Sunday, November 24, 2013

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Being a mom, actually being a parent as I'm sure dads feel this way as well sometimes, can be monotonous.  The husband left Wednesday morning for an out of town conference leaving me with four kids and lots and lots of work!

Naturally, last week was the time my shoulder decided to start hurting again.  Back in June I went through a few weeks of just excruciating pain in my back, shoulder and left arm.  I actually lost the use of my arm for a while as it was tingling in some places, numb in other, and so weak that I couldn't even lift a coffee cup.  Feeling that pain start to come back put me into a bit of a panic.  In June I was almost lucky enough to have everything happen while the kids were staying with their grandparents so the thought of having all that happen again but also having to care for the kids, by myself, was worrisome.  I made an appointment to have it checked out again and to see if perhaps another cortisone shot was in order.  My x-rays showed some calcium deposits and my pain this time around sounds like typical rotator cuff overuse whereas last time it seemed to be perhaps some rotator cuff but definitely more pinched nerve.  Thankfully, anti-inflammatories combined with everyday adjustments like not sleeping on my left side, not carrying my purse on my left shoulder and not carrying Maren on my left hip, seem to be helping enough and the pain has not progressed.  The doctor said if things do get worse I could get another cortisone shot so just knowing that is an option makes me feel a little better.

The doctor's appointment was a little reprieve from the monotony of get up and ready for work, get the kids up and ready, get everyone breakfast, clean up from breakfast, do a quick check to make sure everyone has everything they need (backpacks, mittens, hats, homework, lunches....) drop the little ones at my sister's house, rush the older kids to school, get to work, run home from work and stop at home to get dinner set out, pick the older kids up from school, pick the younger kids up from my sister's house, bring everyone home for dinner, clean up from dinner, pack a snack for Shannon, pack a lunch for Quinn, go over homework and the 20 extra sheets of paper sent home from the school, change diapers, wait, did I eat?, everyone upstairs for baths and pj's, read books to the little ones and get them in bed, have Shannon read to me, let the older kids just hang out in the "big bed," aka my bed, for a short time before tucking them into bed and fall asleep myself at a time when I used to just be thinking about going out and doing something in my younger days.  The alarm sounds at 6:00 a.m. the next morning and it's wash, rinse and repeat.

Needless to say, I'll be happy when the husband is back home to split up some of the monotony with as that allows me more time to really enjoy the fun times.  Like when Sully wants to sit next to me in the chair and "read" emails with me, or when Maren wants to practice walking, or watching Shannon and Quinn play together and they aren't bickering about anything.  It's all those reasons you put up with the monotony.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Trick or Treat

All I'm going to say is that getting a picture of all four kids, in their costumes, looking at the camera and smiling, is impossible.

Maybe just three of them would be easier.
Or just two?
And we're done here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

An American Tune

When I was younger my parents were big Simon and Garfunkel fans.  So much so that I was forced to watch the concert in Central Park over and over and over again to the point that I can pretty much recite it word for word, clap for clap.  Often times I've felt grateful to them for having exposed me to the brilliance of Paul Simon's song writing.  It is Paul Simon's American Tune which comes to my mind when listening to the incessant babble regarding the government shut down.  If you've never heard it, please do go give it a listen.

Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and I’ve often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
Oh, but I’m all right, I’m all right
I’m just weary to my bones
Still, you don’t expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far away from home, so far away from home

I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to its knees
Oh, but it’s all right, it’s all right
For lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road
We’re traveling on
I wonder what went wrong
I can’t help it, I wonder what’s gone wrong

And I dreamed I was dying
And I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
Smiled reassuringly
And I dreamed I was flying
And high above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying

Oh, we come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
And sing an American tune
Oh, it’s all right, it’s all right
It’s all right, it’s all right
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest

© 1973 Words and Music by Paul Simon

Friday, September 27, 2013

It's Good to be Seven

Happy Birthday Shannon! 

I can't believe my little boy turns seven today.  He got his name on the school sign and was very excited about it.  He also got to choose the lunch for the whole school.  He decided on an "MGC McMuffin" with sausage, egg and fruit with cake for dessert.  Quinn was excited about the cake, less so about the McMuffin.

