Wednesday, September 28, 2011

backyard play

We moved at the beginning of August.  It wasn't far...we only moved three streets over from where we were previously.  The wonderful part about this "new" place is that there are enough bedrooms for all of us (the kids are no longer sharing a room).  It has a basement, so Dad is able to have his own space.  It is split bedroom, and overall it's about 300 square feet bigger on the main level than where we were.  There are many pluses!  The only thing I really feel like we had to give up was a super fantastic yard.  Despite that, we are really enjoying our new place!
In fact, the kids do not seem to be bothered at all by the change from fenced in grass to unfenced dirt/sand.  We were planning to get a sand box when we moved, but as you can see, that is no longer necessary. 
Every day when they go out to play, Christian asks if they have to play in the garage and driveway or if they can go in the backyard. This is apparently way more fun!


They can only play in the backyard if we have a good long while to play, and if a bath is to follow!  Any day that they can, they dig!  I'm surprised they didn't have their buckets on this particular day, as that's usually part of the deal.

I decided to take these pictures because they were playing so nicely.  I didn't notice until after the fact that he had dirt on his face and her hair was just as fuzzy as could be. :)   
 In case you didn't already know, I pretty much love being their Mama!

Monday, September 26, 2011


I guess that maybe I have a love/hate relationship with cooking...or maybe a love/disdain relationship is a more accurate description.  
I love eating.
I love when something that I cooked is totally delicious and everyone raves about it.
I even enjoy (to some degree) looking for new recipes.  
I don't so much love the actual cooking part.  
As I have said before, I'm no chef.  I feel ok about this- I make preserves for crying out loud!  
Thankfully I married a man who enjoys cooking (and makes quite delectable meals).
I definitely plan meals around when he is going to be home to cook or to help me. 

All that said, dinner is on me tonight.  
We are having beef stroganoff.  
By that I mean that Hamburger Helper with a little cream of mushroom soup added in.  Don't judge.  It's good.  Both of my kids eat it with NO complaints, and that's saying something!  

Friday, September 23, 2011

farmer's market bounty

Monday will be two weeks ago that we made a little family trip to the farmer's market in Forest Park.
We went there only once last year, as I was just getting started with the whole canning business.  The prices were undoubtedly better than the grocery story, but I was mildly overwhelmed by the whole experience.  

Here's what I know now:
     *The prices are almost always better than the grocery store.
     *Even when they aren't, the selection is better.  This way I feel like I'm getting more for my money.    
     *Chris should always go with me because I do not want to discuss anything with the vendors. :)

Anyway, we bought all you see in the bowls for something like $12!  The hitch with buying so much fresh produce at once is that I had to get busy canning, and fast!
Last year my plum vanilla preserves were the favorite- no question.  This year, the peach and strawberry are going like hot cakes.  
As previously stated I had a really nasty time of it with trying to make pickles last summer...I really wanted to make Nennie's pickles, but got squishy ones instead.
I have read SO many food/canning blogs in search of new recipes and really just information of any kind that might improve my preserving.  I found some pretty amazing stuff!  I just had to have another go with the whole pickle situation since now I know so much more.

All the preserves turned out great...
The pickles are not squishy, but that's really the only improvement that I made. Even though I was using other tips and tricks that I found online I still used my grandmother's brine.  All I can taste is vinegar!  
Chris loves them.  Not only does he eat the pickles (and in case you don't know, pickles are one of the three items on the list of things Chris doesn't eat), but he also drinks the juice!  Yuck.
I'd like to make another trip to the farmer's market next week, but I'm not sure I'm up for another round of pickles yet.

Friday, September 16, 2011

an evening with us

I'll start by saying that it feels totally amazing outside today!  This is my kind of day.  The windows and doors are open at my house to let in all this fall-ish goodness. :)
We are in the process of getting dinner ready.  There is some Wynton Marsalis playing on Pandora, I can feel the breeze from outside coming  inside the kitchen, and for the moment all is right with the world. 

Today has also been nice because Chris has spent the day with the kids and me.  A nice little family day where we didn't really have to do much.  

Just thought I'd let you in on tonight's dinner...
We picked up some shrimp at Kroger today (that's all we went there to pick up as I do NOT enjoy shopping there).  With our pound and a half of shrimp we were given a free crab cake- which Chris fried as an appetizer for the two of us while we were preparing the other stuff and it was just delicious.
We found a recipe for spicy grilled shrimp in Food Network magazine that we wanted to try.  You can find it here.  Some yellow rice and grilled asparagus sounded like it would go well with that, so we put it on our menu for this week.  Today was my first time deveining was kind of disgusting, but not too difficult.  All that said, it was shaping up to be a lovely meal.

That was until the children came to the table.
I had cut up the asparagus for them, and the first words out of Christian's mouth were, "I don't like those kind of green beans."
Seriously?  This is not the best way to start the meal.  I tell him that it's asparagus, and that I like it.  He doesn't know this, but that is really saying something!  
Audrey starts with a piece of shrimp which she promptly removes from her mouth.  This is not a good sign since normally this kid eats anything!  It only went downhill from there.  Both kids ate the rice, and that was about it.  I put a piece of shrimp on Christian's fork and in his mouth it goes.  It was carefully stowed it in his cheek and proceeded to sit there.  As I'm telling him to chew and I see the motion start, I thought it would be ok.  No.  I was wrong.  
Finally, I decide that I'll just get out some fruit and go from there.  Now, let me just say that at our house this is NOT what we do.  We fix a meal.  If you don't eat it, then you must not be hungry, and therefore you just don't eat dinner that day.  Since Audrey tried everything on her plate, I give her the fruit.  I tell Christian that as soon as he swallows what is still in his mouth that he too can have fruit.  I thought that would do the trick.  No.  I was wrong again.
He commences to gagging!  REALLY?  

