DPP 2008: 12

She gets cuter every day. Love this kid!

December Photo Project '08

Cast not your stones…

I know, I know.  5 people have told me in the last 3 days that I should blog more often.  Here’s what I’m doing these days:

1.  Elsie is turning 3 on Friday.  I wasn’t going to have a birthday party.  Now there will be 20 kids plus their parents and our extended family there.  It’s a Wizard of Oz themed bash, and I’ve been cutting, pasting, cooking, shopping and sewing for the party…so far!!

2.  I joined the Zion Church Arts Committee.  We organize events like art shows, concerts, etc.  We have a book lecture and art exhibition called “God in the Gallery” on October 18th.  Guess who’s in charge of food?

3.  Zion’s Fall Fest is on the 26th of October.  I’m in charge of/singing in the bluegrass band.  We haven’t practiced yet

4. We throw a super big Halloween/Reformation Day party every year. And my costume kicks butt this year. As does the children’s.

5.  Tess will turn one (!!!!!!) on November 6th.  I have to do something for her 1st birthday.  This time I’m seriously only inviting close family and making some cupcakes.

6.  Another Zion Art deal – Matthew Smith and Indelible Grace will be at our church on November 20th.  Also in charge of refreshments for the band.

7. I teach sewing lessons every Thursday night.

8. We’re going to St. Louis for Thanksgiving, Dallas for Christmas, and our dear, dear friends are coming into town from Japan for Christmas, but mostly just to go to/be in a wedding. I’d like to have a New Years Party as well in there.

So, bear with me. Once the weather cools we will be spending more time inside, so that will be more accommodating to blogging. Until then, my friends…hang tight.

Here’s Tess’s 10 month pictures from JC Penney a few weeks ago. They have improved by leaps and bounds.

I Stand Corrected

New photographers who love their jobs, new managers with (gasp!) management training, new lights and photography equipment, and a touch of professionalism = GREAT PICTURES.

Well, there you go. They probably read my blog.

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Photo Friday, July 25 edition

Here’s another round of Photo Friday!

The infamous Mine Piper.

My sweet Tess in the bathtub, the surefire way to calm her down. She splashes and “swims” all over the tub. Prepare to be soaked!

Tess is standing in her crib all the time now. I love the way she has her leg pointed out like a dancer. Follow this link to see a video of her standing in her crib.

Tess’s look is starting to be more of a toddler than a baby these days. She’s getting a bit of chubby on her, which means she’s getting ready to grow tall again. She’s saying, “Let me get this straight…” here. She is also signing “all done” and “bye-bye”. She waved to me, while standing in her crib, when I laid her down for her afternoon nap.

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We’ve been doing chores this week. I made up a chart for Peter and Elsie that has pictures down the left hand side and the days of the week across the top. Each chore that is completed gets a sticker, and each day with all chores completed gets a piece of candy – hershey’s kiss, licorice, etc.

Here’s a picture of what Elsie’s bed looks like after she’s made it. I think it’s a woman thing. She can make her bed so well!

I promise that I didn’t help her at all with it! She’s just good!

This Saturday evening, if Pete does the rest of his chores (teeth brushed, toys picked up, help set table for dinner) for the rest of the day and all of his chores tomorrow, then he gets $2. He is stoked. I’m not sure if we will give Elsie an allowance or not. Maybe 50 cents or so. She doesn’t have a concept of money yet.

It sure has been easier on me this week with them doing a lot of their own picking up. It’s also made me clean up better after myself. Pete asked me why there was stuff in the bottom of my closet…OUCH!

Elsie has been way less of a monster since Tuesday. No more bologna, thank goodness. I told her to show me her sweet smile.

Pete sometimes just looks at me like this, and it sort of freaks me out. It usually takes me a moment or two, but I finally realized the other day that this is him showing me that he has a happy heart, as evidenced through his smile. He’s such a good boy!

Sweet Retreat

I love this time of day. About 1:30 in the afternoon.

I grab some reheated something, or maybe if I’m feeling feisty some Pizza Rolls and a Mountain Dew.

And I sit. I give myself the time that it takes me to eat my lunch to just sit.

I can blog (you know, now that I’m so cool and I have a blog)

I can read blogs

I read people.com (a guilty pleasure)

Really, I can do anything I want as long as it’s not work – like paying bills, researching a recipe.

I enjoy this time. Elsie is down. She’s been putting herself to bed for her nap recently. I have the kids wait until everybody is done eating before they get down from the table, so Elsie has taken the option of just going to bed several times. She heads to the potty, washes her hands and crawls into bed. Two hours later she comes bounding down the stairs saying something like, “Good morning, Mommy. Peez have gummies? Where Peeyer [Peter]?”

