For the beauty of the earth, For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise This our grateful hymn of praise.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

And Everyone Said, "It's about Time!"

So, my free spirit decided to become a conformist. If, by conformist, you mean that he did it when he was good and ready. In our family, conforming means that we take ballet class, just like everyone else. :) Yeah, we are a little different around here.

He had a great time. Made a new friend, another boy in pre-ballet. And all around enjoyed himself. He's looking forward to next Monday. :)

I was glad we had an old pair of shoes, jazz pants, and a white t-shirt for him. OK, so I wasn't surprised. ;) At least I didn't have to buy anything new for him. And I got to have a nostalgic moment as I thought of all the boys who have worn these clothes before him, including our friend who gave us the pants.

Here's Braniac "testing out" his ballet shoes. You'll have to turn the volume way up to hear the music, I'm afraid. I forgot to turn up the TV when I recorded it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Projects Finished

OK, so they aren't so much projects as they are edibles. ;)

A few weeks ago a friend of mine from my Hello Mornings Challenge Twitter group posted something about doing a Pinterest challenge. (You can check out hers, here. Mine really aren't for gifts so they'd probably fall into this type of challenge.) It sounded interesting so I determined that this month I'd start trying to move several pins over to my Pinned and Done board. The first week I had bronchitis. Figures. :D

So for week two of April I completed the cupcakes & cake recipe, as well as a new decorating technique with an icing that wasn't exactly up to snuff. I also made this tasty dish.

Yes, that's her picture. I was too hungry to wait for a picture. ;)

I embellished a bit since I feel the need for meat in all my pasta recipes, and more cheese is just a given. (See point in previous post about how I haven't been thin since my first kid. :D) Here's what I ended up with:

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic (I buy my garlic by the jar, which is why I changed this.)
1-lb ground beef
2-14.5 oz. cans diced Italian seasoned tomatoes (saves one step & the seasoning has been on them longer so they have a better flavor)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 lb. pasta (tubes) (Gluten Free, Trader Joe's brand)
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, cubed
parmesan cheese to cover each specified layer.

Start water for pasta. After pasta is added, heat oil in skillet. Add garlic and cook over medium high heat, 1 min. Add ground beef, and brown. Add tomatoes and oregano, and simmer rapidly, stirring occasionally until thickened, 15 min. Add S&PPreheat oven to 400FToss pasta with sauce. Place half of pasta in an oiled 9×13” dish.Cover with parmesan (I covered the whole layer until I couldn't see it. :D) and half mozzarella. Top with remaining pasta, then parmesan and mozzarella. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes.

If the visuals are too confusing, copy it and paste it into word where you can easily change the formatting.

So that's five pins in one week. Not sure how successful I'll be this week since there are no birthdays. :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

San Diego Zoo

To cut back on the number of gifts received, and the amount of work I have to do, we only allow the kids to have friend parties on their even birthday. Braniac turned five this year so he opted to go to San Diego Zoo. This is a trip that doesn't cost us too much, since we are members. :)

We started with our usual Chick-fil-A stop for breakfast and present opening.

Braniac went for the present he knew he wanted. He could tell from the feel that it was what he'd asked for. He'd been dreaming of this since he bought one for his friend's birthday earlier this year.

Yep, it's Little Mermaid. He loves it coz it swims in the bath. Pink doesn't hurt it either. He's still in a pink phase that all my kids, save Thing 1, have gone through. For those of you who have problems with boys playing with pink toys, take your girls out of soccer and softball, and stop letting them wear pants and play with Lego's. If you still have a problem I will laugh at you and label you. :D

Thing 2 bought him a Lego set he (Thing 2) said he wanted. We're not exactly sure who really wanted this. ;) But Braniac was happy with it.

