Friday, October 28, 2011

it's been awhile...

Can't believe I've gone over a week without posting, so this will be one full of randoms.

I've been a little tied up around here lately because Nola has not been sleeping well and is nursing every five seconds (or so it seems).  All that adds up to a growth spurt in my book.  Tonight at her bedtime feeding, I think my body finally caught up with her because she was having trouble nursing well because it was flowing so fast.  We'll know for sure if all is well by the way she sleeps tonight.  Cross your fingers!

Had a crazy week around here too.  On Sunday night we thought Natalie and Nathan may have come down with Hand Foot and Mouth disease.  They both had a body rash, and Natalie was complaining of a sore throat and mouth.  And she developed a fever Monday morning, but that only lasted until that night.  Nathan never went beyond the rash, so maybe it was something else or maybe it was a mild case.   Either way, they were both home until Natalie had been fever-free for 24 hours.  They went to school on Wednesday, but on Thursday school was out due to parent-teacher conferences.  So we got a visit at home from all three of Natalie's teachers and both of Nathan's on Thursday morning.  We got very good reports on both of them.  Nathan is adjusting to life in the classroom and is developing friendships and learning the routine.  Natalie is advanced (surprise, surprise!), so her teachers are going to begin challenging her with learning to read some sight words as well as how to tie her shoes.

Natalie gets to go to ice skating lessons tomorrow morning, and then she'll be at her dad's for the weekend and Monday for trick-or-treating.  (side note: since when is Halloween such an important holiday that festivities HAVE to occur ON the 31st?)  Anyway, next week will be a busy week for her as well with her out-of-town grandparents and aunt coming for a visit. 

Nathan is blowing us away with his vocabulary.  A couple days ago, Kevin asked Nathan to come, and Nathan said, "I can't right now. I'm busy."  Today he surprised Kevin by grabbing a jug containing just a little juice and a cup off the counter and sitting down on the floor to pour the juice into the cup.  Such a smart, self-sufficient little boy.

We've been enjoying the entertainment that the World Series has provided.  Can I just say how insane Game 6 was?!  As I type this, they just got the final out and have won.  After last night's game, I'm glad that this one was far less dramatic.  Congratulations to all you Cardinals fans!  If it couldn't be the Cubs, at least it's you guys. 

Going to bed now, and looking forward to a very peaceful day tomorrow. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

New snacks

Banana with nutella
I'm trying to be more conscious about getting more fruits and vegetables, and even though this banana is slathered in chocolate, I'll call it a win.

hilarious. plain and simple.

So, the back story...

Natalie likes to build towers with blocks in her room.  Fantastic, right?  Yes, most definitely.  The thing is that she likes to show me each and every one before she can knock it down and make a new one.  Normally this is no problem, but when I sit down to feed Nola I can't get back there to see it.  So of course, we run the risk of having a disastrous event if Nathan happens to get to the tower before I do.

That is, however, before I came up with a brilliant plan.  Let Natalie take my camera and take a picture of her towers if I'm nursing.  She loves this.  It allows her to show me what she does as well as be a big girl and get to use my camera.

Fast forward to the hilarious part.  This is what happens if you send a 4-year-old out with a camera that is not on the right setting.

And the final product...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

freaking. out.

Ok, maybe not fully freaking out.  But getting apprehensive.  There are four days until I speak at my mom's group at church, and although I know what I'm going to say (and may or may not have it typed out word for word), I'm starting to get nervous.  Kevin says I'll be fine, and I'll do a good job.  And that may be.  But for now, I'm anxious.

I'll take that as a sign that I need to pray and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to settle my heart and mind. 

So come Holy Spirit and relieve my anxiety.  Help me to know that my words are not mine but instead are yours.  Thank you for the opportunity to heal some of my past hurts in preparation for this talk.  And help me to speak sloooowwwly and clearly.  In Jesus' name, amen.

one is the loneliest number

Reading my One Year Bible this morning, I came across this passage.

