June 29, 2009

Can Anyone Tell Me Why....

...my hydrangea won't bloom? The little tiny one we planted last year has blooms on it but he huge one we planted 3 or 4 years ago hasn't one single bloom. The foliage is thick and beautiful, just no blooms.


...my posts are posting at the wrong time? Saturday's post popped up on Friday and Monday's post came up Sunday night. I have checked the time, date and time zone settings in my blogger account and they are correct...but my scheduled posts are a mess.


...there are no hummers at my feeders this year nor butterflies in my gardens? Every Summer since I've had my deck there have been hummers at my feeder each morning. As a matter of fact the same couple came back year after year. But this summer I've not seen one sign of them. As a matter of fact, I've not seen any butterflies either. And the butterfly bush has been known to regularly have a hundred or more butterflies at one time.


And just to thank you for your help...I am going to give you a little tip...pop over to my real life friend, Susan's blog, for a funny story. My whole family has been laughing at it for days now.

Not Me Monday 6-29-09



Saturday I was not outdoors pulling weeds, watering and pruning my garden when I heard a flash go off and realized I was still in my nightgown.

And then Saturday night, when all the children were finished their showers and there was a car accident at our intersection, I did not tell six of the them they could go out to watch the mulitple ambulances, fire trucks and police vehicles in THEIR pajamas.

Nor did I pretend our kids weren't in their bathrobes when our neighbors walked up to visit with us.

I may or may not have suggested the kids could take the vacation jar car to car and charge a nickle to tell the long line of stopped vehicles the alternate route out.

And I Definitely did not watch the first episode of the original Star Trek series with my dear husband and then have nightmares all night about alien creatures sucking the salt out of my loved ones.

Nor did I wish an alien creature would come along and suck the fat out of my thighs.

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

June 27, 2009

Basic Wheat Bread

In my post about Gas and Groceries, I promised some pointers in making the transition to your own home baked bread. I won't repeat the details but you will find an incredible savings, unbelievable flavor and fabulous health benefits with your own bread.

The last loaf of whole wheat bread I bought (and it wasn't even natural or organic) cost over $3 at Super Walmart. I can make a loaf at home for about 50 cents.

The last loaf I bought in the grocery store had a list of ingredients so long that my eyes went blurry trying to read them. Not to mention how many things on that list were CHEMICALS. Let's face it, bread is flour, water, yeast and salt. That's it! Read the package on your loaf of bread and see what else is in there.

The last loaf I bought at the grocery store was mealy and turned to mush in your mouth. Nothing what a loaf of bread should be.

My mom calls bread the staff of life. During the depression and on the prairies our ancestors ate bread because it was cheap and nutritious. Making bread was a basic to home making and human existence.

How we took something so pleasant and so basic and turned it into the list of chemicals and tastelessness we see on the grocery store shelves, I will never know. But I will forever be grateful to the lady who lived next door to us when I was twelve years old, who introduced me to a fresh loaf of home baked bread hot out of the oven.

It created in me a love for the real thing and sparked my interest in learning how to make my own. A skill that has come back to bless me time and time again.

Amy at In Search of Normal said she wished she could get her husband on board for healthy eating. Well, I am here to tell you that if you have a loaf of fresh baked bread (preferably coming out of the oven in the late in the afternoon so the smell is in the air when he comes home) on the table for dinner with some butter, you will make a quick convert of him.

My husband frequently talks about how much those hot loaves meant to him in our early days of marriage. We like to dip ours in good quality olive oil with dinner (oh so nutritious, too). But, if you are trying to change your families eating, I would take it one step at a time and put out some good butter to go with it.

I like to make a traditional loaf with all whole wheat flour. It can be a bit challenging until you are at ease working with dough and understand what it should look and feel like. The first time I made my own bread, I was reading from a cook book. It looked so easy. It was a mess! I had dough stuck to everything and spent so long cleaning up. If it were not for the memory of that wonderful smell and heavenly taste, I may have given up right then. Fortunately, I am a persistent person.

But, I decided to take it easy on my girls when they first learned how to work with bread dough. We found this super easy basic wheat bread recipe, that is so simple they were able to make it on their own as young as 8 years old. They have been baking for others for quite some time and started with this basic recipe and then progressed to traditional recipes. This is the one I decided to post to start with because I think once you see how easy it is you won't feel so overwhelmed and will be ready to try new recipes. I will share some of those at a later time.

I also mentioned about grinding my own wheat berries. This is the best for optimum taste and health. And not hard at all. The only catch is that a good grinder is pricey. I have the Wonder Mill. I don't recommend any other. If you do the research you will see that it is the quietest and easiest to clean up. And trust me, while those do not seem like good reasons to pay the extra, if you heard the noise (we literally used to grind outside because our ktech was so loud) you would understand. The ease of cleanup is nothing to ignore either. If you have a hard to clean mill you will hate the idea of grinding and will shy away from baking day...and that defeats the whole purpose.

You can make a loaf of bread by hand, I did it for 15 years or more, but now that I have my kitchen aid, I wouldn't go back to the hand kneading method. If you have a bread machine, you can mix your dough in there and then move it to a bowl for rising but you are more limited in size in the bread machine-definitely a downer if you have a larger family.

And speaking of large families. If you are looking for a fun activity with the kids, get out some gallon size freezer bags and let them each make a loaf of this in the bag. I'll tell you how as I go along.

So get your aprons and let me know how it comes out!

To make one loaf you will need:

2 cups unbleached flour
1 package or 2 1/4 tsp. yeast
3 Tablespoon sugar
3 Tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup bath temperature warm water
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup whole wheat flour

1) In kitchen aid fitted with dough hook, large mixing bowl or bread machine stir together flour, yeast, sugar, dry milk and salt.

