Thursday, January 28, 2010

Random Thoughts Thursday

I have had the hardest time getting out of bed lately. I don’t know why, because I’m pretty sure I’m getting enough sleep, but just throwing off the covers and getting up has been such a struggle.

Today Vicki and Lexi are walking home from school by themselves for the first time ever. I will be okay, I think.

My goals for today are simple: wash the towels. Fold the towels. Feed the children. Clean the bathrooms. If I accomplish all that, I will feel good.

If I accomplish more, well...let’s just stick with the basics.

Vicki needs a new swimsuit. Badly.

I just read a post on another blog which reminded me that I need to do an ode to Dizzy Bear on here sometime soon.

On Tuesday I was going to make a really fancy Indian-style chicken and rice dish from my new monstrous cookbook. I chopped the onions, peppers, and garlic, heated the oil in the pan, and pulled the chicken out of the fridge. Upon opening the bag, I discovered that the chicken was no longer edible. Ugh. We had macaroni and cheese instead (but from scratch and using a monstrous cookbook recipe, and with diced ham in it, so I don’t feel too bad.  But that chicken sounded sooooo good.)

That was a roundabout way of explaining why my house smells like onions every time someone opens the fridge.

Hoodies are comfy.

I really, really, really love Josh Ritter. Really. Just so you know.

I was freezing all morning and I just went downstairs (which is always at least 5 degrees cooler than upstairs) and discovered that someone had turned the temp on the space heater waaaaay down. Dang kids.

I wonder if it irritates my facebook friends that I post a link there every time I update my blog. But if I didn’t, how would they (you?) know when to come read?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lucky Me

Yesterday I went to Home Depot.  Along for the ride were Ellie, my constant companion, and our babysitting friend Violet.  We were fortunate enough to score what we call a "two-headed" shopping cart.  Most parents will probably agree with me that those things are a lifesaving invention (except when the kids fight over whose feet go where), but they're a royal pain to maneuver.

In my vast shopping experience, I've noticed that people who aren't using these types of shopping carts fall into two categories: the ones who laugh with me while I try to push the monstrous thing around and the ones who look at me like I shouldn't have so many kids to push around in the first place.

I like the first group, although I do occasionally understand where the second group is coming from.  I mean, if I didn't have kids, I would be able to hurry through the parking lot without balancing on the curb along the way, grab a normal-sized shopping cart, push it straight to the back of the store without stopping to look at the really cool heater vent robot guy or the row of toilets up on the wall, select my items, pay without explaining again why I'm not buying treats, and go home without stopping to pick up rockos in the parking lot.  But I digress...

So, anyway, there we were in Home Depot, heaving the shopping cart around corners and away from floor displays, with large pieces of wood sticking out the back and small girls sticking out the front, when we caught the eye of a grandpa-looking gentleman who clearly fit into my group of choice.  He said, "Wow, looks like you've got a lot of help today!"

The girls beamed and I said, "Yep, I always have lots of help wherever I go!"  We went our separate ways, smiling, and Ellie looked up at me and grinned.

"Mom," she said, "You're so lucky because you don't ever have to go anywhere by yourself!"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Take a Deep Breath and Let Go

This has been my last view of Vicki the past three school mornings:

And it's killing me.

I distinctly remember riding my bike to school by myself as early as second grade. And I’m pretty sure we lived farther from my elementary school than we do from the girls’ school now.  And I'm pretty sure my parents didn't drive by the school at 8:30 every morning to make sure my bike was there (not that I'm doing that, of course.  Of course not.)

So why is it so hard for me to let Vicki ride her bike to school by herself?

She’s nine, she’s in the 4th grade, she’s responsible and careful and smart. I know she’ll be fine. Intellectually, I know that.  But that doesn't stop a part of me from being terrified that she'll crash or be hit by a car or snatched by some crazy person with nothing good in mind (I checked, though - there are no registered sex offenders anywhere near our on-the-way-to-school route.)  But we're friendly with several people on the way to school, and I know of at least three who are pretty much always looking out their windows as we go by in the morning.  They'll keep an eye on her for me.  And school is not that far away.

One day she’s going to drive herself to the mall. She’s going to go away to college, get married, maybe even move several states or even an ocean away. One day all that will happen. I even want it to happen (not too soon, though!) because I want her to live a full life and be happy, and me holding on to her isn’t going to help with that.

