Sunday, November 29, 2009


On Wednesday we made apple turkeys. Note for you: it is ridiculously hard to get jelly beans on a toothpick. Skip the jelly beans.

Calvin's turkey had two heads.

We played with babies and cleaned, cleaned, cleaned.

We made pies. Lots of pies. In fact, it is now Sunday night and I can honestly say that I am now sick of pie. Must stop cooking for non-existent army. Yes, there is more pie in the fridge.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Gratitude

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by those you love and who love you in return. I am too full, tired and aching from being on my feet all day to upload the photos from today. Too bad Calvin cannot give a good back and neck rub. Our day was spent calling family, cooking, dish washing, giggling, playing inside and out, eating, talking, playing games, Christmas shopping online and eating some more.

Happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful for you.

Gratitude Day #25

(photos from that trip to Ikea)

Wednesday. November 25th

1. I am grateful for a day of baking. The house smells wonderful.

2. I am grateful for safe arrivals. The cousins pulled in about 9pm. Calvin started asking when they were arriving every five minutes starting at 4pm.

3. I am grateful for excited children. Sophie is having a sleepover in her room with Haley and Lindsay. Max, Tristen and Kaitlyn are sharing the boys room and Calvin is bunking with me. Max is still awake right now (yikes!). Too excited to sleep. He managed to lose two more teeth tonight including the one with a cavity. I hope the tooth fairy wakes up before he does.

4. I am grateful for perfect weather for using the porch as extra fridge space.

5. I am grateful for family. I am grateful for the chance to catch up with Heather and Rick who we do not see often enough.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Today's Schedule

  • 9 kids - 5 sent to school
  • lots and lots of French toast
  • two pies made before breakfast
  • one trip to Woodbury - I managed to get lost for a good 45 minutes in the Woodbury suburbs. I think the GPS system for the van has moved to the top of the Christmas wish list - above new toilets
  • one trip to Cub foods
  • lunch for 4
  • bake sweet potatoes
  • make 2 more pies to give away
  • fry the bacon for the breakfast casserole

still to come: edited at 12:45am

turkey craft with the children - done
clean two bathrooms - done
clean my room - done, kind of
vacuum the entire house - done
dust - done
make three pies - done, made 4 more
bake one cheesecake - done, cooling right now
make sure the turkey is defrosted - done, may have oozed turkey juice all over the garage floor.
mop the kitchen floor - not done, crap.
make the orange-glazed sweet potatoes - putting it off until tomorrow!

It smells like bacon, sweet potatoes and peanut butter pie in my house - not a bad combination really.

Thankful for the Journey

Though I have seen this several times, it made me cry today. I am thankful for my personal journey. I would not have chosen this path for myself, but I know that it is teaching me and shaping me and making me so aware of my unique abilities and the blessings in my life.

This is our first major holiday as a broken family. When life slows down enough to really reflect on our situation, it causes the pain to come and the tears to flow.
I have much to be thankful for.
I have much to mourn.

The holidays are going to be emotional this year simply because we will be missing a part of our family for the first time in eleven years. It is a matter of firsts - how do I make the holidays seem just as magical for the children when they will be so very different this year? I have been using the "too busy to notice" method for the last several months. Our lives are so crazy and there are so many children over here that the chaos has been a good distraction for my own children. This Thanksgiving I am hoping the cousins will help the children to not focus on who's missing from our Thanksgiving table. I assume at some point, there will be stillness and quiet and then, then it will be really hard. But for right now, bring on the chaos and keep our lives and minds full.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gratitude Day #24

1. I am grateful for the manager at Ikea that allowed me to return two broken items when the customer service rep said I could not. Never accept no. It may have helped my cause that Evi and Calvin were chasing each other all over the waiting area and she really, really wanted me to move on. I am grateful for cheap lunches in the Ikea cafeteria. Never, ever get their scrambled excuse for eggs. You will regret it.

2. I am grateful for unexpected gifts at the grocery store. We have the kindest people you will find anywhere in our ward. I am grateful to Marely who entertained Calvin and Evi as I completed my Thanksgiving shopping and then helped me bag my groceries and load them into the car. He is going to make an awesome missionary.

3. I am grateful to home teachers who were at my house again tonight. The wireless router is now working (hooray!) - about 15 things were hung on the walls (hooray!). I have great home teachers and they are married to great women who put up with them being away in the evening to help me. Thank you.

4. I am grateful for homemade chai (without the black tea). Thank you Kelly for sharing. Warm spiced milk reminds me of when I was young and my mother would make us warm milk with a teaspoon of sugar, a splash of vanilla and a shake of nutmeg. Yum.

