Monday, April 30, 2012

Meal Plan 4/30

I flaked out last week on the meal plan although I assure you there was one.  We ended out the month just fine, even so I'm antsy to try something new this month.

For as long as I can remember I've grocery shopped on Mondays.  I make a meal plan for the whole week including Saturday and Sunday and buy up accordingly.  It works pretty well for the weekdays but come the weekends, we almost ALWAYS end up tiring of the plan or wishing for enough budget for a simple take out meal or breakfast out.  Still I'm weary of not buying lots of groceries when I do go because it is such an ordeal with the girls.  I truly can't fathom doing it twice in a week.  However, with Ainsley's playschool on Thursday morning Louise and I have gotten into the new routine of going shopping just us two, to get an extra gallon of milk and something fun to cook for the weekend (fish to grill if the weather's nice, a hearty roast if it's not).  I've been liking this new routine, but it's throwing my budget WAY off.

So this month I'm buying in bulk.  I just went on a colossal Costco run with the girls where I bought a 9 pound pork loin (and cut it up into roasts and chops myself!) 5 pounds of ground beef (also portioned out into 1.25 pound portions and frozen) 2 whole roasting chickens (one to roast, and other to cut up into pieces for separate meals).   I bought enough meat for 3 weeks (all month if I plan really well!) for about $45.  Other great bulk items to buy there?  plain yogurt, butter, juice, baking staples, rice, onions, bananas and apples, potatoes, frozen veggies, real maple syrup, hebrew national hot dogs, applewood smoked bacon, dried fruit, favorite crackers (and I mean only the favorites because you'll have them FOREVER).

Cost of Stock Up: $200, only $50 more than a normal weekly shopping trip budget and I don't see us having to buy anything for quite some time...ahhhh.

I am hoping that with this meat stock up and a good full pantry and freezer we should only need to buy perishables and dairy every so often.  I'll let you know how the new venture goes.  But I'm pretty excited to have the bulk of my shopping done for the month!!!

Stock Up Meals

Roast Chicken with potatoes and veggies
Fried Chicken with potato salad
Grilled BBQ Chicken with rice and salad
Chicken Casseroles, Soups, Stews
Chicken Salad on Homemade Bread
Chicken Paninis
Chicken Pastas

Macaroni Soup

Crock Pot Pork Chili
Roast Loin
Pan Fried Pork Medallions
Sauteed Chops
Slow Cooked BBQ Pork

Pizza, Calzones
Veggie Pancakes
Breakfast for Dinner
Hot Dogs and Baked Beans
Grilled Cheese and Soup
Eggplant Parmigiana

I'll try to take more photos of the good meals and do weekly recaps.  Here's hoping for a month of eating well and spending less!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Muscle Memory

I made myself wait a few hours after running to write this post. You know, let the crazy endorphins abate a bit so my words actually make sense (because my oh my were there endorphins today).

Something spectacular has been happening lately while I run.  I've been dreaming up how to best convey it for weeks and months now.  Let's see how I do.

Every time I run it's the same story.  My mind first quiets and calms.  As I settle into a comfortable pace it's almost like I'm floating above myself, my legs moving on their own, my mind free.

I get my best ideas while running.  Have my clearest most awesome thoughts.  It's like sipping on a delicious macchiatto in your sharpest outfit, talking with your best friend, and probably solving world peace, all without a care in the world.  It's awesome.

Funny thing is.  My thoughts have changed some.  Before having the girls I used to have these great ideas for novels (because you KNOW I've always wanted to write one) children's books, paintings.  Difficult problems suddenly had simple answers.   I had monumental clarity during my runs.  Felt super human.

I still have that experience, especially after a good long run.  But now, instead of grand ideas for books and art, or anything really productive and worthy, I think about the birth of my daughters.

At first this was a bit odd, and surprising for me.  Rounding the tight corner of the health club track this winter an image suddenly popped into my mind.  A clear as day recollection of those final moments of Ainsley's birth.

I remember that run so clearly.  One of the first of my official "training" for ragnar.  It was the third one in fact, the first two had gone well.  Relatively easy 3 and 4 milers at the same track (because goodness knows I'm not a winter outdoor runner, ooh, and that sauna after the run sure is nice.)

