Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Strep Throat (Again)

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is: getting everyone infected with strep throat. Just kidding. That would suck. And make Elf a whole lot less fun of a movie.

But we did visit the doctor at 7:45 on Friday morning, and Owen was the fastest positive they have ever had. When he told me that his throat hurt that morning I would normally have been the "buck it up and we will see how it develops." But because we have hit our deductable and it wasn't going to cost us anything, we went in, and boom, strep. Right before we were heading out of town to spend time with millions of other family members.

We weren't scheduled to arrive until after his 24 hours on antibiotics happened and he was therefore no longer contagious. But the rest of us are still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Fingers crossed.

Christmas was fairly uneventful at our house. Moyz and Kembia were so not into the presents. Although Kembia did clap for herself when she ripped the paper on her present and looked at us like she thought she did the coolest thing in the world.

Still, they loved playing with the things that we got them, and it once again made me think about how different their lives were in so short a time. Made me hold them extra tight and long if they would allow it!

Oh, and we got Moyz's green card finally! Only took 5 months to get. Oh well, at least it came even if it wasn't necessary. Now I just need to get their social security numbers and we can be set for taxes. Here's hoping they wont audit everyone who adopted and finalized in 2011! Or it will be next fall before we get our money. Anybody thinking of Jerry Maguire and "show me the money!" That sounds very materialistic and earthy of me, but it would be nice to have money once again in our savings account. You know, for emergencies. Like our fridge that has been dying since we bought the house. Okay, maybe dying isn't quite the correct word, but it only cools to about 42 degrees and the microbiologist in me cringes that this is 2 degrees higher than what is considered the warmest it should be. I can just imagine all the bacteria growing waiting to strike the Nelson's with food poisoning, and by Nelsons I mean me. Everyone else in my family apparently has a stomach made out of steel.

Geesh, I gotta git a grip. Anyway, hope Christmas was wonderful at your joint!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oreo Cookie Bark

This is the perfect recipe for that last-minute-going-somewhere-I-should-probably-bring-something event.

There are 3 ingredients. Yep, that's it.

The recipe is as follows:

Oreo Bark
12 oz. milk chocolate
6 oz. white chocolate
15 Oreos

Put the oreos into a large ziploc bag and crush them until they are in small, bite-sized pieces.
Melt the milk chocolate in a double boiler.
When chocolate is melted and smooth, carefully stir in Oreo pieces.
Spread the mixture onto a foil covered cookie sheet, trying to keep the cookies in an even layer.
Melt white chocolate in microwave and drizzle it on top. Use a knife to swirl.
Let cool & harden (I put the tray in the refrigerator to speed things up). Break into bite sized pieces.

I wouldn't recommend using Double Stuff because then you don't get very much of the bark. Or you could use them but then double all of the other chocolate.

It's heaven, I promise you. I made some for this weekend and it was so good my hubby said we should put it in the deep freeze downstairs until then so we don't eat it all in the mean time! Enjoy!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas is almost here!

Did you know that Christmas is December 25th? Somehow, it creeps up on me every year, even though it never changes. And especially this year the time has flown. I still have the Christmas wreath I meant to hang on my front door upstairs in my living room in the wreath box right next to the tree. It didn't quite make it there, and truth be told, I am not going to hang it now only to turn around and take it down in a week.

I did, however, get stockings made for everyone in the family. Here they are:

I decided to make some because we just had a mish-mash of ugly ones. Ava had a white one back from when we thought she would be an only child. (Can you hear me snorting?!) And then we bought some more from the thrift store for all the new kidlets and I felt even worse about them. So I headed to JoAnn's and bought fabric and came up with those. I am pretty proud of them if I do say so myself. I just winged it. No pattern, examples or anything. And I noticed that the stockings spell out A OK because of the order of our kids' names. Funny. Chris and I have them too, but since we have no fireplace and this mirror only has 5 hooks they are resting on a chair.

Totally finished with my shopping, although I still have lots of my homemade gifts left to finish. It felt so weird to be shopping for our children knowing that last Christmas they had nothing, and now how their lives are permanently different now that they are with us.

