Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sunday pics

 I tried to take a photo of the kids every Sunday they were here, while they were all spiffed up and looking their best. There are only six. I think I forgot one week, and once they were sick and stayed home.
This was the first week, all dressed up in their warm coats.

Elsie's outfit is vintage. The sweater was knitted for me by my aunty and the kilt was worn by my girls.

This was taken after church and Elsie is wearing a badge that she got in her class.

The last Sunday we had Bethany's kids for the weekend while mom and dad went on a getaway. Then Jon brought his boys over on Sunday night and they stayed over as well. There were fifteen people sleeping in my little house, but it was lovely. Lucky for us that church starts at 11:30 this year.

I love looking at these smiling faces.

Happy Days

Annie and her North Carolina crew spent nine weeks with us, beginning the week of Thanksgiving. Annie needed surgery and Edwin was deployed, so it seemed like a good plan for them to stay with us so that we could help out and (score!) get some good bonding time with the three littles. Annie found a wonderful surgeon to do a disc replacement in her neck, which was another bonus.

I picked some of my favourite photos of the good times.

For some reason, the day they arrived Victoria decided to put herself in time out. We laughed and laughed...and this was the last time that this corner looked so good until they went home!

The weather was still autumn-y for a little while so we went for some walks/scooter rides.

And then winter arrived and we still went for walks but not as many because it was too cold and wet. 

Not long after their arrival, Elsie started nagging asking if I had an umbrella she could use. I said yes, but it wasn't raining yet. Then I found her some free rain boots and it rained and she was outside all on her own and having a terrific time in the gigantic puddle that surrounds our shed when we have downpours.

And she stomped in puddles until she was wet from top to toe.

And then later I found Gabe some used boots and he was happy.

And Toria was happy all the time, except for two o'clock in the morning when she liked to wake up and yell for Mommy, only I would have to get up and talk her back to sleep because Mommy couldn't pick her up.
Fun times. 
I miss them terribly.

Luckily, Jeff was off work for three weeks over Christmas or I wouldn't have survived. Annie had her surgery the Monday before Christmas and then stayed with a friend until Christmas Eve. Jeff and I often looked at each other during those few days and asked each other, "How does she do it?" Those kidlets are adorable, but they start at 6:30 a.m. and don't stop until they go to bed.

One cold day, Papa and I took them to a couple of parks. It was a little colder than I anticipated, so we were all freezing but we had a good time.

Annie went back to her friend on the evening of Christmas day and then came home a couple of days later. On Sunday we went out to the Ranch. We woke up the next morning to a good covering of snow and some very cold temperatures.

The kids were excited to play in the snow, but it was so cold that they would only last for about thirty minutes and then they would all be crying.

Toria was so bundled up she could hardly walk!

Annie's recovery went well and we took this photo for her doctor.

We were all very excited for Edwin to get home and then fly out to us. 
Annie prepared some posters for his homecoming.

 She met him at the airport and they spent the night in Portland.

And these kids...

...were so happy to see him the next day.

Sitting in boxes, watching TV.

One afternoon, I took the girls for ice creams at Jac's.

Miss Elsie.

Madelyn and Toria adore pomegranates.

Daniel is twelve now, so some of the family members went to the temple together while I watched the littles.

Gabe's birthday was a couple of weeks before his daddy got here, so he had two parties. He liked his snazzy new outfit. He is a funny kid; he gets himself dressed as soon as he wakes up every morning, shoes and all.

Annie and Edwin took the kids on a couple of outings, to the Japanese Gardens and to Gilbert House in Salem.

Cousins. I love this photo, they all look so gleeful. 
Gleeful is good.

Jenny took these photos at Gabe's second party.

And before we knew it, it was time for them to go home.
So we all got up at an unearthly hour of the morning and drove to the airport.
And sadly said goodbye.

