Sunday, February 9, 2014

I am currently away from my desk

If you have wondered where I have been and why I have not blogged I will tell you:
It is not currently a priority.

So if you are checking this blog for updates, I am sorry but they will not be here! 

Instead I am sending out a newsletter-type email once every few months to my friends and family members.

I am also:

A full-time milk supplier, baby burper, nose suctioner (hello RSV) and bum-wiper to my 2-month-old

A friend, teacher, and round-the-clock go-to-the-bathroom-reminder to my 2-year old

A reading, math, arts teacher and personal preschool chauffeur to my 5-year-old

A family historian who tries daily to document the lives of her own family through photo and text 

A young women's advisor in charge of preparing about 3 lessons a month for Sunday class 

A housekeeper trying to meet the hourly demands of a family of 5; cooking, laundry, dishes, garbage, straightening, putting away, cooking, laundry, dishes, gar...oops, am I repeating myself?

And have I forgotten about me? The dreams are there...the time is not! So in the meanwhile I will continue enjoying this stage where I am at. I am loving motherhood so much. It truly is a blessing!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Nesting

Each day that this baby is not here is another day to work hard!
And I am not just talking about cleaning dishes and countertops and bathrooms because that stuff will happen no matter what
Since about July I have been working hard to organize my "nest."
Some of these things have included:
Bulking up our 3 month food supply and stocking up on other items like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning items, toiletries, and baby stuff--diapers, shampoo, ointment
All bedrooms--Cleaning out and reorganizing drawers
The playroom--Cleaning out toy boxes, organizing toy baskets, putting train table together, sorting out the baby toys
Making a dysfunctional corner cupboard in our kitchen good for something
Putting away clothing from the boys that is too small or out of season--I like to use diaper boxes for this
Scrubbing spotty and greasy-finger-printed walls
Cleaning out and reorganizing end table drawers and making those functional
Getting all the baby clothes and hats and supplies out, washing them, and finding a place for them since Elliot is still using the nursery (I ultimately ended up cleaning out one of my dresser drawers to make space for baby's stuff).
Getting rid of non-working or old electronics that we no longer use

This is not to mention all of the "extra" nesting stuff:
Baking and freezing 6 dozen muffins of assorted flavors
Preparing extra food for dinner and putting some away in the freezer (the stuff that is freeze-able)
Husked 4 dozen ears of corn, boiled, ice bath, filled up Ziplocs

Also had the opportunity to sew bibs, burp cloths, hats, and blankets for this baby.

This is all in addition to the normal, every-day work I do as a mother. It has been a lot and I think I will be relieved to relax and recover at the hospital for a couple of days with a newborn.






Our garbage container was super full this week.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

We Love Our Town

Two years and seven months ago we moved to our cute little Midwestern town. Can I tell you now that this is actually the longest we have ever lived in one place in our whole 7 years of marriage? I am quite proud of that!!

Upon arriving to town I was 7 months pregnant with Elliot and didn't know a soul. Before arriving I contacted the Relief Society president of our soon-to-be ward and got a referral from an OB. That referral ended up being a huge blessing. I had seen 2 previous doctors already--1 in PA for Owen's birth and 1 in our old town for Elliot--but this one by far was the most friendly and accommodating, even though it was a group doctor and coming from seeing private doctors this was the best experience I had. For the first time ever, my OB would ask, "What kind of questions do you have for me?" at the end of each appointment instead of a flat "see you in 2 weeks" with no opportunity for questions. I feel so blessed that I have been able to see this same doctor for my current pregnancy. My doctor also has evening appointments, so I have only had to take the kids once!

The library. When we first moved here I was surprised to find how small the library was compared to where we had come from. But after sitting in the children's section for well over an hour and watching my 2 year old be entertained by the train table (while I took care of my newborn) I decided that I loved our new library! Of course my reasons for loving the library has grown as my kids have grown--Owen loves their collection of non-fiction books and isn't afraid to ask the librarian, "Where can I find books about NASCAR?" Also, the smallness of the library allows my 4 year old to play on the iPads (they recently installed iPADs in place of computers at a small open desk in the children's area) while I watch Elliot at the train table. They have puzzles and coloring pages, too. I actually do not take my kids to story time. We have enough on our schedule to worry about, and we just go when we can fit it in.

