Sunday, November 29, 2009

Belly Up, Boys!

We pulled Sam, Isaac and Alex up to the table for snack time the other day. It was the first time they sat at the table instead of in "Highchair Alley." They sure thought they were big boys!

The three of them giggled and grinned, and then this chain reaction happened:

No, we don't need a drum set or three, thank you very much. The boys can make plenty of noise without one, as you can see.

I know this is a harbinger of things to come. Because I'm sure that over the years there will be much more egging each other on that takes place around the dinner table!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Couple of Turkeys

I'm finally coming out of my tryptophan-induced coma to post. And this post is still Thanksgiving related.
Thursday as I was making the gravy and getting a few other things ready for our feast, I looked up to find trouble a'brewin' in the family room.
The boys had somehow gotten ahold of a brand-new, FULL container of baby powder and pried the top off.


The two culprits were rolling in the baby powder, having a great time. The third party was rocketing across the floor to get in on the action until I intercepted him.

Sam, Alex and Isaac: JAILED!

The boys thought it was good fun!

Isaac: "But, Mom!"

Alex: "Let's do it again!"

Jeff vacuumed both the carpet and the boys. They found the getting clean less fun than the getting dirty. I blame this distraction for the fact that Amelia and I forgot to put the sugar in the pumpkin pie.

On the plus side, the carpet sure smells nice now.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thanksgiving Long Ago and Far Away

When Jeff and I were first married we lived in Canterbury, England while I did my Master's degree. My class of 25 students from all over the world -- Japan, Norway, Greece, Italy, France, Turkey, Colombia, Russia, England and America -- decided to have a Thanksgiving feast, even though it's not an English holiday.

What the heck. Any excuse for a party.

So we planned. Who would go in to buy the turkey. Who would bring the mashed potatoes. Who would make the stuffing, the green beans, the salad, the cranberry relish. My job was apple pie. Appropriate for the American in the group.

As I was making my pies I looked at Jeff and said, "No one was told to bring wine. We'd better bring a couple bottles."

Well apparently great minds think alike, because ALL 25 of us, plus our two professors, brought wine. It worked out to be more than two bottles of wine per person.

And, of course, we drank it all. We were young. And apparently, not too bright.

My liver hurts just thinking about it.

Consequently, some of the details of the evening are a little hazy. But I do know that we all had a great time.

The Americans in the group told the story of the first Thanksgiving and we all said what it was we were grateful for. My classmates embraced the traditions wholeheartedly, and I hope they remember the celebration as fondly as I do.

But the wine. Oh, the wine! I have to take a couple of aspirin just to write this.

I remember clearly that one of our professors left the party early, probably by 8 p.m. Wet blanket that he was, he admonished us as he left, reminding us that we were all expected to appear for our morning seminar bright and early the next morning.

We smiled and nodded and toasted his departure heartily after the door closed.

We drank and drank and drank. In the wee hours of the morning one of my classmates, who wisely quit drinking early in the evening, drove several of us home. I swear he had a blue car. I later found out it was red.

Did I mention there was a little wine there? And that writing this is bringing back a monstrous headache?

But the next morning at 8:30 a.m. we were all at seminar. Bleary eyes. Pounding heads. Coffee cups in hand. Barely sentient. But there.

I would have felt sorry for our presenter, but I couldn't muster the strength.

As we were about to start the head of the department came in with an announcement.

He informed us that our other professor, who stuck with us until the bitter end, would not be in the office that day.

"He has informed me that after last night's party he feels as if he's been hit by a bus."

Only in England would an professor offer that excuse to his boss. And only in England would his boss chuckle and repeat it to his students.

It was a great Thanksgiving. Because even though we were far from home, we had friends to celebrate with, and we made memories that far outlasted the hangover.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Best Holiday of Them All

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

There are no presents to buy. No scratching your head to figure out what to get for your friends and family. No wrapping and shipping and fighting the lines at the post office.

The decorating can be simple. A nice tablecloth on the table takes care of it. No lights, no hauling boxes of ornaments and garland out of basements and attics.

Thanksgiving is all about the food and gathering with family and friends. It's about enjoying each other's company and celebrating all of our blessings.

And even if you're in charge of the feast, the food is pretty easy to prepare. Throw that turkey in a roasting bag, mash some taters, make a little gravy and put a little something green on the table (roasted asparagus is one of my favorites). Throw in a pumpkin pie and bada bing bada boom. You've got Thanksgiving covered.