It’s hard to let go, but I guess the good news is now I’ve done it; it won’t be so hard the next time. Maybe that’s not good news for Vicki (someone has to pave the way), but her sisters will appreciate it!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Not Exactly Living Up to My Dreams, Am I?

We like good food around here.

I mean reeeeally like it.  And I like to think that I'm a pretty good cook.  I used to be horrible (ask Chris, it's sad but true.)  But I feel like I can attempt pretty much anything these days and have it turn out not just edible, but possibly delectable.  Lack of time and money (mostly money) has put a damper on this passion to some degree, but I would love one day to run a bed & breakfast, or a tiny little mom & pop diner, or something fun like that.

Here's our recipe book collection:

We have the basic and essential Betty Crocker cookbook.  Actually, we have two.  But we also have two HUGE cookbooks (both of which I realized are not in the picture because they were on the counter, having recently been consulted to find the best vinaigrette recipe) that each claim to contain the very best tried and tested recipes.  And we have a cookbook specifically for appetizers, one of tex-mex foods, one for chocolate (mmmmm...chocolate), one for paninis, one for non-alcoholic drinks, one of British recipes, one from our Alaskan cruise featuring food from the cruise ship, one geared towards kids (it's called Pretend Soup), and many, many others.  We don't, however, have Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

See, last night Chris & I watched Julie & Julia.  The movie was good, not the best I've ever seen, but enjoyable (Meryl Streep was fabulous as Julia Child), but man, oh man, the food looked like it was to die for.

I went to bed last night inspired to cook great food and cook it well.

On Sundays, now that church meets at 9:00am, we fix a big Sunday dinner.  This is the one day a week you'll be guaranteed to find not just one, but two or possibly even three side dishes alongside the main course.  And homemade rolls.  Mmmmm...homemade rolls.

But this morning, after going to bed with visions of not sugarplums, but boeuf à la bourguignonne, coq au vin, pear tarts, and poached eggs dancing in my head, I got up, slapped some chicken breasts in the crock pot, and dumped two cans of cream of chicken soup and a packet of onion soup mix on top.

Yeah, not so much with the Julia Child-esque cooking there, huh?  (that sentence came out really Sarah Palin-ish, didn't it?  Well, I do read all the newspapers...)

I did make rolls and mashed potatoes and a salad with spinach, pear, feta, and toasted walnuts (okay, Chris made the salad, but still...)

My going-to-bed vision was somewhat crushed by the crock pot meal, but everyone ate it, which I suppose is more than I could say for, say, aspic (which, honestly, doesn't sound all that to-die-for anyway.)

But we did have a dessert that would do Julia proud.  I can't take credit for it, but Chris did make crème caramels that were rich and creamy and really, really good. (I just realized that the reflection in the shiny top of the crème caramel is pretty much a mirror image of the picture at the top of the post.  Weird.)

One tasty treat at a time, I guess.  One at a time.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Random Thoughts Thursday

I had no idea when I started my Project 365 how hard it would be to take a different picture every day.  Good grief, it's not even February yet!

Why is it so easy to complain, or to think of things to complain about, and so much harder to be positive?

I like positivity.

I want need a better camera. (if you can justify it as a need, it's more likely to happen, right?)

Why is it that I feel incredibly motivated to get things done on the days when I have no real time for getting them done, but on days like today, when I have no car and therefore really have nothing to do but get things done...I sit at the computer and make up excuses for staying there.

I did get my lesson for Sunday figured out, though, so I can justify that little bit of time.

Clutter overwhelms me.

Why can't we all just agree that my views are the right ones?  Bam, world peace. :)

On that note, my fellow Oregonians, don't forget to vote (yes)!

There is blue sky and sunshine out my window.  I may need to round up the munchkins in my house and go outside to play.

Aaaaand...if the munchkins in my house were willing to put on clothes, that would work.

(after that comment about positivity, this still wasn't the world's most positive RTT, was it?  But I'm laughing at the clothes-less kiddos, not complaining about them.  I can go outside by myself!)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Baking With Belle

Lexi went to a sleepover at a friend's house last night.  Her friend's big sister came here for a sleepover with Vicki.

And Ellie stayed here, without anyone to have a sleepover with her.

She was absolutely crushed.  Devastated.  Sobbing-pathetically-into-her-pillow heartbroken.