My son's preschool. I know it is not "the best" when it comes to academics, and our town is big on education, but it has an incredible play gym filled with trampolines, ropes to swing on, foam pits, bars, balls and more (it is a gymnastics place with a preschool)--Owen gets to do this for "gym time" during preschool. It is also a small program--there were only 9 kids in his class last year with 2 teachers, and this year there are 19 kids with 2 or 3 teachers. Because it is a small program and Owen has been attending for over 2 years everyone there knows Owen and Elliot (even though Elliot hasn't been a student). I also love that they have a class for age 2-3...that is what attracted me to the program to begin with (Owen wasn't quite 3 when he started, but it was very much needed). The other thing we have benefited from is summer camp the past 2 summers. It is held 5 days a week but you get to choose if your child goes 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 days a week. I have just done 3 days a week. It is in the morning from 9-12...a big difference from the other day camps in the area that last all day, every day. Also, his preschool teacher is there a few of the days so I would sign him up on the days she was there. I love the consistency of his one teacher who has been with him from the very beginning (there have been other teachers, too that come and go throughout the different preschool classes). The summer camp is for ages 3 and up. They have gym time, do a craft and story, play games, have a slip n' slide day, and eat lunch!

The grocery store. This might seem like a small advantage but to a stay-at-home mom who relies on the town's services to get stuff done this means the world to me. The grocery store that we shop at has  2-seater car carts, and these aren't the kind with the cozy coupe attached at the end of it where the kids scoot their feet along...these kind have the car spot in the very back of the cart so it is totally controlled by me and they can't get out! This store also has a post office, so I have never once had to go to the actual post office (saves me a trip). The customer service people know my kids. I also love the bakery because they give my kids free cookies when we shop there. In the past I have been able to buy Christmas presents, gift cards, and birthday presents there. Last year around Thanksgiving time I asked if they had any freezer-to-oven turkeys...they didn't have any so instead they fixed up a fresh turkey for me...it was stuffed, wrapped in an oven bag, had a timer set in it, and set in 2 layers of foil pans. This was all for the price of a regular turkey. This made my Thanksgiving meal preparation super easy! When Elliot had his birthday last summer I was able to order 2 dozen chocolate donuts with sprinkles, trays of fruit, and a balloon bouquet...I was also able to pick up all of the meat, buns, and drinks. You could say that this grocery store is my one-stop-shop. The employees are super friendly, too..when they see you in the aisles they always say "hello" or "can I help you find anything?" One more thing...I once forgot my credit card and they let me just recite my credit card number when it was time to pay.

The health system. This sounds vague because I'm not being specific about the name of our doctors but my OB also has a pediatric side where I take my kids. This same health provider also has a regular physician's doctor's office (for my husband and for me when I am not pregnant) across the street, and a separate urgent care clinic that is open all day and after hours and on the weekends. It has been a life saver for those times when we are sick, or have broken collar bones or ear infections at inconvenient times. And since the urgent care and the pediatrician and OB all fall under the same health provider, our information is in all the same computer system.

The YMCA. I will admit, this is one arena that was not as good as the last city we lived in. Instead of 2 pools--a warmer rec pool and a cooler lap pool there is just one pool, and since it is used by the high school swim team they keep it nice and cold. Owen has been taking swim lessons there for 2 years and has done really well. There is a lifeguard there who knows Owen by name and always tells him what a great job he is doing. He has always been able to attend swim lessons during the week on a day he doesn't have preschool and in the mornings. Although I really liked the first teacher that he had I still don't think it's terrible that he's had 3 different teachers in 2 years (and we only do swim lessons during the school year). There is one teacher and up to 4 kids, although once Owen was out of level 1 it has never exceeded 2 or 3.

Lake and Recreation Area. This is a treasure just in our own backyard that we discovered after moving into our new house in this town last year. It is just 5 minutes away. There are picnic and play areas (with play equipment) and bike paths that overlook a beautiful lake. Cameron and I have ridden our bikes on trails throughout this area for a date. We had Elliot's birthday party there last summer at one of the pavilions. We have taken family pictures (with my tripod and camera) there twice in the past year. We have also had times where we just picked up dinner and took it down to the lake. There is a beach/sandy area there where the kids can play with the sand and water without going all the way in. There is also camping...but we have only seen campers and trailers...really? What happened to tents? The thing I love about this area is that even though it is only 5 minutes away I feel like we have packed up and gone to a state park hours away. It is surrounded by trees and natural areas and grass/play areas. I love this.

CVS. Okay, really, this sounds so lame. But it is a new store that opened about a year ago. It is big and open and wide and clean and non-cluttered on the inside..and the times that we have been there I have never even had to stand in line because the store is empty! (if and when we do go it is usually on a weekday morning when nobody else is there, hah!)

