Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Winter Still

February has been hard this year.  I made a point to come back from Christmas with my A game on.  We made lots of plans, were super busy, had lots of fun and now February has felt like one big crash.

It's funny really, because I've always been so defense of February, it is my birth month you know.  But the truth is it's hard and quick (but not quick enough it seems)! Like everyone else I'm eager for a good thaw, sun and fresh air that doesn't feel like it's biting your face.

There are of course parts of the hunker down that I still love.  

I've loved this winter with Felix.  We play away and our mornings are so calm and happy.  This morning we grocery shopped and he helped me chop veggies for our soup (mushrooms are the best for that!).  I love my afternoons with Louise while Felix naps.  I've given up on naps almost entirely with her and most days I let her watch a show or two while I knit and we nuzzle, then play a game before Felix wakes up and we go to get Ainsley.  Oh those post school hours, they are mostly good.  We still find time for our projects and are getting better about getting alone time when we all need it around 4:30.  Ainsley's new favorite is blasting music in the basement while swinging and singing at the top of her lungs.  Her current favorite album is one of my old Counting Crows from high school.  That and Christmas albums.  There is quite a bit of me in that little girl for sure.

I perhaps love winter most for all the time to make.  After a craft supply run last week I tidied up our cabinets and the girls have had so much fun with glitter glue, stickers, paper and scissors and fabric.  Simple drawing continues to be a favorite and Felix gets in on the fun every time.
I am excited for new fabric coming my way for spring sewing for the kids and I.  It's my favorite kind of crafting right now.

So I'll continue to bundle the kids and brace myself for the biting air, I'll feel such relief when the sun does pour through our windows and give us a brief reminder of the thaw to come.  I'll do my best to enjoy all this togetherness and indoor time because it really is special and great.
Happy Tuesday to you all!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Meal Plan 2/22

I'm still feeling iffy about cooking.  I motivated to make a zucchini lasagna and beef stew last Thursday so we have lots of leftovers.  Heres' hoping to some motivation tomorrow!

Leftovers:: zucchini lasagna, beef stew, butter chicken (take out from my birthday!)

In honor of my dad's birthday on Wednesday, twice baked potatoes and ham

crock pot chicken wild rice soup (with a wild rice blend I got at Costco, we like it, but I have SO MUCH! Any wild/brown rice recipes greatly appreciated!)

Ruths' Man's dish.  Dan reminded me of it while he was here, a delicious easy casserole that kind of nods at chop suey, but with rice and ground beef, so not really at all.

Mel's Kitchen alfredo pasta and chicken, because why the heck not.

I'm buying very little so we'll see how this goes.  Sometimes it's nice to lean on your freezer and pantry and giant block of Costco cheese.


On Friday I turned 31.  This birthday felt different to me.
It's the first time I can remember not having at least a short list of things I wanted to give to my mom (because mom and dad still spoil their 31 year old :o).
I had one thing, ok two things.  I really wanted a backpack and a dust buster.  I have big dreams!

Gifts aside my expectations for the day were low.  Not in a negative way, I'm just realistic and know that life with three little people on a weekday is going to be what it's going to be.
The whole day was wonderful.

I got so many wonderful things, each one reminding me of how well the people in my life know me.  We ate delicious food that I didn't have to cook, and perhaps best of all Dan watched Felix and Louise for most of the day so I got some very exciting alone time.  We ended the day with wine and cheesecake from our bakery.  I can't imagine a better day really.

And now this whole weekend has really felt like a continued celebration.  Yesterday was Ainsley's fun fair at school so I spent the mooring frosting cakes for the cake walk and we headed over right at the start.  We stayed over two hours.  The girls ripped through $20 worth of tickets having the time of their lives.  I was SO tired after all the carnival games, bingo, pizza eating and silent auction perusing.  We came home to drop Louise off and I headed back with Ainsley to see the grand finale, a full out talent show put on by the teachers, punctuated by a pie in the face extravangaza at the finale.  It was so so much fun and really helped ease all the angst I've had about school of late.  What a special place my girl gets to spend her day in.  We're lucky  to have found such a great home away from home.

To top it all off for me Ian and I went on a DATE last night!  We ate out just us two and it was so nice.  Dan offered to watch the kids again tonight but I'm weary of getting too used to this kind of freedom ;o).

Today has been much more low key (thankfully!) I'm actually STILL in my jammies after sewing away the morning.  This afternoon I'm looking forward to togetherness before Dan hits the road tomorrow.  Perhaps a few games, some drawing, fresh baked muffins and coffee, lasagna for dinner.
I am so thankful for all these simple pleasures in my life.  31 has had a great start.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Meal Plan 2/16

This week is going to be interesting.  Ian's getting over the stomach flu I have NO desire to cook or spend money on food and my birthday is Friday so I've been told i don't need to plan that, but my father in law is coming into town so I need food in the house...so, now what?