We never go all out at Christmas and really try to keep the focus on Jesus. We don't do Santa which has led to lots of interesting things when out in public. Like our kids telling other kids that there isn't a Santa and horrifying both them and their parents. And then our kids wondering why other parents would lie to their children. I read on a blog called Gus and Lula (don't know how to link, sorry) that they are using the jingle that goes like this:

"Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read"

I thought that was clever, and practical, but still allows for something you "want" and for it to seem magical. I think Chris and I are going to put this into play next year. And just to be clear, that is still 4 presents for each kid, which in our case would be a combo of 20 presents total, but we aren't talking expensive presents. My kids love those fancy toothbrushes with characters on them, which we don't normally get, and you can find those at the dollar store, thus fulfilling the something you need category. We will sit down with the kids and share the little jingle above and how we are applying that for our family. I will admit that Owen thinks if you put something on your wish list that you are going to get it. We're still working on that!

Anyway, hope you are able to find some time during this mad, crazy rush of a week leading up to Christmas to reflect on Jesus' birth here on this earth and everything set into motion because of that. He loves each and everyone of us and this seems especially fitting this year. Just as Kembia and Moyz were adopted into our family, we can be adopted into Jesus'.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pinterest, Rap Music and Locked Pantry

Finally figured out how to use Pinterest. I had really been interested in it, but everytime I went there it just seemed so overwhelming to set up everything and figure out how to use it. Kind of like when you go into a Marshalls or TJ Maxx- you need to be in the mood to dig, and Pinterest was like that for me. Now that my friend helped me sort it out, I am sure it will be another excellent way to waste time, kind of like my blog reading habit....

Owen thinks that rapping is a "different language". And he wonders how they do it. I love rap music, but really can't listen to too much of it because of wording and content, so the rare rap song without all the nasties is a huge thing for me. He really loves the beats and takes after his momma in that respect. Everything else is Chris. Ever heard of a rap loving fisherman? Me neither, he may just be the first.

Yesterday Owen locked the food pantry. The lock happens to be on the inside of the door and we have never had a key for it. Apparently after almost 5 years of life he noticed it for the first time and decided to turn it. Chris was still out of town and all I had to feed everyone was frozen waffles and whatever wasn't rotten in the fridge from our being gone. We went over to a friends for a play date already arranged and luckily were fed lunch. When we got home I spent a good 20 minutes taking the hinges off the door to be able to access our food. Fun times here at our home!

And now we are hoping to avoid Christmas day flu. We went over to a friend's house to play, one that we haven't been at for quite awhile given that we are generally hermits, and after a serious morning of the kids all playing hard, her daughter threw up on the couch. Haven't had a round of barfing yet since the kidlets have been home. Seriously hoping it stays that way.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bad Blogger

Haven't posted in a while because the kids and I have been at my parents house. Chris had to work out of town for a week and I wasn't feeling up to being a single parent of 5 for that length of time. We even let Ava miss some school which she thought was awesome and I felt slightly guilty about. That would be the nerd in me.

Today we got back after the car ride from hell, which in the end, turned out to be 100% my fault. Kembia sits in the back with Ava and Owen, Moyz and Truitt are in the middle section. Kembia started crying and yelling and making a ton of noise about 1 hour into the ride. It was right at nap time and so I figured she was just extremely exhausted from a crazy few days and so I basically ignored her.

Of course, she continued to do this on and off the whole way home. I asked Ava if she thought she had pooped but Ava said she couldn't smell anything, and with Kembia you can always smell. Then the last hour before we made it home, Moyz decided to join in the yelling. He truly didn't have a reason other than his sister was doing it and those two feed off of each other in a big way. Owen was whining because he was exhausted and spent a lot of time around his cousin who happens to be a fairly decent whiner himself, and Ava was whining because everyone around her was in a bad mood.

We finally get home and I get all the kids inside only to find out that Kembia had peed completely through her clothes and down her jeans into her shoes. I'm thinking that this must have happened around the time she initially started whining and so this makes me an exceptionally crappy parent for the day. Next time I will ask Ava if she smells any poop or if Kembia's clothes are wet.

