Tuesday, December 30, 2014

{recetas} Beef & Broccoli

Oh. Em. Gee, folks. I made the best dinner last night.

Take-out worthy beef and broccoli. It was delicious! Kid gobbled it up and the Hubs said we should have it more often. Win-win, in my book.

This is kind of a multi-step process, but it's quick and all of the steps are easy.

First things first, the rice. This meal is best served over rice and I find it best to use the rice cooker. You could also use instant rice, but rice cooker rice is so much better!

What you need (for the rice):

  • 2 cups rice
  • chicken broth (enough to cover the rice, up to the first knuckle on your pointer finger...scientific, I know)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • OR! Instant white rice
What you do (for the rice):
  • If you are like us, go to your ice cream bucket of frozen rice and scoop 2 cups into the rice cooker.
  • Pour the chicken stock over the rice. Here comes the scientific part. Stick your pointer finger into the pot until you touch the bottom. If the stock comes up to the first knuckle joint, you're good to go!
  • Sprinkle in your garlic powder and ground ginger. Both of these are in the beef and broccoli sauce if you want to omit them from your rice. I just like to add an extra little zip.
  • Or, you can skip those three steps and make some instant rice. That's up to you.
Okay, part two. Multi-step, you know. We're gettin' fancy up in these parts!

What you need (for the beef and broocoli):
  • a flank steak
  • a head of broccoli
  • 2/3 cup tamari sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (yep, I buy my garlic pre-minced)
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
What you do (for the beef and broccoli):
  • Boil water in a medium-sized pot. While this is boiling, whisk together tamari sauce, honey, chicken stock, sesame oil, rice vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and corn starch. I don't know about you, I like to measure all of the ingredients first and have them sitting in their own separate dishes (like a cooking show!) before I add them. Especially the dry ingredients. Once the honey is added to the mix, you'll need to whisk continuously. Otherwise, it gets stuck to the bottom of the bowl and takes longer. Just trying to save you some time!
  • Slice your steak really thinly. Think about your favorite Chinese food restaurant. Their beef is sliced nice and thin. Do that. It makes it taste better. Well, probably not, but it looks more like take-out that way!
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add your beef. Cook it through. Drain it.
  • When your water boils, add the broccoli for just a few minutes, and then drain it. Pour some cold water over the top to stop the cooking process. I suppose you could have an ice bath ready. But we never have ice readily available. I like the texture of the broccoli when it has been boiled for a short time.
  • Add the broccoli and sauce to the pan with the beef and bring the sauce to a boil. Turn the heat down and let it simmer so the sauce has some time to thicken. I, personally, don't have much patience for this part and let the sauce thicken just a little bit. You can thicken it to your own needs and wants.
  • Serve the beef and broccoli over rice. We like to have egg rolls on the side. Just a suggestion.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Art

I know, I know. Christmas has come and gone. Most people post their Christmas tutorials before Christmas, not after. But here I am. A few days after Christmas and wanting to show y'all our Christmas art. I made these just a few days before Christmas (can you tell I'm a last minute person?).

This post, from Jessica Lynn Writes, was my inspiration. I wanted to change things up a little bit, so I came up with a few of my own sayings. I loved the way hers turned out, so I headed over to PicMonkey to make my own.

Wait a minute. Those aren't Christmas! Nope, those are the year-round sayings.

I hosted a truffle making party the weekend before Christmas and wanted to make the house a little more festive than it was. At that time, I only had an undecorated Christmas tree up and a few Department 56 houses. No stockings, no Christmas cards, no ornaments. It needed to get festive up in here.

I hung the ornaments (on the top 2/3rds of the tree) in a toddler-proof fashion. I took down our living room art and hung the stockings. And I designed some artwork for the dining room frames. Christmas inspired, no less.

These three beauties hang in our dining room until it's time to pack away all of the Christmas stuff. The "Merry Christmas" one is printed larger than the others and hangs in the middle. It's framed with a chunky black frame. The other two are a few inches smaller and are framed in white.

I think they're pretty neat!

**Shameless plug: let me know if you're interested in purchasing the digital file.
I'm thinking of going all Etsy style.**

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Snow Baby

I try not to post much on Sundays, but this little peanut was looking far too adorable sledding yesterday to keep the pictures under wraps. It was technically our second sledding adventure with Kid, as we brought him last winter.

