Monday, April 23, 2012

The hum of the van's engine stops. We're home again after dropping the big kids off at school. For the next 2 1/2 hours it's just me and her. My mind races with all that I could accomplish. Laundry, the never ending pile on the dining room table, blog book work, park program planning, baking.... But then I come around to the other side of the van and see this face when the sliding door opens:

We both squeal in delight and reach for each other. Her feet flail. Mine carry us to the house where until her naptime we sit on the floor, giggle, play with the dog, the cat, the stray light saber (gotta start training early in this family!), and read some books until it's time to nurse. She has my heart this one with her beautiful blue eyes.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The View From Here Vol. 8

This was by far the busiest week we've had in a while. Thankfully they aren't all like this! In an effort to remember what it was like when my hands were so full I post photos from my perspective once a week. Feel free to do a post of your own and leave your link in the comments!

Monday: Dentist for Sam. Learned he will most likely need teeth pulled and eventually braces. Fun times. But what a brave boy he was!

ECFE in the morning then Dress Rehearsal for Dance.Recital. Julia smiled the whole time and didn't look nervous one bit. Elsa slept terribly and didn't want to nurse. Very strange.

Wednesday: Awanas and another terrible night sleep for Elsa.

Thursday: Julia's LAST day of Speech Therapy. She's come a long way thanks to Miss Emma!

I was able to get a quick appointment at the clinic to rule out an ear infection - all clear. Still don't know what Elsa's deal was??? We hit a garage sale while we were out and about and picked up a Crafty Strawberry Shortcake book which inspired this treat after dinner. Yum!

We also went to the dermatologist, had lunch with my sister and niece, and grocery shopped before coming home. After strawberry shortcake PapaBear took Sam and Julia to soccer practice.

Friday was actually sunny for a change so after we welcomed Jo and Howard back to the campground we went up for our first time playing tennis this year. But we had to cut it short because Julia's dance recital was that night.

Elsa and I went to the Friday show and learned lots of things that we needed to know to make the Saturday show easier to navigate when the rest of our family attended.

Elsa slept GREAT Saturday night - 9-4 without waking once and then went back to sleep after eating until 7!

Saturday morning we had an away soccer game (Sam scored another five goals!) and then we had to get home to get ready for company and Julia's second recital.  This is what we saw after the 2 1/2 hour performance: She was beaming from ear to ear!

Next up was Grandpa's birthday dinner at our house. PapaBear grilled, we ate cheesecake, opened presents and looked at old photos. 

Sunday: Sunday school, Church, lunch in the car, and then a birthday party for my Grandma who turned 92 today. Instead of thinking ahead to bring my camera and stopping at the Arboretum on our way home, I decided that it was worth the extra miles to go home and get it so we could return to our favorite spot to take photos under the crab apple trees.

Sam was NOT happy about it, but once we got there he actually said "This is SO fun!" I took a fraction of the pictures I normally do because they were so cooperative and we got nice ones very quickly. They loved picking up the blossoms from the ground, climbing trees, and smiling for the camera. I had to make them leave instead of them begging to be done.

Sam gave Elsa her first flower. He really is the sweetest brother!

My final view before we hopped in the warm car to get ice cream at Dairy Queen:

What was the view where you were this past week?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The View From Here - Vol. 7

One of my favorite things about my new phone is the ability to add photos to posts
. We don't have wireless internet which makes it harder to sit down at the computer for any length of time during the day. Not that i'd want to anyway. The internet speeds time up...time i'd much rather be spending with my kids and husband. So here i am in bed...typjng with my thumbs a recap of this past week...or at least the parts that i took a photo of:

First up, our Easter gifts. Normally it's one basket per child and that's it but this year when i had trouble getting books on time i ended up with ones that we wanted to write a personal message inside.

I already shared what the Easter bunny left for the kids in a previous post but i wanted to include the pictures since i have them.

The kids participated in the Sunday School Easter program at the 10am service. Proud Mama Moment.

We spent a lovely afternoon at my inlaws. By the end of the day Sam was tuckered out. He slept at the end of our bed and wasn't bothered in the least by Elsa when she'd wake up to eat in the middle of the night.

