Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fancy nails and other news

Several weeks ago Dylan and Haley bought these press-on nails for the girls. They're Disney princesses. I've been hiding saving them in my purse but this morning Patience found them, and let's just say, she wasn't exactly living up to her name regarding waiting to put them on!

So after doing the morning chores I put them on the girls. Of course they love them! I don't know how long they're going to last as they're not exactly careful, or used to having nails of any length at all. In the meantime, they look pretty stinkin' cute!

Dylan has applied for the Business School at University of the Fraser Valley, so I'd say that he's pretty much officially changed lanes as far as a degree and career go.

Don went to the opthomalogist this morning and now his eyes are frozen and dilated. He found out that he does need some reading glasses, and is bemoaning getting old.

Nathan enjoyed his first 3-day weekend. He visited a new church which is pretty close to his condo and he plans on going back his next weekend off. He also got hooked up with some drop-in floor hockey, so he's very happy about that.

Other that that, life is pretty much going along as usual.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Menu Plan 5/29-6/4

Spaghetti and meat balls, salad, garlic bread

Kraft Dinner
Taco bake

Breakfast sandwiches
Chicken noodle soup
Pizza on the barbeque, salad

Cream of wheat
BBQ Beef sandwiches, salad

Hot dogs, homemade mac-n-cheese

Toasted cheese sandwiches
Stir-fry veggies with rice

Smokies on the bar-b
Vegetable soup, homemade bread

Tri-service ball

Tonight Sean is attending the Tri-serivce ball, which is a huge formal event for all the cadets in the Lower Mainland, whether they be sea, air, or army cadets. Sean's date is the lovely Jessica Morgan-Laing, or JML for short. They left from the CTC around 5:00 on the bus, and that same bus will bring them back to the CTC at around 1:00 A.M. Dylan, bless his heart, offered to pick them up so that his aged parents can sleep soundly through the night. Guess who my favorite is right now?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

On food waste

The most expensive food you'll ever buy is the food that gets wasted. I can't count the number of times that I've optomistically filled my crisper drawers with produce and piled my fruit bowls with apples and bananas, all bought at "sale" prices. I don't think I've ever used every single item. Something at the bottom of my crisper drawer is way past its prime by the time I am loading up the drawers again, and I just end up throwing it away. What a shame.

So, as of a few days ago I am going to try to be more intentional about using what I have.

The first step is knowing what's on hand.

The second step is menu planning around that.

If you have produce that is getting ready to be unusable, you can make soup! On Tuesday I found two heads of broccoli that I definitely should have used last week. So I made broccoli soup using potatoes that were already sprouting. So instead of trash, I had a meal! I usually make some homemade whole wheat bread to go along with a soup meal...then everyone seems to leave the table feeling more satisfied.

If veggies are starting to expire but aren't necessarily soup veggies, search the internet for recipes to use it up! I have found some of my best recipes this way.

If you have fruit that's expiring try using it in muffins or smoothies. Or slice and freeze it.

I'm also trying to think outside of the box about not wasting food. Like...what about the zest of oranges and lemons? I know, I know, some would consider that going overboard. But do you know you can zest a lemon in less than 2 minutes and if you add that to your regular blueberry muffin batter, all of a sudden you have an extraordinary creation. If you take an extra few minutes and add a struesel topping on your muffins, you are now competing with Starbuck's, but that's beside the point.

My goal is to not let anything go to waste...but just in case I don't meet that goal, I have a back-up plan: chickens! They happily eat anything I give them : )

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Family portraits

The last time we had family portraits done was in 2007. These were in dire need of updating! Since we now have a wonderful photographer who does great work and has reasonable fees, we I decided that during Nathan's leave we would take advantage of the entire family being together and get them done again. I'm so glad we took the time and effort...look at my beautiful family!

And of course we got the family portrait that I'm now using in my blog header. So now we should be good for a few years!

Nathan's contact information

Here's Nathan's new information. I've decided that I'm just going to dedicate an entire page in my address book to him : )

6 S. 5th Place #6
Long Beach, Ca 90802
(home) 562-435-9682
(cell) 562-673-6864

His home phone line isn't getting installed until May 28. I'm sure he'd love to hear from family and friends!

On giving up afternoon naps...

Yesterday afternoon I asked Nick every 30 minutes or so if he wanted to take a nap. "Nope," was his consistent reply. He actually did really well right up to about 4:00 when he sat down with Patience to watch a t.v. show. I let him sleep about 30 minutes and then I woke him up so as to not ruin the opportunity for an early bedtime. I think this is going to be a slow, painful transition but it will make afternoon preschool easier for everyone come September.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Menu 5/22-5/28

Sunday-Don's birthday bbq

Monday-Huge chef salad with lots of yummy stuff!