I still have all the ingredients for ground nut stew so I'll most likely make that.  I also have ingredients for beef stew so that's on the list too.  Honestly other than that I have no clue.  Most likely eggs of some sort? Or lentil soup and bread?  I have the ingredients for that too.
So maybe a frozen lasagna at some point too?  It's come to that.

Sometimes cooking is no fun at all :o(.

A Little Planning During Precious Alone Time

We had a nice Valentines Day, perhaps more on that later.  That night Ian got sick.  We're still not sure if it was from food or the flu, but whatever it was he was SICK so I spent yesterday tending to him and keeping the kids happy.  I am so tired today and really in need of some downtime.  I recently retook a Myer's Briggs and rediscovered that I'm an INFJ which is apparently the RAREST personality type.  Makes sense in so many ways to me.  Anyways, that introvert part is proving trickeier and trickier for me.  I hardly every get alone time, I'm constantly needing to be social and outgoing even when I don't want to be.  It's good in so many ways to be forced to get out so much, but I really need my down time to be a happy lady.

Today my downtime is looking up fun new learning games for the girls while Ian takes them to Costco and Felix naps.
I am really really struggling with elementary school.  I don't know what it is. Ainsley is doing so well, she loves it, Louise is so excited to go next year and I know she's ready too.  For some reason I hate it.  I hate that they're growing up and that I feel so much pressure to teach them and for them to be learning all the time.  Then I remember that they are learning, just by being little kids and experiencing life and growing.  IT's just so exhausting.

I manage by planning a few fun learning games a week.  It helps me make sure they're were they need to be and makes me feel better.  Our main mode of learning around here is just experiential.  They help me cook and clean, and make things.  We read every chance we get.  The one thing I am not great at is numbers.  I am not naturally a math person so it just doesn't occur to me to do much more than count with them.  Our math games tend to be few and far between so this week I'm focusing more on that.  Thought I'd share in case anyone else is in the same boat.

P.S. It's also so super hard to try and find things that Felix can partake in too.  I think this week I found some good ones!

(I totally goofed on most of these links and am too lazy to fix them.  If you're interested just search the name of the game at the No Time for Flash Cards web site)

Pizza Delivery Game - this one looks AWESOME!

Number Match Game - I love that all three can do this one.  Felix will just love holding the cards and Louise can work on 1 to 1 correspondence while Ainsley can brush up on simple addition.

Gross Motor Math Game - Love anything with painters tape on the floor

Flower Petal Math - the girls are very into cutting and pasting so this one would be great

Craft With Numbers - Love this idea.  I need to get some more colored pom pons so we can do some fun themes.

I just need to keep reminding myself that it's going to be ok, it IS ok already.
Ah.  Big sigh of relief today.  Thank goodness for alone time!!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Meal Plan 2/9/15 and books, and other things

I'm sad I dropped of the ball writing down my plan last week.  We had some good food!  I've been to Costco the past two weeks to stock up on some things (pantry stuff, cheese, jammies, that hott crew neck sweater for Ian).  I feel like we have so much food in the house I'm reluctant to shop more, but the inevitable 5 more things trip turns into a full grocery cart every time. I'm getting better about letting that go, knowing we rarely throw out food and I'm feeding 5 people, and when I do buy I buy the best stuff at the best value I can find, every time.  Oh well!

This weekend I was craving veggies amundo so I made two new soups from Moosewood.  I made the vegetable chowder and cauliflower cheese soup.  Both are really excellent.  We had them for lunches all weekend and will have them again for dinner tonight with bread, with lots more for more lunches this week.  I love big weekend cooking.

Other than that we're eating...

Ground Nut Stew with brown rice, cooked carrots and parsnips (at least two meals for our family)

Baked mahi mahi with broccoli bake ( I bought 5 lbs of broccoli at Costco!)

Gnocchi with pesto and grilled marinated chicken

We have about 3 pounds of chuck roast in the freezer that I'm thinking has beef stew written all over it.  That may be a Sunday project because Saturday is Valentine's Day and in our house that means showing love with food, again.

Ian's been dying for a good seafood bisque so I'm going for it.  At trader Joe's they have a frozen seafood blend (shrimp, scallops, and calamari) for a mere $7.99 so I snagged that up with some wild caught frozen cod pieces, San Marzano canned tomatoes, broth and heavy cream and we should be good to go.  He requested raspberry cream cheese pie on a graham cracker crust for dessert.  For lunch I may really splurge and make the kids Velveeta shells, Ainsley's all time favorite, and hot dogs of course.  I love fun weekend cooking.

I just finished racing Delancy.  I liked it and the last page about marriage and life and change, is exactly what I needed to read last night.
Have you read Homemade Life by the same author?  It's one of my all time favorites.
After two successful, quick (for me!) reads I'm trying to keep momentum up but need to choose something!  Perhaps an NPR booklist book?  I had eyed lots around Christmastime...I'm also excited to get Twig from the library.  A friend highly recommended it as a read aloud for the girls' names and I can't wait to read it!

