Monday, June 25, 2012

Simply Delicious.

It all started with a breadmaker that I bought last fall.

I love this thing.  I am hardly Martha Stewart and am far from a health nut, but I wanted to slowly begin to take steps towards improving our diet by making things more at home.  So, I bit the bullet, bought one, and have yet to buy a loaf of bread since!!  We have had a couple of lunches that have used leftover hotdog buns (for my famous-to-us banana dogs) or tortillas with hummus because I am out of bread, but other than that I have stayed on top of things.
We have grown to love our homemade whole wheat bread and the cinnamon swirl, cut thick, makes killer french toast.  And I have to say that I feel good about this simple thing that is better for my family.

We’ve tried a few other things here and there (homemade crackers etc.) and have dropped a few things from our grocery list (bye bye fruit snacks), slowly making changes that are better for us all and bringing our desire to find ways to live more simply, into our kitchen.

So then a few weeks ago I decided to switch where I did my grocery shopping.  I have always tried to be somewhat price conscious and so have done most of our shopping at Wal-mart and Target, with a few coupons in hand.  But then I realized that I was entirely too distracted when I would shop there.  Being able to pick up things for the house and kids at the same time that I was getting food sounds convenient, but really what it was doing was causing me to wander all over the store and then rush through my grocery shopping because I had wasted too much time and just wanted to be done.  I just wasn’t paying attention to the food anymore.

Now we go to a grocery store.  (I know, newsworthy, right?)  But hear me out.  Because now when I go, I am focused on the food.  I also try to shop only on the outer rim of the store because that’s where all the “real” food is...produce, dairy, meat...only venturing down the aisles when I absolutely have to (cereal, peanut butter etc.).  This little change has made me shop much more simply and our grocery bill has dropped significantly (and I haven’t brought a coupon with me since we made the switch).

I’ve also been thinking through our portion sizes, trying to focus on giving the kids more vegetables and fruit.  For lunch, I always used to give them a sandwich, pretzels or goldfish, and some fruit.  I started giving them a little more fruit and not including the pretzels or goldfish, letting them know that if they are still hungry when they are done they can then have some.  They almost never ask.

And my latest change has been this little gem that we got for Anthony for Father’s Day...

A yogurt maker!!

Anthony and the girls all love yogurt (Nate’s allergies keep him from indulging) and we go through quite a bit.  All those plastic containers, all the extra seems like it should be a healthy habit, but the cost, the waste, the sugars...I just thought that it could be better.

A friend of mine has been using her mom’s old yogurt maker from the 70s and just loves it, so when I saw one on sale at William-Sonoma, I thought it would be the perfect gift for my yogurt loving man!  Boy was he surprised!  No tie for him...a kitchen appliance!  Isn’t that what every man wants?

Well, we have made a bunch of batches already and are so happy with it.  It makes plain yogurt so we are figuring out how best to sweeten it as naturally as possible.  It’s cute, it’s easy, it’s fun, it tastes great, and it is so simple.

And I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Garden update.

So things have been super dry here.  We could really use some rain.  But our garden apparently didn't get the memo because this is what it has been looking like...

Where did my path go?!

The tomatoes are crazy!

The black raspberries are just a tangled mess.

It has been completely out of control.  I had purposely decided to not overplant it because I like an organized garden, but I just didn't anticipate how insane these plants were going to get!!

So since the weather was cloudy and a bit cooler this morning, I went to work cleaning things up.

There's the path.

Oh, we did plant carrots.

We'll try again next year little berries.

It looks SOOOOO much better.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Papa's Presents

So my folks are at that point where they are really hard to buy gifts for.  But this past Christmas, inspiration struck for what to do with my dad and he has become the easiest person to buy for that I know!  How did it happen?  Well, here is a picture of my dad from the day I was born...

and sometime in the 80s...

and here is his profile pic on his Facebook page...

Notice anything?  Besides how adorable he about the fact that my dad has been sporting a 'stache FOREVER?!  I have literally never seen him without one.  And while mustaches are not exactly the current style for men, they are a serious style accessory and can be found on just about anything.  Check out this pacifier that I pinned on Pinterest...

Of course all of my kiddos so far have favored their thumb to a pacifier, but seriously, how funny is that?!

Anyway, so this past Christmas I got a catalogue that had this mug in it and we were sold...

My dad uses it all the time.

So when we started talking about Father's Day presents, we thought, look, if he is going to continue to sport the 'stache, than we are going to embrace it with him.  And so today we gave him these...

and this picture framed...

Seriously, he has become the most fun to shop for EVER!!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tic-Tacs, a Magna Doodle, and Braxton-Hicks Contractions

I have really good kids.

