Sunday, November 27, 2016

Martin / Kuch Thanksgiving!

 Last year was our first year having Thanksgiving at our house and it just downright stunk. We decided to do things a little differently since we knew the kids wouldn't eat turkey. We got a pork loin roast and tried a new recipe. It was so awful I ended up having cereal for Thanksgiving dinner. Now I LOVE cereal, but on thank you! On top of the awful dinner I did the worst thing I could possibly do....I checked Facebook. Seeing all those lovely meals and families getting together just made my heart hurt and put me in a really sour mood. It's not like we weren't invited to spend time with family we just couldn't go because Michael was on-call and I didn't want to go with the kids and leave him home by himself. 

This year I decided that I really wanted to give it another try and do the whole Thanksgiving thing again. I am 36 years old and have never cooked a turkey so I thought it was high time that I tackle that challenge. I did invite our friends the Kuch's to join us, but even if they weren't able to come I was going to go all out and we were having a traditional Thanksgiving...even if the kids hated the turkey. Thankfully they were able to come and join us and make it that much more memorable!

A few weeks before Thanksgiving I went over the Kuch's house to plan our menu. Christina was amazing and offered to bring the sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry relish and a veggie tray. She really made it much easier on me for sure! My main obstacle was going to be the turkey. I knew I didn't want to deal with thawing out a big bird. I wanted to purchase a bird that was only refrigerated. From what I had heard those turkeys are always more expensive so I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. I ended up going to Sam's Club to pick up our Christmas Cards and I found a Jenny O refrigerated turkey for only .99 a lb. I got an almost 13 lb turkey for under $13! Score! 

On Thanksgiving morning I pulled the turkey out to let it come closer to room temperature. I read that you should do that! I had planned all along to cook the turkey in one of those bags. I did get a little nervous and had to call my mom when the bag instructions said it would only take 2-2.5 hours to cook, but then the instructions on the turkey said it would take 4-4.5 hours. We talked about it and decided that the bag must cook it faster since it really holds in the heat. So I followed the bag instructions. After figuring that out I got the turkey out of the bag and found the neck...ewww! I could not for the life of me find the gibbets though. Michael ended up having to come in and find them. They were under some flap of skin! I rinsed the turkey and then patted it dry. I decided since this was my first attempt I didn't want to go all crazy with spices so I stuck with the basics. I used salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. I brushed on melted butter and then rubbed the seasoning all over the turkey. Michael helped me load the turkey into the bag, I used the tie that came with the bag and then cut a few slits in the bag. 

In the oven ready to go! The most confusing part of this whole part was figuring out where exactly to stick the thermometer. All the instructions say to stick it in the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone. Well evidently I'm really bad at this because after an hour the temperature was at 200 degrees....that was so not right! 

I wanted the table to be really pretty so I used my autumn tablecloth, colonial dishes, gold flatware, crystal glasses and I borrowed green napkins from my parents. I also used some autumn decorations that I had around the house to make a cute centerpiece. Of course Charlie loved that centerpiece and wanted to lay right next to it. I took him off the table at least 5 times and Michael took him off a few times as well. He finally got sequestered to the garage until after dinner. 

The kiddos did not get to use the crystal glasses so they used the glass cups that go to my punch bowl. A couple days before Thanksgiving I had some time on my hands so I made napkin rings with everyone's name on them. 

 Here's a close up look at the centerpiece. It was actually a swag that I bent into an S shape. I had these two pumpkin candle holders that I put into the curved sections of the S shape. 

The Kuch's were at the house before 1pm and I believe we were eating right around 2pm.  Since the table was full with 11 people I knew that we couldn't have all the food on it. We did have the salt, pepper, butter, gravy, rolls, olives and pickles at the table. Everything else was on the kitchen counter.

 We gathered everyone at the table, thanked God for all our blessings and then dished up the food for the kids and ourselves.  

The turkey was awesome! Since I knew I wasn't getting an accurate reading with the thermometer I went ahead and cooked it for 3 hours. The pop up thermometer that was in the turkey had popped up....although I read those aren't really I figured that it was done. We let it sit for 30 minutes to make sure the juices distributed throughout the bird. Then it was time to cut into it. This was when I knew it was going to be just fine. I went to removed the turkey leg and the entire bone just came right out. It was so juicy and wonderful! I was feeling pretty proud of myself. 


 After we let Charlie back in from the garage he was being quite feisty while playing with his ball toy. 

He wasn't sure what to think of the camera so he tried to smell it while I was talking a picture. 


After the kids ate their food they ran off to play and us adults got to sit and visit. We had a nice time chatting. 


Me and my man!!! 


Owen decided to be really creative and spell his name with dominoes.

