Thursday, December 30, 2010

Eat and Be Merry

Our home has been doing a major nutritional overhaul in the past weeks. We’ve gone from eating all things processed and chemical to consuming whole foods and more fruits and vegetables. We’re trying to eat out less and eat in more, consuming more nuts and whole grains and even making our own bread. Many of my fellow Builders have been a great inspiration to us in this endeavor–we’re just slow on the uptake and finally got the message! It really took me sitting down to enter receipts into our budget back in November to realize we were eating out WAY too much; to the point that I was worried for GG’s arteries. With his job being very demanding, with little time for exercise, and with plenty of excuses to eat fast food on the run, he was shaping up to be the next 35-year-old heart attack victim (despite looking generally “healthy” from the outside). Something had to change.

Out went his daily trips to Wen.dy’s (they have a joint on the first floor of his building), in came lunches made by me. In the past I’ve refused this nicety for my dear one, citing small children and the busyness of the morning. But I was willing if it meant helping him eat better and stay with us longer. And to be honest, it doesn’t take too much time, especially when I’m already making a lunch for our kindergartner.

Out went crackers and chips and cereals where we couldn’t even read half of the ingredients, in came more sensible choices from better stores. To look at our cupboards now, you wouldn’t recognize anything from the past. We’ve started anew and it feels really good. The boys have definitely needed some coaxing to adjust. They don't recognize any of our old brands and wallowed a bit before realizing that more nutritional mini-wheats from our new store taste really good and just as good as the old ones. Other foods followed suit. We're still working on their transition to new ranch dressing. Nobody does it like Hidd.en Valley. The other night I had a good chuckle when M said, "Mommy, can we just please switch back to the dressing with chemicals?" lol. Change takes time.

And surprisingly, our budget hasn’t taken too much of hit thanks to great places like Trad.er Joe’s. What a wonderful place–I get everything there now and have been so surprised at how reasonable their prices are. We can buy organic (delicious) pasta from Italy for the same price as the store brand from Food Li.on. I’ll take it! Out has gone some of the items we used to purchase, in has come foods we prepare at home, like bread and granola. I have always made my own pesto and guacamole, but how fantastic it’s been to add to my cooking/baking repertoire! A breadmaker purchase using points from our credit card has made homemade bread a more feasible reality. It is delicious!! We also made our own calzone dough the other night. Note: Things taste better when you know you made them. Eating is more of a personal celebration.

To top things off, GG has started training for a half marathon in March. This is such a great endeavor and one that I’m encouraging him to do wholeheartedly. It has meant sacrificing my own evening time with him so he can hit the gym. Sometimes it means I’m alone with the kids for bedtime while he gets in his workout. But it’s worth it. When the health of a loved one is on the line, I’m willing to make sacrifices. I also downgraded my half-marathon aspirations to a local 10k this spring. Our home can’t manage two people training for a distance race, but the outcome is that I’m really excited to do something shorter and faster that asks less of me on the training schedule. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I made this gem for my troops yesterday and *boy!* is it good. My favorite way to eat it: on top of Tra.der Joe’s strawberry low-fat yogurt. Just plain good. Thanks to Tracy for the awesome recipe--she made some for us at Christmas and we were sold!

Tracy’s Homemade Granola

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 T ground cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup grade A dark amber syrup
2 T butter
1/2 cup craisins
1/2 cup dates
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 325
2) Mix together the first 5 ingredients
3) In a small bowl, stir together the syrup and melted butter.
4) Pour the syrup mixture over the dry ingredients, coating the dry ingredients well.
5) Spread this mixture onto baking sheets (either greased or lined with parchment paper)
6) Bake at 325 for 30-45 minutes until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
7) Add the craisins, dates, and chocolate chips or whatever dried fruit combination you prefer.

8) Eat and Enjoy!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmastown 2010

On the eve of Christmas Eve, our crew headed east to Christmastown at Busch Gardens. We reasoned it was the next best thing to Disney World, seeing as we had promised a Disney excursion to the boys and changed plans at the last-minute. Thank goodness we have little boys who just want to have fun, wherever, whenever. Whew, escaped that bullet! :) Disney will be perfect for us in a few years...

It was a great afternoon and we so enjoyed our time together as a family. The boys all rode kiddie rides (even J!), we took a tour on the steam engine, saw a Sesame Street Christmas show, and enjoyed walking around the park together. It was beautifully decorated! Each boy had a seat in a stroller to boot, which made the walking all the more enjoyable.
Loving the train

MG, enjoying the train after a little milk break

High flying!

