Wednesday, December 30, 2015

{Recetas} Chicken Pot Pie

Oh, goodness gracious. I typically write the plan knowing that the meals may shuffle days. That happened this week, when I just wanted to indulge in some comfort food.

Chicken pot pie is much more of a comfort food than what was originally planned, so I went for it. Since we had a change of plans on Sunday, I had all of the ingredients ready to go.

Ho. Lee. Cow. Holy cow, holy cow.

It was freaking delicious. Yum, yum, yum.

The little lady gobbled it up. Kid was a little hesitant. I've noticed that he has a very difficult time with new foods that are mixed together. It seems to be a new phase of his. Hopefully it doesn't last long. Hubs devoured it, and I was rather impressed with myself.



What you need:
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1 bag frozen vegetables (mixed veggies, or whatever you'd like)
  • 3 cups cubed chicken, cooked (or, use a rotisserie chicken)
  • 2 pre-made pie crusts
  • 1 egg

What you do:
  • Check the directions on the pie crusts. Preheat your oven according to their directions. My refrigerated crusts called for the oven at 350 degrees.
  • Prepare your chicken. I took the easy route and purchased a rotisserie chicken from Costco. I used all of the breast meat, and all of the thigh meat for the pie. Set the chicken aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauce pan. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Then, add 2 teaspoons of poultry seasoning. Stir in the 1/2 cup of flour. Stir until combined and lower the heat.
  • Once combined, whisk in the chicken broth and milk. Stir FOREVER. Seriously, don't stop stirring. Bring it to a boil, while still stirring, and cook for a few minutes. Keep stirring until it thickens. What the what! You kinda just made cream of onion soup! No need for a can of the condensed stuff!
  • Remove the sauce pan from heat and add in the frozen vegetables and the diced chicken. Stir it all together and look at how delightful your yummy pot pie filling looks.
  • Put one crust down, fill it, add the other crust on top. Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk it all up. Brush it onto the top of the pie crust. Then, cut a few ventilation slits into the top crust and throw it in the oven.
  • Now the hard part: follow the directions on the package of your refrigerated pie crusts. Mine called for 15 to 20 minutes in the oven. I left it in for 18 minutes. And it was absolutely perfect.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Four Tips for Handling the Terrible Twos

My sweet son will be 3 in April. To say we have been hit with the terrible twos is an understatement. In fact, the terrible twos began around 19 months - the tantrums, the "no!," the whole kit and caboodle. My fear is that he will continue with this pattern and become a "threenager" as well. Will my son outgrow this phase of always having to be right? Of saying the sky is purple, just because I said it was blue? Will it ever end?

If you're in the same boat, here is my list on helpful parenting "tricks" for young children.

I am, by no means, a parenting expert. Sure, I am an expert at parenting my children, simply because I do it day in and day out. I can "diagnose" my child as a terrible-two, a threenager, or even spirited. I am simply writing from my own experience and sharing with you what works for me.



1. Time Reminders

It is so important to give kiddos a warning before changing activities, even if they are too young to truly grasp the concept of time. Kids soon realize that "three minutes" means it's almost time to clean up. We usually give a five minute and a two minute warning. Kid tends to get "lost" in his activities. Without reminders, he feels jolted from one thing to the next. A quick reminder allows him to break away from what he was doing, but also gives him enough time to continue and finish.

2. The Plan or "The Ked-ule" (because a two-year-old cannot say schedule)

I began to notice that Kid was having many-a-meltdown when changing activities, especially after a long day at daycare. I have always used the trusted method of giving warnings: "five more minutes to play," or "we're going to have dinner in three minutes." Those were helpful. But there were still plenty of meltdowns.

Our new normal is to devise a plan in the car on the way home from daycare. We give a very vague schedule, or plan, so Kid is prepared with what is coming. A sample plan is this: get home, play, eat dinner, gymnastics, home, books, brush teeth, bed. Throughout the night, we remind Kid of the plan, and ask him to help us remember it. Having him repeat the plan provides him with some ownership over the events of the evening. I continue to use time reminders with the schedule, letting him know that there are five minutes left to read books, then its time to brush teeth.

Is this method fool proof? No. It's not. Do we still have meltdowns? We sure do. But they have become fewer and farther between since we started using a schedule.

3. Remember Your Child's Age

Be sure to keep in mind the age of your child. I know, I know. This sounds silly. But all too often I see parents schlepping their 2 year old on far to many errands. It's no surprise that said two year old is crabby after running into three different stores. The poor kiddo is 2! He needs time to run and play more than anything else.

It sounds like I'm lecturing. I'm not. I am very guilty of bringing my kiddo on far too many errands. The shopping needs to get done, after all. In a perfect world, I wouldn't have to bring the toddler with for any errands. But that isn't the case. When I do have to bring him with, I try my best to be as fast as possible. I also bring things for him to do. We have a notepad and pen that he only gets to use while running errands. This keeps it new and exciting so he will stay interested.

4. Be Consistent

This one doesn't really need an explanation, If you don't want your child to yell at you, don't let him get away with it. Ever. Do not hesitate to toss your kiddo into a time out at your sister's house, the library, the grocery store, anywhere. I truly believe that, if they get away with it once, they will try to get away with it again, and again, and again.

Consistency is key.

What is your tried and true method of dealing with the "terrible twos" or a "threenager?"

Sunday, December 27, 2015

::Dinner Plans #23::

Oh, goodness did the holidays treat you as well as they treated me? I can tell by the more snugly fitting clothes. Oof. The chocolate. The cookies. The drinks. The pure yumminess that comes with family events.

And now, now we are back. It's time to get back on track. Back to healthy (well, healthier) foods.



Sunday: Chicken Pot Pie
Monday: Chicken Fried Rice
Tuesday: Lasagna Soup
Wednesday: Family Dinner
Thursday: Shepherd's Pie
Friday: Venison Tacos
Saturday: Italian Meatball Sandwiches

Thursday, December 17, 2015

::Dinner Plans #22::

Whoops, it's Thursday. I normally post my dinner plans on Sunday - my shopping and prepping day.

It's amazing how busy the days and weeks before Christmas get! Better late than never, right?

Sunday: Rotisserie Chicken & Roasted Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Brussels Sprouts
Monday: Spaghetti
Tuesday: Tater-Tot Hot Dish
Wednesday: Homemade Pizzas
Thursday: Chicken Enchiladas
Friday: Pesto Chicken with Mushrooms
Saturday: Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Now that it's Thursday, I can tell you that the Tater Tot Hot Dish & Homemade Pizzas were a huge hit! We make our pizza dough in the bread maker, and it is so delicious! I break the dough up into smaller chunks so everyone can top their pizzas. Kid was super excited about "popper-oni." I always top mine with grilled chicken, mushrooms, broccoli, and spinach. The husband goes for an "everything" pizza, without fail.

Eventually, I will write a post about how I prep for my week of meals. For now, I will leave you with this tip: group similar recipes together. Enchiladas, pesto chicken & mushrooms, and unstuffed cabbage rolls all call for rice. So, I am making a triple batch of rice tonight in order to cut the prep time for tomorrow and Saturday. I did the same thing on Monday: both recipes called for ground beef. I browned it all at once, then split it into 2 different portions. One went into the spaghetti sauce, and the other portion went into the fridge for tater tot hot dish.

