Friday, February 25, 2011

Tip of the Week.

Our family likes potatoes, but we also mix potatoes around with other starches like rice and pasta. This means that we often can't get through an entire bag of potatoes without some going bad.

But, did you know that it takes the same time to boil one potato as it does 10lbs? On dinner days where I'm planning making mashed potatoes, I will cook and mash as much as an entire bag. After dinner, once we've used up we've eaten and the rest have cooled, I portion them into quart-sized freezer bags, flatten them somewhat for easy stacking, and put them in the freezer. 

Once they are frozen, all you have to do is thaw, put in an oven-safe dish, cover and heat to have a dirty-pan free side dish for dinner. They taste just the same, and some people think they are even better, especially those who heat theirs uncovered to have a nice crunchy top. 

This tip takes VERY little prep time. Since making mashed potatoes can be a dirty job anyway, why not just make them in bulk and have one mess to clean? I'm a believer. Try it, and I think you'll agree! 

Thursday, February 24, 2011


There is no shortage of confidence or ego with the four in our house. Talking to other mother's of fours, it seems to be quite the age for knowing everything and being able to do everything--the best of the best no less. In our home, in past few months shifting from constant correction to character development (which I blogged about last month), we've had to introduce and reinforce new vocabulary in our home, with humility being at the top of our list.

I had hoped our lessons were starting to make an impact, and then today once I got the boys happily entertained with coloring and cutting pretend fruit I thought it the perfect time to mop the disgusting floor.

The soundtrack: Queen, which I found both motivating, upbeat, and educational (what? Classic Rock isn't Classical?)

Luke interrupts in the middle of a song:
"Mom, these singers must not have a lot of friends."
"Why do you think that, Luke?"
"They won't stop bragging."

The song: We are the Champions

"They need to learn some humility or no one will want to be their friends."


Sarah, over at her blog, gave me this cool little award. Thank you! I guess I am a "stylish blogger" after all. Who would have thought?

Here are the rules for this award:
  1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award
  2. Share seven things about yourself
  3. Award some recently discovered great bloggers
  4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award
Seven Things "About Me"
1. I love junk food.  I refuse to buy it at the store and then beg my husband late at night to pick something up for me. My guilty pleasures are Lays Sour Cream and Onion potato chips, McDonald's French Fries, and any dessert or candy with peanut butter and chocolate mixed. 
2. Mark and I have exceptionally blue eyes, as do our children. When visiting Italy I was often given free Gelato simply for being a blue-eyed female.
3. I have given up on wearing shorts in the summer. I don't own a pair because they don't look or feel good on  me. The Europeans have it right--skirts are the way to go when it's hot. 
4. I won a prize at a baby shower last week for having the lightest purse. Shocking, right, because I'm a mother? No, I'm kinda a minimalist. I pack light and try not to have more than I need in most situations, including at home.
5. I'm really fussy about my feet being warm. I'm getting so old! In the winter months I wear wool socks and shoes religiously around the house. I often carry extra socks in my purse if I think my feet will get cold if we're out and about or at someone else's home. 
6.  In high school I was voted "Best Dressed" my senior year. Today, I genuinely have a fear that Stacy and Clinton are going to show up at my door. Yeah, some days it's that bad, although I don't own any cat shirts yet.
7. I am a believer that "boys will be boys."  As sweet and polite as they can be, they are still busy and have so much energy to burn. Sometimes I think the current world has lost sight of this and somehow thinks that a boy sitting still (or capable of watching a full length movie) is best. I much prefer the enthusiasm for life my boys have, and their adventurous spirit. In fact, as exhausting as it is, I absolutely love it. 

*My nominations to come later!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


This is what I've been up to this week.

Last Thursday I took my first knitting class. I've wanted to learn for a long time, but knew that I wouldn't be able to teach myself. When I saw that a class was being offered through community education, I jumped to enroll. And, after my first class, I was right, there was no way that I was going to be able to figure this out on my own. 

The picture above is my first attempt at a scarf. When I write "first attempt" that really means my first project, fully admitting that I unraveled the whole thing at least four times and started over again. What you see is hours and hours of work. Hopefully I can get better...and faster...and maybe learn to make something useful. 

The desire to grow and learn is natural, but I have found that years can go by simply wishing for growth to materialize without making that first step and putting forth the effort. If being in a new location with little distraction in our lives is evidence of one thing, it's that the first step is ready and waiting for me. I only have to be brave enough to give it a try. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Hairy Dilemma.

I am one of those people who, while being blessed/stressed with thick, curly hair, lose massive quantities of it post-partum.

