Sunday, December 13, 2009

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Friday fun

Friday turned out to be a surprisingly good day. I got a chance to visit with a few friends. Kathy Bell came over and visited me in the morning. And then, Sara Smart came over and brought me lunch!
Can you believe it? I couldn't. It was a most unexpected surprise and a true delight. She called me up in the morning and asked if she could come over and bring lunch and her 2 sweet little girls Caroline and Gillian. It was the highlight of my week to have the opportunity to visit with another person over the age of 4 and who possessed more vocabulary than the words no and more ( I am exaggerating, of course, but I hear those words the most throughout my week).
Friday was a fun visit. Sara brought chicken salad sandwiches with craisins, beautiful dill pickles (which I don't eat because I'm picky- silly me), chips, sierra mist with a hint of cranberry in it (it was very good), and cupcakes and brownie bites. Sara brought all of her goodies in this very cute picnic basket. And she left the brownie bites for the kids which they have enjoyed.
But I was touched that someone went out of their way for me. It was great. We talked about jewelry and my chickens. I sent her home with almost a dozen eggs. The girls played a little outside and us moms got a chance to visit. The little girls enjoyed watching the chickens and petting them just a little.
I think the funniest part of the visit is when the chickens got out and attacked my last remaining garden patch. I planted broccoli, onions and bell peppers. My chickens know where to find the good stuff. They made a beeline for the broccoli and my lone little stalk of broccoli (smaller than the size of a quarter) is now no more. RIP dear broccoli plant. There seems to be no escaping those chickens.
You see the chickens had gotten out before and completely decimated the foliage on the broccoli plants and they haven't recovered since. I think at this point I need to just pull out everything except the onions and start all over. We laughed and he girls laughed as we chased them around. It was funny. Unless you are accustomed to handling chickens you are afraid to grab them. But, the chickens took advantage of our hesitance, and would run off or ruffle up their wings so we'd have difficulty capturing them.
Most of the time my chickens are pretty well-mannered. I am the source of all good things. On a daily basis I take out our table scraps and give them little extras. Recently we had a #10 can of 7 year old elbow macaronis from our food storage that did not fare well. It is inedible to us, but I cooked it right up for the chickens and they love it. Remnants of old oatmeal is also thrown their way or potato and carrot peelings. A lot of our unwanted food goes straight to the chickens. By the way, Saturday I got 6 eggs from them. Woohoo!!
I wandered away from my original topic. Back to Friday fun.
Friday evening at about 6 pm Robyn Lemelin called me up and invited us at the last minute to an Ontario Reign hockey game at the Citizens Business Bank Arena; they had 4 extra seats and since Peter was working at a football game, Steven, Aeron, and I went. It was fun. I think I mostly appreciated getting away from the same old 4 walls I see on a daily basis. Robyn and Bob had amazing seats I think we sat in the 3rd row. We had a great view of all the action. I brought my camera with me because Robyn had told me that her youngest son Zach would be skating on the ice at the end of the 2nd quarter. Happily, I got a few shots of him. That was an interesting undertaking. The action is so fast on the ice, a lot of the photos were blurry, much to my dismay and disappointment. I had the my programmed auto mode set to action but even with that, the shots of Zach on the ice didn't come out as nice as the other shots I took from my seat. Oh well. The art of photography is a learning process, obviously I have a long way to go.
To sum it up, the hockey game was a serendipitous surprise. A nice way to end a grueling week. It was fun for Steven to go and hang out with his friend. Robyn spoiled him and bought him a drink and candy and a mini hockey stick. Steven just ate it up. I truly appreciate Robyn's generous love for her friends and family. It is a wonder to see; she is an example to me. I have been blessed by her love and generosity as well. They are constantly doing good for those around them at home and in the community.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Kids say the darndest things!

Tonight I made baked mahi mahi fillets for my fish eating family. I don't eat fish. But, they all ate it and they liked it! There's only one caveat to that. Ethan. I used cream sherry and garlic infused olive oil. I used garlic pepper and put rosemary on top.
It turned out great. It smelled good, albeit not good enough for me to partake. I just don't like fish. I wish I liked fish. But it is a dish that is not delish - at least to me. That's it for my rhyming ability, I'll leave that talent to Peter.
The point to all this is that Ethan and Jonathon made some hilarious comments about the fish. I served Rice-a-roni broccoli au gratin rice with the fish and forgot the veggies on the stove - whoops! I served leftover spaghetti to Aeron and Ethan knowing they would not go for the fish. Ethan did have some rice which he liked.
To get to the point, Jonathon liked the fish and was trying to clear his plate of his serving of rice so he could have some spaghetti. I need to tell you that my son Jonathon has NO table manners. You would think from watching him eat he was raised by a pack of wolves. He chooses to ignore table manners and often uses his hands to shove food in his mouth.
What happens next is key. Jonathon had just finished shoving food in his mouth and I had just finished shaking my head in dismay at his table manners. I made a comment about it and no sooner had I finished saying it, I saw his hands in his plate picking up more food. Next Peter got in on the action and chastised him. This made Jonathon frustrated and he said, "Dad, I was just picking the grass off my plate." Jon had this stricken and offended look on his face as he said it. How dare we his parents put grass on his plate and expect him to eat it. It took me a minute to figure out he was referring to the rosemary I put on the fish for seasoning. It was hilarious.
Ethan then joined in on the conversation and pointed out to me that grass doesn't belong in our food. When he says fish he pronounces it more like "pitch." Ethan totally cracked me up. He was so serious as he said it as he pointed to the baking dish and then to me. Ethan is very expressive when he speaks and uses a lot of gestures. Gesturing is one of the ways he compensates for his speech difficulties. There have been many, many times that we couldn't understand him and it was only by his repeated gesturing and speaking (much to his frustration) that we were able to contextually figure out what he was saying.
So that's my little entry about the things children say. It may not be that funny to you but it sure was to me. It was shocking to some of my kidlets that I used a spice in their food that resembles grass. Someday some of my children will appreciate the effort it takes to cook... I don't know about Ethan, he may never come around and that's ok.
We are training them up well. They definitely will not have my seafood aversions. And, I am proud to report that they tolerate a wide range of foods and for the most part are not terribly picky eaters... except for Ethan. Teaching kids good eating habits is hard work and takes REPEATED attempts after REPEATED refusals. The key to it all is to keep trying!
I think that's a good motto for us all regardless of the situation: Keep Trying!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Anus Award - for someone with his head lodged firmly way up his @$$!