Hubs had been gone hunting all day yesterday, while Kid and I ran errands and got some things done around the house. When he got home, he was antsy, so we made the last minute decision to go sledding. The nervous mama in me felt that our close-to-home sledding hill was too steep for Kid. The Hubs agreed (as he would be the one pulling Kid back up the hill). We decided to stop at my in-law's house for some mini-sledding.

Kid loved it! I'm so thankful that we finally have snow. While I'm not normally one for impromptu plans, I'm glad we bundled up and went sledding. I'm never quite sure what activities I can do while knocked-up, so I played photographer for our sledding adventure, using a new lens, too!

Sledding may just become one of our favorite activities this winter. What are your favorite things to do in the winter?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Ahh, we made it through the holidays with only some minor issues. Sleep issues. The Kid is not sleeping, and it is making his mama quite sad (okay, mostly tired).

I've always been a lover of Christmas cookies, but I never seem to pull it all together to do some serious cooking baking. I made progress this year, though, and made some peanut butter blossoms (my favorite Christmas cookie).

Let me just say that you need to use Hershey's kisses for these cookies. They have the best flavor. Yum, yum, yum. I ended up making four dozen cookies (whoa!) and we polished them off in just a few days. I did bring some to my parents' house for our Christmas Day celebration, so that helped quite a bit!

**While I do believe that Hershey's kisses are the only kisses appropriate for baking purposes,
I did receive these kisses free of charge from Influenster.**

Thursday, December 4, 2014

\\Thankful Thursday Vol. 13//

I find that it is impossibly easy to get into a rut of negativity. And once you're there, it's hard to climb your way out. Writing down my thankfuls for each week has become a way to stay away from the negative. Feel free to leave your thankfuls in the comments.

I'm thankful for the health that has been restored to our home. After the long weekend, Kid and I stayed home sick after getting no sleep the night before. We are now feeling back to 100% and our tissue use has decreased.

I'm thankful for Starbucks and Caribou gift cards. Let's be honest. It's such a treat to pull up at the drive-thru and know that you're getting your beverage for free. My favorites are Peppermint Hot Cocoa (Starbucks) and Hot Cocoa with a shot of Caramel (Caribou). I'm also thankful for the drive-thru window. It is so nice to stay in the warm car while my beverage is made and then be right on my way to work.

I'm thankful for dirty dishes (and the dishwasher). Dirty dishes remind me that I have food to prepare in the refrigerator. They remind me that I have a functioning stove, oven, and microwave. I'm forever grateful for my dishwasher that received as a Christmas gift when we bought our home. The family that left our home took everything with them, including the kitchen sink). But the dishwasher saves me (and the hubs) countless minutes after dinner each night. Minutes that we can spend hanging out with Kid and the pup. They are minutes that we cherish.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sick Kid

I'm posting from my phone this morning, as Kid and I rest on the couch and baby girl kicks away. 

We've both been up all night. My alarm is set to go off in 20 minutes and I kind of want to cry.

Our 6pm trip to urgent care went quickly; waiting for the prescription did not.

Kid fell asleep as soon as we got in the car. He's been up every 30 to 40 minutes since. I've just been up.

Tonsillitis stinks. How does a toddler get it, anyway?

In his few moments of sleep, I've learned which people are on Kid's mind the most.

"Elmo," he cries out, "Mamo, Pa." His beloved grandparents. "Daddy! Mama, Mama, Mamaaaa!"

And how can I not scoop the teary boy out of his crib? His arms reaching up for me, his nose so stuffy he snores like an 80 year old man. His skin is hot, his lips are dry. He guzzles 8 ounces of water in five minutes.

I want to take it all away. I'll take tonsillitis, please. The inability to breathe through my nose. The fever, the tears, all of it.

I'll take it all, so long as kid feels better. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Wow, It's Been Awhile ~ A Chicken Soup Recipe

It's been quite a while since I've posted a recipe. I find it kind of hard to do, since I am such a recipe follower myself. I'm not often coming up with my own "new" recipes. But I think I've come pretty close to
the best chicken soup recipe ever.