1 Timothy 5:24-25
Remember the sins of some people are obvious, leading them to certain judgment.  But there are others whose sins will not be revealed until later.  In the same way, the good deeds of some people are obvious.  And some good deeds done in secret will someday come to light.

This helps me realize that we ALL have some areas in which we fall short.  No matter how together I think some people have it, there are certainly things about them that I don't know.  If all of us could realize that deep, dark secrets exist in every human being, it might just be easier to call Satan a liar and dismiss the shame that comes from thinking "I'm the only one."  We might be more willing to share our shortcomings and confess our sins to each other. 

This is what I'm praying for today.  Will you join me?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Risotto with Shrimp and Peas

This is another new dish that I made tonight.  I think it is my favorite yet.  Absolutely delicious!

Risotto with Shrimp and Peas
14.5 oz can of chicken broth
3 tbsp butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup arborio rice
salt and pepper
8 oz cooked peeled small shrimp
8 oz frozen peas
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken broth and 1 3/4 cups water over high heat until steaming; cover and keep warm. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt 1 tbsp. butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. 

Stir in 1 cup of the broth mixture, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Maintaining a low simmer, continue to add the broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and allowing the rice to absorb the liquid. Cook until the rice is tender and creamy, 20 to 25 minutes. 

Add the remaining 2 tbsp. butter, the shrimp, peas, and 1/2 cup cheese and cook, stirring, until the cheese has melted. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese.  

Absolutely amazing!! 

27th birthday

Well, my 27th birthday will definitely be one to remember thanks to some very special people in my life.

On Saturday, I got to celebrate my birthday a couple days early with my parents.  We went over for brunch - waffles, eggs, bacon, homemade blueberry sauce with blueberries from my dad's bushes, and good company.  Just what I needed that day.  I got some awesome cooling racks that I have needed for awhile.  And I got a giftcard to Kohl's.  I went shopping after church on Sunday and got some new jeans.  Can't wait to go back and get some new tops to go with them.  Kids were getting restless, so we had to get home.

I woke up on Monday morning to a beautiful ring from Kevin.  Natalie began the day by informing me that she was going to plan to have me out of the house for the day so that they could prepare my party...haha.  She has all these big plans and she's so into the details.  Cracks me up. 

We had a wonderful breakfast and a peaceful morning, and I had almost 50 birthday wishes on Facebook throughout the day.  Perspective:  I think I got about 15 or 20 last year.  God has blessed me with tons of new people in my life.  My most favorite new person since my last birthday is the person who gave me the best birthday present I have ever received.  Holly gave me a beautiful Clavinova electric piano.  I still have to pinch myself to believe it's real, and I feel so alive since I have music back in my life again.  It's like free therapy. 

Bonus:  I was able to find my huge box of piano music in the garage, so I have plenty to keep me busy!

On Monday night, my mom came and babysat Natalie and Nathan so Kevin and I (and Nola) could go out to Red Lobster for my birthday.  It was such a relaxing and delicious meal.  Nola was hilarious as usual, and adamantly demanded more biscuit every time she finished a bite.

All in all, an amazing birthday.  I'm so grateful to God for each and every person He has placed in my life, and I'm so grateful for all the wonderful presents and well-wishes.

I am one blessed human being.

Nathan's got it rough

Playing with Nola.  Thank goodness she doesn't mind.

"Take a picture of my piggies, Mama"

"Take a picture of my belly, Mama"

"Take a picture of my other one piggies, Mama"

Nathan has needed lots of cuddle time over the past several days.

We've had a rough couple of days with Nathan.  Not exactly sure what his deal is, but praying over him seems to help at times.  It probably has a lot to do with not getting enough sleep since he and Natalie get up around 6 am and don't take naps in the afternoon 4 days a week.  Tonight he was in bed at 6 pm and asleep at 6:45.  I just hope he's not getting sick because we just got done with that yuckiness with Nola.  When he's in a good mood, he's a very inquisitive little guy.  He loves asking questions, reading books, helping ("helping"), and playing with his sisters.  Can't believe his half birthday is coming up in just three days.  I'll have to post his "stats" then.