Just like the 4th of July I thought it would be fun to do a craft with the kids. I always feel like a don't get good quality time with my kids during holidays because they are playing with the other kids and we are visiting with the adults. Not that those are bad things, but I do like to make memories with my kids. Doing a craft with them helps to do that. We get some quality time together making a fun memory and then they can go play and us adults can talk and I don't feel like an absentee parent. The day Christina and I met to talk about the menu I found this idea on Pinterest and the very next day I went out and bought most of the materials we needed for it. 

It did involve some prep work on my end. I had to cut the burlap and then sew the edges so they wouldn't completely fall apart. It really wasn't that big of a deal since I spread it out over a few days. 


 The day before Thanksgiving I got all the paints at Joann's since they were on sale for .99 a piece. 

Just like the craft on the 4th of July this one involved hand prints. 


 I didn't think to borrow one of my Dad's tables so we only had my small craft table to work on. That meant that we could only work with two kids at a time. Christina and I helped with the painting while Michael and Bill helped the kids rinse the paint off their hands and wash the paint off the stencils. 

At first we were just going to have the kids do the craft, but then I thought it would be silly if the parents didn't make some too! 


Finally once everyone was finished with their craft we had dessert. I think the kids were more excited about the dessert than the craft! 


I thought that some of the kids wouldn't want pumpkin pie so I made vanilla ice cream and brownies as an alternative. On Tuesday my plan was to go to Costco to buy the pumpkin pie, but then I woke up feeling not so hot. Thankfully my parents were coming up that night to go to Owen's school play so they were awesome and stopped on there way here and grabbed the pie for me. Of course they said it was a mad house! 

I honestly have no idea why he's posed like this! 


Some of the kids wanted to have a little bit of everything! 


The best part of Thanksgiving!!! 




Cute girls!!! 


After waiting for our place mats to dry we were able to do the finishing touches and then it was picture time with our creations.  

I love making a craft that is actually the t-shirts on the 4th of July. I hope these place mats are something that get used a lot over the years. Here's a close up shot of a few of them. 

Zeke and I actually made this one as an example the day before Thanksgiving. My hands are the two outer hands and his are the inner hands. 


All of the kids decided to have their names on them. Ella was the only one that put hers on the bottom instead of the top. 


Even though we got Bill to participate Michael wasn't really into it so I went ahead and made his. I thought it would be fun to use Seahawk colors and then put his name in brown like a football. 

Overall this Thanksgiving was hands down....pup intended....WAY better than last year. It was great to have friends over and share this time together. Loved eating, crafting and chatting with them. We are so blessed to have great friends that we really consider family in our lives! 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Special Treat!

The other day Zeke and I needed to head down to Sam's Club to pick up our Christmas Cards. Before going shopping though Zeke asked to play on the mall toys so off we went. He honestly only played on the toys for 5 minutes...hence no pictures. He wanted to go into the discount book store to "look" around. Of course he asked for everything under the sun, but we ended up coming out empty handed. I was hoping they would have some Berenstain Bears books, but they didn't. 

We wandered over to Old Navy, but didn't have an luck at finding anything for me. Honestly I don't know why that mall is called The Outlet Collection since the prices are the same as the regular stores. Yes, they do have a clearance section, but so do the normal stores. Kind of irritating! 

On the way back to the entrance we came in we had to pass the food court and there right in front of us was Cinnabon! I had eaten my lunch in the van on the way to the mall and Zeke had eaten his as we walked around the mall so we were both ready for a treat. 

I ended up getting the cute little mini ones. Two for him and two for me! 

My goof boy! 

It was fun to get to treat just him and I. I'm usually super money conscience when we are out with the kids, but when there is just one it doesn't seem so bad. I was thinking about buying a box and bringing them home for the whole family, but they must think those rolls are dipped in gold because I was not going to pay $20 for a box of Cinnabons. Even though they are super way! As it was the minis cost me $4.75! I'm glad I spent the money though. Zeke ended up saving one of his rolls and he ate it later after the kids got home and Ella said it was "no fair"! I think I need to plan taking each of the kids out on a date so they can have some special time with Mommy and get a special treat all to themselves! 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Big Milestone!!!

Owen has a friend!!! 

I know that might seem like a funny milestone, but seriously this is huge! My sweet Owen is very much like his Daddy. He enjoys people in general and he enjoys being out for the most part, but if he had a choice he would choose to stay home and play on the computer. He very much likes solitary things or games that are designed for just two players and he's a huge reader!!! Owen is quite confident in himself and honestly he hasn't really seen a need for friends. I mean sure he is good at playing with others most of the time, but for the most part the boys he plays with have all been Jack's friends. 

