Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why I love to bake...

My kids love to help out in the kitchen- especially when it comes to baking. Crew was totally into the banana bread we made yesterday. I modified a recipe from Williams-Sonoma Kids Baking and it was a big hit. Not just with Crew, but with everyone in the family.
Here's the recipe {with modifications}; I hope you enjoy it too!
easy! Banana Bread
{Makes 1 loaf, but I double the recipe and make 1 large loaf, 2 mini loaves and a dozen mini muffins too- perfect for small hands!}
1 2/3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3 very ripe mashed bananas
2/3 cup sugar (I used just under 1/2 cup of sugar)
1/3 cup oil (I pour half the measuring cup with unsweetened applesauce and then top it off with canola oil)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla (I used a splash more)
(I also added 1/4 tsp. fresh-grated nutmeg)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease loaf pan (I love "Pam spray for Baking"...the bread comes out so easily every time!). In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, salt and soda. In a large mixing bowl, smash the bananas with a fork. Next add the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla (and nutmeg too if you're adding that in) and beat until well blended. Add the flour mixture to banana mixture and stir until just blended.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in oven for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it. Cool on rack for about 15 minutes and then remove from pan.
My favorite part of baking bread with Crew was listening to him say "num, num, num" every time we added an ingredient to the bowl and then watching him get sticky from licking the spatual. I gave him a quick bath while the muffins were baking and when he was dried off, clean and cozy, the muffins were done and ready to eat. The timing was perfect. He couldn't even wait for me to get his buttered and put on a plate. He just helped himself. There's something very special about baking with kids. I highly recommend the experience. It's a simple joy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This is what 23 weeks looks like this time...

Roughly 20 pounds of added weight on my body already. It's not just in my belly either. I am feeling lots of movement and occasional hiccups too. We are no where near a final decision on names- but that is to be expected- sometimes we don't choose until the baby has been in our arms for awhile. We are considering Grady, unless you ask Chip. =)
I am happy to be sleeping well at this stage, and happier yet that I can still look down and see my feet. I am aware at just how quickly the next few months will fly by. I've only once made it to my actual due date. Teagan arrived exactly when the doctor said she would. The others have all made their appearances early- ranging from 6 days to nearly 5 weeks. I have a feeling this baby will follow the same trend. And that about sums up pregnancy at 23 weeks. Getting bigger, still feeling okay, and no where near ready yet! =)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I just got an extra hour in my day!

Hello Blog-readers, family and friends. It's been too long! Wyndham's therapy sessions got cut short by an hour later today, so I feel like I have a bonus hour in my day. The first thing I thought of doing when I got my "free time" was to check in here and write a new post. Aren't you lucky to be at the top of my list when life finally gives me a little breathing room?! Hooray for a little, unexpected breathing room. And I can tell you, I needed it today!!
Life here has been nothing short of busy. The weather has been very spring-like, which means Chip puts in long hours at the golf club getting new leagues in play and keeping the members as happy as he can. I feel like a single mom a lot of the time- and by bedtime the kids often take advantage of me being far-outnumbered and worn down too. They are definitely keeping me on my toes. From the extra playtime and suprevision they demand when we play outdoors, to added activities- like run-club at school a couple of days a week, and the need for more baths. There just isn't enough "me" to spend time blogging and documenting our busyness. There is even less time for me to have anything inspirational or insightful to share. I'm out of material- and energy most of the time. So those are some of my 'excuses' for not being as visible and vocal at Nitty.Gritty. lately. You are always welcome to go back and re-read the archives. I think I was more exciting and interesting back then anyway. =)
The photos posted today are some I took during a 5-minute photoshoot with Ava two days ago. I bribed her with a piece of candy and she in turn gave me looks spanning from pensive to dramatic to just plain silly. I love the age she is at right now when her personality comes out in such a spontaneous way. She can be a handful and very demanding at times. But at other times she is just "her" and I think she believes that all the world is her stage. =) In a few of the pictures she poured on the charm- pretending to sing for a large audience. As you can see, she was putting her whole heart into it... and then laughing about it as she knew just how fun that might actually be to sing for a giant crowd.
Somedays I wish I was more like my kids- not letting my surroundings stifle who I feel I am at heart. I wish I were more spontaneous with laughter and fun and silly- instead of concerned about bedtime routines and staying on top of the grocery shopping lists. Now that I actually have a free extra minutes in my day today, I think it's the perfect time to do something random and fun. I'm just not quite sure what it will be. No matter what it turns out to be, I have a feeling it's going to make me feel a little bit more alive inside. And that's always a very good thing if you ask me. Here's to finding even something small in your day in which you can celebrate life and the simple joy it contains. I've been missing that!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The first golf outing of the season...

