Thursday, July 31, 2008

Taking it Easy

I haven’t been doing much this week. I’m taking it easy in between weeks of actually getting things done. I was on a cleaning rampage last week, and next week I plan to get everything ready for the kids to start school. I already have all of the school supplies together - the notebooks, folders, scissors and glue. But we still need backpacks, shoes that will last at least the first half of the school year, and we’ll throw in some new socks and underwear for good measure. I could handle the notebooks on my own, but for these other things I will need to have the kids with me. This detail makes the shopping trip vastly more difficult, or at least more time-consuming.

And speaking of school, I have decided to register the Banana for preschool. It’s actually a pre-preschool for 2 and 3-year-olds. It’s only one day a week for 2 hours. The other kids all did it, but I hesitated signing her up for some reason. Lately, though, she’s been showing an interest in school, and she was very excited about participating in Vacation Bible School last month. And this morning I learned that she can identify several letters of the alphabet. I tested her again and again to make sure it wasn’t just an accident. I have to say I was thrilled to find out that yet another one of my children is brilliant.

We plan to spend the week before school starts out at the country house. My husband's parents have a house in an A-frame community about an hour from our house. It’s just far enough away to feel like a vacation from the ordinary. We’ll be there from Tuesday until Saturday; again, taking it easy between busy weeks. I am really looking forward to a nice relaxing week before the chaos of the school year sets in. It should make the summer complete.

We’re leaving tomorrow for our second camping trip of the season. To our delight there is no rain in the forecast. To our dismay there will most likely be a heat advisory in effect. Thank goodness we will be near water and our camper is equipped with air conditioning. I’m not sure we’d be going otherwise. And if you are in the St. Louis area this weekend, be sure to stay cool.

Take it easy! I know I am.

Friday, July 25, 2008

My Week in Pictures

This week was Project Organization 2008. I decided to set aside this whole week to get things in order before the summer is through. The school year is right around the corner and I need to have things organized to be ready for the chaos that will certainly ensue starting on August 18. Clearing clutter and cleaning took priority over most everything; even making dinner one night!

I have been reading a book about getting and staying organized. Taking a suggestion from the book I bought a clear plastic over-the-door shoe holder and was able to turn it into a place to put things that have no place of their own at my house. Like toys my nieces or nephews may leave here, DVD’s that need returning, outgoing mail, etc.

I went through the kids’ clothes, as well as my own, and was able to fill five boxes to donate to the Children’s Home Society. It felt so good to lighten up that load.

I finally got around to hanging the lovely expressions I ordered from my sister-in-law’s Uppercase Living party several months ago. In doing so I was also able to get all of our family pictures displayed.

Amidst the organization, the laptop decided to poop out on us. It took a while to get that going, and there are still some things that need to be set up. I was able to get my desk nook cleaned and organized. Even the drawers!

I also pulled all the weeds on our side garden, removed the mulch, replaced the weed shield, planted a few plants and applied new mulch. And to my surprise, four out of five of my hanging baskets are still doing well. I’m so proud.

Another reason to be proud…the toilet is currently sparkling.

And here’s a shot of my dog, just because it’s a good picture of her.

It’s been a busy, but very productive week. I am looking forward to a relaxing girls’ weekend at the country house with my mother-in-law and two of my sisters-in-law. Peace and quiet here I come!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's Outta Here!

No, I'm not talking about baseball this time. (But if you want to see some baseball pictures, click here.) What I'm really talking about is Mr. H's apnea monitor that came home with us from the hospital. If you recall, Mr. H was diagnosed in the hospital with reflux, and was kept in the Special Care Nursery for an extra couple of days. We were sent home with an apnea monitor to keep his heart and respiration rate in check. It was fitted around his chest, and there was an electrode under each of his arms. We were asked to keep it on him around the clock, removing it only for baths. After about 2 months of wearing that contraption the poor little guy’s skin was getting irritated. We were glad when the doctor said we could start using the monitor only at night.

