Sorry for the hiatus! We had a Halloween party Friday and a busy weekend. I'd planned to give you an update last night, but apparently Blogger went to bed a bit early and I couldn't post.
I should have taken more photos of our family costume at the Halloween party, but here are a few. I scored cheap pirate costumes for all the kids, including a pirate dress for Amelia. I was the parrot, complete with rainbow-colored hair and a felt feathered tail. Jeff wore a treasure map on his t-shirt.
Of course, we were outside and it was chilly, so everyone had to wear a coat. But still cute.
It sounds like I could have total mutiny on my hands this evening as Amelia has since told me she's going to be a princess for Halloween, and the boys are talking about kitties, dogs, and I don't know what all. Should be interesting to see what happens. I predict tears and screaming, though hopefully not from me.
I'll have pictures of our trick-or-treat costumes (whatever they turn out to be), fun decorations and a couple of our Halloween craft projects to share tomorrow.
Hope the ghosts and goblins are good to you tonight!
Halloween is almost here, as evidenced by the plethora of Christmas decorations in the stores.
And let me tell you, this "holiday" is no holiday for parents.
The costumes, decorations, and WAAAY too much sugar are killing me over here, and it's not even Halloween yet!
Let's start with the costumes. When I was a kid we would tie a scarf around our head, add a lot of jewelry and a white shirt and be gypsies. Or dress in shabby clothes and carry a stick with a bandanna tied to the end and be hobos. A cowboy hat and boots, a black cape and witch's hat. You know, easy stuff.
Now those costumes won't pass muster. It's the full Minnie Mouse costume, complete with dress and shoes, not just a tail and a pair of paper ears. Or Rapunzel, complete with the Disney dress and mile-long wig braided just so. Or the superhero of your choice, as long as every last detail is exactly as it appears on TV.
And who has to come up with the money or the creativity to go the distance with a costume? You're looking at her. Last year I made costumes. The fabric was a bargain, but they took a fair amount of time. This year I scored four great costumes at a secondhand sale, so they were cheap, but required some alterations. More time out of an already jam-packed schedule.
Seriously, I could just turn the boys out in the yard for a couple hours on any given day and they'd be in perfect hobo costumes. That would be much easier on me!
Then there are the decorations. I'm not that into Halloween and I don't (again) have tons of time to do decorations, but the kids see them everywhere and want to be part of the fun. We've managed this year by incorporating some decoration-making into our school time. 'G' is for ghost, after all.
In the good old days no one decorated for Halloween, unless you count jack o' lanterns and the people who never took down their Christmas lights from the previous year. So much easier! Now my neighbors have corn stalks and scarecrows, skeletons and Halloween lights. We managed three bats, a jack o' lantern and a handful of ghosts made out of old milk jugs.
I can get on board with the costumes (though ours will always be more creative than costly) and the decorations because I get to exercise my craft skills, but I could really do without the sugar. Oh, don't get me wrong, I love to raid my kids' Halloween bags as much as the next parent. It's just the sugared-up kids I could do without, and it's already started!
Amelia's brought home Halloween goodies from school and we're headed to a Halloween party tomorrow. Then there's the actual trick-or-treating and all the candy eating that follows. Seriously, it's like one big sugar high that lasts about a week.
I'm tempted to tell my kids they can eat all the candy they want the day after Halloween, and then we'll throw all the rest out. It'll be hell, but it will be short-lived. Otherwise I'll have weeks of "Can I have a piece of candy? Can I have another piece of candy? Can I? Can I? Huh, can I?" Multiply by four kids and I will go insane.
Seems the "trick" in trick-or-treat is on me!
This post inspired by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.
I'm still doing little lessons with the boys when Amelia heads off to school. We're working on the letter 'H' now, but I haven't posted any pics in a while, so here are a few of the things we did in our 'D' and 'E' lesson plans.
Dinosaurs, doughnuts and elephants, oh my!
