Thursday, September 27, 2012


FINALLY this week feels like we've got in the groove.  Mornings aren't so hard, drop offs not such a big deal.  I've actually been able to ENJOY my minute alone time twice a week rather than cry on the phone to my mom (not that I didn't need that too though mama, thanks again).

If I were in the mourning process, which I think I am a bit, I'd say I'm in the acceptance phase.  Moving forward, trying not to linger on those sad things I can't change.  Like so missing my girls in the mornings, giving up control and trusting others to care for them (so much harder than I thought).  But I see how they're flourishing.  How much Ainsley loves having her own friends and experiences and how my sweet Louise was so clearly ready for a bit of big girl school time.  And now that I've finally figured out how to fit it all in a day?  Why, I'm even enjoying the new cadence a bit too.

While afternoons used to be quite lazy for us, a meander up to the park, a stop and go bike ride, a romp out front with no shoes and bubbles, they have become a bit more scheduled, in the most fun a creative way.  There of course will still be bubbles and walks and parks, but first? a bit of mama craft time.  Something I so needed, WE so needed to get back in our lives.

Up this week, why apples of course!  We picked up Elisa Kleven's Apple Doll from the library, a favorite from last year, but this year?  Well, we're making our own apple dolls.

It's really quite simple.  You peel an apple, carve out a nose and poke little places for eyes and a mouth, soak the apple in lemon juice for a half hour or so and place it somewhere warm and dry to dry out

I asked the girls if they wanted the "quick dry" method of leaving the apples in a low low oven for 3 days, or setting them on the buffet and letting nature take it's course and they were both adamant that they wanted their apples out in the open to watch over.  In a few weeks we should have some delightfully shriveled little faces.  I can't wait to make bodies with them out of pipe cleaners, cloth clothes and yarn hair.

Next we whipped up a batch of homemade finger paint, scented with fall spices.  Anything that involves measuring, mixing and cooking is a favorite around here.  We ground some of the spices fresh in the coffee grinder and then added them to the cooled finger paint (1/2c, cornstarch, 2 cups water, 2 T sugar, stirred constantly over medium heat until thick, then add food coloring).  We used cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice and nutmeg.  Our finger paint was a bit thick.  Perhaps more water next time?  But the girls didn't mind.  It was definitely more of a sensory experience than an art project, but aren't they all a bit at 2 and 3.5 years old?

 It feels so good to know that we can have it all.  My girls can go to school happily, I can make it through all the drops offs with energy to spare and our afternoons can be both lazy and fun and creative.  Really, whatever we choose.

Ok fall, NOW I'm ready for you :o).

Monday, September 24, 2012

Family Fun and Food

What a beautiful weekend.  In weather and in spirits.  Well, not ENTIRELY in spirits.  For whatever reason, even after a delightfully solitary Saturday I was miffed.  Miffed at the hard week we'd had, bugged about all that there was still to do around the house, and only one day until ANOTHER hard week.  So miffed, that when Ian suggessted the Botanic Gardens I actually, seriously replied "I don't really like it there.  It's just such a long drive, hauling and coralling the kids,and then a long drive back.  I don't have much fun."  Man, I must have REALLY been in a bad mood.

Because the Botanic Gardens?  are lovely.

Ian kept poking fun at me for my earlier comment.  "Are you surviving?"  "So sorry you're not having any fun."  "Ick! It's gross up here!"  Good thing I love him so much and am so incredibly good natured :o).

But really it was glorious.

After a lunch out, a Vikings surpise win! a quick run and yummy beef stew and twice baked potatoes dinner, I finally felt ready to take on the week.  Well, at least as ready as I'd ever be.

So far we're good to go.  Ainsley was still reluctant to leave home and head in the door to school but happy as a clam once we got in her classroom.  Louise actually requested "Pees mama, I go to playschoo now?" after we dropped Ainsley off.  But of course there was no playschool today so we did our usual Monday gig, groceries, musikgarten, unloading groceries, pick up Ainsley.  I hope this good morning sets the tone for the week to come!

And as for that food?  Oh boy.  After all that pioneer woman this weekend I could hardly THINK of food last night.  But that's my job right?  and really one my favorite things about my job.  Budgeting and finding a way to feed my family well give me such great joy.  It's kind of ridiculous.  So onward and upwards!

