Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thankful 12.14.17

  1. Ina didn't have a fever today...but Cora woke up from her nap with a fever and a barky cough. Whomp whomp.
  2. Our parents as teachers teacher is fantastic. My kids love her and I want to be her best friend. She came armed with Christmas crafts even after I told her my house was a contagious zone.
  3. Leftovers for dinner plus an early bedtime make for a relaxing evening.
  1. Starting out a day that I know will be hard with a workout. Really, I don't know why I sometimes dread working out...I love going to the gym and I feel so good afterwards. Sometimes the mind can be a little silly. 
  2. Cora was such a good girl staying home with me all day while I worked. She quietly watched a movie, played in the toy room, and then took an epic nap. 
  3. King crab legs. It is exciting to know that heaven will be even better than eating crab legs. 
  1. The ability to push my pride to the side, say "I'm sorry" and move on. I need to learn to do that more often.
  2. Getting our Christmas cards sent out. There are still lots of things on the Christmas to do list, but that one is done. The rest will fall into place. I am determined to not stress...which has resulted in a lot of shopping left to do.
  3. The great and brave volunteers of the live nativity scene we visited - it was cold outside that night.

  1. Parchment paper. How did I ever put anything in the oven without it?
  2. Convicting sermons and the fact that I can listen to them over and over (and over) again.
  3. Our small group. They are just the best.
  1. Heated seats on a super cold morning. 
  2. Mira FINALLY took a bottle. Praise God! My momma heart was about to burst thinking of her crying and hungry all day. The munchkin latch was the winner. 
  3. Starting fellowship interviews. Even though they take a lot of time and energy and sometimes make me nervous, I like how they remind me of my own career goals and aspirations. If you need some inspiration, listen to the drive and enthusiasm of someone interviewing for a job she really wants. 

  1. Everyone is finally healthy, which means I get my bed back (mostly) to myself, with occasional visits from Mira. 
  2. A delicious carb heavy Italian Christmas lunch at work.
  3. Listening to my kids laugh hysterically at the same parts of Home Alone that I found hilarious as a kid (and still do). 

  1. An unexpected bonus at work.
  2. My department did a white elephant gift exchange, where everyone brought something from home they no longer wanted. It was hilarious and fantastic. I also ended up with a veggie spiralizer, which I am super pumped about.
  3. Just how excited the girls were to see the lights of Christmas in the Park. They squealed their hearts out. It was one of those moments when Dan and I looked at each other and honestly couldn't believe we get to be a part of this. 
I haven't cooked a lot of recipes this week, but did make our fave cheeseburger soup and some white chicken chili

Have a great rest of your week!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Weekend Review

Good Monday morning!

I am determined for this week to start out better than last week, and it already is because none of my children up-chucked in my bed while coughing their lungs out with a fever.

The weekend was a great one - filled with too many celebrations to count, but try to document I must.

I picked Mira and Ina up from Danielle's Friday afternoon (Cora stayed home with me because she had a fever Thursday), quickly fed Mira at home, and then took the older girls to Ina's school for  Winter Wonderland.

Ina's school knows how to put on a party. We excavated icebergs, shoveled fake snow, built snowmen, decorated gingerbread men, ate marshmallows, and, of course, saw Santa.

Cora walked up to him long enough to get a candy cane and then immediately reversed towards me after telling him she wanted a door for Christmas.

A door.

Ina, who has been adamantly telling everyone she was asking Santa for a Hatchimal, told him she didn't know what she wanted. That sure makes things easy for Santa.

We came home just in time to celebrate Granny's birthday with a meal Dan and Mira had been preparing. King crab legs (with the finest cracking apparatuses money could buy), scalloped potatoes (this is a deliciously decadent recipe), and green beans.

We called it a night after opening up one of Mira's Christmas presents early. You can never have too many humidifiers when coughing children are involved.

Saturday morning I woke up early and finished addressing Christmas cards, prepped and baked a few desserts, and then had to work for a few hours.

After showers and getting ready, Ina and I headed to Target to buy an assortment of bottles. Mira still isn't taking a bottle (from anyone now), so we are trying out a few new ones.

From Target we dropped our cards off at the post office, and then headed home to pick up the rest of the family for my niece Hallaway's Christmas dance recital.

