Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer's Bounty: Sweet Cream of Tomato Soup

In the spirit of fair season and the end of summer, here's another recipe, as promised. I do have to warn you though. If you make this Sweet Cream of Tomato, you will never settle for Campbell's again.

I've been making this soup by the ton this summer. In fact, I have some on the stove right now. Trust me when I tell you that it smells divine!

I've been freezing the soup base for use in the long winter months ahead. It is a great way to put some of your summer bumper crop of tomatoes to good use.

Or, in my case, to put someone else's bumper crop of tomatoes to good use.

This year my tomatoes were downright pathetic. Despite planting five plants, I have harvested exactly three tomatoes, and I probably will only get another half dozen. So sad.

Look, there are tomatoes number 4 and 5!

Apparently my poor little plants don't like the new bed I put them in. I think they don't get enough sun, so next year it's back into the garden in the middle of the yard for them.

Fortunately, other gardeners fared much better than I did and shared their goodies with me. That, and I'm keeping the local farmer's market in business.

Here's the recipe, with credit to the Farmhouse Cookbook by Susan Herrmann Loomis. It's a cookbook well worth owning. I go back to it over and over for several recipes.

Sweet Cream of Tomato Soup
3 medium onions, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup water
1/2 bunch celery (about 6 ribs), trimmed and chopped
6 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons coarse (kosher) salt
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups milk

1. Place onions and water in a large heavy soup pot over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, until onions have softened and have begun to turn translucent, about 10 minutes. Be sure onions don't brown.

2. Add the celery, tomatoes and salt to the onions, stir, and raise heat to medium. Cook, covered, until the tomatoes are tender, about 1 hour. Taste and add sugar to smooth out the flavor. Cook another 5 minutes.

3. In a small bowl mix together butter and flour until thoroughly combined.

4. Strain the soup, discarding solids. Return soup to pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir 1 cup of soup into flour and butter mixture, whisking until there are no lumps. Then whisk that mixture into the soup. Lower heat and cook gently, stirring frequently, until soup has consistency of medium-thick gravy, about 8 minutes. Let it come just to the boiling point, but do not boil.

5. Heat milk in a small pan over medium heat until it is almost to the boiling point. Slowly add the milk to soup (do not let the soup boil, or it may curdle). Stir well and serve.

12 cups (8-10 servings)

Note: The soup base (through step 4) may be canned or frozen. After thawing (if necessary) and reheating, add 1 cup hot milk to each 2 cups of soup base, as described in step 5.

This is a bit more homemade than the Oreo brownies (which probably wouldn't pass muster as a 4-H project). The recipe looks long, but it really is pretty simple. Trust me. If it weren't, I wouldn't be making it.

Make this soup. You'll thank me this winter when you pull this out of your freezer and enjoy the taste of summer.

Of course, you'll curse me next summer when you double the number of tomatoes you plant so you can make this soup...but at least you'll love me for a little while.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Welcome, Peter Pan

If you are at all familiar with the story of Peter Pan, whether from J.M. Barrie's book or one of the many movies that have been made, you know that Peter Pan crows.

Well, so does Isaac.

video

Isaac may be eating with his brothers, playing all by himself, just waking up from a nap or in the car seat or stroller, and he will suddenly let loose with a mighty crow. We think perhaps he's worried that if he doesn't make some noise we might forget about him since he's the little guy.

The crowing is cute, except for the fact that Sam hates it and generally starts to wail when Isaac crows.

And the more Sam wails, the more Isaac crows.

That's a glimpse into the future that causes their mother to heave a deep sigh and reach for another glass of wine.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Sick and The Whiny

Today has not been one of the best days in our house.

The boys all have roseola. Sam's on about day 3 of the rash, Alex just got rid of his fever Thursday and started the rash last night, and Isaac started the fever today.

Alex, Jeff and I did not sleep well last night.

And then to cap off a terrible night, Amelia woke up at 4 a.m. with a fever. She doesn't have roseola, but ran a low-grade fever until this evening. Seems like it's nothing major and will be short lived.

