Thursday, September 30, 2010

One Apple up on top


Do you see it? That apple up there. The one taunting me, hanging high out of reach, looking all shinny and red?


Well, sure, I have a full tree of apples, but THAT one looks amazing. I am pretty sure it is bigger than the ones on the branches within reach. And it looks like it is more red, too. I have shaken the tree repeatedly, but that darn apple refuses to fall.


Life is like that, isn't it. We are surrounded by good things, apples with in reach, but what we REALLY want is that apple up on top. I guess it is a classic case of "the grass is always greener". The truth is I already have more apples than I know what to do with. They have made me yummy pie and apple butter and crisp. I don't need that one. It would do me know good to wish for that apple and ignore the ones I have.


Sometimes life is a balance between contentment and striving. You don't want to be shaking the tree so hard that you bruise all the apples within your reach but you don't want to quit dreaming either. I want to enjoy where my children are now, but I still long for a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.


There was another apple, like the one in the picture, all big and red and shiny. I shook the tree and and came flying down. Only to discover a squirrel had gotten to the apple before I had and enjoyed half of it. I couldn't see that from the ground, I could only see the uneaten part. I guess all apples that hang out at the top of the tree are not worth the lusting after.


And then there is the NEIGHBORS tree. Smaller, with apples easily reached. I watch from my upstairs window as the apples grow bigger, start to blush, then bloom to a full red...and fall to the ground to be eaten by bugs. She doesn't pick the apples, or even care that they are growing! If God had given me that tree, think of all the good I could do! Apple tarts, apple jam, pies for everyone? Yet she just wastes them!


That is not my tree, those are not my apples or my responsibility. God calls me to do my best with what he has given ME. Not the things that are going to happen someday, like the apple at the top of the tree. Not the bounty he gave my neighbor. My current blessings should be my focus, and how I use them to His glory.


Some of the apples within my reach are small, a little bit green, with a hole or two where a bug had his lunch but I am grateful and I am blessed. While my heart sometimes longs for bushels of perfect red apples, I will keep my energy and heart focused on those in my own basket.



****extra credit given to those who noticed the literary reference in the title******

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Green Chili

We are big fans of green chili in this house, we put it on everything that holds still long enough. Last year I made my own. Matt complained, after finishing the last jar, that I hadn't made nearly enough. This year we have already made and frozen two batches. Frozen because I don't really know squat about how to can things. Maybe next year I can tackle that. For anyone else who enjoys a little kick to there life, here is how we went about it.

-Green chilies. We buy pre-roasted ones from the farmers market. You could roast your own but that would be...intense. Or just a heck of a lot of work. Assume you need several pounds of roasted chilies. We buy a mix of medium and mild and our green chili always has a kick to it.

- Stock. We use chicken, homemade. You could use canned or even water, but we love home made stock. You will need 4-8 cups. Yes, that is a broad range but it sorta depends on how thick you like your chili and how many roasted chilies you could get your hands on.

- Tomitillos. I hear green tomatoes work too. We use about 8-12, they add a little tart or citrus note to your chili

-Onion and garlic. We use lots of this because we love both. Garlic adds a demention to the spice, and both add flavor. Don't use less than at least one whole onion and a whole clove of garlic.

-Cilantro. Use about one small bunch

- Pork. Not to make this "pork green chili" which is excellent, but to add some flavor and fat for a good mouth feel. I toss in a couple of country style ribs.

-Salt and pepper to taste

Start by cleaning chili's. This is a lousy task, messy too. Remove skins and seeds. Don't stop to itch your nose or eyes or you will regret it. Think pepper spray, yeah, not good. Don't rinse your chili's, you want all the good oils to stay, so use as little water as you can.

Dump chili's, stock, diced onion and garlic, tomitillos, and pork into your crock pot. Turn on low. Walk away. Come back in 8ish hours.

Remove pork, make sure to get any chunk of bone too, as bones can really do a number on your blender. Shred pork and make a killer taco.

Blend in batches, adding fresh cilantro. I leave mine with a little chunk to it. Salt and pepper to taste.

Like your chili a little thicker? Add some cornstarch and bring to a simmer. If you need it a bit thinner add some more stock.

You are now the proud owner of a bunch of green chili. We have a large crock pot and end up with about 6 quart jars full. What to do with all this chili?

-Make a breakfast burrito and smother it well
- Use it as an enchilada sauce by mixing it with some sour cream and pouring it over corn tortillas stuffed with meat. Top with cheese and bake.
-Pull some pork shoulder and toss with a jar of green chili and enjoy some tacos
- Serve it on a hamburger
- Mix with cream cheese and serve with corn chips.

Or, if your a nice person, give it as a gift. We are not nice people and end up eating most of it ourselves.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Princess

I suppose it was inevitable. All of her friends are into it, it was only a matter of time. The last few months the evil "Disney Princess" bug has hit our house hard. Gag.

I have a couple of beefs with these chicks, one being they always need a man to come save them. That beauty reining supreme is enough to make me shudder. I feel like it goes against a lot of what we try to teach the girls. Things like beauty doesn't matter and you can work to fix your own problems. These pretend women are willing to change who they are, give up everything, all for a man to love them.