This award is for my neighbor. He turned his lawn sprinklers on Ethan, my autistic son this morning. What was his crime? He was on his grass. Was he doing anything? Nope. I came outside to retrieve Ethan and saw my son he was standing on the other neighbor's neighboring strip of grass looking in dismay at the sprinklers. He doesn't like getting wet unless it is jumping in the bath tub or the pool. His bike was stuck on the grass getting wet too. It set him off on another tangent. But, I braved the sprinklers and retrieved the bike. I was so angry I saw red!
I have already had run-ins with this neighbor. He gossips worse than a woman. He is a firefighter and has too much time on his hands. He is a busy body. He loves to spread gossip, taking things out of context all the while wearing the white hat because he is a fire fighter and a hero. He is an arrogant, cruel man for doing this to my son.
I don't care how much someone may or may not like me. But that should never translate into how you treat a child. You NEVER take it out on the kids- EVER! He crossed the line. I would love to take a swing at him. It's just cruel. He could have walked himself over to my house to tell me he didn't want my child on his grass. But, NO, he just turned on the sprinklers on him. It's plain mean and childish. So, here's my childish response to his childish act. I may or may not give it to him. But, it sure has been cathartic creating it and writing about it. It's also funny to look at as well. Hopefully you'll get a laugh from the picture.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

At the end of my rope

I don't think I've felt this bad in a long time. The day started out with a terrible sinus headache and then I started crying. I put on my game face and got the kids ready for school. Then, after the kids left for school, but before Ethan leaves for school, I started crying again. In the shower I was crying. Basically, even now, I'm starting to well up. I don't think I have ever felt this out of control of my own life- EVER! I look around me and feel stymied. Everywhere, everything calls out for my attention. Children - 2 of which are not mine and are the most needy, housework, organization, the list goes on and on. And my mental state is not the most healthy right now. Add to that the fact that I'm still not feeling 100% and I'm tired - both due to illness and depression. It does not make a good mix. I guess I could reach out for help. But, everyone I know of has similar responsibilities or is busy with other obligations. And, I am not exactly a ray of sunshine to be around.
I don't think I've ever felt this stuck - like a prisoner in my own house, a prisoner of my own life. Do you know what HELL it is to go out with 4 children under 4? Yesterday I did it because I was desperate. I needed groceries from Sam's Club. The infant I watch who is almost 3 months old cried for the entire time we were out. She then cried for another hour after that. Just hearing the crying is enough to fray anyone's nerves. The baby had a tummy ache and needed to have a bowel movement. She was hurting and in pain. And then dealing with the other 3 on top of that.
Needless to say, it feels like same crap, different day. Everyday is filled with the same monotony. I am not enjoying this journey at all right now. Most of the day I am taking it one minute or hour at a time. I wish there was some service you could call and say, I quit and they could come fill in for you. I think the main one is called Child Protective Services and that could leave a blemish on my record.
Yes, I guess I am having a pity party. But, I am so fed up right now, words cannot begin to even express it. I wish I had super powers so that I could be like the Flash and get everything done around the house. I do feel like I have amazing super powers of patience. After all, my children are still alive and I haven't killed anyone yet- even Ethan who daily pushes me to the brink!
This morning, he pooped in his pull-up. Went upstairs to the kid's bathroom and took off his pull up and found some wet wipes and tried to start to clean himself up. Wet wipes cannot go down our toilets. They just get stuck and clog it up and then the toilet floods. I have VAST experience with this I am sad to say. So then Ethan came downstairs with the wet wipes and told me he needed help. I cleaned him up and then went upstairs to check out the damage. Bella our dog decided to join in on the fun. She likes to chew up diapers, especially the smelly kind. Eeeew! She grabbed a couple of the soiled wipes from the toilet and started chewing. I then got the garbage can and removed the wipes from the toilet, swatted the dog, and bathed Ethan.
I am happy to report that Ethan is now safely at school. He just left on the school bus. Can I just tell you that is the bright part of every day? I can rest easy knowing that for almost 4 hours he is safely in the hands of other adults. I don't have to worry about what is he doing.
Just this morning after cleaning up the poo mess, I got in the tub and bathed the kids. I decided to be extra nice to myself this morning and put shoes on, and do my hair. I contemplated applying makeup but then realized it was way too quiet. Just in the 10 minutes of my getting dressed, Ethan had brought a chair into the kitchen and gotten into the cupboard where I keep his "blue candies". Blue candies are the mini Nestle Crunch bars. I bought some the other day on the day after Halloween sale because I use them as bribes. He got the whole bag out of the cupboard and parked himself on the couch right next to Aeron where they indulged in the whole bag of candies. The bright point in all of this is that at least they shared with Madison who was in the high chair eating graham crackers.
So there you have it. An up close and personal, albeit a little too personal, peek into just a few hours of my life. Wanna come substitute? I thought not. This little slice of Heaven (ha ha) is called my life. Everyone tells me that it won't last forever, but I tend not to believe them. Days like I have been having seem to drag on forever. I look forward to 5:30 when the children I watch will go home. Then I can start a new set of responsibilities. After that I look forward to the time that I can go to bed. These little landmarks are the highlights of my day. Yes, I admit that it's not exactly the best attitude to have, but hey, I feel like I'm living a nightmare.
Oh, I also forgot to mention that the cable company cut off our internet service today. The Verizon people have yet to show up. You see when you get cable phone and internet and cable service, they physically cut the lines to your house. So right now we have no home phone. We are giving up anyway to cut down on our monthly costs. We have cancelled our cable service and our internet service through the cable company as well. We all have cell phones anyways. We will continue to have no cable service and we are switching to a DSL type of internet service in order to save money. So, right now I have no internet. The only way I am able to post this blog entry is because I am piggy backing on my neighbor's open network. He doesn't realize people can do just what I am doing and use his network. I am grateful for it none the less. I'm not completely cut off. Just- mostly.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

