Thursday, October 27, 2011

Live and learn

Last night I attempted to pull off the ever-elusive peaceful family dinner. I thought I had been smart with my preparations. I chose 'Breakfast for Dinner' and made blueberry pancakes, maple sausage links, tater tots (the kids have never tried them and I adore them), and scrambled eggs (denver omlets for Rob and I - I needed a little fancy to cancel out the decision to make tater tots. Ha!).

I started the process at 4:30pm, planning to eat around 6pm. I tried to clean up as I went, but the amount of skillets required alone had me knee deep in dishes before I was halfway done.

I had almost perfectly timed the completion of all dishes when Rob walked in the door. I even had the table set... with place mats! (That is noteworthy. Sad.) The kids were famished, and by the time everyone made it to the table Robbie and Ellie would have cannibalized one another if I'd let them. Maddie had waited patiently in her high chair as I cooked, playing with toys, but by the time I started serving dinner she began to whine for her bottle. And the girl never makes a fuss.

There must be a term for this - like a Mother's Murphy's Law: the amount of time you spend preparing a dinner to eat together as a family is inversely related to how well that dinner will actually go, how much food will be consumed, and how pleasurable the experience will be.

I never even sat down to eat. I literally took 3 bites of my omelet while it rested in the skillet as I cleaned the dishes, and picked at the tater tots while I wiped hands. Robbie spilled his cup of orange juice and most of Ellie's eggs landed on the just-cleaned floor. Such is life.

Lesson learned. And so...

Tonight's menu?

Leftover already-cooked ziti noodles and sauce I just made in 5 minutes on the stove (brown 1 lb of italian sausage, dump in a can of san marzano tomatoes with the juices, break them all apart, add basil and oregano and simmer).

If the law holds true, tonight will be a dream. And that's what I'm hoping for since it's a solo parenting night!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

P-Dubs is a genius

I have yet to be disappointed by any of the recipes that I try from The Pioneer Woman. (Side note: Does every woman want to be friends with Ree? Because I sure do.)

So far my list of tried recipes of hers includes:

The Bread (although for the calories in this one, I could take it or leave it)

And now I'm particularly loving her Blueberry Crumb Cake recipe. I made it for small group this morning and have been eating the leftovers all day (not good). I want to know what I should make next (besides this Creamy Chicken Spaghetti Casserole, and her newest addition, Corn and Cheese Chowder - yum!).

What have you tried that you've loved from The Pioneer Woman's recipe collection?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

All the in between

Lest you think from my last blog post that it's always dramatic around here, I did a major phone dump and wanted to remember all of these images from our simple life as it is right now - October, 2011. Related: my iPhone can hold 500 pictures and still function. Also related: I'm shamelessly addicted to Instagram.

This one teethed. (Also, I saw the first poke through Ellie's gums of her 2 year molars. It's about to be a party at night over here!)

My first attempt to capture those two little lower tooth buds.

We really love this headband Meredith made for us! (Thanks again Meredith, you are so talented.)

Somebody wasn't thrilled that I mixed veggies into his macaroni and cheese. That was the first night of his life that he ever went to bed without dinner.

This one, on the other hand, eats everything I give her now!

Sisters dropping Robbie off at preschool. Ellie remains brokenhearted until we pick him back up, which is precious.

Maddie loves to be perched in her high chair in the kitchen where she can safely observe all the activity around her.

I found Teddy percolating one day during nap time.

Little beauty at her 6 month check up.

Fussy and feverish for a solid 24 hours after her vaccines - the diaper nap was the only way she could fall asleep.

Her: not thrilled by the fever. Me: loving her snuggly side.
And yes, my countertop over by the fridge is always a mess. I'm endearing like that (ha!).

Hope it was a clean pair. Lots of unclean ones right now floating around. Potty training is something I'd rather live without.

One day I made a double batch of The Pioneer Woman's Chicken Tortilla Soup, banking on it being good (it WAS). Incidentally, the original recipe makes a huge pot, so after doubling it I had 2 huge pots of soup. We decided to treat our neighbors to the side and across the street from us to dinner. The kids also made devil's food cupcakes. And shared.

Delivering the goods via wagon. It was a really fun night, even though their expressions suggest otherwise. They played with the neighbor kids in their basement for almost an hour, having a ball, and the other neighbor fed them 2 packages of fruit snacks and pure juice, sending them home with a CareBears game!