Instead of packing his normal healthy snack, I played super mom (for one night only) and made him a special birthday snack.  He saw this magazine cover:

and thought these would be great to bring in.  After reading that you make them with pre-made Rice Krispie treats, I agreed.  So, one trip to the grocery store and about $30 later, we started making little monster treats.  It took around two minutes for Shannon to become disinterested and ten for Quinn to wander off leaving me alone in the kitchen dipping rice treats in melted chocolate, twisting Oreo cookies in half, applying Junior Mints and M&Ms as eyeballs and finally applying mini M&Ms as colorful decoration.  All in all, they didn't turn out nearly as neat and cute as on the cover (things rarely do) but they were still cute.

Quinn did make another appearance to do the mouths (and eat the leftover halves of Oreos and M&Ms.)  The one on the bottom right is singing and the very squiggly ones are supposed to be moustaches. 

I'm sure after this the teacher will hate me for sending in something that probably covered the kid's hands in a chocolate, sticky mess.  Maybe that's why I send in so many rolls of paper towels though at the beginning of the year.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Hello Kitty Meets Bento Lunch and More

A mock Hello Kitty sandwich served on a bed of pretzel rods with a side of string cheese and apple sauce made Quinn super happy one day.

 Another day was whole wheat heart waffles, half an apple with a little cinnamon cereal.

Wanting to try out my newly arrived fun animal food picks and condiment holders I went simple with Shannon's snack doing a cut up cheese stick with grapes and simple again with Quinn's lunch doing carrot sticks with ranch dressing in the cute bunny cup, a cut up turkey dog and a cut up apple that sadly turned brown very quickly.
More fun with the picks!  Shannon got turkey, cheese tortilla roll-ups and grapes.

All in all, it was a fun week.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bringing Dinner Back

When I was a kid we ate a dinner my mom made every night at the kitchen table.  My kids?  Well, first off, we don't have room in our kitchen for a table.  Then there's the fact that I don't cook dinner every night.  My mom was a teacher so she got home from work by around 3:30pm each day so I think that made it a little easier for her to get dinner on the table every night vs my getting home somewhere between 5 and 6 each night.  Also, I think back in the 1970s, it didn't occur to my mom to make excuses to not make dinner.  She had grown up in a world where the woman cooked dinner every night whereas my world doesn't quite work that way and I find it immensely easy to find reason after reason to not cook.  Not that my kids are going hungry, but you know what I mean.  The husband and I can throw something together for the kids without making something for ourselves and they can eat at their little chairs in the living room without me having to clear off spaces at the dining room table.

When we had Shannon I envisioned us all sitting down as a family at some point for family dinners every night, just like I had done as a child, but when he was just a baby it didn't seem necessary.  As he got older and I started thinking more about it but then I got pregnant with Quinn and I thought I would wait until she was no longer a baby.  Then I got pregnant with Sully and I thought I'd wait until he was no longer a baby.  Then I got pregnant with Maren and I thought I would wait until she was no longer a baby.  Then one day I thought holy crap, Shannon is almost seven and we're still not sitting down to eat dinner as a family.  Now is the time!

I'm happy to report that we sat down at the dining room table every night for over a week now.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bento Times Two

Tomorrow Shannon and Quinn both don't want hot lunch so I packed up lunch for each of them along with a snack for Shannon.
Quinn gets panda bear cheese sandwiches, champagne grapes, goldfish crackers and a whole wheat chocolate chip cookie and Shannon gets a frog turkey and cheese sandwich, raspberries, goldfish crackers and a cookie.  For a snack I toasted a whole wheat waffle, cut it in half, spread some peanut butter on it to make it into a little sandwich and then cut it up to fit into the little snack cup.  On the other side are tiny champagne grapes.

I need to figure out something useful to do with the bread crusts as I feel like I'm wasting a lot.  I'm also beginning to wonder if I keep this up if the kids will ever accept a normal looking sandwich again.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Going Bento

Quinn's first day of all-day K4 is tomorrow.  Where has the time gone?  Not just the summer but four and a half years?  Although she has the option to take hot lunch, given her limited likes and numerous dislikes, I figure most days she'll be taking a bag lunch.  In anticipation, I purchased a few different lunch containers, a few fun food cutters and some silicone baking cups.  With that I give you my first ever bento lunch:

One cheese sandwich cut into a heart shape, pretzels, carrots and a little container of ranch dressing.  Nothing super fancy but Quinn helped put it all together and we had fun doing it and I hope she has as much fun eating it.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hernia Be Gone

We awoke a little early today so that we could get the surgicenter on time for Sully's surgery to have his two epi-gastric hernias repaired.  I was happy that we had the first appointment of the day because he wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything this morning.  Sully is used to having a big mug of milk every morning so I knew there would only be a small window of time before he really started missing it and began screaming and crying.  Things actually went really smoothly.  We took him straight from the crib to the car.  Monkey came along too.