Thankfully, today is Saturday, so we could have a pretty lazy day. Alex took an extra nap, Amelia slept a little longer than usual, and Jeff and I both snuck in a nap, too.

We took everyone out for a little fresh air this evening, and we're hoping that tonight goes better than last night. But just in case it doesn't, I'd better get myself to bed.

Good night!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ward, Is That You?

In the never-ending quest to minimize the problem of perpetual laundry, I am now the proud owner of an apron.

Yep, that's right. It came in a package from my sister Judy, and it's perfect. Well, except for the fact that it makes me want to wear pearls and call my husband Ward. But that's nothing a little therapy can't take care of.

The idea, of course, is that I can wear the apron when I feed the boys so I can keep MY shirt clean. Because really, what's the point of making my boys eat in their diapers if I have to change shirts twice a day? Or, confession time here, just give in and wear the dirty shirt.

Judy figured that if I had an apron Amelia would want one too, so she made her one. Amelia and I both put them on, and then she looked up at me and said, "We're cookers, Mom!"



Amelia and Mom, ready to cook!

And what cute cookers we are.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll make some chocolate chip cookies for Wally and the Beav.

*Note: If you don't understand the Ward, Wally and Beav references, it's past your bedtime. Drink your milk and climb into bed like good little girls and boys.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We've Got A Grip!

The boys are getting so big so fast! *Sigh.*
It's a great thing, but a sad thing at the same time.

I remember wondering when they were just a few months old when they would be able to hold their own bottles. Not that I wanted them to grow up any faster than they were, but there were many days early on when I couldn't help but think how much easier that would make life.

And look at us now.

Sam

Isaac

Alex shows off the one-handed grip.

It has made bottle feeding, if not life, easier now that they boys can hold their own bottles. But of course, we now take three or four bottles a day instead of eight (our max), so that alone changes everything!

And now that we've got a grip (ha ha) on the bottles, and we're fast moving toward that first birthday (is that even possible?) it's time to move on.

Check us out with our cups!

Isaac, Alex and Sam test out their cups.

In no time at all, Jeff and I will have to buy shares in a dairy farm to keep those cups full.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Alex Shows Off His Steps

Alex just took his first steps over the weekend, but now he's on his feet a lot! Here he is showing off his new moves yesterday.

video

Nothing's going to slow us down now.

Be afraid. Be VERY afraid.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Our Final Walker

Alex made his big move yesterday, so we are officially all walking. YIKES! He started with two steps with the same foot and then took three steps in a row. He tried out his new skill a couple more times this evening.



Alex

Isaac walks about 75 percent of the time now, though to be fair, he actually spends much of his time on his feet running. Seriously. He stands up and takes off just as fast as he can go. Repeat after me: "Uh oh."

Sam has only taken steps a couple of times since his first steps last week, but if both Isaac and Alex are generally on their feet, I'll bet we'll see a lot more walking action out of him, too.

Competition is likely to start early in our house!

Friday, August 21, 2009

In Honor of Back to School

The other day Isaac climbed into the toy basket. His brothers rushed him, and well, here's what happened.



(Note: No Isaacs were harmed in the making of this video. So don't call me, Mom!)

If anyone has any ideas about how to put the kibosh on the climbing, I'm open to suggestions. Lord knows I've got enough trouble with three on the ground, let alone three climbing the walls!

Besides, that's my job.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Insult or Exellent Marketing?

Today a lady came to my door. She was in the neighborhood putting fliers for her house cleaning business on people's mailboxes.

Turns out that she saw my triple stroller attached to the back of the van so, "I thought I'd knock."

Insult or savvy marketing?

I Tweeted about the incident and the jury is still out.

One person wanted to know if it was Mary Poppins. Ha! Don't I wish. No carpet bag and no brolly, so no luck there.

Another wanted to know if I asked for a free sample. Shoot. Wish I had thought of that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's Fair Time!

This time of year always makes me want to open all the doors and windows, turn on the fan and start baking up a storm. That's because it's fair season, and as a 10-year 4-Her, I spent many hot summer weeks getting projects ready for the fair.

