Monday, April 27, 2009

Welcome To My World Of Girls

Mom...sniff....sob...I just feel like I'm crying....sob...sniff.   

(maybe that's because you ARE crying, my dear.)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cause I Eats Me Spin-ach

I'm Popeye the sailor man
I'm Popeye the sailor man
I'm strong to the fin-ich
Cause I eats me spin-ach
I'm Popeye the sailor man.


One of my favorite memories of my brother John, was his 8-year-old self sitting at our farmhouse kitchen table, choking down spinach, straight from the can. Obsessed about Popeye he was, and was equally obsessed about squeezing that whole can straight into his mouth without hands--just like his hero. My brother, though, didn't need spinach to build muscles. He was just born that way. Honestly. One time, a few years down the road, we were on vacation and 13-year-old John was wearing a tank top. I still remember this 20-something body-builder type approaching John to ask him weight-lifting advice. It was more than disturbing for this guy who spent his life in the gym, I am sure, to find out that John just ate spinach.

Liv is into spinach. To get stronger. She's become quite the health nut lately. She cleverly uses her foot to flush the toilet in order to save on the germs she accumulates. She also refuses to eat food if she has just touched our dog. She over accentuates her need to refrain from second-hand smoke. One day, on the way to her favorite chocolate shop, she announces: "Mom--I'm not going to eat junk food ANYMORE." I nonchalantly brought up our upcoming visit to Sees. She pauses. "After Sees, I'm not eating junk food NEVER, NOT EVER again".

Today, Liv asked for a bowl of spinach sans dressing. This isn't entirely uncommon, though she wasn't born loving spinach. Our little gal has willfully acquired a taste for the green superfood. Here she is ingesting the stuff.

Here she is being silly as Wieber girls always are.

And here is her empty bowl:

But wait! There's more.

Here is a picture of those muscles.

I think I will refrain from allowing her to watch Popeye. This girl doesn't need any more encouragement. Plus, doesn't he smoke? She might boycott the whole episode due to health restrictions.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Easy Gardening Markers

One of the most important things I feel I can do as a mom is to make my girls feel like major contributors in our family.  I like to search for responsibilities I can hand over to them in order to give them ownership, and to encourage those feelings of accomplishment.  I am so thankful for energetic, fun-loving girls.  In this short time I get them under our roof, I want as many opportunities to work beside them as I can.   

The garden is a great place to share responsibility.  Seeds are plenty, dirt is cheap, time spent outdoors is invigorating.  Gramma and I helped the girls plant onions, strawberries, and chives in their garden sections.  We made sure to plant LOTS of extra so that they could dig them up themselves without us looking over their shoulders.  The girls have been excited to see the flowers planted last year emerge from the soil and they love to water their gardens.  

In order to make our garden more, er...orderly....the girls created their own garden markers using paint sticks and crayons. They busily drew the picture of the plant needing recognition, and they wrote the name of the plant underneath. Their markers give their garden spots even more pizazz, and the girls were so proud of their work! 

Here are shots of Liv's garden:



And here are some shots of Holland's garden:

Strawberries. And apparently the sun is also planted here. 

Onions. Not purple onions.  Just onions. 

O Dandelion!

O DANDELION, rich and haughty,
King of village flowers!
Each day is coronation time,
You have no humble hours.
I like to see you bring a troop
To beat the blue-grass spears,
To scorn the lawn-mower that would be
Like fate's triumphant shears,
Your yellow heads are cut away,
It seems your reign is o'er.
By noon you raise a sea of stars
More golden than before.

-Vachel Lindsay

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A New Beginning

Easter: What a beloved day of rememberance! Not only did God take my sins by His torturous death upon that cross, but He did so without any kind of payment from me. Little me.

May we never forget the sacrifice that was made, and may we give all of ourselves to Him in order that it not be in vain. Because, after all, He did die for each one of us. There is not one that He wants perished.

I pondered this week, what Robert Flatt said about the resurrection:

The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances. ~Robert Flatt

A clean slate! What an impossible thing, yet it is not! Thank you God.


And just for fun: an Easter picture of me with my little chics.

Speaking of Easter, my mom has a knack for special touches. She bent over backwards to make holidays special for us all when we were kids. I have great memories, built upon family traditions. Now that our girls are older, I enjoy passing along these traditions, combining them with traditions Brian wants to preserve from his childhood, and creating our own custom traditions. Because holidays can be a sort of food spectacle, I have adopted a new breakfast tradition, an oatmeal bar, to be served Christmas Eve (because our mighty waffle chefs are busy on Christmas Day!), Thanksgiving Day, and Easter. It makes breakfast a snap on the busy days, and gives the whole family a wholesome and semi-indulgent start to all the festivities. I make oatmeal using old fashioned oats over the stove, and set out on a pretty platter, a wide array of toppings: blueberries, raisins, banana slices, brown sugar, toasted pecans, coconut, marshmallows, sugared ginger slices, and fresh cream, etc. and each breakfast indulger is allowed to indulge to their liking. It has become a favorite breakfast of ours! I also love to make an oatmeal bar when guests are staying at our home.