In a fit of desperation I almost called her best friend's mom to arrange something, but reality, in the form of my bedridden hubby, reminded me that the chaos would increase exponentially if I added another 4-year-old to the 4-year-old and two 9-year-olds that were already in the house.

So I promised her we'd bake cookies, which, as everybody knows, is the next best thing to having a sleepover.

Because she's Ellie, she dressed for the occassion: her Belle dress, an apron, and a chef's hat.  She declared herself The Chef.

And me?  I was the sous-chef.  Her words.

As sous-chef, it was my job to read the recipe, because The Chef is illiterate.  I asked what her job was.  Apparently, it's The Chef's job to tell the sous-chef what to do.

She allowed me to cream the butter and sugar while she mixed the dry ingredients.  She mixed them very thoroughly, and all over the kitchen counter.

Also, she cracked an egg.  But she let me crack the second one when the first one "fell out", oops, on the counter (good thing the flour was there to soak it up.)

Also, did you know The Chef has more important jobs than mixing the dry ingredients?

It seems that Official Taster is another way to say The Chef.

We finally got everything mixed together.  Well, everything that wasn't soaking in egg whites on the kitchen counter.  The cookies went into the oven and the bowl went into the sink, at which point The Chef lost all interest in baking and ran off to tell Daddy what she'd been up to.

She was lured back, though, by the mouthwatering aroma of freshly baked, super tasty, (sort of stuck together because it was a new recipe, and also because a good part of the flour was on the counter and not in the cookies) soft and chewy giant cookie goodness.


Don't you wish you could bake with Belle, too?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Seconds and Firsts

With your first child, everything is a milestone. First tooth, first steps, first playdate, first day of school. Even the first time they throw up all over the place is a milestone. An unpleasant milestone, granted, but a milestone all the same.

The first time Vicki went on a field trip, I worried about her all day long. The first time her class sang in a school program, we took dozens of pictures. The first time she went ice skating, I held her hand. The first time she slept over at a friend’s house, I was excited for her for days beforehand and worried about her the whole time she was gone, even though I knew the family really well.

Conversely, the first time Lexi went on a field trip, I kissed her goodbye and told her to have a good time, and that was it. The first time her class sang in a school program, we forgot the camera. The first time she went ice skating, it was with a friend and I didn’t even know she was going until she got back.

With the second (and subsequent), it's just not quite the same.  It's not that those milestones don't mean anything anymore, it's just that we parents are exponentially more busy with each new kid, and we don't have time to stop and acknowledge them like we did back in the day when there were just three of us in the house.  Sometimes I feel really guilty about this.

Tonight, Lexi is having her very first friends sleepover, and I didn’t even realize it until this afternoon, right before she left. They’ve been planning this since before Christmas (to make up for Lexi having missed the friend’s birthday party while we were Utah), so it’s not like I haven’t had time to think about it. But it just never occurred to me.

However, when it did occur to me, approximately five minutes before she headed out the door with her overstuffed backpack firmly in place and her pillow tightly in hand, I made sure to make a big deal over the fact and document it as evidence that the second’s firsts don’t always go unnoticed:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Random Thoughts Thursday

Why are sunrises pink & purple and sunsets yellow & orange?

Mt. Hood looked so cool this morning. Kind of Mt. Olympus-ish, with big clouds around the top. Maybe Zeus has relocated.

Chris is in surgery right now to repair his busted gut (a.k.a. a hernia). Kind of scary, not being there with him, but can you imagine spending 4-5 hours in a hospital with a 4-year-old who doesn’t have to be there? We’ll go pick him up this afternoon. I hope he’s still loopy from the anesthesia when we get there, because that will be fun.

I like it when the sun shines here.

The 2GB memory card in Ellie’s 2.0mp camera is full. Do you have any idea how many pictures that is?

I feel like I got so much done yesterday, and today I feel like doing...nothing.

I can’t stop listening to the Once soundtrack. I love it.

One day my whole house will be clean, all at once, and then I’ll probably die from the shock. But I’ll die happy.

Did you know reading a 1000+ page cookbook can be as exciting as reading a novel?

The people who leave comments on Seriously So Blessed are as entertaining as TAMN herself.

If Donald’s a duck and Mickey’s a mouse, what the heck is Goofy?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Adding to the List...

...of things I never thought I'd hear myself say:

DON'T lick the car!

