Saturday, June 25, 2011

Meet My New Friend, Mr. Banana

I think something is wrong with my brain. I love to report funny things my kids say (which others probably don't think are quite as funny as this mama does), but no matter how hard I try lately, my brain won't remember them for more than thirty seconds. Today, I choose to blame my lack of brain function on the fact that two little boys at my house seem to think that, since the sun is up, it is acceptable for them to wake up at 5:15am. I will go ahead and say that I go by the name Oscar, as in The Grouch, until at least 6:30, which is when I made Luke wait until before I would get him breakfast. At least I am not hiding or denying the fact that I am mean at that hour of the morning. And what's worse is that I don't even feel the need to apologize for it. I feel pretty sure that when one is woken up before 6am, that person is not responsible for being nice. I'm not sure why I told you all of that except that I do feel entitled to some sympathy for being woken up so early.

Though I can't remember anything cute or adorable my kids have said lately, I can remember all the foods we've been enjoying around here. I am not a fan of plain, straight out of the peel bananas, but I sure have grown fond of lots of desserts you can make with them. I've been a fan of the good ole classic homemade banana pudding for years, of course. But lately, I've also grown quite fond of frozen chocolate-covered bananas. We've been buying Diana's Bananas when they're BOGO at my beloved Publix. There may have been a time that, for the protection of our marriage, we kept separate boxes on each side of the freezer to ensure that we each got an equal share of bananas. Hey, we don't lead a newlywed Sunday School class for no reason. We've got this marriage thing figured out. A great thing about this little treat is that it's only 130 calories, unlike the (small) bag of Chex Mix I just downed.

I love to bake and am not so fond of cooking real food, and desserts are something I'm usually pretty good at making. (Other then the occassional bundt cake that just will not let go of the pan.) I felt very domesticated when I used some of our quickly ripening bananas a couple of weeks ago to make this chocolate chip banana bread.

Obviously, adding chocolate to bananas has become a trend in my life. Can you blame me? I'm of the firm opinion that chocolate should be added to most things. And if it can't be added to certain foods because it would just be disgusting, like lima beans, you should consume chocolate right after you get done eating the other food. I will say that I have become a chocolate snob. I greatly prefer dark as well as a higher class of chocolate than Hershey's. Dove is good. Godiva is amazing. But it's still not good on lima beans.

Last, but certainly not least, my love of frugality, my dislike of excess fat, and lactose's dislike of me collided with Chris' fondness for Chick-fil-A's banana pudding milkshakes. We have come up with our home recipe that, while it's certainly more than 130 calories, is not as bad as the 700+ calories in the Chick's shake and can be made in a lactose-free variety. It's simple.

1.Peel and freeze a banana.
2. Once it's frozen, combine 1/2 cup of milk (skim or soy would be great), 1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream (light or frozen yogurt is a good idea), a little bit of vanilla extract and the banana in a blender.
3. Liquefy it.
4. Then add six (or more) vanilla wafers. (This is where a low calorie substitute would be great, but unfortunately does not exist.)
5. Blend them just enough to chop them into small pieces.
6. Drink your little slice of banana heaven and thank me later.

I hope this has helped the banana's reputation with those of you who, like me, have always thought it really shouldn't be considered a fruit because it has a weird texture and just isn't yummy enough to be categorized with strawberries, watermelon, and apples. Sometimes we all need a little help to be attractive to others. I feel the bananas pain, so I had to do my duty and give it the help it needs. You're welcome, Mr. Banana.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Survivor, Season 27: Lone Mommy Island

I am proud and a little relieved to report that I and all four of my children survived our two-week stint without Daddy. I didn't even dread it so much this year, though it was my first time to do it with four kids, because I remembered that it usually doesn't turn out to be as bad as I fear it will be.

We spent the first week doing Vacation Bible School. I will not rehash the whole topic of how exhausting three and a half hours a day can make you, since I think I covered that last year. But, seriously, how can telling kids a Bible story and then escorting them to different rotation sites make me want to do nothing but lie in a lump of exhaustion for the rest of the day? I am going to blame the stress of giant ball time for a lot of that. Unfortunately, my prayers were not answered and giant ball time made a comeback this year. I am trusting the Lord that somehow He is working it all for good, though, for the life of me, I cannot see how. If you'd like to know of what I speak, you can read about it here. I don't think I can describe it again for fear of post traumatic stress disorder, or at the very least, nightmares tonight. In a stroke of luck, or shall we say God's grace, we invited our neighbor to come with us to VBS a couple of days. As it happened, she was as horrified by the giant flying balls and uncontrolled children scrambling for them as I was. Being the concerned caretaker of this precious child, I could not allow her to remain in such horrifying circumstances and had to find ways to otherwise occupy us until we could safely return to the worship room without the fear of being pummeled in the head with flying objects. I'm just nice like that.

We did survive the exhausting days of VBS and even survived a few trips to the pool with mom vs. four kids. Can I say that having a nine-year-old daughter is like having my own personal assistant? I'm afraid there were days in the past two weeks when every time I addressed her, it started with the words, "Maddie, can you...?" Her lot in life seems to be to help me keep her three brothers from a)killing each other and b)suffering the wrath of an insane mom. I really can't describe VBS or the stress of taking four kids to the pool any better than my friend MamaHen did here. Between sunscreening everyone and constantly counting to four, our trips to the pool were anything but relaxing. However, it kept the kids from uttering the dreaded, "I'm bored," so it was all worth it. Even the peeing in our friends' floor. I didn't pee in their floor, but someone who arrived with me just might have. And by pee, I mean like an elephant. Thank you, Lord, for hardwood floors.