No tricks... just treats!

This is what I created this morning. Earlier in the week I was asked to bring a baked goodie to school for the teachers as a way for parents to express appreciation for what they do. Since I am unable to help out in the classroom anymore and I choose not to participate in the PTA, this is one thing I can do at home with all the kids.
I originally got this idea from Your Home Based Mom. I love her photography, recipes and ideas. It's a great website for inspiring creativity.

Here's the recipe. She got it from the Joy of Baking website.

Vanilla Cupcakes
1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 c. white sugar
3 large eggs (preferably from my chickens :) )
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lrg. lemon
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. of salt (if you use salted butter, leave this out!)
1/4 c. milk

For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 and spray the muffin liners with oil. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the lemon zest and the vanilla. Then add the baking powder and the salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour and the milk in three additions beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing. If you want flat topped cupcakes, then slice off the dome of each cupcake with a sharp knife before frosting. If you want to pipe the frosting, use a large Wilton 1M closed star decorating tip.
Yield: 12 cupcakes

Buttercream Frosting
2 c. powdered sugar sifted (if you have the time)
1/2 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbs. half and half or cream
Assorted food colors (if desired)
With a mixer, cream the butter until smooth and well blended. Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the milk and beat on high speed until the frost is light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes) Add a little more milk or sugar if needed. Tint the frosting with desired food colors.

I really like how light and fluffy the frosting turned out. It was delicious and little red eagerly helped me lick a little from the spoon and clean up the leftovers from the bowl. I haven't heard how the teachers like the cupcakes, but I suspect they were good. Leigh Ann never posts a bad recipe.

Please... kick me while I'm down! Maybe it won't hurt as bad.