Many thanks to our generous Papa for treating us all to such a fun time!

As GG put it, our Christmastown outing started off G-Ville's "Christmas Triduum", followed by a restful Christmas Eve, and joy-filled Christmas day. Welcome, dear baby Jesus!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

From our family to yours
Have a blessed day of celebration!

Joy and cheer,

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cozy Critters

We've been having a cozy past couple of days... Full of snuggles and smiles.
We've seen a bit of the white stuff... And have had our fun.



We've been to MG's 6-mos check-up (16lbs. 1oz., 30 inches--50-75th percentile) to find that she's healthy and well as we hoped. Praise God.
We went to the mall to see Santa and show him our lists... The boys initially had a misconceived notion that Santa would get them everything on their lists until I had to set them straight. A personalized video message from Santa this morning sealed the deal-- he assured them he would be bringing them one toy. Thanks Santa! The boys loved seeing these videos!!
We've been baking...

And I've been attempting to bake.
I like to call this one: "Why Grandma's Sand Tarts should stay Grandma's Sand Tarts" LOL!

But most of all, today we're celebrating! Happy Birthday to our amazing Daddy/GG!! Happy Birthday to his mama, our fabulous Mimi!! How much we love you both and praise God for you!

God bless,

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday reflections

As I sit here with a glass of wine, I am praising God it is Friday and that we've survived another week. There have been moments when I really wanted to sit down and post an update or share a story, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I was either avoiding the computer for fear of being sucked in... or half-asleep trying to have "veg" time after putting the kiddos to bed. Both good reasons for our general sanity, but awful for our blogging!

The week has felt like a whirlwind, even though as I look back on the calendar it appears so much more free than it seemed. The snow that sweetly blanketed the area on Thursday is much to blame for the harried, disorganized feeling I had toward week's end. Nothing like nature to throw a schedule-lovin' mama and her crew into a bit of a tailspin!

Here's a brief synopsis of the week's highlights/low lights--whatever you want to call them!
* Monday I had a MOPS progressive dinner event with main dish at my house--it was a super fun night for me with friends, a chance for the boys to have a night with Mimi/Papa, and GG to spend some precious father/daughter time with MG. He gave her her first bath from her daddy--a telling stat. seeing as she's almost 6-mos-old!! That's how crazy life is around here. Usually Mama takes care of the baby, while Daddy wrangles the three bruisers. He had never given her a bath... until Monday! I was so glad father and daughter had that sweet time together.

*Tuesday GG was slammed at work--bye bye Daddy for the rest of the week; Mama flew solo for the next four nights--yikes! To say my patience was running thin at moments was an understatement! Many prayers were uttered throughout the course of my days--Lord, be my Shepherd!

*Thursday delivered a much anticipated 3-4 inches of snow, sending our town into craziness and canceling school for the next two days... BOYS WERE HOME WITH LOTS OF IDLE TIME! Never a good recipe for success.

*Thursday morning, MG and I dashed out to try to find sleds at the last minute before the snow started (yes, school was canceled before it had even snowed); we are successful at Tar.get! woo hoo!! Mama felt accomplished until returning home and realizing I'd completely wrenched my lower back/sciatic area putting MG in and out of the van!! Unfortunately, this meant I was down for the count most of the day Thursday while GG was still slammed at work and Mimi and Papa were fetching CG (GG's formerly deployed brother who is stationed in Italy) in DC.

The most comfortable position for me to be in was on my stomach. Which begs the question--how does one mother 4 young children while lying face down on the floor?? Many thanks to my sis, J, and my dad, Pappy, awesome physical therapists who coached me over the phone. What amazing, brilliant people I have in my court!! :) They counseled me and got me to a point of peace. I had to live the day doing motions that were least painful--I could do that. I just had to figure out what made me hurt and what didn't. I aimed for as little pain as possible!

I made do with the boys, watching them sled a hill in our front yard while sitting at the window, nursing the baby. I popped Ad.vil and after sledding, they watched a lot of TV and spent a good amount of time on the computer too. I will say, I so dislike spending our days that way! By the end of the day, we all felt yucky. So much for snow day #1. We had nowhere to go but up!!

*Today I awoke feeling SO much better--back in the land of the living. The boys and I spent little time in front of the TV and computer and just ENJOYED the day together. This was AMAZING!! We went sledding, had a snowball fight, made bread in our new breadmaker, went to lunch and got to welcome home CG, and finished the afternoon making fake gingerbread houses (out of paper!) They had a ball and I was on top of the world as their mom... We ended on a definite high, praise God.