BAG: Let kids measure ingredients into the bag. Zip it up, removing air. Let them squish it around until blended.

2) Add hot water and oil. Mix well.

BAG: Again add ingredients, remove air and zip up. Let the kids squish it around. They will have fun.

3) Add whole wheat flour and mix well again.

BAG: You got it. Let the kids add the 1 cup ww flour and zip, removing air and then squish to their hearts content.

4) This is the closest to a tricky part. Add enough unbleached flour, just a little at a time, until the dough forms a ball and clears the sides of the bowl. It should be stiff.

BAG: For the kids you will have to eyeball it to a good stiff but not sticky dough.

5) Knead until smooth. In the kitchen aid and bread machine that will be about 2-4 minutes.

If you are mixing by hand or in a bag, you will flour the counter top and your hands. Dump the dough out. Fold the edge farthest from you in toward you. Turn the dough 1/4 turn and repeat. Do this again and again. Now you are kneading. Repeat until smooth. Because of the blend of unbleached and whole wheat this recipe should not take much kneading. Several minutes should be enough. Add more flour as you work if the dough is too sticky.

6) Spray a piece of plastic wrap with Pam and lay over top of dough to rest for 10 minutes.

7) Preheat oven to 375. Spray bread pan with Pam.

8) Roll dough into a cylinder roughly the length of your pan. Let rise in pan for 20 minutes.

9) Bake about 25 minutes. Loaf should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.

10) Place on wire rack. Rub outside of hot loaf with butter if desired for a softer crust. We usually end up eating one loaf right off but it will be easiest to slice if you wait until it has cooled completely.

June 26, 2009

A Little Something for Everyone

Towels

You all were great with the towel hanging ideas. I decided to try a few bits of your ideas together. The hanging towels on the bedroom doors is a great idea except that that space is already filled with shoe bags. Here is a little bonus note for you. Those pockets don't just store shoes. In the little girls' room they hold bows, hairbrush, barrettes, hairbands and all the necessary things to keep a little girl looking adorable. In the boys' room those pockets hold all kinds of miscellaneous little boy stuff: chap stick, cars, comb, bow ties...you get the idea. In the big girls' room those pockets have held everything from shoes to makeup to belts to scarves over the years. And just because I am on the topic of great uses for shoe bag pockets... you can go back to that bathroom with no storage room. On the inside of the linen closet hangs a shoe bag filled with toothbrushes, dental floss, toothpaste, Q-tips, cotton balls, lotion and other bathroom necessities. It worked so well that I put one on the back of the other bathroom doors also. The uses for shoe bags are truly endless...sadly the number of doors in our house is.

Anyway, back to the towels. Let me clarify...because I am sure you are just dying to know. The duck as Carin guessed, is in fact supposed to be a towel hook. Some days a hand towel actually makes it there. To the left, somebody asked, is the linen closet door. The bathroom door when open covers the linen closet door. The only flaw with hanging hooks there is that is the only floor space left where we can put the training potty...which is getting ready to come out for Elisabeth. Bath towels there would pose a problem for obvious reasons.

What I ended up doing was having my husband drill through the ceramic tile in the tub to hang a towel rod there... which gave us room for two towels. When my household budget can afford it, I may head to Home Depot for one of those above the toilet racks that Erica mentioned. Then we decided to continue with the back of the door system for a little while using a little idea from Jen T. I assigned Nathaniel the responsibility to make sure the bathroom is kept tidy and that all towels are hung after showers and baths. If he closes the door and stands on the toilet he can reach the hooks pretty well by himself. To make sure he takes his job seriously, I told him there would be a nickle fine each time I found something out of place in there. So far, so good. In a week he hasn't lost one nickle. And the towels are neatly hanging on the hooks every Wednesday and Saturday night after baths.



Just Eat a Little Fruit



For various reasons, a number of people had questions about improving the diet of our families after my post on the Shred and a lot of rambling about diabetes. One of my favorite things to tell people when they ask for ways to eat better is to buy some custard cups. Or something similar. Enough for each member of your family to have one. You can get whatever suits your fancy just make it about 1 cup in size.

And then buy some fresh fruit. Start with your families favorites and add a new one each week to create a variety for a wide selection of nutrients. Then each time you put a meal on the table fill the bowl with fruit. These bowls will hold approximately one carb serving of most types of fruit. One apple, pear, orange or banana fits perfectly. One cup (which is one carb serving for diabetic exchange) of melon and berries fits perfect. Some fruits, like grapes, kiwi, pineapple or mango will be more than one carb serving but unless you are diabetic it doesn't matter. And if you are diabetic adjust the serving accordingly or count it in your meal plan. I love fruit so I will take the extra fruit serving and do away with my starchy vegetable or bread.

This little change brings big rewards whether you are trying to improve your eating or lose weight. You are getting a good thing with every meal. Most kids love fruit, even if they won't eat vegetables, so fruit is a good place to start when trying to add good to your diet. By adding good you will find that without even trying, you will eat less of the bad. With the one cup bowls all the guess work is taken out of serving size with no need for measuring, weighing or counting calories.

I think having the bowls is important because it is a visual when you start setting the table. You see the bowl there above you fork and fill it up first. We store ours right next to the dinner plates and the kids automatically set them out when they lay the table for a meal. This is not just helping us but also, teaching them good habits for the rest of their lives, too.

And by the way... they are great for limiting your dessert size, too. My hubby, who had a bad ice cream habit when we married, went from a cereal bowl full of ice cream each night to a little fruit bowl. That is a big reduction in fat and calories and he reports that he feels just as satisfied with the smaller serving.

Will you all let me know if you employ this idea and how it works for you? How about if I check back in a week or two?