Natalie's News

Natalie has been enjoying ice skating lessons for the past four weeks courtesy of my Mom.  On Saturday mornings, Natalie goes with Grandma to the Ice Arena on campus for a half an hour lesson, and she just loves it.  I haven't been to watch her yet because I'm afraid my presence will bring on the "I can't do it"s, so I sent my camera with my mom last Saturday. 

Walking out onto the ice

Working on "swizzling"

I just can't believe that she's out there doing this.  SOOO PROUD!

This is the pick-up game.  They scatter toys and the kids pick them up.

Confident, pretty smile

Midterm report card -- she's doing very well!!

I'm so proud of Natalie.  My mom says all the time that she's showing real determination to learn and master her skills.  If you know Natalie, you probably know that "determined" is not a word that describes Natalie under most circumstances.  So I'm really happy to hear that she's learning how to really learn something new.  I just can't say enough how proud I am of her.

Nola's latest antics

Almost immediately upon learning to crawl, she also learned to pull up.

She's so pretty.

And there's the stand.

She was talking to her reflection and banging toys on the window!

Nola is so fun these days.  She really enjoys being able to move around and get whatever she wants.  However, she is also discovering that basically anything she's not supposed to have is way more fun than the toys we try to give her all the time.  She has some words that she's starting to use to refer to people and needs.  And she'll repeat back to you in the correct number of syllables.  I'm reminded all the time how different boys are than girls because things that Nola is doing remind me so much of Natalie.  And then I think about when Nathan started getting his verbal skills in particular, and it was nowhere near the time when Natalie and Nola did.  So interesting!

After a brief sleeping hiatus due to an upper respiratory infection, I'm happy to report that we've gotten our good sleeper back.  Usually only 2 wakes at night and two good naps during the day.  Thank goodness.  I had gotten spoiled there for a few weeks and was missing my sleep!

Playing catch-up

I really don't even know where to begin since I haven't posted in what feels like forever. 

  • Nola's crawling everywhere.  And pulling up on everything.  It won't be long until she discovers the fun of chasing the older two down the hallway.
  • Natalie asked me today on this very windy day, "Mom, how does God make wind?"  (I couldn't think of anything intelligent or creative to tell her, so I just said I don't know.  Lame, yes.)
  • Nathan has been in an awful mood for most of the past several days.  Don't know if this is a reflection of the weather which has been sort of dreary or if it's the start of his terrible twos. 
  • I celebrated probably the best birthday I've had in years on Monday.  More on that in another post.
  • Kevin's hanging in there and really getting into his fall football and the World Series.
So that's the Reader's Digest version.  There will probably be an unabridged post for each of us in the next day or so.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spidey snacks

I did it.  I made these adorable little snacks for Natalie to take to preschool.  Quite tedious, but they were worth the smiles on Natalie's and Nathan's faces as they ate them and told me about how well they were received.

Here's the recipe:

Ritzy Spider Snacks

40 Ritz crackers
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 tsp shortening
pretzels broken in half
peanut butter
mini Reese's pieces

1. Spread 20 crackers generously with peanut butter.
2. Melt chocolate chips and shortening in microwave by heating for 30 seconds at a time and stirring in between.  Stir until smooth.
3. Dip broken pretzels into the chocolate on the non-broken end.  Place on crackers with peanut butter to serve as the legs.
4. Dip the top of a cracker in the chocolate and push gently onto peanut buttered and eight-legged cracker. 
5. Place mini Reese's pieces on the chocolate cracker for the eyes. 
6. Repeat until done.  Chill in the refrigerator until cool enough to stack in a storage container.  Store in the fridge.

Don't worry, be happy

I was just reading Philippians 4:6-7...

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

This passage makes me think about all the other things I associate with the phrase "don't worry."