Since the day we brought him home Mr. H has had no episodes like the ones they noted in the hospital nursery. Eventually we took him off of his reflux medicine and there were no changes in his eating, sleeping or his sweet disposition. To be honest, he’s been absolutely perfect. So when the man from the medical equipment provider came to the house today, I was waiting at the door for him with monitor in hand. I shed no tears as he drove away. Quite the opposite, in fact. I'm thinking more along the lines of a celebration. Who wants ice cream?

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Zoo goes to the Zoo

We took a trip to the Zoo this morning, although we didn’t stay long enough to do everything the kids wanted to do. We were able to see the new dinosaur exhibit called Dinoroarus. We got there early so we could get in free of charge, which is the only way I would go see it again. It was OK, but probably not worth paying for everyone to get in. We did get a picture with a T-Rex and a chance to dig for fossils.

After the dinos we saw the bears, and some of us went to see Penguin and Puffin Coast. This was as close as C.B. would get to the penguins.

We spent a good deal of time in the Jungle of the Apes. Big D had a long talk with an Orangutan.

Our last stop was Big Cat Country, but we made sure we saw the new baby giraffe on the way there.

We were told that there will be five tiger cubs on display in August, so we are hoping to go back next month. The kids are probably going to hold me to it, too. They didn’t get to ride the train today so, of course, I promised we'd do it next time.

Many thanks to Grandma for heading out with us today. There are more zoo pics on Flickr.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Food Blog for a Day

I recently discovered that I like to cook. I know that I do more cooking than many of my friends do, but I never really thought about the fact that I might have been enjoying it. It wasn’t until I was filling out Mr. H’s baby book last week (I know…he’s 3 months old. It’s about time!) The book asked for Mom’s and Dad’s hobbies and interests. Without thinking too much about it I wrote cooking. And then I nodded at the word and thought, “I guess I do enjoy cooking.”

Based on this discovery, and the fact that I so admire the food blogs out there that offer delicious recipes with wonderfully descriptive how-to pictures, I thought I would give it a try. Like my Mock Mocha MooLatte recipe, this dish is a take-off of another restaurant item. This time I tried to recreate Olive Garden’s Sausage & Peppers Rustica, again going for similar taste with fewer calories.

Here’s what you need:

16 oz. Whole Wheat Pasta (I use penne noodles)
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pkg. Boca Italian Sausage (4 links)
1 Jar Pasta Sauce (I like a spicier variety)
1 Small Red onion
2 Garlic cloves (I cheat and use minced in the jar)
1 Small Red pepper
1 Small Green pepper
1 Small Yellow pepper

Here’s what you do:

Bring large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. While water is heating, chop onion and peppers into bite-sized pieces.

Add pasta to boiling water; stir to prevent sticking. Cook for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, onions and peppers. Sauté for 6 to 7 minutes.

Place frozen sausages in microwave for 1 minute. Slice into small circles. Add to pepper mixture.

Combine pasta, sauce and peppers and sausage.
I actually put this batch right into my microwavable Tupperware for tomorrow night’s dinner. I am trying to use effective time management, which is very important for a mother of five.

I hope you don’t think I’m turning this into a food blog. While it would be super cool, I don’t have the time or the energy to photographically document everything I cook. I was only able to pull it off today because of a little thing we at the Reddy Zoo like to call “The Tranquilizer”.

Don’t worry. We are not drugging the baby. It’s just the nickname we have given to the baby swing. It works like a charm at putting Mr. H to sleep – sometimes for hours. As long as we have enough D-batteries on hand, it’s all good.

Swimming, Swimming, in a Swimming Pool

I know, I know. I have been posting a lot of pictures lately. But I got some great ones at the pool yesterday. This one is my favorite.

Click here for some more.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Banana in a Bikini

We're getting ready to walk out the door to go swimming, but I couldn't resist getting a few shots of Banana in her suit, hat and glasses.

Check out the entire shoot here.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

DQ it yourself

I love Dairy Queen’s MooLatte. However, it’s not something I indulge in very often. I can’t afford the cost or the calories! But I have been thinking so much about MooLattes lately that I decided to see if I could create my own at home.

