Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Work It Out!

I think the last time I blogged about this treadmill was about 5 years ago, right before the flood. Well, she's finally out of storage and set up, ready to go. I have been practically begging Brad to make this happen for the last six months. Originally, I thought it would go above the garage. Brad had other ideas. He doesn't think his "man cave" should have exercise equipment. I was reluctant to his idea of putting it upstairs, but at this point, I just wanted it done.
The upside to having it upstairs = the view. This is what I have to look at while I'm working out.
Talk about peaceful. 

However, if I turn my head to the right, this is what I have to look at. Brad crammed all the kids' things over together to make room. I need to figure out a better solution, but it is convenient for Piper to hang out and color while I'm working out.
The other thing I have to look at, my unfinished paint job. In my defense, it was too high for me to reach without a special ladder. Brad also decided he wants the angle painted now.
So, that's on the agenda for tonight.  

I also discovered his ulterior motive for putting the treadmill where it's at, right next to the laundry room. As he said last night, "You can work out for 45 minutes and do the laundry when you're done." Um yeah, that's what I had planned too..?

This is all build up to say that I've committed to my first ever race, the Fools 5K on April 6th. I started working  out again last month and have tried to improve my diet etc. My friend, Tara, sent me a message to say she's doing the Chicago Marathon, would I do it with her? I replied, clearly, you have no concept of my athletic ability! But, it brought about the idea that maybe I should try a race? Work my way into it? Sure enough, the more I thought about it, I decided to take the plunge. Will I run the marathon with her? Not likely, but stranger things have happened :)
How about you? Are you running? Doing any races? Any tips for an amateur such as myself?!

~ Misty

Monday, January 28, 2013

Don't Judge Your Beginning to Someone Else's Middle

I've read a lot of posts lately about when the house will be clean? When you have children, whether it's one or fifteen (sometimes it feels like fifteen here) it's overwhelming. Arguments can be made about which is harder, stay at home moms or working moms? I don't think it does matter, kids make messes. A lot of messes. All the time. All day. Even when you think they are "sleeping".
I love to read other mom blogs, organizing blogs, food blogs, basically any view point of things related to the home. One of the blogs/websites I found a few years ago was the FlyLady. I instantly was hooked on her methodology. But, I only got as far as shining the sink and making the bed. I had good intentions, really I did. That brings me back to the fifteen kids. My kids had other intentions, like making messes. But, the two things that stuck were so helpful for me. I found that if I could just make sure the dishes were done at night and shine my sink, I was a step ahead in the morning and not overwhelmed, well, not as much. 
I also have made my bed EVERY morning for the last five years or so. It makes an even bigger difference for me. I love seeing that one thing I have accomplished throughout the day.
I do make a very big effort to keep our house clean and picked up. Why? Well, for starters, Brad likes it that way. He gets a little irritated when it's not. I have also noticed that when I have at least the downstairs cleaned up, the kitchen is clean when the kids come home from school, there are no piles of things cluttering up the visual space in our common area, the attitude of everyone is different. It's more calm and I can focus on them. I do stay at home, so my time structure is different from some. I'm not saying it's always like that, but it's so much easier when it is.
Now before you roll your eyes and think I'm bragging about a clean house, this is what the upstairs looks like most of the time:
The boys room - you can hardly walk in there without seriously injuring yourself by stepping on legos or some other small toy. I don't think they even know the clothes are supposed to go in the dresser. 
Anna and Piper's room. Ditto for the girls, most of the time it's a struggle to find Piper's bed.
So what's the point? Well, you have to pick your battles. I choose to focus on the main areas and let the kids take care of their own things. I do help them out from time to time, for instance, Hailey and I spent several hours cleaning and rearranging the Jack and Anderson's room. I haven't gotten to the girl's room yet. This might not be acceptable to some people, but they don't live in my home. I've figured out what works for us and I still strive to do better, but for now, it is what it is.  And the friends that I do have don't mind either. I know when they step into my home, they're not judging me, we are all in different stations in life. I read a quote somewhere, "Don't judge your beginning to someone else's middle" How perfect.
While this post kind of rambles on and on, I just want to encourage other moms that are struggling with "when" it will all be clean, do what you can, and don't forget to enjoy those little people that are making all the messes.

