Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

2 Pictures, Images and Photos
In honor of "Pumpkin Time", here's an awesome recipe I tweaked to my tastes.....These are so yummy. (Hint: They're better the next day, and they freeze well, too).

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

1 c. butter
3 c. sugar
5 lg. eggs
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
15 oz. can of pumpkin
1/6 c. apple juice
1/6 c. rum (or more apple juice)
1 bag dark chocolate chips or chunks (I use Ghirradelli 60% cacoa chips, because I'm a chocolate snob. You can use another brand, but don't you dare insult my recipe by using WalMart brand "chocolate"! Eww.)

Beat butter at medium speed of mixer about 2 minutes or until creamy.

Gradually add sugar, beating 5 to 7 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating only until yellow disappears.

Combine pumpkin, juice, vanilla, and rum in a bowl.

Combine flour, salt, spices, and soda in a bow.

Add flour mixture to creamed butter mixture alternating with pumpkin mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix at lowest speed just until blended after each addition.

Fold in chocolate chips. (I tossed the chips in flour first to keep them from sinking to the bottom, but the batter ends up so thick, it probably wasn't necessary.) Scoop batter into greased (or papered) muffin tins. Bake at 325 degrees until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (I can't remember exactly how long it took, but I set the timer for 30 minutes and then checked them until they were done.)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pumpkin Rap

This is what the silly boys that hang around my house did with Cole's I Like Pumpkin book.

The story behind it, if you'd like to know, is that all these boys followed us home from church (as they usually do), and while Casey pumped gas and CJ waited for our Macadoos chicken, Cole handed Avery his pumkin book (he's obsessed with them, remember?), and voila, this is what they did to it.

My apologies to the author.


Yesterday we were driving to CJ's soccer tournament in Tallahassee, FL, when our van broke down. Again. In the same way.
We were driving through Thomasville when it started "clunking" and the gears started slipping, so Casey pulled over. Once we stopped, it refused to go back into gear. So our wonderful friend Paul, the manager of Firestone, went to our house and got the 15-passenger van and came and got us, along with a tow truck. What a GREAT friend. The other cool thing is the transmission is under warranty, since they just rebuilt it, so, "Yay!"
While we waited for our ride, we called CJ's assistant coach, to see if he'd swing by on his way to the games. That worked out well, and CJ wasn't even late to the first game. (We, on the other hand, didn't arrive in Tallahassee until the end of it.)
While we waited in Thomasville, we walked to the Farmer's Market the was across the street from our unfortunate pit-stop.
My smallest children are OBSESSED with pumpkins. They were in heaven. The Market had all shapes, sizes, and colors. They even had some apple gourds, which look their mama was a watermelon and their daddy was a pumpkin. Cole and I talked about the tiny gourds that looked like 'God painted half green and yellow and half orange and yellow'. Awesome. They had beautiful dark purple eggplants piled up next to red, yellow, and green peppers. And I had left my camera in the van....auughhh.
And it was such a pretty day. It was a perfect day to be broke-down and walking.
And we got to see CJ's second game, where they still lost, but CJ got a goal, and the score wasn't nearly as bad (with the first one, his team never scored, and when I asked how many goals the other team got, he said, "I lost count").
Cole played on this really cool tree we sat under to watch the game. One of the dads said, "You know all those kids are going to have poison ivy rashes from playing around that tree". So I said, "That's ok, we'll bring them to you to get fixed up!" (He just happens to be my kids' pediatrician. Besides, his son was running all over the place barefoot, so I wasn't worried.)
Casey had a stroke of brilliance and had brought Maddy some 'night-night milk' (what my kids call the cup of milk I give them at bed-time) in the cooler, which was awesome because she didn't seem to be feeling really great and probably would've screamed the whole way back home without that conditioned response of sleeping after her milk. Thank God for Pavlov's dog and Daddy's genius.
Oh! Hilarious thing Cole said after we moved all our stuff into the big van, watched our white van go off to the "doctor", and were finally on our way. Cole says in his 'grown-up' tone: "Ok, Dad, now don't break THIS one."

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Joys of Scotch Tape

Cole loves scotch tape. He makes the craziest stuff with it, like a superhero mask, or tapes toy animals to the walls. One time he even encased Buzz Lightyear in tape so he could be "frozen".

I've been saying that I 'm going to get him a case of tape for Christmas. Can you imagine how much fun he'd have with that?

Well, that was before last night. Casey's been trying to unclog our tub for weeks, going through two jugs of Drano. (Do you see where this is headed?) But it was getting worse, and yesterday it wouldn't drain at all. So I decided to "Polock it" (which is my ancestral term for rigging up a tool to get a task accomplished....sometimes causing damage to property or bodily harm) and bent a clothes hanger to dig the icky clog out. Guess what it was??

Yup, a bunch of scotch tape. Apparently, Buzz "thawed" in my tub and his "ice" went down the drain.

And guess what Cole JUST asked me for?? Yep, MORE tape.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Something Found

This summer, I lost my new camera lens.

It was so wonderful, and I got such a good deal on it. It was a Sigma 70-300mm Macro AF-S for my Nikon DD40--which means in non-camera-geek language--a sweet lens under $300!!
So anyway, yeah I totally lost it. I remembered the last time I had it (taking kids to camp), but everything was fuzzy after that. Well, after quite a search, I gave up. My husband said we couldn't afford a new one. Man.... I continued to look them up online, drooling, wishing, conspiring, hoping I would see one on ebay for $50 or something (yeah, right...)

Well, yesterday I found it. The story of its discovery is too long (and disgusting) maybe I'll share it for another blog. But--suffice it to say I decided to clean out my pantry, top to bottom with bleach, and that's where I found it.