There are a number of other things...I love our friendly neighbors, our incredibly quiet street (we got really lucky with not living on a "thru" street), the friendships we have made with ward members, and the fun memories that we have been blessed with here in our town. I can truly say that we love where we live!





Thursday, October 3, 2013

Sewing for the baby

When I am pregnant I love sewing for the baby. Last month I had the chance to visit Mood Fabrics in NY. I picked up some shirting, flannel, and jersey knits. Here are some things I have sewn with that fabric:
 This is a basic blanket with 2 sides--the cream side is flannel and the blue side is "shirting." This is the kind of fabric designers use to make button-down collared shirts. It is crisp and lightweight, and it was a dream to sew with. Super easy and fast. It reminds me of Cameron, and he did help me pick it out. I had never seen fabric like this sold on a bolt--but at Mood they had a whole barrel full of it.
 These 2 sets are made from the jersey knits that I picked up from Mood. They are super soft and stretchy, and I think they will make great swaddling blankets. I put these babies under the serger and it took maybe 15 minutes to serge all the way around it? So fast! I hope the hats fit the baby.
And the bibs. I made these before the NY trip. I actually made several more that aren't pictured with coordinating burp cloths. I bought snap pliers this time instead of using sew-on snaps like I did with Elliot's bibs. I love the snaps. It gives the bibs a clean, finished look and they will hold up better than the sew-on snaps. The backing is made from terry cloth. 

There is just one more project to make for the baby and that is the Christmas stocking. I made 4 last year for the 4 of us with the first initial of our first names. We do not know what we are naming this baby, therefore how can I make a stocking? I can at least do all that I can without the initial applique. I also have a few gifts to make for Christmas. I am also going to be making THIS nursing shawl using some jersey knit from Mood. I think it will nicely solve the problem of what shows in the back of you when you are nursing out in the open. Well that is it!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pregnancy-29 weeks

I am 29 weeks on Friday! Even though I am having a boy this pregnancy has been different from the past. Let's review the awesome milestones that have occurred:

First Trimester
Once I figured out that I was lactose intolerant my pregnancy got a whole lot better and the stomachaches and constant trips to the bathroom vanished. Now I have spent most of my pregnancy figuring out what dairy products I can and can't have since they all contain different amounts of lactose (For example, I can't eat anything containing sour cream but I can eat foods that contain plain yogurt, a common substitute). I also craved a lot of breakfast foods during this time and ate like a horse around the clock (4 pieces of toast for breakfast and hungry again 2 hours later).
Second Trimester
This one started around June and that is when the dizziness started. I thought it was just from the heat because we did have some pretty hot days in June, but there were also days where the dizziness just didn't seem to go away. Also my allergies started flaring up. The nurse advised me to take Claritin which has helped tremendously and I will probably stay on it until "first frost." It was also during this trimester that I found out we were having another boy! Couldn't be more excited. July 5 was the last time I ever had dizziness for long amounts of time, then it went away for awhile. I also had a headache pretty much every morning during this trimester.Foods I loved during this trimester: Bagel Bites & asparagus
Third Trimester
This one just started a couple weeks ago.  Headaches are gone!! But the dizziness came back in full force along with the feeling of "If I don't sit down right now I will faint." That extremeness has happened 3 times that I can think of during this pregnancy and it is always scary. But other times, the dizziness sets in, I feel light-headed, I can't think clearly, my stomach hurts, and I become very uncomfortable. This has been the worst symptom ever. If I push myself too hard in one day than this happens. If I stand in one place for too long than this happens. And I always feel this way when it's time to get out of the car.
Let's also talk about Gestational Diabetes. I took the typical one-hour test at my 28 week appointment and I failed it. So the nurse had me schedule an appointment for a 3-hour screening, which I did last Friday. For about a week I was doing so great on the dizziness but the test I took last Friday has resulted in nothing but lots of dizziness ever since. The directions were to begin fasting at 10 pm the night before, so I loaded up on food and drink throughout the evening. My appointment was at 8 am, so I headed in and had my blood drawn first thing. Before we even started the blood draw I had another dizzy/nauseous moment and I explained to the lab tech that this happens a lot, which I felt like was good information for her to have since she would be drawing my blood a total of 4 times that day. After the blood draw I immediately felt weak and just tried to rest my head for a minute. After a few minutes I drank the glucose drink which was like the Tropicana Fruit Punch only not carbonated. Honestly I thought it tasted pretty good after having not had anything to eat since the night before....a little tart at the end but not bad at all. I had also brought my laptop into the office so I would be hanging out in the waiting room all morning. I had an "awesome" idea to work on my scrapbooking on my computer while I waited in between blood draws. After the first initial draw I went back to the waiting room, got my computer out, and about 20 minutes later I felt quite the sugar crash. I knew I was not going to have the stamina to work on my computer all morning. An hour after the inital blood draw I went in for the next blood draw. Once again, the weakness I felt after my blood being drawn was extreme and I just hung my head in my hands for a few minutes. For the last 2 blood draws the lab tech found a bed for me to lay on while she drew my blood which helped a lot. Finally on the last draw she said, "You didn't lose the color in your face this time! I think it's because you know this was the last one and you'll finally get to eat!"
I had half a sleeve of Ritz crackers in my bag that I scarfed down on my way to picking up my kids from preschool and the babysitter's. I thought I would sit and chat for awhile with my friend who had babysat Elliot but after awhile I really felt like I was "losing it" and just couldn't think straight. Time to head home and having something real to eat! Honestly I felt like trash the rest of the day until the doctor called me that night to tell me that my numbers looked great and I don't have gestational diabetes! He said "You can go to Dairy Queen tonight to celebrate." Haha! Wonderful idea for a lactose intolerant person! But just hearing that news helped to lift my spirits even though I felt sick all day.
And as far as cravings go? I really have had none this trimester. My birthday was yesterday and I did dream a little about Cake Batter ice cream with brownie chunks from Coldstone, which was a past birthday tradition... but oh well.
Can't believe there are only 11 weeks left. In my opinion that is not very many. I would say that means we will probably go on 4 or 5 more dates... and only 11 more weeks of having awesome amounts of sleep every night and a nap every day, a predictable schedule, lots of one-on-one time with Elliot while Owen is at school, which I cherish. I know it will all change for the better but for now I am going to enjoy life the way that it is. Although I won't lie...I do look forward to the day that I'm not dizzy and I can finally think about getting smaller instead of bigger. Elliot has been the baby for over 2 years now and I have loved it so much. But I am looking forward to meeting this new baby.
I think this was taken at about 27 or 28 weeks