~ Misty

Live TV!

Hailey was chosen from her Alpha group to be on the Trivia Team representing North Cedar. Her and Brady Hoth participated in the contest against two boys from Lincoln. It was filmed live at City Hall as part of the Hotline Trivia series. The winners from each of the schools goes on to compete later. Unfortunately, they didn't win. However, she was outstanding! The entire experience was amazing to watch. We are so proud of her for competing. Hailey and Brady both worked together very well and acted like a team. I'm continually impressed with Hailey, she's so smart, kind and caring. She has exceeded our expectations in many ways. Stepping out of her comfort zone to compete in this event is one way she continues to challenge herself. If you have a chance to check it out, it's on CFU Channel 15. They will be running repeats for a while. I'm hoping it's posted on youtube later so I can have a permanent link. For now, I have these pictures to share.
This was at the beginning. All of the kids looked terrified! 
This is what they were looking at during the Trivia. All the parents and teachers were seated to the left. I'm not sure if it was harder for her or for us sitting and watching?  
It was a tie all the way to the end. Hailey and Brady did so well! Go North Cedar!!!
~ Misty

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Indoor Park

First I have to say that sometimes, when things don't work you can come across even better things. The whole blogger picture debacle that I struggled with brought me to adding an app for my phone. Now I can upload pictures from my phone straight to my blog - awesome! Which brings me to these pictures I took of Piper. It's been over 10 years since I've last gone to Indoor Park at the Rec Center.
Now I'm feeling guilty that I haven't taken Piper before. She absolutely loved it! She is always asking to go play with her "friends". Usually, her friends are at Orchard Hill Mom's Morning Out. Now she can make new friends. Although she did get run over by a little boy, I mean seriously run over and another one locked her out of the castle and wouldn't let her in.  She wants nothing to do with any of the boys there. That's fine by me. 
She does this weird squinty eye thing when I want to take her picture, not sure what that is all about. 
She was so happy there and cried a little as we left.  I'm trying to be more intentional with my children. Taking her to this place is one of those things that helps keep me focused on her and not the other bazillion things I need/should be doing. I have to remember that being with her and focusing on her IS one of the things I need/should be doing. The laundry can wait.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