An Invite
And this one is for your children. My daughters, spurred on my interest in blogging, have each started their own blogs. As the home school mom that I am... I wanted them to find a way to make it educational and productive and to encourage them in their writing and journaling.

What we came up with was this... Each week this summer they will each post at least one picture on their blog and journal about it. Then at the end of vacation they will be able to look back and see how incredibly fun it is here at the old Wachter estate... and they will be glad to resume school. Ha... I crack myself up. Just kidding. Everyone knows we are very fun people.

Now, the girls would like to invite your children to join in. If they have a blog of their own... post their picture starting this Monday, June 29th. The kids can then view each others during the week.

If you kids don't have their own blog, perhaps you would consider letting them start one. Or perhaps you will let them guest post on yours?

Now here is the little catch. For my husband's peace of mine, KK and Nana's blogs are by invite only. So, if your kids are interested leave me a comment or have your kids leave me a comment and we will get it set up so they can access the girls' pages.

June 25, 2009

Week 10 of 52

Forever In Blue Jeans




I've accepted Carin's challenge, as a Mom, to get back into the picture. The idea is that once a week you take a picture of yourself with one or more of your children. It's that simple. If you'd like you can post your picture on your blog. You can let me know you posted so I can check out your pics. You can check out my previous weeks or Click the button to add your name to the Mr. Linky. So, have fun!



Before church on Sunday I wanted to take some pictures of my good husband with the children. Only it had rained overnight and the yard was very soft. Allen carried me to the redbud tree so I wouldn't ruin my shoes. I think he forgot that I weigh 40 pounds more than when we were married. That short trip across the yard reminded him, though.


And after I took some shots of him and the children, he requested some of us together.



I couldn't decide which one I liked best. Being serious for the camera or him getting ready to give me a peck.







And this would be me and the children giving a tribute to our favorite Pa, Wachter style. We like to mark special occassions with the gift of our talents...LOL. Sometimes we do a skit. Other times we recite a poem or sing a song. Our favorite, is to make up our own song, which is what we did for our Pa on Sunday. Sometime, I will order the correct cable to upload some footage and show you what having 7 kids can do to your brain. I mean, how creative you can be when you have 7 children to spur you on and keep you young. I am the one in the yellow and vacation hat.






And later that day, we celebrated with my parents with a picnic in the park while listening to the symphony. This is my dad with our gang and of course, moi.







June 24, 2009

The Dot System


Years ago, when I had just two children, I was visiting with a friend of mine who had 5 children, 4 of them sons all close in age. She was very excited at the job she had done of reorganizing her sons' closet and took me on a tour. In the course of the discussion she mentioned the dot system. As often happens when she and I are chatting, the conversation took many twists and turns before my husband said it was time to leave.

But, before we got in the car, those words came back to me and I had to ask, "What is the dot system?" I am so glad I did. At the time, I had just two children and I was at the end of yet another unsuccessful treatment in which doctors told me it was unlikely that I would ever have more. I didn't see that I would ever need the dot system. But, God knew, I would indeed, one day need this little gem of wisdom.

Ruth answered me with the glint and gleam of a woman who had the answer that would solve all problems of mothers the world over. Forever. The dot system is how we know which clothes belong to which child. After her explanation I had to admit it really was quite ingenious and yet so simple that any weary mother with a sharpie could carry it out to perfection.

The first born child gets one dot on the tag of a shirt. The second born gets two. And so on. So our little Ellie has seven dots on her tags, Samuel six, Aedan five. You get the idea.

A suit starts out with Nathaniel. It has four dots on the trouser and jacket. When he outgrows it we add another dot and pass it down to Aedan. When he outgrows it we add one more dot and pass it down to Samuel.

This is so helpful when passing clothes down from one child to another. But it doesn't stop there. Quite often, I will buy the boys matching outfits. No trouble figuring out who it belongs to. Even Pa can read the tags and know which closet it should go in.

Side note. The dot system may be fool proof but Aedan and Samuel were still wearing each other's knickers moments before we left for church on Sunday morning. Fortunately, my skilled eye could tell that the boy's and Pa had a little mix up, when I noticed Aedan's knickers looked more like shorts and Samuel's appeared to be full length trousers.

A few helpful notes when implementing the dot system. On clothes with stamped tags, we use an inconspicuous place on the seam at the back of the collar for shirts, dresses and sweaters and at the back of the waist for skirts and trousers. On the bottom of the heel for socks. For things that are too dark for a sharpie to show up we use white out.

When we buy new things like underwear, socks, or t-shirts the whole package gets marked right off to prevent any confusion or need for sorting after the first washing.

When pulling boxes out of the attic to unpack Summer or Winter clothes we do this. First off, at the end of each season each child's clothes are put into a Rubbermaid with their name on it. I engage the help of my teenagers to make the checking and unpacking go easier. We work one child at a time assembly line style.

One of us, usually me, monitors the trying on and checks for proper fit and need for repair or alterations. If it is too small it goes into the box of the next younger child for their fitting session.

If it fits the child trying it on, we check it for the correct number of dots. If it needs dots, it gets passed onto the person in charge of the sharpie.

Once it is marked, if it needs changes or mending it goes to the person in charge of sewing. If it is OK, it goes to the laundry or dry cleaning pile. Unfortunately, our only storage is in the attic so everything requires washing to get the storage smell out of it.

Once the child's box is empty, we go to their closets and drawers and fill the box with all the things to be stored away for the next season.

After everything is washed, ironed, hung and tucked in drawers we count and working from a list of what I think they will need for that season I can then draw up my shopping and sewing list.

And that my dear readers is the Dot System with a little bonus.

For more Works-For-Me-Wednesday hop over to We Are That Family

June 23, 2009

24 Days and Still Shredding

Let's talk the Shred.