What you need:
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 cartons of chicken broth (64 ounces, total)
  • 8 to 10 carrots peeled and sliced (no need to peel if they're organic)
  • 2 ribs of celery sliced
  • 1 onion chopped (I only use half of a really small onion)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • one ... leaf? stem? of kale (unless you're anti-kale)
  • egg noodles (because my husband doesn't like kale)
What you do:
  • Slice your chicken breasts into thin strips and place in a soup pot. Add the chicken broth, carrots, onion, and celery. Add some salt and pepper as you see fit. I tend to go light on these ingredients and allow each person to add them to their own taste.
  • Heat the soup over high heat for about 25 minutes. At 25 minutes, check the "done-ness" of your chicken and veggies. The chicken is done when it's no longer pink inside and easily shredded with two forks.
  • While the soup is cooking, chop your kale. I only use one stem because my husband doesn't like it and Kid can't yet chew it enough to swallow it. I also remove the main stem/rib of the kale and only use the leafy part. Anyway. Chop it into bite-sized pieces.
  • If your husband protests kale, and you don't feel like making an entire pot of chicken noodle soup, boil water in another pot and cook your egg noodles according to the package directions. If you're going for chicken noodle soup, you can add the noodles straight to the soup and cook for 8-ish minutes.
  • To serve, place some kale and/or egg noodles in a bowl and ladle the chicken soup over the top. Give it a stir and enjoy!
I threw in this old picture because .. well, soup weather also means shoveling weather... And, I keep forgetting to take pictures of the soup. I'll become a true picture-taking foodie someday!

Quick tips:
  • Cook your noodles separately, even if nobody is having kale (or you want both!). I usually double this recipe to freeze and I do not care for the taste of cooked, frozen, and then reheated noodles. I'll freeze a hefty portion of soup and then am prepared to cook noodles the day I decide to reheat the soup.
  • Don't be bummed if your husband doesn't like kale. I was. And then I got over it. Because, really? It takes 15 minutes to boil water and make noodles.
  • Go light on the salt and pepper to start. Once the soup is boiling, you can taste the broth and add more as needed. People can also add their own once they've tasted the soup and broth.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

This Moment & Nuggets

((this moment))

A Friday ritual. A single moment - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember.

Nuggets :: November 28

Nugget :: Work was a treat this week, being that I only went in for three days. The kids were rambunctious, but the end of the week was never more than a couple of days away. We had some hectic times, with all of the Thanksgiving projects to be had. On Wednesday, we made Stone Soup and shared all of the reasons to be thankful. I'm amazed at how brilliant five- and six-year-olds are.

Nugget :: Family time. We spent the holiday with my dad's side of the family. A small gathering, but an intimate one. Football played in the background, my niece ran a beauty salon and gave everyone haircuts. Kid enjoyed the attention from the big dogs and the big boys (my cousins). He was quick to show off his dancing moves and his love for football. He recently learned to yell "touch down!"

Nugget :: Kid has been difficult. I know it's his age, and it's developmentally appropriate. I've worked with early childhood for 9 years now. I keep trying to tell myself all of the things I told toddler parents when we held conferences. It's hard. It's hard when Kid is a gem with everyone. Everyone but his mother. He slaps my hand at the store because he's mad. He kicks at my boots when we have to go inside. He wants me to give in, break down, let him get what he wants. I can't back down. No, I won't back down. He's learning. Every time out I give him. Every time I say "no." He's learning. He's testing his boundaries. He's worse for me because I'm there. I'm his rock. His mama. But that doesn't mean that I didn't break down in tears last night after he was in bed. It doesn't mean it's easy. And it sure as hell isn't fun when he's testing those limits. But then, he finally figures out how to say the K sound at the end of "milk" and learns to climb down from his learning tower, and finally throws the ball for Finn instead of at him. And then it's all worth it. A hundred times over.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

\\Thankful Thursday: Vol. 12//

Thanksgiving is here, and I felt the need to bring Thankful Thursday back. There's so much to be thankful for, and Thanksgiving is a fabulous time to reflect.

1. As always, I'm thankful for my family. My parents watch Kid two days a week and he is so loved by them. My mom always has words of wisdom for when I complain about my body, my job, my cranky kid. Dad gives the best dad-hugs and sometimes you just need a dad-hug. My sister and brother are the best - always there for me. Especially when I need fashion advice. Sister always has fabulous tips for me. Brother has perfected Kid's wardrobe (we all have him to thank for Kid's adorable Christmas outfit).

2. My job. It's been really busy this year, but I'm loving it. I'm feeling like a new teacher again, in that there is always something to do, but I am sick of doing the same thing year after year. It was definitely time for some change! The kids I work with are delightful, and my coworkers make going to work even more fun. While I will complain from time to time, I do look forward to going to work.