In short, I was cocky.  Another 3 miler in the same week? No problem.  I started off too fast, as cocky runs tend to start.  The first mile was ridiculous.  Under 8 minutes if I remember correctly (practically FLYING for me).  Then came mile two.  My lungs seized up, my whole body seemed to cramp at once, my mind was screaming at me to stop.  It was a nightmare.  Turn the corner to mile 3...BAM.  Birth flashback.

Because a flashback is involuntary I had no choice but to roll with it.  To accommodate it in my I've had enough please let me stop! filled brain.  The playback wasn't graphic, if that's what you're thinking.  Oh no, even with the mirror in place at her birth I have absolutely no memory of all that.   My memory, in fact, uncluttered in my endorphin filled state, was of strength.

I finished my run, barely, but strong.  I stretched a little and headed for my sauna reward.  Sitting on the cedar bench sweating so much I had to close my eyes my mind blanked again.  I was zonked.  10 miles in one week?  are you kidding me?!?  I thought nothing of the flashback moment and went on with my mama of 2 filled life...until the next time I ran.

Just about every run since I've had that same moment.  The flashback may be a bit different.  Sometimes it's Louises' birth, sometimes they're long moments, sometimes quick glimpses.  But they're there.  As persistant and constant as ever.

And now I get it.

Running is hard.  Has anyone told you this?  If they tell you it's easy they're lying.  I'm a pretty good runner.  I don't say this to pat myself on the back but to assure you that this is coming from a person who has run, a fair amount, and relatively painlessly and it still SUCKS about 30% of the time.  If you don't eat well, haven't drank enough water or stretched appropriately forget about it, your run is going to blow.  If you're tired or the weather is weird or you have to run at a bizarre time just to get your run's probably going to blow too.

Thing is, my runs have been going SO well since these flashbacks have followed me around.  I've had very few bad, hard runs.  I can run with nothing but a half cup of coffee in my stomach, and soar. I can run unexpectedly at 5pm after having had no water all afternoon, and fly.  I can run 5-7 miles and it is truly no big deal.  I'd take any sort of credit for this but I can't.  I really haven't been training that hard or dieting in any sort of way that could account for how great I feel running.

I chalk it all up to muscle memory.  You see these flashbacks, as it turns out, are my body's way of reminding me that I can do anything.  When I am in a place of stress or pain or man I just want to give up my body remembers doing it, one of the hardest things it's ever done, and suddenly, it's no big deal.

I have stayed away from ever stating my opinions about pregnancy and birth because I truly feel it's every woman's (husband's, family's) choice for how they want to bring their little ones into the world. Clearly I feel strongly about how I brought my girls into the world because it was my choice, but I don't impose that opinion on anyone.  All I can say is that out of the blue, 3 years and 16 months respectively after giving birth without IVs, medication, epidural or help of any kind, my body remembers what it did and it helps me just about every day of my life.

And now that I know what these flashbacks are for?  I find myself pulling from that strength all the time.  In the middle of a long day with the girls, a spat with Ian, a dark feeling of loneliness and entrapment that can sometimes swallow a stay at home parent whole...are all eased a bit, because if I can do that, I can do most anything.

So this running thing...yeah, it's been good.  And for the record, recalling all that pain and hand gripping and yelling, elation and strength?  Only makes me want to do it all over again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Bit Nuggety

I've not been feeling the nuggets lately.  I find I miss just writing when I have something to say, not because it's Wednesday.  Today I just have a few snippets, which I GUESS could be considered nuggets, and wait, it's Wednesday too isn't it?  Darn.  But no pressure right?  Just a good old fashioned update after a LONG and tiring few days.

Ian has been working tons and I find myself in this odd horrible parent/spouse limbo.  On the one hand I feel terrible for him.  Working 10 hour days, coming home for dinner and going BACK to work in a lab by yourself with rats for 4 more hours?  No thank you.

On the other, him working overtime means I'm working overtime.  I feel bad asking him to help with anything around the house because he's so exhausted, but I'm exhausted too.  Every waking moment of mine is spent working, corralling children, cleaning, cooking, playing (which is harder than it looks, let me tell you!)

Last night I was so dramatically tired that I considered letting Ainsley "make" dinner (which would mean cereal).  Boy, that was a rough one.  These are the moments when it would be GLORIOUS to live by a grandparent or a good old friend who I wouldn't mind pawning my children off on for an hour or two just so I can hear myself think! (or have a thought worth thinking).  Ahhh.  Someday.