I don't mean to exaggerate, but really, I lose a lot of hair. In fact, after my second birth we invested in both hair traps and a plumbers snake. I still managed to, on a monthly basis, clog the daylights out of our shower. I tried everything: calcium, B vitamins, fish oil, brushing my hair for twenty minutes before showering...EVERYTHING! I just lost hair for months, and months, and months...for a year.

Losing it all over again isn't something I'm much looking forward to, especially since my "new" hair isn't as long as my "old" hair yet. And so, since women tend to want to do something drastic after delivery anyway, I'm already contemplating the big hair cut.

Cutting one's hair isn't really that big of a deal, but yet, we fret over it so much. At least I do. You see, I like long hair. I think it looks nice, feels nice, and after a weeks worth of ponytails at home, wearing one's hair down and "pretty" for a night out or Sunday Mass is a nice reminder that a busy mother can still be feminine.

And the age-old question goes: do you cut it post-partum for an easier, more convenient style that can be easily managed, or do you suffer through the hair loss and the messy ponytails for that one day (maybe) a week where it looks somewhat decent?

Life would be much easier if French Braids were the epitome of hair fashion...

Thursday, February 17, 2011


My little guy, who will turn two next month, LOVES this book. (Thank you, Mom)
Finding books that my little Paulie-Wally-Doodle likes is a challenge. It's not that he doesn't like to sit on my lap and read, but he's just so distracted with what Big Brother is doing that it's difficult for him to focus on anything unless it's just the two of us, which, as families go, doesn't happen very often. 

These are short books, have interesting (and real) art classics in them, plus a small object to touch on each page. This isn't your classic destructible "lift the flap" book, but much more durable with textured objects that remain intact after many read-alouds. With the little guy's birthday coming up next month, I think I know what one of his special "2" birthday books will be

Post-Partum Prep

I will state pretty boldly that the uniform for a mom at home with kids is cotton, cotton, cotton. All the spills, dirty fingers, and being a human kleenex is as much of an explanation that I need to give!

Additionally, the first two months post-partum have to the messiest, most destructive time for clothing. I've narrowed my post-partum clothing down to a system. I buy new, cheap cotton shirts that fit me loosely for those hours upon hours of nursing. They get stained and bleached with the whole gamut of bodily fluids. They are washed so often that they soon develop small holes. After they are sufficiently faded and worn to embarrassment, they become pajama shirts. This whole process takes three months.

Anyone who has ever nursed a newborn knows exactly what I'm talking about.  And, as much as I like to buy nice, quality clothing that will last, for daily shifting sizes, diaper blowouts and breastmilk leaking on every imaginable surface, now is just not the time.

My go-to for post-partum clothing is I will wait until I can get both a discount PLUS free shipping, and then order every cheap cotton shirt that I think I will wear. I'll often buy them in different sizes, too, knowing that sizing will shift. I like Old Navy because the clothes are cheap, oftentimes cheaper than anything I can get at Target, or other lower end clothing stores like Kohls. Old Navy always has cotton shirts on sale, and while the quality is lacking, they are lightweight and perfect for nursing. They are brightly colored, and when they inevitably get stained and garbage ready, they are perfectly comfortable for night sleeping (and nursing).

The snow is actually melting today, which makes me dream of spring. I might start my online shopping today...and in some weeks, you can expect me to be wearing this, everyday, in every color.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

House Art.

We have this great room in our house. The builder finished the entire space above the three car garage and attached it all to our upstairs family room. The result is a huge, open finished room that, the first time I saw it, knew would be the ideal place to keep all of our toys, books, puzzles and games.

The boys run, jump, vroom cars, listen to music, and have a great old time in this space, and I continually tell Mark that if we ever build a house, we're putting this same type of space in it (as I romantically think of bunk beds of boys lining the walls).

The new obsession in our house is coloring. Our big boy wakes up to color, colors during naptime, stays up late to color, and basically colors whenever he gets a chance to. Our upstairs garage room is the perfect place to display his work. The bright colors make me happy while dealing with a backdrop of white walls and a white outside.

Monday, February 14, 2011


I had the great fortune of meeting my one true love at an early age. We've really grown up together. High school, college, professional school, first apartment, house, dog, family. This is our 10th Valentine's Day as a couple.
One of our first pictures together. I'm sixteen, Mark is 18. Wow. We're just babies! Can't think of anyone better to share my study hall with. 

Happy Graduation from HIGH SCHOOL, Mark! If only you knew then where all of your hard work would take you. It was all worth it, J.D.! Can't think of anyone better to share all those years of school with. 