3. A teacher's schedule. I love my schedule. Yes, I bring work home every night. Not correcting, but stuff to prep - cut, staple, draw, etc. I don't get to it until after Kid goes to bed and it takes a long time. But, I have a teacher's schedule. I have a break in the fall, a break for Thanksgiving. A winter break, a spring break. While we can't afford for my to stay home (my real dream job), I get the best of both worlds. I go to a job that I love during the school year. On breaks and during the summer, I get to be a stay at home mom. It's wonderful.

4. Cash Money. Don't get me wrong. We aren't rolling in dough. Even a little bit. We live on a tight budget. But, we are comfortable. We have breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We have clothes on our backs. I can afford to fill my gas tank each week. Do I wish we had more money? Honestly, who doesn't? But, we are good. We are lucky.

5. Fertility. There are many families out there that struggle with fertility issues, and my heart breaks for them. I am ever so thankful every day for our fertility.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Scarf Swap!

I decided to join Jessica's scarf swap this year and am SO pleased with the results! First of all, I met an amazing blogger. Second of all, I got a scarf. In the mail. For FREE.

I've always been horrible at picking accessories out for myself. I just don't know how to do it. I have a semi-healthy collection of scarves, but they're all solid colored. Nothing fancy, nothing fun. It was time for a change. So, when I read about the scarf swap over at Jessica Lynn Writes I knew I had to join in!

I signed right up and soon was paired with Sierra, over at Tervo Times. What a wonderful partner to have! She is great and I highly suggest you pop over to her blog and check her out! She is an Air Force wife and mama to two living in Texas. I have enjoyed getting to know her through emails and her blog!

And! She did such a wonderful job of filling a Scarf Swap box for me. Plus, who doesn't like getting snail mail, right? I mean, a letter is one thing. But an entire package!? Filled with goodies? Just for me? That I didn't buy on Amazon... Awesomeness.

First and foremost, the scarf.

Isn't it a beauty?! I was telling Sierra that it wasn't something I would normally choose for myself, which is why I love it so much! I love the details of the overlay and the two colors. Beautiful.

In addition to the scarf, there were goodies! Yummy toffees, a Starbucks card (yes!), and a small Christmastime activity to complete with Kid. Okay, so I didn't take a picture of the Starbucks card, because it went straight to my purse!

Sierra, again, a big giant thank you to you!

Everyone else, be sure to join in on the scarf swap next year!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gender Reveal

If you follow me on Instagram, I'm sure you're thinking: Hey! She already told us!

If you don't follow me on Instagram, you should.

I have already announced the sex of our sweet peanut, even made it Facebook official. Because Facebook, of course, makes it real and true.

I had scoured Pinterest (follow me there, too!) for gender reveal ideas. I didn't want to do a full on party because my pregnant sister-in-law had done that just a few weeks earlier. I also didn't want to spend a ton of money because I'd rather spend my money on cute baby clothes and stuff. Plus, Christmas. It's close and it's an expensive time of year!

1. I Can Teach My Child | 2. The Devoted Wife | 3. Our Homegrown Spud
My first decision was color. I knew that I didn't want to do the pink and blue theme. For one, I really don't like pale pink. For two, sister-in-law did that. And for three, who hasn't done pink and blue for a gender reveal?!

Ultimately, I decided upon some gender neutral-ish colors. Teal/turquoise and yellow. Teal for boy, yellow for girl. And everything turned out beautifully. Truth be told, I didn't go "all out" with decorations, or anything for that matter. We used our regular plates and silverware, I didn't make or buy specialty treats (remember...Christmas is close!). I decided that our money would be spent on an Old Wives' Tales poster and the supplies for revealing the sex of the baby.

Photo/Poster from A Cloth Life
Our 20 week ultrasound was planned for a Sunday, so we also decided to have our party the same day, when our beloved (but horribly horrible) Vikings played, and lost (really, no surprise there).

I'm not here to give a recap of the party. I'm here to show you how we revealed the gender, and to show off my super awesome Old Wives' Tales poster.

Here is what I came up with:

I made my gender reveal poster on PicMonkey and had it printed at Costco (super cheap, and super fast!). If you don't use PicMonkey, you should. I'm giving y'all quite a few tips today -- following me on Instagram and Pinterest (you may as well follow me on Twitter, too), and to use PicMonkey. Trust me. These are all very wise decisions.

