Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tardy Thanksgiving happenings

Well, my Thanksgiving update is pretty late. But in my defense I was attempting to post a video to make you all VERY jealous of my Thanksgiving festivities. But blogger is not cooperating with me. So I'll have to post a still picture instead. BOO! The video was of our friend Guelel playing and singing for us on Thanksgiving. The prefect end to a fabulous family get together. Oh well....

So, the Thanksgiving festivities have come to a close for another year. The family and I had a fantastic time. It was everything that I could have hoped for. The girls got to spend time with their cousins and the house was filled with the sound of children's laughter (loud, piercing, high pitched, shrieking little girl laughter). For three days and nights house rules were forgotten, meals were trucker sized, bedtimes fell by the wayside and the love and laughter were plentiful. We all return to our normal lives full. Full not just on the vast menu of tasty goodness that was consumed, but full and replenished in the strength of our family bond. I wish that we could spend time together like this more often. It reminds me of why we returned to the mainland - why it was so hard to live across an ocean from our family. The holidays there were small, and though they were no less filled with love, they were different. Now, I will have to admit that a Thanksgiving dip in the Caribbean Sea could not be replaced by even the cheesiest of macaronies, but I would trade that for the soft brown cheek of my newborn baby cousin any day!

Alright, all mushiness aside. Here are the top five reasons that MY Thanksgiving was sweeter than YOUR Thanksgiving! 5.) This year's Thanksgiving spread consisted of dressing (made from my homemade buttermilk cornbread), green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, greens, smoked turkey, roast duck, basil and lime marinated salmon, sweet potatoes, homemade pecan and apple pies, lemon bundt cake, caramel cake, almond cake, peanut butter cookies, ginger snaps, lemonade and sweet tea!

4.) The population of our humble little abode swelled from a meager seven to a mind boggling 25+

3.) The awesome place mats that the girls made for the kids table AND the newly refinished red drop leaf table (belonging to my great great uncle) which served as the kids table.

2.) My girls and my niece. Nothing more to say there. They're awesome.

And the number 1 reason my Thanksgiving was sweeter than your Thanksgiving - our Senegalese friend Guelel gracing us with post dinner entertainment. A very awesone video should be posted here, but as you can's not.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Enjoy your Thanksgiving all! We will be.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Today's Bijou-ism

We'd been having a very rough evening with Bijou. She has a terrible temperament when she is either hungry or sleepy or both. So she'd been crying all evening about everything. First, she cried because she didn't want to take a bath. Then she cried because I would not give her new pajamas because she hadn't had a bath. The she cried because she couldn't get a fork out of the dishwasher. Then because she couldn't get it back in the dishwasher. Then because she knocked her cup of lemonade over. TWICE! I'm sure you get the picture. Then, the highlight of my evening. She was standing at the sink, in her too big pajama pants from last night, crying because she couldn't keep them up and did the best thing any kid could ever do. She started trying to tuck her pajama pants between her butt cheeks and saying, "I have to put these in here, mommy. I have to put these in here so that they will stay up!" No, sweetie, we do not tuck our pants in our butts to keep them up!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving festivities in the works

Finally, everyone in the house is well and the Thanksgiving festivities are underway this week. Yesterday, we took a day trip to Tupelo to do a massive shopping trip in preparation for holiday guests. This is the first big Thanksgiving dinner that I will host. I feel a little nostalgic, thinking of the big holiday dinners that my grandmother hosted when I was kid. The house was filled with the noise of children and smells of fall. It's strange to think that now I am creating those same memories for my children and nieces and nephews. It will be their noise filling the air now. I'm excited.
Along with nostalgia comes the dread of how much work I need to get done this week. I have to at least try to contain the toy tornado that rips through our house daily, wreaking havoc on what could be a wonderful, clutter free house. The cedar chest is mere steps from being complete. A good buffing and new hardware are all we have left to do. We have components for a autumn inspired centerpiece, as well as, a place mat project that I promised the girls that they could create for the kids table. We will do this awesome project that a came across at domestifluff to create our place mats

I'm not really sure what the centerpiece will develop into, but we have really cool candle holders that we found at the local Goodwill, some candles, gourds (also found at the Goodwill) and a few other odds and ends. So we shall see what happens.

