Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Mom and Dad have been treating their adult children and their spouses to a corned beef and cabbage dinner at church for countless years. This year, we decided to forego having them buy tickets in favor of  cooking this dinner ourselves and enjoying it in the comfort of my parents' home. The Sunday after St. Patrick's was perfect for a family get together.
Our busy schedules didn't allow for a lot of logistical planning, but the word on the street was to show up with something to add to the meal. I purchased my groceries on the way up to Mom's and cooked it on her stove so that I wouldn't have to travel with boiling water (like Aunt Cecilia did!).  I enjoyed having extra time to visit while it cooked. Carrots and red potatoes filled this dish.
Uncle Tom invented a new way to cook this traditional "New England Boiled Dinner" by roasting it in the oven. I am now sold on this method of roasting because his meat, potatoes and especially the most important part- the CABBAGE, were superior in taste to their boiled counterparts!!!!!
We had about 15 pounds of corned beef since we didn't have time to touch base about who was bringing what. This was certainly no problem as the meat was all delicious and cut into thicker strips then when served at the catered dinner. Larry and I love this meal with hot horseradish mixed with sour cream. You know you're alive when the top of your head starts to get so hot its on fire! We all agreed that this meal was even tastier than the delicious meal at church that we have all enjoyed for years.
Mom had a long table set with a green tablecloth. She had a variety of mustards available to put on the meat. I used a sweet, hot mustard that was so delicious.
The youngest grandchildren joined us.

Uncle Jerry and Uncle Dan brought fresh bakery pies and Kat tried her hand at making a wonderful Bread Pudding substituting chocolate chips for raisins. It was moist and very tasty.

 I am so disappointed that this picture turned out blurry... Mom and Dad love to celebrate their Irish heritage and have passed that on to us. Since this meal has always had expensive tickets involved, we let this be the one time that the grandchildren stayed home. This year we changed that up slightly and they all went to Aunt Nancy's house.
Sixteen of them had a terrific time eating pizza and playing outdoors.

They all had a great time, as we did, celebrating Saint Patrick's Day together!

Saint Patrick's Day

I saw this festive decoration at a doctor's office a few weeks ago and took a picture of it because I knew that Saint Patrick's Day is a holiday that we celebrate.
Kristy was ready to party with some gorgeous emerald and gold glitter nail polish. We are lucky to have her and her thoughtful ways!
Precious was ready for Spring forgetting all about wearing green! She got no pinches but extra kisses instead!
It was a treat to see this beautiful boy and his parents who spent the day with us. We were joined by good friends in an impromptu afternoon of outdoor visiting, most folks wearing  differing shades of green.
We were so grateful for having so much fun with family and friends throughout a lovely day.

The Borrowers

My Mom has an established tradition with her granchildren which is just one of the many ways she shows her love to them. On her refrigerator is a list on which her grandchildren can write down what it is that they have borrowed from her. That primarily is movies but my nephew Jackson has added to that by listing specific toys that he wanted to take home to play with.

Many years ago Mom began to occasionally purchase a new video if it were particularly suitable for children. The grandchildren could watch it at her house while visiting. Over the years she has built up quite a collection. Now she buys movies on DVD and they are more suited for whole families as many of the children have gotten older. Some years there are a lot of great movies worth buying and other years not as many that she would want them to see.
 Each kid can borrow one movie until they come back to visit the next time. I can't tell you how much they look forward to this!!! They LOVE having this special privilege. Almost every visit to Grandma's house includes the return of a movie and the choosing of another one. This system is in my mind extremely efficient. Mom's purchase of one movie will be viewed by over thirty people, multiple times.
Even her great-grandchildren know about her lending tradition! It makes me so happy that my grandson is now borrowing from me in the same way, with a list on the refrigerator!

A Touch of Spring

Meg and Jon were able to find a very good deal on this gorgeous red bike and treated their little man to his first bicycle. He also received the helmet which is teaching him that the two go together. In order to ride the bike, he wears the helmet. This makes sense to him since he sees all of his uncles wearing helmets to ride the ATV's. My generation didn't wear helmets but now it is definitely the standard practice.
You can tell by the shadows that it is very early spring. In fact it is very late winter still but the weather is getting milder daily.
If the kids want to play outside, it is a great idea to let them. They'll get their work done later in the day.

Fresh air and exercise is something that kids can't get too much of. Come on Spring!

Cupcake Fairies

Juby received a wonderful cupcake kit for Christmas that contained pretty paper cupcake holders and these colorful fairy toothpicks to decorate them with.
Each day as a part of her schoolwork, she has a blank section of her planner labeled "Craft". That's a catch all to record and give credit for all the interesting things a child does on any given day. On this day she announced that she would be making these cupcakes and would like to do it all by herself.

