Saturday, January 31, 2009

Non-Secular Sunday

Four Sundays ago I had the rare opportunity to attend Mass by myself. Being that I had absolutely nobody to distract me, you'd think that I could remember a SINGLE THING that was said. But noooo....I have no recollection of the readings or the gospel or the homily. Something must have stuck with me, though, because as I drove the 1.8 miles back home, I was ruminating that other than attending Mass, we don't do anything to make the Lord's Day any different than any other day.

1.8 miles, people. That takes, like, 5 minutes. And in that 5 minutes, Non-Secular Sunday was born. I burst through the door and announced grandly, "Okay, kids, today we are observing a Non-Secular Sunday!" (picture, if you will, an arm-sweeping proclamation)

Blank stares. Quizzical looks. Total incomprehension. Drool.

So then came the impromptu Latin lesson. Secular, from the Latin root word saeculum, meaning "of the age" or "worldly." Non-secular, in this case, meaning Godly, or more faith-filled. Everything we do on Sundays from now on will be aimed at strengthening faith or family.

* No music or television that isn't of a Godly nature.

* Family reading or games, but only if it doesn't lead to fighting.

* An effort to be just a little bit kinder and more forgiving to each other.

* No unnecessary housework. (excluding meal prep and cleanup, unanticipated messes or spills, toilet overflows or twin havoc). This translates to: don't save your laundry, room-cleaning, or vacuuming for Sundays.

* And for Heaven's sake, NO GAME CUBE!!!!!

You can imagine how that first Sunday went. First we watched a new DVD that had been shelf-sitting since August - Junior's Giants #2: Envy Thou Not. We'd never seen this series before and I really enjoyed it; it was edgy and fun but also Scriptural, with a great, anti-possessions moral. We watched it twice in a row. Then we tuned into the movie of the week on JellyTelly. By the way, am I the only parent who likes to watch what the kids watch? I like to know what they're viewing, of course, but I also really enjoy most of it!

After that, my kids couldn't think of a single thing to do that didn't involve playing computer games or watching tv. In fact, all those boxes upon boxes of DVD and VHS in the garage never looked so good. They kept coming up with movies they hadn't seen for awhile, and pining for them. Non-Secular Sunday (NSS for short) looked like it was going to be verrrrrrrry loooooooong.

There was crying.
There was whining.
There was moping.
There was utter, abject boredom.

Thankfully, my husband had off that day to help keep morale up. When the twins were sleeping, we pulled out a Christmas gift we hadn't yet tried. It was called Whoonu? and it was surprisingly fun. I won't describe it fully here, but I will say it was quick - always a bonus. I like games that have a definite end in sight! It's not good for pre-readers unless they can be on someone's team.

We recently started to read the corresponding chapter of Proverbs for each day of the month, and we're working through the gospel of Mark a few paragraphs at a time, which took up a chunk of time. That's always good for some thought-provoking discussion, not to mention a vocabulary lesson. Newsmonger. Effrontery. Propensity. Numbskull. My 10-year-old son was in hysterics because he'd never heard the word 'numbskull' before, and they used it in the Bible !! Proverbs 17:21. (One of my husband's favorite verses!)

But still, the rest of the evening stretched out interminably in front of their eyes.

After a while, the biggest complainers
(Brian & Conor) disappeared, and I found them (much) later (after my nap) in the middle of their bedroom floor, surrounded by eight-and-a-half billion legos. They hadn't gotten busy with the legos for quite a while, and I deemed it a fit activity - as long as it didn't end in arguing or pummeling. Oh! Don't let me forget to add that they got away with not cleaning up the legos that night, because it was "Non-Secular Sunday" and they couldn't do any work!!!

I have to tell the truth - not checking my blog was the hardest thing I had to do all that livelong day. Just like the kids, I couldn't get my mind off of it. It was unbelievable how many times I was tempted, and I have to say that I did have a discipline FAIL.

The following Sunday? Worse. They had forgotten all about the first NSS, so it totally blind-sided them again.

There was crying.
There was whining.
There was moping.
There was utter, abject boredom.
Did I mention there was crying?

Sheesh, my kids are spoiled. If you can't plug it in or charge it up, they don't know what to do with themselves.

I made a point of reminding them tonight that tomorrow is another NSS.

We did a little extra downstairs cleaning (thanks, Conor) so that it would be more pleasant to relax and recreate together.