When it rains it pours! This is the sight that greets me now in my family room. These french door didn't even last 3 years!
About 33 months ago we replaced our old set of french doors for these new ones with the blinds built into the door. The thinking behind getting these is that I wouldn't have to clean the blinds and that the kids wouldn't destroy the blinds like they had done to all the other door coverings we had tried before. I was right with part one but obviously part two failed miserably. DRAT!
I reamed Steven for doing this. He kept pulling the blinds up and down and up and down several times. His whole thinking behind the destroyal of my blinds is that he wanted to attract Ethan's attention who was outside and trick him into coming inside. I had asked Steven to play with Ethan in the backyard on the trampoline, but he didn't want to do that. Steven's whole focus from the time that he got home yesterday was on playing video games. He will barely do the minimum to get the job done and then he immediately launches into requests to play Playstation 2. 11 year old boys are very single minded, I'm coming to realize.
We are having difficulty getting adjusted to living on less. I'm doing increased childcare to help supplement our income. It's makes for long days and even longer nights as I need to be on top of my housework and schedule to focus on meeting the children's needs.
Recently, I have come to realize that I am being taken advantage of. It hasn't been a fun realization, especially since I have been friends with the children's mother for over ten years now. We used to work together right after Peter and I moved here after we graduated from BYU.
I sat down with the mom yesterday to discuss our arrangements and came to the realization that I have been working under an incorrect assumption for over a year now. There is no loyalty, no consideration for our family or our friendship with this childcare arrangement. Obviously her needs are being met, but mine are barely being met. It is firmly based on the bottom line - money. Whoever comes in with the cheapest bid will watch her two small girls - 18 month old and an 9 week old. She doesn't want to contribute for anything she doesn't have to. What differing perspectives we both have when it comes to our children. After having grown up in several daycares and having heard what has gone on in some of them, I would rest better assurred knowing someone I knew and trusted was watching my children. That would be more important than strictly looking at the bottom line. But, hey, that's me maybe I'm just funny that way.
I get it. Finances and the economy have forced us to tighten up our belts. But, I am not going to continue to feel frustrated with our arrangement. She doesn't want to have any type of contract. She doesn't want to have to pay for the days her children are not watched, something I have agreed to up until now. And, they want to be able to pick up their kids up until 6 pm or after if need be all the while dropping their children off at 7 am every day.
We had a conversation about this yesterday. I don't like making demands. I don't like confrontations. I don't want to bankrupt anyone. I have always struggled with determining a fair price. I am not a business woman. I don't barter or dicker very well. I am up front and always consider the feelings and needs of others in my every action. I am generous to a fault and now I am realizing I may have been taken advantage of. It's not a nice realization and I feel hurt and betrayed and disappointed. I wouldn't just take care of anyone's child and treat them like they are my own. Well- actually I would because I genuinely love children.
In addition, she told me yesterday that she may be taking additional maternity time off and feels no compunction to pay me which would effectively leave my family high and dry. It was quite the wake up call. She reminded me several times that I am not licensed yet. I have the packet and need to send in a few things and get the ball rolling. My house complies with their regulations 90% of the way. Just a few changes are left to make. But, because I am not licensed, she feels that she shouldn't have to pay me a decent rate. I don't have any sick days. She has brought her sick kids here with no compunction for anyone's needs except her own. And she reminded me that most facilities are open until 6 p.m. So, as such we should just suck it up and deal with the crap that rolls downhill!
I have been feeling a little stressed out with my situation lately. I am home all day and all night with the kids with little or no opportunity to get out and visit. I am lonely. I rarely see or speak with any of my friends. I've been struggling with feeling out of control with my life as of late. All there are is the have to's which is a granted but there are very few and increasingly fewer get to's. There is no time for breaks. I'm on task and running balls out 100% of the time. It is a sure fire recipe for disaster and burn out and I'm starting to feel it's effects. I got sick this week, with no relief in sight. The day she came and dropped the kids off she noted how terrible I looked and I explained I was had a fever and had a case of the chills. All I merited from that conversation was that she hoped I felt better. They didn't show up to pick up the kids that day until 5:30 pm.
When we brought all this up to the mom yesterday she refused to budge on some of it. She reminded me repeatedly that I am not licensed and that if she went to another facility she could pick them up at 6 pm even. I have let her know that her daughter refuses to eat the food I'm serving and often feeds it to the dog, smears it all over hear head, or throws it on the floor. She feels she shouldn't have to contribute food for her daughter except for the newborn's milk. I'd be ok with it if her daughter wasn't so picky and physically shoves away 3/4's of my profers. I've started to let her go hungry after I offer 2 choices. I've let mom know of the situation. I refuse to feed an 18 month old tyrant chips, cookies and crackers all day every day. It is unhealthy and very costly.
So, here we sit. I am looking at my options. I am very much considering finding a night shift somewhere in order to avoid the cost of child care for my own kids. In some ways, I think it would be much preferable to my situation right now. I wouldn' t have to work almost 12 hours a day for $5.50 an hour at best! I could get out and be with other adults and have grown up conversations. It's obvious we need more income. This childcare situation isn't working. I don't mind getting licensed. There are quite a few hoops to jump through but right now the pay isn't working out that well. I also don't like having kids so late. My kids have soccer and scouts. I have doctor's appointments. We have needs. Most afternoons we have 8 kids here. My five and the 3 I watch. I think its time to shift directions!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Gale Family Favorite - Potstickers the Gale way

Tonight I did NOT want to cook dinner. So, I went to the freezer and found the trusty bag of potstickers. Being not your average family, we have our quirks, we don't serve our potstickers the 'normal' way.
I serve our potstickers sauteed with a tasty homemade teriyaki sauce over rice of course and then we had some egg rolls fresh from the freezer. I don't make egg rolls or potstickers homemade, yet. I'm not that big of a food snob - yet.
The potstickers generally come out at Jonathon's begging and insistence or on a night I am desperately searching for something fast and easy. Gale style potstickers are one of Jonathon's favorite foods. He will eat the leftovers off of any and all plates on the table.
The potstickers I'm talking about are the ones that come in the big bag from Costco. The brand is Ling Ling. There is a sauce packet that comes with them, but my kids prefer the teriyaki sauce to the sauce provided in the bag. In fact, those same potstickers are on sale at Costco right now. It's on my to do list of things to buy once we get paid again on the 2nd of November. Generally we get paid on the 1st of every month, but this is one of the shell games the legislature is playing with our tax payer dollars. Gotta love it! But, again I digress. Back to the topic: potstickers.
I have tried many teriyaki brands and recipes. But this one I have found is my favorite. It is a slight variation of a recipe I discovered a couple years ago on Allrecipes. The original recipe is called Baked Teriyaki Chicken. But, what I do is double the sauce and use it with the potstickers. It's a marvelous all-purpose teriyaki sauce.

Teriyaki Sauce
2 Tbs. cornstarch
2 Tbs. cold water
1 c. white sugar
1 c. lite soy sauce
1/2 c. cider vinegar
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. black pepper

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cornstarch, cold water, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and ground black pepper. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Craft fair details

Here are the particulars I blogged about last night. If you live in the area, check it out. Come see me. I would love to see your smiling face and visit with you. I am trying to make the most of my opportunities to get out of the house.

If you don't live in the area and are interested in my jewelry, I will be posting some more designs to my Etsy store next week after the craft fair.