The dances were so cute, Hallaway rocked her one handed cart-wheels, splits, and backbends, and both Cora and Ina were throughly entertained for the first 45ish minutes.

Then Mira started crying, Cora kept asking for water, and Ina couldn't keep from chatting with her cousin Kauffman who was sitting next to her. Therefore, we took the opportunity given at intermission to congratulate Hal and then gracefully leave on our own free will.

After a quick car nursing session, we drove to The Nybergs', where we met them to go to a drive thru live nativity scene at a church near their house. It was so charming, educational, and even had live animals. We returned to their house for dinner and dessert. I brought these buckeye brownies which were amazing, but these pecan pie bars were a close second choice.

Sunday started with more baking for our small group Christmas cookie exchange. Last year Danielle made the best gingerbread men, so I asked her for the recipe and thought nothing of it until Sunday morning when I realized I actually had to roll out, cut, and decorate the darn things.

Note to self - next year, pick a cookie you take a spoonful of and drop on the pan. I finally got the hang of the rolling and cutting, but the icing was a miserable failure. I can only hope the people we give them to assume that a child decorated them.

Once the last cookie was iced we rounded up the troops and headed to church where I listened to an absolutely amazing sermon on anger. I really think I need to re-listen to it every week.

From church we went to my nephew Jake's birthday party at our favorite pizza place where Grandma Frankie picked up Ina to take her to see The Nutcracker.

The younger two girls and I hurried home to help Dan clean the house and an hour later our small group arrived, loaded down with cookies and snacks. We had such a good time filling the boxes, chatting, relaxing, and watching the kids play. I love those people with my whole heart.

After everyone left our house I forced slippers on my feet and met Dan's grandma to pick up Ina, who had a fantastic time at the ballet.

We all slept all night long. I didn't even set my alarm for the gym, but Mira woke me up right on time.

I hope you have a fantastic week! <3

Friday, December 8, 2017

Thankful 12.7.17

Good morning! 

I just returned home from the gym after one heck of a week. You will see a lot of the details below, but I am more than ready for Friday. 

  1. We saw the Oscar Meyer Weenie Mobile at the grocery store and they gave us whistles. Yay.
  2. The girls and I visited my grandma. While there was piano pounding, candy eating, and statue breaking involved, it is always good to see her.
  3. The beautiful weather we have been having. I love getting chances to take everyone outside.

  1. Cora loving on Mira. Honestly, I was pretty worried about how Cora would be with Mira, but right now things are going pretty well. Lately she has even asked to hold her, carry her, and always notices when she isn't in the room with us. She calls her, "My Mira Belle" and isn't all that happy when someone she doesn't know is holding her.
  2. My last day with Mira by ourselves. It was a good maternity leave, but I am ready to go back to work.
  3. My entire family's love for Star Wars. I love having something we can all enjoy together.


  1. Granny came over to help before the party started. Sometimes "helping" means baby snuggles.
  2. We are blessed with a family that helps us celebrate our new five year old, who entertained her desire to dance and paint their faces. 
  3. After Ina's party, we wiped off the face paint, changed out of the icing covered clothes, and headed to a 50th wedding anniversary party. Dan's family was so welcoming and covered the girls with love. We just felt so blessed.

  1. Waking up early enough to clean up most of the party craziness. Unfortunately, the elves I hired didn't show up.
  2. Mira went to the nursery at church and loved it. She was spoiled by getting rocked for the entire hour service.
  3. We had an afternoon with absolutely nothing to do, so I took that opportunity to prepare for my work week. I laid out the girls' clothes for the week, prepped my breakfasts and lunches, assembled my pump bag, made sure everything necessary for the office was in my work bag, and removed all the goldfish crackers, tiny shoes, and random art projects from my car.

  1. Dan's mom and grandma watched the girls on my first day back to work. Ina was sick (fever, croup, and vomiting) and Mira all of a sudden wouldn't take a bottle and cried all day, so they had their work cut out for them. Although I was excited to go back to work, the guilt of leaving my work as a mom for someone else to do was pretty strong.
  2. I still have a job after a significant layoff from my company today. (Weird first day back, huh?) I almost feel selfish for saying that, because those who lost their jobs cannot. However, I am also thankful that they received good severance packages and I am praying they will find good opportunities somewhere else.
  3. After coming home and feeding Mira, I still felt off from the day. Dan turned the evening around my pouring me a glass of wine, cooking dinner (ah-mazing smoked chicken thighs, cheesy broccoli and cauliflower, and an arugula/spinach salad), and turning on Star Wars. He knows the way to my heart.

