Friday, February 26, 2010

Pizza, Pizza!

So I am planning on writing a follow up piece to the previous post. But upon thoughtful thinking, I realized it might take too much delicacy and it might sound mean and maybe it wasn't really funny. Then I was at the in-law's and we started recounting really funny family stories and as I wiped my eyes I realized, "It really is funny and I should." And I will. But not today. Today is pizza day.

And as it is lent, it is also vegetarian pizza day. Which my kids prefer anyway. At our pizza class we compared home made crust to Trader Joe's. And home made won hands down. I learned one trick is to bake it on an upside down cookie sheet- which my sister had already shared with me. But I learned another trick is to use bread flour. I knew there was cake flour, but rarely used it. I guess there is pastry flour, not sure where that fits in the spectrum of flours. But I just used all purpose flour for everything so when I tried to make the crust at home, it did not come out crisp on the bottom. So I got the bread flour. It is somewhere between all purpose and cake flour. But it makes a really soft, satiny dough, and the crust came out just right.

So then we had to try it with our french bread recipe. The loaves came out a beautiful pale golden color and the crust was soft. The crust never came out soft. Except once when I made it way up on  a mountain in Canada. The really amazing thing was, it kept better than the other loaves. Usually the next day the crust is dry and harder. This morning I sliced the leftover half and it was still soft and tender. Although a true test woud be to make it in my oven. Last night I used Trudy's new Cuisinart mixer and baked it in her oven. And as they are at a slightly higher elevation I might not be able to duplicate it.(ok that was joke for my father- in-law).
 But I'm looking forward to making all kinds of breads and cinnamon rolls and I have to try and improve the Pascha bread recipe every year so the new flour might come in handy for that too. And maybe I'll try some recipes in The big book Shane got me simply titled 'Bread'.  Although I'd need a scale too as all the measurements are in kilograms and ounces-at least they give the U.S. weights too.

I was especially pleased at how round I was able to get the pizza. I think the flour is more easily coaxed-rolled-stretched into the right shape.

10 min at 450 and it was perfect.I made several balls of dough and froze them. I already put one in the fridge for dinner as well.

The instructor used a food processor. I used my KitchenAid. Maybe someday I'll use my Cuisinart.

Preheat oven to 425

In mixer combine
3c bread flour
2 t yeast
2 t kosher salt

With mixer on, add
1 c water
2 T olive oil

Add more water as necessary. I think I added either some extra or not enough. I was doubling it and lost count. But it still turned out fine.

Knead by hand a few times and let rise 1-2 hrs. Roll out to desired thickness. place on greased up-side down baking sheet, and cook 10 min.

I'm thinking of doing the fresh broccoli and onion one tonight.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

There are Two Kinds of Families: Ones with Huge, Insurmountable, Horrifying I Mean Really, Really Bad Problems

And then there are the ones Who Lie About It.

This was said by the priest to a family member after one of the many 'events' in the past 6 yrs. (Really? Its only been that long?) I'm not sure if it was at a funeral, by a hospital bed, or just one on one couseling. Anyway, it was reassuring. When unfortunate  things happen, you feel like the rest of the world is normal and you're not. It's as if you somehow got stuck in the  loser parade with two left shoes and a burlap dress and two teeth and just have to watch as the pretty fairy princess parade floats along to beautiful music. The princesses smile condescendingly at you -with  ALL their teeth- and wave and plead with you to come join their float, which of course you both know can't because of the wall which divides you, from them. So what do you do?
Scream and  shout that there has been some mistake and you were put in the wrong line? Explain you couldn't find your silk Princess Bubble Yum gown but now you remember where you left it, along with your other teeth and 'please let me out so I can get them and get in the right line?'

But you know they won't beleive you. So, heartbroken, you reach down  all the while gazing wistfully at the normal parade. Slip off your shoes, which are also the wrong size. And you hurl them  as hard as you can at the princess' head. The crystal crown is not so impressive when it sits over a big purple welt on her forehead is it?  That will bring her down a peg or two.

Ok. That wouldn't be very nice. But it might be funny. If the hard truth were not so sad. The reality is we are all in the "gimp parade". Whether we look like it or not. We all have our huge, insurmountable, horrifying problems. Sometimes we lie about them. Sometimes we are forced to admit them. But at the end of the day we are all in the same parade.
We've gone through a lot in the past 6 or so years. I won't list all the trials and tribulations. If you are human and have a family, you have your own list.. Whether or not you acknowledge  it. But at least you have the entire world for company.