Oh Louise, so much to share about you always.  Where to start?  Probably the biggest development of note lately is that you have informed us in no uncertain terms that you would like us to change your name.  You see, you've been talking for quite a while now.  Happily singsonging Mommy, Daddy and Ainsley to tunes and in small sentences for months.  But we CANNOT get you to say your name.  It's actually quite hilarious.

Me: Mommy, Mommy! (sung to a music garten song)
Louise: Mommy, mommy!
Me: Daddy, daddy!
Louise: Daddy, daddy!
Me: Ainsley, Ainsley!
Louise: Aseee, Aseee!
Me: Louise, Louise!
Louise: {blank almost-angry-definitely-annoyed stare}

You will not even TRY to say your name. We've tried, Lou Lou, Weez, YaWeez, and of course your actual name.  Nothing.  Then the other night daddy tried it with you and you proudly pointed to yourself and said "Beez!" Then hopped up dancing around the room pointing to yourself "Baby Beez! Beez, Beez, Beez!!!"

So I'm so sorry to have misinformed you the last 19 months, here's our daughter.
Beez Adele Vaagenes.

::photos from the Brookfield Zoo children's building in the birds nest area. 
If I could I'd recreate these oversized nests, large felt and fabric leaves and huge eggs in our own home, what a delightful clever creative play center::

and other cute ism of yours of late?  You simply MUST take the books we read to you before bed into your crib with you so you can keep looking at them "reading" them to yourself before you doze off.  Ahh.  I love you girl.


And speaking of girls, who's this little growing before my eyes lady?  Why Ainsley May, it's you.  We've had it a bit rough the past few weeks.  You were doing SO well with just about everything before you got sick.  Then your sad little curled up drippy nosed body just seemed to get angry at being cooped up.  I hear you.  I didn't like it either.  But now we're getting back into real life and you're amazing me every day all over again.  Last night after another meal time battle we calmly talked it out and decided to make a chart (your new favorite thing).  We mapped out the important table manners with pictures so you can read it yourself (your daddy said I need to work on my perspective for that chair I drew...oh daddy).  You already have one meal crossed off with three stars! Here's hoping we get 4 more in a row so you can get that Oberweiss ice cream cone! (if I said I was above bribery before I lied, bold faced lie, this child will do almost ANYTHING for an Oberweiss ice cream cone, and we are not afraid to take full advantage of that).

Your sense of wonder and elaborate pretend play never cease to amaze me.  The other day we were playing in the back yard in the wee hours of the afternoon.  You told me you were making a donut shop, carefully shaping mounds of sand to make the donuts and sprinkling tiny sticks and rocks for the sprinkles.  I asked if I could have a chocolate donut.  "Oh mommy, no no.  This is only a sprinkle donut shop.  We don't make choclate here."  Ahh my bug, bullheaded and steadfast even in pretend world.

You are still so crazy independent, sometimes I wonder where we go from here?  you want (no INSIST) to do EVERYTHING by yourself, and while I love your eagerness and confidence it sure has tested mommy's patience (which is ok, I can always use more of that).  We recently read a new book by one of our favorite authors and illustrators Elisa Kleven's Sunbread and after talking it over you decided that you could make your own sun bread, all by yourself.  You've helped me make bread enough times you just may be able to little one.
I love you to the moon and back.

resurrecting our love of oatmeal.  Made on the stove, sprinkled with brown sugar, cream and raisins....mmm, the one breakfast that doesn't leave me hungry by 9am.

you girls seem to enjoy it too!  sister spoon sword fights!

Mmmmm pancakes.  The perfect weekend treat.  I've found substituting buttermilk and cake flour in for regular milk and all purpose flour makes all the difference.  ooh, and frying them in butter.

One more gem from the zoo.  Ahh. I love that place.  I love my girls dressed as birds, feathering their nests, sharing their eggs.  Oh, I love their buns too (can you see Louise's tenny tiny one?)  For my girls who HATE having ANYTHING in their hair, a bobby clipped bun is their do.  I love it.
Can we live there? (in the nests, not bun world, although that could be cute too)

 Saturday afternoon coffee and cookies.  
My cookie trick?  I ALWAYS make a full batch, but only bake what we can eat in a day or two (maybe 8 cookies?) then form the rest into balls, freeze them on a cookie sheet and when set, pop them in a freezer bag to be pulled out as needed.  These 6 cookies were ready from freezer to plate in about 20 minutes.  (preheat time plus 12 minutes cooking time).  Delicious fresh cookies anytime.  Sooo sooo dangerous, and good.