Now I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that at all. God made Owen the way he is and his sweet personality is perfect for him. Since I'm a super social...I need friends in my life person it's been hard for me to relate to him and understand his lack of need for friends in his life. I've also thought in the past that he might be sad or feel like he's missing out on something because he doesn't have any true friendships, but that's simply not the case. That's how I would feel, but that is not how Owen feels at all! He is super content with his life and feels like nothing is lacking! I love that about him!

Just recently my friend Natalie watching the kids for me after school since I was on jury duty and couldn't pick them up on time. She has 3 kiddos....her oldest is Owen's age. Owen and Kegan have gone to the same school for 4 years now and they are in the same grade, but they've never had the same teacher. When the boys were younger Natalie and I attended a play group together at a church, but one of Kegan's other friends was there as well and they knew each other better so the boys just didn't hit it off. After going to Kegan's house Owen was so excited to tell me all about Minecraft and how Kegan showed him how to play it and how he wants to save his money to buy the game and so on. I honestly don't know that much about Minecraft except that it's a building sort of game I think. The people all looks like blocks so it looks funny to me, but he was super stoked about it. He actually asked if he could go to Kegan's house again to play with him and learn more. WHAT?!?!

The next time Natalie came over to pray with my Mom's In Prayer group we got to talking about the boys and I found out that Kegan really likes solitary things as well. He likes computer games and chess and reading. The boys really have so much in common. So we planned to have Owen go home on the same bus as Kegan and get to play until Daddy picked him up on his way home from work. Owen had so much fun! 

The following week on Veteran's day Natalie has to take her daughter to the doctor's so we watched Kegan and his younger brother. Owen had just recently gotten some cool snake cards that you play War with. Owen want to show Kegan how to play and they had lots of fun. 

It was so nice listening to Owen play with another boy his age. They were laughing and being silly and just having a great time. 

I've already talked with Natalie and Kegan is going to come with us for Owen's 10th Birthday in January. See with our kids I plan themed birthdays until their 10 birthday. That is the their big special birthday where we will pay to go out somewhere. Owen is going to Game Works in Seattle. On Thursday nights they have a special where you can buy an unlimited game card for only $10 per person. Also happy hour will be going on when they get there so Michael will order a bunch of appetizers for the kids and adults to munch on. When we started planning this birthday years ago....yes I plan that far ahead...the only kids we had in our mind that would come were actually Jack's friends. Now Owen has an actual friend that is his that's going to come. There is also another boy at his school that he gets along with that we are going to invite as well. 

I'm so excited for Owen...I know that he will probably never have a huge amount of really close friends, but that's okay. Maybe he will have just have a few really close buddies that stick with him for the rest of his life. What a gift that would be! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Playing At The Mall!

I've recently been trying to make sure I'm doing things with Zeke that I would have done with Owen or any of the other kids when they were younger. For some reason I don't necessarily take just Zeke and go somewhere. I usually wait until the other kids are home. Last week we needed to go to Target so I thought this was the perfect time to just do something fun with Zeke. So we headed down to the toys at the mall. 

Sometimes it can take Zeke a while to open up and go play with the toys, but he did great and just jumped right in. 

There were a few kids there, but it wasn't overly crowded so that was nice! He get a little nervous when there are a lot of kids around. 

I'm swimming in the water mama! 

Taking a trip down the river in a kayak!

It was fun watching him play and it really just hit me that this time next year I won't be able to do this stuff with him during the day. He'll be a big boy and he'll be off to Kindergarten learning and having so much fun at school. It made me a little sad, but I'm also excited for him too. Honestly he could probably go to Kindergarten right now he's such a smarty and he wants to learn so badly. It has made me realize even more that I need to do this stuff with him more often. Not necessarily go somewhere so I can check it off my list, but to take Zeke somewhere fun for the sole reason of going somewhere fun with Zeke. 

The very day after this outing we were on our way home from MOPS and it was so gorgeous out that instead of going straight home....even though Zeke hadn't had lunch yet...we drove to the park to play. I swung Zeke and went down on the slide with him and we even walk around the track at the park. Then to top it off we got a Slurpee on the way home. It was so much fun to take that time to just focus on my boy. Life gets crazy and my to do list is long...especially since the holidays are coming up. I'm going to try to be more intentional during this phase of Zeke's life! In just a few short months his life is going to look completely different and so will mine! 

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Best Timing!

On Tuesday the 1st of November the kids and I were on our way home from the free mini LEGO build at the mall. Owen mentioned something about BFF's and Ella piped up and said that Logan was her BFF. A few minutes later she says, "Mommy I feel like I'm going to cry!" Then she just burst into tears and starts saying over and over "I miss Logan!" It was the most saddest thing ever! Ella and Logan hadn't seen each other since our trip to Eastern Washington in August and she hadn't really mentioned Logan all that much. She for the most part does really well, but on this particular occasion she was just so distraught! Later that night I called Jen so we could try to get Logan and Ella to talk on the phone together. Getting two 6 year olds to talk on the phone though is almost impossible. It's just not natural for them. They want to SEE each other! 

