Thursday, March 31, 2011

QOTD

"Mom, do you have eyes on the back of your head?" - Preston, in the car.

30

John is 30 today!  Oh wow.  Time is flying by, and it seems like yesterday that I met this cute 18-year-old at college orientation.  It's hard to believe that almost 12 years have gone by!

In honor of him turning 30, here are 30 things that I love about him!  

1.  He puts Archer to bed almost every single night (if you know Archer, you know this is a pretty big deal!).
2.  He makes breakfast almost every single morning.
3.  He does the "heavy lifting" for my landscaping projects!
4.  He shares my love for scooters.
5.  He is a complete sucker for his sons.
6.  He buys me Dutch Bros. randomly, especially during $1 week.  :)
7.  He reads my mind on a regular basis.
8.  He loves his job...
9.  And he's good at it.  (I trust him with my teeth!)
10.  He reads books that I've read and liked.
11.  He buys books to read that he knows I want to read (very handy to have 2 nooks so we can read at the same time!)
12.  He makes me laugh every single day.
13.  He always makes time for the boys, even when he's completely exhausted from seeing a million patients per day (no shortage of patients in public health).
14.  He loves to garden with me.
15.  He wants a souped-up mini cooper some day.
16.  He's currently restoring a vintage vespa, saying it's for me, but really, he loves it.
17.  He reminds me to take vitamins every day.
18.  He kicks me out of the house when he gets home and I've had a rough day with the boys.
19.  He eats every meal that I make, even if it's not very good.
20.  He tells me that the food is good, even if it's not (although I can tell by his face what he REALLY thinks!).
21.  He doesn't (usually) complain about eating beans & rice on a regular basis.
22.  He watches chick flicks with me, without complaining, and sometimes will even admit to liking one.
23.  He sometimes surprises me by unloading the dishwasher before he goes to work in the morning.  I DESPISE unloading the dishwasher, so this totally makes my day!
24.  When I told him that I wanted to buy some new clothes, but I needed him to give me a budget so I didn't feel guilty for buying stuff for myself, he told me an outrageously high number.  And he meant it.  (And when I didn't spend it all, he was genuinely SURPRISED!)
25.  He no longer makes comments about the amount of shoes that are in our closet.
26.  He lets us tag along to conferences with him (well, we don't actually GO TO the conferences...but we've taken a few "vacations" this way).
27.  He GETS our boys.  He knows what motivates them and what makes them tick.  Like when he recently took the batteries out of their Leapsters right in front of them as punishment.  That was pretty effective, but I would never have thought to do it.
28.  He says things to me like "You are NOT putting another tree in our yard!" and then calls from a nursery to see if I'd like him to order another tree (or 5...thanks to Kira's hubby!).
29.  He spends his weekends doing things that I've schemed about all week.
30.  He works hard (and especially harder than most dentists!) to pay off debt (like my student loans which are now PAID OFF!) and now to pay down our mortgage.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thankful

Things I am thankful for today:
1.  2:00 am slobbery kisses from a 1.5 year old (who is a master at climbing out of the pack-n-play, so he is now sleeping in his toddler bed...sometimes!).
2.  Soup from the freezer & PB&J sandwiches so I don't have to cook a meal today.
3.  The gigantic 6-in-1 Dr. Seuss book that I bought on impulse the other day - it's already earned it's keep.
4.  Seeds that just started sprouting!
5.  Boys who will occupy themselves with floor puzzles (until their little brother walks across it of course).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

QOTD

"He looks like a grinch, doesn't he?" - Bryton, in reference to Archer.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Month of Hair

Bryton had the BEST bed-head this morning.  I took a few pictures, and when I went to upload them I realized that it had been a while and the camera had quite a few pictures on it.  Then I started looking at the pictures.  It's official.  My boys' hair is COMPLETELY out of control. 

The only way we can keep it somewhat under control is to buzz it, but they like "long hair" and hair is not really something that we choose to fight over.  Plus, when it's buzzed, we have to cut it about every 2-3 weeks in order for it to be short enough to stay under control and they HATE home haircuts.  Really really hate them.  Preston claims to be scarred by an incident where we "forced" him to cut his hair about 2 years ago (what happened was that he wanted his hair cut, so we started cutting it...and he wanted us to stop after one swipe.  Not going to happen.  So we persevered, and apparently the rest is history).  So you do the math.  $10 per kid per hair cut every couple of weeks = lots of $.  Incidentally, they love going to get their hair cut.  I've tried it all (many, many bribes.  I'm not above bribing in these situations!) and no luck.  They still despise having their hair cut at home.

Anyway, enough justifying.  Check out their hair styles from the past month!
Okay, so this one was actually helped along by the static, but still...

2 out of 3 with crazy hair.  Archer's hair is definitely crazy in the making, it just hasn't quite gotten there yet.

P&B having a little game time.
B's hair this morning!
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Breakfast smoothie!