This is a bonus gift. Another bath toy but this one has a fountain and uses bubbles to power itself around the tub. He loved playing with it on Friday. :)

Braniac wore his giraffe hat/scarf/mitten thing we bought him for Christmas. He was quite happy and, quite honestly, he was the envy of most of the kids at the zoo.  I felt bad for any parent that tried to find it at one of the stores. :)

For those unfamiliar with the San Diego Zoo, there is a small scale ride on train just outside the entrance to the zoo in Balboa Park. Because they are on Easter break hours it was open on Thursday. Usually it is only open on Saturday and Sunday.

The whole crew, with stuffed animal friends. Those aren't ours, they belong in the train...except that giraffe. ;)

We opted to eat in the park this year. We will never do that again. Bleh. For the price I would have expected some flavor.

First we visited the giraffes, of course.

As an aside, Braniac likes to wear two different colored socks. As he was putting them on I thought how lucky my kids are to live in this day when at least no one will say anything to me about it. They may gossip, but most people will ignore it. When I was a kid you just didn't do things like that. :D

Dad with Babycakes, who, despite being terribly exhausted due to no nap and an oncoming cold, was more pleasant than some who should know better. ;D

Here's the giraffe on the Skyfari, which was his next choice of things to do.

Finally got to the Elephant Odyssey. We haven't been since it opened. I know, that seems neglectful, but we don't go that way usually. We ordinarily only go up to see the polar bears and reindeer. Now that we've done both I know why, the kids were very tired when we were done with all that walking sans strollers (you can't take the strollers on the Skyfari).

Here's Braniac, with Thing 1. He wanted to take a picture of him signing 'elephant.' :)

After we came back down on the Skyfari, Braniac got his face painted. Betcha can't guess what he chose. ;)

Yep, a griraffe. :)

Last, but not least, we rode the bus around the park. If we had known that you can get the hopper bus for free with a regular bus ride we would have ridden the bus first. In June, I can assure you we will. :)

Finally got to see the elephants roaming when we were on the bus. When we had walked through earlier, they were all put away.

Back at the giraffes. I'm sure the real giraffe is confused as to why there was a giraffe in the bus. ;)

Then he got to pick out something (inexpensive) at the zoo store. I suppose the choice comes as no surprise by this point.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Birthday Cake with a Side of Flash Mob

Oh, man, have I been busy. I actually have blog entries in the docket. That's very unusual.

Anyway...I spent today decorating a cake. Yes, the whole day. It shouldn't have taken that long but I wanted to try a new icing recipe I found at Food & Wine. As I commented on Pinterest, it's delicious, but it certainly is terrible for cake decorating. Basically, I had to put the cake into the fridge after having it out for about 10 minutes coz the icing was melting. I also had to put the bags of icing into the fridge before I could use them. It was a long drawn-out process. But the results were decent and I'll probably have another go at it...with firmer icing. :)

I used Wilton's Letters & Numbers cake pan to make a 5 (or an S, if you need it ;)). Following the cake batter recipe instructions I placed parchment paper on the bottom and I will definitely do that with this pan from now on. Much more bearable. The squares (see picture of pan in link) that usually are such a pain to cover up were barely noticeable. The cake batter was the same as I used on Wednesday for the cupcakes and it's just too good not to use again. :)

Braniac enjoyed many samples of the icing. :D

OK, to explain this weird icing job I'll link to the decorating idea I used. Don't worry, it got better. ;)

As you can see I changed the direction of the icing.  I started with the pink, but didn't start making corners until I reached the second corner. I'd love to say it's because I wanted to try something new with it but it's just that I forgot what I was doing since I had to keep putting it into the fridge between colors. :D

Normally a person would say, "The pictures don't do it justice." I will say, "The pictures make it look better than it really came out." lol.