People have asked me how I did it, because it was, quite frankly, exhausting. For most of the nine weeks, Jeff and I had the main responsibility for the care of these three darlings, in addition to carrying on with the rest of our lives.
Sometimes, like in the middle of the night when Toria was awake for the umpteenth time, or Gabe was having a whiny day, or the messes and noise seemed to be never-ending,  I would long for some peace. But every time I walked into the house after being gone I would hear three little voices yelling "Nanaaaaaa!!!!" and my heart was full, and their hugs and smiles were treasures to tuck away in my memory.
And after they left, every time I walked into the house I heard faint echoes:


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Gluten-free Banana Bread

I decided to give up eating gluten for a month or so to see if it would help with a couple of health problems that I have been experiencing. The final straw was when my knee became so painful with inflammation of some kind that I could hardly walk. There comes a point when the deliciousness of fresh bread is not more enticing than being out of pain, and I was right there.

Luckily, we have been doing a lot of this kind of cooking for years in our family, so I already have some tricks up my sleeve. I am hopeless at any kind of weight-loss diet, but if I want to eat healthily, all I have to do is prepare a pot each of soup and soaked oatmeal and I will be good for a whole week..

I scored a bagful of over-ripe bananas at the Senior Center last week and knew that there were lots of grain-free recipes for banana bread online that were heavy on bananas and light on other ingredients. I modified one to come up with this delicious loaf that even Jeff likes. It is moist and sweet and yes, I did throw in a handful of chocolate chips. 

Grain-free banana bread

3 ripe mashed bananas
1/3 c butter or coconut oil, melted
5 eggs
2 tbs raw honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c coconut flour
1 tsp B. Soda
1 tsp BP
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c chopped nuts
handful of chocolate chips or raisins

Mix ingredients in order given. I used a large whisk, as the mixture is very wet. Bake in a loaf pan for  an hour at 325. I lined the loaf pan with waxed paper, as the first loaf didn't come out of the pan very well. The original recipe called for baking at 350 for 45 minutes, so take your pick. Test with a toothpick; it will come out clean if the loaf is done. Leave in pan for 5 minutes before cooling on a wire rack.

In a perfect world, all the ingredients would be organic and grass-fed and free-range, but I say, do your best. I actually prefer this to my old recipes for banana bread. It is so sweet that Jeff said, This tastes like dessert!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The divine Miss M

 Meet Laree and Moe, future companions of the infamous Shirley Bird.

Madelyn was loving holding Laree until Natalie freaked out, so then Madelyn had to join in.

Bethany, on the other hand, provided a lap and unlimited cuddles. She is a frustrated wanna-be chicken owner.

Miss M had her first ever on-her-own sleepover at Nana and Papa's house on Friday.
All went well at first. We read four books before bedtime, all about frogs and wombats and Fly Guy, who is, I think, her favourite book character ever. Then she lay on the couch for an hour or so until I took pity on her and let her come and sit with Jeff and me and watch Toy Story. Halfway through she stood up and put herself back to bed, so we did the same.
At 5 a.m. she puked all over herself and the bedding and the couch. We cleaned her and the couch up and put her back down with a bowl next to the couch in case it happened again. 
Which it did.
Twice, before seven o'clock.
Not in the bowl.

The next morning she seemed better and ate a scrambled egg and wanted more, but I said we had better wait and see how her stomach was feeling. So she talked me into a fruit roll-up with tongue tattoos.
Then we went to Newberg Bakery to redeem one of her Nana coupons for a treat and she got a gluten/dairy-free brownie.

She didn't eat it all, which seemed odd because it was delicious, but I figured she was probably tired from the late night and early morning.
It was a beautiful day, so we walked to the library and I checked out Saint Odd, the last book in the Brother Odd series by Dean Koontz.
Best. Series. Ever.
And Miss M sat on the hilly bench and laughed and all was well with the world.

When we got home, we took Laree and Moe out into the back yard to play with Shirley, who did a good job of ignoring them.

Shirley, ignoring them.

I have no idea what the white blob is doing in the photo.

Later, we took Tommy and Jeff to Champoeg to work on one of Tommy's Cub Scout requirements. Which didn't happen because they closed at four and we got there fifteen minutes before that. 
But we looked around the visitor's centre for a while and then Jeff took the kids for a walk while I sat in the car and read my book. And young Jeff couldn't stop talking about our campout with the cousins last summer and that made me happy.

Madelyn liked the wooden cow cutout.

And the beaver pelt.

She didn't eat much all day and when her mommy came to ukulele practice that night she threw up again. On the kitchen floor. Right after I took the bowl out from under her face.
And how I love that little face.