It Pays to Be a Mormon

Our church has a magazine for youth called The New Era. Every so often they publish a “MormonAd” (although I think they call them "New Era Posters" now), which is an inspirational poster that contains a spiritual and/or moral message, generally geared towards teenagers' life experiences. For example:

Yesterday I logged on to Facebook and was greeted with a different sort of Mormon Ad:

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Random Thoughts Thursday

I think there must be a little elf who keeps turning lights on in my house, because I know I keep turning them off.

I promised myself I’d tackle the girls’ closet today. It’s awful, seriously, and I don’t want to do it. Ugh.

I used to think my children did so well getting up and getting ready for school each morning. Now I don’t.

Oooh, the sun is actually shining!

Why, when the school district sends out a flier, don’t they edit it?

Girl Scout cookies go on sale on Saturday. Let three months of craziness begin!

I need something to read. Nothing on our shelves appeals to me right now.

This, I believe, wins the prize for creepiest toy ever:

I’m having fun with Project 365. Who knew there were so many photo possibilities in one day?

Who texts while driving, anyway? Seriously, some people have no common sense.

Vicki wants a blog of her own. I keep putting her off. This can only go on for so long.

That closet isn’t getting any cleaner.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Go That Way, Really Fast. If Something Gets in Your Way, Turn.

I learned to ski when I was 15, but Chris has been skiing pretty much since he could walk. His family goes every year on Christmas Eve, and his mother finally admitted this year that they started the tradition to wear the kids out so they’d go to bed that night.

We’ve been taking Vicki since she was four years old, but Lexi has a different personality, and she hasn’t been interested in the past. This year we decided that it was time for her to give it a try. And Ellie, never one to be outdone by her sisters, was ready to give it a shot, too.

When we took Vicki the first time, we just took her up the lift and then nearly broke our (and by “our”, I mean “Chris’s”) back skiing really slowly down with her. She laughed the whole way up the chairlift and cried the whole way down the slope every single time. We managed to convince her that she had fun, and she’s skied every year since then.

Although this method probably would have worked with Ellie, and likely without the tears, we’ve known all along that there’s no way it would work with Lexi. Our niece Abbie is the same way. So Chris’s parents decided to enroll the three beginners in ski school. Ellie and Abbie had 1-hour private lessons, and Lexi was part of a small class. This was definitely the way to do it, because all three girls had an absolute blast and can’t wait to do it again.

Look at me, I’m on skis!

Ready to go!

The most gorgeous skiers on the slopes!

Ellie wore a constant grin and talked to her instructor the whole time. The. whole. time.  He probably didn't understand a single word she said to him, but then that never stops her.  She actually did learn some things, though. If you ask her about skiing, she’ll tell you, “Pizza slice, and no kissing!”

All by herself!

Vicki and Grandpa, in a rare, but necessary, truce from their prank war

I couldn’t resist! Her control has gotten so much better, but even the best skiers wipe out sometimes!

Unfortunately, you can’t ski like that on an empty stomach and without any fluids, which is exactly what Vicki tried to do, and we learned just what dehydration feels like. After throwing up twice in the car on the way down the mountain (didn’t help that she’s already prone to motion sickness and it was a winding road) and sipping three glasses of Gatorade, she was back to normal, though, and I doubt it will ever happen again.

She wasn’t the only one worn out by all the hard work, either.

Ellie crashed in the car on the way down and stayed completely asleep when I carried her into the house, laid her in the chair, and removed her coat and snowpants.

She was completely awake, though, as soon as the words, “Do you want a cookie?” were uttered.

That's my girl.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Ubiquitous Vacation Post

I took just over 600 pictures while we were in Utah.


We haven't loaded the pictures the girls took with their cameras onto the computer yet, but when we do, I'm sure the grand total of pictures taken on this vacation will be well over 1000.  Easily.

Rather than bore everyone to death with countless posts of all the things we did during the two weeks we were in Utah, I thought I'd just do a highlights post and get it all over with at once.  Well, okay, not all of it, because I do have one or two things that warrant their own post, but for the most part it's all going to be in this single post.

So...without further ado, and in chronological order, our trip to Utah, in pictures.

We always get together with my Study Abroad friends when we visit Utah.  It's been 11 years since we got back from London.  Maybe one day we'll all go there together.

Grandma & Grandpa Y. live in Park City, so we're pretty much always guaranteed snow to play in.