If you would like something custom designed, email separately and I will produce a one of a kind treasure for you. Really, all of my designs are one of a kind. I don't like to mass produce too much as it gets boring for me. That's the ADD in me. :)

I hope you like what you see. I welcome any and all feed back.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jewelry making frenzy

Copper Fires - set, originally uploaded by bonniemomof5.

This is what I have been doing in my spare moments. Besides playing nursemaid to my family who has been brought low by the flu ( I believe it was the swine flu but the doctors were afraid to utter those dreaded words).

Now, after a week and a half we all seem to be on the mend. Here is just one example of my work. I've posted more on Flickr and my Facebook page.

This next Thursday I will be at a craft boutique. I'll post more pics with all the particulars soon. If you live in Rancho, I would love to see you. Come by and get some Christmas shopping done!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Weekend visit

This last weekend, we travelled up to my grandfather's house. He's 88 and lives up in Sacramento. He lives in Sutter Creek, a suburb 1 hour outside of Sacramento. Driving up there makes for a short weekend visit, but it was well worth the effort. We left Friday afternoon and arrived home LATE Sunday night.
I always dread the drive up there, but once we get there it's a return to home. I love the rolling foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. The grass. The trees. The cattle. It's peaceful. It's where I grew up. Plus I get to see one of my favorite people- my Grampa.
Growing up, he was one of my best friends. I remember when I was 6, I would sit on our big chest freezer downstairs and help him fold laundry. I got to live with my grandparents my first grade year in elementary school and part of second grade. My Grampa would read to me at night. On the weekend, we would go on bike rides up the hill. We would go fishing on his boat. It was great fun. One of the things I loved best about that time is that we lived so close to the beach. Several times a week, I would take a walk along the shore. It was restful, relaxing, and fun. That's where I get my love of the ocean and beach. So, now you can see why visiting my grampa is always a treat. I love our talks. I love being able to cook for him and our big family meals. I always make a special effort. We all enjoy it. I treasure those times!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Utterly exhausted

This is how I feel today. I feel completely paralyzed by exhaustion. Just getting out of bed and caring for the kids was a major undertaking and accomplishment. I guess I overworked myself this week. Then, as a result today, I've done nothing. :( Not so good. Oh well, not everyday can be a day of frenetic activity.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Evil garden bug

Wednesday afternoon I found this big bad bug on my tomato plant as I was cleaning off some dead leaves. At first I thought it was just a curled up leaf until I touched it and then I screamed like a girl! Oh, wait I am one. Ha ha.
As soon as I touched it I realized it wasn't a leaf. And, it wasn't until I looked closely that I realized what it was. This obese tomato bug has great survival instincts. It "played" dead. It didn't move the whole time I pulled the branch off, set it on the table and took pictures of it.
It was only when, I took my revenge on it that it moved. It is now chicken fodder.
This fat bug feasted on my last beautiful tomato. I went out to pluck the tomato from the vine when I looked at it and realized that my tomato had been slaughtered. No more beautiful tomato.
So, the bug and the tomato got fed to the chickens. So there! Take that obese bug!
The chickens fought as usual over who would get to devour the bug. I didn't hang around to see it. I had to take Steven to his Boy Scout meeting. But, Peter and Steven thought it great fun to watch the big bad bug meet it's just fate.

I think I've gone bananas!

I tried this new recipe on this cool blog I recently found. It is called: Vintage Victuals. I like it because it focuses on down home foods using basic elements you find in your kitchen. The results were great.

Banana Pudding

1/2 cup sugar
1/8 cup flour
a pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups milk
4 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 a pinch of nutmeg
30-40 vanilla wafers
4 bananas, sliced
4 egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar

To make the custard, mix together the 1/2 cup of sugar, the flour, and the salt. Pour the milk into a heavy saucepan and add the dry ingredients. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat. Beat the egg yolks lightly with a whisk. Pour a little bit of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking together. Then add the egg mixture to the saucepan. Bring the custard to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly, and cook until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and nutmeg. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.

Line the bottom and sides of an 8x8-inch baking dish with vanilla wafers. Next, line it with a layer of banana slices. Repeat, alternating layers of wafers and bananas until you have used them all.
Then pour over the custard so that it completely covers the bananas and the wafers.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gradually add the 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue to beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. Spread the meringue fully over the top of the pudding, so that it touches the edges of the baking dish.

Bake until lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes. You may serve the pudding warm or chilled. Serves 6-8.

Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake - THE BEST EVER!

Tonight I made this recipe for a Relief Society craft night (a church activity). Everyone loved it. Someone even said it was the best sheet cake they have had. Thanks Ree Drummond. I grabbed this recipe off her website The Pioneer Woman. It is wonderfully easy with wonderful results.

Pioneer Woman Chocolate Sheet Cake
Combine in a mixing bowl:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a saucepan, melt:
2 sticks butter
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa. Stir together.
1 cup boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.

In measuring cup, pour 1/2 cup buttermilk.
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes.

While cake is baking, make icing:
1/2 cup pecans finely.
1 3/4 sticks butter in a saucepan.
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat.
6 tablespoons milk (I used half and half)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 lb minus 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Stir together.
Add pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake.