Mmmm...we do love our mashed potatoes around here!

Of course you can go all out, but your guests will appreciate even a simple meal. And if you do screw it up -- and you have a sense of humor -- you and your family and friends will have a story to chuckle over for years to come.

My favorite Thanksgiving story came from a former colleague of mine. She loved to tell about the year she bought a new covered roaster before Thanksgiving. It happened to be a beautiful shade of blue. She washed it up, popped in her bird and when she took the cover off her roaster to check the bird it was blue.

Not slightly blue. Vividly blue. Like a pair of denim jeans.

And not just the outside. No siree. That bird was blue through and through. Her kids thought it was the funniest thing ever. So they all had a good laugh and every year they repeat the story.

So see? Something good can come out of even the most disastrous Thanksgiving meal!

Of course, if you're still feeling a bit overwhelmed, you can always call in reinforcements to help with the meal prep.

I just happen to be lucky enough to have a fairy on hand...

...and she's always happy to help make mashed potatoes!

Wishing you a Thanksgiving full of good food, laughter with family and friends, and, of course, mashed potatoes!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Things Moms Say

The other day I sent out a quick Tweet:

I immediately got back several replies, including this one:

Others responded with:
  • Stop licking the van!
  • Don't hit your brother/sister so hard.
  • Don't touch the poop.
  • That's not a hat. That's a sandwich.

And our Christmas cheer entry:

  • Quit eating Jesus!

When I became a mom I figured I'd hear myself saying all the standard-issue mom things. "Keep your fingers out of your nose." "Don't run in the house." "No jumping on the bed." You know, typical things.

But then I found out that this job isn't standard issue at all. I found myself saying, "Keep the play-do out of your nose!" and "We don't bang on the walls with our baby dolls." and "We don't play in the sandbox naked." And that was with just one child!

Then the triplets came along and added a whole new level of bizarre to the parenting, and consequently, to the things I say. At nine months there was, "Don't pants your brother!" At 11 months, "Don't chew your food and give it to your brother." At one year, "Don't make your brother eat the sand." "Don't play in your brother's snot." And tonight, "Peeing in the bathtub isn't funny."

Except it is funny. And I can't wait to hear what comes out of my mouth down the road.

What about you? What's on your list of things you never thought you'd say?

Monday, November 23, 2009

That Kind of Day

I'm a self-admitted night owl, and this is the time of night when I usually sit down to blog. Once everyone is in bed and the chores are done, I feel that I can make the jumbled mess in my brain somewhat coherent.

But tonight, the night owl is worn out.

It was just that kind of day.

The kind of day where, as always, I fed, clothed and tended to the bodily functions of four little people.

But I also took the four of them to a play date, ran the crew around outside for an hour, helped Amelia make a fall wreath for Thanksgiving (photos of that later), wrote a fundraising letter for a board I'm on, dealt with a bad case of diaper rash, wiped away tears following two major head bumps, made a pan of bars, attended a neighborhood meeting, and then wound up counting ballots in the neighborhood association elections.

I'm generally tired at the end of a typical day around here. Throw in the play date, fundraising efforts, baking and election dealings, and I'm plumb tuckered.

And all the kids are NOT asleep.

I took Amelia to the neighborhood meeting with me this evening. Divide and conquer, you know. It was at 7:00, so I figured we'd be home by 8:30 at the latest. I was wrong.

Amelia was so well behaved. She colored quietly and whispered to me when she had to talk. Well, until I stood up to talk. Then she stood beside me and yelled, "Why are you standing up and talking, Mom?"

Then I wound up doing the ballot count, and it got a little late, as in a full hour past Amelia's bedtime. Amelia, God bless her, hung right in there, thanks to more than one neighbor who admired her coloring and talked with her while she waited patiently.

Unfortunately, someone put about $15 worth of quarters in her. Or gave her Pixy Stix to snort. So now she is in bed, but decidedly not sleeping.

She's wound up, and wound up good. We haven't seen the likes of this since Halloween and the requisite sugar overload.

Remind me tomorrow that a good civics lesson is worth the pain, won't you?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Recipe From Back Home

Last night we had roast chicken for supper, and I threw the bones into the pot for soup. I had chicken corn chowder in mind, but when I reached for my recipe box I pulled out the recipe for knephla soup instead.