Cheers! We're engaged! Can't think of anyone better to drink German beer, from a German Stein, in a German brewhouse in Germany with. 

We've studied together, traveled the world, moved around like gypsies, and are now in the throws of family life. I couldn't ask for a better partner for the journey.   

Facebook Detox: Part I

It's been two weeks since I've been Facebook (FB) free. It's liberating, really. I'm not going to go on an anti-Facebook crusade, because there's nothing wrong with FB. But, to be relative, for me, right now, for who I am, it is wrong for me. I'm in a new place, I know very few people, and we have very little do to. And the truth is that Facebook doesn't fulfill any of those needs.

Last Thursday I went to a Christian mother's group, and the speaker was very touching. While the message was about bringing ourselves closer to God, she multiple times gave the phrase "Facebook is not Fellowship" and encouraged us as women to cultivate our relationship with God by turning away from distractions and to focus on where God is calling us right now. It struck a chord with me, as this project has already been well under way.

In the past two weeks I have sent more meaningful emails than I have in the last five years. I've talked to friends on the phone instead of relying on a FB status to make sure they're doing okay. People have called me to see how I'm doing up here alone. Over dinner I don't need to share with my husband what so-and-so posted and how someone's response offended me, or to share other useless information that does not benefit our lives in the long run.

Most importantly, my peace isn't distracted by following the lives of others. I will walk in circles if my focus remains there, but God is calling me (and all of us) to something uniquely our own, and the only way we'll follow the straight path and stop walking in circles, is if our focus is on Him.

I'm trying.  

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday Night.

~Kids eat free at Perkins-cookie decorating-balloons-sprinkle pancakes-dinner for family under $20

~Sore little puppy loses her female parts-laying in her kennel all night-too sad to play

~Mom does taxes-listens to Pandora (and blogs)

~Dad plays Candyland-watches Michael Jackson on television-Luke wins twice

~Back to taxes-bigger refund, baby, hope it gets bigger---

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Midwife Model.

For this pregnancy we've elected to use a midwife. Being in a new location, and not feeling like I needed an Ob/Gyn for my care, both Mark and I agreed that a midwife would be a nice alternative.

The midwife model of care is strikingly different than anything I've ever experienced, and I have to fully admit that I really like it. Mine does just what a doctor would do, i.e. check my weight, BP, urine, measurements, as well as monitor the baby using a Doppler. What's different is that midwives aren't doctors, they don't try to be doctors, and because of that a large amount of responsibility is put on the patient to take care of themselves, because if they don't, then the women will need a doctor.

At my first appointment my midwife, she handed me two large books and multiple handouts--all nutrition related. In them stated how much of certain foods and vitamins I needed, and then why they were important for me, baby, and the success of my labor and delivery. Wow! In addition to nutrition was another handout showing the many different exercises imperative to the growing strain of pregnancy on the body. The exercises are meant to relieve pain and pressure, but also to engage baby's head and strengthen the muscles and tissues pertinent to delivery.

It's all quite simple, really, and perhaps I've read this twice before with the other two pregnancies and brushed it aside, but this time it's required of me, and a large part of the success of a healthy pregnancy relies not on medicine, but on my ability to take care of myself. What a concept!

A few examples of how I'm trying to achieve a healthier pregnancy:

1). Calcium. My midwife wants me to drink a pint of milk everyday. Women, especially in COLD MN, are calcium (vitamin D) deficient. When growing a baby, the body will take calcium from a women's bones to makes the baby's bones. Also, calcium deficiency is a big culprit for those awful pregnancy leg cramps and restless legs.

2.) Iron. With 40% more blood than the non-pregnant state, iron is necessary for pregnancy health. Even more importantly, the stronger the blood, the less likely post partum hemmorage will be. For me, I'll start taking Alfalfa, in pill form, sometime in the next month. It has iron in it, but is known for it's blood-clotting abilities. I've actually done this with my first two after hearing the advice from a trusted family member. After two very clean and healthy deliveries, I'm a believer in the simple supplement.

There are many, many other nutritional needs for pregnant, women, as well as exercises for body and relaxation for labor. There is a lot on my plate to prepare my body for birth! I'm excited though, and glad that I have the opportunity to have someone challenge me to make myself, my baby, and my family healthier.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Could Be Worse?

Whenever I have one of those days where I'm feeling like a lousy mother, all I have to do is turn on Toddlers and Tiaras to realize that hey, maybe I'm not doing that badly.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

30 Down. Pregnancy in Review.

My three pregnancies have gotten consecutively better. As great as a pregnancy can be, now that I'm 3/4 of the way done, the less than glamorous side of pregnancy is making it's all too familiar return for the final sprint...or marathon, or however you want to look at it.