But don't get too down . Next post I'll show you how to have fun with it. Seriously.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Little Chefs

The kids have been wanting to come to "cooking lessons" . Grandma Trudy and I have been taking a few here and there and its been really fun. But not necessarily geared towards kids. Of course I knew Kateri would love seeing the big kitchen and watching the chefs cook. And trying the wine. So we'd been looking for a good one and a pizza class came up. And of course the other kids were interested too. I left Pippin with Grandma and they went shopping and had lunch.
I"m not sure if Audrey is taking notes, or drawing a horse.
Before class we shopped. Cyril found a chef's hat, which was adjustable. Unfortuantely they only had adults shirts, but I'll have to keep looking, or just make one. He asked afterwards if he could come to more classes.
Finally a hat to accomodate ALL of Kateri's hair. I would have bought it just for that feature.
Audrey had to try on everything before settling on the apron.
And in the end Kateri did too. I thought it was a good choice.

The cooking class was a success. All the pizzas were meatless so it was nice to get you thinking of Lenten dishes. I really liked the pear and gorgonzola on whole wheat tortilla. Cyril liked the four cheese. But the broccoli pesto was great too.
The owner/chef and her husband, who runs the wine side, are really nice. It was a school day at 1:00 and she asked if the kids were on vacation. I told her we homeschooled. And today was our home ec class. She thought that was great. They are a really nice couple. And I'm not just saying that because they cook me yummy food and pour me wine.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Taking Down the Tree

I decided, last week, that it was finally time to take down the tree. Given that Lent is upon us, it just didn't seem right to mix the two seasons. The kids were very sad and the ones who did not approve didn't take part in the trimming of the branches. But Kateri and Pippin had fun.
It was a work day and it was a really big tree. So I did not feel comfortable with just hefting it out the back door intact. But I figured if we severed the big lower branches, it would be manageable. Of course I could not find the big clippers so had to use a hand saw instead. Kateri liked helping with that part.

Once I got it outside Kateri and Pippin dragged it off into the woods. Where the kids later made a fort with it.

Kateri was super excited to have so many needles to vacuum up. Cyprian enjoyed hand feeding them into the hose.
 For Christmas Kateri wanted two things: a new baby doll with a high chair, and a vacuum like Grandma's. (Was that three things?)

Grandma found this little vacuum for her and it is perfect. We decided her daily chore would be to keep  the kitchen and eating area "swept". She would run the batteries out every day-its rechargeable-and though its not as thorough as a broom, it gets most of the dirt and our floors are looking cleaner. Sometimes she is not in a cleaning mood. The other day Shane told her the stairs were needing some attention and suggested she clean them. She looked at him and said,

"Well, I told Mom she could use my vacuum whenever she wanted."

When we were all done, Kateri decided to try on the tree skirt. All she needs now it a star on top.

Friday, February 12, 2010

And now a reading from the book of Audrey

I was correcting Audrey's math and found a little story she had written. Cyril and I had been reading the story of Moses at the other end of the table. She was inspsired to write  this:

How Moses Died
....,then Moses saw a bush. It was burning. He heard a voice in it. He ran to save the person in the fire. But the fire killed him.

I thought it was pretty funny.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Coffee Break II- and the way it really is

Today warranted another coffee break.
Kateri was still sick this morning and was heart broken when I told we'd have to skip ballet. It was a long painful recovery, somewhat hastened by the promise of making cookies after lunch.
Cyprian, I think, is truly getting sick too. Mostly evidenced by his super crabby outlook. And screaming.

I was talking with my older sister the other day about how you imagine what homeschooling is and should be and then set yourself up for  lots of frustration and hair pulling until you figure it all out. (Whenever that will be.)

You picture a nice Montessori-esque set up, with children eager to learn, because that is what children naturally do best. Sitting up straight, holding their pencil correctly, waiting for their thirst for knowledge to be quenched by   phonogram dictations and the multiplication chart.
And it works ok with the first child. The materials get used then put away, you have time to sit and make land formation books with them, study the parts of a flower. Do art. You even stretch it into the evening and cook dinner together. Sure it takes longer and is messier, but it is so rewarding.

