Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My dilemma

I am seriously conflicted. Last night Peter and I had to split up because we were attending the pack meetings of 2 different Cub Scout troops. We are involved with our ward troop and also a troop affiliated with our school. Steven has been a member of the school Cub Scout group since 1st grade. Last night because the school troop operates on a different time table than the church troop, Steven bridged to Boy Scouts. He was excited. 
Steven has been with this group of 4-5 boys for several years. They are a GREAT group of kids and parents; they're very involved and absolutely committed to making this experience a good one for the kids. They have done some amazing activities as well. They camped overnight on a big aircraft carrier. They have gone up in an airplane and on a train ride and they have family camping twice a year. It's been fun and the kids have looked forward to going. 
I have been so committed to keeping Steven enjoying Scouts that since he was baptized and was able to participate in the scouting program, we have gone to 2 boy scout troops. The church troop I wanted him to go to because I want him to develop the friendships with the other boys from ward. In our ward, we are the only family in our ward that attends our school. It can be a little lonely for the kids sometimes. 
To complicate matter, Peter has been called in our ward to help out with the Bear den. So, last night he went with Jonathon to go to the pack meeting at our ward with Jonathon. Jon has been more involved with the church scout troop than the school troop. 
The problem here is that the program through the church isn't as fun. Besides the den meetings and pack meetings, there are no activities, except one where they went on a hike but that was just for the webelos. Our ward is trying a lot to turn it around. 
With all that background, I come to my problem. The Boy Scout troop Steven bridged into is AMAZING. They are with it, have den meetings packed with activities and progression through the ranks all in preparation for the boys to attend Boy Scout summer camp. My friends son has been involved and she has raved about it. The leaders are there because they are committed to Scouts and truly care. The current leader doesn't have sons in scouting anymore; they are Eagle scouts already. He just wants to give back to the community.
With our church program. We have some people involved that really care now. We have a pretty small group of boys. And I feel conflicted because I feel like I'm being a traitor. Maybe I should get involved with our ward scouts and make it better for everyone? I have a little time. I care about my son. I want him to have a good scouting experience to help motivate him to get his Eagle scout. 
We just have come to the time where we cannot do 2 troops anymore. Bekkah has her activities. Ethan takes his meds to help him sleep at 6:30 and is out by 7 pm. He needs his sleep. Last night was a nightmare at the bridging because Ethan had had his meds and I was up at the front with Steven doing the bridging ceremony and I had to leave 4 times to help Ethan calm down. The baby was also tired. He wanted to go to bed. Peter has a tremendous amount of prep work at night for his classes during the day.
I just don't know what to do. I want him to continue going through scouts with his buddies. I know that if he does so he will have a good experiences. It will be fun and enriched with wonderful activities. 
I also want him to do the church one. I feel like if he doesn't he will miss out on those friendships. He's not very good friends with some of the boys from the ward. I don't want him to feel like an outsider. 
So ... there lies my problem. Do any of you have any suggestions, insightful advice, words of wisdom? I would appreciate any input you might have as I try to make this decision. Thanks ahead of time.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Super easy slow cooker dinner

Did you know that the main course of your dinner could be made out 3 ingredients? Well, I found this recipe on Dinner with Kristen and tried it because it sounded interesting. And it has been a fabulous hit. We've even been actively seeking out the leftovers for later snacks and it's just as good as it was the first time. YES!!!

Pulled Pork Sandwiches
1 (2-3 pound) pork roast, I just bought a butt roast for $1.19 a lb. at Stater Bros. today, Wahoo!
1 can root beer

In the morning, put the roast in the crockpot and top with the root beer. Cover and set the temp. to low. Cook for 8-10 hours.
When it's ready, dump out the liquids. Shred the meat and add your favorite BBQ sauce and eat as a sandwich.

Kristen also had this really great recipe for coleslaw that we either ate with the sandwich or alongside it. It's really good on top of the pulled pork. It's an approximation of one of Tyler Florence's recipes. I like it because it has great flavor and tasted good with the meal.

1 1/2 tsp. Dijon or whole grain mustard
2 TBS. mayo
1/4 c. sour cream
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbs. of red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. sugar
black pepper and salt to taste
1 bag of shredded cabbage
Mix ingredients well. Then add coleslaw. Serve alongside or on top of pulled pork sandwiches.

So, here are the recipes. I  hope you enjoy them as much as we have. 

