don't mess with Texas...

...or something like that! We are in Texas right now, visiting my sister and her husband. We left home Wednesday night and drove non-stop until we got here. Well, non-stop except for two stops to fill up with gas. And except for three potty breaks. The girls did great in the car. They all fell asleep right when we hit the road. It was a little disconcerting when Audrey woke up at 2 a.m., chattering and laughing away. Despite my numerous attempts to lull her back to sleep, she remained awake until about 5 a.m. She slept quite a bit of the remainder of the drive, though, so I think she probably came out close to even. We were slowed down a bit by some pretty major rain, but at long last, we arrived. It's been so good to see my sister; the girls have really missed their Aunt Molly! Tonight was a big event for the missions organization with which they are serving--the 40th anniversary--so everyone has been very busy preparing for that, as well as board meetings and such things, but we look forward to a full weekend with them both! It seems like with every other thing that happens with the girls, Molly turns to me and says, "Oh, you have to put that in the blog!". She is motivating me to become a little better devoted to keeping up with this thing...so we'll see if it sticks. One thing I don't think I've mentioned at all here is that Audrey is a toddler. She is quite proud of her newish ambulation ability, and she does not get discouraged when she falls (she has a number of bruises on her little head, though!). I had forgotten how quickly a new walker develops speed...one day she's wobbling around, and the next day she's running from the waiting area into Eloise's dance class before I even realize what has happened! My camera is still giving me fits, and I haven't taken the time to force it into submission so I can get a good walking photo or two, but perhaps tomorrow while we're enjoying the Lone Star State and two awesome people who live there. Until then, bye y'all!


mrs. murphy's * cheesy chowder

This recipe is a slightly altered from one in the low-carb menu plan I follow (and it even has potatoes in it--go figure!). I made it a few weeks ago and YUM. So good. The only thing I'm changing for next time is doubling the recipe because my girls couldn't get enough of it, so I barely got a single portion! So, here you go! If you live near me, I imagine you could use something to warm you up right about now, and this recipe is easy and delicious!
Cheesy Chowder
(Serves 4)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 14.5 oz can low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cooked
2/3 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups low fat Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup turkey ham, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
In a large saucepan, melt the butter; add onion and garlic; saute until onion is translucent. Combine 1 tablespoon of the chicken broth and the flour and stir into a think paste; set aside. Add the remaining broth and the potatoes to the onion mixture in the saucepan; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for five minutes; add flour/broth mixture and cook for an additional five minutes, stirring frequently. Add milk and salt and pepper to taste; cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until mixture thickens. Gradually stir in cheese; reduce heat to low; stir until cheese melts; add ham and heat through.
*Does anyone know that song? "Mrs. Murphy's Chowder"? Mr. B does...and a bunch of kids to whom I used to teach music, who aren't really kids any more...


our little party on the prairie

Before I embark upon this long-overdue post about Evie's birthday party last month, I thought I'd update you on all things flu-related. Evie and Eloise have both turned the corner and are feeling much better. Unfortunately, Mr. B woke up this morning not feeling well; although he never did throw up, he had some of the other symptoms, so he retreated to bed where he slept the day away. I, on the other hand, spent a lot of the day washing sheets, towels, pajamas, and rags, and disinfecting the house from top to bottom. It certainly feels good to be this clean, but I'm exhausted all over again! Thankfully, Audrey has avoided everything so far (except for her herpangina thing, which seems to be disappearing slowly but surely).
But onto happier things...like parties!
Evie and I had a good time planning her first-ever friend party. Evie allowed my dad to attend, but mostly because he was our event photographer (so thanks, Dad, for the great photos!).
As the guests arrived, we gave sunbonnets (made out of wallpaper) and pinafores to the girls who wanted to wear them, and we had a brown paper "farmer's hat" for our sole boy guest. Then we had everyone sit on a quilt to make butter (shaking cream in a canning jar) while I read a couple of the "Little House" picture books aloud. It took a while, but we finally got a good chunk of butter in the jar, which we later tasted on a biscuit.
After the "churning," it was time to do laundry.
We had each child wash one of Pa's handkerchiefs (bandannas) at the washboard and then hang it up to dry.
[I've never seen laundry seem so fun!]
Next, we made simple corncob dolls. I'm pretty sure Laura Ingalls didn't draw a face on her corncob doll with a Sharpie or Marks-a-Lot marker, but they still were fairly authentic-looking.
Everyone had a blast when Mr. B started up a rousing game of "Blind Man's Bluff."
I don't think any of the kids had ever run a three-legged race before...
it was definitely a challenge for most of them, but everyone was a great sport!
Everyone was so thirsty after the race that we headed inside for some lemonade--and the cake and ice cream. The cake was a log home. When Eloise first saw it, she said, "Mom, are those hot dog logs?" Interesting concept, but no: everything was icing...big globs of very heavy icing...so heavy that some of the logs kept trying to roll right off the cake...
and the chimney was definitely bowed...
but it worked!
We lit the candles and sang to the birthday girl.
Would you believe it took her many, many tries to get any candles out? Seriously...hasn't her musician mother taught her anything about air support yet?!? (She was so cute trying, though!)
It appeared that the cake was every bit as yummy as it should have been, considering it was covered in a double recipe of chocolate buttercream!
Evie received tons of wonderful gifts. [We're still working on the thank you notes...please don't talk to me about this.] Once the gifts were opened and the cake had settled enough to induce a massive sugar high, Mr. B attempted to lead them in one more game involving balloons...instead, the kids decided to play their own game...I think it was called LET'S GO CRAZY!!! Just before the party ended, we gathered the kids for a group photo. Much to my delight, each and every girl (except Evie) decided to wear a sunbonnet and pinafore for the picture, and Tristan agreed to hold his hat.