It's a New Year

I wonder if four months is a record for me? It's been far too long since I have last blogged. It's not that things haven't been happening that have been worthy to blog about, I just haven't taken the time. I feel like I do better with a challenge, so it's one of my New Year's Resolutions, but more about that in a minute.
I little wrap up from 2012. The kids are doing really well in school. Anderson is slowly getting the hang of reading. I've made more of an effort to work with him. I made a decision before Thanksgiving that we would not have the tv on at all during the week. I can turn it on after the kids go to bed, but no news or anything at all. It's incredible the difference this has made for us. It's much calmer now and I can be more intentional about spending time with the kids and focusing on what their needs are after they come home from school. Of course, the holiday wreaked a little havoc on that, but I think we're getting back on track now.
A few of the kids were sick before Christmas, but we're on the mend now. It's incredible it didn't hit us a little harder, I need to go knock on wood now...
We were able to host both Thanksgiving and Christmas in our home. For that, I'm incredibly grateful. I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to many more years of having all our families together. This is our family picture from Christmas. You can see our little elf, Oscar, peeking out from the fireplace.
I ended up 2012 in the worst way and it's still difficult to talk or think about. We haven't shared a lot of details with the kids so this will be kind of non-descript or slight in details. I suffered a loss during Christmas and it culminated with me going to the emergency room on New Year's Eve. I got the full ambulance treatment with sirens and everything as I was transferred to Covenant (it was very bumpy!). I lost a tremendous amount of blood and had to have the procedure done that I was trying to avoid. I wasn't stable due to the blood loss, so I was admitted and after four units of fluid, I was given two blood transfusions. Needless to say, it wasn't the way I had hoped to spend my evening.
While I'm still trying to figure all of this out, I'm confident that this year will be better. It's been these last two weeks that has had me really thinking about what's important to me and how I can make the most of what I do have. I'm extremely grateful for my family and friends, that much is sure.
Which brings me to my New Year's Resolutions: 1/10/30/60. Brad told me his and they were similar in numbers, I thought that was a great way to remember them and keep it simple.
1: One blog post per week. That can be either on here or the Block Party site.
10: Ten pounds to lose!
30: Thirty books to read. I feel really good about this one. I love to read and rarely make time to actually finish a book. I am almost finished with my first one, Get Off Your Knees & Pray, by Sheila Walsh. I highly recommend it!
60: Sixty new recipes this year. I know I started the Try It Out Tuesday last year, and I think I can still use that part of it, but definitely look for some new recipes on the Block Party site!
There are other little things I want to improve on, but those are the biggies. What about you? Do you have any resolutions? Any tips for me as I venture on these? Interestingly, I think the first one will be the most difficult. I'm unfortunately notorious for letting my blogging slip when I get busy. But, it's a New Year and anything can happen!

~ Misty

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Busy Week!!!

Last week was a super busy week for me. We had an anniversary, a birthday, a baby (I didn't personally have the baby) and parties!
Starting with Tuesday, August 21st, it was our 13 year Anniversary and Anderson's 6th birthday. He was born on our 7 year Anniversary weighing 7lbs. 7oz. I always thought I should have given him the middle name of "Seven".
This was Brad and I a mere thirteen years ago.

Yes, Brad actually had hair back then! 
Happy Birthday to Anderson! I made these football cupcakes for him to take to his class. He was a little thrown off by the coconut grass, but after eating them, he said that was his favorite part.  
Which brings me to Wednesday. I got a call early Wednesday morning from my mother letting me know that Michelle and Dustin had just left for the hospital. She was only a week overdue, only...!I got crazy getting ready to go. As soon as my mother-in-law arrived, I was ready to leave. I made it up there just in time, so I thought. More like eight hours early! Poor Michelle had been in labor since 3am and didn't have little Claire Marie until 8:07pm. It was a long labor for her and I felt so helpless sitting next to her. It's pretty strange for me to be on the other side. I am finally an Aunt!
Welcome to the world Claire Marie! 

I'm a very proud Aunt!!! I miss her already! 
I came back home from Minneapolis on Thursday and had Anderson's friend party on Sunday. I decided to keep it simple and made a sports obstacle course in the back yard. While we were designing it and setting it up I got a big, enthusiastic hug from Anderson as he said, "You're the best mom ever! I love my party!" That totally made my day!
Anderson and his little friends before we said GO!
 I made "staff" shirts for the other kids out of a yellow plastic table cloth. They all helped the little kids get around the course. They were a huge help, thanks to Hailey, Grace, Jackson and Annaliese!

A quick shot of part of the obstacle course. They had to climb the rock wall on the play center, go through the tunnels, ride bikes to a tball station, throw a basketball in the hoop, more tunnels, a balance beam, blow bubbles and run through the trees. The kids all loved it and it kept them busy, outside of the house! Later that evening, we celebrated with the grandparents and rest of the family. I was exhausted by the end of the day and in bed before 8pm. I think Anderson had a great day and I'm thankful I have a break until the next birthday in December.

~ Misty

Friday, August 17, 2012

Where did my summer go??!!!