Within just a few minutes we were in the exam room, had a meeting with the nurse, the surgeon, and the anesthesiologist.  We changed him into special surgery pj's and then the nurse gave him a little something to help relax him.  For the most part, he remained in good spirits and when the nurse came to take him to the operating room he cried but only a little bit.  I was happy that I didn't have to see them put the IV in.

They had told us that the surgery, including all the prep time in the OR, would take about an hour.  We were only in the waiting room maybe a half an hour when the surgeon came out to say everything had gone well.  He made one, small incision right in between his two hernias and felt that both were repaired well.  They required a few stitches, which will scar over and stop the hernias from reappearing, so we will be able to feel those little bumps under his skin still but it will be from scar tissue and not his organs bulging through the fascia.  The surgeon did say though that there was some weakness around where he made the incision and so we might see more hernias develop as he grows up.

We couldn't go back and see him until he woke up on his own but once he had we went back and snuggled with him.  He was upset over the pulse monitor on his big toe and the IV in his foot but with a little help from Super Why, he was distracted enough to stop noticing them.  He drank a little water and then the nurse came and took out his IV and we were ready to go home.  He looked a little drugged, but overall, was acting pretty  normal.

On the way home we were all starving so we stopped to have a late breakfast.  Sully gulped down a cup of milk and devoured a pancake.  Once home he took a nap and woke up normal as ever.  He can't take a bath for a few days but other than that, he's allowed to play as much as he's comfortable with.  The surgeon said that little kids have an amazing ability to self-limit, unlike many adults who don't feel well but push on with things.  The only thing I'm a little concerned about is that he seems very aware of the bandage on his chest and keeps trying to touch it.  Hopefully after today he will barely even notice it so that five days from now when I can take it off it's no big deal at all.

I'm relieved that it's over and happy everything went so well. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lettuce Eat!

Last night the husband grilled out steak, potatoes and asparagus.  Tonight, we're planning on using some of the leftover steak in salads.  Our lettuce crop has become pretty abundant so we're going to enjoying it.

This year I added two more raised beds and planted far more pepper and lettuce than I have in years past.  Tomatoes take up one entire bed, peppers and beans another and the middle has lettuce and onions.  In a bag to the side I am trying potatoes this year.  We'll see how that goes.

These were the beds in May.

And now, thanks to all the rain we've had recently, they are really getting going.

Lettuce!  Romaine, Red Leaf and Butter.

And finally, dinner while Mare Bear chills on the play mat.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Two Weeks Ago, One Week Ago, Years Ago

It seems every time things seem to be slowing back down and returning to normal something happens.  Perhaps it would be easier to assume that something is more likely to go wrong than to assume that things will all be whatever I consider to be normal.

Two weeks ago I got the results from my re-pap.  It was another good news/bad news result.  The good news is that the hpv portion of the test came back negative.  The bad news portion is that there are still some cell abnormalities.  There are quite a few different overall types of abnormalities but so as not to bore anyone basically there's the this looks strange but we don't know why and chances are it's no big deal type and then there's this looks very  not normal and we're guessing it could be pre-cancerous so you need further evaluation.  Thankfully, this time mine falls into the strange but not so strange I should panic type.  My doctor and I are hopeful that the slight changes are really just the result of my cervix still healing.  I am supposed to report back for another pap in four months.

One week ago I was right where I am now, sitting at home trying to relax after a day of work, except that last week my left shoulder blade, shoulder and upper arm were so sore I was beginning to wonder if I wasn't having a heart attack.  There was no specific incident that seemed to cause the pain.  It felt a tiny bit sore Sunday afternoon, sore enough on Monday that I took some Advil but then so much worse Tuesday that the Advil just laughed at me so I stepped it up to a leftover Vicodin which also did nothing.  After much googling, much of which included instructing me to call 911 immediately, I decided that I was not having a heart attack and that it was much more likely that I just pulled a muscle or pinched a nerve. Perhaps my arm was finally giving out after spending the last six years holding up babies and toddlers.  No matter what the cause, I was in a ton of pain so I headed out to the urgent care.  Many naproxens, percocets, ice packs, doctor visits, x-rays and finally a cortisone shot later, it is finally starting to feel a little bit better.  It's been a long week and probably even longer for the husband who has been in charge of all four kids all week since I have been unable to lift the baby or Sully or do much else.