Some of our favorite fixins':

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

If You Love Chile Rellenos, Raise Your Hand!

Both of my hands are raised. I really do love Chile Rellenos. If we ever find ourselves at a Mexican diner, I don't even have to look at the menu. I always order a Chile Relleno off the ala carte menu because even 1 chile relleno is really filling. And let's face it, they aren't low fat. One of my goals has always been to try to make my own, authentic-from-scratch chile rellenos. I really didn't want to go through the effort, though, unless I could find a lighter, non-fried version. I found this great recipe for Spicy Baked Chile Rellenos. It actually isn't all that spicy; too spicy for children perhaps, but not for the average Joe. I adapted it a bit to my liking, and to accommodate the offerings of my pantry. I really packed my chiles full, so I needed to double the filling. I substituted pinto beans for black beans, and diced tomatoes for the corn since Brian can't eat corn. I didn't have McCormick Mexican Seasoning so I opened up an envelope of taco seasoning and used that instead. After I baked the chiles, I decided to douse the tops of each chile with some tomato sauce and shredded cheese. This is the first time I've used fresh chiles instead of canned. It took a bit extra to roast and peel, but it was so yummy! It was worth the effort! These are amazing.

JW's version of Spicy Baked Chile Rellenos

8-10 Large Poblano Chile Peppers, peeled and seeded (leave stems on). See below for directions on how to do this!
3 C. Mexican blend cheese, shredded (I combined sharp cheddar and Mont. Jack Cheese)
1 C. pinto beans
1 C. diced tomatoes
6 T. chopped fresh cilantro
2 clove garlic, minced
1 C. cornmeal
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp taco seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten

For topping:
small can tomato sauce
1 C. shredded Mexican blend cheese
Garnish: salsa, sour cream, guacamole as desired.

Directions for roasting peppers:

Set oven to broil. Rinse each pepper and set on a baking sheet.

Place under broil until you hear popping sounds. Chiles should be spotted black. Using a pot holder, turn the chile over and return to broiler.

When you hear the popping sound again, take out of oven and wrap each pepper in a moist paper towel. Keep covered and allow to steam. After 5-10 minutes or so, unwrap one at a time and peel skin off. If it doesn't come off easily, simply return to broiler again and repeat process. You are now done roasting and peeling peppers! Now that wasn't so bad, was it?

Directions for Baked Chile Rellenos:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray, or cover with foil. Set aside. Cut a slit down one side of each chile. Remove seeds. Leave stems on.
In a medium bowl, mix together cheese, pinto beans, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Spoon mixture into chiles. In a shallow bowl, mix together cornmeal , cumin, taco seasoning, and salt. Set aside to use for the coating later. Beat 2 eggs in another shallow bowl. Set that aside as well.

Carefully stuff each pepper with the cheese and bean mixture.

Dip each chile into eggs (I used a baster to do this) , then carefully coat with cornmeal mixture. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until very crisp.

Remove from oven and top with tomato sauce and 1 C. cheese. Place under broiler for 2-5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Serve with salsa (see below), sour cream, and guacamole.

Ooops! No salsa! That could potentially be a big problem in our house. Thankfully, I learned how to make a real quick, homemade-tasting salsa from a gal with whom I used to teach.

Ever since, I make sure that my pantry ALWAYS has a can of rotel (a diced tomato and green chile mixture found in the canned tomato section of the grocery store), and we eat cilantro and green onions so often and grow them in the summer, that I can almost always count on having some around. Simply open a can of rotel and pour into a bowl. Chop up a few green onions and cilantro and viola! You have one amazing salsa! If I have a lime, I'll add a few squeezes to give it extra flavor.

So, enjoy this lighter version of fried chile rellenos and follow Miss Piggy's advice: Never eat more than you can lift.

Happy dinner to you!

Playgroup Easter Egg Hunt

Yesterday, with temps in the 70's, our playgroup (which first banded together 5 whole years ago!) ventured out for an Easter Egg Hunt along the river. It was such a fun day. There were more than 20 kids of "egg-searching" age, so it made for lots of excitement. Brian was my hero by being the Easter Bunny. He left our house well before we did to get to our final destination in plenty of time to arrive with his dutch brothers coffee, pick up trash and cigarette butts that he didn't want the kids picking up (that goes well above the call of duty....thanks, Pal!!!), hide the eggs, and set out the snack food. He said when we rounded the corner, we looked like we were herding cattle. :o) The kids, armed with their baskets, ran to find their eggs, fruit snacks, and candies. Then, they enjoyed a snack time of water, cheese, and crackers. paper crosses and bible verses were in each snack bag. It was such a fun time of visiting with my friends, and allowing the kids enjoy their time together, too. I'm just sorry I wasn't able to take more pictures of our fun!