Tomorrow is the 3rd NSS but the first that Daddy won't be around to save the day. And I will have to resist temptation all on my own, so excuse me while I get the rest of my blogging done before the clock strikes twelve.

See you on Not Me Monday!

(and I have to add: everything in this post happened exactly as stated. Except for the drool.)


Monday, January 26, 2009

Not Me Monday

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

Okay, this one isn't painful to remember at all. And it didn't take place in a dentist's office.

While finishing up our appointments, we didn't have the unlucky timing to pass through the waiting room where a young woman was sitting. This young woman definitely did not have the misfortune to sport a dark mustache and a five o'clock shadow. This young woman wasn't clearly uncomfortable at all in the crowded waiting room. And I didn't have my back turned on the kids while I paid the bill and they put on their coats.

So I really wasn't aware that my 3yo (gregarious, outspoken, no understanding of social cues) didn't approach this poor young woman and ask loudly, "Are you a man or a lady?" When the young woman tried to ignore the question, the child persisted, "But you have a BEARD?! The young woman didn't slink down into her seat and deny tersely, "I don't."

Before I could stop her, my 3yo didn't continue, "Yes, you doooooooooo!!!" and point directly at the poor lady's face. "NO, I DON'T," she denied, emphatically and uncomfortably.

At that point, the receptionist didn't notice what was going on, and didn't hustle the poor soul back to a private waiting room. And I definitely didn't die of shame, right then and there.

And that child, years later, still lacks a well-formed concept of social cues or appropriate topics of conversation. We don't refer to her candor around here as "diarrhea of the mouth."

This story isn't legendary in our house, either.


Natalie: Uh-oh! Water pilled! (after knocking over her cup)
Mom: Get a towel and clean it up.
Natalie: O-K. (chanting) Keen it up. Keen it up. (while wiping floor)
Mom: Good girl. I love you!
Natalie: Yuv you too.
Mom: I love you too!
Natalie: I yuv you too!
Mom: You're awesome!
Natalie: You awe-tum too!


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Random Picture Challenge

Taking part in the Random Picture Challenge over at 4 Little Men & Girly Twins. Go check it out!

Some of my kids and friends playing in the rain during a torrential vertical summer downpour, August 2006.


Kids. Ruin. Everything.

(Warning: Lengthy Rant Below)

At low times, my motto around here is “Kids…..ruin…..EVERYTHING!!!!!” usually spoken through clenched teeth with a scowl. It’s sad that I feel that way, but I do.

I remember once while pregnant with the twins…in an absent-minded moment, I let Theresa hold my watch for about 2 minutes, and during that time it completely vanished. I was too big and lumbering to bend down or move the couch, and so it was lost for a couple weeks. (My husband eventually pulled out the couch and found it in about two seconds). She was only 3, and I was so angry with her and myself and everything, and I really let her have it. I made her (and myself) feel pretty awful.

(Theresa, me, my twin belly at about 5 months,
and the watch in question. We are sitting in the same spot
where she lost the watch a mere two months later.
My head is cut off because one of the kids took this photo)

But it was the first watch I had ever owned as an adult and I’d worn it for two straight years without losing it, a first for me. God was testing me then, and I failed. Then my wrists swelled up and I couldn’t wear it anyway, and the battery died shortly thereafter. It still lies dormant on my dresser. That'll teach me.

My point is that I was (and still am) so tired of EVERYTHING in this house getting broken, lost or ruined. The twins are the worst yet right now. They walk off with anything they can snag. They like nothing better than to clean all the dvds or homeschool books off their respective shelves. You can’t let them anywhere near a box of tissues. They ransack any unsuspecting schoolbook that they find.They dump out at least one box of cereal a week. And DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ABOUT THE EGGS.

Why, you may ask, are they allowed to get near the cereal/eggs/tissues/etc.? Well, for starters, they work together. I have numerous other critters in this house who leave doors open, gates open, cereal boxes out, etc. I'm usually busy or distracted. And the twins are a lot faster than I am!