Meal Plan 9-24-12

raisin bran or Barbara's shredded spoonfuls
cinnamon apple oatmeal

wheat bread sandwiches (I know, Ian will be so dissapointed)
organic Joe's O's and hebrew national hot dogs
creamy tomato soup

Pesto Cream Pasta with italian chicken sausages and baby romaine salad
leftover lasagna (oh my goodness was it good) and more salad
BBQ chicken and pineapple quesadillas
potato leek soup and fresh rolls
stuffed baked potatoes
wild rice casserole (still haven't delved into that freezer portion)
fancy mac and cheese for the girls on Tuesday night while Ian and I venture downtown for a Fanfare Ciocarlia concert

I had intended this week to be another lower budget week thanks to all that weekend PW cooking indulgence, but I still came in on a normal budget, $142.  In addition to our normal staples I indulged myself in some rosemary and sea salt flat breads and the smallest wedge I could find of triple creme brie.  Talk about deliciousness.  If you're on a tight food budget like us and don't want to feel like you are may I please suggest this $5 indulgence?  It's literally made my day.  Oh, that and the $2 milk chocolate bar the girls and I shared for snack.  It's the little things.  Really.

Hope you all have had a great start to your week!  It keeps getting easier, right?! :o)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

His Day, My Day

Today was a day that, I think, we all needed.

My girls, who so crave their daddy always got loads of daddy daughter time.
My boy, who's been cooped up in a lab staring down a microscope even in copious amounts for his liking has been needing a bit of "normal" and surely much fun.
And me?  Well, I've been needing some quiet.  No conflicts to resolve, to tantrums to temper, no difficulties other than my own inadequacies with following simple sewing instructions (some day I'll learn).

So we all had our day.  It was great.

His day.

::Early morning conservatory daddy daughter date::

Playtime at home in the basement with mama.  Quick much needed naps.  Journeys up the block for the annual pig roast and bluegrass band.

::afternoon trip to the arboretum::

Crustless quiche dinner. Doing all the dishes.  Roughhousing and laughing, book reading and snuggling.

Not too shabby.

My day.

::early morning cinnamon roll making with two hungry girly helpers::

::all  morning, and some of the afternoon, spent making two new "little bo peep" skirts for my girls::

I so wanted to get photos of them IN the skirts, because wear them they did...but the photos turned out like this...

and this...

do these will have to do.

If this pattern wouldn't add tremendous girth to my already hippy frame, you know I'd be sporting it myself.  In. Love.

Afternoon bath, bookreading, and nap. WHAT?!?!? I know.  I'm still astounded too.  Making crustless quishe.  NOT doing dishes.  Bathing my sweet dirty girls.  Folding tons of laundry.  Bookreading, singing, ahhh.

Amazing day.

But really, any day that ends with these sweet things?...

Is already doing pretty good.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Happy Week

Ah.  The end (almost) of another week for us.  A week much better than the last but with it's own unique challenges and triumphs.

It's been a week of ups and downs with my Ainsley girl.  After a tiring but resoundenling successful first full week of preschool this week has been off.  The early part of our mornings have been spent in frustration, anger even as she determinedly, loudly states that she will not be going to school, that  she's sick, she's tired, she won't do it, she can't do it,  CANCEL IT PLEASE!  I see so much of myself in her in these moments.  Panicked almost about the idea of leaving home, her family, her safe haven.  I try to tap into what has worked for me.  Acknowledge that it's ok to feel sad, and worried, but remind her how much fun she's always had, will conitnue to have, and that she's not missing a thing by being gone for 2.5 hours from ole mom, unless of course she'd like to help me scrub the floors?  And ultimately what worked?  Letting her physically push me out the door once I drop her off and give her hugs.  Thanks for the suggestion Ruth.  We're two days with no tears.

And my big Louise, no nay-nay at school, no tears either.  When I tell her it's her turn to go to school after dropping Ainsley off she beams "mama!  you come back!"  Of course my sweet thing. Of course.

My boy finished cell counting and is most likely, at this precise moment, breathing through the last minutes of intense anxiety before a huge presentation this afternoon.  I've felt very maternal towards him lately.  Just wanting to rub his back and lay his head on my chest, take some, any, of his worry away.  My boy's not really a worrier, so when it's bad, it's really bad.

But this stretching so thin of us both has been a good thing really, a very good thing.  We're finally so close to the end of this whole process, so close to the next step, and it's exciting.  Finally being able to talk about what the next months and years hold for our family has been invigorating, and really? no matter what it holds I am just so glad to be here, sharing it with him.

So here I find myself very thankful once again for our open and free Friday.  Very much looking forward to its possibility and freedom.

And in other less dramatic news...

Louise has been sporting her first real "do's"

reading Mr Rogers' Potty book with daddy

It recently occurred to me that just because she still has deliciously delicate baby soft hair, the length isn't there to play around with.  We'r been having fun with the ponys.  My big girl.

The craft bug has officially returned!

Thanks to Ainsley deciding she only needs to nap once or twice a week we now have oodles of time for big girl crafting.  I rarely have a plan.  For instance, this particular craft went something like this.  "Ok, so I have a few celery bottoms leftover from that stock I made.  Hmm, and here's some glue and paint, and glitter?  ok why not!"