So cheers to it being Friday! Cheers to my improving back! Cheers to the return home of our beloved CG! Cheers to GG coming home tonight for a bit of rest! Cheers to the fourth Sunday of Advent! Cheers to a highly anticipated holiday time with family!

Thank you, dear Lord.
God bless you and yours for a wonderful weekend,

Sunday, December 12, 2010

He Says

GG, today after Mass:

"Honey, we gotta stop giving these kids Red Bull for breakfast."

LOL :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Big Little Man

I'm so proud of my #1 boy these days.
He's becoming such a big little man.

He's playing more like a big brother.
He's giving when the little ones are in need.
He's using his manners often.
He's helping me when I'm in a pinch.
He's doing great in school and really revving up his reading.

He's becoming such a big little man.
An owl, drawn in art class.
But even with all his BIGness,
he still wants to hug and kiss his mama goodbye in the morning.
He still wants to wave and wave (and continue to wave) goodbye to me until the very last second when we can't see each other anymore.
He still cuddles with me when we read at night.
He still needs me.

And I'm loving that and will hang onto it for as long as I can.
For as long as I can.
Love you, my big little man.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Advent Week 2

Happy week #2 of Advent to you!

We are off to a brilliant week so far... Amazing what a few days can do, especially having Daddy around all weekend. He was traveling last week, as were Mimi and Papa, which explains why I was hanging on by a thread come Friday. Which explains my last post and why my 2yo was getting into extra trouble.

FYI *the nap-on-the-counter incident occurred when T and J were happily playing on the computer, so I stole away to take a shower. Lesson learned: never trust an idle J, especially around naptime. :) Nothing like a good, humbling lesson to ring true my Advent and make me ever aware of my need for a Savior.

This week started with a fun winter punch--SNOW! You bet the boys were out early, bundled up still in their pajamas. They had a great time and GG and I were so relieved to get some wiggles out before church. Afterward the snow had vanished, so it was a good thing we got our snow fix early!

After church we welcomed Mimi and Papa back from Italy and even got to Skype with our favorite soldier in Vincenza! The boys also set up the train around our tree. You'll see we have our tree up, courtesy of GG and the boys, who went on a mission Saturday. It is a Frasier Fir and smells lovely. While I wish I could say we went to cut it down ourselves (always a dream of mine, Clark W.), this year we had to choose the quickest, most efficient path for our family, which means driving across the street to the grocery store to buy one for 29.99. What a deal! :) Don't doubt, though, that we had the whole family in the van singing "Deck The Halls" at one point this weekend. I really felt like the Grizzwalds and took my role as Beverly D'Angelo very seriously. lol. GG and I had a good laugh.
I leave you with our very own "Leaning Tower of MG", a new trick she's been showing us at dinnertime. She weaves back and forth a few times as if to say "Can I please go to bed now? Can't you tell I'm exhausted?"
Not before a few snuggles from her brothers. What a lucky gal!
God bless you today!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Just for the record

*Take a half pound of Dunkin' Donuts coffee grounds and scatter all over the kitchen floor.
*Several days later, steal 1/4 C. of M & M's from the upper cupboards (because you've watched and learned how to maneuver kitchen chairs to serve your purpose), consume half and add the rest to the ongoing mess. Proceed to fall asleep on the kitchen counter!
*Wait a day, then follow with 1/4 C. of mom's cup of coffee and drink with ease (because she makes it taste so sweet and creamy!) Exclaim with glee how much you liked it!!

And what do you have?
One very sweet and sneaky 2-year-old.
Oh, dear J, how lucky you are to be so cute.
Mom's gotta step up my game with you, little stinker.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

We're not the only ones feasting

So is this little cherub...
The big boys were SO very excited to be a part of this milestone. Here, T, aka "Jeff Gordon", assists the little lady in sitting up straight. Doesn't she look thrilled? :)

In the blink of eye, little MG has gone and turned 5 months! In our house, 5 months means one big thing--time for cereal! Rice cereal for one whole month. I force the bland rice cereal on my children for four long weeks... and then I spring real food at six months and they love it!! Sneaky mommy! ;)
BEFORE
MG, unassuming, chipmunk cheeks ready and waiting! Note the G-Ville classic whale bib, thanks to Dr. F out in CO. We had to have it for our first meal!

AFTER
Quizzical, perplexed: "What in the world are you feeding me?"

Bite #2: "It doesn't seem to be getting any better."

Meal #2: "It's not half bad as long as you spit most of it out after you've taken a bite."

Little stinker.
MG of the cherub cheeks.
We'll get you to eat soon enough. Soon enough.

Blessings,
B-mama!