Friday, February 20, 2009

Antics by Aeron

Here's a new take on food storage! Aeron kept putting the potatoes down his outfit and just couldn't figure out why they would fall out the bottom of his romper. He would squat down and fill up his shirt and then stand up and gradually the potatoes would fall out. All I had handy was my handy dandy Iphone, the pics are not great quality but I didn't want to miss out all together. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Our date with Broadway

Today we had a special date! Peter, Bekkah and I went to a matinee showing of Phantom of the Opera. We committed to it and paid for the tickets way back in December. It took some doing to arrange babysitting, prepare dinner ahead of time, etc. but it was worth the effort.
My friend Kathy Forrester's son Justin graciously consented to watch the kids and help manage the house while we were gone. It was a big job. Ethan came home from school on the bus, the babies- Aeron and Madison were napping, the boys- Steven and Jonathon came home from school, and lastly Zakk came home later on the bus at 4:30 pm. Later he had to put dinner in the oven and manage all the kids' different activities. One wanted to play on the computer, one wanted to watch cartoons, and Ethan escaped from the house to run around outside in the cul-de-sac. Justin held up well. I'm sure he was tired when he went home. My house is rather chaotic in the afternoon.
I enjoyed Phantom despite worrying about Justin and the kids. Rebekkah was absolutely enthralled! She loved the play. It was wonderful. The effects were amazing. The sets were so detailed and beautiful. The costumes were incredible. And, the talent! The actors were incredibly talented.
It was a special treat to have the opportunity to attend this play. We don't do this type of thing very often. Peter was very interested in going when my friend Karen first told me about this opportunity. Attending this play was a complete surprise for Rebekkah. Last night I announced our plans to her. She squealed with delight and excitement! She got to miss school today. And during the play, she leaned over and expressed her gratitude as she held my hand. She understood the effort we went to in order to attend this play.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A heartfelt Valentine's Day

Some of you may have received my email invitation to come volunteer for a BBQ on Valentine's Day. This wasn't your average, run of the mill BBQ, it was a BBQ for the homeless that have set up a tent city in Ontario off of San Antonio and D Street just south of I-10. 
I felt really strongly that I wanted my children to see this and be a part of this effort. I wanted them to see how the other side lives. My pampered children have no comprehension of poverty. Their idea of poverty is when we can't afford to fix the Wii and they have to go without. They don't know what squalor and despair look like. They've never seen hunger, mental illness, and deprivation.
We got there a little late. Before heading over there, I looked around at a store for some beanie hats to donate but was unable to find any. By the time we got there, there wasn't all that much for my kids to do. Bekkah quickly got into the spirit of things. She talked to this one homeless woman. We had some drinks in the back of our car and she gave them away. She even gave her own coat away. Steven on the other hand was at a loss; he was dumbfounded, uncomfortable, and out of his element. Out of desperation and a desire for him to be of service, I told him to take some waters and offer them to the BBQ attendees. So, Steven walked around passing out bottled water. I kept my eye on him, never once did he leave my sight.
We may have stayed for 45 minutes. We had another appointment to go to. But, I am happy that we were able to go for a little bit and participate. In the future, we will attend and participate more actively. But, this was a good start.
Michelle, thank you for letting me know about this opportunity for service. I feel truly enriched because my children were able to experience that Christ-like love that comes from serving our fellow man. 
*Please note: We didn't take any pictures. We felt it would be too intrusive and would violate the spirit of the event. I had my camera out and was tempted, but thought better of it!

I'm such a sucker!

Happy Belated Valentines Day!  I have been busy trying to get caught up on laundry, dishes, managing my children, and the repairs on the roof/interior of the house! 
I've been depressed about the state of our roof - it's been leaking like a sieve 
and has caused a lot of damage to the interior drywall. The restoration/water abatement company had to come back with the fans and dehumidifier to dry us out again yesterday. After our friend, Shelby Clontz who owns his own company called Bruce Roofing, came and repaired the roof last Wednesday, it leaked again this weekend; this is not a bad review of his very capable services, it is a bad review of our rotten roof! What we have learned is that this summer we need to replace all the paper on our roof. The builder used crappy roof paper on our roof and after a while it will wear out. So, we get to spend $6-8,000 to replace the paper and tiles and fix our roof to make it water tight so we can avoid further leaks. 
Last week's creative venture:
I have so little time lately to be creative that I use every opportunity to do so. So, for Valentine's Day I made the kids homemade suckers to take to school and share with their friends. I have had all the supplies for almost 10 years now and that creative bug just took over and I did it! I'm so glad I did. The last time, almost 6 years ago, I got those supplies out, my results were not as tasty and cute! Of course, I didn't own a marvelous Silpat! Silpat is a silicone mat that is virtually non-stickable. You can bake on it, make candy on it, etc. I enjoyed myself. I made watermelon, green apple and bubble gum flavored suckers. The hardest thing about it is that you are working with liquid that is 300 degrees. My kids were in bed, thankfully. But, this is not one of those projects that you can let your kids help with unless they help put the wrappers on or remove the candy from the molds. It was fun to just be able to focus on that one activity for a while. And, it is so inexpensive to make the suckers in comparison with all the store bought candies you purchase. The ingredients are sugar, corn syrup and water. Then you add flavoring and coloring if you want it. That's it. I have these cute large and small heart shaped molds along with cars and flowers and child shaped molds. They were a hit with the kids. I'm thinking of making them again for Easter! 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Roof leak update!