I used this tutorial from Our Homegrown Spud for the gender reveal scratch off cards. When I was first looking at scratch off tutorials, I found plenty. But with some practice, I had learned that they weren't that great -- the scratching took too long, and took off some of the image underneath as well. I started to think I'd have to do more experimenting, but then! I happened across Our Homegrown Spud and millions of minutes were saved. Make it a sticker! If you ever have any need (or want) for a custom scratch-off, please, please use her tutorial. The contact paper is magical.

Well, if you haven't figured it out by now, we're having a girl and she's set to arrive in April!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Little Bit of Life

It's been awhile, and there has been a lot going on! We have a new program for teaching language arts at work, and it is eating up all of my free time. It's a great program, there is just a lot to it. Especially for kindergarteners.

To top it all off, I've been feeling rather cruddy lately -- lots of heartburn, and the exhaustion is unreal. Couple exhaustion with a lot of work, and a rambunctious toddler ... yep, my ideal bedtime is 8:45.

Speaking of heartburn ... and exhaustion ... and getting up to pee at all hours of the night ...


Do you need some more time to guess?


Well, you're right! Baby number dos is on his or her way. The little munchkin is set to arrive on (or around, or six weeks before) April 5th, and the time has been flying by. It is hard to believe that our 20 week ultrasound is on Sunday! I've also begun to feel the little munchkin in the last couple of days.

Yes, we will be finding out the sex of the baby (on Sunday). And, yes, I will share with all of you.

At this point, my guess is that we will have another boy. I only say this because we already have our girl name picked out. We've got nothing for a boy name. Nada.

I am currently planning a reveal party ... but I am struggling with what I want to do for the big reveal. Cupcakes? Balloons? Color changing play dough? Scratch offs? Silly string? I just don't know. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Community Education: Truffles

I have to admit that I haven't taken a community education class since I was a little kid. There was a least one summer during elementary school that some friends and I took a few art classes at the middle school across town.

This week, I took a trip down memory lane and took my first community education class in ages. My girlfriends and I have a weekly girls' night. Usually, we spend our girls' night at someone's house enjoying dinner, dessert, and wine. We switched things up a little bit this week and headed to a community ed cooking class: Truffle Making.

I have to admit that community education classes are hit or miss. I truly believe it all depends on the instructor. Unfortunately, we had an instructor that talked at us for an hour and fifteen minutes. Out of a three hour class. She would ask us questions, but that answer them before we were even given a chance!

While I thought the instructor was less than par (and I may be a little picky as I am a teacher), the class was still a hit.

And I got to bring home a box of 20 truffles!

First things first, we mixed chocolate and butter to create the base of our truffles. We then were given the opportunity to add some different flavors: tangerine, caramel, peanut butter. The list goes on.

Then, we learned all about "dressing" the truffles. We rolled our truffles in powdered chocolate, and crushed shortbread cookies. There were toffee pieces and chocolate sprinkles. Toasted coconut flakes and chopped almonds. The possibilities were endless.

And then! We got to dip our undressed truffles in melted chocolate and add some toppings after the fact. I got a little crazy and made a flower.

We laughed, and we created some delicious treats (that I don't plan on sharing). We took a risk and changed our normal routine. While some people struggle with changing their typical routines (me, too), I'm glad we did something different. The change of pace brought up conversations we may not have had sitting in someone's living room.

Go out on a limb, try something new. You just may have some fun.

And if you don't you might end up with yummy treats, and who doesn't like that!?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Tips & Tricks :: Camping with a Toddler

We are a camping family, through and through. We left this summer for just over a month of camping, and have a few more camping trips on the calendar.

I have to admit, though, that I am not currently the type that we pop a tent and sleep on the ground. Not with Kid around. When he's a little older, we will think about it. We have a pop-up camper at our disposal, so we use that instead. We only ever "tented it" when we were backpacking and hiking into far off campsites. Now, we drive up to campgrounds and camp that way. Kid loves it ... he really is a nature boy.

Be Prepared!
Anything can happen when you're camping. Add a toddler into the mix, and there is a whole new definition to "anything can happen." Be sure to be prepared as possible. Before camping with a child, we always brought along a first aid kit that included Band-Aids, instant cold packs, ointment, your typical first aid kit materials. Since Kid has joined us, we have added Tylenol, a thermometer, a nose aspirator, kid-friendly bug spray and sunscreen, and children's Benadryl.