What tips do you have for meal planning and prep?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Christmas Traditions

Ever since I became a mom I have been thinking about Christmas traditions. Everyone grows up with the traditions of their own families. Then marriage happens and traditions tend to bend and meld a little bit.


I had plenty of traditions growing up.

The season started with a visit to what is now Macy's 8th Floor Santa Land. As a kid, it was Dayton's 8th Floor Auditorium, and it was fantastic. Every year there was a new theme, Cinderella being my favorite. Dayton's became Marshall Fields, became Macy's and now, it is the 8th Floor Santa Land. The 8th Floor auditorium at Macy's in Minneapolis is converted into Santa's workshop. You can see the elves waking up for breakfast, feeding the reindeer. Some elves are the teachers at flight school, teaching reindeer to fly using hot air balloons. After getting through the entire story, there was a place to take a picture with Santa, and then the bakery. Oh, the bakery was so delicious.

Another favorite tradition we had was packing some treats and driving around looking at the Christmas lights. There are more than a few houses around my area that go all out with the Christmas lights. It's such a treat!

My husband also had traditions growing up. Now, we get to make memories with our own children and build traditions. Kid is old enough now, to get excited about Christmas and the Christmas season. He has been wearing Christmas jammies since Black Friday.

I'm excited to start traditions with my little man (and lady, too). Again, Kid is old enough to "get it."

I am holding on to the Macy's 8th Floor Santa Land tradition. Our plan is go early on Black Friday. So many people are busy shopping that the lines are nearly non-existent.

Cookie decorating. This year, we met at my parents house to decorate sugar cookies and have some lunch. It was so fun to get all of the cousins together. Kid has a cousin that is a few weeks younger-oh, goodness, watching those two "decorate" cookies was quite the sight.

Cookie making: this tradition comes from my husband's family. Each year, they all get together for a baking day. We make lefse, sugar cookies, spritz cookies, chocolate dipped pretzels, among many, many others. Kid (and the little chica) will probably enjoy snacking on all of those sweets on baking day!

Tree decorating/movie night. I love decorating the tree. We typically make appetizers and watch a Disney movie while decorating. Unfortunately, Disney movies are still a little too scary for the little ones, so we had to watch the Curious George Christmas movie this year. Eventually, we will watch the Disney movies again, but for now the toddler-friendly movies it is. But, oh. the joy on my sweet boy's face when we brought out our tree (yep, a fake one!). The next day, he asked if we could pack the tree in his backpack for daycare.

Oh, my heart.

What holiday traditions do you have in your family?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

{Airstream Rehab} Cleaning

We've jumped right in to Airstream rehab. So far it has been a delight! Keep in mind this rehab project is of a 1973 camper. It's been sitting in a field for the last number of years, and unused for a good 10 years before that. Needless to say, the projects are numerous.

Take a few minutes to catch up:

Here and here.

First things first, a tour of the before. And, can I please give a warning? The after will be a long time coming.


Look at that beauty of a couch! Hello, 1970s. I wish we could have salvaged some of the fabric, but the condition was not up to snub. We plan to get rid of everything fabric. The curtains will stick around for awhile, as I will be using them as a template for new curtains. But everything else fabric related: gone, gone, gone. The couch sits at the front of the camper, with a little bit of storage underneath. With the cushions gone, the couch looks to be in fairly decent condition. Although the condition is good, we intend to get rid of it.

I suppose it's time for another disclaimer or warning: we will not be restoring this Airstream to its original state.


To the side of the couch sits the fold-away table, which I've learned is quite typical of the Airstream. Do you see the carpet!? Whoa! Ugly, FYI, and super tattered and worn.


 And the carpet is GONE! Woo hoo! I know the plywood will not be our final flooring choice, but I kind of like the way it looks. Can you picture it with a white couch and table? Freshly painted walls, and bright curtains? Oh, this camper will be so beautiful.


And here is the view to the back of the camper. Our kitchen, complete with stove, oven, and fridge. I have to admit that I love the orange counter tops. Again, they won't stay orange, but it's just so perfect (orange = one of my favorite colors). Just beyond the kitchen is the bathroom (honestly, I don't even want to show you pictures of the bathroom (gross!)) and an enormous closet/wardrobe. We've been throwing around the idea of changing the closet/wardrobe to some bunks, but then we would be completely out of storage.

Seasoned Airstream people: how is the storage?


And there, my friends, is a beautiful view of our first load of garbage. I know that this is only the beginning, and that there will be plenty more to come. Thus far, we've enjoyed the ride!


Monday, December 7, 2015

{Airstream Rehab} The Ride Home

If you're new to the series, my great aunt and great uncle owned a 1973 Airstream Land Yacht. As they aged and used the camper less and less, their hoarding took over. The camper was filled to the brim with junk. When my great uncle Bob passed away, my aunt purchased the Airstream from his wife, Marge. My aunt had the hopes of restoring it to its original state. When quote after quote came in far too high, she gave up and had the camper stored out in a field.

My husband and I enjoy camping and have lived out of a pop-up camper the last few years. Now that Kid is getting to the age of potty training, we thought it'd be nice to have a camper with a bathroom. So we asked my aunt about the old Airstream.

And she gave it to us.

Check in here for our first adventure - checking out the Airstream.

Now you're all caught up.

As mentioned, the Airstream had been sitting in a field year after year. Previous to that, it had been hanging out in a driveway, unused. It was finally time to bring her home (where she will sit in our driveway). She won't yet be used for camping, but the rehab process will soon begin.

We woke up early to get ready for our adventure. This meant borrowing a big (huge!) truck and gathering all of the tools we may have needed. The condition of the tires was unknown, so we had air compressors, jacks, a whole range of hand tools. I packed snacks for the kid and promised a stop at the "donut store" (read: gas station).

The ride up was uneventful. Hubs drove the big truck, I followed in our Explorer. The kids were with me. Little Miss slept the whole way, Kid and I chatted about getting the camper and where we should take it first. He thinks we should go to "Cola-ado."

We pulled up to the storage facility - some guy's house - and headed to his back field. There sat our camper, untouched form a few weeks ago. She was still dry inside, luckily for us because we had gotten a ton of rain!


I checked the tires for flats (looked good!), we hooked her up to the truck. And by we, I mean that the hubs did it. I did back the truck up a few times.

It sounds like it took 2 minutes to get her ready to go, but we were there for a good hour. And then, we were off. 

I had strict instructions to follow closely. To not let any cars between us.

Our ride home was slow. We were concerned with the age of the tires - how long would they last!?

It took us a good hour to get home, and it was uneventful. The tires held the entire way. The back panel didn't fall off. Our camper made it home in once piece - hooray!

And so begins the amazing (-ly slow) process of rehab-ing our vintage Airstream.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

::Dinner Plans #21::

It's been awhile since I have posted any sort of meal plan or menu. Life has just been a little bit too crazy. So crazy, our two year old was our alarm clock this morning. Whoops! I must have turned the alarm off without realizing it, and then slept for another hour. Thank goodness the little Kid woke up and started yelling, "MOM!"

