Thursday, June 27, 2013

Whirlwind Summer

Our Summer has been a busy whirlwind of so many good things!  I don't mind a full calendar, but wow - we are  over the top right now so there is very little time for blogging.  I am also gearing up to do some major changes as far as paint and hopefully more on our home.  I'm buzzing with ideas, I love that feeling.  Sadly, it has left very little time for blogging.  This is my own journal of sorts, so I am going to try harder to post something every day.  I love looking back over the entries and so do the kids!
Sorry about the quality of the following photo.  It is Instagram which I am on quite a bit lately, your welcome to follow me, I'm 9peasmom.  My account is closed, but I only do that to keep advertisers out of my feed (unless I want them there).  
(overuse of the word love is allowed when sleep deprived and desperate to post something before life kicks it up a notch again)
#1 turned 21 on the 21st.  Pete came in town and we took him out for cocktails with most of the cast of Drowsy Chaperone after the show, his Grandparents that went to the show that night joined us as well.  I can't think of a better way to have celebrated.  You have to know #1 to appreciate this, he studied up on what kind of cocktail he wanted to order for a full week before his birthday.  He ordered a Manhattan - and loved it.  I loved how everyone came over to celebrate with him, have I mentioned before how much we love our theater family!  Now I know that most 21 year olds would rather not spend that particular birthday with parents and Grandparents in attendance, that is the beauty of this child of mine.  The kind of party he wanted included us and the piano bar that we all love and is located just up from the theater, it is a classy place with a good hometown feel too.  The night was perfect for him!

#5 turned 14.  We had such a great time celebrating him as well.  He is all basketball all the time, so his birthday was themed that way.  He would spend all day at the courts if given the chance so he is equipped with everything he needs for hours there - including a camel back.  

Even though our days are full, this girl of mine likes to sit with me in the early morning while I drink my coffee.  We are both smitten with Alicia Paulsen,   In this photo she is pouring over this book getting Christmas ideas - I love how she thinks this way too.  We are co-conspirators on a few things right now!

Our family loves to play cards, that can not be stated strongly enough.  One game we LOVE has a name that I do not wanted shouted out over and over again.  We renamed the game Bologna - pronounced Baloney.

On his last night home we stayed up late playing.  Gosh I miss him already - Please pray for him as he is in the thick of Marine Corp boot camp right now.

My poor husband was truly sick this past weekend but carried on.  It was NOT a man cold, he was absolutely wiped out with a sinus infection turned bronchitis gone very bad.  All his lymph glands are swollen up in this photo but there he sits with his boys enjoying a game of cards even though every part of him needed sleep.  He finally saw a Dr. - got 2 shots and a arsenal of medicine.  He is starting to feel better now!

I cherish all these moments, and I love my bawdy over the top family!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

Every Thursday, here at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

This is Mom & Dad or as we named them 2 years ago, Flannery & O'Conner.  They return every year to their nest and stay with us until the chicks fly off to their own futures.  Now, I admit, it may be returning babies each year so a different set of Swallows but we still name them Flannery & O'Conner.  
I think they are so very pretty!  They are watching me closely because I am taking photos of their babies.

She let's me get surprisingly close but only if I'm by myself.

There are actually 5 (maybe even 6).

Trust me, you have never seen anyone so happy about a Strike - ever!  We joined the local homeschool group for discounted bowling and what a great time we all had!  #9 was over the moon excited about his Strike and has asked to go bowling again nearly every day since.

We were clowning around waiting on #5 to join us for some family photos and I snagged this one.
There are more, but I finally got the go ahead to post this!  I love my crazy kids!

Turning a Mom Fail into a Score.  I got everything to make sandwiches for lunch, but forgot the bread.  I didn't have time to make bread so Stromboli became our lunch.  I have to tell you, I'm so patting myself on the back over this one because the kids gushed with 'thank you's' and 'your the best' when things could have gone very sour if I had gone with the stern - 'just roll up the turkey breast and enjoy it' method that I usually employ when forgetting necessary items at the market.  