Needless to say, there will be no traditional school for us this week. We will discuss family and do some writing and poetry about autumn and things that we are thankful for. We will discuss Native Americans and their culture and do some projects around that. Other than that, there will be lots of house cleaning and cooking. Family starts arriving on Wednesday. Let the festivities begin!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Today's Bijou-ism

Bijou has learned to read her name. Well, if there is a list of names and hers is on it, she can pick it out. For months now, she has said that any word that started with a "b" was her name. But now she knows the difference between her name and other "b" words. Recently, Zion's feet have gotten big enough to wear some of the shoes that I made for Bijou when she was about 9 months old. I put Bijou's name on the bottom of each pair. Today she picked up one of the shoes that Zion had been wearing earlier in the day and said:

"This was my shoe, mommy. See, it says Bijou. It doesn't say Granny or Jena or Ashni or Zion or Daddy or Mommy. It says Bijou!"

Now it's time for everyone's favorite game
Where Will I Find Bijou Sleeping Tonight?!

She is a big fan of getting out of bed and onto the floor to go back to sleep. We've found her under Jena's bed, in the doorway of her bedroom, naked in the hallway, on the dining room floor and our bedroom floor. It has become a fun little game at night to see where she will end up.

If the shoe fits

Well, all of the little ones are feeling much better. There is still quite a bit of snot flowing around here, but the fevers and infections all seem to have passed. I think we will take Bijou for allergy testing. I'm pretty sure what we thought were bites on her stomach, legs and feet in the ER were actually hives! All of the swelling is gone from her face and the cough has pretty much subsided, but yesterday she was complaining about her stomach and feet itching. I looked under her shirt and her stomach was covered in HUGE red hives. Hives the size of the palm of her hand. So were her feet and her back. They looked terrible, but other than the itching she seemed fine. Today, they are gone, so I think we will make an appointment on Monday to have her tested.

I am thrilled that all of the little people are feeling better and I can put the baby down without her screaming. As much as I enjoy loving up my babies, I want to be able to go to the bathroom without them screaming. One positive did come from being pinned under a feverish baby for 36 hours. I learned how to crochet baby shoes! Everyone who knows me, knows that this whole crochet thing is new to me. I learned how to crochet hats from a youtube video and making things up as I went along. I learned how to make the shoes the same way. I found a SUPER cute pair of crocheted baby shoes on Etsy and they were selling the pattern for $4 or $5. Unfortunately, on top of being incredibly cheap, I also can't read crochet patterns. Well, i can read them, but I have no clue what they mean. So I found a video on youtube showing how to crochet the sole of a baby shoe. After I worked out the sole, I used what I've been able to figure out about crochet stitches and what they do to wing the rest of the shoe. They turned out very, very cute. The sole is a soft, brown alpaca wool (thanks Ingrid!) and the upper is a deep red cotton. I'm not very good with sizing things yet and they were a bit roomy for Zion's little feet, so I added a drawstring around the top (sort of like the elastic that ballet shoes have to keep them on your feet) and they fit perfectly! A little strap and button and she has a sweet pair of soft, warm Mary Janes perfect for autumn.

My goal is to work on all of these little baby accessories that I do over the winter (while we are trapped under the cold, rainy, Mississippi winter) and by next summer be able to start a small business. Keep your fingers crossed that I get a sewing machine for my birthday. Hand sewing is incredibly time consuming!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

More sick - More sad

Our house is FULL of sick children. Zion is STILL fighting her double ear infection and RSV. She has been such a sweet congested little pea this entire week, but last night she could not sleep more than 30 minutes at a time. So, around 3:30am, I got up with her and walked her around the house. Eventually, I just tied on my Moby and wore her for the rest of the night. Once the sun came up and I knew the office was open, we made a quick run to the pediatrician who informed us that the last antibiotic was not working and prescribed us a new antibiotic (which unfortunately meant that I had to take my 5th trip to Walmart this week). I also picked up some Hyland's ear drops, which worked like a charm. She has been sleeping soundly all day to make up for not sleeping at all last night. I'm very happy that she is getting some sleep, but all of this sleeping means very little nursing, which had made for a slightly engorged mommy.