5. I am grateful for my family. I love them. I wish we could all be together for Thanksgiving but my sisters will be in Salt Lake, two brothers will be home in Idaho and another will be in Southern Utah with his wife's family. Hopefully we will see some of them over Christmas and my parents will be coming in the New Year for Sophie's baptism. I cannot wait.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gratitude Day #23

Monday, November 23rd

1. I am grateful for sick kids. I jest. But I am kind of grateful that I had two kids out sick from daycare which left me with just Calvin during school hours. We did a lot of talking - he told me that Jesus lived in the biggest cloud in the sky. When I asked him what he was doing there he said he was telling the people to repent! We ran errands to the bank, the gas station (Calvin gets very concerned if we are low on gas), the library and Christmas shopping. Calvin is just a riot and I love that he still calls me MaMa.

2. I am grateful for a fun trip to Ikea with Kelly, Calvin and baby Lily who Calvin cooed at non-stop. He loves babies. I picked up some organizational items for the basement office and checked out the selections of bunk beds. At some point, I'd like to get Calvin off the floor in his room and free up some space in there. Calvin spent an hour in the Ikea play place - which he loves.

3. I am grateful for the upcoming holiday season. Calvin and I shopped for the three cousins we were assigned in the gift exchange on the Erickson side of the family. All three happen to be coming for Thanksgiving and I want to send the gifts back with them in order to save on shipping. It was a nice day to be shopping - not a lot of people in the stores. Santa was already hanging out at the Mall of America. Calvin waved, but did not want to go for a visit.

4. I am grateful for a full pantry. I have been slowing working on stocking the pantry and bulking up our food storage supply. It feels really, really good to have a full pantry, something I took for granted for many years. I am so grateful to be able to provide for my children.

5. I am grateful for no more mice in the traps (Sophie checks every day) - could they be gone?? How long should I leave out the sticky traps and the poison in the storage room?

It's Still Pretty Warm for Minnesota

Thanksgiving Craft - Corn

This craft works best with foam instead of regular card stock. The only tricky part is trying to keep the kids from nibbling on the popcorn after they dip it in glue!

Be prepared for a mess.

Gratitude Day #22

1. I am grateful for a Sunday morning without children which allowed me to curl my hair for the first time in years.

2. I am grateful for really good, well prepared Sunday talks in church. I am grateful that I have gotten to a point where talks on trials do not make me cry anymore.

3. I am grateful for a sweet 5 year old who gave a talk in primary. His topic: I can prepare now to become a good Father some day. Let's just all take a moment and think about that. Yes, it was kind of difficult to write a talk on that subject yet uncomfortable situations like that are just going to happen - especially in the church where these is so much emphasis (and rightly so) on the importance of families. I certainly want Calvin to be a good Father someday. We sat down together and talked about some of the things a Father should do and here is a copy of his talk. Calvin delivered it in his typical put your mouth onto the microphone fashion - he was pretty pleased with himself.

We are all a part of a family. Families are the most important part of God’s plan. In our families we learn and grow, are protected and feel loved. I want to have a family of my own someday. I want to be a good Father and I can start right now to learn how.

I can learn to pray and read the scriptures in order to receive guidance for myself and my family. I can learn to be a good example. I can learn to be humble and to ask for help when I am in need.

I can learn to share, not only my things, but my time and my talents. I can learn to serve others.

I can learn to be helpful as a Father. I can learn to fix things and how to cook and clean.

I can learn to show my family how much I love them by spending time with them and always putting them before my own wants.

I can learn as much as I can through school and reading so I can find a good job to support my family. I can learn the value of hard work. I can learn as much as I can so one day I can help my own children with their homework.

I can learn how to save money and how to budget so that my family is always safe and secure. I can learn to be grateful for what I have.

I can learn to show love and respect. I can practice telling my family how much I love them. I can learn how to listen.

I can learn to say I am sorry when I do things that hurt those around me.

I can learn to be honest.

Most important of all, I can learn that the family is sacred. I can learn that there is nothing I will do in my life that will be as important as being a good Father.

I love my family and I hope to be a Dad someday. More than that, I hope to be a good Father.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

4. I am grateful for Max. He had a ton of homework this weekend and spent several hours on Sunday working in the kitchen, at choir and later upstairs on the computer right up until bedtime. He asks me questions every day that I cannot answer. I wish I could. I feel like I am missing out on a lot of teaching opportunities simply because I do not have the math/science background to help him. Maybe I need to go back to school just to keep up with him!

5. I am grateful for this coming week. The children are just giddy with the excitement of their cousins coming into town. I am spending Monday planning the menu and cooking schedule and doing some Christmas shopping to send back with the cousins. I think I need more plates. The kids sat on my bed last night and put in their orders for Thanksgiving pies. Max wants my chocolate cream pie and my peanut butter pie. Sophie wants pumpkin and Calvin wants apple and lemon. We'll see what we can do!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mornings Around Here Look Like This

Gratitude Day #21

1. I am grateful for a full day of organizing and cleaning. I needed it, the house needed it and I really could use a week of it.

2. I am grateful for leftovers. I munched on Pardon My French tartes (wood fired white pizzas) and quiches all day. They were just as good today as they were at the party. Don't call them pizzas in front of the French owners though "Zees are not zee peeezzas! Zees are zee tartes!"