Like this, for example.  Bobby McFerrin's "Don't Worry Be Happy."  Can you imagine Paul singing this to the Philippians?  And adding that they should pray about everything, of course.  But the basic gist is there. 

The other association with "don't worry" I have is a memory of my grandma.  Whenever she would take us traveling or even when we'd stay at home and one of us would express a concern over details, she would say (in her Belgian accent with a New Yorker twist) "Don't wooorry about it!"  

I love remembering these things when I start to worry about something.  They instantly make me smile and remind me that things are not as big a deal as they seem in my head.

So thank you Paul.  Thank you Bobby.  And thank you Grandma.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Make-your-own-pizza night

Tonight I had the kids make their own pizzas.  I kept it easy by buying those pre-made pizza crusts and just putting all the stuff on it.  Worked out great, and the kids had a ball!  And the pizzas were delicious!

Nathan spreading his sauce around -- he was still sleepy from his nap!

Natalie getting her sauce juuuust right.

His favorite part, you ask?  Oh yes, the cheese.

She asked, "do I just put it on the parts where there is no pepperoni?"

Put some more cheese on there, girl!

Nathan's got the right idea.

Watching them bake in the oven

And they're done!


Eating applesauce while she waits for her pizza to cool

Nola is 8 months old!

Oh my goodness, how in the world can it be eight months already?!

But it is, and I must get some acceptance.

The best part about today was that she began to crawl - really crawl.  No army crawling or scooting or rolling required.  This girl was crawling.  I had a brilliant idea to catch her crawling on video, but she didn't take the gimme.  I placed my laptop on the floor with the webcam recording thinking for sure she would make a beeline right for it, but she sat where she was playing with the straps on my backpack.  Oh my children...ever unpredictable.

Here's the rundown for Nola's 8th month...

Size: Pretty sure we're getting close to 18 lbs.  She was weighed when we had to go in for thrush again this month, and she was over 17 lbs then.  Theresa said she looks fantastic and her weight gain is right on track.  I never knew what the actual "normal" rate of growth was, but I found out that at this age it is a half an ounce a day.  So by that calculation, she should be a few ounces over 19 lbs by the time her 9 month appointment rolls around in November.  This was fascinating to me since I'm a number freak. 

Clothes:  Funny story.  She's grown THREE sizes this month.  Started out the month in brand new 9 months stuff and grew out of it way too quickly.  Same thing happened with the 12 months stuff, so now we're in 18 months.  The sleeves are a little long, but the legs are just right.  Hopefully she'll make those last for a little while!

Eating:  Still primarily nursing.  I am so not in a hurry to cut down on the nursing since Nola is my first exclusively breastfed baby.  And everything I'm reading and hearing from the lactation consultant and the WIC peer counselor says that I could give her nothing but breastmilk for a whole year and she'd be perfectly fine.  But since she shows so much interest in what we're eating, I've gotten more in the habit of including her at mealtimes -- especially supper.  She loves her puffs.  And she's also eaten pizza crust, carrots, squash, applesauce, and peas.  She's sampled a little chicken, ice cream with strawberries, and last night she ate spaghetti.  Pretty much everything I give her are things that she picks up and puts in her mouth on her own, but she does pretty well when I offer her something on a spoon.  We have started working on learning how to use a sippy.  I have heard that the straw sippy cups work particularly well for breastfed babies, so that's what we're trying.  She still prefers to chew on the straw, but I'm sure she'll get it in the next few weeks.

Sleeping:  I'm going to type this really small so that she doesn't pick up on the fact that I'm acknowledging her incredible progress.  This month we have gone from 4-5 wakes at night and no predictable nap to 2 wakes at night and 2 predictable naps.  I will credit moving her into her own room and nursing in a chair instead of the bed.  This is absolutely amazing, and I really really really hope it continues!!!