  1. While Ina still has a fever, her cough at night was so, so much better. I am hoping she can go to school tomorrow. (Editor's note: nope, she missed school all week.)
  2. A successful and professional exchange of projects at work. 
  3. Our parents are teachers teacher was nice enough to reschedule when I couldn't leave work in time to meet with her.

  1. This post about seasonal affective disorder made me not feel guilty about going to bed at 8 PM during the winter. Instead I am going to own it. Now, the fact that I go to bed at 9 PM during the summer is a different story...
  2. Granny is being a trooper taking care of the girls while I am at work. Ina is sick. Mira won't take a bottle, like she is going 9 hours without eating. I think most people would run out of the house screaming as soon as I walked in the door, but she peeled and chopped potatoes to help me with dinner. 
  3. Nebulizers, humidifiers, steam showers, and ibuprofen. Thank God for modern medicine.
Recipes I have made this week - not very much. Dinners have pretty much been on the fly and I fully anticipated a few to-go meals, but thankfully we have cooked every night this week. While not gourmet, the meals included a protein and a vegetable and prevented us from starving, so I will call it a win.

- My favorite breakfast casserole. To note, Cora also loves this, which is surprising because she generally despises eggs unless in casserole form. She has started to wake up, walk to the fridge, and ask for it. As it is loaded with spinach and sweet potatoes, I will continue to make it as long as she eats it. 

- Paleo gingerbread: I am enjoying this as a sweet treat after dinner

- Prepped Greek bowls for lunch of brown rice, chicken breast, feta cheese, pickled onions (my new obsession), cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, and a dallop of hummus. This is the perfect lunch and keeps me full until I get to my container of mixed nuts on the drive home. I really hope I continue to take the time to prep breakfasts and lunches on Sundays. Being able to grab a few bowls from the fridge and walk out the door makes a huge difference.

I am hoping to have more of a "plan" for quick dinners next week. 

Have a great end to your week and weekend! <3

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Things Ina Says: 5 Years

Five going on thirty.

At five Ina is determined, focused, and loving. She takes her job of being a big sister incredibly seriously, and has no problem telling Cora (or anyone else within listening distance) exactly what to do. She loves cuddling with her dad. She enjoys "projects" and "activities" and would be happy watching DIY videos on YouTube all day long, breaking only to work in a workbook. She asked for an alarm clock for Christmas.

(Her most recent "project")

How in the world is she five? I watch her long legged five year old body walk down the stairs each morning, and every day I am surprised that she so big. It is almost like she grew over night.

We celebrated with a family lunch. I gave Ina the option of having a bigger party at a place we could rent, or having a smaller party and saving that money to go on a family outing, like an indoor water park. She chose the smaller party, but I had to find a way to make it special.  Glow in the dark basement for the win.

I purchased a few items on Amazon (glow sticks, light up balloons, a disco ball, and UV face paint), foiled up the window in the basement, turned on a kids Pandora station, pushed the couches to the wall, and called it a party. While the kids at the party enjoyed it, I think my favorite part was the family dance party that took place the night before. Cora literally screamed for 30 minutes straight in excitement and Ina and I danced so hard that we sweat through our clothes. Even Mira contently sat on the couch mesmerized by the lights on the wall.

Supervising the paint area may have been a better idea, but Ina did love painting her cousins (and grandma's!) faces.

I kept the food so simple and made pulled pork sandwiches (<-- my favorite way to feed a crowd), slow cooker mac and cheese, a kale salad (kit from Aldi), and put out a few bags of chips. I ordered a few cookie cakes from HyVee and we were set!

My house is now covered in spare glow stick parts, still blinking balloons, new toys, and icing smears. A sure sign of a good time.