The amazing thing was that a couple weeks prior to this Jen had messaged me and asked if we were going to be in town the weekend of the 6th. Jen and Logan were coming over to Seattle so Logan could go to her audiologist on Friday the 5th. It seriously couldn't have been better timing! Logan and Jen ended up coming over on Friday night for dinner and they stayed for 5 hours! It was just what Ella's heart needed! 

I honestly think that Ella and Logan are closer now than they were when we saw her every day. Before it was just a given that she'd see Logan, but now that it's few and far between they both cherish the time they do get with each other. They also just pick right back up where they left off and start playing. They never even had the slightest disagreement! 

It was also so fun for Michael and I to get to chat with Jen for hours as well. When Jen would come pick up Logan at night when I was watching her all the time, at least once a week she would stay until after 6pm and we'd just chat and chat. I miss that time with her as well!

It was such a wonderful evening and it sure filled Ella's heart with joy to get to spend quality time with her BFF!!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Thankful Leaves!

My position at MOPS is technically called the Creative Activities Coordinator. I'm more known as the craft lady though. I haven't really done many creative activities. This year I thought that it would be fun for me to provide the materials to do a creative activity at home with their families. So I found some leaf cut out patterns and asked the lady in the church office if she could print them out on colored cardstock. The ladies were able to take a bunch of leaves home to their families to do the creative activity. 

We have chosen to do ours after dinner every every night is a lofty goal, but still it's what I aim for. Really because life gets in the way we usually don't cut them out every night and then we just make up for it the next night by cutting out two leaves instead of one. 

Each of the kids got their own bundle of leaves and scissors. 

They can chose whichever leaf they want to cut out that particular night. 

Then they write what they are thankful for on that leaf. 

It's been fun seeing what they write down. For example Owen was thankful for that my big guy sees school as a blessing! 

We have chosen to put our leaves up on the sliding glass door in our dining room. We have to put them all up high since Charlie will try to jump up and get them. This was after the first night of cutting out leaves. Michael and I are participating as well. After we cut them out and write down what we are thankfully for we go around the table and say what we wrote and why we are thankful for that particular person or thing. I love this activity and it's really so easy!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Charlie Had Surgery!

On Wednesday November 2nd Zeke and I took Charlie to the Vet to be neutered. We were originally going to wait until he was 6 months because according to the first Vet office we took him to that's when they suggested that it get done. But lately Charlie had been trying to dominate our arms and legs. Thankfully he didn't know what motions to do, but he was straddling our appendages biting them and not wanting to let go. was time! 

The first Vet office we took Charlie to was in our city and I really really wanted to take him there. For some reason the older I get the more I want to support the community we live in. So his first check up, shots and blood draw for testing were done there. To the tune of almost $200. I about choked when they told me the total. After that one of our friends took their cat to the Vets For Less clinic in Federal Way and said they were great. I asked what the cost would be for neutering and he texted me back saying it was $38 for the neutering and another $19.50 for the pain meds. AWESOME!!! Michael did want me to find out what the Vet we originally took Charlie to would cost since we had already established a little bit of a relationship with them. So I called and they emailed me an estimate for him to be neutered.....$400!!! That did include his second round of shots, the exam, the neutering (which by itself was $120) and it also included getting him micro-chipped. No thanks! Vets For we come! 

They were SO amazing! If you have an animal and want to get excellent care for a fraction of the price take your pets there. Honestly the sweetest people work there and it was an amazing experience all around. Charlie did so good! The total bill did come to $107...that included the neutering, pain meds and the rest of his shots. Still doing all that was cheaper than just the neutering at the other clinic. 

After picking Charlie up at the Vet we still had to run a few errands around town. Charlie does great in the van. He never makes a peep....he just sits there and chills out. 

When we got home I let him out of his carrier and he was happy to come right out. 

All the kids had been so worried about Charlie. We had told them what the surgery would entail and why we were having it done. We also let them know that they shouldn't be picking up Charlie for a few days. 

The lady at the clinic warned that Charlie might go through what they call Morphine Madness and run around like a crazy animal, but he never did. He was extra alert for most of the afternoon and didn't fall asleep for a few hours, but he was just fine. He was able to start eating again at 1pm, but he didn't really have a good eating session until later in the evening when I set him down in front of his food and then he went to town for about 5 minutes just stuffing his face! 

Charlie is now doing great. His nether regions had to be all shaved for the surgery so he's not quite modest right now, but once the hair grows back he'll be more covered up down there. He bounced back quite fast and thankfully never had to be put in the cone of shame. We've also noticed that he's mellowed out a teeny bit...especially at night. Thankfully....I've been getting full nights sleep every since his surgery!