We are on Day 24. I've been doing Level 3 since Day 10 or something like that. It has actually gotten too easy. I am going to keep going to Day 30, though, because I have this annoying inability to leave anything unfinished.

Brianna is my work out partner and she loves it. She has vowed to keep doing Jillian even after 30 days. She had major reconstructive surgery on her knee a few years ago and finds it very good therapy.

Me? I don't know what I am going to do after this but I did order Jillian's new book Master Your Metabolism from Amazon.com Saturday night.

I've not lost any weight but I think I may have felt some ab muscles for the first time in 17 years. I don't have Anita's abs or anything but hey after 7 kids neither would Anita, right? As I mentioned in an earlier post, I did notice a large decrease in my glucose numbers since doing her workout.

If you are just joining in, you can click here to check out my Exercise and Health labels and read more about the Shred. If you've been with me for a while let me know how you are doing. Hey, don't make me call you out by name, OK girls???

And, to JenT. I typed a long reply to you when you commented that you had started the Shred but that's when the whole web page started going crazy and it deleted my whole comment. But it went something like this. My apologies to anyone who is not interested but I am going to go on my diabetes band wagon for a minute.

Jen T. said she was starting the Shred to help prevent diabetes because her mother has it. And I wanted to say You Go Girl! It is harder to take preventative action than it is to get up and do something after you have been diagnosed with an illness. People are just more motivated when they no longer have a choice.

But (on band wagon now) the good thing about diabetes versus many other diseases is that with proper diet and exercise before the fact many people at high risk can PREVENT diabetes. And those with prediabetes or early diabetes can often REVERSE it with proper diet and exercise. And those who have full blown diabetes can slow down permanent damage from the side effects of diabetes like heart disease.

And for all those who say, I am not at risk or diabetes won't affect me...check this out. Everyone in the world, even those not at risk, would be healthier if they stuck to a diabetic diet. More energy, less sickness, less problems with obesity.

And check this out...I was considered in excellent health...I exercised daily...ate an almost ideal diet...was a healthy weight....and was diagnosed with diabetes 20 years younger than the average diagnoses. You may be more at risk than you thought.

June 22, 2009

Let's Hear It For The Boy's


This is my first time entering the I ♥ Faces weekly photo contest. The theme this week is honoring the men in our lives. There are two categories...Boys and um... big boys...oops, I mean Men. Click on the button above to join in or to read the rules and enter yourself.




Isn't it amazing that no matter how loud our boys are during the day...they can be this still and quiet when they finally collapse into bed?? I never get tired of looking at this angelic face as Aedan sleeps. I love the way the little curls lay around his face and his still little round baby fat cheeks. He sleeps so sound that not even a flash going off in his face caused him to notice that I was there.

Maybe someone can tell me why this picture was taken horizontally. It show horizontal on my computer but when I upload, it flips to vertical. I tried loading it from different locations and still the same thing. I tried tricking it out by rotating it on my computer so it was vertical and then uploading but it still came up vertical.

June 21, 2009

"It takes a mighty good husband to be better than none."

And my hubby fits the bill.

In honor of Father's Day I wanted to share why I think he is an amazing husband. If I had to sum it up in one sentence, it would be that this super humorous and really cute guy, doesn't think I am silly.

And even if he does, he doesn't say it.

I wrote about my missing bird. This has been one way that God has reminded me of my husband's goodness.


























He didn't think it was silly when I was sad over the disappearance of my bird. Really sad.

In fact, he didn't think I was silly when I cried every day for a week about my missing bird. Did I say cry? I meant sob. For a half hour at a time.

In fact, he held me each time and reminded me that God is looking out for Art and tried to show me a bright spot in his absence each time I broke down. Once, he told me how much more we notice the birds when they fly overhead.


In fact, when he had so much work to do, and so many more important things to do, he didn't go into his office to work. Instead, he put on his "big boots" and went out into the cold rain, with all the kids, and searched for my bird.

In fact, he didn't even mind me taking this picture of him.

And when the kids woke up that morning and I told them breakfast would be late because we were going bird hunting, he only laughed a little and pointed out that what I probably meant was bird searching

And when I was mourning my lost bird, and in searching all over the web for my little fellow I came across another bird in need of a foster home, my dear husband did not even blink before saying yes.



And then, after getting up before the sun, to drive 4 hours to Philadelphia, and then working all day, he offered to go even more out of his way to pick up, Cocoa, A BIRD and bring him home to me.

And he had to sit in traffic and didn't get home until almost ten o'clock at night. To bring me a little comfort and to give one of God's creatures a home.


























June 20, 2009

How I Became a Bird Mama


6th Photo Tagged

I received this tag by my blogging friend Mikki at The View From My Beach Chair


The Rules:

1) Go to your photo files…Select the 6th photo folder
2) Select the 6th photo in that folder

3) Post that photo along with the story behind it.

4) Then challenge 5 blog friends to do the same!

But here is the deal, Mikki. My hubby got me a new computer in December and I don't have a lot of picture files on here because I can work directly from my card now. So, I took the fifth folder, because that is all I have. And then I took the sixth picture...which is my birds.


On the left is Chili Pepper and on the right is Art.

On May 22nd, Art disappeared. It is likely that he flew out the door unnoticed. As it was a beautiful day and we were all in and out working in the gardens and playing about. I miss him in a way that makes me laugh. I have always enjoyed pets in a home school mom way. Never have I been so heartbroken over the loss of one, that yet a month later I cry when I see him missing from the cage.

I am still searching for him, through bird networks (who would have known) and I have been told that they have been found weeks, months and even up to a year later. So I would be grateful for prayers that he is found and returned to me. And that he be protected in his absence.