Then number 2 comes along. And the home looks more like a daycare/war zone. Only no one came after the bombing to clean up and rebuild. They just bombed some more.

Knobless cylinders? They were used for torpedoes and one is stuck way under the fridge sot its kind of useless now.

The pink tower is a prop for a big earthquake and after someone gets hurt and the furniture and walls dented you realize they weren't really "getting" it anyway. So you toss it. Besides you can't have the tiny cube at the top around  because the baby will eat and choke on it.

Lunch mats? You're lucky you got a clean plate today.

 Art appreciation day? Well let's go look in the library. Number One went Number Two and then decided to smear it into the rug with a red crayon. Do you think it looks more like a Picasso or a Matisse? ( that was our old house, and we replaced the rug.)

Dinner? Seriously? You still want to eat after that?

Well this morning was kind of like that. But without the poop. Cyril decided he wasn't a sponge for enlightment as long as it  involved writing "ough" and saying "ah,oh,oo,uff,off,ow". Or if he could not start a "7" from the base line.
Kateri and Pippin were playing church and screaming

"He stole my Bible!"

So Cyril got involved and then it was,

"That's MY icon. Father gave it to me. Give it back."

Chasing, screaming, tackling ensued.

So I sort out the icons, prayer books, and Bibles. Send the little kids into the other room and sit with Cyril to finish our Bible story.
Cyprian and Kateri are good and quiet. So quiet I should have known. 

They had decided to do some transfer exercises. By "transferring" all of the recycle in the garage into the hall. Along with some styrofoam and other items they could carry. 

But we got all our work done. Cleaned up. Ate lunch. Made cookies. And because Pippin really is sick, they got to watch a movie. And I had coffee and cookies. Which is all very sensory. And Montessori.

Oh, Where Is My Hairbrush?

This is Kateri's hair on bed rest.

I couldn't help but laugh every time I looked at her. It was just so big and wild.
Under the circumstances, this was the tamest I could get it. The 80s are coming back, right?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Coffee Break

Today has been busy. So was yesterday. And the day before. The day before that was a birthday party. Fun and busy. So, even though I still have mounds of laundry to put away and the fridge is begging to be be washed, I decided to take a coffee break instead. Also because Pippin got hurt, somehow, when Cyril hit him with a toy lizard. As I comforted him he stopped and said,

"My tummy doesn't feel good".  Oh great, I thought. Here comes the stomach flu. We have had lots of colds- Kateri has a nasty cough right now-but we had managed to steer clear of  any throwing up. Through his sobs and tears he pitifully  whimpered,

"Can I watch a movie?"

I was instantly releived.

Kateri woke up at 6:30 yesterday, stuffed and coughing. I gave her some Benadryl and as she couldn't fall back asleep,  I told her she could watch a movie. The big kids got wind of it and soon we were all piled on the couch watching "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs". I had not seen it yet so I was entertained too.
So Pippin understood the exception to our no movies during the week days was in times of sickness. I was so glad I won't have to line all the beds with towels and sleep all night waiting to hear the the tell tale sounds. So I let them watch 'Despereux'. And it seemed like a perfect time for coffee and a treat.  (Kateri must have sensed it. She just walked into our room saying her tooth hurts. And she has already seen the movie. I told her she can lie on the bed if she needs to.)

The days have been pretty busy. Monday we got up and got to art class by 9:00. Then Grandma took the big kids to horse lesson. The little kids and I got crickets and did some household shopping. Yesterday we had swim lessons. Today we got up and got our school work done by 10:15 so we could get to horse lessons by 11:00. It was rainy and cold so the little kids and I stayed in the car, but Audrey and Cyril were working the horses in the front so we got to watch. On the way home it seemed like a good soup day and I remembered the soup on my sister's blog and decided to make it. So then we had to stop at the store and get some ingredients. And some doughnuts. The really nice lady gave the kids heart-shaped lollipops, which made the shopping a little more pleasant. And I am excited to have some nice soup for dinner. I love how warm and cozy it makes the house smell and feel. Cozy like a coffee break. Here's to lots of coffee breaks.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Kateri does her hair.