Just to add a little excitement to my life, Bijou has also been "barking" all day long. I have never heard anyone cough this much. Fortunately she doesn't have a fever, but her throat and head hurt (from all of the coughing). She's been in pretty high spirits all day, but the coughing is affecting how much she talks (not such a bad thing). She was taking Benadryl for the Danny Glover thing yesterday and the bottle says for coughing and congestion too, but I think she's coughing MORE taking the Benadryl. She had a slight cough yesterday, but nothing like this.

SO due to all of the germs floating around the house, I decided to whip up a batch of my tried and true honey-garlic-lemon cough medicine for the kids. It smells horrific, but it works like a charm. A couple of big spoonfuls washed down with a glass of orange juice usually does the trick. Now I don't know if it actually kills the germs or if it's just so nasty that the kids fake being well just to keep from having to take anymore. Either way, there tends to be less coughing going on in the house. We shall see what tomorrow brings.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Good morning Baptist Memorial Hospital...

Well, this morning I made my second trip to the ER in the last 4 days (which is why I am free to be on the computer as opposed to schooling the older children). The first trip was on Sunday with Zion who, by the way, is feeling much better (still a little wheezy but MUCH better). This morning's trip was with Bijou who came in our room with a face like she'd been in a bout with Mike Tyson. Her entire face was swollen so much that her speech was slurred and her eyes were little slits. Needless to say, that prompted an immediate trip to the ER. Despite the HUGE-ness of her face, she was the same old Bijou. Once my immediate freak out subsided (which happened after running out of the house with Bijou in her pajamas and Napoleon Dynamite boots and me without a bra and my shoes on the wrong feet - didn't notice until I'd checked her in at the ER), I realized that she probably just got a bite during the night and had a bad reaction. While we waited for the doctor, I gave her a once over and found several red, swollen spots on her legs, feet, hands and stomach. Whatever bit her, liked her and kept biting her. Two doses of Benadryl later, only slightly puffy eyes remain and we can all laugh about the madness of the morning. I've decided that my sweet little Bijou, when bitten during the night, wakes up as Danny Glover. Sorry, Danny.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Today's Bijou-ism

Bijou has a wealth of witty little statements and insights. On most occasions they bring a little humor to my day. On others, I wonder where in the world I got this child from. Today she is all about knock knock jokes.

Bijou: Knock, knock.

Me: Who's there?

Bijou: Potato Head.

Me: Potato Head who?

Bijou: Um, I love you Potato Head.

I guess I'm Potato Head.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sick baby = sad mommy

So, Zion has had a runny nose on and off for a couple of weeks now. There have been colds passed round and round the house since the weather changed. On top of the fact that she has been teething for weeks (current tooth count, 4. 2 on top, 2 on the bottom), she has been a snotty mess. The runny nose returned a few days ago and initially I thought it may have been something that she was eating, but yesterday I noticed that she was breathing pretty fast and as the day progressed she began to wheeze and was running a temperature. We decided to take her to the ER just to be on the safe side. Of course with the whole swine flu madness going on there were a bunch of people in masks sitting in the waiting room. I opted to wait my turn out by the elevator. After 6 hours in the emergency room, one nasal swab, an albuterol treatment, a shot of antibiotics, a dose of Tylenol and a chest x-ray, we were sent home with a diagnosis of RSV and an ear infection in both ears. All of that seems like enough to make any adult crabby, but my sweet little angel took it all in stride. She has been in good spirits and if it wasn't for the runny nose, you wouldn't even know she was sick. She cooperated and fussed very little (even with the shot), she laid still for the x-ray, only fussed a little for the swab, but she did spit Tylenol on the nurse. But after all she'd been through, I think it was warranted. Today, she has been doing pretty well. She's still all over the house and she ate dinner this evening (she hadn't been eating much). Her breathing sounds much better after tonight's nebulizer treatment and we have the humidifier going near her bed. Hopefully by the end of the week we will be back to 100%. I read somewhere that babies display new abilities after they've gotten over a fever. I'm afraid that she will be walking or talking in sentences when she does get better. I think I would take walking over talking right now. I don't know if I could handle another talker in this house. I haven't been able to hear my own internal dialogue in years!