A few months ago in desperation I decided to confine them to one room, because I figured that one room of chaos was better than four rooms of chaos. Anyway, the twins either find ways to sneak through the gate, (Noelle is the master escape artist)

or else we leave it open (in an insane moment), or we have pity on them for being locked away like animals. We can't stand to see them like this:
One day in February (the same day we all came down with the flu) was a day we planned a field trip to a Reptile zoo up near Williamsport. Our trip was delayed by at least an hour because one of Noelle’s booties (brand new, expensive, Robeez) went missing, right from plain sight. I ranted and fumed and cleaned like a madwoman and generally made everyone miserable (even Andy) because “Kids…..ruin…..EVERYTHING!!!!!

And then Natalie pooped. And when I went to change her, I found that Noelle’s other bootie had somehow gotten stuck down Natalie’s pants. NO WONDER we couldn’t find it !?!?! And to top it off, guess who was the one who dressed Natalie? You got that in one, it was me. All my fault. No wonder God struck me down with the flu. If i was Him, I would have given me the plague. Someday I will learn.

A few days ago, I slipped away to the bathroom. The twins were at the front door, occupied with playing peek-a-boo through the glass with their older sisters Clare & Theresa. I swear I was only gone for 2 minutes. That's 120 seconds. But by the time I returned, the twins were standing on the kitchen table banging on the laptop. They had somehow hit the right (or wrong) combination of keys, and managed to lock and password-protect the keyboard. I set the password about three years ago and had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what it could be. So the laptop was rendered completely useless. Thank the Lord that our mailman came by a few minutes later, and was able to calmly explain how to fix it to exasperated old me .

I have to keep repeating over and over: “My children are a gift from God and I love them.” LOL

PS - This post was originally made in June. I still privately think that kids ruin everything. The last major doozy was in August. I stepped away from the computer to use the bathroom, and the twins pried 7 keys off the laptop. Laptop keys have three insanely tiny and fragile parts required to reattach them to the keyboard. I spent two hours hunched over the table. I kept telling myself that if Malaysian children can do this, then so can I, failing eyesight, clumsy fingers and all.

We are still missing 4 keys, and the 'e' key will never be the same. It's like a loose tooth - gonna lose it any day now. The Big Mean Daddy won't replace it, and tells me it's my fault because I let the kids use the laptop to play, so they treat it like a toy.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Not Me Monday

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

My son did NOT receive a virtual reality helmet for a recent birthday present, which did NOT feature ninja dudes coming at you from all sides, or have hand and feet attachments so you had to kick and punch them away.

And I did NOT want to try this out, so I DIDN'T stand in the middle of the living room, looking like an overgrown fool, kicking and slashing at thin air.

And in the midst of it all, my 1 year old baby did NOT come toddling into the living room. And since I WASN'T wearing the helmet and WASN'T unaware of her presence, naturally I could NOT have kicked her square in the stomach while fighting off these digital attackers.

I did NOT immediately throw that helmet set in the trash, either.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

911. What Is Your Emergency?

So I read a post by KathyB over at The World According to Me about an embarrassing incident involving a toddler and 4 police officers, and I'm thinking, "Why doesn't stuff like that ever happen to me?"

Then out of the vaults of my swiss-cheesy memory I pulled out this little gem.
Please note that I am not holding up my incident for comparison with Kathy's. Hers wins, hands down, for rueful head-shaking and overall forehead-smackiness.

There was the time when I was trying to call the kids' doctor on speed dial, but I hit the 911 button by mistake. I hung up right away, but the call had already connected. When the dispatcher called me back, I, naturally, was already on the phone with the doctor. The 911 center's protocol is to dispatch a unit if no one answers. I, naturally, was oblivious of this pertinent piece of information.

Child #1 was at school, I had just nursed Baby #3 to sleep but he wasn't ready to "let go" when I heard the doorbell ring. I was still in my nightgown with sleeping Child #2 on one side and a boob hanging out on the other. Naturally, I ignored the bell. What would you do? Then I heard the door open, and two officers entered the house called "Ma'am? Ma'am?"

So there I am on the baby monitor trying to tell them to be quiet. Me, in hushed tones: "I'm O-kay. I'm O-kay. Please don't yell up the steps. The kids are sleeping." (Do you know how long it took to nurse that kid to sleep???) And they're calling back, "I'm sorry, Ma'am, but we need to
SEE you."

The long and short was that those two kind civil servants got a good look at unkempt motherhood at its grittiest. I am also fairly sure that the downstairs was something of a disaster (I wasn't much of a housekeeper in those days). And naturally, in the process, both sleeping kids woke up and I had to start all over again.