Please head over to LMLD for more {P,H,F,R}

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Yarn Along

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it over at Ginny's Yarn Along~
I was lucky and managed to snag one of the first batches of Alicia's Maggie Bunny Kits.  They sold out super fast, but when she refilled her shop with kits - I was delighted to see the knit patterns for accessories for Miss Maggie Bunny. I started working on this way too late last night and didn't get very far.  I could not find my markers so I used safety pins (which make great markers by the way)  I'm still plotting away on my other knitting projects but mainly I'm devoting craft time to a special quilt.
I'm still reading "Ten Ways To Destroy Your Child's Imagination" and just downloaded "Common Sense 101: Lessons from G.K. Chesterton"  They are both excellent books!  I think I'm going for fiction next, I love non-fiction but need to feed my own imagination sometimes too!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tasty Tuesday

My Father-n-law (henceforth known as Grandpa) loves to garden and has an impressive garden each year.  He shares the bounty with all of us kids and we truly feel blessed by his generosity.
Yesterday he sent out a text to all of us letting us know we had a share if we wanted it.  I didn't waste time heading over to pick up ours.  We had squash, zucchini, sugar snap peas, onions, lettuce and tomatoes.  I decided to make a stir-fry veggie mix for our dinner last night.  It was such a hit, the kids (big kids) convinced me to make it again for lunch today and add some lemon garlic chicken we had left over from the other day.  I was easily persuaded!  To make this I melted about 3 Tbs of butter in a skillet, then added about 3 Tbs of Allegro marinade.  I tossed in all the veggies and then sprinkled a little Thyme, salt and pepper over them.  I just cooked them until crisp/tender.  Try it, you'll love it!

Leg quarters are the large family's friend - or small family too if you are budget minded.  An entire bag of leg quarters costs under $6 usually and everyone gets a generous amount of chicken.  All I do when I make roasted leg quarters is spray the pan with a Pam-like product.  Lay out the quarters and then sprinkle them with Mrs. Dash.  Your house will fill up with the most amazing aroma and if you let them cook until the chicken is crispy on the outside (they will be juicy on the inside) at about 375 for a good 20-30 minutes.  You will love it and be shocked that something this good was so cheap and simple!
I always toss my salads with dressing before serving.  At some point in life with so many kids, I realized that letting each child pour salad dressing on their own salad was wasteful.  I decide what the dressing will be (although I'm open to requests or suggestions) and then I toss it in the bowl and we all get a portion.  Last night's salad was Caesar and it was a blend of Romaine from the store and LOTS of lettuce from Grandpa's garden.  The heat is on now and I don't know how he has managed to keep his lettuce from turning bitter, but it isn't! 

Peanut Butter Blondies!  In addition to rehearsals for "The Hobbit" 2 of my teens had game night at Youth Group.  Our Youth Pastor sent out a request for snacks so I decided to make these and send half to youth group and keep half for us.  These are really just cookies made easy by baking them as bars instead.  We love them!  Here is my version:
Peanut Butter Blondies
1 1/2 cups crunchy peanut butter
1 stick Butter Flavor Crisco or 1 cup Butter Flavor Crisco
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
6 TBS milk
3 TBS vanilla extract (sometimes I use 2 TBS vanilla and 1 TBS coconut)
2 large eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1//2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (milk chocolate is best but I only had semisweet)
Heat oven to 375. Combine peanut butter, Crisco, brown sugar, milk and extract in large mixing bowl.  Beat until well blended.  Add dry ingredient, mix until well blended.  Add chocolate chips.
Bake at 375 for 20 -25 minutes.  Let cool completely before cutting - they will be pretty gooey if you don't.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Weekending - Live An Interested Life Edition

Re-inventing Mother

I thought this would be the last time I would see #2 until his boot camp graduation in September.  I got a phone call on Saturday morning letting me know that paper work did not get filed correctly (not his fault) and he would be here one more week.  Oh, happy day!  I was miserable saying goodbye and cherish every last moment he is under our roof, even if most days I'm ready to wring his neck!
On our way down to Austin, we stopped in West Texas for some world famous Kolaces.  We also picked some up for Pete as a surprise for Father's Day.
Due to work, Marines, and theater obligations only 6 of the kids got to go.

We had not planned to travel South this past weekend, but received some very sad news during the week.  Our nephew was born too premature and did not make it.  Our hearts are very heavy for his Mom & Dad as well as all our nieces and nephews.  The service was early Saturday morning and we traveled down to be there for it.  It was truly wonderful to gather as a family for this solemn occasion.  We cannot always come together because of circumstances standing in the way, I'm so appreciative that everything worked out so that we could travel for this.  We hope it taught our children the valuable lesson of how important family is and supporting your siblings for the rest of your life.  If we had not been able to travel, we would have tried our best to participate from far away, and I know God would have blessed it.  I'm just very glad we could be there.  Please remember them in your prayers.
After the service for the baby, we went back to their house for breakfast/brunch.  We all decided to get the kids out to play and let my sister-n-law rest.  My brother-n-law suggested taking the kids tubing on the San Marcos River so we headed that way and oh, my goodness - those kids had a blast, we all did.

We plan to head back soon, time with cousins are memories that last a lifetime.  Cooking out by the river and just soaking up a good time is priceless.  Thank you P & V for your hospitality during such a hard time!