Three years ago I would have been just recovering from my second miscarriage while also mourning the due date from my first miscarriage.  Each year those dates are a little easier to take.  Time may not heal all wounds but it definitely softens them.  The place I'm in now is a little odd though as I do still feel the pain of those losses and I mourn my two little lost babies and yet I'm not sure many people understand that.  I think most people who know us and know about our losses feel that having Sully and Maren has sort of taken care of things, as though children are replaceable.  I lost a little boy and then a little girl; then I gave birth to a live baby boy and a live baby girl so it's all equal now, right?  Not to me it's not but it's a paradox of sorts.  I wish I could have known those babies, raised them and watched them grow and yet had that happened I never would have had Sully and Maren and knowing and loving them the way I do now there's no way for me to say I would trade that for anything different than exactly what brought them to me.  I guess in the end it seems to be an issue I frequently have, I want it all.

Right now this is my all.  I can't believe my in-laws got a picture of all four of them actually looking at the camera. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Maren was baptized today.  She was a champ and didn't cry at all, not even while having water poured over her head and getting the oil on her forehead.  It always amazes me how even as a somewhat lapsed Catholic, I do still really enjoy the ceremony and traditions of the Church.  Maren really enjoyed gnawing on her bunny.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

4:00 a.m. Wake Up Call

As parents, we often times want to take credit for the great things our kids do, even when sometimes we might have just gotten lucky.  There have been times when I've seen an episode of Super Nanny where the kids are constantly getting out of bed, or throw a fit when it's time to go to bed, or refuse to sleep anywhere but in their parent's bed and I've smugly thought to myself, wow, those parents didn't do a very good job teaching their kids to go to bed, thank goodness I did do a good job.  The reality of it may just be though that I have been blessed with three great sleepers - the jury is still out on the fourth.  That's not to say they all slept through the night the minute they came home from the hospital, but each found a routine by around four months and pretty much stuck with it.  I can remember Shannon waking up the most, probably from teething, and I also remember the many trips into his room to give him back his pacifier before he figured out how to do it himself.  But, that was over six years ago now and as with most things kid related, time softens memories. 

Right now, Shannon, Quinn, Sully and even Maren are quite easy to put to sleep.  Sometimes I get a loud "hmph!" out of Shannon, or a "right now?????" out of Quinn when I say it's time for bed, but that's it.  There's no screaming, or tantrums, or kicking fits.  There are even times, when if for some reason I've lost track of time and it's crept past Sully's bedtime he'll come over to me and look and point up the stairs as if to say "I'm tired, please take me to my bed."  It's adorable and wonderful that he's that in tune with needing to sleep.  Even Maren has become very easy to put down.  I know she's tired when she starts to turn her head to the side and suck her thumb and I can lay her down in the pack 'n play still awake and she'll drift off to sleep.

The three oldest all sleep until at least 6:00 a.m. with Maren thus far having small spurts of sleeping until 5 or 6:00 a.m. but most nights having a 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. wake up call.  She is wide awake, smiling and cooing just waiting to start her day not realizing that no day should ever really start before 5:00 a.m.  The smiling and cooing devolves into fussing and crying if no-one comes to claim her.  After a few minutes I can hear her thrashing around, trying to get comfortable again and fighting to find her thumb to suck.  Sometimes I wish there was a pacifier to stick back in her mouth because maybe that would help her to fall back to sleep.  We are torn between just getting up with her and helping her to fall back asleep.  I'm also torn between moving her pack 'n play into the nursery with Sully or letting her stay in our room a little longer.  I wonder if she awoke in a quiet room with her sleeping brother if she'd fall back asleep quicker versus what happens now which is she knows we are in the bed just two steps away from her.  Or, would the stirring and crying wake Sully up?  My plan has always been to move her once she was consistently waking at the same time everyone else does, I just assumed that would be before six months.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Just You Wait

Every mom has had someone say to them at least once "just you wait."  When you're pregnant and you say you're going to try for a med-free birth inevitably someone will say "just you wait until you're in labor, you'll be begging for an epidural."  Or,  you might be saying how wonderful a sleeper your baby is and get in response "just you wait until she starts teething."  Maybe you mention how fun it is to see you child start to pull up on the furniture and then you get "just you wait until they start walking and you have to chase them around."  It's like some women are just hell bent on putting a damper on everything you are excited about.  And, at the same time, they have a point.