To honor the five year old, here are a few things she has said lately:
Ina: Mom, is this the way Moana's boat looks? (Trying to get the sail to sit right on her toy)
Me: Yeah, that looks pretty good.
Ina: Mom, I don't want "pretty good". Let's start again. Is this the way that Moana's boat looks?
On a walk I told Ina to hold Cora's hand and have her walk on the inside of the side walk to keep her safe and Ina said, "Well, it wouldn't be too big of a deal, we are having another baby..."
Huge sigh of frustration at not being able to open the child-proof lid of her gummy vitamins followed by, "UGH! How does this thing know I am a child!?!"
Mom, do my teeth keep food in them because they are still hungry?
Do princesses toot?
Ina: Are there pie people in the world?
Me: You mean people who like to eat pie?
Ina: No, the number pie.
Me: There are more than the number pie of people in our house.
Ina: Oh, OK. Which is bigger? A pie or a google?
Me: Sigh
Mom, I hate to tell you this. I know this is bad for a child, but I am addicted to cigarettes.
(After further conversation I did verify that she is not addicted to cigarettes, and instead an incredibly dramatic child.)
You just never know what that girl is going to say!

I go back to work tomorrow, and I hope to continue to post at least once a week, but judging how much time it will take to get out of the house in the morning, it might be a year before I post again. Ha!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Day in the Life During Materntiy Leave

2:13 AM: Mira is stirring. I scoop her up into bed and feed her for about 15 minutes until she falls back asleep and I follow her shortly after.

4:29 AM: I wake up one minute before my alarm. I cannot believe that both Ina and Cora slept all night. This was the best night of sleep I have had in weeks. I dream feed Mira in bed for about 10 minutes, grab my gym clothes I laid out the night before, brush my teeth, put on deodorant, change, and pump to make exercising comfortable. I get a few extra ounces every day, which is creating a great stock for when I go back to work.

5:00: I pull into the gym parking lot, right on time. It was leg day and the workout did not disappoint. I am still so weak and my endurance is low, which can be frustrating, but I can't think of another place I would rather be to build those both back up.

6:10: I come home and thank my lucky stars that all three girls are still asleep and take that opportunity to take a shower in peace and quiet. 

6:25: I make myself a cup of coffee and sit down for a little internet time: online Christmas shopping, planning Ina's birthday lunch, planning our meals for the next week, etc. Dan leaves for work.

6:52: Cora starts yelling "Momma" from her crib. We snuggle for a few minutes and read a few books before Ina joins us. We tidy up their rooms and I get Cora dressed. I change my first of 14 diapers for the day. Jealous yet?

7:24: Cora wakes Mira up. I take Mira downstairs to feed her in the recliner while Cora is yelling at the top of the stairs for me to carry her down (she can go down the stairs fine but doesn't like to) and Ina is asking me what she can have for breakfast and arguing with me over what she did with her clothes that I laid out for her only a few minutes before. She can't find them and is blaming me for not knowing where they are, which results is me sending Ina to her room to think about the way she is talking to me. Our relationship is definitely going through a rough spot right as I learn to balance my attention with three children. Ina spends the next 40 minutes resting in her room, which is a good thing.

8:00: I make myself a breakfast smoothie and Cora drinks half of it. 

8:15: I turn on Christian music videos on YouTube while I pack the girls' lunches. Those videos and songs always always help to get us in a better mood. We really like this one.

8:30- I turn on the Disney Channel and scramble around the house trying to pick up all the rogue toys and laundry because our house is getting cleaned and the vacuum doesn't run very well over blocks and Christmas ornaments. During this time Mira does not want to be put down, so I take breaks now and then to hold her and play with her. 

9:30: We are ready to leave just as the cleaners arrive. It is better for everyone if we are out of the house, so we head to the park for a few minutes. I did not plan my outfit appropriately and seriously wished I would have worn socks. 

10:04 We leave the park and head for HyVee to order Ina's birthday treats for her school. After the girls get cookies we grab a few things that we needed. Ina pushed the cart with Mira in it and Cora rode on my shoulders and I got the feeling our craziness was entertaining all the other customers. After grabbing a few balloons we are out the door.

10:42 We park at the library and I feed Mira in the car while Ina and Cora beat eat other with their balloons.