And now, for icing on the cake or insult to injury, Eliana wants to be a princess for Halloween. I will let her, begrudgingly. She has the right to choose to pretend to be what she wants. I want her to feel like it is ok to be into things that I am not, she is her own person with her own mind. But that doesn't mean I won't show her some other, much cooler choices.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Annabelle's visit to Children's Hospital

We lucked out. The GAP Clinic, where Belle needed to be seen, was booked through mid-November. After they looked at her charts they got us in with-in a week. Here is the short and long of it:

-Annabelle is skinny. They do a height vs. weight comparison and then assign either slightly underweight, moderately underweight or severely underweight. She falls in the category of "moderately".

- In the last month, Belle has put on almost a pound. This is the same amount she put on in the prior 3 months. We haven't changed anything. I attribute her weight gain to a steady diet of lots of prayer of those who love her.

- We are in a holding pattern. Since Belle's weight seems to be getting better, we are going to wait and see for the next 8 weeks. We will go in to our Doctors office for weight checks in that time to make sure the numbers are rising.

-We were encouraged to continue physical therapy to see if we can help with her stiffness. If it doesn't seem to help, we will have to re-assess.

-This week Belle has learned to get from laying to sitting and then pull up to standing. She is still very stiff, but loves to show off her new tricks!

The doctor we say didn't seem overly concerned. He was encouraged by her recent growth and said her diet looks good. She is still getting up to eat twice a night and he said that would continue so it looks like no rest for the weary. Annabelle is healthy, her brain is growing and she is not developmentally behind. Pray that she continues to be a good grower and that the pound keep coming!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Strange

It is strange to me that when my brain is very full my blog is very empty. I like to write but when my head is stuffed I sometimes have a hard time getting it all out. Brain constipation. Here is what is bouncing around in my head right now:

-Tomorrow is Annabelles visit to Childrens. I am trying not to over think it or dread what is coming, it won't do any good. I know they will do blood work, which won't be fun. I also know that in cases like hers they sometimes worry about neglect. I hate the thought of anyone thinking that this baby who is so dear to my heart just may not be getting the love she needs to thrive.

- Motherhood is an odd thing. You don't get a report card or pay check so it is easy to judge how your doing by other things i.e the way your home looks or weather or not your children are thriving. Right now I think I would be fired and get a flunking grade. I know something are beyond my control but I take the fact Belle is tiny as a sign of personal failure. Somewhere in my head I know that isn't the case.

- Attitude is so much of life. Currently I am struggling with mine. Sometime I just don't feel like doing the right thing. The bible is pretty clear that the way we behave towards someone is not dependent on the way the act towards us. We are to live to a higher standard, Jesus. Love is the requirement, forgiveness is expected. My attitude is my choice, not to be dependent on someone elses behavior.

- Know what happens when you leave 3 children and a pack of diapers while you go outside to hang laundry? First, the baby empties the entire package. Then the two big girls bring in stuffed animal to diaper. Lots of them. Currently there are several bears and a puppy sporting pampers.

-How often do you change your sheets? How about your kids sheets? I hate this job and put it off until we approach nasty.

-I have a crock pot full of fire roasted green chili sauce. My eggs, Mexican food, beans, tortillas and anything else that holds still long enough is going to be that much better!

I will create a real post soon. Sorry for the brain dump.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Annabelle Faith 10 months

Today was the big day, the consult with Children's Hospital. The appointment was early, 8:00am, and 20 minutes away so of course Annabelle decided to sleep in today. Mom was nice enough to get up early on her day off to watch the big girls and my friend Sarah took time off from work so I wouldn't have to go alone.

I was impressed with the office, which is not surprising because Children's Hospital of Denver is #2 in the nation. We met with a OT specialist who asked me all kinds of questions. It was so nice to have Sarah there as an extra set of hands/ baby occupier. The therapist said Annabelle is not doing to badly. She is rigid and has a muscle imbalance which means she has some muscles that are really strong so instead of developing her other ones she uses the strong ones. She also has one of the markers for cerebral palsy but none of the others so we think we are in the clear. We will be meeting with her every week for a while and doing exercises at home.

The therapist, Juliette, directed us to another specialty area in the Children's Hospital, one who specialises in diet and nutrition. Annabelle should hit three times her birth weight (7lbs and 11ozs) and she is not even close. In the last 3 months she has put on less than one pound. Nutrition effects the way muscles work and eventually can effect brain development. For some reason Annabelle's body isn't taking in calories like she needs. We will get some blood work done and try to figure out a diet for her and go from there.

I am feeling encouraged by this over all. We at least have a plan. I will keep you posted.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Family

Meet Aunt Darlene. This is Matt's Aunt and my girls think she hung the moon. See her lap full of children? Yeah, that is normal. My girls quickly learned to ask her for something instead of me, they always like her answer better than mine! They have an awesome house with a play room and pool in the back yard where we crash while we are in the Orange County area. I am surprised my girls came home with us, they would have been happy to stay forever!
This is Eric and Adrianna, Matt's cousin and his wife. The have two beautiful little girls who my children loved playing with. They, too, have an amazing home which they opened up to us.