Saturday evening we sat out on the lawn under the Congress Street Bridge in Austin and waited for the bats to fly out.  We've heard it is an event not to be missed if you've never seen it.  It really is not to be missed, it is amazing to watch thousands of bats fly out at dusk and they swoop and swirl as the mass of them take flight.  #9 got frightened, but everyone else was amazed.  Last year we went to the Carlsbad Caverns and learned quite a bit about bats but it was Spring so they were not taking flight.  It was truly a shock and awe event.  We took them for hamburgers afterwards and rolled our windows down to listen to all the live music in downtown Austin.
We also drove over to the State Capitol so they could see that too, it is really beautiful all lit up at night.  We went back the next morning after Mass.
St. Mary's Cathedral in downtown Austin was designed by the same architect that designed the church Pete and I got married in.  Our's is smaller and is now the chapel since the new church has been built in 2010.  This Cathedral is just breathtakingly beautiful.  We loved going to Mass here, and the choir ...I could go on and on about the choir.  #3 stated that he could have sat there all morning listening to the choir and I agree.  I love that being Catholic means we get to go to Mass no matter where we are and know it is the same Mass all over the world.  I also love that because of this we get to see so many different churches, every trip out of town gets to be a pilgrimage too.
Imagine miles and miles of Sunflowers.  They were just beautiful and I had to stop to get photos.  It was miserably hot and the sun was shining bright right into the kids eyes so I didn't get many.  I'm glad I grabbed these though.

She was such a good sport letting me take these, she is HOT and ready to get back to air conditioning here!
God is good!
Stopping to capture photos of Sunflowers was not planned, it was a whim.  When we headed back to the van I noticed the bumper was sagging (retread hit me last year head on and damaged the bumper slightly.  Retread again came flying at me while traveling but I didn't feel any impact and never even thought twice about it, thinking that I had managed to miss it somehow, guess not).  I did my best to reconnect it back in place and it looked good (this is actually the picture I took at the next stop because I was planning to show Pete what I was dealing with to get his advice).  I headed down the road, but had a very bad feeling that kept getting worse, I prayed.  I decided to take the very next exit and see if I could get some bungee cords to force it to stay until we got home (still over 2 hours away).  I couldn't reach Pete and decided not to send the photo and have him freak out because what could be more stressful to a guy on Father's Day than to have his wife and kids out on the highway dealing with this and not be able to do anything.  I went in that store and bought a box cutter, and I cut off the bumper.  I climbed under the van with my 17 year old helping me, we re-attached the headlight that you can't tell was dangling but was.  We put the bumper in the back of the van and all said a few more prayers, then drove home.  The headlight held in place and all was safe and sound.
I can't stop thinking about how that whim to take photos really saved us from what could have been a very serious accident had that bumper come off and hit my tires on the Interstate.
Thank you, thank you God - I do not believe in coincidences.
Live an interested life is something I think I could write an entire post on, so I'll keep this brief since this post is already quite long.  I have a very good friend who lives in Virginia (but is about to move, I wish closer but no).  She grew up in England and had this great perspective about how much there is to do here that so many Americans never take advantage of.  I always have admired how she raises her family and all the fun activities she enriches their life with, all the while maintaining order and routine.  Anna at Pleasant View Schoolhouse has the same perspective and I even printed out her article on Homeschool Heresies to keep on my fridge to remind me of this perspective.  I want my kids to live an interested life, I want an interested life.  I appreciate friends like Claire and blogs like Anna's that encourage this.
Most of all I appreciate my husband, an introvert and quiet guy, who embraces this concept as much as I do!
Please join over at Re-Inventing Mother for more Weekending Posts!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
Every Thursday, over at Like Mother, Like Daughter!

My Mom set up a beautiful display for the luncheon she gave #2 on his birthday.  I love that photo taken when he was just 3 years old, he was and is always full of bravado and mischief.

Ice Cream with cousins at Grandma and Grandpa's house.
The kids' Uncle traveled in from California and all the kids were VERY eager to see him.  He is #7's Godfather.  Grandma planned a 'build your own sundae' evening and we had a blast.  The kids got to play a game of kick ball too, which means I had several exhausted and {happy} kiddos last night.  
We've only been back in the area for 3 years, after living most of our marriage very far away from family.  These moments with family are treasured, we love every single time we all get together!

We love trying out new drinks, especially in the Summertime.  Anna at Pleasant View Schoolhouse has a list of great ideas, which we are trying out one by one.   I thought it was funny watching the kiddos with their straws being goofy!

Even though I'm often telling everyone to settle down, I LOVE dinner time at our house.  It is always fun even if it does venture into bawdy at times.  The very real part of having all these kids is that things are always interesting and dinner time is the MOST interesting of all!