11:00 Story time at the library. Ina sits and participates while Cora wanders around playing with blocks, pulling out books, and occasionally stopping by the circle to hear part of the story or sing a song. I try to corral her, but I also have Mira in the stroller, so I mostly just try to keep us both as quiet as possible. We stay at the library for 30 minutes after story time and read a few books Ina picked out, chat with the librarian, etc.

12:05: Load back in the van. By this time I am ravenous and I inhale a protein bar while Cora eats her lunch on the way to drop Ina off at school.

12:32: We come home after dropping Ina off, walk in the door, and I immediately take Cora upstairs to her crib. She knows it is nap time and isn't happy about it, but after a few minutes of fussing she gets quiet. I come downstairs, grab Mira out of her carseat, and sit down to feed her. This is our only quiet time together all day, and as if she knows it, she prolongs eating and often stops to smile and coo at me. 

1:15: I heat up leftovers for lunch: steak, sweet potato, and roasted vegetables. I play with Mira while I eat and then she acts like she is still hungry, so I feed her until she goes to sleep

2:00: I take Mira upstairs and turn on the baby monitor. I finally have a chance to enjoy some time to myself in a clean house, so I peruse the internet, write the first half of this post, drink some sparkling water, throw dinner in the crockpot and watch Outlander, my maternity leave guilty pleasure. 

2:30: Cora wakes up, yelling, "Momma, I'm a bad girl!" from her crib. Mira wakes up a few minutes later. We hang out in her room for a little bit, reading books and playing.

3:00 Time to get Ina and fill up the van with gas. The van was on empty all morning and I don't want to run out of gas in the preschool pick up line. Once Ina is in the car she tells me that she and one boy in her class are in love, but she will probably marry another boy in her class, but "Don't tell Daddy!" 

3:30: We get home and I hit my typical afternoon energy wall. I feed Mira and finish up dinner prep while the girls watch a few cartoons. I snack on some mixed nuts.

4:55: Dan's home! This is usually the time of day where I get an emotional break from single parenting. However, Ina is in a mood and they immediately get frustrated with each other. I tell Ina to go to her room again and tell Dan to go unwind with a long shower. Afterwards they both "start over" and everyone is in a really good mood for the rest of the night. Somewhere in there I poured myself a glass of wine. 

5:45: We eat dinner - slow cooker buffalo chicken sweet potatoes with mixed vegetables. Mira is an angel baby and lets me eat my whole plate. Cora wanders away from the table after a few minutes, but Ina sits with us and we enjoy some family conversation. I really want dinner to be a time for our family to be together, but I don't want to force it. 

6:10: Dan does dishes and wipes the counters while I feed Mira. We all watch Star Wars as a family - we are trying to watch them all again before we see Episode 8. Mira sleeps on my through the whole movie and Cora is cuddled up right beside me.

7:40: The movie is over and we head upstairs for bed. I give the girls their allergy medicine and their vitamins. Dan and Ina hang out in Cora's room while I wash my face, brush my teeth, etc. I hang out with Ina in her room until she falls asleep.

8:15: I lay down in bed to wait for Dan to come in from Cora's room and immediately fall asleep.

9:06: I wake up on the phone with someone from a dance studio I had called over a week ago. Apparently her phone just showed her she had a message and she wanted to immediately return my call. I am sure I sounded a mess, because she kept on apologizing for calling so late. We talk about Ina's dance class options for a few minutes and I immediately fall asleep as soon as we get off the phone.

11:15: Mira wakes up to eat. She usually doesn't wake up this early, but she fell asleep earlier than normal.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Notes to Myself for Thanksgiving 2018

Dear Future Racheal,

Here are a few things that you always forget because you only cook like this once a year:

This method for cooking the turkey is great (stuff with garlic, carrots, celery, thyme, and a whole head of garlic), but your roaster runs hot resulting in a turkey on the dry side if you follow the recommended times, so either decrease the temp or check the turkey earlier.

Buy a fresh turkey and brine it.

Have Dan make the gravy. He has a "gravy sense" that cannot be beat.

The rolls might not rise as much as you like. They will be fine.

I promise, 10 lbs. does make enough mashed potatoes.

The stuffing requires butter, celery, and onion. Grandma says to add enough broth/cream until you stick your finger in and liquid runs around it.