Since this picture came up, I want to share the story that I told Kris, one of the volunteers at 911parrotalert.com , who helps to reconnect found birds with their owners through a world wide network. It is a story of love and romance and how I became a bird mama.

I love watching the birds in our yard…but I know nothing about them. My kids can name them and tell you all the specifics of all the birds but I just like them. One year my husband built a private deck off of our master bedroom so I would have a little quiet place for me and we would have a place to sit together in the evenings. This quickly became my favorite spot and I love to sit there with the Lord and a good cup of coffee.

A few years ago, I put several bird feeders near the deck, where I had a straight few out the door from my bed. On winter mornings, as the sun comes up, I can watch the birds come to feed. In the warmer weather, if I get to the deck early enough, I can see the hummers come to feed at a forth feeder, that is also visible out of our bathroom window.

For several years, the same hummers came back to feed and it was common for me to hear their wings as I was putting my makeup on. I got attached to them and my son named them. (The green one was called violet and the brown one towel. Don’t ask me. That’s what happens when you let a 3 year old name something.)

I am really allergic and asthmatic and so many types of animals are not allowed in our house, like cats and dogs. We do have a cat that wandered up 7 years ago and wouldn’t leave. We took her to be fixed and get her shots and she has lived in our yard ever since. We say she adopted us. But I had always had a house cat, before developing asthma, and really missed it. So, I have this love for birds and a want for a pet and started hinting that I would like to have a bird.

To understand the rest of the story we must go back now, many moons ago, to when my husband and I got married. Five days before Christmas. Because it was so close to the holidays, our anniversary and Christmas have always been kind of melded together.

The year we were married, my oh so romantic husband, counted down the 12 days til our wedding. On the 12th day before he brought me an electric heater for my really cold bathroom. On the 11th day was two vases…you get the idea. On the day of our wedding 12 red roses.

Over the years he has kept this tradition up, to really make our anniversary a special event. Sometimes the 4th day of our anniversary might be 2 pairs of socks with flamingos (because I LOVE flamingos) or day 8 might be 8 ounces of chocolate…another of my loves.

Well, this past year he was trying really hard to keep with the song. So on day 1 instead of a pear tree, I got a little Key Lime Tree. And because I’d been wanting birds, on day two I got my two parakeets. He knew of two that needed a home and made arrangements for my brother to bring them over that evening. He, my brother Frank, being the ham he is, got down on his knees with this little bird cage in hand and started singing to me…it was adorable. I get choked up remembering it now.

I named them Art and Chili Pepper because those are nick names that my hubby and I have for each other. And these two birds were so much in love with each other…if that is possible for a bird. They reminded me of the love we share. They were almost never apart. Two times he flew down the hall without her and it was pathetic. You can check out my first post here to read about it. They would cuddle together and act like they were kissing and even go up to sleep at the same time together every night snuggled up in the corner of their cage. So they reminded me of my hubby and I.

And that is how I became a bird mama.

Now, I challenge the following ladies to the 6th photo challenge

Nannette at Life Be in It

Tara at Keeping up With the Kelly's

Darcie at the Story of Us

Tara at So Far...and God Willing

Christina at Luvin this Life

My Namesake


This is my dear grandmother from the late 40's or early 50's. Unfortunately, my family didn't date the photos so I am guessing by the age of my own mother it must be around this time.

Isn't she a beauty? I love that you didn't have to have a perfect figure to wear a bathing suit. I love that her hair was white from the time she was a teenager and she was still considered a "looker." I love that her bathing suit didn't have to reveal everything. And I love that she wore these great shoes with it. It is from her, my grandmother Kathleen, that I received my name.

Growing up I was called Kathy. But, as a young adult I decided that I preferred her name to Kathy. As I was facing extremely challenging times in my life, she died. And when I thought about her, she exemplified victory in the face of hardship. I claimed that same victory for myself through Jesus Christ. And as he changed the names of his believers when they were sanctified for his work I chose to go by her name as my reminder that I had become a new person through Him and He would lead me through the trials to the joyful life. My life has not always been easy since then but I have always had JOY: overflowing happiness no matter what the circumstances.

And this totally unrelated picture is because another blogger and I were chatting about our love of sewing and sewing vintage clothes for our children and dressing them in the more classic fashions of our parents.

Back around 2001, my parent's found this great vintage looking fabric and Simplicity pattern at Joann's Fabric. They fell in love with it. I loved to sew and made all my children's clothes at the time. They invested over a hundred dollars just in the fabric.

Now, I always bought clearance fabric...you know where I could sew matching outfits for all the girls for about $10. I was not, and still am not, the best seamstress. I was so overwhelmed by this intricate pattern and worried of ruining the expensive fabric. I really had to work myself up to even start it.

I was supposed to have them finished for the Easter holiday. I remember the week before Easter being almost in tears because there was so much work yet to do. My husband loaded me into the car and took me to the mall to get other dresses for the girls just so I would stop worrying about it.

Each of those points had to be individually cut, folded, pressed, stitched, lined up. It made a beautiful effect but it was very time consuming and I had a baby and was in the midst of a troubling pregnancy. I learned how to make all my own piping to match the fabric. The baby, Emma's dress, I had to design myself since there was no pattern in her size. Something I had never done before. I designed the hat and a little bag, as well, using parts to different patterns.

I finally finished these dresses when my husband was away on travel in time to enter them in our county fair that fall. I was so excited when they took second place. And a little disappointed that they only took second place. My spirits were lifted when I picked it up on the closing day of the fair and a lady stopped me to compliment the fine detail work.

We had this picture made as a birthday gift for my father that November.

June 19, 2009

Elisabeth Claire is 18 Months Old!

