Friday, August 29, 2008

What bringing it home is all about!

Ron came home from work this week with 3 of the largest squash I've ever seen (2 zucchini, 1 summer squash)...I mean these things were HUGE! Picture about 2 feet long and at least 6 inches in diameter. When squash gets this large it's typically a little too tough for cooking and eating so I like to use these for baking.

My husband hates anything nutritious. If it has wheat in it, he won't touch it....veggies, only the starchy veggies for him (well, I guess I have been able to get him to eat asparagus and Brussels sprouts and an occasional winter squash). Thursday night I was printing recipes and preparing for a morning of baking with the kids (home economics school day). When Al took the recipes off the printer I teased him about all the yummy baking I would be doing with the kids and couldn't he just taste the zucchini bread?!?!? I believe his response started with, "Bleh!" and ended with "Not a chance."

The kids and I were up early, had breakfast, got dressed, had our school opening exercises and moved right to the kitchen to make 2 loaves of zucchini bread, one choclate zucchini cake and a loaf of wheat bread. The kids were as patient as could be expected while we grated the zucchini and ground the wheat (yes, we grind our own wheat). I was not so patient with all the little hands in everything and grabbing for anything they could snatch off the counter. But we did get through it :)

Connor was not so sure about zucchini bread and "why can't me just make a regular chocolate cake, why does it have to have zucchini in it?" He sounded so much like his father...yes, it made me chuckle, too. When the bread came from the oven the girls and I were all over it! We were pushing one another to get at it. Connor and Al sort of hovered in the background waiting for reactions from the girls. I explained that zucchini bread is much like banana bread so Al ventured in for a taste. I could see the skepticism on his face, but he dove in for another bite. Before I knew it, he was slathering it in butter and ate three pieces. Connor also tried a piece and found he loved it!

I figured I wouldn't ruin it for Al by reminding him it was somewhat healthy for him with all the zucchini and I used fresh whole wheat flour!!! Some things are more enjoyable when you keep them to yourself :)

So we had polished off one loaf of zucchini bread, baked our chocolate zucchini cake and have our wheat bread baking AND a clean kitchen by 10:30am! I'm exhausted and ready for my nap before tackling laundry :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Playing in the Rain

We've been needing rain for our tomato, raspberry and pumpkin plants (well, it saved me from walking through the mosquito-infested backyard to water them with the garden hose). Today we received the blessed rain!

Lillee was standing at the front door staring out at the rain when Al came up behind her, squatted down and had a little chat with her. As he gazed through the glass he remembered having fun playing in the rain as a kid. When I look out the glass, I think of how nice it is to be inside...warm, dry, not making a mess. Al and I definitely came from different worlds!

This is a picture of Connor a couple of years ago. It had been pouring rain and Connor was so hopeful to go out in the rain and I was not excited about the prospect so this is where he ended up. Now, denying him playing outside did produce one of my all-time favorite pictures of Connor.

Today, as I was heading out the door for a Dr appointment, Al was putting the girls in swimsuits and encouraging Connor to get his suit on. The girls were dancing on the porch in the pouring rain and Connor was cringing and bolting for the door for a dry shelter.

When I returned home everyone was clean, dry and happy as can be. Here is what Al had to share with me:

Connor changed his clothes and joined the girls for a 30 minute romp in the rain...if you look cloesly, you'll see our kids are sitting in the street in front of the house where the water rushes down the hill.

Someone drove by and yelled to them saying, "You are having too much fun for a school day." Al responded, "This is school." While Connor proceeded to inform the driver that, "We're homeschooled!"

Fortunately, our children have a father who remembers having fun as a kid and never truly grew up himself. While I see messy kids, wet clothes, more laundry to wash and wet carpet, Al sees an opportunity to love life, enjoy nature and be spontaneous. We truly balance one another and I'm so grateful to have Al to bring such fun to life!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A little Hubby love

I just felt the need to give my husband a few good strokes :) He's an amazing man and I feel so blessed to have him in my life. I grew up in a single-parent household where my mom was everything to us, mother, father, mentor, role model...literally everything. When I envisioned my future life, I always saw myself with one child and desperately hoped for an amazing father-figure for my child. Boy, did I ever get more than I hoped for! I married a man who is the most amazing father to his children and a wonderful husband.

