Monday, November 28, 2011

finally a thanksgiving post

we hosted thanksgiving for my side of the family the second year in a row.
last year the kids really enjoyed helping set the table with all our 'fancy' stuff.
this year, tata took them on a hike for awhile so i set the table while they were gone.
ella is always in charge of the place cards...

the boys read the annual prayer of thanksgiving...nani has had this for years.
she made delicious bread, rolls, crackers and much much more.

my brothers brought mashed & sweet potatoes.
we did cranberry sauce, pea & corn salad and the turkey - chris did a great job carving it.
it is so manageable when we all chip in, i cannot imagine doing it all myself.
our turkey from last year...

and here we are this year (above).
with 2 years under our belt, we feel like we now have a good handle on cooking the turkey!
we got to drink wine and relax with nani and tata before dinner.
and even headed out to the front patio for awhile before we ate while the kids played.
tio bobby came over early to hang out with the kids.
they played some board games together out back.
he came over the next day too & took ella and lc out since andrew had plans with a friend.
so nice of him to spend time with them - he works so much and is a busy college student.
some pictures from thanksgiving last year...
i didn't get any during dinner this year, too busy eating i guess!
andrew & tio john - gotta love the hair!

we did a family 'thankful tree' last year.
wish we'd have had time this year, hopefully we will next year.
chris' side always does an annual thanksgiving card game tournament (pitch) & dessert.
the kids started playing in it the last few years and get so excited for it.
teams this year were:  ella/grandpa, andrew/cousin jack, chris/grandma.
cute and very blurry picture from chris' iphone...
we are so thankful for all that we have.
wonderful family & friends, amazing school & neighborhood for our kids...
plenty of clothes & food, a good & stable job, a loving and forgiving God -
and so much more...we are so thankful for it all.
it was a wonderful day, and relaxing weekend too.
we need to turn that turkey around to face the camera!
and lady came and got in the picture all on her own and just sat there, too funny!

hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

happy helper

just had to share this picture of john from saturday morning.
he always likes to help daddy by holding the dust pan while chris sweeps into it.
this time he wanted to try using the blower.
he was so focused on his work and really did do a great job!
saturday mornings are a success to me when the kids help out & the house is in order.
my goal is to have the big cleaning (that only i can do) done before the weekend
and then have some jobs for them to do too.

this was the first saturday morning in awhile that they have all been home.
christopher mowed and the other kids helped wipe down walls and baseboards.
then it was off to birthday parties and errands.

i just love it when our yard is freshly mowed and cleaned up.
and it makes me happy when those in the family who helped feel that sense of pride too.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

firsts of the week...

first 6th grade basketball game on wednesday was awesome.
they won by 2 points.
most of the other catholic schools start sports in 5th grade, we don't start until 6th.
so, this team has already had a year under their belt...and they were good.
but, ssj pulled through, played a great game and won!
and in our new beautiful gym to boot!
our pastor led both teams in prayer before the game.
and was able to stay for the entire game and see their victory.
mrs. williams, christopher's teacher, also came to cheer the boys on.
she said how excited they were about it at school that day - so sweet that she came.
christopher also had his first ja (junior assembly) this week.
it's just for 6th graders - they learn formal dances (fox trot etc...) and get all dressed up.
it was pretty neat (and emotional for all the moms) to see them all looking so fancy!
the parents got to stay for the first part (just in the hallway) and take a few pictures...

the first dance they were partnered up with whoever was in line across from them.
christopher was paired up with a girl from another school (there are 3 schools on this night).
i thought they looked pretty cute:)

they do this whole 'march' dance at the beginning - connecting with other couples (above).
for the remaining dances (which we of course did not see),
the boys ask the girls to dance.

christopher and juliana won a prize for best dancers during one of the free style dances.
he said they started doing the 'sprinkler' right when the judge walked by - too funny!
i can't wait for the last class when the parents get to attend.

the last first of the week was getting to spend a special evening with our sweet girl.
we had a reconciliation prayer service with her class after christopher's game.
we had just enough time to take her out to dinner, at  windsor, - just the three of us.
it's so great when you are able to get some one on one time with your children.
we don't do this often, but every once in awhile there is a school event that forces us too.
and we are so grateful for that, it is indeed special time spent together.