There are some women who think they know exactly what motherhood will be like and so they get tired of being told to "just wait."  Then, they become mothers and they live the nitty-gritty of it.  They experience the highs and the lows.  They love their baby but when they find themselves up for the tenth time in one night they long for sleep.  When they are changing not just diapers but entire outfits for the fifth time in five hours because of massive diaper blowouts they find themselves crabby and worn out.  Their baby gets a fever and they worry and then worry some more.  They never realized they were capable of so much love and so much worry all at the same time.  The next day they wash bottles for what feels like the millionth time and they are bored, so very, very bored, with the mundane tasks that come along with having a baby.  Their baby starts to grow up and toddler-hood hits hard.  Sweetness turns into attitude, it's not just the terrible twos, it's the terrible twos, threes and fours.  And then it happens.  One day they find themselves chatting with a pregnant woman who is acting as if she knows exactly what motherhood will be like and they say "just you wait."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Off Plan

The week has gotten away from me.  How is it Friday again already?  I made the chuck roast taco meat on Sunday and that's about as far as I got in adhering to my menu plan.  Oh wait, tonight I had leftover pizza from lunch so I guess I hit that one too, just a day early.  Everything came together and the husband and I actually got to go out, on a weeknight no less, for dinner.  Monday, the in-laws were in town and agreed to watch the kids and we had a Groupon that was about to expire for one of our favorite restaurants, Envoy.  It's in a beautiful art deco hotel, the Ambassador, and whenever I'm there I feel like I've almost gone back in time.  The owners did a wonderful job remodeling it and bringing it back to it's original glory.  Back in the day, like when I was in college, the hotel was very run down and the sort of place that rented by the hour.  So, it's great to see it look new again.  I had a pink lady cocktail that was so strong I later needed two cups of strong coffee to help me sober up.  For dinner we started with a cheese plate and then I had a wedge salad followed by salmon and finished up the meal with a chocolate sponge type cake.  The husband had a Waldorf salad, pork tenderloin for his entree and lemon cake for dessert.

We might get to start going out even more because I've managed to find three decent babysitters.  It's not easy to find someone to watch four kids and although I had gotten the name of a few teenagers a little while back from another mom, I just don't think I'm comfortable having a 16 year-old watch all of the kids.  So, I gave in and put an ad up on  I was surprised by how many responses I got to my ad.  We interviewed four different women and out of those two were near perfect, one was good and the other was nice enough but didn't seem all that interested in the kids so we probably won't use her.  I'm excited at the prospect of going to a few Brewer's games this summer or maybe even a movie.

Monday was also the day we took Sully to consult with the pediatric surgeon.  He was in good spirits until we'd been in the waiting room for over half an hour and then he started to get restless.  At some point he decided he was ready to go so he took his coat and toddled over to the doors to leave.  It was really quite cute and this continued once we made it back into the exam room.  He was making it known that he was sick of waiting on the doctor.  The nurse checked him first and said it was a good thing he was crying and screaming at the top of his lungs because it helped her see the hernias that much better.  She assumed he would need surgery and another ten minutes later the surgeon came in and confirmed.  He said that the surgery is a pretty routine one and that it is better tolerated in younger kids so it's best to get it taken care of now.  I scheduled the surgery for the end of June and am not quite as nervous about it as I was when we first found out about the possibility of him needing surgery.  But, I'm sure when the day comes I'll be more nervous than I am right now.  I hate the thought of my little guy getting put to sleep and cut into, even if it's just a very small incision.