Eating said cookies while cheering on the Twins.  Ian was afraid the girls wouldn't share his loyalty.  He need not have worried.

Spring. Green. Leaves.

My new blouse!  Um, I'm in love.  I've already worn it twice and just washed it and plan to wear it again once it's ironed.  It's SO comfy, the fabric is absolutely luxurious.  I'm already planning my next one.  Do you need one?  Seriously.  I just want to make 10 of these.

Placket/button detail.  While finicky to do, these parts make the blouse I think.  Gives it a little interest on top even if I look like a male hippy from the 60s if I actually USE the button.

Sorry.  I love it so much.  I had to take one more.

Ah. So I guess that was a bit nuggety, yes?  I guess I can't help myself.  Honestly, with the days, weeks! we've had lately, you're lucky I can put one coherent sentence together.

Today I find I am thankful for the rain.  For one more day to get our sea legs under us, for a snuggly afternoon of forts and new books, sensory play and Avonlea (oh goodness am I excited for that!)  But really, yet again, just trying to be ok with survival, knowing that in each day, as long and hard and dreary as it may seem, there are always precious moments that make it all worth it.  That's not to say I'm not anxious for my boy back, healthy kids, and energy.  PLEASE!!!

Have a great day out there.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Making of a Sick Day

Secretly I've been patting myself on the back for the last 3 years.  My girls have been super healthy.  Very few fevers, colds, or flus.  Clearly it's some amazing thing I'm doing.  How clean I keep my house (oh please), how healthy we eat (um, if butter's healthy, sure!) how active we are (1 hour walks around the block count right?).  Alas, it's caught up to us.  BIG time.

Over the course of this winter we've each had the stomach flu TWICE, fevers and colds galore, and WAY too many sick days as a result.  Cue tiniest violin squeaking ever.

It stinks.  We miss out on activities while sick (oh musikgarten :o(, parties (we so missed you today Adam and friends!), the outdoors! sun! CIVILIZATION!  I never mind our close quarters in this house, until a sick streak finds us scratching up the walls.  Oh goodness.

The flip side?  We've gotten pretty good at this sick day business.

Oh Louise and I.  We get things done.  Fully in the I'm the biggest helper stage of life we take full advantage.  We spent ALL of yesterday morning organizing toys and books, switching out worn favorites for old favorites, all the while testing out each and every discovery.  Oooh how we like a good clean out us 2.

we stumbled upon HISS, her new favorite game

you know you're a parent when...
one of your beautiful built ins is dedicated entirely to childrens books and toys

 ooh! and when the sunroom in your 1300 square foot house becomes a playroom

Then this morning we did it again!  While Ainsley watched Robin Hood (because it's daddy's favorite mommy!) and Louise happily drew (more on that later), I finally organized our downstairs storage room.
ok, maybe not so impressive, but you should have SEEN the before

um, maybe I'll get to that fabric pile later...

And of course there's LOTS of this...

try 5 episodes in 3 days.  

My girls are absolutely enthralled.  "Founders Day", the episode with the town festival and lots of friendly competition is their new favorite.  It's so good, I'm only sick of it as of 8am this morning.

Of course there's lots of baking.  It fills the house with good smells, occupies my well abled child and keeps me close to my down and out one.  I actually really like the excuse to be inside and bake all day.

cutting in the crust for my grandma's legendary lemon bars, on the floor, naturally, so as to be as close as possible to my sick girl

french bread loaves, cooling in the spring breeze

I'm totally jealous of the vitamin D this bread is getting

Gram's Lemon Squares, they even converted Ian, the no lemon dessert guy

Then of course there's all that snuggle time.  So good for a little of this...

 I did it.  
I pulled out the whoops-I-made-this-child-sized edging and am charging ahead.  
Can't WAIT to wrap this around my shoulders soon.

And those long naps?  they're pretty good for this...

sicky naps and loads and loads of pre-weekend laundry (diapers too!)

and if those naps are extra long?  maybe even a little bit of this...