Here's what my newly decorated house looks like with the addition of 2 huge air mover fans adn 2 huge dehumidifiers.  They'll come back Thursday sometime and remove the fans and give me the estimate. Living with "Gale Force" winds takes on new meaning in the Gale household!

New Freebie Magazines

Here are 2 more magazine opportunities. One is Woman's Day from Reward's Gold and the other is Metropolitan Home from Mercury Magazines. Respond quickly if you're interested. Good luck!

It's raining, it's pouring .... IN THE HOUSE!

Yes, we have a leak. Oh happy day! Last week on Wednesday when it was pouring down rain outside, it started raining in the house too. I had a ton of laundry to catch up on and we were still recovering from a family run-in with the stomach flu and my house looked like it threw up on itself. To make matters worse, I was just headed out the door to an enrichment group activity, so leaving with the roof leaking made me feel terrible. Moreover, seeing the rain dripping on my daughter's head filled me with gut sinking fear and dread. We can't afford this right now.
I have been stressed out lately with housework and my inability to keep up with it and my struggle to be a good mom to an autistic 3 year old boy. So, just yesterday I hired a friend's cleaning lady to come and help me put back together my broken house. I thought I was making some progress. I actually saw light at the end of the tunnel. I knew we were going to have to sacrifice things to afford her. 
But, now with the home owner's insurance policy deductible we have to pay, I'm not sure what to do! My thought is that maybe we just could give up eating the rest of the month. That sure would simplify things. Along that same thought, can I give up sleeping for a while to get all the stuff that needs to be done finished? Wouldn't that be nice if we all could do that without the risk of becoming the embodiment of the word that rhymes with witches? I would truly appreciate that superhero ability. But, alas I cannot risk it without surrendering my tenuous hold on sanity.
The pressure on my family has been tremendous. In the last few months, we haven't held up very well. Like my doctor told me yesterday, there are times you are going to break down. It's OK. I have been having some hip/lower back pain that is pretty painful. I've put it off now for 3 months. The last thing I want to do is sit and wait for a doctor to see me when I have so many things that await my attention. But, yesterday, I finally did it. I made the appointment and went. Now, I'm going to have a ton of blood drawn for a work up and have x-rays of my hip. I hope it isn't anything too serious. I have heard that some of my family members suffer from Fibromyalgia and arthritis. I can't even think about that right now. It's just too much. 
So right now they guy contracted by our homeowner's insurance company is sawing away at the wet drywall in my ceiling and in the wall of the livingroom. So, the first thing you see as you come into my house is not only the crazy clutter that we live with but bare seams, studs (the wall kind), exposed drywall and the fans and dehumidifiers. Hopefully I can get the young ones to leave them alone.
I am extremely grateful to have insurance. I am grateful that they are doing what needs to be done to prevent the growth of mold. Yes, eventually my house will be put back together. It just is challenging when we get all these "blessings" and "opportunities for growth" at the same time!
So, I will take a deep breath and be grateful for the simple things like naps, the internet and photography and blogging. I am grateful for my wonderful daughter's help. I am grateful for the boys as well, but that gratitude comes and goes depending on their behavior and who they happen to be slugging it out with!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Ghetto-Fabulous George Washington