I've been a little bit disorganized, and that has transferred into my meal planning and cooking as well. There have been too many nights where a frozen pizza or fish sticks have been thrown on the table. So here I am. Holding myself accountable by posting a meal plan on the ol' blog.


And then I realized that I need to update the image. Hello, old Dinner Plans image!

Sunday: Chicken & Roasted Veggies
Monday: Chicken Fried Rice
Tuesday: Cashew Chicken
Wednesday: Family Dinner
Thursday: Italian Zucchini Boats
Friday: Taco Salad
Saturday: Wild Rice Soup

Monday, November 30, 2015

{Airstream Rehab} Camping in 1973

On some whim, my aunt decided to purchase the Airstream originally owned by my great aunt and uncle to restore to its original state. After realizing how much that would be, she dropped that thought by the wayside and left the camper to sit in a field.

Maybe you know this, or maybe it's news to you, but my husband and I enjoy camping. We currently travel with our pop-up camper towed behind our black Dodge pick-up truck. It has been a wonderful camper for us, but we are soon getting to the potty training years (the pop-up has no bathroom).

And, it doesn't have AC. If you know me, you know that I can be pretty crabby when I'm hot. Not having AC in the pop-up has been tough. Especially this last summer - the temps hit 95 degrees during one of our camping trips. Needless to say, I was less than delightful company.

On some whim (maybe those whims run in the family), I questioned my aunt about the old Airstream in early October

Where is it?
What's it like?
How long has it been sitting where it's sitting?

Those were the questions I was going to ask. But before I even finished the word "Airstream," it was mine. "Are you interested in it?" Nod. "It's yours." Jaw drops.

She spoke with her people, who contacted my people (because, you know, I have people). The next week, Hubs and I were off to visit our new camper. Our 1973 Airstream Sovereign - Land Yacht.



Holy smokes! We have an Airstream!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Road Trip 2015

To see life through a preschooler's eyes is nothing short of amazing. The endless thirst for knowledge, for vocabulary.

We are en route to Colorado for a Halloween party and wedding reception. Our dear boy has been so inquisitive.

What's that, Mama?
Who did that?
What's that?
Where we going?
What that called, Mama?
Who turned on the lights? (brights on)
Who turned off the lights? (brights off)

I can't remember my first car trip out to Colorado - I was 4. Field after field in Southern Minnesota - is he dreaming of running through the each one? The late night harvesting through western Iowa - Who driving that tractor, Mama? What he doing, Daddy? Corn fields, cattle, and hay throughout the entirety of Nebraska. Look at that cow, Mama! Should we ride it? What that smell?

The questions have remained the same, the generations have changed. Fifty-five years ago, it was my mom asking those questions, then painting the old barns along the way as she grew. Then me, wondering about everything, drawing my then favorite animal (calves). And now my own two and a half year old. Asking about the tractors, wondering who is driving the semi-truck, scribbling on the Magna Doodle (drawing tractors, he tells me).

It's not dark, he tells me now, when I asked why he wasn't tired. His excitement for travel is already so apparent. He has slept for 3 hours since we left (yesterday afternoon!) and he just wants to look, to watch, to soak it all in and learn.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

My Little Nut {A Birth Story}

(This post was written in March 2015, a few days after birth)

She's here, she's here, she's here! We were blessed with our daughter's arrival on Sunday morning and have had such a wonderful time getting to know her and introducing her to her big brother.

I love a good birth story, and I'm surprised at how quickly you can forget all of the details, so I figured it was high time to get to writing. So, here goes nothing.

Saturday had been a long day. I was uncomfortable, Kid was ornery, and Hubs had been very busy all day long. I had a need to get out of the house, so we made a plan to go out to dinner and run a few errands in the area. I had a craving for a greasy burger, so we went to the local malt shop.

Dinner was great! We had fun together, and Kid was such a gem. Little did we know it was his last night as an only child. Though that exact thought crossed my mind later that night as I lay in bed.

Once we got home, we began our typical bed time routine. I had been on bed rest earlier in the pregnancy and was still on a limited lifting protocol. I was not allowed to lift my own child, which was so so sad! Kid, Hubs, and I headed to Kid's room to change into jammies and to "row-row" (sing bedtime songs and rock). Kid and I rocked in the rocking chair and Hubs went "nigh-nigh" on the floor. I got teary as we row-row-ed, thinking about the numbered days we had as a family of three. I would be 38 weeks pregnant the next day. Only two weeks left.

Kid went to bed as usual. Hubs and I left the room and hung out in the living room. I retreated to bed to read and, at 11:45, realized I had a lot of energy. This was not the norm for me - my bed time is usually around 9! Then I remembered the 3 hour nap I had taken that afternoon. That was why I had so much energy. Not that I was going to be giving birth soon! Hubs came to bed after watching a basketball game. I continued to read for another half hour and turned out the light.

I woke up Sunday at 5:30 morning with a poop cramp (sorry, TMI). I went to the bathroom but the cramp didn't go away. It wasn't that bad, so I thought I'd lie down again. I got up once more and felt the need to poop again. Then I realized that this could be the start of labor. But weren't contractions super painful? Can't talk, take your breath away, really bad? This wasn't so bad. I took a lap up and down the hallway and threw up in the kitchen sink. Pretty, I know. The poop cramps didn't go away, but they weren't getting much worse.

Either way, I flipped my bedside light on, which I knew would wake up the hubs. I told him that I thought I was having contractions, but I was still talking fine so they weren't that bad and we weren't that close to delivery. He got up and called his dad, who was going to sleep on the couch until Kid woke up. I got dressed through the contractions and gathered a few last minute things for the hospital.

It felt like my father in law was taking forever! I headed out to the car and told Hubs that he should back out of the garage. We could just wait in the driveway until his dad showed up and we would head out for the hospital. Only a 10 minute drive, we'd be fine! I knew things were moving along more quickly than they had with our first kiddo, and I was antsy to get to the hospital.

But HOLY CRAP! All of a sudden contractions hurt like a B! I reclined the seat, but then got out of the car. We were in the driveway, I was swaying back and forth with my head against the cool exterior of the car. It was cold outside, but I was sweating. I tried to get in the car again but it hurt to sit and my father in law still wasn't there. Where was he!?

I couldn't wear pants anymore. I got undressed from the waist down, no longer thinking about the hospital. There I was, in the middle of our garage, naked from the waist down. I reached down to see if I could feel anything and there was something there. Baby's sac. Are you kidding me!? I'm at home! This was not the plan! The contractions had started just 15 minutes earlier. Labor does not progress this quickly. Kid took 7 hours. This was crazy fast!

I ran inside yelling "owie, owie, owie" (you know, because I'm a two year old). And for some reason, I found myself on my hands and knees in the tub. Hubs followed me in asking if he should call 9-1-1. "I don't know, OW!, yes! Where is your dad!?" I yelled from the tub.

The fire chief showed up (he lives down the street) at the same time as my father in law. I'm sure he was shocked, not knowing why the fire chief was walking up to the door. I saw the chief walk into the bathroom and yelled at my husband once more, asking an ETA for his dad. I remember asking the fire chief if he had delivered a baby before (he hadn't). Husband's dad was in the house and, between cuss words, I called him into the bathroom.