Positively, some things are going very well. I still cook for my family almost every night. No one has ever run out of clean underwear because of my inability to keep up with laundry, and the house runs almost in step as it would if I wasn't carrying a baby. I lay down for at least a few moments almost every day, and the boys, in large part due to my husband, are washed and prevented from being stinky most days. Really, it's working out pretty well, and I don't have a lot to complain about.

The biggest issue at the contradiction of an easy pregnancy being coupled with the most demands. I have two children who expect a lot out of me, who need a lot of help getting in and out of the car, or struggle with getting bulky coats, mittens, and boots on. I have an extra bed to make, extra cheerios to vacuum from the carpet, and extra calls for "mom" from an extra set of stairs in the house.

My body is just getting tired. I find that I have so much motivation, but lack the physical ability to follow through with my intentions. I'll bake bread one day and grocery shop, then sweep and mop the floors, play outside with the boys, brush out the dogs, and then feel really great about how much energy I've been blessed with, only to wake up the next morning feeling like someone took a baseball bat to my hips. Yes, that belly and extra weight do eventually start to make their impact known.

So, here I am, sipping on some Raspberry Leaf tea, thankful that when the days' activities start to wear on me that I have husband who comes home to relieve some of the load.

Anyone care to share what their easiest/hardest days of pregnancy are, and how they coped with them?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Could it be?

Remember when I posted about my coffee creamer addiction? Well, I'm on the wagon, or off the horse, or whatever the expression is. I'm drinking it again. After giving it up for a month, I'm right back where I started.

My justification was easy: I'm pregnant, and I enjoy coffee oh so much, that don't I deserve that little bit of wonderfulness in the morning before I'm released to the hounds? I attest that I do!

Well, this weekend while perusing a copy of Family Circle, I came a across an advertisement that spoke to me.

"Did you know that most Coffee Mate drinkers think that their creamer is made of actual cream?"

It does say it right on the box, you know, on the back, hidden, in the same place where it says it's full of trans fat and soyean oil. Then it revealed a product so top secret that I can't even find a picture on the internet to post on my blog!

But, there is a teaser website.

Could it be, actual creamer, made from actual cream, from cows no less? Flavored?!

I went out and bought some today. I'll post the verdict tomorrow.


We were gone all weekend, which meant that yesterday was a catch-up day, which in turns means that today is a make-up day. We are out of milk and yogurt, bread, deodorant and wet wipes. Wal-Mart here we come.

Whenever I feel a big to-do list coming on, I go a little nuts. You see, I tend to pile up everything there is to do eventually into a to-do list that needs to be done right now.

At some point this morning between using Mark's Old Spice and debating whether or not Pasta Roni was an appropriate breakfast, I started  thinking about how I need to get working on acquiring that changing table I wanted for baby #3, how I might need to start searching for some dreaded decent nursing bras, or transitioning Paul from his crib to a bed, and weaning him from bottles, how I need a carseat that's not recalled, and how this baby needs a name, and, and, and, much!

This is what 30 weeks looks like. Homestretch, people. Like I said, I go a little nuts.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Friday morning we went to our first play date since we moved. This is quite a big deal because a woman that I have only spent short spurts talking to at the science museum invited us to her home for the kids to play. I am very, very grateful for the invitation. Her kids are kind, she is kind, and the boys (hers are the same age as mine!) had a wonderful time.

I am very appreciative when people go out of their way to welcome others.We've "started out" four different times in new locations where we knew very few, if any people. There have always been a handful of people who have helped smooth that transition for us, and it is quite humbling.

As a family, we try to "pay forward" hospitality as much as we can. And, since my social circle is limited to who I happen to meet repeatedly at the library, Mark is often the one inviting people over. We've had people, couples, and families over for dinner, brunch, or a football game, oftentimes me having never met them. For a Hesitant Homemaker, it has been initiation by fire, and in the beginning of our marriage I had to figure out right away how to entertain without embarrassing myself.

Reminiscing about the past, one couple that Mark invited over for dinner ended up being dear friends; two years later we asked them to be Godparents to our child. Others have traveled far from us, or we far from them, but have remained close through Christmas cards, emails, and even traveling for events like weddings.

Slowly but surely we're trying to carve out a path in this new place, and I'm refreshed knowing that in all places there are good people, with good families and children, who are just trying hard just like us, and who enjoy a cup of coffee and the sound of children playing.

Friday, February 4, 2011


...I'm just way, way, way, way, way too tired.

Today is that day.

Please children, let mommy rest.


