Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie and What a Day!!

My husband has been out of town the past two days on a business trip.  This is always a challenge for me because it means "Daddy" isn't here to distract the kids while I take care of certain tasks like brushing the kids' teeth at bedtime or cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.  Without that distraction, the kids are left to entertain themselves (something they are very good at doing) and I regularly find myself with twice the mess to clean!

Luckily, these past two days have actually been pretty smooth.  I was able to get Big-Bug to school on time both days, even with the littler bugs in tow.  We had a successful trip to the grocery store all together and I was even able to take care of some banking and finish picking up decorations for Middle-Bug's birthday party this weekend!  On the home front, I caught up on the laundry, cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom and managed to stay on top of the toy clutter (for the most part.)  I was feeling very accomplished and decided I was going to have the house in pristine condition by the time my husband came home this evening.  I had such a good head start on the cleaning I felt like I also had time to make something extra tasty for dinner!  Since I had leftover roast chicken in the fridge, it seemed obvious to do a chicken pot pie.

Lately the bugs have been turning their noses up at veggies, so inspiration struck this afternoon and I decided to make three miniature pot pies (one for each kiddo) as well as one regular pie for my husband and myself.  It took a little longer that way, but I let each child fill their own pot pie with a custom mix of peas, corn, carrots, celery and chicken in the hopes that it would encourage them to actually eat at dinner!  When the pies were stuffed, I added the gravy and then carved each of the bugs' initials onto the top of their pie before popping them into the oven. 

Personal Pot Pies!

I carved a tree into mine, but the kids told me it doesn't look like a tree! haha

I could leave it at that and have you all thinking I had a productive, blissful two days followed by a night of creative cooking and some quality bonding time with the bugs...but instead I will tell you the whole story.  The whole story being that while I was rolling out pie crusts this evening I asked the bugs to please clean up their toys in the living room.  The three of them went right to the living room and I could hear them having a good time together and smiled to myself, thinking they were doing such good work.  Unfortunately, when I peaked around the corner to check on their progress, I discovered they had not been cleaning at all.  Instead, they had been shredding a roll of toilet paper all over the living room.  Yep.  Since I was in the middle of pot pie prep, I couldn't do a whole lot about it aside from confiscating the remainder of the roll and telling the kids they needed to clean up the mess they made. 

A few minutes later, the bugs were chasing each other up and down the hall and into the bedrooms playing some form of pirate game.  At this point, my anxiety level had already been raised, but I could hear little snips of phrases like "which room should be the ship and which one should be the island?" "You take this map and I'll take this one" so everything seemed to be going alright again (with the exception of the shredded paper that was still littered all over the living room floor.)  Suddenly Middle-Bug let out a frantic holler and began to cry and call for help.  I dropped everything in a flash and raced down the hall to see what was wrong. I found Middle-Bug wedged between his closet door and the chest of drawers inside the closet "I'm stuck I'm stuck!" he cried.  I could see right away that all he had to do was turn his head to the side and he could fit right back out the way he went in, but Middle-Bug was so hysterical it took me a while to calm him down enough to understand my directing.  Once he finally emerged unharmed (thank goodness!) I realized Baby-Bug was no longer in the room observing the spectacle.  My mind instantly shot to the unmanned kitchen with it's pre-heating oven, unattended chopping knife and vulnerable pot pies!  I raced back down the hall just in time to see Baby-Bug snatch the open bottle of vegetable oil off of the counter top (what was I thinking!) and take a huge swig, pouring oil all over his shoulder, down his chest and back and onto the floor at the same time.

At that point Baby-Bug was sponged -off and buckled into his high chair for the remainder of dinner prep, and the older Bugs were sent to work cleaning up the mess they had made of the living room (and thankfully, they did clean up this time.)  A little while later the pies were ready and I pulled them out of the oven, carefully popped the Bugs' pies out of their tart pans and dinner was served!  The kids were pretty proud of their creations and spent a while congratulating themselves on being "master chefs."  Then they spent a little while fantasizing about all the things they plan to cook next "I'm going to bake the bread tomorrow morning" "I'm going to put the peanut butter on the sandwiches" "I'm going to do the jelly!" Next they fantasized about turning our house into a restaurant "We can call it pumpkin halloween house restaurant!" "We can invite our friends to eat at our restaurant!" "We'll need decorations!" Finally they picked at the crust on their pot pies...then they asked to be excused.  *sigh*

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Big-Bug Starts Kindergarten!

Well, the day we have been thinking about for the past five and a half years has finally arrived.  Big-Bug has officially started school. I have alternated between dreading this day and excitedly anticipating this day for the past year (mostly depending on what kind of mood Big-Bug happens to be in on a particular day ha ha) It is strange to realize that this will now be the "norm" around here for the next 17 years!  For five and a half years, Big-Bug belonged to me alone and now suddenly he has a part of his life (a big part!) that doesn't include his brothers and me. Part of me wants to keep him home with me (hey - there's home school right!?) and another part of me is so excited to see him head out into the world with confidence to learn new things and make new friends.  But all of me feels like the past five and half years passed by way too quickly!  Only another four years from now I will have all three kids in school!  Hard to imagine :)