Yes, in my pantry, in a bag of cooler-bags. Someone must've mistaken the lens case for a cooler..(???)

In honor of my found lens, Here's a picture I took with it:

Now, why I love the lens: There's some technical word for it, but beside the fact that it can zoom in from really far away, I love the effect it has where the background is REALLY blurry. It makes your subject stand out so awesome-ly. it.

A visit with my Mom

To say that Mom and I have a complicated relationship would, for some people, be an understatement. Nonetheless, we love each other very much.

Yesterday my mom, my sister and I had a lovely visit. Mom had driven up to hang out with us and the kids. Normally restless and busy, she was relaxed and chatty. Me and Autumn gave her a makeover. We (yes, both of us) cut her hair and plucked her eyebrows. Then we took pictures of her with our wonderful cameras. She seemed to enjoy it....or at least she was a good sport.

But the highlight of the day was watching her with the children. She cuddled with my little neice and pushed my little girl in the swing. Oh, to hear my princess call, "Neeeenaaaaa!" from across the yard, and seeing my mom laugh and play with Cole, showing him how to smell herb leaves and look for bugs in grass.....It was just SUCH a great day!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Yesterday's Bible Club

I just have to share how proud I am of my His Hands kids!
Every single one knew their memory verse this week, right down to Malaysia (pictured above)who is only 3! (Well, it was difficult for me to understand her, since she has a lisp, but it sure sounded like she got it). To see a bunch of little preschoolers chant:
"Nothing can separate us from the love of God, Romans 8:39!" was so awesome. The bigger kids had to know the whole thing: "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38 & 39.
Yes, well-worth that case of king-size Snickers I got from Sam's!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Last Week--Whew!

I really just have to get in the habit of posting a blog everyday. By the time a few days go by, my head is so clogged I don't know where to start! Plus, I don't want to write, like, four blogs in one day and look as if I have nothing else to do!
This has been a really hard week. Maddy and Casey were sick all last week, and part of this one. Casey's stuff was assumed to be mostly stress, because of a lot of pressure he's under with his practice, paying the mortgage and providing for his family--you know, that kind of menial stuff. We were in the middle of a fight (with both of us having experience with counseling--him doing it, me receiving it (o:, we both know how to "fight fair", so it's not like it could truly be categorized as a "fight") about how much stress he's allowing in and how it's affecting the family, how he's too busy, etc., etc., which had to be postponed because he fell asleep when I paused to get Maddy a snack. Realizing he didn't feel well, I encouraged him to go to the doctor. Actually, it was more like, "Get your hiney to the doctor!"
So he went and they discovered an irregularity in his heart beat that they wanted to run more tests on. Basically, the bottom half of his heart was beating away, and the top was just kind of quivering. When he left the doctor's office, he wanted me to pull over so we could "chat" (seriously that's the word he used, "chat") about whether or not he should obey the doctors orders to go to the hospital immediately for more tests, since we don't have insurance. He got as far as "They're worried about a blood clot forming and causing a stroke. And she said that's why my arms are tingly, they're not getting enough blood."
Oh, we were so done "chatting".
I drove him straight to South Georgia Medical Center.
I should add here that Cole had also started running a fever and throwing up, and Maddy was still puny as well.
The doctors at the hospital decided it best to keep him overnight, and threatened to keep him two. They tried to explain to my reluctant husband that his condition could be very serious and dangerous. To which he wittily replied that "We don't have health insurance but we do have life insurance."
After which I popped him upside his head.
They did admit him to the cardiac unit of the hospital. The next day I took the kids to visit him on my way to taking them to the pediatrician, as they had all developed new and exciting symptoms. I would've rathered to bring them after, but he missed them too bad. Maddy was a little nervous about all the hoses and wires attached to her daddy, and Cole was excited to see his artwork hanging beside his daddy's bed, just like I said it was. CJ was, as usual, concerned, sympathetic, worried, and sweet.
Hours later, the pediatrician's exact words were: "Congratulations, they all have strep!"
Casey got to come home that night, since they had returned his heart to normal ticking behavior, and since they found now underlying health concerns for his heart issues.
Our good friends brought us dinner. Everyone was so loving during our trial.
So Casey was home, the kids were on antibiotics, and everyone was on the mend.
Then my crazy husband thought it would be a good idea to go to work the next day...not only was I worried about his stress level and health (he still wasn't feeling good), but the kids hadn't seen him much since he spent a good part of two whole days in the hospital, and they were too little to understand why. Needless to say, I recommenced the argument that had been put on hold for his trip to the hospital.
It was a good one, too. No yelling or screaming, but, boy, was I mad. I have a wonderful husband, though, and he recognized the truth in most of what I said, and sympathetic to the emotion of the rest of it. (o:
The next day, we decided to go to the Hahira Honey Bee Festival for some family time. As we turned off our exit, our van went, "Ker-Clunk!" and absolutely refused to go anymore. We ended up walking to the festival (hey, it was a short walk on a pretty day!), and watched the parade. My sister was there with her family and some friends, so they let us take a car and they squished into another. A good friend of ours had the van towed to his shop so he could assess the issue.
All in all, by the end of the week, it was almost FUNNY how much junk happened in one week. In fact, as we walked to the festival, Casey and I were literally laughing about it all.
And we spent the whole day together as a family, no work calls, no paperwork, no talk about finances. We played Monopoly with CJ and Cole (well, Cole rolled the dice until he got bored and went off to play with action figures).
It was a good day.
That night during prayers, all the kids thanked God for a great day (well, I heard Maddy say "Thank you Jesus", but I couldn't make out the rest...). I am so grateful for my awesome kids who chose to be grateful to God for a good day, rather than the negative parts.