30 April 2012

on the third day...

this weekend i laid around like a sick slug. my stud Mister kept the boys running all weekend. they had a full schedule. and my sickness slowed no one-except me. 
i woke this morning-late, realizing in the past three days: i haven't had an entire cup of coffee, haven't eaten a real meal, haven't listened to pandora, haven't seen anyone except family. but today i woke feeling a little more normal. sickness be damned. i think, this girl friday's on the mend. xo

look at all the fun my boys had whilst i was convalescing. 

27 April 2012

bedside table

last night i succumbed to something: food poisoning. stomach bug. an alien invasion. whatever it is-i am completely laid out. my darling Mister took the day off from work. the oldest has been bringing me mints and ibuprofen. i hate being sick. i have never felt this bad. and my sensitivity to motion sickness makes typing torture-the moving letters makes me gag. so, bye bye...here's hoping your weekend is healthy! xo

26 April 2012

chipped nail polish

I am a girl. I live with all boys-right down to the four legged one named Kipling. All boys. The one defining piece of femininity I most enjoy is painting my fingernails. It is silly and girly and impractical seeing how my hands are more about working than showing, but still, I enjoy the process of adding a little color to my fingers. The conundrum comes with finding the time that allows me to sit long enough to paint my nails not to mention enough time for said lacquered nails to dry. 
I was thinking about this the other day as I tempted fate and tried to paint my nails-in the middle of the day. The house was quiet. The dog was resting. Then Harry's friend Elle came to play which stirred the sleeping dog which prompted me to run interference. The result was chipped nail polish.
Chipped nail polish reminds me of my good intentions to find beauty in a world that is wild and adventurous. It reminds me to not take myself too seriously-have fun, be winsome. Laugh and go with the unexpected. It is only nail polish after all.  

24 April 2012

confessions of a hypocritical gardener

"eat your vegetables". "tell the truth". "don't say 'piss off'." these are a few of the things i recommend to my boys. meanwhile i am sneaking m&ms and posturing with a penchant for the occasional curse word. "do as i say" with a quiet, "not as i do" chaser. i had a giggle with friends over the weekend over this phrase. each of us guilty in our own way of teaching one thing in our own homes and deviating from the path we set forth for our children.
boys helping in a friend's garden. 
much like a garden, i want the results of a beautiful brood of boys without the work. weeds that need tending? um. no thanks. i want the picturesque bounty not the sweat, bugs, weeding, discouragement that comes when wildlife robs my work.
the egg cartons are a failed attempt at growing from seeds.
every year i throw some plants or seeds in the dirt. i water and tend to the vegetation until, well, until i forget or until it becomes too hot or the weeds win. but my failed attempts at gardening do not deter me from trying. herbs in a pot in my kitchen. seeds planted in a rigged greenhouse. vegetables in raised beds. i have tried a lot of different approaches to growing plants as i have to growing boys. and you know what works for both: sunlight, space, good soil and lots of tending.

i have to walk daily with my boys. i have to engage in their lives. but i also have to engage in my own life: that means when i expect them to hear me the first time, i have to be listening to them. if i don't want them being selfish, then i need to be living a little more selflessly.i can't expect a perfect result from imperfect little people.  sitting on the bed of one of my boys and addressing his anger without confessing my own is well, hypocritical. and i own that.

my garden of boys is growing and growing fast. i can barely keep up really. and just as my darling "plants" are growing so are the weeds- at an alarming rate. it is staggering. overwhelming. and exhausting.

it's not that i think parents have the only power in the lives of their children to set the tone for who they become, how they grow-but they do have the most important opportunity. the parent is the master gardener in a way. here's to reaping a beautiful bounty in the garden as well as in the home. work hard.work long. enjoy the tending.

23 April 2012

april (snow) showers

they grow them big in madagascar!
the weekend began warm and promising. book club for me. gardening and insect inspecting for the boys. a movie for the older boys with the mister, m&m date night with me and the littlest. church day brought cold, rainy weather. we sat in front of a fire-in mid april. whaaaat? 
hypnotized by the fire-that-george-built
then this monday morning i woke early. upon my return from the gym, low and behold snow! so glad i snagged some lily of the valley from my yard before the chill of the water/snow got the best of all my little flowers. this cold snap has me a little happy to welcome a quiet day and a warm kitchen where there is bread baking. here's hoping your monday is unexpectedly calm and cozy. 
xo gf

20 April 2012

Say, Cheese-cake!

coffee: it's going to be a late night
The first time he made me chocolate cheesecake was for my 30th surprise birthday party. From that day on, for most birthdays, he gets a request for his chocolate cheesecake. Even though I am the family baker, I have never attempted to make HIS recipe. That is his specialty. I enjoy hearing our boys ask their father to make their birthdays sweet with his decadent concotion.
the ingredients are assembled
The last time he made this delicious dessert was a few weeks ago when our son Charlie had a birthday. Maybe it was the hour of day (my Mister is a night owl and enjoys baking late). Or maybe it was my mood, but he was seriously cracking me up. Here are a few quotes from that auspicious evening...
the countdown begins

"that chocolate behaved better than ghirardelli's" 

"where is my metal pan for water?"