Tuesday-Bean and beef burritos

Wednesday-Pasta with meat sauce, garlic bread

Thursday-Meatloaf, veggies, biscuits

Friday-Use-it-up Soup, homemade whole-wheat bread

Saturday-Homemade pizza


After Nick's nap I took the Littles to this playground to celebrate the sunshine!

Fort Langley Victoria Day parade

This is the first year that we've been spectators at this parade since the year that Patience was born. I remember because she was a tiny newborn baby, sleeping in her stroller, and when the firetruck drove by and sounded the siren it didn't wake her up. So then my mom thought she must have hearing problems : )

Walking from where we parked to the parade route.

The girls "smiling for Nathan."

RCMP motorcycle drill team. Nick loved this!

Jordyn wearing the pirate hat that a local bank was giving out.

Nick in his "top-row" seat. The view was great from up there!

Nick didn't want to get too close to that "gug," even though it wasn't real.

He was still leary of it even though he had Jordyn to protect him : )

We took this picutre for Nathan...here is the girls' future!

Sean leading the Guard behind Coxswain John Gammeter.

It wasn't easy, but we finally got Sean to smile! And look, John's smiling too, so we got two for the price of one : )

Nick loved this as well...it was an old steam-powered tractor but it whistled JUST like a real steam engine.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Happy Birthday, Don!

And what a wonderful birthday he had! It started out with the entire family attending church together which is always nice. After church, Don got to watch the Canucks wallup the Sharks. When the game was over, he went with the Littles to the school playground and then came home to open presents. Let's just say he was super spoiled this year!

Haley and Nick enjoying the swing.
Don with all his booty...

Dylan, Haley, Nick, Sean

Don's new barbque!

Tomatos! We're easing Don back into tomato gardening...

The girls help him open his new sandals.

New white jacket, new white shoes!

After opening presents, Don cooked delicious angus hamburgers for the family. They were delish! Don loved cooking on the new barbeque...it's definitely a few steps up from the old rig! And for dessert we had Lemon Cream Cheese Crisp. It was a super yummy pie that I bought at Costco. All in all it was a fantastic day...what a wonderful way to turn 45!

Friday, May 20, 2011

First campout of the season!

We've (finally) been blessed with warm, sunny weather after such a cold, wet spring. Yesterday afternoon Don and the girls set up a tent in the backyard for our first campout of the season. The plan was for just Don and the girls to sleep there but at the last minute Don took Nick out, too. Don set up the laptop to play Cars. Patience fell asleep during the movie, but I heard Nick and Jordyn awake and talking after 10:00 when I headed up to bed.

Everyone was awake by 5:30. Of course it's broad daylight by then, so that doesn't help : ) It's 9:00 a.m. now and Nick is already down for his nap.

Dylan's new job is working out really well! He leaves the house around 5:30 a.m. so he has a self-imposed bedtime of 9:30 or so. He's been able to work some overtime a couple of days this week, which he's happy to do at time and a half!

Yesterday I brought up all the girls' summer clothes and washed them. The girls were so excited to be able to put on shorts and t-shirts. You would have thought that they were going to Disneyland by the way they were yelling with joy : )

We celebrated the arrival of spring by planting seeds in my new raised garden beds out back.

Haley's grad pictures are up! Another wonderful photo session by Anita...

Today Nathan starts his new job at the LA/Long Beach small boat station. He told me on the phone last night that when he visited the station last week the station really reminded him of the Boat Shed on Quadra! I imagine he'll soon be as dark as he is in these pictures. I told him not to expect a barbequed steak for dinner every night. I'll talk to him again Monday after he finishes his 72-hour shift and see what he really thinks. He told me that yesterday he played roller hockey at this nice outdoor roller hockey rink that's run by the Long Beach Parks and Rec department and then afterwards he rode his bike along the beach path all the way to Belmont Shores.

This weekend is Don's birthday as well as Victoria Day so we'll be enjoying a 3-day weekend! Hopefully the weather will continue to be this lovely.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

On and around the farm today...

Sean and his jazz band are playing at MusicFest Canada...go Red Hot Jazz!

Dylan is working his first shift at Freybe Gourmet Foods.

Haley is having her grad photoshoot with Anita Chapman, our resident favorite photographer.

Nathan and my parents continue to assemble dozens of pieces of IKEA furniture. When I called this morning to check their progress his movers were just arriving with his household goods from Alaska.

Don is working onsite today, at a business very near to Freybe's. I said he should go have lunch with Dylan : )

Today I am tackling the disaster that we refer to as a "toy room." Too many toys for the Littles to keep orderly. We'll see which ones they're willing to part with.

Tonight's dinner: Shish-kabobs with marinated beef, red bell peppers, and mushrooms. Don and I will thoroughly enjoy these. Everyone else might opt for leftover spaghetti. Oh well!