Then, the EMTs arrived on the scene. One was crouched near my head. My father in law sat on the toilet seat near my rear. Delightful.

My father in law is an amazing man. But I never thought he'd be so up close and personal with my hoo-ha. I mean, really?! But I really didn't care. All modesty was out the window. I could now feel part of the sac outside of my body and it hurt. I wanted that little girl out, and I wanted her out now.

Thankfully, he is a family practice doctor. Delivering babies is part of his job.

A moment later, I "swore a blue streak" according to my father in law and he said, "Well, okay! Push!" I felt a gush of water as he broke the sac and pushed once. And then I heard it. A nice little cry. At 6:08 am. I heard a proud grandpa as he wrapped her in a towel and then heard the two year old finally stir from his sleep, yelling, "Mama!" I flipped onto my back and I held that little sunshine close and delivered the placenta. Daddy got a turn to hold her. Grandpa washed his hands and went in to Kid's room.

The lucky little fellow got to meet his sister before we headed out in the ambulance. I walked down the stairs and got ready to go in the ambulance. I held the little peanut the whole way. Upon our arrival, we got some wonderful skin to skin time and a good hour of nursing.


This second birth was such a different experience than the first. With Kid, my water broke 6 weeks before my due date. We had a good chunk of time together for some skin-to-skin, but he was quickly whisked away to the NICU. This was much more relaxed, much more natural. And my un-medicated body felt so much better. Sure I was sore, but I could get up, I could walk around. I felt good.


------

Our Little Nut is 6 months old now. She has two tiny teeth poking through her gums. And I absolutely adore my birth story. I didn't have any complaints about birthing my oldest, but this was so ... fast. So wonderful. And so unexpected!


Sorry they're all phone pictures.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Hello? Is There Anybody Out There?

I was 37 weeks pregnant the last time I checked in - my doctor was so proud of me for making it past 33 weeks, 5 days (bed rest helped!).

And now, I come to you with a 6 month old. That's right, folks. The little nut is 6 months old.

She's vocal. She's happy. She has two teeth. She wants to do whatever Kid does. In fact, Kid was the first to make Little Nut laugh. This past week was the first time she enjoyed a mom-free bath (the other three times were awful!), and she loves her toes.

I'll have to fill you in on the birth story sometime. But not now, it's too crazy.

And Kid? That bugger is almost 2.5! He, too, is vocal beyond his years. Very articulate and knows exactly what he wants. We put him in soccer this fall and he has had so much fun!


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pregnancy Update :: 37 Weeks!

I'm finding much more focus as the days continue to pass. I have graduated from bed rest and, although I'm supposed to "limit" my activities, it's nice to feel a little more like myself. My doctor has not yet released me back to work. I am getting quite a few things done around the house as my parents and in-laws have continued to take Kid during the day.

Baby and I are technically full term, at 37 weeks and 3 days. It feels like such an accomplishment! As you may (or may not) know, Kid was born at 33 and 6, my water broke at 33 and 5.

This little miss continues to grow each day, and is moving quite a bit. I'm so thankful for every single movement. It's a little reassurance that she is still there and hanging out. Well. She's not just hanging out. She's doing quite a lot of work right now! And this mama is so much more prepared than with the first one.

Our hospital bag is already in the car!

The car seat bases are installed in both vehicles!

The bassinet is ready to go!

The nursery....uh. Well, I haven't done anything to it yet. Little Miss and Kid will be sharing a room (which I am very nervous for!), and there just hasn't been the right time to update the room. I have the gallon of paint. I have some decor. I just haven't gotten there yet. It will come, I know. And some day, it will be finished. Maybe by her first birthday!

Either way, I'm inching closer and closer to 40 weeks pregnant and am as happy as can be (okay, I'm lying. I'm a little bit impatient). Kid will be a big brother before I know it and Sister will be here warming our hearts.

And I can't wait!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tips & Tricks :: Surviving Hospitalized Bed Rest {A Guest Post}

Through an amazing Facebook Mom's Group, I met a fellow bed-rester when she posted a question to the group about her water breaking at 23 weeks pregnant. She and I connected through Facebook and began swapping stories and tips for surviving our (very different types of) bed rests. I asked Jess of Mama Drama to give everyone some tips for surviving a hospitalized bed rest. How difficult! I couldn't imagine being cooped up in the hospital for any period of time. But, Jess has some fabulous tips for survival - both for mama and for family!

******************

Hi, I’m Jess from mamadramajess.blogspot.com. I’ve been sentenced to a slightly different form of bed rest than Lizzy- in the hospital, but with shower and bathroom privileges (so it could always be worse!) for up to 11 weeks. Currently completing week 2 of my sentence. While I am no expert, when you are away from home, there are a few things you need to figure out pretty quickly on how to survive in the hospital, so here is what I’ve come up with.

Managing Visitors
Most people can only visit on weekends, due to their work schedules. If it can be managed, having a few visitors on week days can help break up the monotony. If not, having visitors spaced out as much as possible is a great idea. Even though you might be bored and not doing anything all day, having a lot of people come visit can be exhausting- either emotionally or just because you aren’t used to so much stimulus. It can also put a real damper on the rest of your week, if you have 6 visitors Saturday and no one for the next 7 days. But pay attention to how you feel, some days too many visitors is better than none, and other days you may only want your partner with you. That said, always make sure you get alone time with your partner to connect and discuss things you may not be comfortable talking about in front of guests or other family members. Also, call the chaplain even if you just want to chat and not necessarily pray. They are very friendly and a new face always makes for a more interesting day.

Food
Request food for your family. My husband has a demanding job, and just asking him to suddenly be the sole provider and daycare-picker-upper of our 3 year old is an intense change for him. Asking him to cook is almost out of the question. He and my son come every night to see me and after the first 2 nights of watching them eat fast food, the Mama Guilt set in. So, when well-meaning friends and family asked what I needed, I asked if they could put together some small freezer meals. The response was dramatic. Somehow, the entire school my husband and I both work at found out and there is a sign up list. We get 3 home-cooked, freezable meals a week. It’s insane how amazing our work family is. It has helped my husband, and it is great when he brings the food by, because after the first 3 meals, you figure out the only good food in the hospital is breakfast. (Bring Tabasco/Chulula/Sriracha/Tapatio ANYTHING to disguise the flavor of over-microwaved, prepackaged chicken breast… Btw, I’m from Texas, can you tell?)

You know, you could always make good friends with the nurses, MAs, and your doc so they can smuggle you left over food from office baby showers (that just happened, and it was the best bagel I ever had).

I do want to add, if you are on bed rest, studies have shown that you actually lose a lot of weight and this can increase the chances of your baby, who may be a preemie, being smaller. So I have tried to increase my protein intake. The only problem is, your appetite significantly decreases when you don’t do anything all day, so that has been a real challenge to eat more.

Exercise
Talk to your doctor before you start any kind of physical activity. If you are on bed rest, clearly you are being asked to limit your mobility.