Daddy did the 'D' is for Doughnut lesson with them, which was a huge hit because the kids got to use scissors. (Arming the three boys with scissors still makes me shudder.) And afterwards he took them all out for a doughnut. Yep, he was a hero.
We got a little out of hand gluing eyes onto the dinosaurs, but I hated to squash their creativity. I just peeled the eyes off later and recycled them.
I get most of my lesson/craft ideas online, and I am amazed at the number of things you can make out of a cheap, white paper plate. And I do enjoy doing something creative with my kids and seeing them get a kick out of making something.
I must say I have no idea how preschool teachers do this in a classroom of a dozen or more kids. I have my hands full with just three of them!
Sam, Isaac and Alex aren't going to skip a grade thanks to my stellar homeschooling, but they are learning their letters and numbers, and they love, love, love to "do a project." They have learned to sit for 15 minutes while we work on a project, read a related book or talk about the letter sounds and the craft we're making. And that's a major accomplishment in and of itself!
We've been having Friday night movie nights around here now that the weather's turning colder and our kids are more or less interested in sitting still long enough to watch something.
The point of movie night is to have fun and relax, so no big themes and planning for mom, though sometimes I manage a little something. Tonight, for example, we watched "Finding Nemo," and ate fish sticks. That made Jeff laugh. Then he wanted to know if we'd be drinking water, "to go with the theme."
No, smart aleck, but you'll be washing the dishes to make up for that remark!
Anyhow, I usually give my kids a treat of some sort on movie night, though generally nothing too fancy. Last week Amelia and I made chocolate pudding, which was not the hit I thought it would be. Tonight they had their choice of marshmallows (plain ones straight from the bag) or Oreo knockoffs (the boys only eat the middles anyway).
Movie night got me to thinking about popcorn though, and that reminded me of this special treat one of my London roomies used to make: Milk Dud popcorn.
It's exactly what it sounds like--popcorn with Milk Duds in it. It's easy, and if you are a salty-sweet snack person like me, it really hits the spot.
Ready for this? Here's the "recipe."
Milk Dud Popcorn
1 regular-sized bag microwave popcorn
Couple handfuls of Milk Duds
Microwave the popcorn of your choice, stopping 20-30 seconds before it's usually completely popped out. Open the bag and toss in a couple handfuls of Milk Duds. Shake or stir well, then fold the top of the bag down and return to the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Do NOT walk away. If you let it cook too long, you'll have a scorched mess on your hands. Stay close by and use your nose to guide you. Shake or stir again, and you'll have popcorn dotted with bits of chocolate and gooey carmel.
This isn't like caramel corn where the popcorn is evenly coated. And you will have a few extra old maids. (That's what we called the unpopped kernels when I was growing up. Not very politically correct, is it?) But you've got to sacrifice a few kernels to make sure you aren't going to scorch the popcorn when you put it back in the microwave.
Some people might like this to be all melted together. I think that might be tough to accomplish without burning the popcorn, but you can always give it a shot. Personally, I like having some larger pieces of Milk Dud semi-melted and stuck to the popcorn around them. It's a little candy jackpot.
It's salty. It's sweet. It's simple. And no dirty dishes either! What more could you ask for in a snack?
My colleague, Myron, was laughing as he came into my office and handed me a piece of paper.
"What's this?" I asked.
"Just read it," he chuckled.
I obliged, and started reading the email I had just sent to him a few minutes ago.
It began, "Moron..." and was signed, "Christ."
I looked up at Myron in horror. And he laughed and said, "I know I'm not always the brightest, but that's a little harsh isn't it?"
My computer was set to automatically spellcheck all outgoing email. It was a feature I hated because I can check my own spelling, thank you very much Microsoft. But I had never bothered to take the time to disable it. Instead I would just hit the "Ignore" button over and over.
Except that day I was talking to someone else as the spellcheck ran, and apparently I hit the "Accept" button over and over.