Grandma likes to cater to the kiddos, hence the olive fingers.

Since Scotty's in Georgia this year, the girls got to sleep in his room, in a real bed, instead of on a pallet on the floor of the office.  Not that they minded the office floor, though, because I've learned my kids can sleep anywhere.  I don't know what it is about sleeping kid pictures, but every mom's gotta take 'em.

Chris's family has gone skiing on Christmas Eve for at least 20 years now.  This year only half his siblings were able to go, but we took all the kids over 2.  Vicki's the only one of the kids who's ever skied before, and two kids in particular are a little...temperamental, so we weren't sure how the day would go.  A separate post for this event is forthcoming.

Chris's family also has a tradition of a big Christmas Eve dinner.  The menu traditionally includes chicken cordon bleu and artichokes.  Each person has a candle by their place, and when the meal is over we go around the table and each person says something they're thankful for and then lights their candle.

After dinner we opened a few presents.  Grandma & Grandpa E. gave all their granddaughters remote control cars.  The chaos was hilarious, especially since some of the cars operated on the same frequency.

Christmas morning brought each of my girls a digital camera from Santa.  Pictures to follow in another post.

We spent Christmas day at my parents' house with the whole family.  In an odd coincidence, we gave my brother & his wife the game Guesstures, and they gave us the same thing.  Here's Robbie trying to get us to guess "bikini".

The Banana is a longstanding tradition in my extended family, but it's been a while since we've all done it together.  "Bananas of the world, unite!"

The girls loved playing with their cousins.  Emily and her girls were at Grandma E.'s house as much as possible.

A recent Ebert girl tradition is the "Little Ladies Lemonade Party" (although since it's winter we had a hot cocoa party instead.)  We all wear fancy hats and bring our American Girl dolls.  I don't have a doll, and neither do Abbie (yet) or Grandma E. (and Ellie's is actually from Target, but she doesn't care.  Yet.), but Blaine's girlfriend Mel has several and was happy to share.

On New Year's Eve we got together with a bunch of Chris's friends from high school (and longer).  We all have kids and the house was full of chaos, but it's always great to see them again.

We're kinda party poopers when it comes to actually ringing in the New Year, though.

On New Year's Day we went sledding with Grandma & Grandpa Y.

And finally it was time to drive home.  The girls tend to get creative when it comes to keeping themselves entertained.  But if they're happy, we're happy.

So there you have it.  If you've ever wondered what Eberts do on a long vacation, wonder no more.

Stay tuned for lots more pictures, taken by my children, and likely waaaaay more amusing than these!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Watch Out For Lexi

She'll throw a snowball at you.

And then she'll laugh at you.

Keep an eye on this one.

Project 365

In my last Random Thoughts Thursday post, I hinted at the possibility of a new blogging experiment, one that would be awesome.  May I now direct your attention to the new photo on the sidebar.  This photo is a link to my new blog, Project 365.

Project 365 is an experiment for the year 2010.  I will be taking a picture every day of the year and posting it there.  I'm hoping to use this idea to chronicle a year in the life of, well, me.

You are hereby cordially invited to join me on a photographic journey through 2010.  Enjoy!


I added photos to the post titled Over the River and Through the Woods.  Just in case you care to see what a 12-hour drive with our family looks like :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Random Thoughts Thursday (Friday Edition)

I forgot that yesterday was Thursday.  Vacation kinda does that to you.

I think Vicki was thoroughly disappointed by our New Year's Eve lack of celebration.  She'll get over it (she probably already has), but even I have to admit it wasn't terribly exciting.

Other people's kids should stop growing so much.  If I only see them once a year, it would be nice to be able to recognize them.

I'm not sure I'm ready for this vacation to end.  Doing nothing in particular is most enjoyable.

There's something about building a snowman that slows the aging process.

I'm thinking of trying a blogging experiment.  If I decide to do it I'll let you know what it is.  It will be awesome.

Vicki's socks today look like Elmo lost his feet.

Go Oregon! (Ohio State just pulled ahead, darn it)

My sister-in-law's dog likes me.  A lot.

The award for the most annoying Christmas present goes to my sister, for giving Lexi the Hannah Montana Barbie that sings.  Thanks, Adrie.

Tomorrow we have to get to comb the house for two weeks' worth of kids' stuff and Christmas presents and cram pack it all into the back of a Subaru. Good times.
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