Our weekends have been slow and easy, just the way we like them. Saturday mornings are our favorite - we bring bottles and milk cups into our bed and everyone gathers there for a cartoon or two. And of course wrestling and snuggles. Then we head downstairs for family breakfast, which means pancakes, sausage and eggs. Or donuts and coffee, whatever.

Typical situation. Love.

Always eager to greet the day with whatever I've decided to mix into her oatmeal.

It's commonplace that these two can be found wrestling or aggravating each other.

They are also thick as thieves and their love and affection for one another is strong.


Always attentive to her needs...

...and willing to help me around the house (until the novelty wears off).

Fascinated by the new washer and dryer (but not as much as I am - oh how they have changed my life! Ha!)

Weekends are also for hanging out in the exersaucer...

...getting cozy and accidentally falling asleep on mom and dad's bed when you're supposed to be protesting and skipping your nap...

...trying on mom's boots while working on potty training (dangerous combo)...

...playing in the sink and getting away with it because it's Saturday morning and mom and dad are exhausted...

...checking out the baby's new toys (in a much too large pee-pee diaper)...

...lately they've included random dates with mommy to the outlet mall as we freshen up our winter clothing (and because she's a pushover, he always gets a ride or two)...

...lots and lots of laundry. Much more than I ever thought I'd be doing...

...bath and books before bed...

...and more early morning fun, always with daddy at the center of it all...

"Mommy, I need my STUFF!" - which means her 6 loveys, teddy bear and pink blanket.

Does this ever get old?

Will this ever NOT melt my heart?

This is part of our nightly routine, and the kids love to wash each other right now. Boring to note? Probably. But it's our life, and I'd bet that no one is really reading at this point anymore since this is the longest post e.v.e.r. about the mundane.

Scooting backwards on her belly. If we don't keep an eye on her, she ends up halfway down the hall still facing us with a confused and lonely look on her face.

This child looks so much like me as a baby, I must show you the proof at some point.

I knew this was going to happen sooner or later. However, I was surprised that she did it to herself.

The beginning of the end of her long flowing locks. I had to cut her free, which started the process of a trim with more layers, which this evening turned into shortening the length of her hair altogether. I'm afraid I might have cut her curls off. I'm consoling myself with the fact that she will no longer have hair dragging through her yogurt cup or her piles of ketchup at meals. Good trade, right? Right?!

Two weekends ago we went to Kuiper's Farm to visit the pumpkin patch across from the apple orchard we so loved earlier in the season. The only problem was that it was a cold and incredibly windy day. Maddie and I lasted through events #1 (the big bounce bubble) and #2 (playing in the sandboxes filled with corn) before heading back to the car. She needed a bottle and couldn't breathe with the wind in her face. Mine was just frozen and the wind constantly blowing my hair into my face was making me crabby. Just being honest.

This smirk kills me.

We had driven almost an hour to get there, so Rob and the older 2 kids spent time doing the hayride/pumpkin patch thing while Maddie and I hung out in the van. After a while there was nothing else to do but take pictures of ourselves. So we did a lot of that. I'm glad we did, because I got these:

She fell asleep on the way home leaning forward in her booster seat! It was hilarious. This is after her head bobbled and she woke up. Poor thing. I have since reclined the seat and she rests more comfortably. :)

Random: this past weekend I made THIS RECIPE for baked chicken parmesan and served it over ziti and spaghetti (we don't all like the same pasta shapes in our house). It might have been the best thing that's ever come out of my kitchen. The secret is baking it on top of a jar of sauce that MUST BE RAO'S MARINARA or else you shouldn't even bother.

My moral support as I cooked dinner. I hope she was taking notes. I think she was gumming the spatula instead.

One morning after yoga I took this picture (at a stoplight, don't worry!). I am finally feeling much happier, overall. I feel like I have more of a handle on managing 3 kids (translation: I have figured out how to feed / dress / buckle them into the car / go places / get them to all sleep through the night for almost 12 hours consistently / have enough energy to get back to working out). It has been a long time coming. The transition has kind of been kicking me in the tail. We still have really rough patches nearly every day. I pray a lot, and ask them to forgive me often. But sometimes we have entire days that are ALL GOOD! I realize this might sound pathetic. The upside is that while I was floundering, my hair grew out really long without me really noticing. Hooray.

This is how Robbie entertains himself now when I make him try and nap. He seriously stuffs his entire body up to his neck into his pillow case with the pillow also still in it, and rolls around. Sometimes he does it the opposite way, and all I can see are his shins and feet. I am so entertained by this kid.

These are all the little things I want to remember about this time in our family's life. It's a little chaotic and random but it's also really sweet and wonderful.