I finally cut out that beautiful birthday money bought fabric 
and am one good sewing surge away from a new spring blouse.

And of course because life is never perfect and productive and without total setbacks there's this...

pink. permanent. marker.  all over our basement carpet.  
I knew that little rascal was too quiet for her own good.

Oh Ainsley girl.  We all hope you feel better soon.  But it's good to know we can all survive, thrive, even have a little fun on these long sick indoor days.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Hump Day Nuggets:: A Little Bit Bored

The last few nights I've found myself (dare I say it?) bored.  There it is.  I'm bored.  After two goofed up knitting projects my hands are officially weary of the needle and with no real NEED to sew anything now that the girls' summer duds are complete I'm lacking any motivation to sew.  Once the girls are down I stare at the clock, for the first time in years, and am at a loss.

At first it was actually kind of nice.  I can't recall the last time I've just sat, taken an aimless bath without cookbooks of craft books to scour, meals to plan, to dos running my mind rampant.  But now the freedom is almost paralyzing.  

I've realized that part of what I've struggled with with this new found "free time" is guilt.  Shouldn't I be doing something amazing and productive with this free time? like everyone else seems to be?  Not necessarily.  I don't blog to be famous or make money, I don't knit and sew to sell anything or make a business, I don't craft and plan activities for the soul purpose of writing about them. In all honesty it's great. I am able to be here and present for my girls and boy.  Have energy for fun and play.  The end of the day finds us with full bellies and a clean house.  I don't think there's much time for much else.  Oh boredom.  I've missed you so.

  It's no secret that our Ainsley May has been a little fashionista since birth.  The moment she could speak. wait no, dress herself (so 9 months old?) she's been dictating her wardrobe with fierce opinion and zeal.  Her latest trademark?  Layers.  and no, I'm not talking a tank top under a sweater or skirt on top of leggings, but layers upon layers of clothes.

::this is how Ainsley bounded down the stairs after nap time Monday::

::yes, that's 4 dresses, 5 tutus, 2 two piece swimsuits and of course footie jammies::

::she was quite delighted with herself, twirling and leaping around::

::until exactly one hour later she promptly and dramatically pleaded "mama, HELP ME!  I'm so hot in here I think I'm going to melt!!!"  of course you are Ainsley girl::

I wonder what trend we'll see next?


We had Louise's 18 month well visit Monday.  My little doctor Ainsley was enthralled with it all as usual and so helpful when her sister was equally weary.  Louise warmed up to our sweet doctor quickly and charmed him with her chatter and smiles and giggles.  Our girl is leaning out, now 25 lbs, up a mere pound in 4 months, right in the middle of the pack for her age.  Running around in her diaper she looked so old!  Hold on Louise, I'm not ready yet!


Ahh the bursting beauty of springtime nature.  The girls took their nature bags out for their inaugural run this week and oh the treasures they found.  Ainsley's was stuffed to the gills with dandelions in all states of being.  The white puff balls are of course a favorite, as are sticks with leaves still attached.  We took a full hour to walk 4 blocks.  My kind of discovery.


Watercolors are our new crayons.  So easy to set up and clean up, so many possibilities.  Today we greeted the (much too early) morning with herbal tea and paint.  What a way to start the day.


While I am patiently waiting for my zeal to return to complete a few sewing projects, I see knitting sitting on the back burner for a while.  Poor Louise's new sweater was not meant to be.  After determining that the gauge was just not right (yes about 3/4 of the way through! :oP) I'm leaving it on holders to resurrect next year when she really NEEDS a new sweater.  That yarn is too nice to go to waste.  But the real deciding factor in scrapping that project?  Her spring sweater from last year was found in a bin downstairs and it still fits!  While the sleeves are short the length and girth are perfect and with a long sleeve underneath it keeps her toasty warm.  Oh how thankful I am that I've learned to knit big!

::moving her lunch to her own "table", inspired by Heidi, 
the girls both LOVE to sit at their own tiny tables while eating ::

::sporting her 12 month sweater, circa 2011, you're so vintage Louise::

::the sad almost finished but unfinished sweater, til next year peony pink!::

Amidst all this defeat I have had SOME successes!