We are not only prepared with a first aid kit, though. We bring favorite toys, loads of extra clothing, Kid's favorite Little Tykes rocking horse, and plenty of diapers. And food. Food, food, food. Think of everything that could happen at home, and be prepared for it.

Be Flexible!
Toddlers throw timing and schedules out the window. Especially when they are taken out of their "normal" environment. While we try to keep nap time at the same time, it just doesn't always happen. Being outside is exciting! It may take an extra hour for the kiddo to tire out and fall asleep. Or, they may need to nap an hour or two earlier. Go with it. It will make your camping trip much more enjoyable!

Do What You Have To!
A lot of parents are concerned about creating bad habits. Me, too. But when you're camping? You just have to do what you can to make it work. Kid thinks our camper is pretty awesome. In fact, he has woken up on various nights at three in the morning thinking it's play time. So we did what we had to do to get him back to sleep. Co-sleeping worked in the past, but not this time. So we strapped him into his car seat and drove to town and back. Is this something that we would do while at home? No. Kid loves the car too much as of late. I think he'd want a car ride before bed every night. But to keep our sanity on the campground (and not disturb the other campers, peacefully sleeping)? Drive the car around. Lull him back to sleep. Don't be afraid to "ruin" the child's behavior. Just do what you have to do to keep everyone content, including yourself!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Apple Orchard

We have most definitely been filling our days with Autumn Activities. We made our way to a local apple orchard last weekend with my sister and her family. It was a beautiful day, and the kids were all in a good mood.

**I started this post a few days ago, before reading this article. And now I have something else to say.**

I'm so saddened to hear of the hayride accident in Maine, leaving one person dead and plenty injured. I cannot even begin to imagine how those families are feeling days after the accident. I'm positive that the family of the deceased is wishing for one more hug from their seventeen-year-old. I'm sure they're wishing for one more eye-roll, a typical response to parents from any teenager. My heart breaks for them.

And, I find myself holding my boy more tightly. Giving him extra snuggles and extra love.

We had a similar experience during our own adventure at the apple orchard. We, too, were on a flatbed trailer, sitting on hay bales having a great time. As we made our way down the hill, through the spooky Halloween decor, the trailer and the tractor picked up speed. My first thought was that we were going down hill, this is normal. But then we were flying, and people were screaming.

Our tractor driver, bless her heart, did everything she could to keep us safe. And a fabulous job she did. Our trailer did not jack-knife. Nobody was thrown from the hayride.

We were all safe.

And how lucky we are.

Immediately following the incident, we laughed it off. "It wasn't that bad," we echoed as we walked back to the beginning of the ride.

But it could have been. Instead of being whisked away to the hospital, we got to continue our afternoon at the orchard. The kids went on a few rides, they climbed hay bales. We left with smiles on our faces.

How lucky we are.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Making Motherhood Work

First and foremost, I am mama to the sweetest little boy I know. His smile lights up a room, and fills me and his daddy with joy. His thirst for knowledge is incredible, and his humor cracks me up.

I am also teacher to the sweet babies of 21 other families. I teach kindergarten, and am blessed.

While my family is most important to me, but I know that I spend 6 hours and 40 minutes with someone else's pride and joy. Their heart, their babies. I do what I can to make sure that each child in my classroom is cared for and has their needs met at school. It's what I hope Kid's caregivers are doing while I'm away. 

Truthfully, I feel as though I have the best of both worlds. I work outside of the home late August through early June. I am a stay at home mom June through August, and during the breaks we have throughout the year. I am able to fulfill the need I have to contribute financially to my family, but also for my want to be a stay at home mama.

The school year is challenging, without a doubt. We wake Kid up at 6:30; he normally sleeps until 8. We cart him off to daycare for at least 9 hours a day. It's a long day for him, to say the least. It makes Monday evening less than ideal, as he is often crabby (who knew littles could get a case of the Mondays?).

But it's what we have to do. We make it work because it is our reality. And we know that we are lucky to have great  care for Kid, who spends four out of five week days with grandparents.

And then summer rolls around, and we enjoy the more relaxed schedule of being at home with a toddler.

Linking up with Brittany, Christine, and Ashley :: Mamas Tell All.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pumpkin' Pickin'

A few days ago, my sister and I ventured to our local (and super awesome) pumpkin patch. The patch doesn't pop up too early, and it isn't around for too long. You have to go at just the right time, or you'll miss it.

Kid was overjoyed to be out picking pumpkins -- he ran up and down the rows, tripping every so often, and banging on the pumpkins as if they were bongo drums.