Tess goes down at the same time. Although she doesn’t put herself down quite yet, she really isn’t any trouble. The way we do things for Tess around here is when she first wakes up (morning, naps) she gets nursed. Then she plays around until the next meal is ready. She eats with the family, plays for a bit more and then goes down. I don’t rock her to sleep, though I do rock her and sing a sweet song and give her her blankie. Done. Off to Sleepy Town.

I let Pete watch a movie and drink a little bit of something sweet – juice, tea, Sprite – which is a real treat. He’s pretty easy going. He just doesn’t need a nap and it’s more trouble than it’s worth to make him lay down.

Then I sit. For a good 30 minutes. Then it’s back to the field.

Baby Mine

Tess is my baby. Sure, we’re planning on having a dozen more or so, but for now, she’s my baby. I still rock her every night, I don’t let water get in her eyes in the tub, I nurse 4 or 5 times a day still.

This morning I “caught” her standing, yes, standing next to a toy I have out for Logan, an 18 month old that I watch a few mornings a week. She was having a blast. She was squealing and laughing out loud with it.

I forgot that she is growing up.

We spent the morning cleaning Elsie’s room, and I found some great toys that I had forgotten about. I thought I’d bring them down for Tess, just in case the teething rattles weren’t doing it for her anymore.

She crawled faster than I’ve ever seen her crawl to those toys. She played with them for a good 20 minutes, which for an 8 month old isn’t too bad.

My baby’s all growed up. Sniff.

JCP, or Why I Have Gray Hair

So, every month for the kids’ first year I get their pictures taken. We “invested” $19.99 to become members which gives us a free sheet each time we come in, “Smiles by Wire”, which is a fancy way of saying they send it to your email address, and, of course, free sittings. Their second year we go every 3 months, their third year we go every 6 months, then after that, they go every year on their birthday.

Guess how many months I missed with all three kids? ZERO!! I’ve been to JC Penney Portrait Studios 44 times in 4 1/2 years. Wow. Good news is, they send you nice coupons in the mail, and fancy dancy “coupons by wire” to use as well. Their package is $7.99 which includes just enough pictures to keep the relatives happy. Also, on each envelope of pictures you get back, you can take a survey and get an additional $3 off, and if you take another survey, you get 15% off. Grand total for pictures each month? Priceless, er, I mean, $4.24. Reasonable, huh?

The folks that we had in St. Louis were unbelievably good at taking my kids’ pictures. We had this one lady named Jannelle, and every time she saw us she said “Hi, Peter!” She just knew us and she knew what I wanted.

Now we’re in Lincoln. I don’t like the JC Penney studio here in Lincoln. I’ve had nothing, and I mean NOTHING good come out of the studio in Lincoln. It seems like every month we get pictures I end up saying, um, I guess that one. I’ve actually had to request to not have someone do the kids’ pictures because I have ended up in tears. Who wants to be crying at pictures?! That’s sill, right? You’ve never had the people I had, then.

So last week it was time for Tess’s 8 month pictures. I called in, made sure that so-and-so wasn’t going to be there so I might get some decent pictures. She’s no longer with the studio.

Squeaky wheel gets the oil, I guess.

They were having some promotional day, which basically meant that I had to do Tess’s pictures with a Fourth of July theme. No problem. I love America, God bless her.

Also, JCP is moving up with the times…they no longer have the boxes that you put a dirty rug over and then actually sit your precious, clean-for-pictures baby on top of. The kids sit on the floor and the photographers move with your kids. It’s just like Portrait Innovations (which we love, but you can only get their “special” deal every three months, and although they don’t track it, I would probably have a heart attack trying to pull one over on them) or Picture People (nice pictures, but ridiculously expensive). They were still working out the kinks, like half of our session was lost, but, hey, you get what you pay for, right?

The pictures weren’t too bad. Better than usual, I would say. Tess is at that hard phase where she doesn’t stay still and you can’t really make her stay still so you put her down and she crawls away. Doesn’t make pictures easy.

So we go to order the pictures and they tell me that it’s going to take 15 minutes for the pictures to upload. Fifteen minutes?! They took like 20 pictures, and there was nobody before me or after me. Well, fine. I’ll carry Tess and try to hold Pete and Elsie’s hands and walk around JCP. No stroller, and it’s 12:45. It was a meltdown waiting to happen. We head back about 20 minutes later and they inform me that the pictures haven’t been uploaded because the second batch of pictures got lost. No problem. There were plenty of other ones to choose from. So, we wait. Again.

I peek around the corner to see what in the world is taking so long. I see the girl that’s our photographer basically playing around with JCP’s version of Photo Shop. I’m thinking, “It’s after 1 o’clock. The kids haven’t eaten. I’m only getting the basic package. Come ON!” But on the outside I’m trying to be nice, for the kids’ sake.