Knephla (pronounced nef-la) are little dumplings, and this soup is a local favorite in the Great Frozen North where I grew up. No surprise, since it seems to have both German and Scandinavian roots.

Knephla soup is perfect for a brisk fall day or a cold winter's eve. In fact, it's one of my favorite things to serve on Christmas Eve. Add a little salad, some fresh hot bread, and a good chunk of cheese, and you've got a meal that is as easy as it is delicious.

Don't let the name scare you off. If you like chicken noodle soup, you'll like this soup, too. I promise!

Knephla Soup
6 potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 medium onions, chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/3 C. butter
5 C. chicken stock
1 Tbsp. parsley flakes
2-3 Tbsp. chives
1 13-oz. can evaporated milk
salt and pepper to taste

Knephla: 1 C. flour, 1 egg, 1/2 C. water

In a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, saute onion in butter until soft. Add celery and carrot and saute for a few more minutes. Add potatoes, chicken stock and parsley. Boil until veggies are tender. Add milk and chives.

Mix knephla ingredients and return soup to a boil. Spoon TINY dollops -- 1/2 tsp. or less -- of knephla dough, which is a little thicker in consistency than pancake batter, into boiling soup until dough is gone or you're tired of making knephla.

Be warned, this makes a lot of knephla, but don't be tempted to make them bigger unless you like tough, doughy dumplings. And keep in mind that these little dumplings are delicious, so if you wimp out early you may regret it! I usually stop making knephla when I can no longer easily drop the dough straight into the boiling liquid. If your dollops of dough sit on top of other dumplings, they won't cook fast enough to be tender.

If you have kids who are old enough to help, they will have a blast dropping knephla dough into the soup and watching the dumplings pop up to the surface.

Simmer at least 10 minutes more.

The soup can be thickened with cornstarch and water after the milk is added. If you want a heartier soup, you can add 1/2 - 1 C. chopped, cooked chicken with the milk and chives.

I like to make this and then transfer it to my crock pot to simmer on low all day. As it simmers, the soup will thicken, so if you plan to simmer a long time, hold off on the cornstarch and see if you need it when you are ready to serve.


Saturday, November 21, 2009


Earlier this week the boys tried out color crayons for the first time.

Of course, they spent a lot of the time putting the crayons in their mouths instead of using them on the paper. But then, they were in their high chairs, so who can blame them for being confused?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Show Those Pearly Whites

Today we took everyone to the dentist for the first time. And things went pretty well.

We wisely chose a pediatric dentist, and they have one large room with six chairs for routine checkups. That meant we could all go back together. The sweet staff even told us to turn Alex and Isaac loose, and they'd keep an eye on them while Sam and Amelia got their checkups.

Amelia was pretty unsure at first, and Sam screaming his head off didn't help. He started screaming before anyone even came near him. Usually he's so sweet, but he was not happy about being there. Once we let Amelia go over to see Sam and tell him that it was OK, she hopped up in the chair and did great.

Alex fussed some, and Isaac upped the ante by NOT screaming. Instead he clamped his mouth shut as tightly as possible.

The tooth count is:
Amelia - 20
Sam - 8 with #9 on the way
Isaac - 8
Alex - 6

All smiles were pronounced perfect, and we came home with a bag full of goodies. There were the usual stickers, toothbrushes and toothpaste. And Amelia got to bring home a mask, gloves, a little dental mirror and some flossers. So she could play dentist.

Amelia checks out her brushing job in her dentist's mirror.

By the time we got home she had her mirror out and her mask on and couldn't wait to get in the house to play dentist.

"OK, Mom. You be the kid and I'll be the dentist."

I looked at Jeff, who knows that the dentist's office is one of my least favorite places, and muttered under my breath, "Welcome to hell." He just laughed and left me to be Amelia's first, patient.

At least Amelia let me lay down for the examination, and that's close enough to getting a nap to count around here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Yep, She's Mine

When Amelia was younger she refused to eat mashed potatoes. No matter what I did, she rejected them, from the time she was old enough to have her first taste she turned her nose up.

It made me question whether she was really my child.

I LOVE mashed potatoes. In fact, if I had to choose between mashed potatoes and chocolate, it would be a very, very close contest. And I'm pretty sure the potatoes would win.

All of a sudden, Amelia's true genetic affinity for mashed potatoes has emerged. She's started asking if we can have them for supper, and even offering to help make them. (Any excuse to put on her apron!)