Actually, I was very proud of them. The police, that is. They adhered to procedure to make sure it wasn't a hostage situation. But it was also slightly mortifying. But hey - I'm Catholic. Isn't mortification good for the soul?


Prayer for Strengthening the Family

I have this little prayer book that I lose several times a day, so I'm posting my current favorite prayer so I can still refer to it until I commit it to memory.

Lord Jesus, my family needs Your help today. We are searching for tranquility and peace and an end to the discord that keeps us apart. Give us strength and compassion to understand each other, wisdom and love to help one another, and the trust and patience we need to live peacefully together. I pray that our family might become a holy family - a family that works, prays and plays together, a family that embraces peace and love, a family whose members are dedicated in love to each other and to God. Amen

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fun With Tortillas

I am so proud of myself!!

I really wanted scrambled eggs with cheese wrapped in a tortilla this morning, but:

a) I'm out of tortillas
b) it's 9 degrees Fahrenheit
c) I don't feel like going out at any temperature

So I reasoned that if third-world women with no electricity have been making tortillas by hand for centuries, why couldn't I? Besides, I've been so trapped in my commercial, industrialized mindset that I used to think if I'm out of something, then too bad, I can't have any. But since I'm preparing for when the economy crashes I have to start getting used to being more self-sufficient (I'm only half-kidding). I've been planning out a garden for the spring, we're going to keep chickens for eggs and meat, and I'm starting a stockpile of items without which I don't think I can live. (including excedrin, vitamins and sanitary napkins - I ain't using no cattail fluff)

Today before anyone else was up (and I'm talking 10 a.m. - we're not early risers) I found the recipe below {link} and had a go at it.
The recipe says to use an untreated wood surface to roll them, but I had no trouble on my old vintage cheapo laminate countertop.

It wasn't too difficult (although the dough really resists stretching) and the results really were tender and delicious! Clare (7) asked for a scrambled egg tortilla and I gave her one, not telling her the tortilla was home-made. When I revealed my secret, she threw her arms around my neck with delight, exclaiming how much she liked it! I knew she would - Clare has a real homespun streak in her - she secretly wishes she had been born Mary Ingalls instead.

The photo below shows the first botched tortilla at left (I didn't roll it thin enough but it was still delicious), my best roll on the right, and the finished product in the foreground.
I'm cackling with delight here! I mean, seriously, it is so gratifying to create something that heretofore I relied on 'professionals' to make for me!

Chewy Flour Tortillas

These tortillas have real body and taste; they are perfect for gorditas, fajitas and eating out of hand.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk (2% is fine)

Stir together the flour and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and vegetable oil to the lukewarm milk and whisk briefly to incorporate. Gradually add the milk to the flour, and work the mixture into a dough. It will be sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a surface dusted with flour and knead vigorously for about 2 minutes (fold and press, fold and press). The kneading will take care of the stickiness. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rest for 15 minutes. (This dough will not rise, but it needs a rest.)

Divide your dough into 8 balls of equal size, cover them, and let them rest again for about 20 minutes. Avoid letting them touch, if you don't want them to stick together.

Dust your work surface with flour. Working one at a time, remove each piece of dough and pat it into a 5-inch circle. With a rolling pin, roll out the tortilla, working from the center out, until you have a 7- or 8-inch tortilla a little less than 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the tortilla to a hot, dry skillet or griddle. It will begin to blister. Let it cook for 30 seconds, turn it, and let the other side cook for 30 seconds. Remove the tortilla, place it in a napkin-lined basket and cover with aluminum foil. Repeat for the remaining tortillas.

Although flour tortillas, like corn tortillas, are best if eaten right after they are made, these tortillas will freeze well. Wrap them tightly in plastic, and they will keep, frozen, for several weeks. To serve tortillas that have been frozen, let them thaw and come to room temperature, then wrap them in aluminum foil and heat them in a warm oven. Microwaving tends to toughen them.