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What We Eat

We were "at-home" vegetarians for about 3 years, but in the last couple of months we have started to incorporate a little meat into our diets due to the rebellion of the males who live here (and obviously I'm significantly outnumbered!).  People constantly ask me what we eat because the typical diet revolves so much around the standard meat-and-potatoes.  Vegetarianism seems to be especially rare in more rural areas such as North Idaho, maybe due to the amount of hunting?  Anyway, I've never really liked meat, especially red meat, so it was actually fun for me to explore a different way of eating when we made the switch.  Even now, we eat the majority of our meals vegetarian, and if we're having red meat, I try to make it easy for me to avoid the meat because it just doesn't do nice things to my digestive system (I will spare you the details!).

So, for lack of anything more interesting to blog about (it snowed this past weekend and even though it melted, it still feels like WINTER here, blah...), here is what's on the menu this week at our house!  Notice two things...First, pretty much everything can be made in the crockpot.  I have realized that late afternoon is NOT the time for me to prepare a meal in our house.  The boys don't like to cooperate with that, so I now take the time in the morning to prepare the meal when they are slightly more independent.  This makes for much less interesting meals, BUT it helps us avoid the dinner-time-panic.  Secondly, while I don't really plan it in advance, we always have some sort of a veggie on the side if the dinner isn't chock-full of veggies already.  Along with fresh veggies, I keep a full supply of frozen veggies and home canned green beans!  My boys love steamed broccoli & canned green beans more than anything so we have those A LOT.  Also, the last couple of months, the Aerogarden has been providing us with a couple of salads per week!  Yum.

The bonus of cooking this way: there is virtually no temptation to eat out, because it's all planned ahead and mostly cooked ahead.  The prep-time is minimal.  And it's cheap (except for the fish that we try to eat at least a couple of times per month)!  It's not uncommon for our grocery bill to be around $200/month, not counting another $300 or so per year for stocking up on bulk foods.  I'm hoping this will actually go down since we're expanding our garden this year, but we'll see!

Breakfasts are: granola/yogurt, smoothies, eggs, oatmeal, pancakes (any combination...John is in charge of assembling breakfast in the morning).  Our lunches during the week are generally leftovers, PB&J sandwiches, quesadillas, wraps, etc.  Pretty uneventful.

Monday: We had Black Bean Soup with homemade bread and canned green beans. 
Tuesday: Tonight, already in the crockpot, we are having Vegetarian Curry with quinoa.  I made a couple of substitutions, but that is the basic recipe that I used.  It looks really yummy already!  (This is my absolute FAVORITE crockpot website.  I've made probably 90% of the vegetarian meals from there, and most of them have been good!)
Wednesday: Leftover curry with quinoa.
Thursday: Salsa Lentils with rice (I make a big batch of rice and use it for leftovers)
Friday: Taco Salad, using the leftover lentils, and probably some taco meat for the boys if there aren't enough leftover lentils.
Saturday: Lunch - Split Pea Soup from the freezer (PB&J for the boys since they don't like Split Pea Soup), Dinner - Spaghetti
Sunday: Lunch - Grilled cheese sandwiches & tomato soup, Dinner - Salmon & rice (leftover rice)

There you have it.  Not gourmet by any means, but they are meals that we all like (except the split pea soup), that are healthy, which is a pretty big accomplishment with my picky eaters.  I used to just plan 1 week of meals at a time, but the past few months I've been doing 4 weeks.  It is so helpful to me to plan ahead (and stock up on bulk purchases at Winco!).  I only make it to Winco maybe 3-4 times a year since it's a bit of a drive, so I stock up on dried foods when I go (rice, lentils, beans, quinoa, flour, oatmeal, etc.), and this way I can figure out how much we really need.  The cashiers probably dread it when I go into their line...they have to type in a million bulk food numbers!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

QOTD

"Do girls have hair just to look pretty, or is it so you can't tell if they have ears or not?" - Preston

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Puddle Jumping Excursion


We went out in the rain today.  We came in completely soaked and FREEZING, but still.  It was RAIN, not snow.  That's a big improvement!  This was Archer's first real experience with jumping in mud puddles and he LOVED it.  Last Spring he wasn't walking yet so he only got to observe from the stroller or my back.  He was so cute...he squealed with every splash.  He wasn't too thrilled when his pants got totally soaked so I had to carry him part of the way home, but he kept insisting that I put him down so he could splash in a puddle here and there. 

This weekend we put in some new raised garden beds (yay!) and our project for the upcoming weekend is to get the dirt in them.  It's starting to feel like spring might be just around the corner.  I know lots of people move to this area because they want to experience all 4 seasons, but I was thinking today that I'd be happy with 2 seasons: Spring and Summer.  Preferably 3/4 of the year summer and 1/4 spring.  Alright, totally not feasible in N. Idaho - but I can dream, right?