Big-Bug decided he wanted to ride the school bus to school this year (eek!) so on his first day of school all five of us went out to the bus stop to wait for the bus to arrive.  It showed up right on time and Big-Bug didn't hesitate for a second.  He climbed right up the steps of the bus, found a seat, sat down and started waving to us from the window.  The rest of us hopped into the car and drove up to the school to meet the bus so we could make sure Big-Bug found his way from the bus parking to the kindergarten classroom without any confusion. When we arrived, we found out the school has a great method for keeping track of it's students and all the kids who ride the bus go straight into the gym each morning where they line up by grade and are then released one line at a time into the hallway of the school.  We intercepted Big-Bug when he got off the bus to explain this new info to him and he changed direction and headed straight into the gym.  With a little assistance from the gym teacher, he found the kindergarten line (as I watched through the window) and sat down next to the other children.  We left at that point and as we all walked back to the car my husband told me "It's alright for you to cry, just don't go over the top okay?" ha ha  When he said that to me I paused for a moment to think about it, did I feel sad?  Not really! I was going to miss Big-Bug for sure, but more than anything I was looking forward to hearing about his day when I picked him up from school....only two and a half hours later :)

When the time came, we pulled up to the school with Big-Bug's favorite treat, a vanilla steamer from Starbucks, and waited for the teachers to bring their students out front.  When they walked out, Big-Bug was grinning from ear to ear and barely even noticed I had a steamer for him because he was so busy telling me about the picture he painted, the story they read, and the sparkly playdoh he got to play with in class.  But he was the most excited to tell me "Mom, I can READ!!"

The only negative piece of news he reported was he did NOT enjoy lining up in the gym with the students who ride the bus.  Apparently the teacher in the gym blew a whistle when it was time for the students to be dismissed and Big-Bug thought it was way too loud. He said it scared him and hurt his ears and he no longer wants to ride the bus if it means sitting in the gym each morning.  I was a little surprised he would let a little whistle keep him from the awesomeness of the bus ride (which he LOVED) but he was very insistent. So from now on we are dropping him off in the mornings so he can line up with the kids who get a ride from their parents in the front of the school (under the supervision of a teacher who told me she NEVER blows her whistle because she thinks it is too loud)

Today when we picked Big-Bug up from his second day he told us he got to read books with a "bigger kid," ran into some of his preschool friends at recess (where they apparently played "ninjas") and that tomorrow they are going to work their letter sounds again. I think it is going to be a fun year :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bring it on Fall!!

September is here, it's back to school for Big-Bug (his first "real year" of school and he is SO excited for kindergarten!) and it's state fair time in the northwest! The Bugs and I joined a good friend of ours and her two little boys at the fair last week and oh man did we have fun!!  We started our trip with a European-style circus show with trapeze artists, gymnasts, acrobats, jugglers, clowns, contortionists and musicians.  It was absolutely amazing and so impressive to think about the amount of dedication and self-discipline the performers must have to reach that level of skill-mastery.  The kids were really into the flashier performances, but their interest waned a bit when the more delicate, slow acts were on the stage.  They were boarder-line too young to appreciate how awesome it truly was! I, on the other hand was completely in love with the whole event!  Something about the combination of the music, the choreography was so magical!  When the music started and the show began I actually felt myself tear up - I definitely want to see more circus shows!  My husband promised to take me to see Cirque du Soleil when we got to Vegas (whenever that may be! haha)

After the circus show we spent the rest of our day viewing animals, riding ponies and carnival rides, sliding down big slides, riding a barrel train, eating ice cream, holding a python and walking through a petting zoo.  It was a great time!

The kiddos loved these goats!
That same week we took a camping trip with my whole extended-family on my mom's side.  It's an annual tradition and always a ton of fun.  Since Baby-Bug has been having a really hard time sleeping away from home lately, we decided we would all enjoy ourselves more if we only stayed one night at this year's camp trip.  Thankfully the camp ground is only about 2 hours away, so it's not too bad to go up one day and down the next.  On this trip Big-Bug and Middle-Bug discovered they can swim unassisted in a pool with their life jackets on (prior to this realization they used to cling to my husband and me like little monkeys!)  Once they experienced the glory of "real" swimming, there was no getting them out of the pool!  While we were camping we also enjoyed a lot of great conversation with the family, a nice camp fire and the kiddos even had some toasty s'mores!  Maybe next year we will be able to stay all three nights :)
Ready for dinner!
Since we've been back from camping we have enjoyed a breakfast pajama potluck with some friends from our playgroup and I hosted my monthly book club meeting that same night.  It was a long, busy day- but so much fun!  We also took Big-Bug for his classroom open-house and had the chance to meet his kindergarten teacher.  While we were there, countless older students popped into the room just to say "hi" to their old kindergarten teacher.  I LOVED seeing this, obviously this is a woman who is well liked by her students and it reassures me that Big-Bug will have a great year at school.

yummy over-night breakfast casserole!

Tea Party Table set for a themed book club meeting :)

Today we attended another great play-date with our fantastic playgroup, a Teddy Bear Picnic at one of the local parks.  We have done this in years past and it is always so cute to see all the little kids with their favorite stuffed animals :)  Today was no exception and as an added bonus, a lot of the snack items were adorable too!  There were Teddy Grahams, biscuits shaped like teddy bear faces with sesame seed fur and raisin eyes and smiles and great big ginger bread teddy bears with icing details (very impressive!)

Favorite Teddies (and animals of other varieties!)
We are forecasted to have temperatures in the upper 90's this weekend (maybe even breaking 100!) so it looks like we are getting a last-blast of summer weather.  BUT....starbucks already launched the pumpkin spice I say: Bring it on Fall!!