Fun with playdough

I'd been promising the girls for months that I would get them some playdough when we got the art room together. It took months, but we've finally put our unused laundry room to use as the kids' art room. It has been a VERY welcomed addition to the house. I'm not sure who thinks that carpet is good for a house with children, but we have been blessed/cursed with a lovely house covered in carpet. Because of that, there has been very little paint or playdough used over the last year. So this morning while waiting F-O-R-E-V-E-R for Zion prescription to be filled at Walmart, I decided to finally get the girls some playdough. They played Ace of Cakes and Food Network Challenge (Cake Off) all day (except for when I forced them to do some math and reading). Jena created her own playdough island, complete with waves in the water. I'm sure some day soon I will have pictures of 8 tier wedding cakes draped in flowers.

Kids and cameras

I'd forgotten that I let Ashni take pictures with my camera this past weekend as she and her sisters walked around the neighborhood. Children have an uncanny ability to take incredibly focused and candid photographs of their surroundings. They can capture the true nature of their subjects in a way that I could only hope to. They can also take pictures of some of the most ridiculous things. I have my fair share of butt photos, cracked concrete photos, blurry grass photos, but I guess those too have their charm. I usually keep them all, maybe hoping that when they are 15 or 18 or 25 that they will get a kick out of their early photography. Here are some of this more entertaining photos from the weekends photo shoot...

Is she doing what I think she's doing? EWW...
The stroller handle?

There were an abnormal number butt pictures. i enjoy Bijou's Napoleon Dynamite-esque boots-pants combo that she has going on here. You take what you get when you let them dress themselves. She loves these boots.

The driveway...or the road....or the neighbor's driveway....not sure.

and some that melt my heart...

Jena, the other mother. She's VERY sweet and patient with the little ones. Now she and Ashni, that's another matter entirely.

The future IS now! The most awesome shirt in Bijou's current wardrobe.

Ashni and Bijou played very well on this day. It was refreshing. I dread the upcoming winter and everyone being closed in the house all day. I think we will be taking lots of trips to Memphis and Tupelo for activities outside the house.

Bijou was trying to calm Zion who'd had enough of the playpen in the driveway. Excuse the snotty baby nose. This, I assume, was the beginning of her RSV and ear infection she is fighting right now.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Years of being duped

For years I have been led to believe that Duncan Hines was the master of frosting, Aunt Jemima had the lock down on pancakes, Pilsbury was the king of biscuits, Betty Crocker....well, you get where I'm going with this right. Pop open a can or a box and whip up some deliciousness in no time flat, right? Wrong! A couple of years ago I decided to be bold (and a bit crazy) and whip up a carrot cake from scratch. I'd never made anything from scratch before. It just seemed like something that only grandmothers and Stepford wives did. And a carrot cake? Seems a bit complicated for a first attempt, but it was the most delicious slice of cream cheese frosted heaven that I'd ever tasted. After the carrot cake came the lemon buttercream frosting on homemade lemon cupcakes (um, I like cake and cake-type foods). Since that day, if I can make it from scratch, I will make it from scratch. Sunday is generally buttermilk biscuit day around here. I make a big batch and we all have breakfast together (well, the hubby works Saturday nights, so he usually has breakfast a few hours after the rest of us). I was too lazy this morning to whip up a batch, so instead of making my own, I thought I'd share the recipe and maybe someone else will start their own buttermilk biscuit Sunday. Bijou is getting her practice in now. Enjoy!

Buttermilk Biscuits

3 cups all purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar (optional, I leave this out a lot)
3 tsp baking powder
rounded 1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick of butter (cold and cut into cubes)
1 1/2 cup of cold well shaken buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Sift into another bowl. Use a fork or a pastry cutter to cut in the butter. The consistency will be like moist sand. Some large lumps of butter left in are fine, you don't want to over work it. Stir in the buttermilk and mix until the dough sticks together and forms a ball. On a floured surface knead the dough 4 - 6 times. It is VERY important to ONLY knead 4 - 6 times. If you knead too much your biscuits will be tough.
Arrange on a non stick baking sheet (I use my pizza pan) so that the biscuit are just touching one another. Brush the tops with milk. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