At the beginning of week 2, just when I was starting to feel like Supermom or at least Super Christian who can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, we decided to go to Chick-fil-A. Seeing as how this is something we do on an embarrassingly regular basis and we had tons of free kids meal coupons, I thought it was a stroke of genius. or at the least a reasonable decision. Kids are happy and fed and I do not have to clean up the kitchen or try to fix dinner with people hanging from my belt loops and screaming my name. It all went great...kids behaved, Chick-fil-A lady was super helpful, food was yummy, and I only paid $3 for all of us to eat. Can I get a cheer for Chick-fil-A?

Then I noticed that Jack wasn't enjoying his super-tall free ice cream cone as much as I'd expected. He was sneezing uncontrollably and his eyes were starting to look a little funny. When he plopped the almost full cone down on the tray, declaring himself to be done, I knew something wasn't right. I'll spare the details, which might bore you and might dredge up memories I really don't want to relive, and say that it wasn't too long before I had ditched my other kids at Chick-fil-A with a friend who God sent to eat there that night and was driving 90+ mph down I-59 to the nearest hospital. The coupon Jack had received from VBS for his free kids' meal didn't tell us that also included would be a severe allergic reaction and a trip to the emergency room. Not really a selling point for the restaurant, I guess. The scary night ended with Jack doped up on antihistamines and me suffering the after effects of a serious adrenaline rush. I've got to give God a serious Thank You for giving us at least 6-7 green lights between Chick-fil-A and the hospital. Green is now my new favorite color.

We tried to make the rest of last week less suspensful, so we went to the ATL and hung out with my friend Nicole and her son, Daniel. As Maddie put it, "This is just like staying in a hotel," to which I added, "Yes, except without the fear of bodily secretions, germs, or bedbugs." Nicole was an incredibly gracious hostess. You pretty much have to be to allow four kids to invade your beautiful home without covering everything in bubble wrap and relegating them to the backyard. They did spend a lot of time in the backyard, but it was purely by choice. Emily went along for the ride, too, and I don't think we drove her crazy. That's pretty much my goal when my kids and I spend an extended period of time with anyone else...for them to leave with their sanity intact. Mission accomplished.

So when I say we all survived, I mean it. Some of us just by the iv in our arm. What made tv executives think it was a brilliant idea to spend millions of dollars sending people to exotic and supposedly dangerous locations to see who could survive the experience and come out on top? They could save a lot of money by sending some cameras to a few homes with lots of kids vs. one parent and just letting it all play out. It would have it all...danger, suspense, bickering, life-threatening moments, whining, dangerous flying objects, people covered in dirt and insect bites, women in bikinis. Okay, they'd only want to show that last one if they were going for the shock factor, but still. Maybe I'm onto something...or maybe Jon and Kate already cashed in on that one.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Summary of Spring

An alternate title of this post could be: "The Post in Which I Avoid Cleaning the Bathroom While Catching Everyone up on the Last Few Months at Our House, Which You Probably Care Nothing About." Needless to say, that's a bit wordy, so I went with the very dull "Summary of Spring."

About a month and a half ago, we celebrated Easter. I feel compelled to travel back in time and show you pictures from the event because a) I think my kids are cute and b) Nana spent a lot of time and money coming up with these perfectly adorable coordinated outfits for said kids. Also, I felt that your life would not be complete without seeing this little chubby hand holding this Easter egg.


Below is the best picture I got of Matthew and Emily with someone's crazy kids. I cannot imagine my own kids acting like this, so these are obviously imposters.






I love the picture of two bald heads. We often tease Sam that he looks just like his great grandfather with his bright blue eyes and hairless head.


See, these are my kids. One big, happy, cooperative family.







In May, Maddie had the nerve to turn nine years old, and then went one step further and got glasses. They make her look so grown up, and they hurt my bank account. She is thrilled that she can actually see leaves on trees and look cute and stylish at the same time. The picture below is not really proof of that since she's also sporting poofy hair and a "play shirt", but it's the only one I have of her wearing the glasses and I'm way too lazy to go take another one and then upload it. Yes, she'll hate me for this one day.



To be fair, I am showing an equally unflattering picture of myself just so that you can see my best birthday gift. Maddie and Grandma sewed matching aprons for me, Maddie, and Felicity. Who is Felicity, you ask? That would be Maddie's American Girl doll. She became a part of our family at Christmas and has pretty much gone everywhere with us since then.


While Maddie has been seeing the world more clearly and I've been June Cleavering it up with my apron and Old El Paso taco kit, Chris and Matthew were doing very manly things, like adding a new deck to our house. We've been wanting to do something like this for years since standing on our upstairs deck and looking at the kids on the playground gives you basically the same experience as climbing Everest. With our new "down porch" as Luke calls it, we can enjoy some shade and actually watch the kids play.




And I'll leave you with what could be called dessert in photographic form. Who could ask for a sweeter ending than this?