"does the oven need to be on broil or convection?" {my favorite!}

"can you get the dog out of the kitchen? i need to open the oven." 

"call the kids down to show them the ruined chocolate."

In the end, his umptenth cheesecake turned out delicious. The crust is always a little different. This one was a delicious ginger. Here's to husbands who bake-even if it's only 1 recipe/5 times a year! If you would like the recipe, kindly scroll down...
The Mister's Chocolate Cheesecake

1 1/4 c. chocolate wafer cookie crumbs {can be substituted with lemon wafer cookies or even ginger wafer cookies-or gingersnaps. It works to put the whole cookie/wafer in a blender to get the crumb consistency. The Vitamix is boss!}
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
Mix crust ingredients and pat into a 9 or 10 inch spring-form pan.

{You may need to put a jelly roll pan underneath the pan as the butter might spill from the springform pan and cause horrible smoke in your tiny kitchen. Or maybe that just happens to us.}

Bake 10 minutes at 350.

24 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
12 oz. melted chocolate
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix cream cheese and sugar together, blending well. Add eggs one at a time. Add sour cream, vanilla, then add melted chocolate.

Heat oven and add 8 cups of boiling water to a pan and place on bottom oven shelf. 

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 225 and bake another 50 minutes or until set in the center.

Turn oven off and let cheesecake set with oven door cracked for 1 hour.


19 April 2012

souls and stuff

Long before boys and a husband and houses of my own, an older mother challenged me to make a decision. Did I wish my future home to be a showplace or workplace-meaning did I wish to have a place that was simply beautiful and perfect albiet cold and lifeless or did I want a place of authenticity and community. The decision was simple, but not easy because order and loveliness don't pair well with boys and real life. In my heart of hearts I want something that looks like it could be found in the pages of a magazine-clean, organized, lovely. I have tried for it. But in the end, I have failed. And in the failing, I remind myself "My boys are eternal. This stuff is not." With every stain, mishap, loss of something pretty, I have had to remind myself {sometimes fighting anger or tears} that souls are more important than stuff. I preach it to my children. I preach it to myself. But still I ask, "Is is wrong for me to desire a place of {organized}beauty that can also be a haven for my household?" Can an orderly house also experience grandiose laughter and folly? Can my idea of beauty {that has changed after having 4 boys and a dog} match my desire to have a home that is welcoming and comfortable to all who walk through our front door?
the kitchen sink: aka my office {at least it has a view}

I call this "The Room Goodwill Built"
I think so.

18 April 2012

I cried. The end.

Shhh....Don't tell Daddy that Kipling was on the bed

Yesterday we finished our lovely read, Charlotte's Web. For so many reasons it made me sad when we came to the final sentences, "It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both." I cried-like I often do. My boys know the sound my voice makes when I bravely try to fake the quake in my voice. They look at me when my weak voice comes, and they ask, "Why are you crying, Mom?" Someday, they'll understand. I know I probably won't read this classic again- at least not to my children. Much like those green shorts, this is the end of an era. We are onto other wonderful, lovely reads {like Mr. Popper's Penguins which we started today}.

Today we fortunately found in our little post office box a red envelope. And in that red envelope was a movie called Charlotte's Web. On this chilly, wet afternoon, my two littlest boys watched the movie of the book they recently finished. It was quite endearing to hear the 5 year old say, "O, mom. I remember that part from the book."

17 April 2012

ready or not

one month from today i will have a teenager living under the same roof as me. that is both terrifying and bewildering. i wish i could say that the next 30 days were going to be spent in reflection and prayer. but my life moves too fast and is too loud. so for today, this afternoon as i sit for 10 minutes in between lunch and spelling, i pause. ready or not. here it comes...

16 April 2012

My Fill

do you ever feel so full you might burst? that is how i would describe the last few days. here's why...

our homeschool tribe welcomed our newest member: Levi

Levi reminds me why I love babies. He is a dream!

the magic of a rope
I spy cows.
Christopher Columbus: the wonder turtle
What a greenhouse!
love birds
trying out his new fishing pole
"Honey, are you having a good time?" Yeah. I cut down a tree and watched an 80 year old man drag it off with his tractor.
Cleaning out the Mister's closet.
And last, but not least ommmmm. Namaste!

We also managed a little date night (thanks, Amanda and Jeff) and a fun Sunday dinner date with my partner-in-crime Annette.