::homemade garden gloves!  SO easy and I dare say they may actually work!::

Ok, so this counts as both a success and defeat.  I thought I'd finished my luscious magnificent shawl on sunday, a mere 4 days after casting on, only to find upon completion that it is in fact child sized...those circular needles can be quite deceiving.  I can't bring myself to tear out the edging just yet, but rest assured I will, and make it right.  It's too beautiful not to be perfect.

In the midst of all that what-am-I-doing-here-and-why-am-I-doing-it nonsense of late I stumbled upon something.  While cleaning out our closet I found this...

the first sweater I ever made.  Ok, second (mom it's really ok, I totally forgive you for shrinking my first, the label DID say cold wash :o).  It reminded me that before all this blogging and child rearing and making do I really loved to make things.  I made this sweater at the end of high school.  It's a simple raglan cardigan, knit top down just like I like, with antique-esque silver buttons.  There are days when I feel so far from who I was as a girl, a young woman.  It's been amazing to have a physical reminder that I'm actually very much like her still, and perhaps she knew me all along.

Speaking of cleaning closets...I've had an epiphany.  Well, several actually.  Now that I'm officially not in a pregnant or taking care of a nursing infant stage anymore I decided it was time to take some serious stock in how I take care of myself.  After YEARS of feeling tired most days (despite good sleep) and flustered about clutter and mess in our home I aimed to do something about it.  And let me tell you, I haven't felt this good since college.  My secrets...

1. Take Vitamins

I've been taking vitamins regularly for about a month now.  It take them at night so as not to upset my stomach.  I take the Melaleuca vitamins with a calcium vit D supplement and a florify to regulate tummy troubles.  I feel amazing.

2. Clean Up

Oh goodness, this is an every day battle.  If I let things go for even one day the mess becomes insurmountable.  The first step for me was to clear out clutter.  I have bags upon BAGS of old clothes, books and toys in the basement just awaiting donation (or the motivation for a garage sale).  Slowly through the winter I went through every drawer, shelf and closet and got rid of everything that wasn't an essential or that I didn't' absolutely love.  Now that everything in our home has a place clean ups are so much simpler.  And now that I have two little capable helpers?  we clean up after we play, rather than leave the mess and move on.  And if all else fails?  at the end of the day when we're all zonked and awaiting Ian's arrival I crank some tunes and turn the timer on for a 10 minute speed dance party clean up.  It's simply AMAZING what a focused 10 minute clean can produce. Oh how it's changed my life.

3. Exercise.

So I've been running, you know that.  I thought it was going to be so much harder and time sucking to train for my upcoming race.  I have been so pleasantly surprised to see how fast my body has gotten back into shape and how relatively easy it was, and continues to be.  Most days Ian's home in time for me to run before the girls go to bed, if not?  I run with them in the jogging stroller after nap time.  I take advantage of the weekends and get in a good 5-6 miler (or two).  It's felt so good to have so much alone time in a week.  Running keeps me even and the endorphins are working wonders.  I'm happier, I'm calmer, I'm more patient. It's all good.

4. Slack.

this new boredom thing has really rocked my world.  I can't remember the last time I've had free time to play with.  Now that I've accepted just sitting for a bit or relaxing or even going to bed early, it's been amazing.  I've found it's crossed over into my days with the girls.  Now that I'm not planning so much we do lots of aimless walking, lounging in the backyard talking about what we see and hear.  Discovering and playing.  I think it's good for kids and grown ups alike to be bored every now and again.  It awakens creativity, calms the soul.  We're liking the slack.

After typing out these nuggets last week poor Ainsley has fallen ill.  She was so off at the beginning of the week, I feared we were slipping back into old wiley ways.  Alas she's sick with a good spring cold and mild fever.  We've spent the morning watching more Little House than I care to admit while Louise and I cleared and cleaned out toys and books.  We had such fun finding old treasures and switching over favorites.  I hope to get out for a walk this afternoon, even if it's just a few blocks.  My big girl is quite wiped and in dire need of her mama.  That's just fine with me.