3. I am grateful for people stopping by. It makes weekends without my children much less lonely. However, after the second person left and it was 1:00pm, I decided perhaps I should take a shower and get out of my flannel green Christmas pajamas.

4. I am thankful for new music from Kelly. The New Moon soundtrack is much more mellow than it's predecessor.

5. I am grateful for new orders. Marsha sold several of my necklaces at the movie theater, I sold several to customers at Pardon my French who kept coming over to see what we were doing, and my pins (like the one of Sophie's hat) are selling well. I have a computer guy coming over on Tuesday so keep your fingers crossed that I can figure out how to download the photos from Kelly's camera and actually open an Etsy shop!

Repurposed Wool Felt

This is my latest obsession. Wool felt. This summer, I diligently scoured garage sales for 100% wool sweaters. I found enough to fill two big bins and these week I finally pulled them out and started the felting process.

It's pretty simple and most likely you have inadvertently done this already. Put each sweater is a washing bag (otherwise your washing machine will be filled with wool lint and that might to bad things to it's shelf life) and wash on the regular warm cycle. Take them out of the bags, throw them in the dryer on high. You are done. The sweaters will shrink and the fibers will bind tighly together and you have made wool felt.

Before (I had already finished several loads):


You'll want to cut them apart at the seams to start crafting.

And behold, my first craft from my garage sale sweaters. It is a beautiful, soft pin I made for a friend's birthday this week. I love it. Now to find the time to make more . . .

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Turkey Craft

These are pretty simple to make - you will need toilet paper rolls, scissors, feathers, pom poms, googley eyes, a triangle of wood or paper and pipe cleaners. You can make them with white glue but they go a lot faster is you use hot glue and have the kids hand you the different parts and colors they want.

Gratitude Day #20

Friday, November 20

1. I am grateful for the weekend. This weekend I am without my children until Sunday morning. I plan on sleeping in, (sleeping in!) organizing the craft room/office space, catching up on daycare paperwork and bills, sorting through outgrown clothes and organizing the recipe binder which has exploded. I plan on wearing my pajamas until at least noon on Saturday.

2. I am grateful for a simply wonderful party with 39 of the most beautiful, kind, fun and talented women. We had such a good time at Pardon My French last night! The dinner was delicious, there was so much food - everyone was able to take some home. The live music was great and thanks to several talented women (Deb and Melissa and Heidi and Kelly) who put together tables capes and games and fun name tags and clever water bottles, the place looked amazing. So. much. fun.
Thank you ladies for coming and hanging out together!! The movie was a happy surprise. I did not go in with high expectations as Twilight was not adapted very well, but the movie was really, really fun. Team Jacob this morning. I'll do a full review soon.

3. I am grateful for being able to laugh at myself. Friday I managed to slosh scrambled eggs all over the burner (a hazard of cooking on a stove where none of the burners are level) resulting in nasty smelling smoke and setting off the fire alarm. Ten kids panicked (not mine as they are used to it), three of them huddled on the floor shouting "stay low, don't breathe, get below the smoke" while I sent Max over to wave the broom at the smoke detector and Sophie threw open all of the doors. After going off about 5 times, we got it under control. Later in the day, I burnt a bag of popcorn in the microwave while prepping for a craft. With 12 kids in and out that day, there was no time to shower again before leaving for the party. The last daycare child left at 5:45, my own kids were picked up 15 minutes later and I was out the door at the same time. If I sat next to you last night and smelled like burnt popcorn and eggs, I am truly sorry. It's just life these days and I can laugh at it.

4. I am grateful for a new used little TV which has made my life surprisingly easier. My friend Carrie just bought a new house which came with three TV's including one of those little tiny ones with the VHS built in. She offered it to me and I thought I would put it in the basement craft room to allow me to have a movie on in the background while I craft (yes, we still have lot of VHS movies). As none of the plugs are working down there right now, I brought it up to my bedroom. On Thursday and Friday mornings, I have two little girls (2 and 3) who arrive at 6:30am while the rest of the kids do not arrive until 7:00am. It is usually really hard to watch them downstairs while trying to get my own kids up and dressed upstairs. It used to involve a lot of yelling up the stairs. Now, I just plop the two of them down on my bed in front of a video and they sit there happily while I get my three kids ready for the day. Thank you Carrie.

5. I am grateful for time with friends. Susan and I used to talk to each other every single day as I watched her two youngest children for almost 4 years. I miss our conversations and I miss seeing her. Last night after the movie, we spent some time catching up without kids screaming in the background or life in general interrupting us. Staying up until 2:30am to catch up with my friend - lovely. Waking up this morning - uugh.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

After School Treat - Pilgrim Hats

These are pretty self-explanatory but loads of fun to make. We used a bag of milk chocolate chips melted in the microwave, oreos and yellow icing in a tube.

You should know: exactly 30 seconds after this photo was taken, Calvin turned with the plate and dropped three of the wet cookies onto the baby and the back of the high chair. It was an impressive mess.