I want to share some great pictures of Al with the kids...these say it all.

This picture only has Al and Connor in it, but all three kids are on the trampoline with Al. He periodically has to make everyone stop so he can remind himself that he's not getting too old to play, too! Sometimes I think he looks forward to visiting my parents just to jump on the trampoline.

Al and Lillee in the snow. I think Al's favorite days of the year are when it snows and he can play outside with the kids. He's very soft and gentle with his girls, but they have their warrior princess side, as well.

Connor had been asking for a mohawk and as excited as Al was to have a boy wanting a mohawk he was also a bit leery as he did not want Connor to be judged by outward appearances. Ok, Al also wanted one, too! What better excuse than, "I did not want my son to feel alone." Al cut his off before ever leaving the house but Connor wore his for a few weeks. Connor's lucky to have Al because I would NOT have allowed this if Al weren't advocating for him.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First Day of School

This title might be a bit misleading as we started school 1.5 months ago. The title indicates that today was the first day of school for public-school-goers here in Montgomery County. This was an interesting day for us...

Al and I had a conversation last week about Connor would have started school this week if we chose to put him in public school. My first thought was, it would be so quiet at home if he weren't there. A lot of parents find this to be a "perk" of public school, but I find it to be exactly opposite. I love having all my kids around, all the time. I learn as much, and some days more, than they do :)

So we celebrated the first day of school by joining a local homeschool support group at a public park for a fun playdate. There were so many families of all ages, colors, religions and disciplines. All the kids were social, played nicely and really looked out for one another. I would guess there were 40-50 kids total with a large group of older kids. Al was able to drop by for awhile and all of us, adults and children, had a wonderful time! We found new friends, support and worked out a lot of energy.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Disney's The Lion King

We had an amazing opportunity to see Disney's The Lion King at the Kennedy Center yesterday. Grandma Ros works for the Kennedy Center and was able to get us tickets which was quite a feat as it was in town for a long period of time and every show sold out. So once again, we headed down to DC on the metro, this time with cousins Abby & Zach, Grandma Jane, Uncle Nick, Connor and me.

Now, I love performing arts, especially theatre and I had been wanting to see this show since it hit broadway 10 years ago. It certainly delievered, even after 10 years of anticipation. I think my favorite part of the entire performance was watching Connor as he experienced his first professional theatre performance...and there is no better way for a kid to develop a love of theatre than to see a show like this!

At the close of each scene, Connor was on the edge of his seat clapping furiously. We discussed some technical terms of theatre and the symbolism that is used through costumes and set changes. But he was completely engrossed and I was glad he knew the storyline and music from watching the Disney movie. Because there was so much going on visually, it would have been easy to miss important pieces of the story if you were unfamilar with the story before seeing the show.

Connor's favorite character (and mine, too) was Rafiki. However, we enjoyed Rafiki for much different reasons. Rafiki is the shaman-like babboon, complete with red rear end. That was Connor's favorite part. The costume for Rafiki had an oval-shaped woven laundry basket lid (no sure how else to describe it) with a large red circle on it. Rafiki often turned around and shook her bottom and it brough much laughter from the kids in the audience...well, I heard a few adults laughing, too. I enjoyed the character Rafiki played as she was a comical shaman, but had an amazing voice and sang in traditional African chants. She was so talented and I truly appreciate talent!

As we were leaving the Kennedy Center, we saw the children playing Young Simba and Young Nala coming out of the stage door and Connor was able to get autographs as a keepsake. This may have been a highlight for him! All in all, a wonderful first theatrical experience for Connor and one more thing to check off my to-do list. Thanks Ros, we had an amazing time!

Friday, August 22, 2008

A visit with Grandma Ros

Grandma Ros (Allen's grandmother) invited the kids and I to visit her in DC for a swim and a picnic lunch at the duck pond. The kids have been waiting for days, each day asking, "Is today the day?" no further explanation was needed, was all knew which day they were referring to...the day we would visit Grandma Ros.