Cut into squares, eat, and totally wig out over the fact that you’ve just made the best chocolate sheet cake. Ever.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Frugal tip

I guess I'm just feeling rather helpful tonight. But I just wanted to pass along an opportunity I recently took advantage of. I like cooking, but like the best of us, sometimes I want to switch it up.
At the sight, you can get a year's subscription to Taste of Home for just $2 a year! Yep, you read that right. You can't even buy a copy of that magazine off the rack for that! So, I just bought 4 years worth.
I like the Taste of Home magazine. I like the fact that it has straightforward recipes using ingredients commonly found in your kitchen.
Also, if you are of a mind to save money, you can also purchase a year's subscription of Family Handyman which is a very comprehensive home improvement magazine. You can purchase a subscription to it for $7 instead of $28. In this time of economic turmoil, Family Handyman is a great purchase. It's full of money saving ideas and projects for your home.

Let's make it fair!

Ok. It's a play on words, but also I wanted to give you local So. Cal dwellers a frugal tip. Right now the LA County Fair is going on at the Pomona Fairplex from Sept. 5- Oct. 4.
If you can afford the high cost of entrance, it's a fun treat. If you can't, keep reading.
On Fridays, you can get in for free if you bring 5 cans of food to donate. Kids under 5 are free. So that leaves you paying the $10 ransom they are asking for parking. Last Friday, I tagged along with my friend Robyn Lemelin and her mom Judy (thanks Robyn- it was a rare treat to visit with you and your mom). We got in for an hour and a half. It was a fun 90 minutes. But it was a great discovery.
The last time my family went to the fair was about 5 years ago. I have some great pictures of the kids from our experience. The only drawback was that it cost so darned much! If you go during the week, an adult admission is $12. On the weekends is $17! You have to pay for parking which starts at $10. Then you have the food and, of course, the kids want to go on the rides which are totally overpriced. By the time everything is said and done, you have spent $100 and have nothing to show for it except a day's diversion and maybe heartburn from your deep fried twinkie (YUCK!).
I know I'm a total spoil sport- call me cheap, that's just me. But I want to take the kids and get some pics of them with the animals at the fair and I want to check out the craft areas. My friends from Dreamstone Bead Co. are doing demonstrations there on Fri., Sat., and Sun. from 3-8 pm.
With all that said, this Friday after our primary program practice which ends at 5:30 we are going to the fair. I am excited to go. I want those pictures I mentioned. It will be fun to see Ethan and Aeron's reactions to the animals. There are some fun photo opportunities as well. By donating the food, it makes it a pretty affordable family activity. The kids will not get food except for some cotton candy - maybe. We won't be going on rides. If we want to go on rides, we'd go to Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, or Six Flags. I'm looking forward to some fun at the fair this Friday. Stay tuned for the pics.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Exhiliration, originally uploaded by bonniemomof5.

A couple weeks ago we treated ourselves to an afternoon at the beach. I was delighted to capture this image of Steven. I am happy with it and it conveys a brief moment of his generally hooded emotions. It's nice once and a while to see Steven's genuine happiness.

And then there were 2!

And then there were 2!, originally uploaded by bonniemomof5.

2 of my 7 chickens are laying eggs. It is exciting for this quirky venture of mine to start seeing some results. My hens are so funny.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sept. 7, 2009 International Redhead Day!

Sand play, originally uploaded by bonniemomof5.

Yep, you read that right. It's true. I thought that was cool someone made up a holiday in Holland to celebrate us folks who make up 1% of the world's population.

Summer Spaghetti Salad

Summer Spaghetti Salad, originally uploaded by bonniemomof5.

Here's a picture of one of the salads we served at Jonathon's baptism lunch. The is one of Peter's and my favorite salads. I love it because it incorporates a lot of vegetables into a salad, and because of the colors. It is such a pretty salad. We received a lot of compliments on it. And I have to give a BIG thanks to my mother-in-law Claudia, who chopped up all the veggies for this salad and all the salads we served. I couldn't have put on such a great lunch without your help! Friday night I was running around at Mach 5 trying to get all the food prepared. We had cold cut sandwiches, chips, veggies and dip, fresh fruit and dip, summer spaghetti salad, fruit and chicken salad, jello salad and potato salad (my friends Jeanne and Craig prepared and brought this salad- thank you!) and for dessert we had brownies, coconut cream cake and carrot cake. It turned out wonderfully.

Summer Spaghetti Salad
1 package (16 oz.) thinspaghetti or capellini, halved
3 medium tomatoes, diced
3 small zucchini, diced
1 large cucumber, halved, seeded and diced
1 med. yellow pepper, diced
1 med. sweet red pepper, diced
1 bottle 8 oz. Italian salad dressing
2 Tbs. grated Parmesan Cheese
1-1/2 tsp. sesame seeds
1-1/2 tsp. poppy seeds
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. Place in a large bowl; add tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber and peppers.
Combine remaining ingredients together in a separate bowl. Mix. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Yield: 16 servings Fills up a Tupperware That's a Bowl to top.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

An eggs-elent discovery

An eggs-elent discovery, originally uploaded by bonniemomof5.