Steven's teacher, Mrs. Rush gave her 5th grade class a book report due this last Tuesday, Feb. 3rd. Steven had to read a biographical book and report on it. But, instead of writing the usual report, he had to dress up like the character and pretend he was that person. 
Mrs. Rush instructed the students that she did not want them spending enormous amounts of money on a costume but to use items from home to make the costume. Steven decided to read about George Washington. On one of our last few visits with my Grampa, he told Steven that we are distantly related to George Washington. 
On the day the assignment was due, Steven would have to change into his costume at school and pretend to be George Washington. The class would ask him some questions and he would answer them. He had to prepare 10 questions and the answers ahead of time.
So, I asked myself, what could I do to help Steven look like George Washington? Wigs are hard to come by. Moreover, I don't think thrift stores will even carry them for hygienic reasons. Plus, I don't have scads of time to travel around to the "good" thrift store and scour the aisles. So, we made do with what we had at home. 
We sacrificed a jacket a neighbor gave me for Bekkah that she refused to wear. I called it the "Pimpin" jacket. It was long sleeved and short waisted. I thought maybe one of the kids could use it for a part of a Halloween costume. So, I cut the back out of the jacket. Then sewed a seam making the square piece into a open topped hat. I even cut out spots for his ears to fit thru. I didn't sew a seam for top of the hat. I just showed Steven how to fold it all in so his head was covered.
Next we had to have him appear like a general. I purchased a women's black pin-striped jacket on super duper clearance at Marshall's the Friday before. I showed it to him. But, he wouldn't wear it because it was too girly. So, he dug out his suit jacket that is 2 sizes too small. 
Continuing with the costume, I had to figure out what to do about the ruffled tie that peeks out the top of his suit jacket. When I was at Marshall's, I found this women's georgette backless shirt that was comprised of tiers of ruffles. I cut the the back strap apart and showed Steven how to tie it around his neck underneath his jacket. 
To top it off, Steven wore his blue church pants underneath it. And this time he truly did borrow Bekkah's cowboy boots on top of it. Desperation and common-sense sometimes can overcome the fear of being "girly." 
And there you have the making of my Ghetto-Fabulous George. Here's my cute summary:

Wig....................................................................................... Free

Jacket................................................................................... Free

Tie........................................................................................ $7

Pants...................................................................................... Free

Boots...................................................................................... Free

Pictures of my Steven George posing as Ghetto-Fabulous George........ Priceless!!!

Useless factoid of the day:  
In all the pictures you will see of George Washington, you will never see him smiling. Why? Because he had false teeth. Early in life, George Washington had poor dental health. Back then, they didn't mess around with fillings, crowns, bridges and implants. They just pulled your teeth out. He had a set of rhinoceros wooden false teeth constructed for him. "The upper and lower plates were connected by springs which pushed the upper and lower plates against the upper and lower ridges of his mouth to hold them in place. Washington actually had to actively close his jaws together to make his teeth bite together. If he relaxed, his mouth would pop open exposing the poor fit of his dentures. There is speculation that this is part of the reason he always looks so stern in his portraits". So, when you see him on your dollar bill next time, remember he's not upset, he's just trying to keep his teeth in and his mouth closed! Thanks to for the info.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

New Freebie Magazines

Just yesterday I received 2 new emails about free magazines. They are Golf Digest and Flying from Rewards Gold. And Boating from Free Biz Mag. And, just a minute ago I received an offer from Mercury Magazines for Elle Decor. Just click the links if you are interested. Good luck.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The ups and downs of stomach flu

Time to get ill!!  This is just a small visual example of my life as of late. Everyone except Steven has been sick with the dreaded stomach flu the past 3 days. 
This weekend, I had a short bout of it. Next, Aeron got it Sunday morning, and Monday morning at 2 am I took him to the ER for help. He had the worst case of diarrhea I have ever see;  it was like water and I usually ended up covered in it as I tried to help him. We sat in the ER for five hours and they really did nothing for him. The doctor handed me a prescription for an antibiotic which you cannot use on the flu. The flu is generally caused by a virus, which is immune to antibiotics. Duh! Even I know that. I was most concerned about Aeron getting dehydrated. He wouldn't eat anything, drink anything, and he was so listless.
Monday morning Bekkah felt sick to her stomach. I let her stay home from school. The last thing we need to do is spread the joy! Monday evening the flu hit Peter. He had it coming out both ends - yuck! And, this morning, Ethan got a case of the heaves. But, glory be! he had common sense enough to make it to the toilet. Thank you, Lord!
As a result, I am inundated with laundry and dishes. We've all felt under the weather. And, my house looks like it threw up on itself as well! If this flu weren't so toxic, I would be tempted to ask for some help, but I am afraid we would spread our disease. 
So, we are riding this one out. Eventually, this awful flu will leave our house. Peter has already taken 2 days off; thankfully he's feeling well enough now that he is planning on going to work tomorrow.
Peter has been so stressed out this school year because he has so much to do and the needs of our family are so great that he rarely has much time to do his school work. Thus, a lot of things remain undone and we are having to accept that fact. I keep repeating the phrase, "This phase will not last forever." Never has my house been in such a sad state of affairs. Eventually, we will move through this stage. We will not have so many small children - they will grow up, Ethan, hopefully, will not need 24/7 care and we will not always be sick.
Thankfully, we are stocked up with everything we need. I just bought a case of toilet paper. We have a generous supply of both Sprite and Coke. We have crackers, jello, and everything you need for the BRAT diet. This flu kills all desire to eat. Everything feels so heavy in your stomach, you just push the food away.
Well, that's all for our sad family. I pray that by the end of the week we will be up and going again. I am trying to wash everything and air the house out during the day! This won't last forever, thank heavens.