Please visit LMLD, for more PHFR!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Yarn Along

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well, which is why I participate in Ginny's Yarn Along over at Small Things~
I have not gotten very far with the sweater.  Life has been the busiest ever, and I'm ready for a few things to fall off our plates so that we can enjoy some pursuits at home.  The end of year celebrations and parties have all come to an end and #2 will be flying the nest in a few short days.  I see some knitting time ahead for me, so I hope to get much further on this project in the near future.  For all details about this please follow this link. I am still reading (more like devouring) Anthony Esolen's 'Ten Ways To Destroy Your Child's Imagination" - wonderful, wonderful book!

I've been working on a special little project here and there - which isn't knitting or crocheting, but it is what has been consuming what little knitting time I have (and I worked on costumes for a production of Drowsy Chaperone).  This is from Camille Roskelley who has the cutest quilting website, designs the best fabric, and writes easy to understand quilt books.  I truly love her work!

The project I'm the most excited about is the one pictured here though.  I can't share details yet, but it is one of the best ideas I've ever had.  It involves embroidery, and words of wisdom of someone we love.

This is going to take me a while, but just you wait - It is going to be wonderful!

Please visit Ginny for this weeks Yarn Along.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tasty Tuesday - Summer Meals

We actually love this recipe year round, but a light fish meal on a Hot night is sometimes just the thing to fill everyone up but not overfill them.  Something about sultry hot days makes none of us want heavy meals, not even my teenagers.  
I got this meal idea after having the Jalapeno Garlic Tilapia at Johnny Carinos.  I don't serve it over pasta, we just enjoy it casserole style.  Sometimes I use breaded Tilapia and sometimes I just sprinkle Parmesan cheese over top.  It is delicious either way! 

A perfect Summer meal.  Steamed carrots, fresh salad, Tilapia and cut up watermelon.  Filling for teenagers, but not heavy on hot nights.  I never add the capers to the dish while baking - some of my kids don't care for them and some of us fight over them.  I just set the jar out and those of us who know they are amazing add it to our own plates!

Jalapeno Garlic Tilapia
*made at home*
Start by melting one stick butter in a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish by placing stick in dish and dish in 350 degree oven.  Watch closely because it will melt fast.
Melt another stick on the stove (or if you have a microwave melt it there *I don't*)
Onto the melted butter pile in a TON of fresh spinach.
Spinach cooks down to next to nothing so pile the dish up high and don't worry about it.  It cooks down to nothing and we like lots of spinach so I over fill each time, and each time say "I didn't add enough"
On top of the spinach place your Tilapia fillets.  
On one side of the dish I layer sliced jalapenos. I leave the other side without, for those with less adventurous taste buds.  
Crush a few cloves garlic over all, use as much or as little as you like.
Pour the other stick of butter over top of this.
Pour 1/2 cup heavy cream over all.
Cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes.
Uncover and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Serve and enjoy!
*when adding breaded Tilapia the butter, cream, and breading create a type of gravy.  

Monday, June 10, 2013

Weekending - Graduation Edition

Re-inventing Mother

Our weekend began with Hot Summer Nights.  A program put on by our City with live music.  The little guys love this event and this past week made a new friend.  They are hoping he is there again this week.
It's a hit or miss with the bands sometimes, the crowd is always great though.  We live in a community that has a very large retirement population.  This means that most community events are fairly calm and I can feel good about taking the kids.  This band was a little forgetful that they were not playing in a bar, we enjoyed it up until the break and then made our exit.  I had kids getting out of play practice for The Hobbit anyway, so it was a good time to go.
On Saturday, #2 Graduated from high school.  My Tom Sawyer made good and got his diploma!  We are so very, very proud of him.  This week marks the long goodbye though and I'm teary eyed when I pause a moment to realize that the day of leaving for boot camp is almost here.
I thought he looked so handsome in his cap and gown!
I took close to 500 pictures so it has been HARD to only share a few!
Oh my goodness has this boy given me some grey hair, and I love him so very much.
He is a rascal, but with the very best heart!  I'm so proud to be his Mom.

What amazes me is how much he looks like my Dad!
My Mom gave him a graduation luncheon and Pete's Mom gave him an evening celebration with snacks and family.  I just love these cupcakes my Mom did up for him, they are the cutest (I made that quilt, in fact she decorated with Marine Corp posters, my quilts, his photos etc..etc..)  He was truly made to feel special by both Grandparents, such a fun day of celebrating!

Please visit over at Re-inventing Mother for more Weekending Posts!

I still hope to have up the 2nd part to our Houston Trip some time soon, but life has been very busy as we prepare for #2 to say goodbye.

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