We lived in town, so we didn't have any animal projects, unless you count a photography project that involved our pet poodle. I think my mom was always grateful we didn't have animals on top of the eight kids, the dog and the various hamsters that occupied our house.

Instead, my sisters and I spent time laboring over latch hook, macrame (I know, I know, you thought that was a dead art. C'mon over. I'll make you a plant hanger.), cross stitch, garment construction, posters, flower arrangements, garden veggies (For some reason that always escaped me, all of your green beans or carrots or cucumbers had to be the same size. We rejected a lot of veggies!), canning, and art projects.

And boy, oh boy, did we bake! Yeast breads, quick breads, muffins, cookies, cut-up cakes, brownies...just thinking about it makes my waistband feel a bit tight. I can't even begin to calculate how much flour and sugar we must have used.

Of course, we were kids, so much of the crafting and baking took place under mild duress, but we never failed to complete a project. Yes, 4-H taught us many skills like cooking, sewing, and photography. It taught us that hard work is rewarded. But most importantly, it taught us how to see a project through from planning to completion. It taught us to become both learners and doers.

Thanks to my years in 4-H I am not afraid to try new things. Give me some good instructions and the right tools and stand back. 4-H taught me how to do my homework and figure things out for myself. And THAT'S a real life skill.

I've got my hands a little full this year, which is helping me resist the urge to bake an entire fair's worth of goodies. But I can't resist completely, so I've tried a few new recipes and made some extra treats in the last couple of weeks, including my new love, Oreo Brownies. I'll share some more prize-winning (at least in my house!) recipes in the coming weeks.

I figure we burn enough calories chasing kiddos to indulge a little bit!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Check Out The New Look

Spent my allotted blogging time updating the new look, and now it's time for bed. You'll just have to make do with this little video of a triplet dance party until I get another chance to write some more.

video

Can we rock the house or what?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Like A Duck to Water

Amelia is taking swimming lessons at the YMCA right now. Today we all went to the Y for her class. The boys went to the daycare (where they caused quite a stir!) for the first time while Amelia and I swam and Daddy took pics.


It's the first swim class she can take without Mom and Dad, though one or the other of us has still been going into the water with her.


Amelia LOVES to swim. She's getting pretty good at being able to move herself across the pool when she kicks.


But Amelia's favorite part of class is getting to jump off the diving platform into the deep water at the end of class. She'd do it a thousand times if we'd let her.

I went to the locker room to get dressed while Dad watched Amelia finish up her class. It was a life-changing experience.

You see, I have always used either the Girls' Locker Room or the Family Locker Room with Amelia. Today I used the Women's Locker Room for adults only because it was closer to the pool.

Most locker rooms are nothing to brag about, but this one...this one has a WHIRLPOOL and a SAUNA. It even has a couple exercise bikes, a TV and a couple of couches. Combine that with the two hours of free child care and you can see why this was a life-changing experience.

Expect my Y membership to get a great workout...but only so I can relax!

Friday, August 14, 2009

O-O-O Oreo Cookies

I would like to apologize in advance for this post.

I am about to share a recipe that contains a few gazillion calories per serving. It's a guaranteed winner, unless you don't like Oreos. And in that case, I'm not sure we can be friends anymore.

Meet my new friend: The Oreo Brownie.


Hello, beautiful!

Here's the recipe. Super simple, super decadent. Trust me when I tell you to cut them small. You can always go back for seconds.

Oreo Brownies

1 regular sized package of Oreos, crushed

3/4 C. melted butter

(Yes, butter. You may as well use the real thing. The results won't be as good with margarine and you won't save enough calories to make a difference anyway.)

2 C. chocolate chips

(The recipe suggests mini chips, but I used regular with fab results.)

1 C. sweetened condensed milk

(A can has just a touch more than a cup, so I used the whole thing. No sense in wasting any, is there?)

Mix butter and crushed Oreos. Spread in a 9x13 pan. Mix sweetened condensed milk and 1 C. chocolate chips. Melt in the microwave for approximately 1 minute. Stir and pour evenly over the Oreo mixture. Sprinkle the rest of the chocolate chips over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into fairly small squares.