I have no idea where my summer went. I had high hopes for things with the kids, lazy days at the pool, picnics in the park, playing the rain (okay, I had no intention on playing the rain, but still) basically, just enjoying summer. I think it all started to go awry with the 100+ temps we had for so long. Couple that with a busy sports schedule, throw in the five kids, there ya go. I had three kids in golf, Jack had baseball, Hailey and Jack had track, Anderson had tball and Annaliese had swimming lessons. All of that lasted until the end of July. We barely made it through and it really cut into my pool time. Lesson learned for next summer.
Summer is gone, kids are back to school.
Hailey is in 6th grade, Jackson 4th, Annaliese 2nd and Anderson is in Kindergarten. They're super excited to be back in school. They walk to school and walk home, so for the first time in a long, long time, I don't have to drive kids to school. It is so nice to have them off in the morning and not have to go anywhere. I've always had to take kids to school or preschool.
And now, this year, it's just me and Piper. 
I can't wait to spend my days with her. She's already partial to me (the only one that is) and this will cement my status as her favorite! 
In addition to hanging out with Piper, I have a few plans for myself.
This is how I want to spend my mornings. Front porch, book, coffee, sun - does it get any better? I've already committed to increasing my reading, both fiction and non-fiction. I've been browsing through a book that's inspired me to get back to writing, Writing Motherhood. I'm not sure if this will find its way into my blog or not, but I'm looking forward to pen and paper and the rhythm of writing.
I had mentioned earlier that I was thinking about another cooking/baking project for my Block Party blog. I think I have most of the details worked out. I'm very excited about that and getting to be a better baker.
Brad has his own plans for me. He asked yesterday, the first day the kids went back to school, if I planned on doing anything on the house? Seriously? It's the first day! Give me a minute to enjoy it! I think his plans are for me to finish all the caulking, filling nail holes, painting and painting and painting. I'm super excited to get started on that, can't you tell?
I've got a lot planned, but if I were forced to take a nap every now and then, I suppose I wouldn't complain too much.

~ Misty

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

TIO Tuesday - BLT Pasta Salad

This past weekend we had the opportunity to host a family get-together with my mom's cousins from Colorado and Hawaii. I don't think I have ever met Deb, Joyce and their husbands before. They are slightly older than my mom and don't get here to visit much. My great Uncle Melvin and Aunt Ann also were able to come with their daughters, Kari and Kim. It was a last minute thing to have it at my house, but I was happy to host. Hailey and Jackson wanted to help decorate and I figured they would make posters or something like that. While I was preparing the BLT Pasta Salad, they went upstairs to get the decorations ready. When they returned downstairs about an hour later, they had made the coolest Lego creations to honor our guests. I was impressed as was everyone else. I think they did a fabulous job, and all on their own. Don't they look great?!

I did have to make a dish to share, and given my recent passion for pasta salad, I chose a BLT Pasta Salad, found in the latest issue of Cuisine at Home. I loved all the ingredients and I've been wanting to try out the campanelle pasta, so it was a perfect fit. I mean how can you go wrong when there are bacon drippings in the dressing? 
This is the smaller batch that I brought to our neighbors for them to try. I tried a small sample of this before putting the rest of it in the refrigerator without the bacon. I do this with all pasta salads so they can cool and the dressing has time to come together. I have to say, it was much better fresh, not chilled. Something happens to the dressing after it's chilled and it loses a lot of the bacon flavor that it has when it's fresh. So, while it was still a great salad, I'll know better for next time.

BLT Pasta Salad with creamy bacon dressing
1 lb. dry campanelle pasta
1 lb. thick sliced bacon, diced
1/2 c. mayo
2 tbsp. minced shallots
2 tbsp. minced fresh basil
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
Salt and black pepper to taste
Stir in:
4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
4 cups halved grape tomatoes

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Transfer pasta to a bowl of ice water, drain well.
Cook bacon in large non-stick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper-towel lined plate. Reserve 3 tbsp. drippings; set aside to cool.
Whisk together mayo, reserved drippings, shallots, basil, vinegar, and sugar in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.
Stir in pasta, romaine, tomatoes and bacon; toss to coat. Season salad with salt and pepper.