But this morning's mashed potato story tops them all.

Amelia woke up cranky. She made it very clear that she DID. NOT. WANT. TO. GO. TO. PRESCHOOL.

Then she remembered that they would be having their Thanksgiving feast lunch today. And there would be mashed potatoes.

Suddenly she couldn't get dressed and out the door fast enough.

That's my girl.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Seven Loads of Gratitude

It's 11:30 at night and I just put the seventh and final load of laundry in the dryer.

I am trying to be grateful that we have enough clothes and towels and jackets to even make seven loads of laundry.

Yessiree. Seven loads of gratitude.


Mostly snot-covered gratitude this week, but still gratitude.

And while it's challenging to be grateful for laundry, my happiness is very, very real.

Because just for a moment, everything in this house is clean. It's not all folded and put away, but it's all clean.

That's about as close to Laundry Nirvana as I've ever come. I'll take my victories where I can find them.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Who's In Charge Here?

I wish I had gotten this on video, but you'll have to settle for the telling of the tale.

As I was preparing supper this evening, Amelia was playing with her brothers. She brought out all three of their Bumbo seats and led each boy to his seat and helped him sit down. She did a pretty good job of talking them into going with her and was pretty gentle with her help.

Amelia wanted them to all sit down and pretend to be in the car with her.

But as soon as she got the last boy seated, one of the other two would get up and walk away. She would run after, pulling them back and "helping" them again.

I stood there laughing and watching this three-ring circus go on for a few minutes. When Amelia finally gave up I asked her if she knew who was in charge.

"I wanted to be in charge, Mom," she said.

I chuckled and thought to myself, "Yes, honey, I know you did. But we both know that you weren't!"

It's their world, Amelia. The rest of us just live in it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Kitchen Remodel

Every kitchen remodel must start with a wrecking crew, right?

Isaac, Sam and Alex show how quickly they can take the kitchen apart.
These guys are for hire if you're interested. They are thorough and can do the job in about 6.7 seconds.

The boys spend much of their time in the playroom/family room behind the big gate, so I like to let them roam a little every day. If we can't get outside, I will gate off the kitchen, lock and duct tape the cabinets I don't want them in and turn them loose.

You see what they can do in no time flat!

Thanks to this wrecking crew, I have had to move almost everything to the top two shelves of my pantry. I left unopened boxes and cans on the lower shelves for the boys to play with until this happened:

Hungry much, guys?

But, they have a great time. Which makes the cleanup almost worth it!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gimme MORE, Mama

We have been trying to teach the boys a few signs to help them communicate with us before they can really talk. We did this with Amelia, and it really helped ease some of her frustration, and ours.

The first sign to catch on was "more." We signed it as we fed them, and Alex, of course, was the first to mimic us.

You could see it on Alex's face: "Hey! I make that sign and they give me more food. Bring it, mama!" Alex will even use the "more" sign for things other than food now.

Isaac signs "more" once in a while, but mostly claps for more food. And Sam has stubbornly resisted doing the sign, even though he clearly knows what it means and is capable. And since we have to feed him even if he doesn't sign, (I know, Parents of the Year, right here!) he isn't very motivated.

The first time Sam ever pulled out the "more" sign was at the boys' first birthday party. He finished his first cupcake and immediately and adamantly started signing for more. Of course, we gave him another cupcake. It was just too funny!

Well the other day Amelia and I made cupcakes and yesterday I gave the boys each a quarter of a cupcake. (Not to worry, I stepped up the plate and ate that odd quarter.) Sam finished his and started signing "more!" He hasn't signed it since their birthday party in September.


Since his brothers were already down and playing I got Sam another small piece of cupcake and told him not to tell his brothers. He gobbled it up and then signed "more" again. I told him he was all done, which is another sign and phrase we've been teaching. He looked up at me, grinned and shook his head "no," then signed "more" again. Little scammer! It almost worked, too.

Apparently all it takes for Sam is the right motivation!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


In thanks to all of you for putting up with my technology-induced posting hiatus, I promised another recipe. Here it is. Perfect for those cool fall evenings.

3/4 C. chopped onion
1/4 C. green pepper
1/2 C. chopped celery
2 cloves minced garlic

Saute the above ingredients in oil or butter.