Today after church Bekkah found this little gift out in our backyard chicken coop! I was so excited to see that at least one of our chickens has started laying eggs. Then, a few minute later, Bekkah came in with another one. Now I can tell my friends who inquire about my chicken experiment that yes, my chicken are now laying eggs. I am not sure which ones are laying, but 2 of the 7 are indeed producing.
This week when I went in to the feed store in Norco, I was talking to the lady. I was asking her about our chickens and she told me we would probably not see any eggs until after the heat was over. So, I had consigned myself to this fact. And then not one week later, not 1 but 2 eggs appear. Hooray! I am excited to start relying on our chickens for eggs instead of purchasing them from the farm.
I do have to admit the eggs are small. I will have to use 2 of their eggs in place of 1 large egg. But, maybe as the hens continue to lay eggs, the size will increase. I don't know because I am a newbie to raising hens. The idea of raising chickens was really a wild idea. I am grateful to have them. It has been interesting and a fun diversion to watch the girls as I call them.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Baby Love

Baby Love
Originally uploaded by bonniemomof5
I love newborns. This is McKenna Alexis McNally. She is about 3 weeks old and I will be watching her full time come October. Yesterday, I couldn't resist the impulse to strip her down for this picture. It turned out so well. I'm truly proud of my work here. In fact, my husband was so impressed with the photo, he didn't believe I had taken it. Ha ha, Peter. Once in a great while, I can surprise even you! I'm slowly increasing my skills, one step at a time!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Coral blush

Coral blush
Originally uploaded by bonniemomof5
My goal is to collect as many colors of hibiscus plants that I can. I have found that I can quite successfully nuture these plants. They are quite forgiving if you forget to water them a day or two. And, sometimes I shirk my watering duties.
This one is one I purchased from Lowes. I had no idea what color the blooms would be because it had no blooms on it. But I was so stunned the other day when I was watering. I love the colors of it. They make me happy. Simple... yet true!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Jonathon!

Here is one of Jonathon's birthday presents. The week we went to Sutter Creek to visit my grandfather, we worked all week including the day of Jon's birthday. Finally, on Thursday when we left Sutter Creek, I gave him some options, I wanted to do something special for him because he CHEERFULLY worked so hard while we were up there, even on his BIRTHDAY. One of the options included going to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and going on the Giant Dipper, a big roller coaster. Jonathon chose that.
So here you see Jonathon in the rollercoaster as we ascend the biggest peak. He is such a thrill seeker. He loved the roller coaster. It was a nice treat for the both of us.
The only negative of the whole trip was the traffic officer lurking around the parking meters. I had my eye on my watch the whole time because we had to leave the dog in the car (the windows were left partially open, of course). I think I arrived back 3 minutes late and there was a lovely pink parking ticket on my dashboard. What a drag!
Nevertheless, it still was a nice side trip. I loved the drive out there. It is so verdant and beautiful out there. I love the ocean and sand. We didn't touch a toe on the sand, we were so focused on the task at hand.
But, there it is, you've got to take the good with the bad. It put me a few hours out of the way on the trip home, a worthwhile time expenditure for the memories we have of our little jaunt into Santa Cruz! Thanks Jon for sharing that special trip with me.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dining disgust

Tonight we went out to eat together as a family to celebrate Jonathon's 8th birthday early. We went to Spaghetti Factory.
What originally was a pleasant dining experience, quickly went awry. We ordered drinks first. I sat next to Ethan because I was going to help him have an enjoyable meal. All of a sudden, he laid his head in my lap and acted sleepy, which was odd because he hadn't had his medication yet. I rubbed his head and eventually he sat up. Next, we ordered our dinner. And then right after our server brought out our salads, soup and bread and I had prepared a piece of bread for Ethan, he threw up all over the table. Ugh!
I can deal with poop, I can deal with lots of different bodily secretions. But, I don't deal with vomit very well. The smell is particularly repulsive to me.
I just felt bad. Here in this nice restaurant, Ethan threw up. There was another couple nearby that witnessed his generous outpouring and they quickly evacuated the scene. It is so lovely to know that single-handedly the Gale family has managed to ruin someone's dinner this evening.
At first, I thought we might be able to ride it out. Ethan was totally fine after that initial episode. All the toxins or whatever was bothering his little stomach were gone!
However, as soon as Peter got back from the restroom, he informed us that we we had to leave. Ethan reeked of vomit. And, all the kids were also completely disgusted by his unwanted eruption. Their soup sat untouched on the table.
Thankfully, Aeron sat quietly observing all the to-do. After Peter left for the restroom, I flagged down a server and alerted them to the situation. I knew a few napkins weren't going to clean up the table effectively. However, I was surprised when the server alerted me that there are Haz Mat regulations that have to be observed when dealing with vomit. Oh my gosh! When a family has a big mound of vomit covering 1/4 of their table, the vomit needs to be removed ASAP!
So, in the interest of quickly removing the offensive expulsion, I offered to clean it up myself. As his parent, I do not need rubber gloves or a mask or a suit or whatever! They brought over a big role of paper towels and located a plastic bag. I quickly cleared it mess off the table and cleaned up the floor.
Then as soon as Peter returned to the table with Ethan, the server brought out our meal which we then had to notify him that we needed our meal to go. 10 minutes later they brought out our bag of food.
My complaint is this... Why do we have to pay so much for a meal that we didn't get to enjoy? I had to clean up the mess. We didn't even get ice cream to go which is our favorite part of the meal. All we had is our pastas.
I guess the biggest thing I am disappointed about is that our nice meal was ruined. I realize that Ethan isn't at fault. He didn't plan on it. It just is hard because we rarely go out to nice meals anymore and then the one time in a long time that we do, Ethan vomits.
I think it totally stinks, on several levels, that I had to clean up Ethan's mess. The servers were more than happy to allow me to do that nasty job. Haz Mat regulations be darned, when a job needs to be done, it needs to be done. Get the gloves and man up! When you are not willing to man up, at least give the poor person a break when they had to do the nasty job. It's not right that we had to pay almost $60 for a meal we weren't able to enjoy. Jonathon was utterly disappointed that we had to leave and he didn't get Happy Birthday sung to him.
Oh well. Time to put those big girl panties on and just deal with it. Life isn't fair.
Thus ends another week in the life of the Gale family. Hats off to you if you are still reading and haven't tossed your computer aside in disgust! Good job!