I've started a new groove with Ainsley and reading.  She's been reluctant to read to us, I think because she doesn't like not knowing words.  When she does read she reads the whole sentence silently over and over until she knows it well, then blurts it out loud and confident and fast.
Now we sit down each night after dinner, up in my bed and she reads me one book, then I read her a chapter of a book, just us two.  we're working out way through the Julie books, which she's loving, and sometimes throw a chapter from Heidi in there.

First books she's loving reading to me...
Bob Books and Dick and Jane
Usborne Very First Readers (we've been getting them through our library, oh how I wish Usborne books were more accessible!)
Mo Willems (cat the cat books...SO GOOD!!!!!)
Dr. Suess (Hop on Pop and the first parts of Cat in the Hat)
Things are just starting to truly "click" for her and she's sounding out words she doesn't know with relative ease.  It's such a great thing to witness.  I'm proud of my girl for working so hard and thankful for this special time with her each day.

I'm still trying to find a better time to carve out reading chapter books to both girls without little man around.  I may just start reading aloud to Louise too.  Mercy Watson were favorite firsts with Ainsley, and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.
We're almost 100% sure we're sending Louise to kindergarten next year.  I guess I just needed some time to get used to it.  I'm definitely sad in many ways but I know it's the right thing for her and that she's ready.  I just wish there was a half day option for kindergarten. :o(
On other Louise notes, that girl is coming into her own.  She's reading signs when we're out and about (while driving! which means she's reading them fast).  It's still shocking to me because that girl hardly knows her alphabet some days.  Haha!  She is hilariously specific about her clothes these days.  All she'll wear in our house (and to bed) are tiny bike shorts and oversized t shirts.  She then puts school clothes OVER these for school and outings ALWAYS with her red mama made sweater over the whole shebang.  It's so dang cute.
She also loves toting around adult chapter books "reading out loud' and making up languages of her own.

I'm itching to do some sewing of my own.  I love this pattern and this pattern.  Perhaps I'll treat myself to an early birthday present and make a gauzy top I can wear in Florida?  That'd be more practical than the dress, but that dress and these shoes?  Hmmmm.  I feel my willpower waning, especially since I'm pretty committed to making the girls this dress for spring, I love how simple but cute it is.  AND!  I found a big kid quick change trouser pattern!  I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!

Well, I'm off to pick up Ainsley from school, head to the library and finish some Valentines.  Happy Wednesday to you all!

Monday, February 9, 2015

February Love

It's late and I definitely should be sleeping (especially since it's my turn to get up with Mr. 5:56 am tomorrow) but when the spirit moves you you just have to go with it.

This week has been pretty grand.  I had one meltdown one morning when Ian let a pan soak overnight and I was distraught over the messy kitchen in the morning and so physically exhausted from hauling kids in and out of the car approximately 10 times a day (did you hear Chicago got almost 2 feet of snow last weekend? because we did).  Other than that thought life's been great.

The girls both had snow days on Monday so we hung out and enjoyed the togetherness.  We played in the snow lots and capitalized on the extra time together.  Then the week flew as it always does.

I find I'm still struggling with this big kid schedule.  I have as many tantrums as Ainsley about homework and the long days.  I try to refocus myself on how much my education meant to me, how much I loved school and valued my friends and teachers and the experiences I had there.  I know in my heart of hearts that I can't give her all that at home with just me, but dang it's hard sometimes.

The girls are both SO into drawing right now.  It's pretty much the best thing in my life.  I've been requesting drawing books like a madwoman from the library and we spend most  of our afternoons sipping on tea drawing.  Even Felix gets so into it.  He loves to make mark and "cuy-yer".  I am really amazed at how much the girls' drawings have changed and grown even just over this past week.  I'm loving it.

I wrote that Saturday night and am too tired to add much on tonight.  Our weekend ended up well.  I got to have breakfast out with a good friend, I'm quilting and knitting away ( new mittens for me now!).  Ainsley's home from school with a mild cold/fever.  I sent her this morning because she didn't have a fever and got the call around 10:30 to come get her.  She'll be home tomorrow too per nurses request.  Lots of Valentine making and movie watching in our future!
And Ian went with Louise and Felix to pick out undies for our tiny guy.  After peeing in the potty at least once a day for more than a week and POOPING in it TWICE today we're going full steam ahead as of this weekend.  Watch this little guy put his sisters to shame and potty train himself before two years old.  Have I mentioned I love this little guy?
 My heart just bursts for my children, my husband, and this amazing life we have together.

I have to get Ian's photos on here someday.  The one of Felix in his Minion undies is actually too much cuteness.
Love to you all this Valentine's week!