So "Myron" became "Moron," and "Christy" became "Christ." And a lot of what was in between became unintelligible.
Thank heavens "Moron" had a sense of humor and it wasn't an important email to someone outside my company.
After a very red-faced mea culpa I spent the rest of the afternoon figuring out how to disable the auto spellcheck feature.
And I've used spellcheck very cautiously ever since.
This post inspired by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.
2.) Tell about a time you accidentally “replied all” or sent an email to the wrong person by mistake.
We are firmly in the classic three-year-old stage of wanting to do everything "by myself!" That's generally a good thing for me, since I can use all the help I can get.
It can also be exasperating. For example, when you're trying desperately to get everyone out the door and someone insists on doing something by himself, but is taking FOREVER to get it done. Then you try to help without him knowing you're helping and he realizes it and gets mad and starts all over again, so it takes even longer.
Well one of the big new skills they boys are trying to conquer is putting their underwear on all by themselves. (Underwear! Can you hear the angels singing? I'm so happy about this, even if it takes forever for them to do it themselves!)
If the underwear are inside out, it's a lost cause. They can't figure out how to right them. Usually they just choose another pair from the basket in the bathroom and leave the previous pair on the floor. Which leads to a lot of extra laundry. But I'll take it over poopy pants any day!
Anyway, the boys almost always put their undies on backwards. I understand why they do this: They want to see the picture of Lightning McQueen or Buzz Lightyear, and the big picture is always on the back, not the front. I keep telling them the picture goes on their bottom, but it's apparently not sinking in.
So today I tried a new technique. I pointed to the front of the undies and said, "See? Your winky goes in this little pocket."
As soon as I said "pocket" I knew I'd made a mistake. We love to put things in our pants pockets.
Not two minutes later I caught Alex trying to stuff something in the "pocket" of his undies.
I thought he had a car in his hand so I said, "That's not for cars, buddy."
He showed me what was in his hand and replied gleefully, "It's not for cars. It's for coins!"
That gives a whole new meaning to the term, "Family jewels."
When I was getting ready to make the boys' pumpkin cakes for their birthday, I started searching for a frosting recipe that had a little heft to it so it could withstand the heat.
I found this frosting with cream cheese in it over at Glorious Treats, and it was just the ticket. It turned out pretty well as a vanilla frosting, but it's amazing as a chocolate or raspberry frosting.
The next time I make it as vanilla, I will cut the cream cheese back to 4 ounces and triple the vanilla extract. It was a little too cream cheese flavored for my taste. Still delicious, but not exactly vanilla frosting.
Here's the recipe:
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 C butter, set at room temp about 10 minutes, but make sure it's still cool
8 oz. cream cheese, directly from fridge (see my note above about amount)
1 tsp. vanilla extract (I would double or triple for more vanilla flavor)
4 C. powdered sugar
1 to 4 TBSP heavy cream, heavy whipping cream or milk (cream adds a great richness)
Place butter in a large mixing bowl and blend slightly. Add cream cheese and blend until combined, about 30 seconds.
Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar, a little at a time, blending on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until frosting begins to get fluffy.
Slowly add the heavy cream, a little bit at a time until desired consistency is met. (Don't add too much if you want the frosting to stay in place when piped on cupcakes.)
Beat until fluffy, about one minute.
Use at once or keep refrigerated. (This frosting will keep well in the refrigerator for several days, but you may need to re-beat it for the best texture.)
For a stronger cream cheese flavor use an additional 4 oz. (½ block) of cream cheese. This is good for any cake/cupcake recipe that is traditionally topped with cream cheese frosting, like carrot cake, or red velvet cake.
For chocolate frosting: (my favorite!) add ½ cup unsweetened cocoa. Add the cocoa powder before adding the powdered sugar, so it gets fully incorporated into the butter and cream cheese.