Happy Hump Day!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Meal Plan 4-16

This week was inspired by weekend laze and two new penzeys spice mixes (compliments of a birthday giftcard...thanks again Sonya!)

baked ribs with BBQ 300 rub from penzeys and corn
grilled alaskan cod with Fox Point seasoning (also penzey's) and frozen quinoa duo and vegetable melange from TJs
pan seared chicken tenders with tomato cream sauce fusili and green beans
leftover tater tot casserole, frozen from last week
TJs teriyaki chicken and vegetable stir fry with veggie egg rolls
broccoli and cheddar quiche (quiche is my new favorite)

toast turkey, havarti, and tomato sandwiches on oat bread
minestrone soup
cheese and refried bean quesadillas
cream cheese and cherry jam sandwiches

blueberry oatmeal with sweet milk
honey o's
blueberry lemon pancakes (homemade, frozen)
cheese omlettes

Snap Pea Crisps
peanut butter and apples
raisins and cheddar cheese
pita chips and veggie dip

total:: $124, I had hoped to spend closer to $100 but a few misc unplanned items landed in our loot, vanilla bean wafers? don't mind if we do.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hump Day Nuggets:: Place to Land

Just this past weekend I was flying high.  I was coming off of a tremendous week, lots of easy fun and good life vibes in general. Easter Sunday with it's excitement, fullness, and zeal for churchgoing renewed was an exclamation point to a seriously amazing streak.

Then Monday found me in a deep funk.  Louise spiked a fever mid morning and Ainsley was proclaiming loud and proud throughout the crowded grocery store "I think I'm going to barf mom.  My tummy hurts so bad!".  Thankfully she did not barf, but the mood was set for the next few days. Normal activities became chores, moods were off, especially mine.

I went into my zone, a quiet autopilot zone where my mind is abuzz with thought but without voice.  I struggled to pinpoint what was up, why I was so down.  Then gradually my sweet girls and my amazing boy pulled me out of my mood, as they always do.  Louise needed me so and that felt good, if not exhausting me so I had no time to think much about my own woes.  Ainsley has been so ridiculously witty, cute and helpful lately that I can't help but beam.  Then Ian can home with a broad smile and a welcome squeeze, despite his two very long hard work days and I decided to get over it.

Ian and I talked last night after the girls went down.  One of those great long deep talks.  I'll admit I cried, spewing all my worries about the future, working through befuddlement about where my place is in this world, how being a mom continues to be so much harder than I thought and that once the girls are in school I know I need something else, but what? That really I feel silly writing this blog sometimes.  As if I have anything worthy or new to say.  That I cling to my cooking and homemaking and crafting so desperately because it gives me SOMETHING, ANYTHING, outside of my children who I love so, but take every ounce of me. That I miss my friends.  That when a best old friend called yesterday and I missed the call beacuse I was running around upstairs trying to get Ainsley to brush her teeth I cried when I heard the message.  How I've missed that voice, and all that voice represents, true friendship, kindred spirits, camaraderie and carefree fun.  It's been almost 5 years since any of that.  I needed a good cry about it all and today I feel much better.

Then as if to put a big old page break on this whole down spell a friend linked to a great article this morning.  The article spoke of how detrimental it is to compare ourselves as parents to all those "perfect" ones out there, on other blogs, facebook, twitter.  I've seen a number of these articles floating around and I have to say it eases my mind.  It's so easy to compare ourselves to others, especially online, to see how we measure up and feel lacking.  But we all have our things right?  Our strengths and our weaknesses.  I'm still coming to terms with my own but I know at the end of the day my girls and my boy just want me.  No matter where I am in life or how hard the day is, that's a pretty great place to land.


Last Friday I took the girls to the zoo.  Despite telling Ainsley about million times before leaving that we weren't going to go on the carousel she kind of lost it when we actually walked by without riding.  Thankfully we recovered and had a great morning.  It was much more crowded than I was expecting (I forgot kids have Good Friday off of school!) so we bee-lined it for the children's zoo building and spent our entire morning there.

Ainsley could have stayed at the veterinary clinic all morning.  She was tending to a stuffed pengiun with a limp in his waddle and took such care of him.  We had to go back numerous times for her to check on her pal.  Louise adored the petting zoo and nearly tackled the sweet rabbit.  Both girls loved playing zookeeper, picking out food for the tiny turtles and cleaning their cages and windows, all in costume mind you.  We rounded out the morning with a story time, a little facepaint and a stop over in the zoo managers office where Ainsley answered phones and typed fake emails with the best of them. I love the zoo more each time we go.  What a great morning.