We now have to drive two carts out to the driving range and even then we are full to the brim with people and bags. There are just the right number of cup holders to keep everyone happy. As you can tell, Crew is thrilled that when he walks over to the golf cart the cups are at his perfect level for helping himself to a sip.
We all need some work on our swings, and our short games need lots of practice too. But it's nice to know that even with all the age differences among us we all enjoy time at the golf course- especially on a mid-70 degree, sunny day. It will be several weeks before Lake Michigan is warm enough for us to think about bringing everyone to the beach. That's just one more perk to golf. As soon as the sun melts all the snow the course is ready to go!
What activities do you like to get a jump on before summer arrives? Let me know!
{Happy Tax Day to all the American readers today too. I hope it's happy anyway.} =)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Between baby and little boy.

This is a series of photos taken just as Crew was settling down for naptime. He is hardly cuter than when he has his water bottle and just enough energy left for a couple of monkey jumps on the bed, a few mischevious grins and smiles and then his little hair-tugging as he readies himself for sleep. He is at that fun, but difficult stage in life where he's got abilities and strong desire to be a little boy. But at the same time he still has needs and moments where his babyhood comes out in obvious ways. He is growing up. But at this point, he's still my baby and I am trying not to let this phase rush by too quickly. He'll be a big brother soon enough.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Just me and the girls.

First of all, thanks for all the fun and interesting baby name suggestions. Chip and I and all the kids are having fun tossing out suggestions nearly every day. I brought up Vern, Lyle and Arnold one evening and nobody jumped at any of them. I guess I wasn't all that surprised. I do think there is quite the trend of classic/old-fashioned names on the rise though. I guess it's just certain names though. I have yet to see Dwayne or Floyd on the popular name list- my dad {Floyd} would probably be happy to see his name grow in popularity. But it will likely be at least a few years from now. =)
In other family news, we enjoyed a long, extended spring break vacation from school and routine last week. It seemed to fly by very quickly even though we didn't travel anywhere or do anything too exciting. Having long, leisure mornings and relaxed bedtime schedules was enough of a treat, if you ask me. I did "force" the girls into short, individual photo shoots one bright, sunny afternoon. I realized I don't take near as many photos as I used to. I need to get back on track and start snapping pictures- even if it is just routine, ordinary activity.
My next big challenge will be talking the boys into their photoshoots. They really don't think it's as much fun as the girls do. And so goes the long list of differences in genders!

Monday, April 05, 2010

It's official.

We're now taking baby boy name suggestions. Because of course, I had my girl name all figured out. =) This little one likes to move- a lot! He was sucking his thumb for the camera during part of the ultrasound too. If he keeps that up after his birth he will be our first thumb sucker. So, although he's baby #7 in the line-up, I think we're in for a few surprises anyway. That's part of what makes babies so special. They are all individuals and so unique!
We'll be anxious to meet him in person.
As soon as he puts on a bit more weight. =)

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Little details... Happy Easter!

What a great time of year to look around and see the details of God's handiwork coming to life as spring bursts forth outside. We just finished coloring eggs (while Crew napped peacefully in the nearby room) and talked about how neat it is that God made so many colors and cool things like eggs and rain (it's raining out right now) and that in just a couple of days we'll find out if we're having a baby boy or girl. It's fun to see and feel the excitement of life through the perspective of a child.
Whether it's watching eggs change from white to rainbow colors or just hearing their laughter and eyes light up at the thought of another special day tomorrow, it's truly a remarkable thing. To think that there was a time in my life that I never wanted moments such as these. And now I wish they would never end!
Happy Easter to you. May the reality of what Christ did on the cross change your heart and life for all eternity!!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Happy Birthday to Chip!

Here's wishing my hubby a truly wonderful birthday today as he celebrates turning 42. (I don't think he minds that you know his age.) I wish he could get a big hug from every one of his kids, and I'm sure that would be his wish too.
Still, I have to let him know that he is loved by me and so many others.
I feel lucky to be the one in his life to walk life's up and downs and to enjoy special moments together and feel even more fortunate that he's still by my side- we've had some close calls! I wish him many more years of happiness, success, overcoming challenges and just a lot of good things. He's nothing short of an amazing dad and husband. He does more than his share in life and has one of the biggest {sometimes most competitive!} hearts I know. He calls it passion. =) I'm so glad he embraces life the way he does. It makes it better and often times more fun for those of us around him.
Here's to you, Chip!
Happy, happy birthday from me and all the loves of your heart. xoxo