Friday, March 11, 2011

QOTD

"I don't have ANYTHING in my pockets...I don't have ANYTHING in my pockets...Don't look in my pockets, okay Mom?" - Bryton, coming in from playing outside.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

QOTD

QOTD (prompted by reading a Noah's Ark storybook many, many, MANY times recently)

Bryton: I'm NOT Bryton.
Preston: Well, who are you then?
Bryton: Noah!  I'm Noah.
Preston: Okay, Noah, let me show you where the ark is.  You can clean up all the puke from the animals.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bacteria

A few months ago, I blogged about the yogurt culture that I bought from Cultures for Health.  Unfortunately I let it die, and got lazy and started buying yogurt again.  I thought about buying another culture, but I was still randomly having the yogurt turn out runny (I'm pretty sure it was due to the cold-ish temperatures in my kitchen) and it was frustrating me a little, so I started looking into yogurt makers.

I really don't like "extra" kitchen appliances.  Especially ones that sit out on the counter.  I'm sure that they make life easier in a lot of ways, but I'm obsessive about decluttering the house so things like that just don't belong in my kitchen.  I was debating if I REALLY wanted to deal with all those individual jars and parts...clutter, clutter, clutter!

That being said...I broke down and bought a yogurt maker.  But it's not your typical "plug in and let it sit" yogurt maker.  It's an Easiyo!  You are technically supposed to buy their powdered yogurt starter and use that, but here's what I did instead:
Pour milk into the jar.  Put some yogurt in.  Put on the lid and shake.  Boil some water, pour it into the outer jar (NOT in with the milk!) up to the line.  Put jar (with milk and yogurt) into the outer jar, put the lid on, let it sit on the counter for 8-12 hrs.  I think it actually says you can be done in about 6 hrs, but I think it seems to get thicker when you let it sit for longer.  It made the THICKEST homemade yogurt I have ever made.  It also got the approval of 3 little yogurt connoisseurs who said it was the best homemade yogurt yet (okay, 2 out of 3 said that...the other 1 just ate very enthusiastically).

Easy, minimal parts, electricity free (well, if you have a gas stove, or another way to boil the water), consistent results, and GOOD.  Plus it's pink!  I used a quart size canning jar, but the plastic jar is BPA-free and food grade.  The plastic jar on mine was cracked on arrival, and I don't think I want to deal with sending it back in since I would probably opt for using a glass jar anyway.
 
Bacteria, Part 2. 
I attempted lacto-fermented vegetables. 

I found a REALLY easy lacto-fermented carrots recipe, and since I have a bunch of whey leftover from making cheese, I thought I would give it a try.  YUM.  They are so good.  They taste like dill pickles, and they are just the right crispness after about 4.5 days of fermenting on the counter.  It's definitely going to be a repeat recipe.  Preston, Archer, John, and I all liked them.  B only took one bite, but he didn't say anything negative so I'm not sure if he didn't like it or if he was just in one of his non-eating moods.

I'm now on a quest to find some more easy lacto-fermented recipes so let me know if you find something that looks good/easy/interesting...especially if it's appealing to kids like the "Pickle Carrots" (as Preston calls them).

Friday, March 4, 2011

Okay, Excitement #2

Alright, one more exciting thing for the day (because it's Friday and you can never have too much excitement, right?).

Food Renegade is doing a giveaway for 3 starter cultures from Cultures for Health.  I think I blogged about Cultures for Health on my old blog (or maybe it was here, I get confused!), but I am just getting ready to order some new yogurt cultures from them so I'm REALLLLLY hoping to win this giveaway. 

So now you know.  Go.  Enter.  (Or don't, and give me better odds of winning!)

Finally Something Exciting!

I know the blog has been quiet this week.  I have had nothing exciting to blog about...we are battling yet another round of sickness (colds this time, so I guess I shouldn't complain - at least the boys aren't vomiting - but I got it and I'm kind of whiny when I get sick).

But this morning something exciting happened!!!  Now, this won't really be exciting for anyone but us, but it's exciting to us nonetheless:

I JUST MADE THE LAST PAYMENT ON MY STUDENT LOAN! 

A year ago or so, I read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover.  I remember my dad suggesting this book years and years ago, but I pretty much ignored him then (my dad suggests lots of reading material).  I will say that we didn't follow Dave Ramsey's plan to the letter...we still use our credit card (we get cash back!) but we have always paid it off every month (even before reading TMM), and we only use it for things that we actually have the money to buy.  Also, Dave recommends paying off the smallest balance debt first, but we changed things up a bit to fit our circumstances.  Reading the book just kind of motivated us to get started on the debt that we DID have, even if it wasn't consumer debt.  We had just sort of ignored it until then. 

We have made a HUGE dent in our debt this past year.  We can see the light at the end of the debt-free tunnel, and would like to be COMPLETELY debt-free, including our mortgage, in about 5 years.  That may be an aggressive estimate, as we will probably re-evaluate and start contributing more to college funds, investments, retirement, etc...but it's still a good feeling to know that it is POSSIBLE.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011