This pumpkin patch reminds me that there are still good people in the world. There is no attendant at the pumpkin patch. We arrived and were the only people on site. It made searching for our pumpkins that much more fun. We had the whole place to search by ourselves! Wheelbarrows line the parking lot for easy pumpkin transportation and signs instruct you where and how much to pay.

I can only hope that this pumpkin patch stays the way it is for years to come. Sure, it's bordered by a few busy roads. They're far enough away to not be a bother or a worry. The thing that does worry me, though, is the location. The pumpkin patch is in an area that has exploded with development. unfortunately, it is only a matter of time before the owners sell off their land to developers...

Until that time comes, we will continue to be patrons at the ever-trusting pumpkin patch.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Hello, Again!

I'm posting from the Northwoods of Minnesota, as we are on our yearly camping trip to Cuyuna. The hubs and his dad SCUBA dive the old iron pits while the ladies (and baby, er...toddler) hang out in the sun. We've been blessed with another year of fabulous weather.

I'm posting from the front seat of our truck, seat belt on, ignition off. We are parked right behind our camper.

Why aren't you in the camper, you ask?

Someone (not naming names, but I bet you can guess) decided to wake up at 3:10 and had no desire to go back to sleep. We fought for an hour, then decided a car ride would do the trick. And the kid had been asleep since the moment the truck rumbled to life.

We can hear gun shots over head as day has broken on the duck hunting season opener. The pup is watching out the window as the mountain bikers emerge from their tents. He, too, is listening to the gun shots. I think he know that someone somewhere is hunting. If dogs feel jealousy, he's feeling it today for sure. 

And while I sit here and watch the sky turn from black to pale blue, I realize how much I've missed this space of mine. I realize how much has happened since July, and how I have enjoyed every moment, but missed so much.

The hubs and I are back to work. Slowly, we get back into a routine. It's difficult to adjust to new routines, but it is a must. We now have the unfortunate job of tearing Kid out of bed every morning, the sleep still in his eyes. He slowly wakes up in the car, and enjoys breakfast when we finally get to our destination. We hurry off to work and put in our time (except teaching is so, so much more than that), only to hurry home to play with Kid. The house chores get pushed off, there's always a mess to pick up.

But our sweet boy is happy and healthy and loving life. Even at 3:30 in the morning in a Saturday.

As a parent, can you ask for anything more?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

April Showers? In June? {Minnehaha Falls}

Minnesota had some amazing rainfall this year, especially in June. Bridges were closed due to high waters. A friend of mine paddled her kayak to work one morning. There's a golf course in Minneapolis that is still closed. Yikes!

Really, I'm writing this post with the sole purpose of sharing some pictures of one of Minneapolis' local waterfalls: Minnehaha Falls.

It's located in a beautiful park, that also boasts a wading pool, off-leash dog park, and outdoor concerts. Not to mention Sea Salt, a delicious seafood eatery that never, (I'll repeat) never has an empty table.

I know, I know. I'm not imparting any new ideas, awesome lists, or a DIY project. But this park has my heart. I've been there 3 times already this summer. And I would go three more.

(I didn't know there was a wading pool - just added that to my summer bucket list!)

Look at the water creeping up on that bench! They had to put yellow caution tape around this area.

Does anyone know what this sign says? Probably "Falls Ahead" for those in canoes and kayaks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Niece, the Model (Squishy Cheeks Designs)

You guys, my niece wants to be a model. She just doesn't know it yet.

I received a super-adorable headband from a wonderful woman I met at the MN Blog Meet this June. It's blue, and beautiful and perfect for my 3, almost 4-year-old niece.

I told her that it was all hers, I just wanted to take some pictures of her wearing it, and the girl's eyes got huge. She turned on her smile, and cocked her head to the side. "Can I wear a dress!?" she yelled. She was already wearing a dress, but she wanted a wardrobe change mid-photo shoot. She called it a photo shoot, not me. The girl is hooked on performing and being in front of the camera.

But, her modeling career is not the point of this post. The point of this post is the adorable little headband from Squishy Cheeks. My niece has had the headband for 3 weeks. Normally, her headbands are somehow falling apart and unusable. Or, she's lost it in her mess of a bedroom. But this one has become her prized possession. It's well made, and so adorable!

Look how cute she is!

Please, please, please. Go check out her shop on Etsy! I'm just about to order 2 headbands (for my preemie nieces!).