In case I have failed to post enough pictures of Elisabeth, here are a few to commemorate her turning 18 months on June 13th. At her check up she measured 30 inches long and weighed in at 20 pounds...which happens to be HUGE for her. But, I saw this baby at the library who is 7 months old and weighs 24 pounds...so, I guess she is still really just a light weight.





She is such a pill right now. As I mentioned, she LOVES her big sister Emma Rose and can be heard many times throughout the day calling for her attention. I might add that the feeling is mutual. Emma treats Ellie like a baby doll (and when her best buddy comes to play the two opt to dress Ellie and do her hair instead of playing dolls). In the mornings it is not unusual for me to go get Elisabeth out of bed and she and Emma are already dressed in matching outfits and having a tea party in the bedroom they share.



Ellie has quite a vocabulary but rarely needs to use it since her brothers and sisters are always racing to see who can give her what she wants before she asks for it. She has learned that the duck says "AFLAC" and is working on the cow says, "Eat more chicken." And this is the plight of a child who is 7th born. I think she may end up needing therapy, but it is fun along the way.

As I have mentioned before she LOVES bling. As a matter of fact one of her very first words was "Bling." And that is what happens after your Mother has three sons in a row.

Elisabeth likes to help. She can often be found sitting on the kitchen counter, as I work, stirring up a mess. She will, also, carry a tea towel around wiping at anything she comes in contact with.



My greatest accomplishment in her training, so far, has been to get her to overcome her fear for the bathtub. She now loves the bath, after more than a year of crying through every washing.




It is interesting, that in all her girlishness, she doesn't mind getting into the boys' playthings and getting dirty. That is what happens when you are the baby with three older brothers.





She, also, loves the sand box and swing and prefers to be outdoors like her Mama.




It was slow in coming, but Elisabeth finally found her appetite. Unfortunately, it is mostly for carbs. Her favorite foods are rice cakes, scooters, oatmeal, bread and french fries.



And, yes, that is my daughter eating a doughnut. A home made doughnut. But, yes, a doughnut just the same.

Which brings me to her french fry addiction. None of my kids were allowed to eat french fries until they were at least potty trained. But, we were at McDonald's a while back and Samuel was being so sweet and gave her one of his. Well, it has been a down hill slide in the healthy eating department ever since.

A few weeks ago, Emma and Elisabeth and I had a date at McDonald's. I got Ellie a parfait and apple juice. She ate the first bite, and loved it. Took the second, and liked that too. Took the third, and caught site of Emma's french fries. She refused to take another bite of her nice healthy parfait. In fact, she ate almost an entire large order of french fries all by herself! We were sitting by the window with the big golden arches painted on it. Every few minutes she would point at the "M" and say, "French Fries."

And it doesn't end there. Oh, no. I came home with a parfait in a bag last week and she saw the bag on the counter top and got so excited and started signing "please" and saying, "yum!" She about had a fit when she realized I had the nerve to bring that bag into the house with out some french fries for her. And that is what happens when you are the baby of a man addicted to fast food!

Elisabeth loves to sing and dance. She can often be heard in her bed singing as loud as her little voice will carry. During play time, in her high chair and even in the car seat, if music comes on she gets a huge grin and her arms and legs start flailing as she starts "dancing" along in a very unBaptist fashion. And that is what happens when you are the little sister of the Wachter girls who were blessed with the gift of song.


She loves hats, shoes and scarves, too. It is not uncommon for her to be carrying my shoes around the house and even trying to put her tiny feet into them and walk around. Sometimes, she insists on wearing her shoes with her pajamas. She knows where I keep my scarves and will gladly help herself. Although, she lacks the ability to discern what matches.





And, for those who know our tendency for nicknames, the current list of Elisabeth's nicknames goes something like this: Ellie, Ellie Mae, Muffin Moo, Moo Moo, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Moo Goo, Gai Pan, Scoot, Scoot Muffin, Eclaire, Scootee Girl, Aflac...and they go on but I can't think of anymore right now.

And as the mother of a sweet little girl, I love her little girl parts. Like these curls on the back of her head.

And these super cute toes.





And these pig tails, which I missed so much during our boy bearing years.


All in all, I think she has passed the test and we will keep her. She truly is a delight to her family and I can't imagine a time when she wasn't part of our world.

June 18, 2009

Week 9 of 52

Forever In Blue Jeans


I've accepted Carin's challenge, as a Mom, to get back into the picture. The idea is that once a week you take a picture of yourself with one or more of your children. It's that simple. If you'd like you can post your picture on your blog. You can let me know you posted so I can check out your pics. You can check out my previous weeks or Click the button to add your name to the Mr. Linky. So, have fun!

I grabbed my camera on the way out the door to the library yesterday. That's when it occurred to me that I didn't have a photo for this week's post. I stopped Brianna on her way to the car and asked her to snap a picture of Elisabeth and I. I love the look on her face. Doesn't it just say, "I am so sick of pictures?"

And this one of the whole family was taken at the library story time. But wait! Where is Brianna? That's her dressed up like Froggy! She and Kaitlin often volunteer at our little library. They've dressed up as various storybook characters over the years to entertain the story time crowd. We received a little surprise when Pa showed up at the end to check out his daughter's performance.

And this one, Allen snapped as Nathaniel was escorting me to the car. He is growing up to be the perfect gentleman. This afternoon, he held an umbrella for me, opened the car door, carried my bags and held the door for me as we ran our errands.


Which brings me to this one. Sometimes, it is hard to get one on one time with the kids. We try to have "dates" when we can. Once a week I go for allergy shots and I try to take one child with me each time. After, we stop at the McDonald's around the corner for a drink or parfait.

