Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mary, Mary quite contrary... 

Our Arizona garden was the complete opposite of the Little Red Hen. Jason did all the work and I reaped all the garden fresh tomato sandwiches that my tomato loving heart desired. It was a good set up, at least for me, so I am surprising myself with how much I am really enjoying getting my fingernails dirty.  Especially when I'm the assistant gardener and the self proclaimed head gardener wears a super hero cape, red butterfly gloves and believes that the best water comes from an elephant shaped watering can.  And insists on planting a lemon tree with seeds from a lemon, and insists on planting carrots so that he can pull them up from the stem and eat them out of the side of his mouth like Bugs Bunny, and insists on consulting his gardening book prior to planting tomatoes, and insists that all caterpillars will be immediately evacuated from the premises, but there is an open door policy for worms.  This boy is just all sorts of awesome. There really is a lot to be said about being outdoors getting nice and dirty right along side your kids while being productive at the same time.  I'm really digging this whole gardening thing (lame pun intended).

Grandma Judy is the real head gardener and she is also the one who spoiled Maddox with the gloves and watering can.  He's a big fan of Grandma Judy.  We all are. (as a side note, Maddox is wearing his school uniform which means two things 1) Being able to wear sweats to school every day was my dream senior year 2) he has started school visits and will be starting all day as a new entrant when we get back from break. I'm having some serious issues with this. We'll discuss it more later).

And in other news...Ryder moved out of his 4x4 port-a-crib and into a big boy bed. I always imagined moving my last baby into a big bed would be quite ceremonial.  Instead I realized while cleaning his room that his "crib" was just a hub for all of his toys and between all the cars and the stuffing he keeps pulling out of his pillow, there really isn't much room for him to sleep.  So I packed it up. And that was it.

We are all a little spoiled to have dad come home for lunch a couple days a week.  Some of us are downright giddy about it.

Kylie's teacher emailed me to let me know that Kylie was going to be receiving an award at the weekly assembly and I was invited to come.  She was so embaressed and begged me not to go.  Like any good mom, I ignored her and went.  She decided she was glad that I came after all because her friends said they liked the way I dressed. I guess we've officially reached that stage in life where your mom can make or break your social standing.  I was surprised when Jayden got an award too, so I was extra glad that I showed up.  And last but not least, Jayden finally got his cast off.  Sitting with all four kids through those weekly doctor appointments to get it x-rayed were the death of me, oh, and Jayden is pretty happy to have it off too. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Peanut Butter Popcorn

Some things in life are too good not to share. We're all about the golden rule over here, so for those of you who requested it, here you go.  Back when I was the enrichment leader we planned a minute-to-win-it game night, which in hindsight was not one of our better ideas. It baffles me why the women weren't lining up to bounce golf balls in panty hose off their heads, but nevertheless, the whole 5 of us who showed up were rewarded with tubs of the most delicious popcorn that my friend made.  Now, I can't seem to find corn syrup here (along with hotdogs, provolone, diced green chilies, cornmeal, jalapenos, chocolate syrup, mac and cheese, tomatillos, cool whip and at least one item on my shopping every single time) so I've had to improvise.  But the good thing is, it's SUPER healthy (insert saracasm-on a scale of 0-healthy, I give it a -265). Here is the original recipe which appeals to the more sophisticated pallete:

2 bags microwave popcorn (or air popped)
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. corn syrup
1 c. peanut butter
chocolate chips
In medium saucepan combine brown sugar and corn syrup. Bring to boil over medium high heat stirring frequently. Remove from heat and whisk in peanut butter. Pour over popcorn and stir until well coated. Mix in M&M's, melt chocolate chips in microwave then drizzle on top.