Kateri came down stairs to show off how she had done her own hair. I was pretty impressed, given that she had wrapped each rubber band several times. Each- because if you look closely, you see there are TWO pony tails.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dear Tooth Fairy

Our Tooth Fairy has been a little lazy lately. And given how often teeth are falling out over here, there is much disappointment amongst the ranks. Audrey and Cyril each lost a tooth this week. After several nights of not showing up the kids finally wrote her letters. I found these on their pillows: (Audrey wrote both. I copied her spelling. Figured I'd have better chances that way).

Dear Tooth Fairy,
 I would like to keep my tooth. If you take it, I will get very sad. I didn't get to keep  my first molar and if I can't get that back, I would at least like to keep my second molar.
                                           God Bless,

PS: You owe me $10 for all the days I've had to wait.

PPS: I have another loose tooth.If you don't come tonight I'm firing you.

Dear Tooth Fairy,

I lost my tooth. I accually lost  it lost it. It did fall our of my mouth but then, well, it got lost. Please leave the $ anyways.

 Cyril Patton

PS: If you don't beleive me, look in my mouth. Or find the tooth.

PPS: You owe me $10 for making me wait so long.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I thought, after Kateri's post, I'd dedicate a post to each one of the kids. Today is Pippin's day, and I thought I'd share some "Pippinisims".

Pips is a pretty happy boy. And, I think like most boys, pretty simple. If he wakes up to a clean pair of cammo undies in the morning, it's going to be a good day.
He loves anything army or 'miditary'. He asks for sugar coffee in the morning so he can 'wake up', and because that is what army guys drink.
He has a funny thing for arms, and uses them like some kids use their favorite toy or blankie. It gets super annoying when he comes and gets in our bed at night and I feel his hand searching for my arm. He also prefers his arms cold. Sometimes he'll  ask if he can feel the other one because this one is too warm. I feel it might only be fair to warn his future wife. It really disrupts your sleep.

He is a bit of a Cassanova. Especially if a girl is showing her arms.

He likes a little girl at swim lessons. I can't blame him. She's small, cute, has big brown eyes, and dark strawberry blonde hair pulled up in a little pony tail. And she is sweet.

A few weeks ago they were coloring pages, waiting for their turns. Cyprian just stopped and stood there, looking at her. Kind of gazing into her face. Then he reached out and touched her cheek and said,

"But, um, I just love you."

He waited for her reply. Which was,

"If I remember your name when I get home, I'll write it on my friends list."

Which here mom told me later, was an honor. I don't know if she remembered.

Then last week he gave her a quarter. She was pretty impressed and went to show her mom, who I think pointed out that its not OK to accept money from a young man. Just flowers and chocolates.She gave it back and Pippin was not too crushed. I don't know what he has in mind for today, but I should probably prep him first.

And being a boy, he likes dirt, animals, and chasing. And chasing animals. He gets lots of opportunity on horse lesson days as the teacher also has chickens, geese, and a cat.
He actually shouted "I'm chasing a goose!" as he ran around the yard grinning.

The goose usually takes refuge on the other side of the  fence.
He likes to help collect the dishes from the horse stalls, and last time said he was finally getting a "horse lesson" because he got to brush one of the horses.

We went shopping for show outfits. Pippin was really sad we were not getting a hat for him.

But then we found a pair of camoflauge rain boots. And all was well in the world.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Kateri takes to the stage

We had a busy, wonderful weekend. Kateri had her first ballet recital. She was so excited to finally be under the bright lights. At the first performance, Shane said she was very serious and didn't smile once. I told her at the evening performance, Grandma would be watching so be sure and smile for Grandma. We sat very visibly in the second row and as soon as she saw Grandma she smiled and waved enthusiastically. Then went back to sombre.

She was a little bit surprised by the other dancers. While they seemed to think this was an opportunity to show off their herd mentality, she felt it was an time to show off her rugged individualism and "you can't make me do anything I don't want to"  way of life. (She gets that from Shane)

"What is wrong with you people. Have a little spine!"

"I  am very disappointed in you guys. I'm not seeing any originality."
She finally gave up and just sat down.

I was able to get a video for the second performance. Which came out pretty well for me  being in  near hysterics. My mother-in-law and Audrey were also in tears as we watched Kateri dance to her own choreography, timing, and the music in her head. I really don't think she go the whole group aspect thing. As Audrey said.,
"Kateri should have had her own dance."

And as Grandma pointed out, in essence she did.

She's in the back row, 3rd from the left. You can't miss her.