The internet is seriously lacking in variety on “bed rest exercises.” The main encouragement is avoid using abdominal muscles, and nothing too strenuous. After a week of doing nothing, 12 ankle rolls were exhausting. Also, bed rest can cause serious muscle loss after just 3 days, so any small amount of movement can be good!

Entertainment
Youtube and Netflix are my best friends. My hospital has good WiFi (videos never buffer) so I have a list of shows to watch. That said, I also have to have non-tech stuff to do while I watch. Those giant trivia/puzzle books are great, and I am currently trying to teach myself to knit/crochet on YouTube. There are also plenty of video tutorials on hair and makeup, and for Tomboys like me, this is like watching aliens learn to dance. Stick-on nails are fun, I don’t trust myself to not drop a bottle of nail polish in my bed (and I don’t want to guess how long it would take a nurse to come change my sheets). If you have a Nook or a Kindle, this is better than having a stack of books. Your bedside table can only hold so much, so very little is readily accessible. Friends who feel bad for you might lend you books, magazines, DVDs, or the best: their HBO Go password (Game of Thrones, anyone?) Also, every woman on bed rest I have met online has a blog. There’s a reason. We are bored and we have a lot to say! Try it, you might like it!

Sleep
This is one I cannot figure out. Earplugs and eye mask have been requested and we will see if this helps. I sleep, I just can’t get to where I feel like I’m getting good sleep. Nurses come in every 3-4 hours to take my temperature and blood pressure and I am a light sleeper, so it takes a while to fall back asleep. I also think they check in on me in between since I had an incident on Wednesday where I nearly blacked out. It’s fun to scare nurses, that should be added to the entertainment section… joking! But seriously, I am trying to maintain a sense of normal schedule so I try not to nap more than 30-60 min a day, just in case that messes up my sleep more. I have been offered sleep drugs, but I am pretty sure that is not an addiction I need to start now with a preemie on the way.


The biggest thing you can do for yourself is keep your spirits up. Doctor Google is good for informing, but if you are feeling the doom and gloom set in, GET OFF THE INTERNET! Worrying and stressing and crying is ok for a little bit, but if you dwell on “what could happen,” you’re in for a really long, awful hospital stay. I have found that concentrating on the small good things helps- a food service operator that asks me why I don’t want more dessert, nurses that love to talk, family and friends who text me nonstop to keep me entertained, pooping… that’s a big one, eat your fiber, girls! Hopefully this post helps someone, and if not, it certainly was therapeutic for me! Thanks for the opportunity, Lizzy.


******************

Thanks so much, Jess! I am so happy to hear that things are going well and that your little miss continues to grow!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Tips & Tricks :: Helping Your Toddler Survive Your Bed Rest

Was it just last week that I posted about surviving bed rest? Two weeks ago? I can't tell. The time is all flowing together. Either way, I recently gave some tips on making it through bed rest at home.

Instead of focusing on my own survival, I realized that my toddler needs to survive bed rest, too. He isn't quite two, but he knows what is going on. Kids are quick to notice change and it can easily throw them off.

Of course, I knew that bed rest would be hard on Kid. He's at that age where his parents are his everything. And to have one parent suddenly become bedridden has definitely taken its toll. The second week of bed rest was more difficult for Kid than the first. He got so frustrated with me one morning that he bit me. And not just a small nip. Oh no. A sink-your-teeth-in, I'm-royally-pissed-off-at-you chomp. I still have a bruise as evidence.

That's when I realized there was more to be done in terms of helping Kid survive this bed rest.


1. Snuggle as much as possible. Hubs gets Kid up each morning and plops him in bed with me as he gets ready and loads the car. Kid nestles right in and we get some quality one on one time. I think it is the physical contact that Kid misses most. Hugs just aren't the same when I can't lift him up. Bed time isn't the same when someone else puts him in his crib. So we have carved out lots of extra time for snuggles. We also warned his caregivers about this and they have been generous with their snuggles, too.

2. Don't lower any expectations. The rules you had in place before bed rest should remain. Kid goes to bed at the same time. He still has to ask to be excused from the dinner table. hitting is still an automatic time out (and biting!). Our expectations have not changed, which keeps life a little more "normal" for him. You always hear the experts talk about a child's need for predictability, and it is oh-so true.

3. Structure and routine will make life a million times easier. The fact that kids need (and thrive upon) structure and routine is well known. When life throws unexpected things at kids, they often react...you guessed it...unexpectedly. Now, obviously, it might be difficult to keep up all routines on while on bed rest. But, try. Try, try, try. Even simple things - like our typical Saturday morning pancakes. We still have pancakes, but the Daddy makes them know. If you usually meet some friends and their kids at the library on Tuesdays, see if one is willing to bring your child too. And don't worry about asking. People truly want to help!

4. Have a movie night (or 3) each week. We started this after I received a comment on my last Tips & Tricks post. A fellow bed rest mama left a comment with that idea, and it has been so fun! Granted, Kid doesn't have the attention span for a full-length movie, but it has been so fun! We all get cozy with a few snacks and everyone's beverage of choice. And Netflix pulls through with the Sesame Street win every time. It has been the perfect way to wind down after a long day - truly something we all look forward to.

How did you help your older kids survive bed rest?

Friday, March 6, 2015

Tractor Party Planning

My dear sweet cousin came for a visit the other day. With her, she brought lunch and her adorable 5 week old baby C. I loved the cuddle time with baby C as we chatted about life and the transition to motherhood. She brought up Kid's upcoming birthday. And I realized that Kid will be 2 in about six weeks. Holy cats that will be here soon!

We chatted about Kid's birthday, and how I was feeling conflicted. Can I begin planning it? But the baby is going to show up at any time! How will I pick a date?!

Smarty-cousin of mine reminded me that I can plan everything except the date. Then, once baby gets here, I can choose a date and plug that into the invites.

Done and done.

Kid loves tractors, and the Hubs loves John Deere. It has been decided that Kid will have a tractor party.

First things first, the food. That really is the most important thing, anyway. A few years ago, I threw a John Deere baby shower for a friend, so I plan to use a lot of those ideas. And, of course, Pinterest. I love Pinterest. But at the same time, it is impossible to have an original idea because it's probably already on Pinterest. I digress.


1 |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6*

*I couldn't locate the original source of this image! Someone, please help!!*


1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7

And then, of course, there are the activities! I'm not putting together a collage of activities because those are going to be a surprise. That, and, Kid is 2. We aren't having a "friend" birthday party. The only kids that will be there are his cousins (he has 6 of them) and two buddies. Most of the kids will be Kid's age or younger and I truly don't believe that activities are necessary. We will offer some tractor rides on the Hubs' John Deere tractor. That'll definitely be Kid's favorite part!


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Bigs & Littles

Once again, I joined the Bigs & Littles party happening over at Southern Beauty Guide. This was my second time, and it was just as good as the first.

SBG

If you're not familiar with it, bloggers get paired up depending on their size and reach. A big blogger (not me!) is paired with a small blogger (definitely me) to talk shop and learn a few things.

My first time around, I was paired with Brittany of Everyday Thoughts. It was so wonderful to get to know her via email and through our blogs. She really helped me to realize that I truly can make this space whatever I want. And! She just announced that she is pregnant with number 2. I can't wait to follow along with her pregnancy and life stories!