What she's doing:  Babbling - a lot.  Her favorite thing to say is "da-da-da-da-da,"  and sometimes she seems to refer to Kevin when doing so.  Of course this makes his day.  She will also say "mama" and "mum-num-mum-nummmm" when she's eating.  At night when I'm giving her a bath, she says "na-na-na-na" which I interpret as night night.  She loves to bang toys or her hands on anything and everything.  She gets a kick out of splashing in her bath.  She can go from a sitting position to a crawling position to her belly and all the way back to sitting.  As I mentioned before, she began officially crawling today.  She's close to clapping her hands because she brings them together but they're usually not all the way open.  She loves her brother and sister and is pleased when they provide her with entertainment and toys. 

Overall this was a very exciting month for Nola.  She's so fun now for everybody in the household and we all get a kick out of waiting to see what she'll do next.  Time really needs to slow down so we can really soak up all the cuteness before it passes.

And now for some pictures!

18 months outfit...and she still loves that gears toy!

She loves books!

My favorite picture of her so far

She loves this toy too...

...especially reaching for the top!

Pretty little dress!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

News flash

I've discovered the black hole that is Pinterest.  Expect lots of DIY cutesy schmootsy stuff in the very near future. From preschool snacks to holiday decor, I'm sure to impress with ideas that are not even mine.  But I promise to give credit where credit is due...most of the time...and certainly dependent on the reaction of the recipient.

Exhibit A....these adorable Halloween-inspired snacks that I plan to make for Natalie's preschool next week.

Mostly Homemade Hotpockets

I had planned to do Rachael Ray's Broccoli and Cheddar Strudel tonight, but decided to take the same idea and some of the same flavors and go my own way with it.  And I ended up with a delicious and nutritious dinner.

Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Hotpockets

1/2 large sweet onion chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cooked chicken breast (I used some our leftovers from Monday)
2 cups broccoli chopped into small florets
garlic powder
2 rolls of Pillsbury crescent sheet dough (I used one and had leftover filling)
3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 eggs

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and butter until hot.  Add chopped onion and seasonings.  Sautee until onions are translucent.  Add chicken and broccoli.  Turn heat to medium-low, and allow the broccoli to soften slightly. When softened, remove from heat and allow to cool.

As that is going, mix together one egg, cheese, and mustard in a small bowl and set aside.  Beat the second egg in another bowl and set aside.  Prepare your dough by rolling thin to about 1/8".  Use flour so it doesn't stick to the surface of your work area.  Use a pizza cutter to cut your dough into strips about 4-5 inches wide.  You'll get about 4 strips per sheet of dough.

When your broccoli and chicken mixture is cool, combine it with the egg/cheese/mustard mixture.  Assemble hotpockets by spooning the filling onto the strip of dough.  Then roll up the dough leaving the open side up.  Stretch the sides so that they cover the ends, and use the extra beaten egg mixture to secure the ends to the bottom of the hotpocket.  Do the same with the end of the dough and place on a baking sheet with the seam side down.  Repeat for all the hotpockets.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or golden brown.


Hitting our stride

After a couple weeks of feeling out of sync with Nola as far as naps and feedings go, we've finally begun to hit our stride again in the past two days.  Bedtimes have become easy again, naps are no problem and occur two or three times a day, and feedings are quick and to the point.  Life's good with Nola right now, and I'm so thankful.

She's such a delightful little thing, and we're just five days shy of 8 months so there will be more on her milestones in another post.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

21 days

There are 21 days until I am scheduled to speak at Mom2Mom, and I still haven't really nailed down what I'm going to say or even a subject about which to speak.

That is, until about 10 minutes ago when I was thinking about writing this post and something came to me.  We'll see if I can get enough material out of it to fill the time.  By the way, much time do I have to fill?  I seem to remember like 30 minutes, but I don't know.

That being said, I'll tease with this.

Matthew 18:21-22
Then Peter came to him and asked, "Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me?  Seven times?" 
   "No, not seven times," Jesus replied, "but seventy times seven!"

That's all for now.  Gotta go write while the thoughts are flowing.