As you can see, I'm trying to ease myself back into regular blog posts...

Monday, May 16, 2011

The first week of May

On Friday morning, April 29, Nathan finally made it from Cordova, Alaska to Bellingham, Washington aboard the Alaska Marine Highway System ferry. He was home by 10:00 and we were all ecstatic to see him. Sean was the only one who wasn't home (he was at school) so Nathan got a pretty good fill of family right away.

Since Nathan is moving to Long Beach, California he was in need of some new duds, having spent the past 2 years in Alaska. So on Saturday the 30th Dylan and I took him to the mall and helped him purchase an entire summer wardrobe. It was a lot of fun for Dylan and me! It was pretty painful for Nathan. He hasn't acquired a taste for trying on lots of clothes and then spending lots of money on said clothes. But in the end he got some great stuff and he's going to look awesome (and be comfortable) in southern California.

We went to church as a family on May 1 and Nathan heard "the best sermon of his life," quite probably because every sermon illustration was hockey-related.

On Wednesday May 4 my parents arrived! They flew into Seattle and rented a car to drive up here. The evening that they arrived we spent a lot of time outside because the weather was nice. We barbequed hamburgers and watched the menfolk assemble to nice porch swing that Don got me for my birthday/Mother's Day.

Thursday was my birthday! I had an early hair appointment with Nati to get my hair highlighted. She ended up doing some pretty dramatic streaks but I've gotten a lot of compliments on it, including hearing that I look 30 years old! That's a 15-year improvement!

After my hair appointment, Mom, Dylan, Nathan, and I all headed to Willowbrook mall to find some clothes for us all to wear for our upcoming family portraits. We were at Payless Shoe Source because Nathan wanted to get running shoes. He and Dylan were up toward the front of the store purchasing the shoes...Mom and I were still browsing...when we heard gun shots, screaming people, and running. Everyone in the store quickly ran into the back storeroom. There were about 20 of us in there, including 2 double strollers and several elderly people. We had a steel door shutting us in, and another steel door separating us from the back entrance. It was scary. I assumed that someone was just randomly shooting people in the mall. The people who worked at the shoe store called the mall to get information and we found out that some people had robbed one of the jewelry stores in the mall, and had shot through the glass display cases to get to the jewelry. No one was shot, although several people were sprayed with Bear Scare.  We were in the back room for about 45 minutes and then a security guard led us out to the back loading area. Thankfully Nathan and Dylan were there to carry the double strollers down the stairs. 

After that scare, you'd think that we would have just gone home or gone out for a cocktail! But, no, we still had a photo shoot to get clothes for. So we headed over to Old Navy and found lovely clothes for everyone. We were thankful for Mom's employee discount : )

That evening, Dylan babysat for us and Mom, Lee, Don, Nathan, and I drove down to Everson to meet some great friends and family for a delicious steak dinner. Val, Dave, and Hailey joined us as well as Marc, Leslie, and Alex Cutler. So, basically Nathan's favorite people ever : ) We had a wonderful time! Thanks, Nathan, for treating your fan club so well!

When we got home from dinner I was presented with a birthday cake that Dylan and the Littles had made while we were gone! What a great babysitter : )

On Friday May 6 we had another very busy day! We had a birthday party for both Patience and Jordyn! It was a Garden Party theme which would have worked out MUCH better if it hadn't been pouring out! Don Sr. and Waneta drove down to help with the party. Don Sr. took Nathan to Canadian Tire and helped get him outfitted with a basic toolkit. Waneta stayed and helped 8 little girls paint birdhouses!

On Saturday morning our entire family (plus other special people) gathered for family portraits! We hadn't done portraits since long before Nick was born, so we decided to take advantage of having Nathan home and just get them done again. Our favorite photographer, Anita Chapman, took them in a park in Abbotsford. Because it was pouring rain, we used a huge covered picnic area. The shots turned out great. You can see them here and here. If you would like a picture, please let me know the image number, which is listed underneath the photo and starts with the word "Murphy." I had the portraits scheduled close enough to my birthday and Mother's Day to ensure cheerful compliance by all involved and it worked great!

After the portraits, my fun and busy week came to a crashing halt. Nathan and Don drove away from that Abbotsford park and headed south to Nathan's new duty station. My parents did drive home with us, but then packed up and left for their time with their other daughter. All I can say is that I'm glad my parents didn't have 6 kids...it's hard enough for Valarie and I to share them evenly. And she usually gets the lion's share of their time in the PNW : )

Dylan and Haley ran to do errands of their own and Sean went to the basement to make up for lost time on his video games. Nick took a much-needed nap and I spent an hour or so reorganizing and cleaning from all the gifts that came with the birthday party.

And that....was the first week of May, 2011. As soon as I post about week 2 you'll be completely caught up.