*I received this headband from Jenn at Squishy Cheeks Designs free of charge. The opinions are my own. And I think my niece's smile says it all - the headband's at Jenn's shop are amazing!*

Monday, July 14, 2014

Shore Lunch

The fish weren't readily biting on Friday. The walleye I caught were quickly released back into the Canadian waters of Lake of the Woods. The hubs caught 3 walleye that day - enough to fill our bellies. Enough to satisfy our hunger, without being wasteful.

We enjoy fishing, and eating fish. We do not enjoy wasting - catching to fill limits, instead of catching to fill bellies.

I packed our camp stove on the boat that day, along with some batter in hopes of having a shore lunch. I had oil and a frying pan, a few plates, and napkins.

We spent the morning fishing off a small Canadian island while Kid napped on the boat. Hubs navigated toward the north side of the island, where he promised calm waters. His eyes were set on the best landing place. A place that wasn't too rocky, but wasn't thick with trees and brush. He secured the boat, we unloaded. Hubs carried the basket of fish and stove. Me, the baby and a few other supplies. He cleaned the fish as he thanked them for being our lunch (never had I heard him do that before). Kid and I played in the water, examining crayfish and throwing sticks.

We ate quietly, listening to the lake, the trees, and the birds. Seagulls arrived shortly after cleaning the first fish. Before the fish were frying, six more had arrived, and one hungry pelican. We continued to eat, watching the birds circle closer and closer, each one landing in the water and watching us eat.

We heard distant thunder and decided it was time to pack up and head back to camp. We left fish scraps for our avian friends and reloaded the boat. Pushing off the rock, we moved slowly, watching the seagulls and pelican enjoy their lunch. Three turkey vultures arrived, looking for a small meal as well. Everyone had their fill.

We secured our canopy and suited up in rain gear. Hubs flipped on the GPS; we headed for home. Our shore lunch was, indeed, a success, and a tradition I'd like to continue throughout Kid's life.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Minnesota Blogger Meet-up

Last Saturday, I attended my first blogger "conference."

I have to admit that I was extremely nervous the night before. I felt like I couldn't take a deep enough breath the whole night. That, my friends, is my tell tale sign of nervousness.

I was about to drive for an hour to meet up with bloggers that I've never met. Sure, I'm in a group with them on Facebook. But have y'all seen my Facebook page? I am never on Facebook. Okay, I shouldn't say never. I am hardly ever on Facebook. I promise I read all of the posts that pop up in my g-mail in box. Or, if I'm on a computer, I will log in every now and again.

I woke up extra early because I really, really didn't want to be late. I showered as quietly as possible, kissed the hubs good-bye and got in my car a few minutes later than I had hoped (15 to be exact). The drive to Stillwater was peaceful. The traffic was light, the music was spot-on. I found the park and parking lot rather easily and made my way into the adorable building.

the park was full of giant teddy bears!

I was met with smiling faces, and invitations to sit down. I quickly made a plate of fruit and joined these two ladies for some light conversation. I always feel awkward joining conversations with people I don't know. Especially if they already know each other. But these gals were fabulous. Very welcoming and kind. My nerves started to subside.

And then, NellieBellie and Chrissy started talking about social media. I learned so much! First thing I learned: I had the smallest blog of all of the ladies (and gentlemen) in attendance. The hubs reminded me (because I sent him a text partway through about the size difference of my blog to everyone else's) that they were the best people to learn from. He's always so right.

But, in all honesty, I learned so much during the hour and a half that they presented. Presented sounds so formal. It was not formal (although, I feel like I should have dressed a little more nicely). It was small enough that it felt intimate, yet very productive.

Then, after hearing about social media, we were sent on out on our own to explore Stillwater and practice our new social media skills. Were these ladies teachers in former lives?! I was so pleased to have the chance to actually practice and use social media during the day. At the end of it all, we met at a park near the river (St. Croix) for a final picnic and send-off.

My nervousness was not needed, and I had a wonderful time. I can't wait for the next MN Blogger Meet-up in hopes to get to know even more Minnesota bloggers and learn some blogging tricks, too.

P.S. Can I just let you know how cool the blogging world is? These women set this all up to help fellow bloggers. If we were in the business world the "fellow bloggers" would be competitors and I doubt people would be as willing to help.

took a tour of downtown Stillwater on this bad boy!

and then we did a wine tasting!