They fight like cats and dogs. They look out for each other. They pick on each other. They teach each other. This was one of those teaching moments:

There was a mix up with the soccer roster. We're going to run with it though and let Julia play even though we had intended for her to be on the Fall team not the Spring team. 
Another half birthday celebration! Surprise half doughnut cake for breakfast coming right up (after Mama sets her alarm for 6am so I can get to the gas station before everyone else wakes up)

My breakfast every morning (and usually the rest of the family as well):

It makes all the difference in the world in my energy level and motivation throughout the day. It also helps that they taste REALLY good.

Here's a rough idea of what goes into my morning smoothie depending on what we have on hand:
1 cup raw milk (I'm experimenting with coconut milk, rice, milk, and almond milk as well)
2-3 cups raw spinach
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (plain, vanilla, or strawberry - depending on what's in the house)
1/2 frozen banana
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 1/2  cup frozen strawberries
pinch of Stevia in the Raw

This makes enough for all four of us to have a healthy start to our day. Do you make smoothies? What's your favorite recipe?

Elsa Louise at 40 weeks

Elsa's 40th week fell on Holy week so we went with bunny ears instead of a hat. Humor me OK? 

Our newly turned 9 month old had her check up this week on the 3rd of April. She was 24 pounds, 10 ounces and 27 inches long. No wonder my arms are tired! 
Her hair is really starting to fill in in the back but it's looking like we won't have another curly haired girl. Julia's curls were obvious by this length. I'm more than a little sad about this fact. I really wanted them to both have the same hair. We could have avoided the whole jealousy/grass is greener issue if it was the same. *sigh*

In other news...we started solids on the 3rd. I baked a sweet potato and set her up with a few pieces at dinner time. This is the result:

I was very surprised that she didn't care for them. I tried some mashed avocado later and that she liked a little better, but not much! What seemed to work the best was to let her suck the food off of my finger. I made brown rice porridge on the 5th but she wasn't all that impressed with that either.  We'll continue to take it need to rush since she's healthy and growing already.

Diaper Details: Another week in the Flip diaper. What can I say? I really like these diapers!

running to the rainbow

We spent some time in the basement this evening because of severe weather. The kids have come a long ways from when they used to get scared when we had to prepare for severe weather. Now when we get the all clear they are bummed that we have to leave the basement where we store the cozy coupe. Once they realized they could have more fun running in the wet grass the basement was forgotten.

No basement can compete with a view like this

Elsa Louise at 39 Weeks

We spent most of Elsa's 39th week on vacation. We enjoyed three nights at the Metropolis Resort in Eau Claire, WI. We had a great time and Elsa did really well. She started waking every couple of hours at night a few days before we left so she didn't spend much time in the pack-n-play we brought with but she did spend lots of quality time with Grandma Gayle.  She makes me SO nervous the way she buries her head in the mattress that I end up bringing her to bed with me so she'll sleep on her back.

Somehow she's still a happy baby despite not getting a whole lot of uninterrupted sleep.

She's starting to scrunch up her face like her big brother did when he was little. She'll also spit and then laugh at herself. Silly girl! She likes to repeat the sounds I make when we're riding in the van. I think it helps her not feel so alone when she can't see me. At least she can hear her mama's voice.

Diaper Details: Another Flip cover by Cotton Babies. Since I wrote about the Flip the first time I purchased some new diapers. BabyKicks Hemp Prefolds off of Craigslist arrived while we were on vacation. (With the price of gas, it made more sense to pay for shipping and skip the hassle of finding a place/time to meet). I love that we live close enough to a metropolitan area that has lots of cloth diaper users because it has saved us SO much money on diapers. I sold my Happy Heiney pocket diapers and used that money to buy hemp and bamboo diapers on my wish list with very little out of pocket cost.

Elsa Louise at 38 Weeks

Notable this week:

* 3/17 Started to wave - I think. A baby wave is very similar to the sign for "milk" which we use as the sign for "nurse". Either way, it's something new...

* Has an easier time rolling front to back and back to front now and does it without any encouragement.

* Loves to blow raspberries. See?

* 3/22 3rd tooth! (top middle)

* separation anxiety at it's peak. I cannot walk away from her for a second without her crying like crazy. I naively thought it would be hard to tell when this stage hit since she's very very attached to me, but I was wrong. Sure, she doesn't like to go to other people besides Daddy but if I'm not in her sight. Her world crumbles. She even cries when I have her on the changing table and I need to bend down to put a diaper in the wash bag. I'm out of her line of sight for five seconds and the tears start.