we have done this with both the boys (this prayer service),
but it sure is different with a girl - and so it counts as one of the firsts this week.
we had a lovely evening together.
and she and i even got to stop at churn on the way home for a special treat.
you must go there sometime with your kids if you haven't yet.

next on the list of events is andrew's birthday party tomorrow after school.
yes, a month late, but better late then never.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

chicken tortellini soup

the picture doesn't do it justice, this soup is really delish.
i got the recipe from a friend years ago.
it's a crowd pleaser. i made it for halloween this year.
my brother's girlfriend asked for the recipe, she went home with it that night.
here it is:

6 cups water
5 TBS caldo de pollo (chicken boullion)
OR - you could use a couple cans of chicken broth instead

4 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked & chopped
1/2 bag frozen spinach
1 or 2 jars artichoke hearts, chopped
1 bag frozen cheese tortellini
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
3 TBS cream cheese
salt & pepper to taste

combine water, boullion (or broth) chicken, spinach & artichokes.
bring to a boil.
cook carrots in micro - 2 minutes on high & add to soup.
when water is boiling add tortellini & cook 5 min. or until it floats to the top.
turn off heat & stir in cream cheese gradually until melted.
add salt & pepper.

you may have to add more broth especially the next day for left overs.
it's super easy & sooo good!

Monday, November 14, 2011

more on the importance of downtime

this topic is continued from my last post.
it was quite fitting for last week because the kids made up this 'burrito' game one night.
they rolled andrew up and secured him with belts.
we'll let the pictures tell that story too...
the goal was to see if he could stand up...
and he did!
i was kind of impressed because it looked pretty hard.
and it was pretty funny and entertaining to watch.
i couldn't leave the room until i saw if he could do it.
and, no, they don't always get this creative.
there is usually quite a bit of fighting that goes on.
which is hard to handle.  i remember fighting a lot with my brothers too.
but, we also had a lot of good times together, lots of silly, funny times.

same goes for my own kids.
i get so happy when they make up these goofy games and just laugh together.
and create these silly memories they'll always have of their childhood.
we know kids both drew & lc's age who are playing on 2,3, & even 4 different sports teams.
and i know some mom's who run around most nights taking kids to multiple activities.
from like 5:30-9:30 each night.  and that is following after school sports.

this does get difficult when you have a (rather) large family and need to get everyone
where they need to be.
but, getting kids involved in the extra activities so young, and having them doing so many
at one time also makes for a lot of unnecessary running around.
this is the opinion of the experts who say kids are too overscheduled and i have to agree.
i have been wanting to sign ella up for dance and i just haven't committed to it yet.
i am waiting to see what christopher and andrew's basketball schedule will be.
so i won't be running around like some kind of crazy woman.
and she is in the second grade, she still has plenty of time...
at least, in my eyes she does.
this last dog pile took it a little too far.
andrew got a stomach ache and was in tears for a bit.
and annoyed that i let it go on long enough for a picture...
oops, just wanted to capture the moment!

the next couple nights after this 'burrito' episode john would ask,
"christopher, can you roll me into a bunito tonight?"
just brought a smile to my face and made my heart happy for this little game they created.

Friday, November 11, 2011

a little downtime = time to get creative

one day last spring john pulled some dishtowels from a drawer in the kitchen.
he sat there on the floor making up stories with these towels as his props.
i will let the pictures tell the story...
who needs expensive toys?  
just let these little ones use things around the house and their imagination.
studies show that kids are way too overscheduled and don't have enough free time.
and enough time to be bored....yes bored.
that is when they start to get creative.
when they are forced to make something out of nothing.
they just don't have enough downtime anymore, with nothing planned for them.
it makes me so happy when my kids make up some game or do something together that 
has nothing to do with technology.
and no, this doesn't happen all the time.
but it does happen, because they are not rushed from one thing to the next.
sure, we have our busy times.
with four kids and even just one  activity each, life for can get busy for all of us.
we have actually been holding out signing john up for anything so that we are not constantly going.
this downtime is so important for them, and for us too.

as for now, i think he is pretty darn happy -
and the older kids, we'll they had fun rolling andrew up into a burrito the other night.
i'll post those pictures along with that story next week.