I mean, we don't think twice about taking them to restaurants or leaving them with sitters because they really behave so well. This morning I had to take all four with me to the doctor's office and they all just quietly went over to the book table and started reading while I checked in, grabbed a magazine and sat down on the other side of the waiting room. These ladies that were sitting near me said something about how quiet they all were and I responded with...

"Well, they each have tic-tac money in their pockets that they will only get to spend if they behave well for me on all our errands this morning."

And that was true. They did. But the truth is that even if they hadn't, they still would have been sitting there like that. And yet, for some reason, rather than just smiling and saying that they are really so good, I felt compelled to almost excuse their good behavior. I mean, let's be honest, my being straight with you right now about how great they are is kinda making you sick, isn't it?

But that's the truth. My kids are really well-behaved. Some of it is probably just their personalities, but part of it, I have to think, has something to do with how hard Anthony and I have worked to bring up polite, thoughtful children. 

And yet, we are far from being perfect parents and they are far from being perfect little people.  Case in point...I just found these sweet little children screaming their heads off at each other. From what I gathered things had gone down something like this...
  • All four were playing school together...Adele was the teacher.
  • Lucy had decided that she didn't want Nate to play any more and was trying to get Adele to kick him out of the room.
  • Adele wouldn't do it so Lucy told her that she hated her.  (The sweeter they are, the meaner they can be.)
  • Adele tried to get Elise to help her out and Elise just ignored her (which is her personal favorite way to be mean, especially to Adele who can't handle it).
  • Adele started screaming at everyone. Everyone started screaming back.
  • Adele picked up a small magna doodle and threw it. It hit Elise in the head. Elise came and told me about it.

  • I'm always trying to teach them that they can't control what others do and need to focus on taking responsibility for what they did, so I told her to go apologize to Adele for ignoring her and that I would deal with Adele.
  • Elise went upstairs and said she was sorry and Adele started screaming at her.
  • I called Adele downstairs to talk to her. As we were talking things through, I could hear little spies coming downstairs, so I sent the other three to their rooms until I was done with Adele.
  • All three slammed their doors.
  • Nate started screaming for his dad, who isn't home.  In need of rescue from mom, I guess.
  • I went up with Adele to deal with each kid and have Adele apologize to Elise. She opened their bedroom door and said sorry with a bunch of attitude. I sent her downstairs to come back up and do it again.
  • After I talked with each kid about their roll in the fiasco, I got all four of them together to talk to them as a group. There were more tears and apologies and forgiveness and promises that they would get along.
  • I came back downstairs with a big ole Braxton-Hicks contraction...followed by about four more.

It should probably be noted that I lost my cool at one point during this whole thing and screamed the loudest of everyone...sigh...I'm still a work in progress myself!

Parenting is hard, even when you have really great kids. It can be so exhausting and when you have to deal with the same issues over and over, it can feel really pointless.  It can be heart-breaking and really really humbling.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have found myself trying to teach something to one of them only to feel so convicted that they are acting the way they are because they have watched me do that same rotten thing that I am trying to break them of.  It's times like that that I become only too aware of the fact that parenting is forcing me to deal with who I am as a person.  And it ain't pretty.

But I think I am a better person because I have parented.  I think that all the blood, sweat and tears (lots of tears) that I have poured into these little souls have changed me so much for the better.  I think that I have grown more patient and forgiving and so much more aware of how what I say and do affects others.  And I am thankful that they are still so small and that there are so many of them, because I have so much more that I need to learn.

Friday, June 8, 2012

June's Books

Well, its June (can you believe it?!), and I have picked another long novel.  Oh well.  Its summer and I lay in bed reading for an hour most mornings, so I'll have time.

Classic:  The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James.  Okay, so I really knew nothing about Henry James, but I had heard of him and you probably have too.  Remember in Notting Hill when Julia Roberts' character is doing a space movie or something and she is talking with Hugh Grant's character about it and he says something about seeing her doing something more like a Henry James' movie?  Remember?  And then he goes and visits her on set when she is back in the country and it is on the set of a Henry James' film?  Anyone?

Anywho, so I remembered that it was a period movie with carriages and pretty dresses so I figured I would like it. There were a number of Henry James books on the shelf at the store, but Anthony recognized this title (which I love about him) and so that's the one that came home with me.

Spiritual:  Abba's Child, by Brennan Manning.  Anthony loves Manning, so I wasn't surprised when this is the one that he chose.  He said it is a really good and quick read, we'll see.  I tend to read a bit slower and dare I say dumber than he does, but hopefully I'll enjoy it!

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Well, things keep growing around here!  Our garden now looks like this...

And at 26 weeks, I now look like this...