If I make tomorrow a fish-fry Friday I could sorta kinda get back on my menu plan.  Fish might also help me catch back up on my weight loss.  I lost another pound last week but saw it come back after the big night out on Monday.  It would be nice to see it gone again by this weekend.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Frozen Days, Frozen Nights, Frozen Meals

What a miserable week.  Work actually went pretty well and I felt like I was catching up a bit on things.  The weather, however, put a huge damper on everything.  I don't think I can remember an April that has been quite this miserable.  It rained, was in the 30s and overcast Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  And then this morning it was snowing - snowing!  The result of all that rain was this in my front entryway:

And worse, in the closet:

We've had some water issues in this area since we bought the house but nothing of this magnitude.  And, to make matters worse, we've paid three separate companies to fix the leak but as  you can see, none of them did.  The best I got was about a year of no water at which point I felt it was safe to have the plaster redone.  That, apparently, was the sign to the universe that it needed to start leaking again.  I never even got a chance to paint the new plaster before it started flaking off again.  There was so much white plaster on the floor yesterday that the kids thought it had snowed indoors.

Will the fourth time be the charm?  I had someone come look at the chimney and roof this morning.  The good news was that we don't need a new roof.  The bad news was that the chimney needs to be rebuilt and that costs about the same as getting a new roof.  Ugh.

With the gray, gloomy weather I wasn't much in the mood for cooking so we used up some of the frozen meals we have, had a frozen pizza one night and I think one night I skipped dinner altogether.  I did manage to make it to the grocery store so I have a loose plan for next week.

Sunday - Chuck roast in crock pot with a jar of salsa.  Shred and use in tacos
Monday - Something from the freezer
Tuesday - Leftover roast tacos
Wednesday - Pork tenderloin with mashed potatoes
Thursday - Potato crusted cod, spinach
Friday - Leftovers or pizza
Saturday - Flat iron steak, mushrooms, baked potatoes and asparagus

Or, I might scrap one night, hire a babysitter and head out to dinner without the kids.  More on that later.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

First Easter

What a busy, long and tiring week.  I worked longer days this week to help cover things in the office while so many people were off on Spring Break.  Longer days in the office means less time at home which means I feel behind on a couple of things, like laundry, grocery shopping, sleep.  The sleep was a little more related to Maren waking up a few nights in a row.  One day she will start consistently sleeping through the night and one day I will get a spring break, just not sure exactly when for either.

Quinn put on her pretty Easter dress.

Maren played on her mat.

Sully played with eggs.

Shannon and Quinn checked out their Easter bags.

Quinn was shocked and then delighted to find Walking Talking Pinkey Pie in her bag.

I made a ham in the crock pot and then made side dishes of Swiss broccoli and bacon bread pudding.  I used to make the Swiss broccoli a lot when I was eating low carb.  It's made with frozen chopped broccoli that you've let thaw, 1 cup mayo, 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese and 1 tbsp dijon mustard.

Just mix together and pop in the oven for half an hour at 350.

The bacon bread pudding took a little more work but was still fairly easy to make.  The husband bought me a loaf of brioche bread which I cubed. I whisked together 2 cups of whole milk with 4 eggs and then added the bread to it, along with 6 ounces of shredded sharp, white cheddar cheese, six slices of bacon, crumbled.and half a cup sliced green onions.

The mixture should stand for about 10 minutes so that the bread can absorb all the liquid.

Then it goes in a casserole dish and bakes, covered, at 350 for 35 minutes and then uncovered for 15 minutes.

Once done, they looked like this and they tasted pretty good. 

Everyone seemed to like the bacon bread pudding more than I did.  To me, it tasted a bit too eggy.  So, not sure if I'll make that one again or not.

The rest of the day was spent just hanging out with the grandparents.

Second Easter is tomorrow with the other grandparents.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Third Child Effect

When you have your first child you are awestruck and wholly consumed by your baby.  You spend your pregnancy reading up on what to eat, what not to eat, wondering if it is safe to color your hair.  You pour over nursery options and pick out just the right paint colors, bedding, and wall murals.  You give great consideration to car seats, breast pumps, ergo carriers, bottles, diapers, diaper bags and on and on and on.  Once the wee babe is home you spend your days holding them, cuddling them, feeding them, changing diapers, taking pictures and documenting all their milestones.  You can't wait for them to roll over, sit up, take their first bites of solid food, crawl, walk, etc.  You look back at your life before the baby and wonder how in the world you filled your time.

Then, you get pregnant with your second and you wonder if you'll ever be able to love another child as much as you love your first.  Will you be cheating your first out of your time and attention?  But, the baby arrives and your love expands and somehow you find the time to hold, feed, play with and love this little human.  Despite that though, you find yourself taking fewer pictures, you forget to document the baby's weight and length from each doctor's visit, you delay solid feeding a few weeks because it's harder to find the time to bottle feed and feed solids.  You're still overjoyed at the smiles and giggles but a little less interested in having the baby quickly become mobile.