My first stop was the internet. There are plenty of other people out there like me who want to make their own MooLattes at home. I found tons of different recipes and tried a combination of them, based on what I thought sounded good and what ingredients I had on hand. My first attempt was very blah. I used ice cubes along with the ice cream and that seemed to make everything taste watery.

My second attempt was awesome, if I do say so myself. I didn’t follow anything I found on the internet, but rather tried my own combination of things I already know are yummy. Like this new Fat Free Double Churned Extra Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream I found from Breyers. It’s fat free, but still creamy. I mixed it with Light Chocolate Silk soymilk and decaffeinated instant coffee.

The Dairy Queen version has 590 calories – 207 of them from fat. If you are counting Weight Watchers points like me, it’s worth a whopping 14 points. My version has 486 calories, but only 15 of them are from fat. As far as Weight Watchers goes, you’re only looking at 6 points. In addition, DQ’s serving size is huge! I made half of the standard 16-ounce MooLatte and it was plenty, which means this tasty treat only cost me 3 points.

Here’s my recipe for a Mock Mocha MooLatte:

1 cup Breyers Fat Free Double Churned Extra Creamy Vanilla Ice Cream
1 tablespoon Instant decaffeinated coffee
1/2 cup Light Chocolate Silk soymilk
2 tablespoon Fat free whipped cream

I’ve always admired those food blogs where they put wonderful pictures illustrating the making of a recipe step-by-step. Sadly, this is not one of those blogs. Since I was too busy eating my creation, I didn’t take a picture to share with you. But if you try this recipe, I do hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Fourth of July Camping

After wondering if we were even going to go camping at all, it turned out to be one of the best trips we’ve had. The weather forecast called for rain, rain, rain the entire length of our stay, so we decided to postpone our departure by one day. We left Friday at noon and were surprised by the perfectly sunny and dry conditions we found when we arrived at Hawn State Park. It was absolutely perfect for Mr. H’s first camping trip.

After we set up and had a late lunch, the kids explored the creek. They wanted to see if the water levels were good for fishing, swimming, hiking, or all of the above. They reported back that “all of the above” would be on the agenda for Saturday. The rest of Friday was spent in Ste. Genevieve for the Fourth of July fair and fireworks.

Fishing was fun, even if it didn’t yield a huge catch. The kids caught nothing, while Dad caught 2 little guys. We had a picnic lunch and hiked Pickle Creek, which is not a nice smooth trail by the way. It was a tad difficult for me to maneuver over all the rocks and roots with a baby in a front carrier. Banana made the treacherous hike all by herself, although she went very S-L-O-W-L-Y.

The kids had a great time swimming. Their adventurous father climbed up the cliff to hang a rope swing around a tree for the kids to play with in the water.

The boys made friends with a fellow camper and they had a massive water gun fight.

The naturalist at the park gave an informative demonstration on Missouri snakes and even had a real live snack for the kids to touch. Mr. H and the Banana fell asleep, but the rest of us found it quite interesting. We sat around the fire until way past our bedtime and enjoyed some fireside snacks. No, we didn’t roast marshmallows. Try pizza rolls and soft pretzels. Isn’t that what everyone cooks over the fire?

Sunday morning we packed up and headed home. It was just starting to get really hot, so we weren’t all that upset that we were leaving. We took TONS of pictures. If you’re in the mood to browse through more than 100 of them, click here for the set.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Yesterday we went to the Library to see a kids’ music show for the second time. It’s not unusual for the kids to want to do the same thing over and over again, but it’s kind of unusual for me. So the fact that I wanted to see this show a second time says something about how much fun it is. The guy’s name is Rob Compton, but he calls himself Babaloo. He sings, plays guitar, and is just plain silly. The kids love it, and I love watching then have fun. The show was pretty loud, which is kind of funny since it was held at the Library. Mr. H was able to sleep despite about 30 kids banging with all their might on buckets with drumsticks. That might give you a clue as to how loud it can get at our house. I was able to use the cell phone to snap a few pics of the kids drumming while Mr. H napped on my shoulder.

Check for him at your Library!