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Non-recipe cooking

In the fall and winter I love to use recipes to make soups or fancy meat and veggie dishes. But once temperatures warm up I do not like the thought of spending extra time in the kitchen. So this summer has been devoted mostly to non-recipes. There are a few recipes I have used that I will talk about in a minute. But here is a list of things we have eaten for dinner this summer that even the kids enjoy! Amazingness right! Also, I am not the best meal planner (sometimes I am good at this and other times I am bad...like now) so there are times that I have to round something up when it is 4 in the afternoon.
Also with being Lactose Free now that rules out a lot of casserole options for me so we eat more meats and vegetables now and no more chicken pot pies, enchiladas, Tater Tot casserole or anything of the sort. I think it is better and healthier this way actually.

French Bread Pizza...split the french bread loaf in half diagonally, smother both sides with marinara sauce (I personally like the small jars of "Pizza Sauce" by Prego), then mozzarella cheese, then whatever toppings you want..I personally like to use crumbled ground beef (although 1 lb. is definitely too much beef), though I did learn the hard way not to put cooked beef on top of the cheese because it will dry out in the oven, so I will put the beef on top of the sauce, and the cheese on top of the beef when doing this...Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes, and it even makes great leftovers the next day for lunch. 

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken....you can make your own sauce of course but guess what? I just don't have it in me. So I love the Archer Farms grilling/basting sauce! They have so many flavors to choose from but we love the teriyaki flavor. I will slice up 3 chicken breasts diagonally and then into strips, place in a ziploc, and pour about half a bottle in, let it sit and marinade during church, then Cameron grills it up when get home. I like to serve this with white rice and broccoli. Yum. And the leftovers are great. But I think you could use any sauce...BBQ even, shred it up and serve it on buns?

Sloppy Joes...I actually make up 2 lbs of ground beef and mix in 2 cans of Manwich. It is the best sloppy joe sauce. How can you beat opening a can, seriously? I freeze half and we eat it later. My oldest actually loves these. He likes his melted with a slice of American cheese on top, and served on buns of course. 

Tomato Basil Pasta...Olive Garden used to have a "Sausage and Peppers Rustica" on their menu circa 2004, they took it off, but the servers have told me that I can ask for the same menu item by asking for Shrimp Carbonara and substituting sausage. Well I have somewhat replicated this menu item at home. Once again with the store-bought sauces.. I love Tomato Basil sauce! It is totally different from basic marinara sauce although it can be found in the same section. I like to brown up 1 lb of ground italian sausage and 1 lb of ground beef, and then about a jar and half of the sauce? I boil penne pasta and put the whole thing together. If I weren't so lazy I would probably grill up some mushrooms and peppers but...you know. Not feeling anything extra. Also yummy served with parmesan. The kids don't like this so I actually give them Alfredo sauce on their pasta and we call it "white mac and cheese". 