This year, I was paired with Rebekah of Blue Giraffes & Concrete Jungles. Truth be told, it was really hard to connect with Rebekah at first. Not because she was hard to talk to, or unapproachable. No. She was the opposite. We just quickly realized that our schedules were exact opposites. While she had more @free time" (I put it in quotes because that was when her kiddos were at school - there was still work to be done!) during the day, I was booked solid until after bed time. Teaching during the day, and a husband that often works evenings, made it difficult to connect.

But then! I was put in bed rest. Suddenly, I had nothing to do. Rebekah and unconnected a lot over email, but it was so nice to talk with her face to face. No, not in person. That would have been cool. If only I could afford and impromptu trip to New York! We spoke via FaceTime.

It was perfect and I feel that I learned so much. I even made myself a few goals to work on over the next couple of weeks from our conversation.

1. Leave a meaningful comment on at least one blog a day. I'm keeping this one small because I do not want to go to any ol' blog and leave a generic comment. No. I want to find posts that really speak to me and leave a meaningful comment.

2. Become more actively involved in the Minneapolis blogging scene. There are a lot of great bloggers in the metro area and I need to put myself out there. Meet up with some of the amazing women that I first met at the MN Bloggers Meet Up. 

3. Advertise. I've known that I've needed to do this for awhile. In fact, Beittany and I talked about it, too. But for some reason, I just haven't committed to it. Now is definitely the time. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Tips & Tricks :: Surviving Bed Rest

Being prescribed bed rest is kind of a blow to the ego. Everyone (that hasn't been on bed rest) tells you how great it will be to stay at home, not have to do anything, and just hang out. I'm here to tell you that bed rest really isn't that awesome.

I consider myself lucky. Bed rest for me started at 33 weeks pregnant. A lot of women are put on bed rest much earlier in pregnancy and have much more time to "do nothing."

Doctors prescribe bed rest for a variety of reasons, mine being signs of preterm labor. My first child was born 6 weeks early. This time around, my doctor wanted to keep a closer eye on things, in hopes to keep this baby in a little longer. The difficult piece, though, is that there is conflicting evidence as to whether or not bed rest truly helps. Of course, I will follow doctor's orders on this one.

Anyway!

Everything you need to know about surviving bed rest.


1. Continue with your regular day care routines for older children (or set up a care schedule). There is no way I would be able to follow my doctor's orders with a toddler here. If you don't have a regularly set daycare schedule, I suggest calling in all of the support people you have to take over at least some of the care of older children.

2. Plan easy meals for your partner to make. Maybe yours is a master chef. Mine is not. I sent him with a very thorough list to the grocery store with extremely simple crock pot meals in mind. My bed rest prescription allows me to get up to shower, use the bathroom, and eat meals. No cooking for me. Leaving simple directions for the hubs to throw a few ingredients into the crock pot has made his life much easier.

3. Make special time for your kiddos. I know I said to find them daycare while on bed rest. But, my little one has had a difficult time with his mama being on the couch all night when he is home. We have had to start a few new routines so he is sure to get his mama time in. I am also sure to wake up with the boys in the morning and get a few minutes of snuggles with Kid while Hubs gets ready. Not only is it beneficial for the toddler, it makes me feel like I am still needed.

4. Accept any and all help. My dad came by to pick up laundry yesterday. My mom picked Kid up for the day today and stuck around to clean the kitchen and bathroom. Friends have been swinging by with a warm lunch. Another girlfriend is dropping by with two freezer meals this afternoon. I have had friends drop of DVDs and books, others have come to just hang out. They've helped drive me to the doctor while the hubs has been at work. While I plan to make them each a little thank you gift, for now, I can only thank them.

Just beginning bed rest? Feel free to send me an email!

Are you a bed rest veteran yourself? What other tips do you have?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Today

At this time in my pregnancy two years ago, I was feeling pretty cruddy. It was the day after Easter, and my first day of Spring Break. It was the end of the husband's Spring Break. We were watching TV, and he fell asleep on the couch. I shooed him off to bed as I finished writing my spring break to-do list.

I was going to get so much done! Put the finishing touches on the paint in the baby's room. Finish the airplane mobile. Get the changing table and crib set up - put sheets on the mattress, add diapers to the bins. Make a few freezer meals to have on-hand. Pack the hospital bag. 

Then, I realized that I was exhausted. It was only Monday, and I had all week to get things done. To bed I went.

Of course, I first brushed my teeth and washed my face.

And while I stood in front of the mirror, mouth full of foamy toothpaste, my water broke.

At 33 weeks, 5 days pregnant.

Having never been pregnant before, I wasn't 100% positive that my water really did break. I could have just peed a little. That had been happening more than I'd like to admit, but it was usually when I laughed too much or sneezed. Not while brushing my teeth.

Six hours later, Kid was on my chest and Hubs was snapping pictures.

Today, I am 33 weeks and 5 days pregnant. Kid's overnight bag is packed. The hospital bag is ready to go. The nursery is not painted, I have no freezer meals. And we are doing everything we can to keep this little lady in and growing.

I've had two injections to help with baby girl's lungs. I have to sit on my butt all day. I wish I could go to work.

And I'm getting a little nervous. I don't want my water to break today, like it did last time. I don't want it to break in the next week. Or the next month. I'm not ready to go into labor.

Life doesn't happen when you're ready, though. And if she wants to show up, she will make her entry. Bed rest is helping me do what she needs. Rest. So she can continue to grow.

So here's to bed rest. And cracking open my second book. Has anybody else read Freakonomics?











Monday, February 16, 2015

Now What?

I'm 33 weeks and my uterus is thinning. Sorry if that grosses you out, but it's the truth.

And I was just put on bed rest.

I have another doctor's appointment this afternoon to get the nitty-gritty, but for now, I'm mostly bothered by the fact that I cannot lift anything. Including Kid. That's the only thing that has made me cry thus far.

Hubs is most worried about having to do the grocery shopping.

Of course, we are worried about our baby girl, but we know that this move is the best thing for her. No more hours of standing and moving from me, just rest. Rest, rest, rest. And that is what little miss needs. Her mama to rest and not stress.

I should have been more prepared for this, being that Kid was six weeks early. But it was unexpected. I cried on the phone to my doctor. I love my doctor. She's so patient and understanding.

But now, this first morning of bedrest, I am done being sad about it. I am moving on to being happy and relaxed. A girlfriend is bringing me a stack of books. Another is bringing a few dinners to throw in the freezer.

I'm going to relax while I'm stuck at home and think about how this girl is getting more time to grow and develop. Because that is what we want. A healthy, even if she's a bit early, baby girl.

Maybe this will give me time to stock upon sleep for those early months (ha!).

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Just Some Life...

I'm packing a hospital bag for the first time. My last pregnancy ended six weeks early with the arrival of Kid. We rushed off to the hospital with nothing more than what was on our backs and a camera (at least I thought of that!). My older, wiser sister ran to my house and grabbed a few items for my hospital bag.

I'm also noticing that my belly button is pretty dang close to popping out. Yikes! This is also a new experience for me.

We are just under a week away from when I went into labor last time, and I'm really hoping this little peanut stays put. Hopefully, she will join us at the end of March or very beginning of April.