And in the middle of all that, we had another Flash Mob. This time in Pomona at the Art Walk on Second, a few blocks from our church. Braniac has been telling us he's going to start dancing as soon as he turns five. Of course, he told us that at four and three as well, so we weren't really counting on it.  Apparently he's serious, as you can see from this video. :)

Just to clear up any confusion before-hand for those who don't know me IRL...No, that is not me in front of the three of them. I haven't been that thin since I had my first child over 15 years ago, and I've never been that tall. Besides, there is absolutely no way, short of threat of bodily harm, I would ever do something like this. :D

Friday, April 13, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Good-Bye


It's a long good-bye. A terribly long good-bye. Emphasis on "terrible." While the diagnosis of Alzheimer's was not a surprise, the knowledge hasn't made things easier. Five times in almost as many minutes she asked, "Oh, is it my birthday today?" After asking me why I had called. Again. The time is soon coming when forgetting her birthday will be the least of my sadness. I know. I've read the articles, listened to the seasoned experts, the ones who've lost their loved ones to this, the most vicious of least to the survivors. It is a disease that inflicts more pain and suffering on those who do not have it. It is a disease that prolongs the painful good-bye of death for far too many years. Each time I hang up the phone, I know, not much longer and there will be no more phone calls. The woman who loved me more than any other, apart from God, will be here in body only. Had I not been schooled diligently in Christ's school of suffering before now, I would not understand. But I know. He has a plan. This suffering will not be for nothing. This long good-bye will serve a purpose, probably an eternal one. But for now, it is simply an education. A painful one at that.

For more Five Minute Friday entries on this topic click here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

School Party

Tomorrow, Braniac turns five. He only has a one hour class, though, so we had his class party today. I made flower cupcakes from a combination of two ideas.

For the cake I used this recipe. Obviously, I replaced the flour with GF all-purpose flour. My sister introduced me to it and it's great. You add nothing, not even Xanthan Gum. It's also half the cost of King Arthur's GF all-purpose flour.

I got the idea from this which I found on, where else, Pinterest. :) I did not add pudding to the cake mix, just used the chocolate cake. It really didn't need it. The recipe makes a very moist cake. I did use Cool Whip for the icing, and sprinkles of various kinds. We used Tootsie Pops for the flowers, only because that's what I could find at Target. I used Wilton's Green Fondant and their Leaf Fondant Cutter for the leaves. The cutter instructions call for a mixture of fondant and gum paste but, since it didn't say that on the back, I didn't purchase any and there was no way to get it at 6am. The fondant worked just fine.

I did make one error, I counted wrong when cutting the leaves. Don't ask, but my excuse is that I'd been up since 2am. :) Everything else turned out fine, particularly the part where Braniac has stayed well, unlike the rest of us who've been sick (I had bronchitis last week). It would have been such a bummer if he'd woke up coughing like his brothers have been. Also, the rain held off when we had to transfer the cupcakes to the car and then into the school. :)

Sorry for the quality of the pics but I'm exclusively on my phone while we try to remove spots from my camera.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

So Glad Tomorrow is Monday

I say that almost every Sunday night. I know there was a time I looked forward to weekends. I'm pretty sure it was five kids ago. ;)

After an insanely busy Saturday, as usual, with company that night (the nice part. :)), we woke to an absolutely crazy Sunday. I'll admit, outside of Nutcracker season, Sunday's are usually pretty tame, so today was out of the norm. I'm sure that thought was what kept me going. :D

Braniac sang in all three services this am. He was looking forward to it so I asked him what he was singing. He started singing one of his favorite songs. I told him I didn't think it was that one. He assured me it was and that he was positive they'd be singing "My God's Not Dead" by the Newsboys. Um, yeah. Maybe that's why he spent more time staring than singing. :)

After all the services, there was an Easter egg hunt for the little kids.

Babycakes was really into trying to figure out the plastic egg "trick."

Still trying to get into the egg. :)

Braniac taking great care to get his cookie perfect.

It was such a beautiful day. Almost made me forget how miserably cold yesterday was. Almost. :/

We "ended" our day with just your typical flash mob at a shopping center. Everyone does that on Sunday, right? ;)

Someone kindly posted a good video of it on YouTube. Mine was a bit shaky, and rather focused just on my kids...for some reason. You can see Things 1 & 2 over on the right for part of the video. Thing 2 is in the green shirt, Thing 1 in the orange.