2 C. cubed sausage or ham
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 10 1/2-oz. can chicken broth
1 C. uncooked rice
1 C. water
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Add 1 1/2 pounds peeled, deveined shrimp (I use frozen, tail-off so I don't have to do any of the work) and 1 tablespoon dried parsley. Simmer uncovered 7-10 minutes or until shrimp is cooked. Serves 8.

*Note: I never use Minute Rice, but if you want to try it, I would add it at the same time as the shrimp since it only takes 5 minutes to cook and you don't want a pot full of mush.

When I make this dish, I substitute carrots for the green pepper (breaking the holy trinity of Cajun cooking, I know, but the WBH hates peppers). I often leave out the thyme, too. Thyme has a very distinct taste, and while 1 teaspoon might not seem like much, it definitely changes the flavor of the dish. If you're unsure, start with a 1/2 teaspoon.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lunch Hour?

A week or so ago I was talking to a friend who doesn't have kids yet and is part of the paid work force. She was bemoaning the fact that lately she's been so busy that she has to eat at her desk and work through her lunch hour at least twice a week.

I tried to be sympathetic.

Really. I did.

But I was envious.

Lunch hour?

Lunch? As in that midday meal that I often gulp or miss completely?

Hour? As in a whole hour to yourself?

Lunch hour? As in a whole 60 minutes dedicated to the consumption of a meal, perhaps even a meal you didn't make yourself, and maybe even partaken in the pleasant company of others who don't throw food or spill their milk?


I miss those lunch hours.

I will admit that lunch hour has gotten much easier since the boys can mostly feed themselves, but still I don't always sit down and eat. It can be done, but it requires precision timing.

First, I must cut up an entire meal's worth of food for three boys, guessing at their hunger level: starving, ravenous, or seriously, Mom, when did you last feed us?

Then I have to prepare something for myself to eat.

Then, and only then can I put the boys in their high chairs to eat. Because this is where the tricky part comes in.

I must time my intended consumption of my lunch carefully. There is a tiny window of opportunity. It is that precise moment between when my boys have quit falling upon their food like lions on a zebra -- which requires me to refill trays rapid pace, rather than eat myself -- and before they have filled up, lost interest and starting throwing food or screaming at each other and must be cleaned up and gotten down.

Miss that window, and I must either eat standing up, gulping food in between feeding my boys or cleaning them up, or I wait until nap time.

And when Amelia isn't at preschool, we have an added danger that must be avoided: The mid-meal potty run. Because nothing says appetizing like helping a preschooler with the potty!

Ah, yes. Lunch hour. I remember you fondly.

Some day we shall meet again.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fall Fun!

What better way to spend a beautiful fall day than to jump in a pile of leaves? All the kids got the chance to play in the leaves this past weekend, but Amelia showed off her flawless technique.

Can I jump in them, Mom?

Check out that form!

That was fun!

How about you? Are you enjoying the season as much as we are?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Amelia Ballerina

On Saturday Amelia took her first ballet class at the local Y.

Amelia Ballerina
She had a great time playing games, jumping, walking on her tiptoes like a princess, and learning the dance positions. At the end of class she ran up to the teacher and gave her a big hug.

It was fun to watch these six little girls, all about three years old, trying to follow their teacher's instructions...more or less. Well, mostly less. They were all so excited to be there that they could hardly contain themselves. It was like trying to teach ballet to a room full of puppies, but the teacher did a great job despite their short attention spans.

Amelia and her fellow students.

It will be fun to see how the group progresses over the next two months. If the first class was any indication, they will certainly have a blast, and entertain their parents along the way!

Amelia shows off a new move.

Really, there's nothing quite like a class full of excited little girls to brighten up your winter Saturdays, is there?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Is This Thing On?

I sincerely apologize for the lack of posts. We're still fighting our way through some technical problems with one of our laptops, and this one is agonizingly slow, so posting has been hampered. I don't think I've ever posted this few times in a week -- even the week the boys were born!

We're making the final push to correct our technical problems over the weekend with a complete backup and restore, so by Monday everything should be working again, including me.

Stay tuned, I've got news about big boy shoes, some Amelia-isms, pics from the first ballet class, and a new recipe to share.



Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A New Trick

The boys have been pulling this new trick of faking a sneeze for a couple weeks, but I finally captured it on video. I think they learned this from Amelia. Remember how hard she had Sam laughing?


Monday, November 2, 2009


Sure feels like a Monday, doesn't it Isaac?

But we never let a little bedhead get us down!