13 April 2012

magnum opus

where i most love to read: bed

one of the things i savor most is reading to my children. i do not take it lightly. it is not something we do if there is time. in my opinion nothing is more important than reading really great literature to little {and big} people. 

much like many see a stay-at-home mom, some may over look the significance of a good read saying, "science, math, history: that is where we should focus our attention." meanwhile the quiet classic novel sits unassuming on the shelf chocked full of science, math, history not to mention rich vocabulary. my boys have learned more from robinson crusoe and rudyard kipling than macmillan or holt mcdougal.

an inspiring novel written with passion and talent carries a child a long way-down the lane of childhood and into the alley of their adult life. the hobbit, watership down,lord of the rings and tarzan are what carried my Mister through his tumultuous childhood and still linger in his life today. they are the reason he sets time aside to read to our boys every night.

the 5 year old and i have been reading charlotte's web. it's my fourth time reading it {as an adult}. every time i read this lovely novel, there is something that resonants. the heroism of a common spider. the reluctance of the rat. the luck of a pig. i see myself in all of these characters. yesterday it was when charlotte created her huge egg sac and told wilbur it was her magnum opus. if you speak latin or have read charlotte's web, you know that magnum opus means "great work". charlotte spoke the words of many mothers when she said, "i have a feeling i'm not going to see the results of last night's efforts {she had just laid 514 spider eggs}.i think i am languishing to tell you the truth." i know what languishing feels like, what about you? a mother may never see the results of her efforts, but that doesn't stop her from giving it her all-or die trying. an unassuming stay-at-home mother who sits quietly in her chair reading powerful tales to her children is making a remarkable difference. she is sharing a magnum opus with her magnum opus.

i hope this lovely weekend provides time for you {and me}to sit and read. xo

12 April 2012

my kid ate my blog post

i had really good intentions of writing a profound blog post about something clever or kitschy, but then i saw this photograph and everything i was hoping to convey just disappeared. o, my goodness this kid is cute. 
that's it. until something else enlightens me. 

yours truly, 
girl friday xo

11 April 2012

Track 10

We were riding down the street. The 11 year old was riding in the front seat, playing D.J. I drive a car with one of those things called a Compact Disc player, and I have the gigantic cd case to prove it. He was desperate to drown out all of the teachy/school songs I force upon them as we drive to and fro. He gleefully made his selection and turned up the volume.

My boys did not inherit my taste in music. I love a good movie soundtrack: 500 Days of Summer, Away We Go, Elizabethtown, Into the Wild are a few of my favs. My boys let their father dictate their musical repertoire from day one. The songs he sang to them as lullabies were written by a boy band called the Beatles. Later he introduced them to the Beastie Boys, Beck, and the ultimate-Jack White. {AC/DC, Led Zeplin, RadioHead get honorable mentions}.

Yesterday, as we were listening to the White Stripes, my soulful 11 year old said, "THIS is my all time favorite song", as he adjusted the volume. I sat speechless, listening to the lyrics. I was elated to learn something new about this love of mine. Was it the music or the words he most loved? Listening, I began to wonder/panic, "THIS-this-THIS is his all-time favorite song?!" I needed clarity without sounding judgmental. I calmly asked, "Okay, so what is it that you like about this song-the words, the sound?" He smiled as he looked out the window. "All of it." 

I have been sensing for some time that this darling boy of mine is going through some changes. He's maturing. He is quick to embarrass. Girls tease {flirt with} him-and that makes him feel very uncomfortable. He understood some of the adult humor from Ferris Bueller's Day Off that went over even his older brother's head. He politely knocks before he comes into our bedroom. He is quite modest himself. For all these reasons, I was speaking to the Mister this weekend. "I think he needs more of the "The Talk". Now let me stop right here to explain. 

Our family has an open dialogue about sex, drugs and rock and roll. Nothing is off limits. We have always shot straight with our boys and called a spade a spade {or in this case, a penis, a penis}. They ask questions, we answer {diplomatically and succinctly}. When they were little the Mister told them to care for their bodies because they would need them later in life. When asked how they would need their bodies later, the Mister told our curious little boys about Love, Sex, and Reproduction.  

Even though he is only 11, I can sense our son is ebbing further from boyhood and closer to manhood. This is both exciting and excruiating. 
So last night as he listened to Track 10 on the White Stripes album Get behind me Satan, I drove him to his father's office where they had planned to meet-just the two of them for a guy's night of burgers and laser tag and maybe a little chat on things that will carry him along this potentially awkward and tumultuous time that is approaching called puberty.

10 April 2012

one girl

Okay, stop me if I have already told you this story. It quite literally happens about every time I am out in public with my boys.

Lady: "Wow, four boys. That must be interesting." 
Mister: "Yes, it is."
Lady: "I bet they fight a lot."
Mister: "They wrestle. Yes."
Lady: "Your house must be awfully loud."
Me: {silently seething} I interrupt, "They are lovely boys-conscientious and kind."

If I have been stopped once, I have been stopped a hundred times by strangers to be told how much my life would be better if my family were smaller-or more female."O, honey. No girls? Bless your heart." "Four boys? Are you going to try for a girl?" These opinions would be a little less irksome if they weren't always made in the presence of my darling boys. The worst was a first time mother who sat with me holding her baby daughter at a church event. She looked at my four boys and said, "You didn't get blessed with a girl?" I looked this ignorant young mother in the face and said, "I am blessed." 

Last night as we sat at the soccer field, a woman who I did not know approach my car to make small talk. After we exchanged pleasantries, she noticed all the testosterone in my truck. "No girls?", she asked sweetly, herself a mother to all boys. Before I could answer, my 5 year old shouted whilst pointing to me, "One girl! We have one girl in our family." It made me laugh to hear his response. And might I add-happy.