We went in for an ultrasound Saturday night to "check on things." And they wouldn't let me leave until I talked to my doctor. She put me on pelvic rest (Happy Valentine's Day!) and gave me orders to sit as much as possible. Ugh. We go back in to the clinic soon to "discuss."

And I am worried. About so many things. Preterm labor. The NICU. Bed rest. Work. Finances. There are so many things to think about. My sister has been reminding me that I need not worry about anything until the appointment. I've composed a list of questions, that will provide so many answers. I want to be at my appointment now, though. I don't want to wait an hour.

In other news, I'm realizing that Kid will be 2 before I know it. And the mom guilt in me is feeling like I should be planning his second birthday. I have a few themes to choose from: balls (namely, golf), Elmo, or tractors. I lean toward Elmo or tractors. Because I am almost positive he will have a sports themed birthday later in life. But I don't think I want to add any more stress to my life at the moment. Not that I really have that much stress to begin with, but I know my doctor will tell me to eliminate as much as possible.

If you're the praying type, or you send positive vibes, send some my way. My goal is to keep this peanut in for another month. March 16th is my goal.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Pregnant 2.0

Life has been beautifully busy lately. The weather has been ... interesting, to say the least, so we have spent a lot of time outdoors (away from screens, hence the lack of posting). While I most definitely miss the piles and piles of snow we usually have, this has been an okay winter for it to be MIA. Being that I'm 32 weeks pregnant, I can't exactly go out and enjoy my typical winter activities.

Snowboarding is a no.
Skijoring is also a no.
Cross country skiing is a maybe, but it'd have to be the "classic" style and not skate, which is more fun.
We are even rethinking our tree tapping this year.

Now that I have this all written out, we'll probably get dumped on. Or, we will get all of our snow in March and April.

I've made it to 32 weeks pregnant and this little peanut is growing and kicking right along! My closest girlfriend is 2 weeks ahead of me - it has been so fun to compare notes.

So what's different about being pregnant a second time?

1. Movement. I noticed this little lady move earlier than I noticed Kid. Most likely because I was more in tune with what I was supposed to be feeling. With Kid, I always thought, "ooh! movement!" and then it was gas.

2. Body changes. I look really pregnant. I have for awhile now. I like to call in muscle memory. It wasn't that long ago that I was pregnant with Kid. My body remembered exactly what to do: spread out, get bigger, change. I'm not upset by this, but I do know I will have a lot of work to do post-delivery.

3. Exhaustion. Don't get me wrong. I was tired when I was pregnant the first time. But I definitely noticed the second trimester energy. I don't think I have had much energy this entire pregnancy. I've spent it all chasing around a toddler! And he's almost two. I can't believe it. Needless to say, I have definitely been taking advantage of his weekend naps and getting a little shut eye for myself!

4. Emotions. Maybe it's because I'm growing a girl this time around, but my emotions have been all over the place. Hubs and I were talking about car seats and I started crying thinking about how #2 would be in a car seat that isn't rated as well as Kid's. Tears. Big crocodile tears. Over a car seat. And a car seat "issue" we won't have to deal with until #2 is two. Really!?

5. Preparations. I've been more prepared this time around. My hospital bag is half-packed. I went to the hospital while in labor with Kid and didn't have a hospital bag (thank God for sisters!). I have things in place at work that make me feel okay leaving tomorrow if needed. We have bitty newborn sized clothing hanging in the closet, all ready to go.

What differences did you notice between your pregnancies?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

{recetas} Beef Lo Mein

I've been experimenting more in the kitchen, and I have to say it has been really successful!

We had soup two nights in a row, and the hubs gave them both high marks. That Pioneer Woman is amazing. I, of course, followed her recipes for the two soups (this one and this one). They were wonderfully delightful.

But tonight, we went for a super simple dinner - lo mein. It was so easy to put together. From fridge to table in 30 minutes. It always takes me a little longer, though, because I can be rather disorganized in the kitchen. And there's that little toddler person always at my feet.

That little toddler person was really helpful tonight. Kid climbed up into his learning tower and stirred some Cheerios. He then added in some applesauce, and helped to "chop" the mushrooms. And by chop the mushrooms, I mean whack them with a wooden spoon. He was occupied and happy, which made dinner making so much easier!

Anyway...Beef Lo Mein.


What you need:
  • 1 flank steak
  • 1 cup of carrots, julienned
  • 16 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounces of snow peas
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 package lo mein noodles (or thin spaghetti noodles)
  • 6 tablespoons tamari sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 3 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground ginger
  • olive oil
What you do:
  • Cook the noodles according the the package directions.
  • Slice the flank steak into thin, bite-sized strips. Cook it through. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, and carrots. Stir frequently; cook until tender. This part only takes about 5 minutes. Probably less. Add the snow peas.
  • While the veggies are cooking, mix together the remaining ingredients (tamari sauce through ground ginger) in a bowl.
  • Add your noodles to the skillet with the veggies and meat. Pour the sauce over the top and stir to coat everything.
  • Eat it up and smile because your husband says, "this is another top 5 meal!" I know, I know. I've said that a few different times. I think he says it far too frequently. But I don't care.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

{recetas} Trail Mix


The first week back to school was a tough one. As a teacher, I know I am incredibly blessed with the schedule that I have. Summer. Winter Break. Spring Break. I am lucky, and I know it. But, that doesn't make the rest of the year any easier. The hours are long, and the demands are high. And it's easy to forget what it is like to wake up at 5 when you get a two week break from work!

But we made it through, and we're on to week 3 of being back at school. Thankfully, our sleep schedule has gotten back on track (thanks, Kid!) We are back into the routine of school and daycare and life is good. The yawns are plentiful, but life is good.

One of my goals this year is to be quite prepared in the food department. I'll be really good at meal and snack planning for a couple of weeks, and then we will fall off the wagon. Hubs will stop for lunch at McDonald's or Chipotle. I'll run to the gas station before work for some midday snacks. In hopes to eliminate my many gas station stops, I decided to make a huge (and I mean HUGE!) batch of trail mix.

We have a favorite mix from Target that includes peanut butter chips, and it's quite expensive for a small jar. I went to the local Mills' Fleet Farm to grab the supplies for cheap. If you don't know what Fleet Farm is, let me just tell you that it is an amazing store. You can find just about everything you need at Fleet Farm--shoes, clothes, office supplies, camping gear, farm supplies, the list goes on. It's one of the best places to get nuts and baking supplies, too.


What you need:
  • 1 lb raisins
  • 12 oz. chocolate chips (I got milk chocolate)
  • 12 oz. peanut butter chips
  • 1 lb peanuts
  • 1 lb M&Ms (they're called Choco-Buttons at Fleet Farm)
What you do:
  • Pour all of the ingredients into a large bowl. Use a spatula to stir. To be extra-fancy, pour the ingredients in a little at a time: half a bag of raisins, some chocolate chips, some M&Ms, etc. I just went for it. Dumped each bag in one at a time.
  • Anyway. Stir. Again, to be fancy, use a funnel to pour your trail mix into your storage container. I got extra-large glass jars at Target a year ago that had been sitting empty. They were the perfect size.
  • If you aren't fancy (like me) make a "funnel" out of a gallon freezer bag by cutting off one of the corners. Use that to pour the mix into the jars. Or, just store it in the freezer bag. Lots of options. It's up to you.
  • Finally, enjoy the trail mix by the handful. It really is delicious.
  • Oh! Another thing I did. Kid loves to eat whatever we eat, but I am a little nervous about him eating peanuts and M&Ms (choking hazards). I took a half cup of raisins, a quarter cup of peanut butter chips, and a quarter cup of chocolate chips and made him his own jar of "trail mix." He LOVES it, and he thinks he's pretty cool eating trail mix with mom and dad.