And then I finally got my hair stuff for Moyz I ordered last week. His hair is the driest I have ever felt in my entire life. I have tried a fair amount of things to help it maintain its moisture and wasn't being successful at all. So I spent a bazillion dollars buying some Miss Jessie's Baby Buttercreme, buy one get one free hoping that it will do him some good. Seriously, this stuff is expensive, I spent $72 with shipping and handling. I still can't believe I spent that amount of money, but I am desperate and was finding a lot of good reviews on it. Of course, since then, I have found a lot of bad reviews and now I am feeling a little bit panicky that my costs-an-arm-and-a-leg-hair-cream will be all for naught. Cause seriously, we don't exactly have the money to be buying expensive hair creams for 15 month olds. Or adults for that matter. Anyone have any tips/products for me? We have tried: Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil shampoo which works well for washing, and Pink. People generally rave about the coconut oil, but it doesn't seem to do anything for him. I have had someone suggest vaseline and then someone tell me not to, as well as people who say they just use whatever and it doesn't matter. His hair is so dry it really feels horrible to touch. I am tempted to cut it and start over with less damage, but then I still need to find something that works. The problem is, buying all of these items in the hope that we find something is getting a little bit expensive. Regardless of how well it works, Moyz and Kembia will be Baby Buttercremed up until that stuff is gone!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Getting my inner Ma Ingalls On

This is how I feel about doing laundry:

And with 5 kids, I do a lot of it, both laundry and the laundry crying. You know what hubby's advice is? "Do a little every day and then it won't be so overwhelming." Well, let me tell you (and him) that at 30 years old, I do, in fact, know how to do laundry. But that doesn't mean I like it.

I dislike it for several reasons: I hate folding it and putting it away, it kind of seems a worthless step since we go through it so fast, and I hate how much that stinkin' laundry soap costs. We use Purex, which used to be like $6 per bottle and is now $9. More kids, more laundry, more laundry soap, more money. I can't imagine how much it would cost if I used Tide, which by the way is my favorite laundry smell, but I can't bring myself to buy it because it costs so much....

So I got the genius idea to google laundry soap recipes. And I found one which seemed good. Here it is:

• 1 bar bath soap, grated (your favorite brand, fels naptha is great)
• 1 cup arm & hammer super washing soda laundry detergent (a laundry booster)
• 1/2 cup borax
• hot water
Place grated soap in a pot.
Cover with water and simmer over medium heat until all soap is melted, stirring occasionally.
Pour into 5 gallon bucket.
Add washing soda and borax.
Add enough hot water to fill the bucket.
Stir (I use a long measuring stick, but any long stick will work).
Let sit overnight to gel.
Use 1 cup per load.

Everything you need is in the laundry aisle at your local Walmart. The soap was $.97, washing soda $3.27 for 55 oz. and the Borax I already had but I think it's like $3 a box. The hardest thing about this recipe is grating the soap, which isn't that hard at all, although I did have to keep Kembia and Moyz from trying to eat the yellow pieces that shot out of the bowl and onto the floor. I stirred it up with an actual stick from my yard. And sure enough, it gelled right up.

This morning I did a load to see how it went, and it's worth noting if you try this that it does not bubble up in the machine. I waited for it to do this when I poured it in, and then I decided I better wait to put the clothes in until it starts to agitate to see if it bubbles, it never bubbles so don't let that alarm you. After it was done, I did the "Sniff Test". You should all instinctively know what this test is, but if you are wondering what the heck I am talking about, grab something that would normally smell bad, socks, underwear, and smell it to see if it is clean. So I did. And they were. Clean that is.

The recipe makes 5 gallons of soap, at probably around just over a dollar for 5 gallons. This is much cheaper than any store bought soap you can get. Of course, the gel is kind of gross looking and no pretty bubbles to make you feel good about it, but considering how much money you save and how fast it is, I have doubts that I will ever go back to store bought soap.

I was feeling very 1800's as I stirred my homemade soap with my stick. Very Ma Ingalls- ish to me! And probably the recipe would be considered "green" if you are in to that thing. I didn't make it for that reason, I made it solely to save money, but the greenness is a bonus.