These pumpkin and pecan pie recipes are fantastic. Maybe don't have Ina help with measuring the pie crust ingredients. Apparently exact amounts matter.

This cranberry sauce recipe was perfect in the slow cooker for prep a few days before. Making it on the floor is completely optional.

For the love of God don't wear jeans to eat Thanksgiving. Stretchy pants are your friends.

No matter how much you feel like you are missing out, you do not want to go shopping on Black Friday. You will not enjoy it. Stay home and put up outdoor Christmas lights instead.

Do make a list of what you want to buy for gifts and see if any of those happen to be on sale during Cyber Monday. Don't make your list off the sales. You will regret that too.

Have an activity for the kids to do during the cooking. Jessie's colorable table cloth and turkey place card crafts were both great ideas.

Enjoy this time with your family. It only comes a few times a year. <3

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thankful 11.23.17


I was supposed to hit publish on this post on Thanksgiving, but I just realized I didn't. As to not lose this week in family history, here you go...almost a week late...

  1. Christmas movies on Netflix. We are totally putting up the tree early this year. 
  2. We went to my friend Michele's house for dinner and she made homemade Chik-fil-a. Oh my, it was amazing. Dan told her we will be driving thru once a week.
  3. We officially sold our first item on Facebook Marketplace. Now I am looking at every item in the house and wondering how much it is worth to me. Can you sell animals? Asking for a friend.
  1. A special shout out to the person who turned in my phone from the Marshall's parking lot. Oh, and the woman who followed me out of Crate and Barrel with my wallet. I know this surprises no one, but I am losing my mind.
  2. I got my eyebrows waxed, which was just the little self care treat I needed.
  3. We had a great Friendsgiving meal at the Nybergs' house. It was lovely. 

  1. The whole family helped in tidying up the house while I was calling patients. (I started back at my Saturday morning job a few weeks ago). It was great to start the weekend on a clean note.
  2. Dan and I enjoyed a fun night at a family friend's wedding. The wedding was beautiful and I didn't know how badly we needed to get out of the house without the kids. It was such a fun date night. Can we all agree that Dan needs to wear a suit more often?
  3. My dad and Bev played with the girls while we were gone and we came home to all three girls asleep in their beds and all the laundry done. How long do I have to wait to ask them to babysit again? 
  1. Mira slept all night long! Like, until 6:30 AM. I am pretty positive that neither Ina nor Cora did this at 2 months old, so I am hoping this is a great sign. 
  2. I ordered our Christmas cards. They are not creative at all and they don't share any details about our year, but honestly I don't have the mental capacity for that right now. I am just happy that Chessa took our picture and we are all looking at the camera. Ha! 
  3. We finished up our small group semester. I just love those people.

I forgot to write anything down for this day, and even looking at my planner does not help me remember a single detail about it. So there's that.

  1. Cora didn't get kicked out of story time. It was looking iffy there for a bit.
  2. Dan's mom made us dinner and brought it over. Not only was it delicious, as always, it was great to not worry about dinner and instead play games.
  3. I taught Ina and Dan how to play chicken foot with dominos. They both liked the game and we now have another choice in our arsenal. I moved all the games from the basement to a cabinet by the dining room table, hoping to motivate us to play games more. 

  1. Ina didn't have school, so we lounged around the house and casually/slowly put up Christmas decorations and made pies for Thanksgiving. I kept my Christmas decorating to a minimum, reminding myself I would have to put anything I got out away in January when I am fully in the grind of being a working mom to three kids. This was also our first time making pies. I don't mind saying they were a success.
  2. Dan had food poisoning, NOT the stomach bug. I know that is a weird thing to be thankful for, but stomach bugs are contagious while food poisoning is not, and Big Momma doesn't have time/energy/patience for that ish right now.
  3. My mom came over with a mini pecan pie and we played games while Dan was recovering.

Food I have made this week:

Healthy Chicken Enchilada Soup: It was just OK. Probably won't make again.

Red beans and rice: Very good - I had this for 5 meals and wasn't upset about the last one.

Paleo breakfast casserole: I have some form of egg casserole for the last 3 weeks and it has been clutch in having an easy and healthy breakfast after a minute in the microwave. 
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