"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What's in a name?


Here's the baby belly. Ugh. My posture is terrible. I hate pictures of myself when I'm pregnant, but it must be documented for posterity, right?

I'm seven months now, and it seems to be going very quickly. I've been so blessed to have such an easy pregnancy with very few complications. I can usually even get to sleep at night, and the heart-burn has been at a minimum. It's going so easily, that I'm not completely sure I'm ready for the delivery. Last time was not so fun.

So now I realize that the time is drawing near and I do not have a suitable name for this baby. I swear that choosing a name is the hardest part of having a baby. It's important! I stress out about it to no end. I don't like to tell people my potential prospects because I think I'll jinx it. It never fails: I tell someone what I'm thinking of naming my baby and they tell me that's their dog's name, or a great aunt/uncle they hated, or a celebrity I dislike has a kid named that. Or even worse, they say something like: Oh, I hate that name; or, oh, don't do that...

And it's not that I am overly concerned with what people think, but I don't entirely trust my judgement when I'm pregnant. I'm quite sure the pregnancy hormones make my brain think strange things are a great idea which I would NEVER consider under normal circumstances. I know a girl that seriously almost named her son "Dragon", because you start looking through those name books full of John, Joe, Bill, and suddenly you picture your super cool kid, "Dragon" strutting through the high school halls, and for some strange reason it seems like a great idea. Pregnant ladies with raging hormones just shouldn't be allowed to choose names for their babies. This is probably how "Apple" came to be.

Part of my struggle is that we have a whole lot of family and friends with very cute and original baby names. If I like a name, chances are it's taken. I'm not going to name my baby the same name as a cousin or next door neighbor. Also, our last name is extremely common, so I won't even consider a very common/popular name and risk the chance that there will be five other "John Allens" in his school class.

Or there are awkward connections from the past or just bad mental images that a name evokes. No one wants to name her child after that big mean bully from elementary school.

So then there are always family names, right? Not really. The only decent ones have been used and re-used. Middle name maybe. I love my ancestors to be sure. But I just can't name my son Maurice, Moyle, Floyd, Irvin, or Henry. Can't do it.

So my criteria for this baby's name:

1. Must be original and somewhat unique, but NOT strange, weird, un-pronounceable, or un-spell-able. Not too common, not to odd.

2. Must "go" with my other 3 children's names. And yet can't be too much the same like Rhyming or just slightly different. Ellorie and Averie are bad enough. (Brandon is always calling them the wrong name.) Maybe since the girl's names are kinda similar, the boys names could both start with an '"M" or end with an "n", or both have two syllables or just be the same "type" of names. You know what I mean.

3. We both must like/tolerate the name and have no negative connections with it. This is a biggie. Brandon doesn't usually suggest names, but he can shoot them down in a hurry. I think this is the hardest one.

4. We don't like names that sound too foreign/ethnic or like a made-up word. Names with hyphens, symbols, or mid-name capitalizations are not an option. The poor boy is already going to be small for his age, we don't want to give him any additional reason to be bullied.

And that's pretty much it. Is that too much to ask?

So I look and look through books and online lists of baby boy names. I have a very small list of names that somewhat meet my criteria. I don't think Brandon particularly likes any of them. There is surprisingly little to choose from. I have dozens of adequate girls names picked out, but I'm pretty sure he's a boy. Mason thinks we should name him "Jett" because that's what he wanted to name the next dog. Sorry buddy. Hate to disappoint. Ellorie thinks Harry Potter is a nice name. That one isn't happening either.

And so the quest for a perfect name continues. But don't ask me, because if I choose one I probably won't tell you what it is until after he's born.... no offense....

Trunk-or-Treat

We had the ward trunk-or-treat last night, so we pulled out the costumes. Let the sugar rush begin!








Pumpkin Time!

My kids just can't get enough pumpkins. We carved "jack-o-lanterns" Tuesday night. The kids wanted dragons on their pumpkins this year, which just wasn't going to happen. They settled for "puffles", which are little characters from Club Penguin. They look something like this:

Ellorie's "red puffle":

Averie's Lulu (a character from another game) :

Mason's "black puffle" :

Of course the project always ends up being me drawing the picture and Brandon doing the majority of the carving. The kids love the painting though. It's a fun tradition.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thankful

I feel a little bit guilty for my bad mood and my bad attitude yesterday. I have so many things to be grateful for! Here are ten of them I'm thankful for today:

1. Schwan's Cinnamon ice cream. And the carmel brownie. Seriously good. (And almost worth the price.) And it comes to my door...


2. Three healthy, happy, helpful children. Despite their unavoidable messiness. And one tiny little boy soon to join our family. We're so excited.