25 minutes later, she calls us back. Sister, I only wish I were joking. This is a good 50 minutes after we were done taking pictures. I tell her that the “special” pictures with fancy (ugly) fading and what not look great, but since I come every month I would just like to get the basic package for $7.99. She tells me that since it was a promotion day, the package, which included way fewer pictures, was $29.99. I tell her that I wasn’t aware of that and I wasn’t about to spend $30 on pictures that I don’t even really like and that we’d just reschedule (Mommy hasn’t eaten yet, either, and the kids are fighting. Loud.). She says, oh, then I guess we can give you the $7.99 package.

Little did she know that I was going to get 15% off and an additional $3 off. Tee hee.

But that, my friends, or something very similar, is what happens EVERY SINGLE TIME I go to Penney’s here in Lincoln. The price is right, but I don’t know if it’s worth my sanity!

Enjoy these proofs of Tess’s 8 month pictures.

Can you guess which one I got for the package? Do you see what I mean about the goofy fake Photo Shop images?

Mexican Lasagna

On for tonight, Mexican Lasagna. I’ve been going through our pantry and freezer to see what’s lurking in there. Voila! Mexican Lasagna!

First, gather your ingredients:

    Mexican Lasagna

    • 1 lb. lasagna noodles (you’ll only need 1/2 of this box)
    • 2 lbs. ground beef (not pictured because, ew, gross! Who wants to see bloody defrosting meat?!)
    • Onion
    • 15-ish ounce can black beans, aka FRIJOLES NEGROS
    • 4 1/2 cups salsa – use mild, because cooking the salsa somehow makes it hotter
    • 8 oz. block cream cheese (because I like to make LOW FAT meals. Ha!)
    • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
    • Salt
    • 1/4 t cumin

    Bring water to a boil for noodles and cook for 6 or 7 minutes, drain. Meanwhile, brown beef and onion, drain, return to skillet. Add cream cheese and mix until cream cheese is melted into the meat. Add cumin, more or less to taste. Drain black beans. Layer noodles, meat mixture, beans, 1/3 cheese and 1/3 salsa. Repeat twice. Bake for 30 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes for juices to absorb.

    Bring a good amount of salted water to a boil in your large stock pot. While your water is heating up, put your beef and your shopped onion in a skillet and brown. If your meat has been in the freezer for an unknown amount of time, you might want to get it extra brown. Yikes. Boil your lasagna noodles for 6 or 7 minutes. Too much longer and they will be hard to handle for layering purposes.

    Get some good help, if you can find it!


    Drain meat and onions, return to skillet. Add cream cheese and mix until cream cheese is melted into the meat. Add cumin, more or less to taste. It should look like this:

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Add about 1/8 c oil to noodles, which prevents noodles from sticking together, then stir, drain and rinse. Set aside to cool.

    Drain black beans.

    Layer three-ish noodles, 1/3 of meat,

    1/3 of beans, 1/2 c cheese,

    and 1 1/2 cups of salsa.

    Repeat twice, throwing the rest of the cheddar cheese on, because at this point, will an extra cup of cheese really make that much of a difference?

    Bake for about 30 minutes in the preheated 350 degree oven. Do your (gulp) dishes from cooking. Have your kids clean off the table and freshen up for your husband’s arrival!

    Let lasagna sit for about 10 minutes to let the liquid absorb.

    DISCLAIMER: Do as I say, not as I do.

Fun at the Pool

Our next door neighbor had their daughter’s 4th birthday party at the Spray Grounds at Woods Park Pool this morning. The whole thing is fenced in and no more than 6 inches deep. Plus, it was 79 degrees on our way there at 10:15 on only 86 when we got done at noon. It was just so much fun!

This is Tess right after she got a big splash in the face. She crawled all over the pool!

Guess how many times the lifeguards told Pete to walk?

Elsie down the yellow slide.

This was really the first time Tess enjoyed being at the pool.

Pete down the yellow slide

Elsie “swimming”.

Tess with her goofy two-toothed grin.

Pete fighting with the sprinkler. He punches everything these days.

Elsie down the green slide.

Look at my strong man. This kid’s got some muscles.

Elsie’s shadow.

Pete’s ball that he had been playing with landed under the water bubble. If you know Pete at all you know that he just hates to get his face wet. Problem. But he did it! I was so proud.

Finally his little sister held her hand over the top of water so it stopped in a large enough area for Pete to get underneath.

End of the day. What a fun time. Plus, Mommy got a suntan.

Now We’re All in Big, Big Trouble

Tess can crawl.  I mean really, really crawl.  She will not stay in one room anymore.

She also loves to eat paper.  That means I have to sweep about 4 times a day now.

Boxes?  They count as paper, too.

I snuck up on this in the living room.

It was really funny.  The box she was on is about 5 inches tall.

Back to work, eating a box.