If you need help working off the calories, you could run a marathon, paint your house, or come on over and chase triplets for an afternoon.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Triplet Spa: Round Two

So no avocado mask for you? May we interest you in a blueberry body scrub?

Sam

Isaac

Alex
(Notice that he's fairly clean, because he knows how to plug the food in his mouth!)

The blueberry body scrub comes with another complimentary hose down in the sink.

OK, it looks like a disaster, but if you could see these guys shovel the blueberries in, you'd be willing to do the cleanup, too.

And just to prove that we had a theme going in our house today, here's Amelia wearing her supper of spaghetti!
Amelia

(And yes, I made her eat with her shirt off, too. I'm willing to give 7 baths in one day, but I won't deal with all that laundry on top of it!)

The Triplet Spa

Note to self: If you serve avocados as finger food, you will be giving baths following lunch.

This post really doesn't require an explanation. My kitchen and my boys, on the other hand, are in desperate need of a fire hose right now.

Sam enjoys a rejuvenating avocado mask.


Alex throws in a few Cheerios. Those whole grains are good for you, you know!


Isaac goes for the full body scrub.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Amelia's Binoculars

For her birthday, Amelia got a pair of pink binoculars. She used her binoculars at the zoo on Saturday, and they are suddenly her toy of choice. Perhaps that's because she just recently figured out (finally!), which end to look through to make things bigger.

So now they actually work. And they are very versatile.

Tonight she used them when we read books at bedtime.

Now that's a LARGE TYPE book!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Soooo HOT

It is so hot here. Meltingly, miserably, horribly hot. So what did I do today? I took my guys for a walk.

That's right. Genius that I am, I carried nearly 60 pounds of boy out to a stroller, strapped them all in and hoofed it around the neighborhood.

It's proof that three crabby boys will drive you to do crazy things.

Seriously though, the guys clearly needed a change of pace this afternoon, and they enjoyed the walk. But then why shouldn't they? They enjoyed a little breeze, and there was no effort on their part. I, on the other hand, proved that Secret Clinical Strength won't hold up to a two-mile walk pushing almost 80 pounds.

As the sweat poured off me, I suddenly realized that I was headed to the fair tonight. And after my sweatfest, I had a treat coming to me. FUNNEL CAKE.

That's right. Powdered sugar on my chin. Crispy crunch in my mouth.

Mmmmm...

Come to mama.

Gotta love fair season!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Another Walker!

Sam took his first couple steps today, though he's in the doghouse for doing it while Mom was at the grocery store. I'm here all day every day, and then when I leave so I CAN FEED MY FAMILY, the stinker makes his move.


Sam: These shoes were made for walking.

Isaac is getting to be pretty good on his feet. He walks a little more every day, up to about 15 steps now. Here's a little clip of him upright and on the move!

video

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Ten Months Old

Today the boys are ten months old. To celebrate, they hung out with Daddy while Amelia and I went to the zoo. It seems appropriate, since it was about this time last year that I sent Amelia and Daddy to the zoo by themselves, while I stayed home with the boys (still in utero, of course)

A year ago I was posting ultrasound pictures and celebrating the fact that we had nearly made it to the 28-week mark. Each baby weighed almost 2 lbs.

And now?

Now, we've got our hands full of little boys who are ALL boy. They are so busy! Giggling, squealing, standing, climbing, walking (still just Isaac), fighting over toys, speed crawling, getting into everything, eating, eating, eating, and generally delighting their parents and everyone else who meets them.

Sam, Isaac and Alex love to tackle their sister Amelia, and she loves to give them hugs and kisses. She does NOT love it when they pull her hair. Amelia is such a good big sister.

Sam

Sam can still let out a good shriek, but he's the one who giggles the most these days. I swear his hair is redder and curlier every day.


Isaac

Isaac is still the smallest, but he's got his brothers beat when it comes to walking! He's the best sleeper, maybe because he's the most attached to his little blankie and pacifier.