Easter was phenomenal.  My parents and grandma dropped by Saturday morning for a quick visit and egg decorating.  Ainlsey and I were egg dying machines.  I tried two new "techniques" this year, mainly because last year Ainsley had very little patience for dipping the eggs and quickly wound up dumping all the colors together.  This year I tried an egg volcano trick, which was so simple and fun with awesome results.

baking soda
food coloring
paint brushes
hard boiled eggs

Directions:: Make a paste with the baking soda and food coloring.  Add water until you get a tempera paint like consistancy that is thick enough to stick to the eggs.  Paint the eggs, making sure to cover entirely.  Place on wire cooling rack over rimmed baking sheet.  Pour vinegar over the egg(s) and watch the magic!

I also tried tissue paper dying which didn't turn out quite as well.  I think you need to mkae sure to get uncoated tissue paper.

Back to Easter...

On Easter Eve we read The Easter Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes.  Ainsley snuggled right up to me and drank it all in.  When we put her to bed she asked desperately if we could please cut a hole in her wall so she could see the Easter bunny hiding eggs in the backyard.  She was SO excited!!!  She woke up at 6am sharp and climbed into bed with us while we tried to convince her that we couldn't get up before the sun because the Easter bunny was still working.  As soon as she saw the sun peaking through the window she bolted downstairs.  As soon as Louise woke up the girls searched for and found their baskets.  The Easter bunny went a bit overboard on the sweets this year which the girls of course loved.  Louise in particular was smitten with her first full sized chocolate bunny.  Since church wasn't until 11 we dragged out the morning a bit.  I made eggs benedict for the first time and while the hollondaise was a bit lemony it was quite good.  We then got all gussied up and let the girls loose in the backyard for the egg hunt.  The pictures say enough...

Then off to church, which I'm embarrassed to admit we have not been to in AGES.  Ainsley was literally traumatized by the nursery and when Louise started to lose it too we decided to take a hiatus until the girls were older.  They both did amazingly at the hour long service.  Ainsley is excited to attend church school and we've made the decision to buckle down with Louise even if she's not a fan at first because Ian and I need this in our lives again.

After naps we ate an early supper with Auntie Sonya.  I bought a 1/4 ham from Trader Joe's which was delcious! and made Pioneer Woman's Scalloped Potatoes.  I made a banana cream pie the day before and whipped up some cornmeal biscuits at the last minute because really what's a feast without biscuits?  It was a good meal.  It was a great day.


I am nearing the end of my "planned" knitting and sewing projects for the spring.  Louise's sweater has turned out to be a huge pain and I've had to rework the sleeves 3 times now. There's nothing like paying $9 for a pattern and having the sleeves wrong! (but also a secret thrill in correcting a "pros" pattern).  I think I've finally figured it out and hope to have it done soon!

Also on the forefront now are a few gifts in the works and a few springy things for myself.  Sonya gave me a gift card to my favorite knitting store and I've been agonizing over what to use it for.  I'm thinking luscious yarn for a modern shawl for myself.  I'm pretty excited!


We've started doing lots of crafts and activities inspiried by books we're reading which I am LOVING. Ainsley asks so many questions when we read and while it takes FOREVER to get through books I am so thankful for her genuine curiosity and excitement.  This last week we read Miss Rumphius for the unpteenth time, but this time Ainsley suggested that we too could make the world prettier if we planted flowers in our own garden.  So on an errand to Target I found some lupine seeds, just like Miss Rumphius plants and we sprinkled them out of our pockets into our garden just like her.  I know they most likely won't bloom until next spring as they are perennial seeds, but Ainsley was delighted to bring a bit of that book to life.  Me too, it's one of my favorites.

On the docket next is baking Russian pashka and kulich inspired by Babushka in Rechenka's Eggs and Cinnamon Crinkle Cookies from In Aunt Lucy's Kitchen (the first in a series of adorable first chapter books).


Walks.  They're my favorites.  We do them every day.  We do them long, we do them short.  I've learned to come prepared, ALWAYS with the Ergo to carry the tired ones home and an open mind to where we go and how long it takes.  Definitely my new favorite groove.

 ::the latest alley find, a push car!!!  Best toddler transportation ever::


 ::walks usually end this way, hence the need for the Ergo::

So the good streak really is still going strong.  Sometimes a good cry is just as important as all those awesome days of fun and productivity.  More important I think.  For here I sit on the other side totally refreshed and free, closer to my boy, my girls and my self.  It's a really good place to land.

Happy Hump Day!