Friday, July 31, 2009

70 years and loving every minute!

Yesterday, was a nice treat. Jane Bradshaw earlier in the week sent out an email inviting us out to celebrate Agnes Anderson's 70th birthday. We met at Mimi's Cafe for a lunch of conversation and visiting. It was a great time.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

An injury for Ethan

Ethan's 3 staples and his bald spot
The wounded Ethan sleeps

Friday, July 24th, our church finished up the last day of a week long church sponsored Cub Scout daycamp. Ethan attended with Peter the last 2 days. Friday, my presence was requested at the stake center to attend the parent night and closing ceremonies. It was from 6 to 8 PM.
As I neared the stake center, Peter called and told me that I needed to come over to the children's area as soon as I got there. I immediately asked if anything was wrong. Peter told me that Ethan had an accident and needed stitches. Evidently, Ethan was playing on a rock and fell and hit his head on the rock.
When I got there, Ethan sat calmly in Peter's lap as Peter held an ice pack to Ethan's head. It seemed like nothing was wrong until he removed the ice pack to reveal an almost v-shaped small tear in Ethan's scalp. Indeed, he needed stitches, it wasn't serious but stitches were in order.
Now I had the task of checking the older two boys out, gathering their camp supplies, take them home and then get Ethan's head patched up. It was a surreal experience as I made my way through the throng of children who were simultaneously talking and moving. I finally located Jon's camp leader and gathered his stuff and Peter took care of Steven's camp checkout as he had been Steven's camp leader during the week.
One piece of luck did occur. As of July 1st our primary care provider stopped accepting our HMO. He now takes only PPO, which excludes us, we are on the cheap plan. But, his office secretary Dotty appeared at my side and revealed that she too was a member and offered her help. She was there that night to watch her cub scout. She called our previous doctor and asked if he would be willing to stitch Ethan's head up so we could avoid the ER. He declined, as he was engaged in some undisclosed activity but suggested that instead of going to the ER like we had originally planned, we should head over to the urgent care. I hadn't thought of that.
I am grateful for Dotty's help and for Dr. Fakhoury's advice. Going to the urgent care saved us $85 and 3-4 hours. Our co-pay at the hospital is $100 compared to the $15 copay for urgent care. And, the wait time at the hospital is 3-5 hours on a good night compared to a 20 minute wait at the urgent care. Within 90 minutes we were in and out of the urgent care.
Ethan ended up getting 3 staples in his scalp. They ended up shaving the area, which he hated and struggled against. Then the doctor gave us a choice, give him a local anesthetic and stitches or give him staples very quickly without any local. The problem with the local anesthetic was that he would have had to use a needle to give him the local and then use a needle to stitch it up. Ethan would not have tolerated that. So, we opted for the 3 staples. Peter and I held him tight as the Dr. did his work. He screamed, but within a minute his pain was over with and he was happily playing on my iPhone.
The doctor had us wait around to make sure Ethan was stable. And, he also very quickly ruled out any head trauma. No CT scans for Ethan which is another thing he would not have tolerated. After the staples were in, the Dr. wrapped Ethan's head with gauze and told us to leave it on for 48 hours. I almost started laughing out loud. Obviously, that Dr. did not know Ethan. There was no way that the bandage would last even 24 hours! It lasted until 8:30 AM the next morning. Since then, we have been slathering his head with Neosporin ointment and hoping for the best. Ever since then, he's been wearing a Superman cap to cover up the bald spot on his head.
Ethan had a rough night the first night. He awoke at 3:30 AM screaming and crying that his head hurt. We gave him Tylenol and some food and drink and then ended up giving him some Motrin. Ever since then, he hasn't had any pain reliever. He's acted like nothing is the matter, that nothing ever happened.
Ethan's head looks like he is a Frankenstein throw back. I personally don't like staples very much, but they are pretty quick which was our first concern. And in retrospect, we are lucky he hasn't had to have staples before now. Ethan is such a daredevil. He is constantly running and jumping. He's like the energizer bunny. He's been lucky not to have had stitches before now.
Wednesday, we have to go back and get his staples removed. Then he can get wet, have a shower. Until then, no water. No swimming, no baths, no water. So, as a sign of solidarity, none of us have been in the pool even though it is hot outside. The kids did have a shower this morning, but that is to be expected. Ethan received a sponge bath.
Ethan's ability to bounce back is nothing short of amazing. He astounds me.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Laker Mania Apron

Here's another example of my growing portfolio of aprons. This one was commissioned by a friend of mine whose aunt is a big Laker fan. I had to look in 6 different stores to find this material. I kept hoping to find fabric that was more toned down but no such luck.
My friend Teresa, reassured me that a Laker's fan would love my creation. I think so. I am happy with the finished product.
Pretty soon, I'll be opening an Etsy shop selling custom ordered aprons. If you are interested in ordering one before then, please let me know. I would be happy to sew for you.