3. A very handy, capable, hard working, and helpful husband that know how to fix things, and does so without being asked or nagged. Even when he is sick. Just yesterday he repaired the bathroom towel rack which was pulled down through the dry wall as one or more of our above mentioned children attempted doing pull-ups on the bar. He replaced it with a decorative rail and 4 towel hooks. It looks so nice now!


4. Online bill pay, which saved more than one of my bills from being tardy this week.

5. Helpful friends and neighbors, and especially my wonderful mother for giving me a little bit of perspective when the world comes crashing down for a small moment.
6. A really comfortable bed. So comfortable that at 7 months pregnant I can still sleep in it instead of the couch. A first for my pregnancies.

7. Holidays, even ridiculous ones like Halloween, that provide a good excuse for eating junk food and having senseless fun. Because we all need a little senseless fun every once in a while.

8. Autumn leaves, even though there won't be any in our yard until our trees grow up a bit.


9. HULU.

10. A patient family that allows me to do my crazy arts, crafts, and projects. (Let's be honest, sometimes my messes are a lot bigger than the kids messes.)




Monday, October 26, 2009

Bad Day

Please allow me to use this blog as a vehicle to vent my frustrations. I normally try to keep posts positive and light. Today let's just call it blog therapy, because the knowledge that I could later post this "event" just may have saved me from throttling one or more of my children.


It wasn't a great day. Lots of messes. The children meticulously cleaned their rooms on Saturday only to have them completely trashed Monday morning. To be expected. But I still didn't want to clean them. The unfinished basement/toy area/catch all has become completely chaotic, and I decided to try to tackle at least part of it. I began hauling empty boxes and D.I. stuff up the stairs. Mason had just gotten home from school and the kids were relaxing and having snacks. We had a lot of empty boxes and I hauled ten or so of them upstairs to take to the recycling place. Averie came downstairs with me and we sat down on the floor to organize some of the small toys. I was down there no more than five minutes when I heard the kids making far too many joyous cries to be a good thing. I come upstairs and this is what I see:




Oh really. The room was completely clean besides the boxes when I went downstairs. Mason had let in a friend without asking, and they dumped out one of the boxes containing styrofoam packing pieces and were throwing, crushing, breaking, jumping and rolling in the tiny, static-y pieces.

I was completely without words. I went into my bedroom and burst into tears. I was already frustrated with the pre-existing messes before the event, and I was absolutely flabbergasted. I think the kids knew I was not happy (duh). Friend was escorted out the door and Mason and Ellorie spent the next hour attempting to clean up their mess. After an hour I sent them to their respective rooms to do homework, because they really weren't picking the pieces up very well anyway.

The pictures do not do justice to the magnitude of the mess. Have you ever tried to clean up tiny pieces of broken styrofoam? Well, let me tell you, it is horrible. They stick to everything. Your hands, the broom, the vacuum, the boxes, the walls, and certainly my children. It took over two hours to sweep them all up, and there are still more remaining in little nooks and crannies.


I know in a day or two I will be laughing about this. Just not quite yet. I really love my children, and I certainly hope I am equipped to deal with another one. Though today I had my doubts.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Handmade Cold-Process Soap

I have been waiting and waiting for my soap class, and today was the day. It was a rather involved process. I felt like a chemist. (And I was!) It's a little scary to learn all the things that can go wrong, but my teacher really knows what she is doing and everything went perfectly.


Today I made "Apple Jack", which is a really yummy apple cinnamon smell. The soap ingredients are avocado oil, canola oil, coconut oil, lard, distilled water, and fragrance. It is IMPERATIVE that you follow the recipe precisely, without alteration. We measured everything exactly in grams.

First you precisely measure out all the oils into a large stock pot. Place the pot on a warm stove and let it sit until melted and thoroughly warm with a smooth consistency.



While the oils are heating, measure out your distilled water into a glass bowl.

Now it's time to use the lye. Nasty stuff. Use goggles, apron, closed-toe shoes, gloves, and a mask if you happen to be pregnant. We also did this part outside for an extra precaution. Lye looks like tiny tapioca or something. She had it already measured out, so I just had to slowly sprinkle into the distilled water and stir. It heats up and dissolves quickly.

Now you have to wait until the lye and the oils are both about the same temperature. Hot, but not too hot to touch. The hotter the lye is the faster the soap will "trace", which sort of means thickens. When they reach the appropriate temperature you pour the lye through a strainer into the oils very carefully, and stir with a stick blender for about five minutes or until it begins to thicken.

When the soap starts to "trace" it sort of looks like the consistency of hair conditioner. I don't know how else to describe it. Let it set for a minute until it reaches the proper consistency and then pour in the measured amount of fragrance. I guess this finishing part is where most people mess up. When it's the perfect consistency you pour the contents into your box/form/mold and place it in a cold oven with the light on. It starts to heat up again and begins to go through the process called "saponification". This means that the chemical process is actually turning the lye and lard into soap. The soap cures in the box like this for 24 hours, then you can cut it in about 2 days. The final curing process takes about three weeks. Then your fabulous soap is ready to use. I'm so excited!!