All the sudden I am catapulted back to a particular meal when I was a kid.  It involved hamburger patties and lima beans.  I thought maybe if I shoved the limas into the ketchup that no one would be the wiser.  Wrong.  All that got me was a fresh helping of the dreaded limas.

I am so annoyed with Christian because he won't even swallow the shrimp, that I dismiss him from the table.  Before he gets out of his chair I tell him that he's getting nothing else.  He spits the shrimp into the napkin I'm holding out for him and get this: he didn't chew it.  At all.

Those of you who are now worried that he went to bed hungry: rest easy.  I took pity on him.
I told him that I had fixed him a new plate (one that had more rice, fruit, and roast beef with gravy).  He told me that he was sorry for being ridiculous but that he didn't like that other supper. :)
He apparently liked this one better since he all but licked the plate.

Oh the joys of parenting.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

a family affair

Whatever our little family does, we usually do it together.  
This week, that included limbing up the trees in our front yard.
Pretty soon after Chris and I started Luella Lawnscape, I figured out that if I helped him we would get to spend more time together and the work would get done faster.  Many people were surprised to see me doing outside work...since once upon a time that was absolutely something that I did not do.  Now it's pretty commonplace.
Recently I got some new work gloves, and let me just tell you that these two turkeys could not wait to get some work gloves of their own! 
After coming home from work, Chris headed out front with the ladder and the saw, so the kids and I got our gloves and headed out to help.
I thought they would likely just stand around and watch, but lo and behold they were working!!
Whatever we're doing, they want in on it!  
I thought they were pretty stinkin' cute!
She wanted to drag the limbs, but still hold my hand. :)

Chris was cutting down limbs, and the three of us were hauling them around the house and into the woods.
Funny side note:  Christian seems to have unending stamina when it comes to running/jumping/skipping as long as it's inside (where he's not supposed to do these things).  After he hauled about 3 limbs, he informed me that he needed a break and something to drink.  
I'm super thankful that we're able to do things together!  I'm sure in another ten years or so it will be like pulling teeth to get them to do anything with us.
Enjoy the moment.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

a late afternoon snack

I am not a chef.
I am also not a very adventurous eater.
I am the kind of person who chooses recipes based on whether or not the ingredients look scary to me.  If it has fresh ginger, daikon radishes, or millet not only will I not be likely to make it, but I'm not even sure where to acquire those ingredients. :)
Since being married to Chris, I can say that I have definitely broadened my horizons.  It used to be my practice not to eat anything green.  I can now proudly say that I have added broccoli, lima beans, and asparagus to the scant list of vegetables I will eat.  Believe me when I say that being ridiculously picky is not a trait I am proud of.  In fact, I am trying my hardest to keep our kids from being this way!   
All my adult life it has been my habit not to eat fruit in or on anything.  It is still my stance that it should not generally be in things like ice cream or jello or SALADS!  You can understand then why it is a big deal that I am now not only making but eating preserves, as this means actual fruit bits in my jam.

All that said, get a load of my afternoon snack.

On several of the food blogs I've perused recently, I've read that certain jams or preserves pair very well with goat cheese.  Now I can assure you that today was the first time I've ever purchased goat cheese!  I put it with the blueberry maple jam that I made last week...surprisingly delicious. 
I do love learning something new.

Monday, September 5, 2011

a little melty

I love to hear this laugh!  This kid's big belly laugh is absolutely infectious!

This one is so silly!  I can't imagine that she's big enough to be sitting in this chair.

This is what melts my heart.  When they are sweet to each other I am almost overwhelmed.  Don't get me wrong...he steals her toys, she screams at him, they tattle on each other.  Under all that though, they love each other.  It's hard for me to think about either of them not having the other. 
If you had asked me ten years ago if I wanted to adopt, I would have said no and gone on about my business.  To say I'm thankful that we did does not even cover it. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

eating my words

I am a multi-tasker.  
Currently, there are peach preserves finishing up the process in the water bath canner, dinner is in the works, clothes in the washer and dryer, and my mind is full of thoughts to share.
When I was teaching elementary school, if a stay-at-home mom had told me how busy or tired she was I would likely have been baffled.  
I can say with no hesitation that I feel busier now chasing after these two and trying to accomplish the many things that need to be done each week than I ever did as a teacher. 
Staying at home once I had children was never my plan.  Chris and I knew we wanted kids, but we just intended that we would both keep working and put our kids in some manner of day care.  Once we got Christian and I stayed home with him for those first two weeks, I knew something in me was changing.  That part of me which was so happy to teach fifth grade (after all, it was what I always wanted to do) was no longer so content.  Finding out that I was pregnant only added fuel to the fire.  If I wanted to be there with one, I knew I would want to be there with two.  
Being with two children twenty-four hours a day turned out to be a lot more than I had bargained for. :)  
Until Audrey was three months old I was pretty terrified all the time.  I felt like all the sudden I had no identity other than being a mother, and I wasn't a pro at it.  I felt inept to do the job that God was allowing me to do.
Thankfully over time (and with A LOT of prayer and support from my family) I figured out how to find a balance.  This was so difficult since no one could just tell me how to do it!  
My hat is off to the people who work outside the home and raise kids!  I can't imagine working eight hours a day and then trying to squeeze everything else into those precious evening hours.
I am still learning how to make it work; learning how to wear so many hats and trying to wear them well.
I am extraordinary thankful for the life that God has given me.  Things will change, the paradigm will shift, but I'm really loving the right now.