On a couple of occasions I have added cinnamon to the biscuit dough and made a brown sugar glaze to spoon over them once they come out of the oven. Enjoy with a big glass of milk. Don't they look SUPER DELICIOUS?!!!! They are!!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A labor of love

For years I have said that knitting and crocheting are skills that were completely unattainable for me. It all seemed so complicated and time consuming (two qualities that I do NOT look for in a project), but I could not help drooling over all of the super cute crocheted baby accessories that I came across perusing Etsy. I am self proclaimed baby hat fanatic. Add ear flaps and/or a pompom and I am hooked. A few months ago, a friend, who was relocating to the Bahamas (lucky!), was cleaning out her stash of hand dyed alpaca yarn. I left her house with 6 or 7 skeins and absolutely no idea what I was going to do with it. On that day I decided that I would learn to crochet if it killed me. To be honest, I stored the yarn away and didn't think about it again for months. A few weeks ago I came across the yarn and Jena's plastic crochet needle from her potholder kit. That discovery sparked my newly reawakened desire to crochet. After much stress, many cramped hands and many, many youtube how to videos, I successfully completed my very first hat for Bijou. It took me a total of 3 full days. 3 DAYS!!! Now, a secondhand felted Goodwill sweater can be reconstructed into a very cute hat (and matching boots) in about an hour, so three days was a bit much for me. I declared Bijou's white and blue hat my first and last hat attempt.
(She was not happy about being photographed on this day for some reason, hence the extra attitude in the face.)
But being the determined (and sometimes insane) mama that I am, I decided to keep trucking and give it another try. Today, I am proud to say that I can officially crochet very cute little hats for my babies (complete with ear flaps AND pompoms) and it only takes me a day. Two if the children are being uncooperative. I've shaved off 2/3 of my crochet time. Not bad if I do say so myself...

So far, all of the girls have hats and I'm still making more. If nothing else, they will have warm heads for the rest of their days. But don't worry unwanted, secondhand, felted wool Goodwill sweaters, I am still making hats and boots with you too!

Friday, November 13, 2009


This is our first fall in our house in Oxford. I guess this would be the girls' first official fall settled on the mainland. They are enjoying the crisp air and colors of fall. We took a field trip to Home Depot to pick up a couple of rakes (because that's not a tool one needs when living on an island) so the girls could rake up the leaves in the backyard. The mountain of leaves was mind boggling - at least as tall as Bijou. Zion wanted to join them, but I'm pretty sure I'd have lost her in the mound, so she was forced to watch from the window.

Reduce, Reuse, RECONSTRUCT

I am a big fan of cardboard and its many uses. My favorite use right now? Fabulous and virtually free toys for the kids. Because the phrase "starving artist" in heavily weighted in truth, awesome toys can be beyond our financial reach. The solution, my friends? If you can't buy it, recreate it. To date, we've made a lovely kitchen for Bijou complete with sink and oven. She was in desperate need of a place to prepare her array of felt food (I was beginning to miss my pretend meals). It took weeks, but the girls and I finally finished the cardboard dollhouse. AND because I've gotten so much positive feedback, I've decided to complete my illustrated instruction book for both projects. Honestly, I've tired of retyping instructions in emails over and over again. Here are some pictures of Bijou's kitchen (and food) and the dollhouse. Keep and eye out for the instruction books coming soon! At some point I would like to be able to construct a few pieces of cardboard furniture. Keep your fingers crossed.

The dollhouse in its skeletal stage. It's all held together with packing tape and Elmer's.

A fresh coat of yellow picked out by the girlies.

Sandpaper and black construction paper make the shingles on the roof. Shutters and doors added.

The kiddos trying their hand at interior design. Their choice of wall treatments is questionable.

The kitchen. Complete with fridge, stove, oven and sink. The lovely shelf above the stove is cut out of an Ikea catalog.

The living room sofa and more Ikea home furnishings. We are particularly fond of the green lamp.

The completed front door with handle and porch light cut from a home furnishings magazine

Blue bathroom on the third floor.

The family is all moved in and ready to play!

Some pictures of the kitchen, as well as pictures of the felt food I made to go along with it. Some of the food is new, the rest is transplanted from the cardboard kitchen we had in St. Croix.

Some day I will master the blog format....unfortunately it will not be today, blah...