Did you know that stamped celery bottoms look mysteriously like roses?  It's one of our favorites for fabric and wrapping paper stamping.

Then of course Louise had to crash the glitter party.  They were both so proud of their creations. And I must admit.  Even this mama had some fun with that glitter.

The resurrection of the night time walk.

In all honesty we've been pooped over here.  By the time Ian gets home it's all I can do to get dinner on the table and leave our home in some semblance of order before we all hit the hay by 8pm.  But this delicious sweater weather we've been having is calling out loud and clear and I've found the return of our aimless post dinner strolls to be just what we all need.

Ah, so good week.  A bit more eventful than I would've liked but I'll take it.  I'm crossing my fingers and toes that dance class goes well this afternoon for Miss Ainsley.  After a rough start last week she's been reticent to give it another go.  We've laid out her leotard and tutu choices and she miraculously napped so I'm hopeful.  And in any event?  Tomorrow's Friday and I just know delightful adventures await us.

Happy week to you all!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fabulous Monday (so far) and Meal Plan

My oh my, how we needed this morning to go well.  There's something unique about Mondays, how the set the tone and pace for the week.  Truthfully I've always loved Mondays.  I have the most energy on this day, the most determination and intention.  Last week Monday left me exhausted for the rest of the week, I think today Monday has shown us we can do this!

Ainsley's drop off went well despite her reluctance to get out of the car and walk with me.  But we got there and she rallied.  Then I had the whole morning with my sweet louise ad boy, is life different when it's just us two.  We did our weekly grocery shopping, went home to put the cold stuff away, went to musikgarten where Louise stole the show (oh man, that girl LOVES musikgarten), then we made a quick trip to pick up some library books before heading to get Ainsley.  We even made one more stop to get some beef bologna and wisconsin american cheese for a little lunch treat.  It was a great morning.

Ahh, so now I find myself with 12 minutes of alone time before Ainsley comes tromping down the stairs at approximately 2:00.  Why I taught that child to read my analog watch is beyond me.

I think I'll spend that 12, wait, 11, minutes laying out the meal plan for the week, because really, I'm super cool like that.

Meal Plan::
This is going to be another "light" cooking week.  We still have so much in the pantry and freezer that needs to be used up, plus I've learned that planning 3 cooking intense meals are about all I can handle these days.  Hey, it saves us money too!

Nature's Path Granola
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

beef balogna sandwiches
sun dried tomato hummus and whole grain chips
peanut butter and jelly (on the best bread EVER discovered at our local bakery for $2.10 this past week...I'm hooked)

homemade chicken and orzo soup (I hear a cold/rainy front is moving through this week, I'm ready!)
chicken bruschetta bake
spinach and baby swiss quiche
leftover wild rice casserole (frozen from block party)
stuffed baked potatoes (with bacon and broccoli and cheddar)
chilli and cornbread (leftover from walkin' tacos)

total:: $92, not too shabby!

So here's hoping this momentum keeps up.  It's a big week for us all ahead (Ian should be finished cell counting up TOMORROW!!!! and then mostly working from home...I couldn't be more excited (ok, pretty sure he's more excited)).  Wish us luck!

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Day

Sometimes, most times, it only takes a day.  One wonderful, easy, calm, delicious day to redirect and remind, to renew and rejuvenate.

Today, was precisely that day.

A day that was all us.  Full to the brim, but in that magical way that leaves you energized, excited, in love and wanting more.

A day of long morning walks in sweaters and socks.  A day of donuts and fun erranding for supplies for fun to come.

A day of experimenting and mixing, delighting and giggling.


::Gloop, 2 parts glue, 1 part liquid starch, a few squirts of food coloring, endless parts fun::

A day of long naps for my big girl and no naps for my little one.  A day so great that it didn't matter.  A day of spending that precious time with my littlest, doing our favorite exercise tape.  A day where I was reminded yet again of how much cuter toddler thigh dimples are than my own.  A day where I couldn't have cared less about my thigh dimples.

A day of celebrating being together, presently and calmly.  A day of cake baking for no other reason than we love it and it tastes oh so good.  A day of mixing and measuring spoon licking and snack time decadence, because who can wait for dessert when fresh cream cheese pecan frosting is involved?

A day with an impromptu date night, so rare, so welcome, so well timed.  A night alone with my worn out boy, to just be us, as we are, take a moment, or 60, and be.

A day of mixed emotions.  After such a hard week, this day feels like the right day.  Not those other hurried flurried flustered days.  Today was the day.  A day where we've enjoyed so much and been so happy.  An easy us day.

All it took was a day.  A beautiful wonderful awesome amazing day.  And we're back.