Evie definitely had a great time, and I think everyone else did, too.



A couple of days ago I noticed a little white bump on the tip of Audrey's tongue. At first I thought it was just a piece of food, but she never seemed to swallow it, and it was there all day, even after a record five-hour afternoon nap. Yesterday, the bump had spread (or multiplied, I'm not sure which!), and when she failed to finish her beloved banana at breakfast--she normally inhales it!--I suspected something was wrong. My suspicions were confirmed when, while I was "doing school" with the bigger girls, Audrey laid down on the floor and fell fast asleep. I called her doctor and took the only available appointment, which was at 4:15 that afternoon. I cannot tell you how excited I was to sit in the doctor's office at the end of the day, at the end of the week, especially after waiting for two hours to be seen for our 10 am appointment (one-year and six-year checkups for Audrey and Evie) on Tuesday (which, of course, I was convinced was probably where Audrey picked up whatever was ailing her). Anyway, we went to the appointment, and much to my delight, we only had to wait a half hour. The doctor looked her over and determined she has hand, foot, and mouth disease, minus the hand and foot (I think she called it "herpangina"?). Basically, we can just give her pain relievers, push the fluids, make sure she gets plenty of rest, and keep her away from other kids until the blisters are gone. The "keep her away from other kids" thing meant she couldn't go to small group with us last night, so I stayed home with her and Evie--who needed to go to bed on time or even early, if you get my drift!--and Mr. B and Eloise headed to small group. I caught myself falling asleep while reading to Evie, and again while praying with her, but after tucking in the girls, I decided to call my sister, with whom I hadn't really talked for quite awhile. She and I chatted for a more than a couple of hours, and Mr. B and Eloise came home while I was still on the phone. When we finally got off the phone, I went in to talk with Mr. B about the evening, and suddenly I didn't feel well. Within about five minutes, I was vomiting. It was so bizarre, because I seriously had felt fine while talking with Molly (just tired, but that's normal). I continued to be sick pretty much all night long with what is definitely the worst flu I've had in years. (Of course, I haven't even had the stomach flu for almost three years, but this truly was terrible. Yuck.) I'm doing better now, although I can tell I'm very dehydrated. Mr. B has been a good sport: he ran out fairly early this morning to get some gatorade to help replace my electrolytes, and he took Evie to her dance class. However, when they returned from dance, Evie announced that her stomach hurt, and she's been throwing up for the last couple of hours. Eloise has diarrhea. We're a regular three-ring circus around here... I have two prayers right now. First, I pray that Audrey doesn't get the stomach thing. It's so heartbreaking when little ones get it, and it's also so messy (I know, that's very selfish!). Secondly, I pray that Mr. B doesn't get it either. He doesn't handle being sick very well, and I don't handle him not handling being sick very well, very well. I have hope, though, since he is the only one in the household who's had a flu shot! Does anyone know how long it takes for those to be effective (assuming, of course, that they guessed right on the strain of flu for which they're immunizing this year)? He had the shot on Tuesday...hmmm...I hope it works!