I woke this morning to Connor tearing into our room, jumping on the bed and screaming, "Today's the day!!!!!" Once again, we all knew exactly what he was refering to. We had planned to leave early, but not early enough for three excited kids. All morning I heard, 'Are we leaving yet?" We did eventually make our way out the door and headed to the metro (subway system in DC metro area) for a train ride to DC's waterfront where Grandma Ros lives.

Once we arrived, we hurried into swimsuits and headed to the pool where the weather was perfect, the sun was shining and the pool was empty. We grabbed a few noodles (pool flotation devices) and hit the water...after the customary 15 minutes ritual of slathering on sunscreen, of course. Each kid insisted on swimming with Grandma Ros...none cared for mother's arms when Grandma Ros was anywhere nearby. Connor had visions of transforming into Michael Phelps as he swam the width of the pool for the first time.

Our stomachs forced us from the pool as everyone was starving! So we quickly changed and headed to the duck pond park for a picnic and to share a few crumb with the ducks and pigeons. The base foundation for the playground was sand...Lillee was in heaven. If a speck of dirt can be found to play in, Lillee can find it and would be content to sit happily in a mudpuddle, rotten tree stump or any other pile that can ruin clothes and smudge every inch of exposed skin. All three had such a great time in the sand that I had to bathe them before we could ever think of getting back on the metro to head home.

All in all, a wonderful day for everyone...but I can't wait for bedtime, tonight! Although we had a great time, I'm exhausted...but that seems to be a normal state for me lately. Four more months until baby Chase is here and I'll experience a new form of exhaustion :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I've been inspired!

My sister-in-law, Laura, is an inspirational person and after seeing her blog, I decided it was time for me to put together a family blog, myself. I have often thought I should be recording the fun and whacky daily events from our home, but never felt I had the time. If Laura can do it with all she has on her plate, I can do it too. So thanks Laura for motivating me to do this!

I guess I should begin by explaining what I mean by Bringing It Home, the title of this blog. I love to do everything as close to natural as possible. I would not call myself a greenie, although my husband Allen does refer to me as such, but I do like to focus on the basics. Given the time, I would prefer to never purchase store-bought bread and as soon as I find the perfect whole wheat bread recipe I will stop purchasing bread completely! I buy wheat in bulk, grind it at home and use my bread machine with the assistance of my children to churn out a loaf as often as I can. I would rather use basic household items to make anything I could purchase at the store. Such as using baking soda and vinegar as staple cleaners rather than purchasing chemicals in a bottle. I worked hard on putting in a garden this year, but was thwarted by morning sickness just as the plot in the backyard was finally clear (I spent a month clearing honeysuckle and English Ivy). I did, however, get two raspberry bushes, a champagne currant bush, a cherry bush, a blueberry bush and numerous tomato plants in the ground before becoming incapacitated. I do have to thank my dear husband and father-in-law for their planting assistance! Therefore gardening will hopefully be a fun part of this blog as time goes on. So Bringing It Home refers to my desire to have a no-frills, going-back-to-basics lifestyle for my family and I.

To go along with Bringing It Home we have chosen to homeschool our children. Let me introduce you to our children. Connor is our oldest at 5 years old, Lillee is 3 years old, Isabel is 2 years old and baby Chase is due December 30, 2008. When faced with the option of placing our 5 year old into the public school system I began to wonder if it was such a good idea. He had struggled a bit in preschool this past year, we had to pull him out early because of some behavior issues. He was only in preschool 2 hours a day, 4 days a week. I could not imagine how hard it was going to be for him being in class 7 hours a day 5 days a week. He was quite bored in preschool, which lead to his behavior issues. Now my husband and I had uniquely different experiences in the public school setting, but both of us still struggled "doing the program."

Rather than putting Connor through years of public school anguish, we opted to homeschool (there were MANY other reasons, but this was one of the first markers). I know public school works for many families, it was just not the best option for our family. After much prayer we knew this was the way to go for our family and I have to say, it's been one of the best decisions we've ever made! We are all learning, not just Connor. We're stronger as a family and become closer each day!

I hope this gives you an idea of my focus for Bringing It Home. I look forward to sharing our daily antics, our homeschooling succeses and frustrations, recipes and anything related to my passion for food, as well as family news.