Somebody really needs to invent a scratch-and-sniff widget for blogs. It seriously smells so delicious. (I hope no one tries to eat it, but in all reality it's probably not for the kids.)

It was actually a little easier than I expected, but I don't dare try it on my own quite yet. The next batch I want to do is with Hungarian Moor Mud and anise. It's a bit more advanced.

This homemade soap is fantastic for dry skin, lathers wonderfully, smells great, lasts longer than regular soap, and has no added chemicals or detergents, and has the added bonus of the extra glycerin and good stuff from the oils. I love the idea of it. It is a little bit costly to get started, but I made this entire batch for $12.00. It will make roughly 18-21 bars (depending on how small I cut them). I really enjoyed the process. I just may have found a new obsession...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Painting Pumpkins

Painting these little pumpkins has become somewhat of a tradition. This year I was a bit wiser and bought some washable paint. Good call.




They would paint and paint all day until the paint ran out. Ellorie and Averie have added several layers of paint since last night. It's a good thing they both like baths.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Too much sand?





Our garden area is almost pure clay/rock. We didn't have adequate drainage for most of the plants, and it badly needed some fertilizer. Solution: sand and manure. Brandon found a great deal on sand and we ordered a couple of loads. Our garden is HUGE. 40 feet by 60 feet. The people on the phone at various places estimated that we needed 48 cubic yards of sand to cover the garden area in 3 inches of sand. We ordered 2 loads of 20 cubic yards each. Do you realize how much sand that is??? Yeah, we didn't either. It was quite a bit more than needed. Brandon has been working his tail off trying to get the stuff spread and moved around so we can rototill it in and then bring in the manure. Anyone have a tractor?


But on the bright side, the kids have had the county's biggest sand box to play in the last few days. We have sand absolutely everywhere. Thursday afternoon Mason and Ellorie had been playing out there for quite a while. They were in the bathroom laughing hysterically, so I had to investigate. Upon opening the door I discovered them sitting on opposite sides of the sink with their feet in soapy water, and with santa claus bubble beards down to their waists. Bubbles and water everywhere! I wish so badly I would have had my camera. It was so funny, I just couldn't be mad at them.

On the not-so-bright side there are several shoe-fulls (and shoes full) of sand in front of each door, and I can't even imagine how much in the carpet I can't see. Lots of vacuuming this week.

School Pictures



We have never had any school pictures that have turned out in the past. So unfortunately, I only purchased one 8 X 10 of each of them. But aren't they cute? I'm going to take Averie in to get her pictures taken soon. I have badly neglected picture taking with her. She hated cameras for so long, and currently I find that I only take pictures of her when she has just made a huge mess. Poor babe.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Brandon Can Can...

We have had an entire drawer of the fridge occupied with the remaining tomatillos from the garden. I just haven't had the energy to do anything with them yet. Brandon came home from work last night and started peeling and washing. Before I knew it, he was well into the salsa-making process. We didn't have all the ingredients, so I made a quick trip to the grocery store after the kids were in bed. When I returned it was almost completely finished. He made and processed a triple batch of tomatillo salsa in just a couple of hours! Very impressive...






Sunday, October 11, 2009

Snickerdoodles with Daddy

I confess, I do not make cookies very often. The main reason is that I know I will eat too many of them, but also because I'm lazy. Brandon occasionally decides to make cookies with the kids and they totally love it. It's usually oatmeal cookies, his favorite, but today they decided to make snickerdoodles. I went to choir practice and came home to find the four of them crowding around a bowl of dough. So much fun. And delicious too! Brandon is such a great daddy.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Pumpkin Pie- from scratch

Our garden is officially finished. It's a little sad, but just a little. I'm ready for it to be done. We had some successes, a few failures, and know a little more for next year.

Most of our pumpkin plants died, and we only got one, ugly, misshapen pumpkin out of the twenty or so starts. I'm not a pumpkin farmer. We will be purchasing our jack-o-lantern pumpkins this year it seems.

However, it seemed a shame to waste our homely looking garden pumpkin, so I washed and gutted it, cut it up, and baked it for about an hour. I've never made pumpkin pie filling from an actual pumpkin, but it is SO easy, and I think much better than the canned stuff.

All you do is take 3 cups of your mashed up pumpkin, drain the water from it as much as possible, blend it a little (I used a hand blender), season according to your favorite pumpkin pie recipe, and bake as usual. It's slightly thinner than the canned stuff, but is perfect after it's been refrigerated for a day. My pumpkin made enough to freeze for later as well. The kids thought it was pretty awesome to see their pumpkin turn into a pie.




Oh, and here is the felt version: (hee hee)