Fish Sticks & Mac & Cheese & Veggies...I haven't bought fish sticks in years but a couple months ago Cameron was like, I miss the things you used to make when we were first married...OK honey! Whatever you say! Hahaha. Well for Elliot's birthday I decided we would have a "kids meal" and Owen was just thrilled, Elliot could have cared less but man oh man was Owen excited about this concept. So for Elliot's birthday dinner we had fish sticks, mac & cheese, applesauce, roasted potatoes and roasted asparagus. I will tell you in a minute about these roasted veggies. But I can't eat mac and cheese anymore and my husband could care less for it so it is only for the kids now (although I dearly, dearly miss my Kraft). I don't even make a box, I do the Easy Mac version in the microwave, again, laziness and easy way out-ness this summer. 

A recipe meal...Mini Italian Meatloaves by Rachael Ray. This would be one recipe that I keep on using! I always double it and freeze half the mixture and bake it up later. But man alive is it easy, and even the kids eat it!! I think if you google it you will find it! I use my ice cream scooper to scoop up the meat mixture, then I flatten each "ball" into kind of a hamburger patty except a little thicker, drizzle EVOO on top (if you are a Rachael Ray fan like I was back in the day when her show was *only* about cooking), and wow it is so good! I also use my kitchenaid with the "paddle" attachment to mix this up. 

Another recipe meal...Wow now you think I am cheating you here because I told you this was a non-recipe summer! It basically is except for this last one, and I used the recipe one time and I don't think I'll ever need it again it is so easy:

Cheesy Smashed Potatoes by Rachael Ray. I have really not had a mashed potatoes fix since finding out I was Lactose Intolerant. But I can tolerate yogurt. This recipe actually calls for 1/4 C of sour cream (no good for me) and I have heard you can substitute plain yogurt so I tried it and it worked! Yukon Gold Potatoes chopped up, boiled, drained, then the mashing ingredients are 2 TBSP of butter, 1/4 C of plain yogurt, and 2 cups of shredded cheddar! They are so good and I am so happy to know that I can use plain yogurt in my mashed potatoes. I have served this with the meatloaf, and those 2 together, talk about a party! 

Roasted Veggies & other veggies
We have been trying to eat more veggies lately, they are so good when you can figure out just how you like them cooked (for me that means Not Boiled). Roasted!! My favorite thing this summer has been roasted asparagus. I just bend it till it breaks on the bottom (you don't want to cook the stem), line them up on a pan and drizzle with EVOO and salt and pepper, cook at 425 for about 20 minutes, I like mine more on the burnt and crispy side. I honestly eat this about 3-4 times a week no joke. I make it with my bagel bites for lunch (now you are really learning about me) because they cook for the same amount of time at the same temperature. If I am making these up at dinner time I do it half a pan of asparagus and the other half of my pan is chopped up yukon gold potatoes. Those 2 together are so yummy. 
We also do roasted carrots, I just throw the baby carrots (smaller version if you can find them) straight on the pan from the bag, drizzle in olive oil, honey, sprinkle some brown sugar on top and a dash of salt..it's salty and sweet all in one. Seriously roasted veggies have been my favorite thing this summer. This is such a great side dish. And we of course love fresh corn on the cobb boiled. We also do baked potatoes and baked sweet potatoes (the kids like the sweet potatoes mashed up with cinnamon and honey). 

Stauffers Italian Meat Sauce Lasagna
This is about a once a month thing and usually on a Sunday. I put my oven on delay bake, what a great invention! There is nothing like walking into your house after being at church for 3 hours and having your house smell like an italian restaurant with a hot lasagna ready to go! We love this with spinach salad with italian dressing (no ranch for us anymore!) and croutons. 



Monday, July 8, 2013

What summer looks like

I am sure you thought you would be getting a post of tons of pics, but I am a busy mom.... what is not pictured? Pics of the kids with ice cream dripping down their faces... Owen and his new bike...  Elliot's birthday... Barbecuing lakeside... Fireworks and demolition derbys... trips to the splash park and pool... it has been a fun and exhausting summer! So here is a preview of what we did one afternoon.

I know it's the back of Elliot's head, but I love the wet locks and chubby baby arms, and blue sky and white clouds! 
This fence was the starting point for running to the pool "ready set go"