They turned out very well and were enjoyed by the whole family.

Hidden Talent

By God's Grace, this little lady has learned, at the age of four months, to drink from a bottle while her mother is away! This little preemie nipple is what did it and her own readiness to accept less than the best delivery system intended by nature.
Prior to the last two weeks which have been a joy, Precious had to be spoon fed every drop of milk. That wasn't efficient and also didn't provide for a baby's need to suck to make them happy and contented. It was quite difficult for her and frustrating for the rest of us.
Now she is much happier and even more of a pleasure to care for.

Lunch Lady

The one part of sending the older kids to school that I didn't realize I would enjoy so much has been  making their lunches. Monday through Friday I rise at 6 am to wake the school kids and begin my day by fixing packed lunches.
Ham and cheese is our mainstay. I always put lettuce (for crispiness) on one side of the bread and cheese on the other with the ham in between to keep the bread dry.
I am a person who speaks the "love language" of acts of service, that is I show my love by doing things for people. Other "love languages" are caring touch, kind words, giving gifts and there is one other one. I think it is spending time!
I try to show my love to the kids who are leaving for the day by giving them a nice lunch. In general, I very much enjoy feeding people.
These Rubbermaid sandwich keepers are terrific and of course are reusable. I bought enough so that I'm not scrambling to pull them out of the dishwasher in the morning but have plenty of back-up. I have packed many lunches for Meg, Tori and Brandon who was staying in the guest room one night a week for an early class.
Since our new favorite grocery store has come to town, I can pack a fun and delicious lunch less expensively! These 40 Rice Krispy Treats lasted for a couple of weeks. For the same reason, this  yogurt (at 6 for a dollar) has become a daily addition. I have a huge pack of plastic spoons and the kids just throw them out each day.
I usually pack a fruit or a vegetable each day as well. Sliced apples stay fresh in a baggie with the addition of a few drops of lemon or lime juice.
Yeah, I love symmetry!
On Fridays in Lent, meat is out of course. I could have sent peanut butter and jelly but I wanted to serve carb free protein. I quickly boiled and peeled some eggs and put a little salt and pepper in the container. On this day baby carrots were the veggie and Wheat Thins were the bread item.
By packing lunch I am able to make an accurate carb count which I write on a piece of paper and tape onto Natalie's sandwich keeper. She can give the proper amount of insulin for her lunch because I've already looked at all the packaging at home and done the math. I send bottled water but we reuse the bottles by refilling them at home.
The kids use lunch boxes, Sam the green and Natalie takes her heartthrob to school each day - JB! She also takes a second bottle of water to drink throughout the day. What I thought might be a chore at the beginning of the year has turned out to be a daily source of creative pleasure!

Thank you, Dear Lord for food to feed my children with. Please provide for all those who are hungry and help us to do the same. Amen.

Dad's First Haircut

Sam's hair had gotten so unmanageable that he wanted it cut immediately. He couldn't wait for me to finish getting dressed for the day and took Larry up on his offer to cut his hair for the very first time. All we can say is Nevermore. I did what I could but it was decided that Sam should go to the barbershop for repair.
Sonny did a fantastic job of blending Sam's hair.
The best part is that Sam loves it this short!

A Sunday Walk in the Woods

The weather was warm and we decided to make a plan to better enjoy Sunday afternoon. I didn't want to let the day pass without doing something special as a family to celebrate the Lord's Day in a more intentional way. It was becoming too easy to just sit inside but nicer weather made that seem like a missed opportunity! Barbequed hotdogs started us off.
It's always fun to have a nice lunch and cooking on the grill made it an occasion as it was our first cook-out of the year.
Tim had already eaten and so, through the window, we watched him work!
This industrious fellow power washed three ATV's from the previous day's wild mountain adventure.
After lunch, most of us were up for a walk in the woods!
From the pictures I can see that it must have been chillier than I remembered. At the time it seemed warmer than it had been previously.
Sam was trying to reach into a creek with his foot and he spontaneously grabbed John's hand to hold onto. In this picture their clasped hands are behind the tree. I am so glad that I was there to see it.
Professional photographer I'm not but this mother's heart was joyful to have witnessed this moment between brothers.

Jeff, Sam and John RAN up the steep hill! For me, it was a bear! There is an alternative path around it that I will be taking in the future!
This view made it all worth while.
Getting some exercise outside and being together to enjoy it made for a wonderful Sunday afternoon!