Here are some tips as to technique:

  • Do not use bread flour. You want flour with a low gluten content.
  • You don't want to over-flour your work surface, but you don't want your rolled-out tortilla sticking to it either. I found that the dough adhered less to an unvarnished wood surface (like an old cutting board) than any other surface I tried.
  • A flat dough scraper, known in baking parlance as a "bench knife", is very efficient in removing the rolled-out tortilla from the work surface.
  • When rolling out tortillas, dust your rolling pin with flour, and don't be afraid to apply pressure. Flour tortilla dough is pretty sturdy; but not to the point of rerolling. You don't want tough tortillas.
  • The Border Cookbook recommends the use of a tortilla roller (similar to a short piece of broomstick), rather than a rolling pin.
  • Rolling out tortillas in perfect circles is harder than it sounds; the dough wants to draw up. So if perfectly circular shapes are important, you can trim away the excess with a sharp knife.
  • Once again, I believe a cast-iron skillet or griddle is practically indispensable for making any kind of tortilla. A dry cast-iron utensil, unlike most other materials, can take high temperatures over a sustained period of time without being adversely affected, although you may have to do a reseasoning afterwards

Once you get a rhythm going, you can roll out a tortilla, put it on to cook and, while it cooks, roll out your next tortilla. Seems like an arduous process but, with this method, I could produce 8 tortillas in about 10 action-packed minutes. Be sure to rewrap your fresh tortillas each time you add another to the stack.

If you like, you can substitute one cup of whole wheat flour for one cup of the all-purpose flour.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Baking bread, etc.

Can you guess who Natalie and Noelle want to be
when they grow up?

About this picture...Noelle is sitting in a doll stroller that is only rated for about two pounds. If they keep this up, you can guess how long this Christmas present is going to last... Natalie is proudly displaying a naked Barbie that, in addition to the indecent exposure, also has a speaker and a button the babies can push to repeatedly play the most annoying two songs ever. She is sporting a pair of Cinderella plastic slippers that Theresa received for a birthday present last year. Unbelievably, we can still find all six pairs of the shoes that came in the set, and the twins (Natalie in particular) are now old enough to be interested in wearing them too. It's so precious to see her tromping around with such care and self-importance!
(Answer: Bob & Larry)

Chronicle of our first home-baked bread venture,
courtesy of
Chickens In The Road -
complete with
instructions for first-time bread bakers like me

The bread wasn't the tastiest I've ever tried, but that may have something to do with the fact that it was grossly over-kneaded, if you can imagine that... I'm just so thrilled that it actually rose. Our last house was drafty and we kept the thermostat down, so I could never get bread to rise. Now I can put it on top of the furnace, which is always toasty. It was like a small dream come true for me.
I can't wait until the next try!
Thank you, Suzanne McMinn!!

Brian's football banquet

Breathtaking: I'm a no-nonsense kind of girl, and my wardrobe/makeup/jewelry/hair choices reflect that. Lately I've made an effort to put on a little makeup during the day to fight the winter blahs. And today I put my hair in a french braid for the first time in years. Nobody noticed. Except when I was putting the twins to bed...Natalie (2) touched the braid when she threw her arms around my neck, and spun my head around. Then she exclaimed, ""

Later, as they tossed and turned, giggled and sang, cried and tried to escape the bed, I heard Noelle give Natalie a hearty thump with her arm and say "best friend!"

Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 12, 2009

Just saying hi

My laptop recently took a swan dive (see previous post "Kids. Ruin. Everything." so I am unable to post until it's back. I've been enjoying reading blog posts using a painfully slow computer that is incapable of down- or up-loading anything. So until I have more to share, I just wanted to make note of tonight's breathtaking moments:

1. Seeing Noelle (2) say to Theresa (5) "best friends!" and throw her little arms around Theresa's neck.

2. Forgetting tuck Clare & Theresa into bed, then peeking into their room to see them tucked into the same bed next to each other, with Clare reading Hop on Pop out loud to Theresa. Clare has only been reading independently for a couple of months. It was the sweetest thing.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

When Life Gives You Choices....Choose Carrots

One of my favorite sayings is:
When life gives you a multiple-choice situation, and one of the choices is

We were overcome by cold & flu season this month.

When Theresa was done with her nap on the couch, she blearily stumbled upstairs and crawled into the babies' bed for her next nap.

Even Noelle, who is usually sleep-retardant, fell prey.

Not even Scott was able to withstand it.

And finally, a video.

I must apologize for the video quality -
we love this house, but it has the
poorest. lighting. ever.

It's on our to-do list.

Anyway, about this video.

"No, girls, we can't afford any toys this year.

Just go play with your carrots."

Breathtaking: Watching Wall-E with my oldest daughter, hearing her say "Awwww, they're holding hands!" at the end.