*** I'm quite certain I broke a few copyright laws, but there are no links to recipes on their website, and I did provide the link to that, it counts a little - right? I'm slightly frustrated by the fact that I actually had to retype all that... Shhh, don't tell!

~ Misty

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TIO Tuesday - Chicken Enchilada Bites

I'm always looking for a good appetizer recipe, particularly one that I can throw together quickly with what I have on hand. We were invited to a birthday party right after an event we had last month. I had no time to come up with anything fancy. I had prepared chicken tacos for us to eat during our event and we had a bunch of the mixture left. I figured there had to be a way to make something for an appetizer out of it. I came up with a quick version of chicken enchiladas, in a bite size format. They were absolutely delish!  The recipe was a sort of combobulation (is that a word?) of different things I have made before.
I will try to recount it as best I can, bare with me:
Chicken Enchilada Bites
(recipe modified - drastically! - from Chicken Enchiladas)
Chicken taco filling (this comes from one of my favorite crock pot recipes - chicken breasts, can of rotel and one taco packet. Cook on low for a few hours and shred- Genius!)
Won ton wrappers
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 tsp. each - chili powder, garlic powder and cumin
1 cup shredded co-jack cheese, plus extra for topping
Cream cheese - 4 oz or so

Preheat oven to 350. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray, place won ton wrappers in each and bake 5-7 minutes.
Saute onions in oil until soft. Add seasonings and cream cheese, cook until cream cheese is softened. Add chicken taco mixture, and co-jack cheese. Combine all, use a cookie scoop to fill won ton wrappers and top with additional cheese. Bake for 7-10 minutes until cheese on top is melted.
Serve warm!
*** I originally tried it in the mini-muffin tins and they were too small. They are still a great bite size with the regular muffin tin.

This got rave reviews from everyone and will definitely be an appetizer I make again!

~ Misty

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

TIO Tuesday - Lemon Lemon Cake

Jackson has been begging me to make Lemon Cake. I'm not sure why exactly, I don't recall making it before or where he would have eaten it? He hasn't let up on it and even put it on our summer Bucket List. I finally submitted and bought a bunch of lemons. After finding this recipe earlier, we made it this morning. Jackson helped with just about everything. We only had a few hiccups with the recipe, my fault, not his.
This biggest downfall to this recipe is it took quite a while to put together. Part of that was because I had "help" and the other due to all the ingredients, measuring and prepping. It takes quite a while to squeeze and zest all those lemons!
We did two loaves, although they were slightly different in size. 
Final product, very lemony! Kids loved it, except Anderson. I don't think he likes lemon anyway, so it's not really a reflection on the cake. We will definitely make this again - after I get a lemon juicer!

Lemon Lemon Cake
Source: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups sugar
8 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup grated lemon zest (from about 4 lemons)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted, or more if needed
4 to 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the sides and bottom of two 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the paper.
Sift both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until combined. With the motor running, drizzle the butter in through the feed tube. Add the sour cream and vanilla and pulse until combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
Sprinkle the flour mixture, one third at a time, folding gently after each addition until just combined. Do not overmix.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, rotate the pans, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F., and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and invert the loaves onto the pan. Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the loaves.
Brush the tops and sides of the loaves with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let the cakes cool completely, at least 30 minutes.
(The soaked but unglazed loaves will keep, wrapped in two layers of plastic wrap and frozen, for up to 6 weeks.)
In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. If the mixture is too stiff, add up to another 2 tablespoons lemon juice and whisk again, adding small amounts of lemon juice and/or confectioners’ sugar until you get the right consistency. Pour the lemon glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the lemon glaze harden, about 15 minutes, before serving.
The glazed loaves will keep for up to 3 days, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

~ Misty