And then you get pregnant with your third and you're practically in labor before you even give a moment's pause to think about where the baby is going to sleep.  Wait, what? You're not supposed to use crib bumpers anymore?  Kids are supposed to stay rear facing in a car seat until they are 12?  When did all that happen?  Oh right, it happened while you were busy with your two kids. The baby comes home and the sleep deprivation is magnified by the fact that you can no longer "sleep when the baby sleeps" because you have two older children who may or may not still be napping and even when they do nap it doesn't necessarily sync up with the time the baby naps.  You "forget" the recommendation of no tv for children under age two in exchange for 15 minutes of relative peace and quiet.  You find yourself only taking pictures on major holidays and birthdays and hoping your third won't notice the 5,223 pictures of your firstborns first year vs the 223 of theirs.  It's your babies first birthday before you even start filling out the baby book.  At what age did he sit up again?  Was it at five months or six.......oh, what does it matter anyway?  He'll never know you got it wrong.

By the time you have a fourth, they just fall right into the family, almost like they were always there.  It's six months before it even occurs to you to start feeding solids (can I delay solids until she can feed herself?) and you find yourself actually dreading the idea of any sort of mobility.  You realize babies are easier when they can't run away from you!  Things that bothered you with your first, like grandparents taking your child for pictures with Santa or outfitting an entire Easter Basket become the very things you're praying the grandparents will do with and for your kids because it takes some of the pressure off you, saves you time, energy and money.  And, things that you thought were so important with your first, like the perfect nursery, a coming home outfit and obsessing about them hitting milestones at just the right time, give way to the things you now know are the most important - making the most of the time you have with them. 

Yesterday, in between cleaning up for company, making dinner and hiding Easter eggs, I made sure to take a little time to just sit with Maren.  They grow up too fast.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

So, instead of attending mass and contemplating Jesus' death on the cross, I am working.  And, instead of working, I am taking a coffee break.  Guess what happens when you only eat half of your lunch?  You get hungry.

Almond biscotti with cafe almond biscotti flavored coffee?  Couldn't have planned that any better if I had tried.  Which I didn't.  I haven't planned much of anything lately.  I'm hosting Easter dinner on Sunday and so far my plan is ham.  Since everyone and their brother has ham on Easter I'm not even sure I can really take credit for having planned that.  Isn't ham just a forgone conclusion? And if you're having ham then aren't side dishes of scalloped potatoes and perhaps green beans more forgone conclusions?  Ha.  Look at that. I just planned my menu!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Sense of Wonder

I am sitting in bed watching stupid tv and listening to Maren breath.  It's little baby breaths, soft and short and just the sweetest thing to hear.  Sometimes babies are so quiet that you have to look at their chest to make certain it's still rising and falling but tonight I can hear her as she sleeps away on her boppy right next to me.  About a week ago we retired the rock 'n play and moved her into a pack 'n play, but we're keeping her in our room until she makes it a solid week without waking up in the middle of the night to eat.  I fed her a little earlier and she fell asleep in my arms.  Staring down at her peaceful face I just didn't have the heart to move her into the pack 'n play so I put her right next to me.  Soon, the husband will appear and he'll stare down at her and not want to move her and offer to sleep on the couch and I'll say no, just move her, and then we'll both just stare at her with an utter sense of wonder.  Wonder at how we made her.  Wonder at how at this time last year we were just adjusting to the idea of possibly having another baby.  Wonder at how she can be so beautiful.  And most of all, wonder at how we got so lucky.

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Tale of a Toddler, Target, My Little Pony and Goldfish

I've got two problems.  First, I'm becoming slightly obsessed with coupons.  Not in a I have a coupon binder and am dumpster diving for trashed coupon inserts kind of a way, but in a I'm finding myself buying things because I have a coupon rather than because I really want or need the item.  Second, I'm finding myself buying toys for my kids for Easter.  Toys.  Isn't Easter supposed to be about eggs, chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, Peeps and plastic strips of grass that end up everywhere and you're still picking them up from under the couch on the fourth of July?  Here's my tale of how these two problems collided.

