christmas selection. He even modified my Happy Birthday screen saver on the computer to his chosen color (yellow of course!) and font. 

Tank chose pancakes with apple topping and a side of sausages for breakfast but it really doesn't matter what I make because he is SO excited that he can't eat anyway. I think he may have had some of the apples and after the table was cleared tried a sausage. Supper will be lasagna. I wonder if he'll eat that? The same thing happens when we take him out to eat, which will be next week. He is so excited to go out that he can't eat the food in front of him. I love his little quirks!

Tank is a bit disappointed that Daddy couldn't have the day off again today but he did stay and eat breakfast with us which was really nice and last night took him riding on the 4-wheeler. The rest of the day I believe Tank has revolving around playing a video game or two (football and Lord of the Rings). Not sure what else is on his mind.

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Happy 9th Birthday my Chocolate-Eyed boy! (He says he doesn't like that name but secretly I think he really does -- I just love those beautiful eyes!)



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tasty Tuesday -- Texas Roadhouse Rolls

My kids absolutely LOVE the rolls at Texas Roadhouse. Maybe you do too. John and I took Pete out to eat for his birthday Friday night and he chose Texas Roadhouse which is where a few of his siblings always choose. The funny thing was that Missy put in her "order" for Pete to save a roll to bring home for her. I believe a few others asked too. We only did come away with two rolls which is not helpful in the sharing situation.

I figured there had to be a copycat recipe out there so decided I might as well try it to satisfy those longings for rolls. It is as all yeast breads and takes a bit of time. I found this on Eat Cake for Dinner and she did say that they don't taste exactly the same but it was worth a try.

Missy was right there helping each step up of the way as she is my carb girl and can't get enough. She could not wait for them to come out of the oven and be covered in butter. (Didn't get a picture). We got around 30 out of this but were not consistent in the size so you could get more.

The verdict from Missy, our Texas Roadhouse roll expert -- "Not zactly (exactly) the same, but they're delicious! Can I have a second?" They do taste very close and the pillowy consistency is right but I think TR rolls are a tad sweeter.

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And there you have it. If you have a longing for Texas Roadhouse rolls give this recipe a whirl. Now that I have made them as the recipe says I think I'll try a partly whole wheat version if I want them to remain on the menu.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Two Boys turn 11

The long awaited day has come and gone. Pete and Re-Pete turned 11 this morning.

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They were up before the sun as always ready for the day ahead. Pete was on the computer checking for an expected e-card when I dragged myself out of bed to turn the oven on for the requested cinnamon roll breakfast.

They do agree on breakfast but their choice in supper is a different story. They both have some similar dislikes for instance neither of them will eat rice unless it is mixed into a soup or casserole. Pete always chooses Chicken Potpie which we will have tomorrow night. Re-Pete had a hard time making up his mind but went with spaghetti. Unfortunately, they had a busy evening with 4H play practice followed by the monthly meeting. But we'll have their party at the end of the month.

The treat of the day for all of us was that Daddy took a day of vacation. What do you think the favorite activity was? Even though it was below 20 degrees today they all wanted to ride the 4-Wheeler of course.

Pete had his night out with John and I this past Friday and chose Texas Roadhouse as he was in the mood for ribs. Re-Pete said he is in the mood for a hamburger so we are contemplating where to take him this week.

I wrote this in my Christmas letter so some of you may already know that for the first time since they were infants Re-Pete weighs more than Pete -- a whole 4 pounds! Although I don't think it really is noticeable some say his neck is thicker. And apparently Re-Pete is also 1/8 inch taller. I have a feeling it will all even out again but we'll see.

I re-read their birth story that I blogged about in 2007 and it is always fun to look back. And I had a brief recollection of just how hard it was with two babies for those first couple of years. Look how far we have come and what amazing boys they are today.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Boys New Bedroom

We have done so much remodeling over the years and there are still things to be completed. Once in awhile I will look back and wonder why we even put an addition onto the house. When we moved in all was complete with no projects to be done. No wiring hanging from the ceiling to have a light added, no splotches on the walls waiting to be primed and painted. And now, the list of projects to complete is never-ending. But, I also know we would be crammed in tight if not for adding on and at that time we didn't have any idea how big our family would become.

Typically John will do the work himself or have family/friends help. This time we needed to fix up a bedroom for the boys in the basement. We had the four older boys sharing a bedroom upstairs which was getting a bit tight but then Zippy came along and he needed a place to sleep too. As it turned out he shared our room for the first year which wasn't really in my plans but you do what you have to do. Then John decided to hire someone to do the work for which I was so thankful. All we needed to do was paint.

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This room is huge and is actually the bedroom that John grew up in. After we moved in my Mom and I painted it and it was a nice guest room for when John's parents and others came to visit. You can see the lovely purple sponged look and pansy stencil. Ahh, the 90's...wonderful years. Ha ha! Funny how styles change.