We're back to taking photos in the grass - I don't think it was this green ever when I started taking these weekly photos. Now it's so green that they will need to start mowing soon. The docks were already put in on the lakes - in March! The ice went out over night on the 16/17th so Spring has definitely sprung in BearCountry.

I think Elsa is excited about that!

Diaper Details: Elsa is wearing a TotsBots Bamboozle size two fitted cloth diaper. I received one of these diapers as a free gift when I purchased my stash for Julia five years ago. They are pricey but are such fabulous diapers that I started watching Craigslist for used ones so I could have more for Elsa. I was able to score another recently for only $7! They are super soft and incredibly absorbent. It's because of how well this diaper works that I began watching for other bamboo diapers.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easiest Chicken Fajitas Ever!

I found this recipe on Pinterest this afternoon and decided to make some changes to accommodate what I had on hand. This is the result:

Yum! and SO easy!  The best part is that it only dirties one dish and doesn't require a person to stand over a stove trying to match up finishing times for the veggies and chicken.

Here's my version of Baked Chicken Fajitas:

Combine in a large ziplock (I used a freezer bag to avoid breakage):
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in bite size pieces
1 green pepper, sliced
1 small/medium onion, sliced
1 can Rotel (I used mild because that's what I had on hand) 
2 T olive oil

Mix in a small bowl:
1T Chili Powder
2t Garlic powder
1T cumin
1/4 t salt
1T oregano

Add spices to ziplock, seal, and make sure contents is well blended. (gallon size was plenty big)
Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees in a greased 9x13 glass pan.

Add to flour tortillas and top with your favorite fresh veggies.


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Healthy Dessert. Kid Approved

A new blog to me, 100 Days of Real Food, mentioned these Silicone Ice Pop Makers and I was intrigued. I'm always on the hunt for easy, cheap, and HEALTHY 'treat' options. I ordered a set and got to work making my first batch of ice pops for the kids. I used our homemade applesauce that we make from the tree in our park so other than the canning equipment the ingredients are FREE.

I scooped the applesauce into the containers and wedged them in between the wires in our freezer. They were ready by dinner time. Julia thought they were great, but Sam said they tasted like the applesauce that he doesn't like. Honesty. Gotta love that kid. It's true - he's never been a fan of the applesauce I make (no sugar added).

I'm on the hunt for a good recipe to make frozen yogurt pops and then I think Sam will be hooked. I'll probably have to purchase another set so I can always have treats on hand. The bonus to these great containers is that they can be put in a cooler and used to make homemade 'go-gurt'. We were still using up the applesauce pops though so I simply added one to her lunch box yesterday and it thawed to just the right consistency by lunch time.  All she had to do is squeeze from the bottom and up popped her yummy treat!

Do you make homemade Popsicles?  I'd love to hear about your favorite recipe!

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

From our family to yours!

 We had a lovely Easter this year. The kids woke us at 7:00 so we could come downstairs and find their Easter baskets. Sam and Julia were both excited about their gifts - Castle set w/ knights in the plastic eggs for Sam and a Hello Kitty Lego set in the eggs for Julia along with a matching pj set for her and a doll.  Elsa got her first cup and a stuffed ducky. (She had her first glass of water today and seemed to really enjoy it.)

We had to be at church by 9:00 to take advantage of the breakfast the youth group serves on Easter Sunday. That was a stretch with all I needed to pack for our day at Grandma and Grandpas, workouts, baths, etc... but we made it and had plenty of time to change into their Easter outfits before rehearsal for the Sunday school program at 10:00 church. Church was short so Elsa only got a 30 minute nap but I soak up every second of my snuggle time with her during the services.

Then it was off to Grandma and Grandpa's house. I needed to assemble these
 And make sure we got a family photo before the kids got their clothes dirty.  We managed to accomplish both tasks before the rest of the family arrived. Score!

Patty brought her famous rolls. Yum!

This was our view from the garage much of the afternoon: It was 63 degrees out but windy. Elsa snuggled with me and took another nap. 

Apparently it's really hard work to look this cute!

The swing always provides a nice photo opp!

It's not a family function without a group shot of the cousins! Technically they are second and third cousins but regardless they are FAMILY and we love them all!!!!

Hope you all had a nice Easter as well!!!

Beginner Knit Hat Pattern

I've been asked so many times if there is a pattern for the hats I make,  but I was too busy filling Christmas orders...