And here are the big girls, Addilyn, Eliana, Brooklyn and Sophia. The little ones are Annabelle, Presley, and Ava but they won't hold still long enough for a picture.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Quick update

Well, we are at long last home again. It feels good, well feels good except for the copious piles of laundry. We had such a nice time in California. Not so nice that I am signing up to move there or anything, but a good time none the less. Here is what is going on

-Matt is out of town. yes, again. He was home for about 36 hours. I am surprised he has any clean underwear to pack. Maybe he doesn't, so if you live in New York, give my hubby some grace for going commando.

-Raksha, the mama kitty is no longer at our house, she is being adopted into a "forever home". To soften the blow, Georgia brought us some kittens. Some being 5. Yes 5 kittens. Eliana is in heaven and I must say that the babies are really cute. Nigel, Nora, Nelly, Nubbins and Nyla will either leave our home very well socialised or in need of kitten therapy.

- I am about to kill the darn dog. He is peeing on EVERYTHING and right now has very few redeeming qualities. He needs a better home than ours where he get a little more love.

- Tuesday we have an appointment at Children's Hospital. I want it over with so I can stop thinking about it. Annabelle is doing well. We tried doing some dairy and had 3 days of nasty diapers and tummy aches...yeah, won't do that again.

-Addilyn's new line is "I can't mama, I am just a little girl". She pulls this out when any task seems too difficult or just un-fun.

That is about all that is going on here. I will be posting some pictures of California soon!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Ice Bucket

I have spent this week in a hotel room with 3 children age 4 and under. If it weren't for the fact that this particular hotel room is located in sunny CA, this might lead to an unfortunate case of child abuse involving duct tape, but since this allows us to be together as a family we are pushing through the occasional boredom. We didn't pack many toys so our creativity has been stretched to it's limits. Here is what we have discovered you can do with an ice bucket:

Fill bucket with ice and play on patio
Place baby doll who is wrapped in a towel in bucket and carry her around
Use bucket as a stool to watch cartoons on
Roll buck back and forth between friends
See how many wash cloths can fit into bucket
Turn bucket over and use as drum
Place bucket on head and use as hat
Stand on bucket to reach things in high places
Swing bucket around and try to hit sister
Use bucket for collecting rocks
Shout into bucket and enjoy the echo noise
Make fart noises in the bucket and enjoy the echo

These are just the good ideas, we have come up with several bad ones too, including seeing if you can fit the baby sister in the bucket and carry her around (you can't, she is much to big and screams much to loud and mama just gets mad) We have also discovered that the baby doesn't enjoy wearing the bucket as a hat, despite the fact it seems to fit her the best. Isn't vacation fun!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Nursing babies

I am proud to say I have breast fed all 3 of my children. It can be so much work, but I believe it is totally worth the hours, the stained shirts, the occasional pain, the sacrifice and the great rack I get for the duration. After watching friends struggle to make it work, I know how blessed I am that it came easy for me. Here is a reflection of my nursing relationship with my girls.

30 minutes of feeding a newborn
Baby is screaming. Try to calm down squirming bundle and convince her that her hand is not your boob. Take deep breath and cringe as baby finally latches on. Realize it is a bad latch, unlatch and try again. More screaming. Get baby successfully latched. Kick yourself for not noticing earlier hunger signs. Take deep breaths until it doesn't hurt. Notice baby is falling asleep instead of eating. Rub her back. Tickle her head. Bounce. Thump baby's feet. Unlatch and burp a totally comatose baby. Poke her until she wakes up enough to latch on to other side. Flinch. Watch baby eat in peace until she dozes off and totally unlatches herself. Wipe off milk drool from baby's half smiling face. Sniff the sweet smell of tiny baby. Repeat in 1 hour and 20 minutes

30 minutes of feeding a 3 month old
Lift up shirt. Latch on baby. Drink coffee and read People magazine. Smile at baby, enjoy baby smiling back. Burp baby and listen to sweet coos. Repeat every 3 hours

30 minutes of feeding a 10 month old
Pick up baby who is hanging on your leg screaming bloody murder. Try to keep baby from lifting up your shirt or reaching down the front to help herself while you walk to the couch. Lift up shirt as baby hoovers on target. Baby unlatches to talk to cat. Resumes eating. Baby unlatches to watch sisters playing. Resumes eating. Mama gives up nursing in the living room and moves to nursery, all while baby eats. Mama tries to read, baby steals magazine. Mama tries to take a drink while baby swats at cup. Remove baby foot from mouth. Encourage baby to do more eating and less nose poking. Try to convince baby to stop pulling on your ear. Watch baby try to nurse while up side down. Hold baby firmly as she tries to roll away while still latched on. Baby bounces while eating. Baby bites, mama gives up. Baby howls indignantly as mama pulls her shirt back down. Repeat every 2-4 hours.

There is a part of me that is sad that this part of my life is coming to an end. I will miss the cuddle time, the sweet babies and the way my chest so nicely fills out my shirt. Here is to all the mama's who sacrifice to do what there babies need, be it breast or bottle. Enjoy it while it lasts, they grow so quickly.