Thursday, February 3, 2011


Last night I took Luke to his first "class." The boy is four and a half and we've never put him in T-ball, preschool,  play groups, or anything that we needed to be committed to for him to learn a skill.

I don't think there's anything right or wrong with putting children into activities at young ages, our lives have just been so dynamic that I have had little opportunity to do so. In our location, people live and breathe hockey, and putting your child into hockey at age 3 is the norm if you have plans for them to play hockey in high school. For reasons I won't get into too much, I have no desire to be the hockey family. It's too much money, too much travel, too much equipment, and too much focus on hockey instead of the focus being on faith and family. No, we need a hockey alternative.

We are already planning on putting Luke into baseball in the spring, but as we chomp at the bit stuck inside all winter, we needed something to do. The best thing we came up with was a gymnastics class. We're not planning on Luke being a gymnast or anything, but the class is centered on strength training, balance and body control. And let's face it, what four year old boy doesn't need help with body control? Luke loved the class and immediately asked if he could go again tomorrow. Bars, bars, and more bars--hanging from bars, pulling up from bars, swinging from bars, climbing on bars, monkey bars. Yes, this is fun.  Now we know that at least once a week, despite the cold, that he can get out and burn some energy and learn a few things along the way.

Mark my words, I'll be ready next September to enroll the boys in any activity possible that will give them ample time to run and climb. I will be prepared next time!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I love, love, love, love, love this blog.

On a cold winter's day (like today), a quick scan through her website inspires me to do something new. Today I'm trying out her soft pretzels. I also have a whole chicken in a pot making broth for possibly a soup later on to go with the said pretzels. If it's a failure, at least the house smells good :-) .

Stay-at-home or not, I think you'll like Laura's sight.

(Also, there is no incentive for me to plug her site. You'll see it's quite a bit more, eh, involved than most blogs, and I'm certain that Laura receives some income from it. I'm honestly sharing it just because I think she's so darn cool.)

On My Mind.

~I talked to a friend yesterday on the phone. A close friend. I haven't seen her in over five years, and we've never met each other's children. And yet, we're close. We talk like we see each other everyday. Even so, I miss her a lot. I really, really miss her.

~I fought with my 22 month old today trying to get him strapped into his car seat. It was quite the battle. I have to wonder if I'm easier on him than I was with my first, or I just don't want to deal with his outbursts and allow him get away with more. There is no question that he is ruling the roost these days. 

~I am an eating machine. The quantity of food that I am capable of eating while pregnant is amazing to me. I'm filling up on healthy food, but it's still A LOT. I'm on track with weight gain much like the first two. After losing it the first two times after nine months of breastfeeding (I nursed for longer, but that's how it took to get back to pre-pregnancy size), I'm starting to trust that my body knows what it's doing. 

~I don't feel like I am a person who "wants" a lot, but I kinda want a vacation. I would love to see unfrozen water, to have bare legs and the feeling of heat on my shoulders. I try not to think of the many, many months before it will be like that in Minnesota.

~I am in full appreciation of my four year old. Four and a half, really. Apparently the personality of a person "solidifies" between the ages of five and six. If the way he is now is the way he's going to end up, I'm a very blessed mother. Don't get me wrong, it has been work, work, work, and I'm exhausted just thinking about how hard I'll be trying with the other two. I know now that the payoff is worth it, and while I've had days upon days of no sleep, constant discipline, and hours just being "present," I am now humbled daily at the patience, generosity and general sweetness of my son. And to think, I'm on track to have THREE like this. Blessed. Just blessed.  

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Up to.

  The little guy tried some boots on for size. 

 And then fell over. 

 The big boy needs all his ducks in a row. Or Tow Mater's, in this case. 

(Blurry) floor shot, because we can't go a day without some blocks. 

It's Over.

...January that is.

Last night after dinner, Mark and I sat freezing in the living room, each with our own blanket, while watching the boys play. Dinner and dishes were done, and it was pitch black out. It was only 5:30pm.

Mark remarked how this had been the longest January that he could remember. I agreed with him, while monitoring the boys take turns jumping off of the couch, then began to count in my head how many more hours until they would be in bed.

"Let's go to Home Depot," he suggested. We didn't need anything.
"Target then?" No, because we always find something we think we need at Target.
"Warm pie at Perkins?" hhmmm, that was a little tempting.

In the end we ran to higher ground (the upstairs playroom), where the air is a bit warmer. The boys and Mark played "Shoot," where they try to dodge arrows from a Nerf gun, and I opted for making some cookies.

Having survived the stillness and monotony of the night, we are reminded that regardless of how very cold it could be, February is always a short month.