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Over the years I had other plans for a craft room and we divided the room but that never did materialize and who has time for crafts. :)

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I should have taken a picture right after moving in (end of summer) but didn't, so here is the lived in version. The boys decided they wanted to all sleep on the same side of the room and the other side will be dedicated to legos. What else is there? Couldn't agree on any "theme" as some wanted more rustic cowboys and some wanted sports. Each boy has his favorite color in his bedding and also in a stripe on the wall.

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I had this color scheme in my head for a long time. It was a bit time intensive, although since it was something I enjoy doing, it wasn't bad. If you ever want to paint stripes I recommend using the pricier green painters tape that prevents leaking. I did not and thought I could save a few dollars but ended up with jagged lines that I ended up touching up with a fine tip paint brush. That was putzy!

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We have ideas to make a storage area and lego counter to build at and shelving to display their creations but that has yet to happen. So now it is a big mass of lego building on the floor. Keep your shoes on if you enter! Unless of course your feet like my children's seem to be -- tough and able to step on anything without pain.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Teeth and Old Wives Tale

Have you heard the old wives tale -- Gain a Child, Lose a Tooth ? Well, it certainly seems to be working that way for me. I have never had very good teeth and now that a few of my children have inherited that trait I am coming to find that a lot of that is in the genes and it isn't all related to care of teeth or maybe lack of. Although, I kind of wish I did have a little more control over these teeth of mine!

You may recall my dental fiasco while in vacation a few years ago. My teeth always seem to give me problems when I am pregnant. Well, as it turns out that tooth ended up needing a root canal somewhere done the line although I can't keep up with this stuff. The problem after being that I never did get a permanent crown put on. Those are pricey you may know. So they kept putting on temporary fillings. Therein lies the problem and a note for any of you putting off dental work... get it done as soon as you can!

My temporary filling broke off this weekend and what was left was practically nothing. I thought it a little odd and wondered how they could possibly even put a crown on since there wasn't much of anything to attach it to. Well, my wondering was right on. As it turns out there must have been a small hole or crack in the filling that allowed a cavity to build inside. Lovely. No pain since there isn't a root anyway but that means that I will lose the tooth. Ahh! 

I had a back molar removed last year which was not a pleasant experience in any way as while they were pulling it found there was an infection. How they knew was I could feel the pulling. If you don't know, with an infection the numbing doesn't totally take effect. Enough said.

Anyway, they assure me there is no infection because I have no root so this shouldn't be bad. I am just wondering how they pull a tooth that hardly exists but I am again assured that Dr. Joe is the best tooth puller as he does a few every day. Lovely. And I really don't want the alternative of an Oral Surgeon. No, I think I would be even more on edge about that. Of course I have to wait a week and I'd really just like it over with.

And so there you have it... my mouth woes. I am sure it was enlightening and the best stuff you've read in awhile right! Ha ha! But seriously, if you do have any dental work that needs to be done -- don't put it off. I always tend to learn lessons the hard way. {sigh}


Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Toy

John brought home a "new toy" for the family the other day. He has been talking about getting a 4-wheeler for awhile now. We used to have a golf cart to drive around that we used when John was racing but he sold that and the kids were really itching for something to drive around this summer. We used to have a snowmobile (when we only had one child) but the winters were sparse on snow so he sold that too, or maybe traded it. This winter would be perfect for one but John wasn't keen on spending money on a snowmobile that can only be used for one season.

Low and behold he was talking with a guy at work the other day and out of the blue the guy asked if he might be interested in buying a 4-wheeler. And it turns out it was a great deal and perfect timing. And the kids were over the moon thrilled!

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I have yet to ride on it but that is the daily event for everyone else now. Today everyone had a chance to learn to drive while Daddy gave advice on the back. One of these days maybe I'll get my turn too. I think that John is having the most fun of all! I have a feeling this is the first of the big toys. I mean, how will five boys share this one vehicle? :)

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Miss Nora's Smile

Little Miss Nora is having surgery to repair her cleft lip and palate this morning. Jason and Heather have such mixed feelings and I can only imagine. A needful thing but yet still a difficult decision to make and watch your little girl go through. She will need to be in arm restraints (no-no's) for a couple of weeks and she is a thumb-sucker. Oh my! Please pray for them if you would.

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I was able to take family pictures for them in November not too long after Nora came home to her forever family. In looking at this now and I can see how far she has come in the past two months when comparing to the smiles they get from her now. What a sweet smile. One that will forever be altered today.

And if like me you get caught up in wanting to know more, Heather has often said her feelings echo another dear Mommy to a clefty little girl. And as providence would have it that little girl is also having her lip repaired today. Here is a beautiful post talking about the feelings that come along with this next step of the journey.
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