Monday, January 5, 2015

{recetas} Shrimp & Rice Noodle Soup

It's winter here in Minnesota. We finally have the snow to prove it. My crock pot and Dutch oven have been used enough to claim that winter is here in full force as well. They've been most frequented by soups, a true sign of fall and winter.

Today's soup is inspired by one of my favorite dishes. Pad Thai. I absolutely adore pad Thai. I found two local restaurants that serve a mean pad Thai. Sadly, they don't deliver. But the Shrimp & Rice Noodle soup is a good stand in.

I know I mentioned this exact thing in my last recipe, but the Hubs loves my Shrimp & Noodle Soup. He even said, "Not to say that your other stuff is bad, but the last three new recipes you've made have been amazing." Score one more for me! And, I had this delightful helper in the kitchen. Quite frankly, he is always in the kitchen with me.


What you need:

  • 1 pound shrimp, raw
  • 64 ounces chicken broth
  • 6 tablespoons Tamari sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1.25 teaspoons sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 0.5 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 0.5 cup peanuts, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 0.5 cup julienne carrots
  • 8 ounces rice noodles
  • salt
  • ground ginger

What you do:
  • Melt one tablespoon of butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Crack the two eggs into the pan and scramble them. When they're done, set them aside in a small dish.
  • Heat the olive oil in your soup pot and cook the minced garlic for a minute or two. Add the chicken broth, fish sauce, sriracha, and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil.
  • While waiting for the broth to boil, prepare your shrimp by taking all of the tails off and placing the shrimp in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with a teaspoon or so of salt, along with the ground ginger. Heat the last tablespoon of butter in a frying pan and cook the shrimp over medium heat.
  • When the broth is boiling, add the rice noodles and carrots to the pot and cook according to package directions. The rice noodles I buy need to be stirred frequently and boiled for 4 to 6 minutes. I taste them around the 5 minute mark to make sure they're done to my liking.
  • When the noodles are done, you can add the egg and shrimp to the pot and serve right away. Or, you can have a "build your own" soup bar, which is how it happens at my house. We use a salad tongs to place noodles in each bowl, then allow each person to add their own egg, shrimp, and crushed peanuts. Then, we use a ladle to add broth to the bowl.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Toddler Sensory Bins

Winter Break has been a delight for the Hubs and I, both of us being off work. Kid has gone to daycare a couple of times so we could finish up some cleaning and Christmas shopping. Other than that, we have enjoyed our time together.

For the most part.

Kid will be 2 in April, and I think we have reached the terrible twos a few months early. He can be downright nasty.

Like 99.9% of moms, I love my son to the moon and back a thousand times. He has my heart.

And like all moms, sometimes, I need a break. The tantrums, the whining. Sometimes, I just need a break.

I've noticed in the last few weeks that Kid has needed task-oriented activities. Playing with a truck on the floor doesn't keep him occupied for more than 2 minutes. Building a puzzle train will hold his attention for 10.

Cue sensory bins.



We had plenty of sensory bottles at the preschool where I used to work. We have a water table and sand table where I currently work. But I didn't want a bajillion little bottles floating around my house filled with noodles and pompoms. Plus, Kid isn't so interested in those. I also didn't want a sand table inside my house. There is a sandbox outside for that! And a water table?! Well, you might as well just take a bath!

I wasn't planning on picking up the materials for sensory bins any time soon. It had just been on my mind. But, then. I walked into Target and saw that their organization stuff was on sale! Woo hoo! I picked up the necessary materials and headed home. Sensory bins were ready to go!

To make the same sensory bins I made (noodles and rice) you will need:
  • 2 medium sized storage bins with lids. Trust me. You need lids.
  • 1 large bag of rice
  • 1 bag of garbanzo beans
  • 3 to 4 boxes of elbow or rotini (or both!) noodles
  • various small objects (I picked up a package of magnetic letters)
  • scoops or measuring cups
The how-to (this is tough, pay close attention):
  • Place your storage bins on the counter and take the lids off.
  • Open the bag of rice. Dump the rice into the first bin and add the letters. I added two scoops, because I knew we would have friends over to play.
  • Open the noodles and dump those, along with the garbanzo beans, into the second bin. Add two more scoops.
  • Done!
If your kiddos are anything like Kid, find a place to store these out of sight. Bring them out when you're ready for some messy fun! And believe me when I say it's a mess. We had rice everywhere!


But! He was occupied. I got to unload the dishwasher by myself! I made lunch without a hungry toddler sitting on my feet. And that, my friends, is a blessing in and of itself.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015!

Goodness, 2014 flew by! It's hard to believe that 2015 begins tomorrow!

Highlights from 2014:

Kid turned one! It's hard to believe that he will be two in just a couple of months. He has grown so much over the course of the year. I can't believe his little sister will be joining us so soon!

Big Fat Positive! Click here and here to read all about our newest addition. And to see the cute pregnancy announcement! Naturally, we are beyond thrilled to have our little miss join the family, and finding out about the pregnancy while on a family vacation was the best.

Looking ahead to 2015:

We are most excited about our daughter. She's set to arrive in April (just a few days after Kid's birthday). I do have a history of preterm delivery, though, so it could be earlier. Kid was six weeks early, and if this one follows suit she will be here in no time! We are sending up all of the positive thoughts and prayers for a full-term baby though. If you have any extra positive vibes, send 'em up for us, too!

We are also looking forward to a trip to New Mexico. I have never been, but my husband lived there for a few years as a youngster. We both have some family there that we hope to visit (and hopefully an old coworker, if they're still there). Silly enough, we may have 2 New Mexico trips this summer. The first would be in June, to Santa Fe, for my cousin's wedding. The second would be in August with my husband's family to ABQ (Jane, I'm not even going to try to spell it!).


And of course, the ever-popular New Year's Resolutions.

First things first, let's talk about life.


1. To stay on top of laundry. Oh, man. If I had the money to hire out my laundry, I would. My goal is to keep our laundry piles (both clean and dirty!) to a minimum!

2. To be thankful. I need to remember to be thankful for all that we have. I strive to be thankful often, but I can always improve.

And, now, the blog.


1. To network. This blog has been around for awhile, but I still feel a little lost. I'd like to work on my network and networking skills to improve the life of this blog.

2. To keep up with social media. It's all so fast! I'd like to do a better job of interacting with others via social media, while keeping a balance between blog and life.

I'm keeping myself to two resolutions in each category because I am awful at resolutions (sadly). I'm thinking that 4 is a good number to start with.

Here's to 2015!