The cute (er...handsome...sorry Scott :o) Swan boys...

Holland and Mary hitch a ride...

This picture didn't turn out all that great, but it's the perfect picture of my friend, Miranda. She is the ultimate multi-tasker, and this picture is perfect proof. You may not be able to tell, but she has 4 kids in the strollerand one on her shoulders. It's her own burly boy on her shoulders. She was so kind to carry the load instead of boot the hitch-hikers. You can't see the picture of me, carrying nothing but my camera, enjoying a leisurely walk along the greenbelt. Thanks, Miranda. :o)

And...they're off! (and this is only less than half of the kids who were searching for eggs!)


Snack time...

Happy Easter!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Best Buds by The River

Today we took advantage of the glorious sunshine and trekked along the river. What a beautiful sight! Shallow waters, rocky riverbeds, and beautiful flowers are showing their faces! Chelsea and I had a great time watching the girls lug sticks from all over to throw in the river.

Contrary to what it may seem in the picture, the girls were NOT trying to be silly. These were their "here's my best smile!" poses.

And I think this is when Mary just couldn't contain herself any longer. This is usual. :o) I love her ability to find excitement in all she does!

The following pictures are so precious to me, as they are spontaneous showings of sisterly affections.

This one is my favorite. So very candid.

Enjoy the sunshine!!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Rite of Passage: The First Soccer Practice

There are so many blessings that come with being a parent. It's hard to describe how proud you feel when your baby eats their first cracker, takes that first step, says "I love you". I still remember the first time I was referred to by another child as "Liv's Mom". It sounded like music to my ears. Or the first time I heard Holland talk about her friend at Sunday School. I enjoy watching my girls form relationships and memories.

Today was one of those "Rite of Passage" days. The FIRST Soccer practice.

I awoke early this morning to Liv huffing and puffing next to me. When I asked what she was doing, she replied that she was stretching to get ready for soccer practice. Remember, I told you this girl was competitive! After dressing the girls in their soccer gear, we headed downstairs to get some breakfast. Liv had a request: Spinach with no salad dressing. According to Liv, this is the breakfast of champions. So for breakfast, on the first morn of soccer practice, my 5-year-old little girl ate fresh spinach without salad dressing. You gotta hand it to her; she takes her stuff seriously. They were so excited to wear their new soccer shorts, that they wouldn't let me put on their sweats...and it was freezing!

Holland's group had a great time. So did Liv's. Right in the middle of their drill set, the friends decided to search for worms instead. I love this age. :o)

Notice in the picture below, Alexander (far right) is observing a worm in his hand. A few minutes after this picture was taken, he took his turn dribbling the ball, with these worms in tow.

Here we have Holland showing off the worm Alexander kindly gave her.

And I have to compliment both Scott and Trevor for showing the comfort of their manliness by being seen in/around Holland's pink hat. Hey, when you're cold, you're cold!

When we got home, I asked the girls what their favorite part of soccer was and this is what was said:

Holland: The part where I sat on the chair with the blanket on me, when I was resting.

Liv: The part when I won. (Remember, this was PRACTICE. No individuals received medals. :o)

More Pictures:

Emma is one serious spectator!

And I really love how decked out Mary is! :O)

What a fun day!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Crooked Pinky Toes, the Pow-Pow part of Hockey, and Eating for Two.

I was eavesdropping on Brian tucking the girls in tonight:

So what do you think the baby is going to look like?

She's going to have a WILD face! (This was said by the ever imaginative, Holland)

I think she will have 10 toes.

Do you think she will have crooked pinkie toes like mommy, or perfect pinky toes like daddy? (I'm married to such a brain-washer!!!)

She will have perfect toes like daddy!

I think she will have black hair and be the same age as me.

I want to change lots and lots of diapers.


We attended a hockey game the other night. Since the girls are starting soccer next weekend and have been learning the rules, I kept referring to soccer to compare the similarities while we watched. When we left, Holland told me that she wants to play hockey. I told her that she gets to play soccer this weekend, instead. She was excited about that and said, "Yes! I get to play a soccer game and then I get to pow pow during the game, too!"
I was hoping the "pow-pow" part of hockey would go unnoticed. No such luck.


Each time we go to the grocery store, Liv wants to loudly comment, so that fellow shoppers can hear, that we need lots and Lots and LOTS of food because I have a baby in my tummy. The other day, she was eating a cookie. She offered me a bite, which I politely took. When I refused another, she told me of the importance of two bites: one for you and one for baby. It was so very sweet.


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