Quick update: I just did another load using warm water and this time it did bubble. I also scooped a little lower where it wasn't so gel-ish. Bubbles or not, it's getting my clothes clean.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Things I'm Lovin' Right Now

Thought I would make a list of all the things that I am in love with right now, just for kicks.

1. McDonald's Peppermint Mocha. But at $3.21 after tax, I don't want to drink one every day, cause it's not exactly cheap. Or healthy for that matter, I googled it and there are a whopping 340 calories in a medium. But I think I found a good alternative. When Chris and I had our night away, I dumped some Junior Mints into my coffee, and I think it's pretty darn close, especially if you add whip cream.

2. The Hunger Games trilogy. Usually I am up on new books that come out because I am a giant nerd. However, I totally missed this, given the fact that there is a movie coming out on book one this coming March. I read all three books in 3 days, and yes, I swear I was still a decent mom to my kids! They are a very fast paced read and just good. Check them out.

3. Our new 43" plasma tv that was a gift to us for Christmas. I know, you are thinking about all the times that I have written that we don't watch tv. What has changed? Well, 5 kids changes a lot, and sometimes, I love it that I can turn PBS on and feel not so guilty about it. Plus I cannot believe how amazing the picture is. After 8 1/2 years of no tv shows ever, minus the winter Olympic games the time before last, and watching Obama walk down the road when he became president, even though I didn't vote for him, we have not watched a television show at our house. That has changed in the last two weeks. I still only let them watch 1 maybe 2 PBS shows in a row before I get all panicky feeling inside and have to shut it off, but they genuinely enjoy it. Owen loves Zoboomafoo, and Word World. And I have yet to watch any other type of channel. It is permanently on PBS so I still have no idea about all the latest hot shows. Although, if I was completely honest with you, I would love to get HGTV which I watch at my parents house when we visit. But it's probably a good thing I don't have it, because it would be insane to spend that type of money to get one channel, and I probably would never get anything done around my house and gain a million pounds because I would watch it all day long.

4. Adele. I love her voice. Every time I hear her sing, I pretend that it's me belting out the tunes and everyone is so impressed with me. Because I can't exactly carry a tune outside the alto range. And really I am not that good in it.

5. Christopher Paolini's Inheritance series. The last book just came out in November. I started it but then got distracted by the Hunger Games. Chris finds my love of books with dragons, etc. in them bizarre. But I love this type of stuff. After 3 months of not reading a thing, it is nice to feel like I have the time to do this again. I also read the Steig Larsson girl with the dragon tattoo series, but I have mixed feelings about them. They are quite graphic in books one and two, and I just don't like that at all. Book 3 was much better. I kept reading all these reviews about them that were so amazing and I wanted to see for myself. They were okay. But I will definitely not be seeing the movie. I just don't need to visualize some of the things that were in the book. If anyone has read anything good lately and wants to share, that would be great. I read almost anything.

Think I'll stop at 5 since my "list" turned into giant paragraphs.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

First Night Away

On Friday, Chris' company had their Christmas party. They always do an amazing job, good food and music and it really is an all around enjoyable evening. This year, he surprised me by booking a hotel room at the Crowne Plaza where the party was. We were on the 20th floor right next to the Presidential Suite, and had an amazing view over the river.

I was completely surprised by it and so excited. We have not had a night away from the kids since Truitt was born 4 months ago.

Truth be told, I was a little nervous about what it might do to Moyz. We have made such amazing strides with him and I did not want to set him back at all. We left at 4 on Friday evening and didn't get back until about 12:30 Saturday afternoon. When we came home the kids were eating and they excitedly said "daddy" (because I am apparently chopped liver!) and babbled to us and then continued on with their lunch. Everything went great, no regressive behavior or bad attitudes toward us. It was a much needed break, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Of course, we were all glammed up looking hot and I did not even get one picture of us together. Isn't that the way it goes?

Friday, December 2, 2011

America's Newest Citizens

Presenting America's two newest citizens!