Alex

Alex continues to be the eater of the bunch, though Sam can give him a run for the money. Alex loves finger foods: No more waiting for his turn to come around!

A year ago we never could have imagined this, even though we knew we had three babies on the way. We worried about the expense and work. If we would have had even an inkling how much fun we would be having, we would have worried a whole lot less!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mission Impossible

I was at a friend's house recently. It was immaculate. The beds were all made. Fresh towels hung in her powder room. The soap dispenser was full. The kitchen sink was empty. The toys were neatly stowed. There was no sign anywhere of the 47 tons of paper that clutter my house at any given time. There were no handprints on the refrigerator or crushed Cheerios scattered across her kitchen floor.

It took all the willpower I possess not to bury my face in her freshly vacuumed carpet and beg her to adopt me.

My own house, which has been under assault by triplets for the past almost 10 months and will be for YEARS to come, is a little different.

For three weeks my living room looked like a children's thrift store while I attempted to sort through and store all of the kids' clothes we have rapidly outgrown. If it weren't for my sister's help (thanks, Judy!), it would probably still look like I was a Goodwill annex.

Paper piles up everywhere. Oh, we have systems. They just seem to do nothing to stem the never-ending flow of paper that comes into this house.

My fridge is cluttered with Amelia's art. Well, at least the top third is. Anything lower and the boys can get ahold of it now.

On a regular basis I walk around the house and throw all the mail, receipts and miscellaneous paper in a box and go through it. I weep a little bit for the forests when I do it.

I can't even bring myself to mention the laundry. My fellow multiples moms -- or any mom with more than one kid, for that matter -- know the pain of which I speak. It truly is the task that never, ever ends. And I don't even dress the triplets half the time!

Now that we are rapidly approaching the boys' first birthday, I've decided to turn a new leaf when it comes to the house. A fresh attitude! A positive outlook! A sign on my door that reads:

No need to remove your shoes,
No need to wipe your feet.
When it comes to clean,
We've got the problem beat.
All we need is this magic hint:
When you come inside, PLEASE SQUINT.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Unplugged

We had a big wave of thunderstorms here today, and BANG, out went the power. Fortunately, I had finished giving the barracudas -- I mean boys -- lunch, and afternoon naptime was almost upon us. While it was pretty dark outside, we had enough light to play by until it was time to hit the sack.

Once the boys went down I found myself in a quiet, dark house. I couldn't do laundry or dishes (we're on a well, so no power means no water, too). I couldn't use the vacuum or see well enough to clean. I couldn't cook anything, though I had a whole freezer full of food that was slowly defrosting. I couldn't even check out the weather online or blog!

What to do?

I started thinking about my grandmother and how she lived without power for many years. You can bet that the rain never stopped her from tending her garden, baking, cooking, sewing, milking cows or any of a thousand other things that needed to be done. And, of course, the wood stove would always work, as would the treadle sewing machine and the hand wringer for the wash. Her tools worked as long as she worked. Mine do not.

Then I realized: I am in a house that is quiet and dark. All the children are asleep and will be for the next two hours or so. And because I am not an idiot, I did the only sensible thing. I TOOK A NAP.

Yes, despite having slept all night last night, courtesy of content kiddos, I laid myself down and snoozed peacefully. Without guilt. Because, really, what else could I have possibly done that would have been more productive than that?

(That is a rhetorical question folks. Anyone who answers it will be banned from this blog forever!)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Call It Good Timing

I put Amelia on the toilet before bedtime tonight and as I reached for some paper to help her, I realized we were almost out.

"Stay there for a minute," I said, and I went to get some more toilet paper.

When I came back, less than 30 seconds later, Amelia was off the toilet and had the washcloth I use on my face in her hand.

"I need to use this to dry myself," she told me earnestly, as she did just that.

Then she neatly hung it back up just the way it was.

I think I'll be using a fresh washcloth on my face every night until there are no more children left in this house.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Fashionista

It's been a little cooler than usual here this summer, but not quite this cool!


Shorts and snow boots. It's what all the three-year-old fashionistas are wearing this summer.