And in a pinch when you only have 2 of the five ingredients and your kids want to create a zoo and need popcorn for their popcorn stand and if you don't come up with something in the next 3 minutes then they're going back to their video games, then you can use this:

1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
1/2 c peanut butter

Best if popped the old fashioned way.  It is far more interesting to watch and leaves you questioning how everything in the universe works. Or if you're like me, it's your only option. And best if served on a friday night after homemade pizza and while watching a movie. Preferrably Nacho Libre. And preferrably if you have a contest to see who can do the best glute flex while wearing recreation clothes.  Just a suggestion.

{Hug hug, keese keese, big hug little hug, big keese little keese.}

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fulfillment (i.e. soul searching 101)

I had a dream last night.  It was a Supermarket Sweep style dream at Walmart. I ran through the aisles grabbing everything that is virtually impossible to find here or is so expensive that it's a rare luxury... Tostitos, stick deodorant (I thought roll-on deodorant went extinct in the 80's), and Red Vines. I'll take two of those. The homesickness comes in waves.  This past week was a little on the rougher end of the spectrum.  All three kids came home from school on Friday with tears in their eyes and stories of getting picked on, being called a mean name or pushed (but the way they stood up for each other made me realize we must be doing something right).  The novelty of being the new kid is wearing off, they still love it and have found some great friends, but I think the kids here come from such diverse backgrounds and have much thicker skins.  Kylie had a meltdown the other night because she is so worried that she will get behind in school and won't be able to get into a good college.  Their old school taught a grade level ahead and I think it's good for her to have a review since she struggled with a lot of the new concepts before, but she is scared that she will have a hard time catching up when we get back.  Maddox tells me almost daily that he's ready to go home.  This has been a fun vacation, but he wants to go home. Today he told me, "I just don't feel like myself because I'm not at home".  I've also been struggling lately with feeling productive.  Darn that guilt gene that manifests itself the minute we become a mom.  We feel guilty that we're doing too much, then we feel guilty that we're not doing enough.  I snapped this picture of my calendar before we moved:

Now I don't even own a calendar and even though I never check the calendar on my phone, I still will add things in there just so I feel important.  Even if it already happened a week ago. Oh, we had the missionaries over for dinner last Wednesday, better add that in.  When my head would finally hit the pillow at night I used to rattle off my laundry list of the day's accomplishments to Jason with pride and satisfaction.  And now I'm trying to learn to appreciate that this time here without all the distractions is a gift. That I don't need a full calendar to fill important.  This isn't me complaining, I'm not expecting anyone to feel sorry for the girl who has nothing better to do than frolick carelessly on the beach with her kids, this is me trying to talk sense into my guilty conscious that is trying to tell me that what I'm doing isn't enough. My self worth isn't measured by the length of my to-do list.  The carpools and appointments will be there waiting for me when we get back, but for now being "just" a mom is enough.  In fact, it's more than enough.  Spending a gorgeous weekend together with my heart and souls is what we all needed.  A reminder to not take for granted this beautiful opportunity that we have here.  A reminder that helping to raise this little family of mine is the most important job I'll ever do, and that right now just being there for them is all I need to do in order to feel fulfilled.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Bucket lists 

My New Zealand bucket list is a mile long, as you would imagine one's New Zealand bucket list would be. Some are big things, some are small, some are local and some are far, but my goal is to leave here with as few regrets as possible (of course I have a second dream bucket list for when Jason and I come back with no kids and more money). I love going through the list on the weekends and picking an outing.  Today was a Sunday picnic and kite flying at Victoria park in the port hills after church.  The view was beautiful and the wind was perfect for flying kites (but not perfect for a picnic).  Most of the pics I took were of Kylie, because while the other kids foolishly played at the playground, she was the smart one who hung out with me and got to eat all the peanut butter popcorn and chocolate.  A picnic just wouldn't be a picnic with out PB popcorn and chocolate, am I right or am I right?

While we were up there we figured we better drive around and we were rewarded handsomely with the views. The kids thought we were going to die since the roads were so narrow and there were no guard rails protecting against the sheer drop off and certain death.  I wasn't worried about us, it was the bikers flying around those curves that I was nervous about. Welp, one down and 567 more items on the list to go.