Every other Wednesday, I go to pick up our produce coop order. This has become another great opportunity for dates. Today, it was pouring down rain and I didn't want to take everyone out to run errands, so Nathaniel rode along with me and we chatted and sang along to a CD. And here we are at McDonald's sharing some quality time over unsweetened tea and parfaits.

I am not very good at self portrait...my arms are too short...but I think we got the memory anyway. This is my favorite picture for this week. It will remind me of a time when I realized my little Prince was becoming a gentleman.


I guess I didn't need to worry about not having a picture after all!

June 17, 2009

Weird Things We Do For Blogging


Since I've started blogging, it is not unusual to hear someone asking the question..."Why are you taking a picture of a suitcase, hammock, spice rack (fill in the blank)?"

Actually, it is only a small addition to some of the craziness that goes on in my house. I have broken the kids in well. As a scrapbooker, they are used to me making them hold poses for forever until I get just the shot I would like.

They have become accustomed to pictures of inanimate objects, dead pets, passports, signs and all the other things that have added clarification and meaning to my pages over the years. Blogging has only taken it a step higher in the weirdness scale.


The other week, I was leaving a comment on someone else's post, and to give a better understanding the size of our bathroom came into play. I was laying in bed typing when Brianna came into my bedroom to say goodnight. I didn't look up before I asked her to count the tiles on our bathroom floor.

And do you know what? She didn't bat an eyelash or even ask why before she did it.

Oh, why you ask?? The answer is very simple actually, our tiles are 1 square foot each, so I could quickly estimate the size of the bathroom that way.

Which brings me to the topic that brought the whole thing about to begin with. Jen T. was writing about how she gives each member of her family a different colored towel. As I was considering if that would solve our problem of never having a clean towel around...I had to first consider the cause of the problem.

I determined it was not because we didn't have enough towels, but because we have never had a place to store the towels once they are used. Our bathrooms are so small that there is no place to hang a towel rod. The bathroom measures about 25 square feet with a toilet and sink in there too. So after a towel is used, it ends up in the laundry for lack of a better place.

Over the years, I have tried different methods. The best was an over the door rack with hooks for robes or clothes. The failure in this is that the little guys can't reach up there.

I am posting some pictures of my bathroom and for this Works-For-Me-Wednesday I am soliciting your suggestions for towel storage.

After you leave your solution in the comment form, you can hop over to We are that family for more Works-For-Me-Wednesdays.

June 16, 2009

Tuesday Tidbits


Do you ever just have one of those days?? I've been having one of those months.

Take for example what happened this morning. We were getting everyone to shuffle out the door to the library where Brianna was volunteering for story time. At the same time I was trying to quickly fix Cole slaw, Thai salad and deviled eggs for the 20 guests we are hosting tonight to celebrate my nephew's graduation. I happened to be viewing a recipe on line and went to move a cup of coffee so it wouldn't get spilled on my laptop. And what did I do? I dropped the cup and spilled the coffee on my 6 month old Flamingo Pink computer!

My husband, fortunately, is working from home today and jumped to the rescue and typed the problem into Google. Don't you wonder how the world revolved without Google? Because a solution actually came up.

He thinks it will be alright (if the cream in it doesn't cause the keys to stick) but it has to sit for several days before I can use it. That means I am stuck using my daughters' computer. Which, is kind of like driving someone else's car. Don't you think?

And I have to go online to check email. Which quite frankly is weird. And do you all know how much I hate anything different in my life? If not read Sunny Side Up. Yes, I too have my neurosis.

Last night, after a harrowing trip to Sam's club for groceries that cost me 2 hours and the majority of my budget for this week and left me exhausted, my hubby and I sat down for a breather while the kids were playing in the yard.

No sooner had I put my weary self on the chair and taken a breath, when Nathaniel screamed, "Snake!" I jumped about 10 feet. Kids scattered everywhere running to get as far away as possible. Except for Samuel, who came running and said, "Where?"

There was likely a lot of yelling, but I was screaming so loud I couldn't hear it for certain. Snakes and I are just not friends. The worst thing about it? My dear husband searched high and low and poked and prodded but found no snake! Afterwards he asked for permission to write a post about what he thought was a humorous reaction on my part.

"All I will say is that it is quite a sight to see a grown woman run screaming away from the suggestion of a snake. It was just like you see in the movies except it appeared, to the bystander, to be in slow motion. At first, I actually thought she was pretending; until i saw her face!" comment by Allen R. Wachter

And if you think that is funny, sometime I will tell you about when my hubby broke his toe while wrestling with the kids!

For more True Story Tuesday fun head over to Once Upon a Miracle.

June 15, 2009

EmmmmMaaaa!!


Elisabeth found her voice. Well, she's had it a long time. But she has recently learned the power of her voice when combined with these two little syllables.

EmmmmMaaaaa!!

Emma may like to sleep in, but her room mate rises with the birds. And as the birds greet the new day with their song, so we hear Ellie trying to rouse the sleeping princess across the room with this happy little chant.

EmmmmMaaaa!!

And Saturday when we were playing outdoors and Elisabeth heard the other kids laughing on the other side of the fence without her. She gathered all her effort to get the attention of her devoted sister.

EmmmmMaaaa!!

And that is the sound I heard as I was entering the girls room before leaving for church this morning. Elisabeth was taking her morning nap as the rest of us dressed for service. I sent the others on to get in the car. Princess Ellie was not sleeping at all. In fact she had seen Emma get in the car without her and was waving wildly and calling out the window to get her attention.

EmmmmMaaaa!!

Oh, and that was the sound I heard in the middle of the sermon this morning, when Elisabeth sitting at one end of the row upon her Pa's knee caught site of her buddy on the far other end of the row.





June 14, 2009

Happy 4th Birthday, Samuel!

Thursday, Samuel turned 4.

Last week I asked him what he would like for his birthday. He said he wanted Suzanna.