While clipping coupons for Texas Toast and J-ello snack cups I came across a $5 off coupon for a My Little Pony Walking Talking Pinkie Pie.  Hmmm, do I  know anyone who would want a Walking Talking Pinkie Pie?  Yep, sure do.   It was just Quinn's birthday so the next real gift giving occasion is a long ways off and normally two grandmas would be asking me what to get the kids for Easter but this year the two grandmas are scaling back (which is a good thing) so that leaves me to get over enthusiastic and buy it and justify it by saying "I have a coupon!"  Cue a trip to Target.

My kid of choice for this trip was Sully.  We hit the shoe department and I tried on some super cute flats.

After not being able to decide what I would wear them with, or what color to buy them in (they come in blue and white and a pretty green too), we moved onto the kid's department.  There, I picked out a new spring outfit for Maren.  I figure she deserves a few new outfits instead of always wearing hand-me downs from her big sister.

A package of overnight diaper and six formula containers later, we finally found our way to Ponyville.  By this time, Sully was getting a tad antsy.  He was, however, fascinated once we found Walking Talking Pinkie Pie.

He quickly figured out that if he pressed the balloons on her back leg she would talk.  "Hi! I'm Pinkie Pie" and "Isn't it exciting? Aren't you excited? Are you? ARE YOU?"  Honestly, no, not so excited and even less so upon hearing that same question over and over and over again as we wandered through the books, garden section before making it to the groceries.  By this point I was getting glares and stares from other shoppers.  They had a pleading look in their eyes silently begging me to get Sully to stop pressing the damn balloon button.  I'd had enough too so Pinkie Pie was relegated to the back of the cart.  Cue screaming and crying.  My choices were to give him back the pony or what was that over on the shelf?  Goldfish crackers to the rescue!

All hail the mighty goldfish.

I opened the bag right there in the aisle, handed it to him and let him blissfully munch away while I finished shopping in blissful silence.  Sometimes you just do what you've gotta do.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

March Madness

Typically, March madness is a term used to describe the NCAA basketball tournament, but despite sitting here watching the Indiana Temple game, I'm thinking this year March madness really describes the weather.  It's snowing.  Not just snowing, but snowing large, fluffy flakes and at a fast rate.  I'm so tired of cold and snow.  There should never be a discussion of wind chills in March.  There should also never be a discussion about me being dead last in my NCAA bracket pool.  If Marquette could pull off just a few more wins, I wouldn't even mind finishing last.

I'm starting to let things slide a little bit.  Last week I think the only night I made dinner was Saturday and Sunday and even those were pretty simple meals.  The in-laws were in town so that threw our schedule off a little bit.  They had the kids at their hotel both Monday and Tuesday evenings so it was just the husband and me for dinner.  It was very strange being home without any of the kids.  One night was leftovers, one night we did take out sushi, one night was throw whatever is in the frig into a pan night, one night I went out with friends and Friday was fish fry.  Hopefully this week will go a little better.

Last Saturday I made a chicken tortilla stack casserole using Santa Fe Philadelphia Cooking Creme.  I had a coupon for the cooking cremes that was about to expire so I thought I would give it a try.  I started with a rotisserie chicken.  I shredded the meat from the breast and cut up the leg and thigh meat for the kids.

To the chicken I added one can of diced tomatoes, two sliced green onions and three quarters of the santa fe cooking creme.

After mixing gently, I spread about a third of the mixture on the bottom of a casserole dish.

I topped that with a flour tortilla, half of what was left of the chicken mixture and then added some shredded cheese.

Repeat with one flour tortilla, the last of the chicken, sprinkle with cheese, top with another tortilla and then spread the remaining santa fe cooking creme over the tortilla.

Of course, you can never have too much cheese so go ahead and sprinkle a little more right on top.  Then, pop into a 375 degree oven and bake, covered, for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 5 minutes.

The original recipe calls for black beans but I despise beans so I omitted those.  I thought corn would be a good addition but after searching my freezer I couldn't find so I will have to wait until next time to try that.  We ate it right after it came out of the oven before I even had time to snap a picture.  It turned out pretty well for something so easy.  The cooking creme definitely adds some flavor and it eliminated the need for sour cream.

Sunday was even easier as I made a quick, bean free chili to eat over spaghetti.

I offer the same toppings I always get at my favorite chili place, Real Chili, chopped onions, sour cream and shredded cheese.  I didn't have any oyster crackers but I did make dinner rolls.

Now, unless I plan on a repeat of last week, I should really get to planning at least a few meals for this week.