Strawberry, blackberry, etc... Add 2-4 tablespoons of preserves. Depending on how chunky or seedy the preserves are, you may want to blend it in the food processor, and/or strain it through a fine strainer before adding it to the frosting. Add the preserves to the frosting mixture before adding the heavy cream. Depending on the amount of preserves you add you may need very little or no cream, especially if you want the frosting thick enough to pipe. A final option would be to add a drop of food coloring to add to the color of the preserves (for example, pink coloring for the strawberry flavor).
As part of Sam, Isaac and Alex's birthday festivities, we took a train out to the pumpkin patch. There were free balloons, a petting zoo, face painting, a wagon ride, and of course -- pumpkins!
We tromped through the field searching for the perfect pumpkins. Since we were carrying them back on the train, we didn't want anything too big, so we helped each of the kids choose a small pumpkin for their very own.
Amelia picked four before she was satisfied, sort of. We just wouldn't let her change her mind any more after that!
Alex, Isaac and Sam searched a bit before settling on their selections.
And then it was picture time.
Apparently Sam's pumpkin was much heavier than I thought:
And Isaac's was a slippery little devil:
(He dropped it at least four times, on purpose mind you. And it amazingly survived!)
Finally, the money shot, sort of.
Yes, only one child is looking at me, but it's the best I got. Isaac's holding his pumpkin, we can see everyone's faces, and no one's screaming, crying or running away. I don't know what was so interesting off to my right, but Alex never looked at the camera once in 11 shots.
Good thing we've got time to practice the group shot before Halloween!
So I posted this story on Facebook the other day, but I have to capture it on the blog for posterity.
Yesterday I walked into the kitchen and found Alex standing there with a wet head. I said, "Buddy, what happened?"
Alex said, "Isaac was brushing my hair."
I didn't think much about it, since we usually use a detangling spray on Amelia's hair and the boys sometimes spray their own hair if we leave it lying around.
Then I walked into the bathroom and found Isaac holding the toilet brush which he was dipping in the toilet Alex had just peed in.
Then it dawned on me. Isaac BRUSHED Alex's hair.
I told my mom the story later and she wanted to know what I did when I found them. I told her I dried Alex's head, took the toilet brush away and put them down for their nap. She said, "Without washing his hair!?"
Yes, without washing his hair. Honestly, it never occurred to me to wash his hair BEFORE nap.
Because it's NAP TIME. And we don't mess with nap time in this house. Especially after an incident like that, because when one boy scrubs another's head with the toilet brush, it's mama who really needs nap time.
Since Sam, Isaac and Alex were turning three, I thought they should have a say in what kind of cake they wanted. So I asked them.
Sam wanted vanilla with vanilla frosting. Alex wanted chocolate with vanilla frosting. Isaac wanted chocolate with chocolate frosting.
Luckily, I had lots and lots and LOTS of help with the cakes and the frosting.
Alex, Isaac and Sam "help" make their birthday cakes. (I got a lot more done while they were napping!)
Then Tigger hopped on by to help with the frosting.
Sam ~ His expression in this photo just cracks me up!
Now I'm not a big theme party person, but I did want to do something fun. So, since we were planning to celebrate the boys' birthday with a trip to the pumpkin patch, I decided to make their vanilla and chocolate cakes in the shape of pumpkins.
I saw a pumpkin cake on Pinterest that was made using two bundt cakes, one upside down on top of the other. I made a much smaller version by using a mini-bundt pan that made 12 cupcake-sized bundt cakes.
Put two of them together like so:
Add a little orange frosting, a Tootsie roll stem, and a leaf and tendril made from a green fruit slice candy.
And, voila! You've got the cutest little pumpkin cake ever!
I'll admit that these were a little tricky to frost. I found that putting it on my finger worked the best. After all, there is a hole in the bundt cake!
They were a little tricky to eat, too. Everyone had their own technique.
Alex chose to politely eat his cake with a fork.
For Isaac, it was all about the frosting.
And Sam just picked the whole thing up and ate it like an apple!