Photostory: Noelle

Mom: Hmmm...she's sitting pretty, cuddling a baby doll,
with her FIRST french braid EVER.

What an opportunity!

Noelle: What's that? Did I just hear the camera turn on?
Oh, no no no no....

Shun the camera! Shunnnnnnn!
Oh, no, you do NOT!

I'm outta here!

I'll just cut through here...

Oh, snap.

You're pretty fast for an old lady, Mom.

Hey Andy, I guess I sh
ould have told you about the puppy...

hmmm...I think my husband ought to leave me a comment now and then, seeings as I do this for him when he's away @ work...

And finally, I got my first award today! It's a Great Attitude / Gratitude Award and it's in the sidebar - a lemonade stand. Is that for when life gives you lemons? Could be... Anyway, I am very pleased and want to thank C for her consideration. She is also an optimistic woman with a great attitude.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Very Appropriate Cartoon

Just had to add this, since it's the story of my life lately. Add a couple more screaming kids and another baby, and it's perfect.

reprinted without permission, of course

Saturday, January 3, 2009

January Randomness

We're starting off the new year sick least five kids have succumbed and my throat is scratchy. So far it's only been moderate fever and lethargy, sore throat, maybe a bit of coughing... nothing compared to the nightmarish stomach flu that struck last month. Right, Kim?

I have no idea what's up with Natalie here... she slept for 14 hours straight, she's feverish and her eyes look all bruised, poor baby.
We can't tell if it's from being sick, or maybe from an unobserved face-plant, or possibly an insect bite. You would think that after 8 kids we might have seen it all by now, but they always manage to come up with something new...

ps - two days later, the redness is subsiding, and it looks like she does have a bug bite under her eye. In January. Go figure. She's still feeling a little tender, though, as evidenced by the following pictures. Conor has been laid out by the fever for two days. He literally spent every "waking" moment on the couch today, dozing for most of them. At one point Natalie crawled up and snuggled down next to him:

Her thing is to suck her middle fingers on her right hand, while holding her ear with her left. But sometimes, someone else's ear is just the ticket:

Conor was asleep during the whole thing.

Sometimes it's just the sweetest thing to catch them loving each other.

Theresa is a total pain in the drain when it comes time for portraits. I have many examples of her hiding her face, grumping at the camera, or smiling weakly with a tear-streaked face. She just doesn't do well when you want everybody to say "cheese!" But when she gets a picture concept in her mind, she's ready and willing. To illustrate, I give you her latest composition:

That's Mousie in her clutches. Mousie's been her constant companion since she was 4 months old. Poor Mousie's seen better days, and her head is about to come off. She's been sewn back together so many times, and there's nothing left to sew onto. In fact, today we caught Theresa pulling out some of Mousie's brains. But Mousie is irreplaceable - we know, because we've tried. Sarah affectionately (not) refers to Mousie as The Green Disease.

Tonight Theresa spontaneously came downstairs in fuschia velvet dress and princess mules, with hair groomed. Being that she usually resembles a ragg mopp, I could not pass up the photo op:

not too dignified for whipped cream, though

I have a real lech for baklava and our grocery store almost never has it. Out of desperation, I bought some phyllo dough - I figured, dough, walnuts, honey - how hard can it be? So I watched a couple baklava-making videos on line (no kidding. I love the information age.) and picked a recipe at random. And it turned out that it wasn't too hard, just a little time-consuming. But it turned out beautifully (beginner's luck) and Oh. My. Gosh. is it yummy.

Here's a shot of the two oldest doing what they do best. When they're not breaking my heart, they're pretty neat to have around. I stole this picture from her Facebook photo album, since though they take two-and-a-half-billion pictures of themselves, they're almost never around for me to capture.

These are some ornaments I found last Christmas at a mall kiosk. With 8 kids, 10 total in our family, it's hard to find personalized ornaments that can accommodate all of us, so you can imagine how delighted I was to find these!
I can't remember where I got them, but I found the same line of ornaments online here.

Although I have to admit, when you enlarge the picture of the santa hats ornament, the faces look downright creepy...

we're zombie peas.....
join us... joooooiiiiiinnnnn uuuuusssss

that's person, they're really cute

OH - and I could not resist putting this one up. If you want to know what it is, I recommend watching The Pirates That Don't Do Anything, the latest from VeggieTales.