My hubby explained that he couldn't have a three year old girl for his birthday.

In his exasperated voice, he explained that he wanted Suzanna to come over to play.

With the planning session taken care of we began his day in the Wachter tradition of waking him up with a bed full of balloons and a good old fashioned lot of commotion as everyone attempts to shout "Happy Birthday" in unison.



Sam is the only person in this house who has the decency to stay asleep through the racket of waking everyone else up.

Which is truly amazing to me because the other 364 days a year, everyone has to be dragged out of bed.

But not on their birthday. No, sirree. When it would be convenient for them to sleep in for a while, even Kaitlin, is wide awake at the crack of dawn. Although, everyone likes the balloon ritual so much, that they do at least "pretend" to be asleep...which they aren't really good at...but part of the game has become, telling the birthday person that we know they weren't asleep.

Birthday's in our house translate to food. Did I ever mention we are Italian? And my German born husband has decided he likes food so much that on birthdays he pretends to be Italian. A few years ago, Nathaniel must have been about to turn five, he said in his most serious voice, "We need to talk." And then, "For my birthday breakfast, I would like to have chip beef gravy on toast." He continued to tell us the rest of the food, including dessert, that he expected to see on the table when the big day arrived.

Yes, even at a young age, they understand that any special occasion translates into what will we eat? In case you've not figured it out, the birthday person gets to pick the menus and/or choose where we will eat out.

After his breakfast of waffles, strawberry yogurt, grapes and chocolate soy milk, (almost all of which was left on the table) Sam had to go for his haircut. Not in itself all that exciting, I know. But, I almost always have a point. Sam walked into the salon ahead of me and the receptionist that he has become friends with over the years greeted him. He piped up to say that today was his birthday. Miss Paige said, "Oh, I know what that means. What are you going to eat today, Samuel?" How pathetic is it that even casual acquaintances know this about our family?

And with that said, haircuts were followed by some fun at the Chick-fil-A play place.


Brianna is a connoisseur of luggage. She is the one I have to thank for the vintage piece in my "foyer". She has been giving each of the kids their own suitcase for their birthdays. Samuel was thrilled to get this extra special matched set with suitcase, backpack and toiletry case.

And he was thrilled to at last have a football helmet to go with his Raven's uniform. He wore the outfit with the helmet all around...even outside to ride his tricycle, dragging the suitcase behind. Even even attached the suitcase to his tricycle like a trailer hitch.




Kaitlin made him a cake decorated with his favorite character and beloved lovey, Eeyore.

Who he calls woof-woof. Because, when he was 2, he had never seen pooh bear before. And his Auntie Dawn brought this to him as a gift. And he thought it was a dog. And so he called it woof-woof. When he would take it out in public and people would comment on his "Eeyore" he would get so upset and say, "No, his name is Woof-woof!"

And you can bet he was shocked when he first saw a Pooh Bear movie and there was his Woof-Woof and they called him Eeyore! I know. What a deprived child. That my friends is the danger of raising children without television.

So, now where was I? Oh, that's right. You all need to keep up with me. KK made him a cake. Which looked like this.



And he asked if he could put the candles on. Which looked like this.


On birthdays, while we eat cake, we go around the table and share what we appreciate about that person. On Samuel's fourth birthday it went something like this. Samuel thinks outside the box...like a shovel for a soap dish. He was also cited for the way he runs to comfort every boo boo or tear by bringing in lovey, woof-woof. Pa admires his enthusiasm for everything and I am particularly blessed by his unwavering faith, willingness to help with anything and the way he faces every problem by saying, "I know let's ask Jesus to..." find it, bring Art home, make so and so better...fill in the blank.

We also offer a blessing for the birthday honoree for the coming year. Among Samuel's were that Aedan hopes that he continues to be a servant to God and Emma prays for him to continue learning about the Lord.

I will close this record of Samuel's 4th celebration of the life bestowed on him, and the blessing he is to us, with the promise I claim for his next year and all those to follow.

"And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men." 1 Samuel 2:26

June 13, 2009

When Boys Keep House

Having three older sisters, means that my boys are a little more sensitive to the interests of females.


The other day, I was wearing a new pair of shoes and all three of them not only noticed, but commented on it. Not in the "You got new shoes." (How much did they cost way husbands say it." But, the "You got new shoes" (and aren't they so cool) way a girlfriend might say it. One of them actually let out a little squeal.


I know that one day this will really pay off when they start looking for wives. What better way to impress a girl than to comment on her great looking shoes?


My sons also appreciate fine fabrics and know how to identify them by touch. This comes from hours spent with me in fabric stores feeling for just the right thing. At first, they would follow behind me and copy me. Then, over time, I realized they were spreading out and feeling fabrics and telling me to try this one and isn't this one soft or isn't this one a nice weight.


This can get embarrassing if you happen to take your sons to Victoria's Secret with you. And yes, I may be speaking from experience. On the upside, my daughters-in-law will some day thank me for my sons' appreciation of fine lingerie and their ability to buy the good stuff.


Don't worry, though. We haven't just developed their sweet and gentle sensitive side. They are hard working men. With tools. Who love big trucks. And have an adequate layer of dirt on them at the end of the day.


Check out this exhibit. That would be them ditching their breakfast to watch the dump truck leave mulch in our driveway.



And yet, they can still take an interest in things that other little boys (without three older sisters) may pass up. Like decorating, for instance. They just do it with a masculine flair.


A few weeks ago, Samuel got this little goodie in his kid's meal at chic-fil-a. And what a great soap dish it made.





And the other night, I went into the older boys' room to tuck them in and I found Aedan had come up with a new way to store socks. I think he has his Pa's engineer brain. No chance of mismatching these, eh?