In the end, the cakes were cute, but more importantly, they were delicious! Seems my helpers were pretty good help after all.
Happy third birthday boys! We love you and we're so glad you are a part of our lives. A crazy, noisy, messy part -- that we couldn't live without.
On Saturday Sam, Isaac and Alex turned three. On Sunday their Daddy celebrated a birthday, too.
Isaac, Sam, Alex and Daddy ~ Birthday weekend 2011
I remember the day the boys were born. I turned to Jeff and said, "Happy birthday. I'm not giving you anything else this year." Because really, birth of three sons is enough of a gift, don't you think? How can I ever top that?
Fortunately, we had celebrated Jeff's birthday a week early, because none of us really believed I'd still be carrying babies into 36 weeks.
And now those babies are three. Someone asked me if I could believe the triplets were turning three. I can believe they are three. I just can't believe I've survived the past three years plus the pregnancy!
We had a beautiful weekend and did lots of fun things, and I've got lots of photos to share once the sugar high ends and I get a chance to do some editing!
A while ago I shared the sordid tale of being the mom of Park Pooper. That is, a boy who would poop in his pants at the park and then strip down, inevitably leaving me to pick his business off the playground equipment while all the other moms looked on.
Yep. That'll get you kicked off the island.
But guess what? Yesterday the Park Pooper pooped in the potty at the park. And then he did it again today!
Unfortunately, an outrageous potty dance at the park will also make all the other moms look, too.
But what the heck. It was a victory worth celebrating!
I am Mom. Laundry doer, meal maker, bottom wiper, and rule enforcer.
I love to have fun with my kids. Unfortunately, I also have to do some chores and enforce the rules or we'd be in total chaos around here.
Hence my new title: Chief Executive Meanie.
Somehow my kids just don't appreciate it when I put an end to their efforts to go down the slide on the scooter, or stop them from leaping from bed to bed so no one will end up in the emergency room.
They don't like to delay a trip to the park for 10 minutes while I scrape the remnants of breakfast off the table and get them dressed. Or leave the library so I can get supper in them before them turn into half-starved demons.
Lights out time is greeted with displeasure no matter how many books we read or how many snuggles we have together. Never mind that it's all in the interest of getting them a good night's sleep.
And now that we have reached the age and stage of "I'm mad at you, Mom!" and "I don't like you!" my role as Chief Executive Meanie is more apparent than ever.
I've heard it said that if your child says he or she doesn't like you you're probably doing something right. Based on that logic, I'm batting a thousand around here lately.
Yep, children fed and clothed, no one's eye has been poked out by a sharp stick, and the lights went out at a (relatively) reasonable time. Seems like I've got this Chief Executive Meanie thing down pat.
While you were sipping your sweet tea and chatting with your fellow absentee mamas outside the children's play area, I was watching your 2 1/2 year old terrorize every kid in the place, including mine.
I stopped him from climbing up the slide. I asked him to quit getting in everyone's faces and roaring at them. I told him not to push the other children.
You never noticed me reprimanding your child for the half hour we were there.
I'm not sure you even noticed whether or not your child was still IN the play area.
My kids kept walking away and ignoring your little demon. (Just as you were doing.) Finally, it had to happen. Amelia asked him three times not to roar at her. She asked very nicely. But when your brat roared right in her face again, she roared back at him.
And guess what? You kid can dish it out, but he can't take it. So he KICKED my daughter in the face and throat.
He was shocked when I took him by the hand (very nicely, I might add) and insisted that he apologize. I believe that may have been a new concept for him. He was even more shocked when I told him he was going to stand right there with me until his mother came.
The shock on your face was about equal to his. You did ask that he apologize, so thank you for that. But don't you give me the big bad attitude because I stepped in when you were busy chatting it up elsewhere.
Here's a news flash for you: I didn't WANT to discipline your child. I HAD to because you weren't around to keep him from hurting the other kids.
It is to you, Absentee Mom, and the far too many others like you, that I dedicate this sign: