Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Ina Turns Six!

This weekend Ina turned six.


I find it so hard to believe that six years ago we went to the hospital for what I was positive was no big deal, to quickly find out she needed to be evacuated from my belly immediately. A few hours, snips, and blood transfusions later, there she was, as perfect as can be.


Even harder to believe is that Dan and I have been parents for six years. Six. How much longer before I feel like I know what I am doing?

At six Ina is a feisty little thing. She likes directions and rules (following them and making sure that others do as well), any art project, and her little sisters.



She is such an anticipater and is constantly asking me how many days until Easter, or her dad's birthday, or until she turns 35.


She also likes to play "What if" and asks questions all the time like, "What if all the people in the world lived in our house?" or "What if our Christmas tree touched the moon?"


She likes playing games and watching art videos or dance videos on YouTube. She knows exactly the right thing to say to press her dad's buttons, which I find absolutely hilarious.

Every year I don't think it is possible to love her more and then she becomes even more Ina-like and my heart just keeps growing.

We started out the birthday celebrations with a family dinner at our house. We had a baked potato bar, I made dirt cake, and we had a family dance party.


Ina so enjoyed seeing everyone and even more listening to people sing happy birthday (with the "cha-cha-cha" added, of course).  Cora came up right behind Ina and blew out her candles the first time, so we had a re-do.

The next day we packed our bags and headed to Great Wolf Lodge (or Great Moof Wodge, as Cora called it), an indoor water park resort in KC.


This year I gave Ina the choice of either having a traditional birthday party or spending the night there as a family.


She choose wisely.


She went down each slide approximately a thousand times, relaxed in the lazy river and the hot tub, scaled the lily pads like a champ, and showed off her swimming skills in the main pool.


The resort is perfect for families with small children and it was no big deal to walk around the lobby in either your pajamas or your swimsuit. They had all sorts of activities for the kids outside of the water park and it even SNOWED in the lobby.


(I actually packed our matching pajamas as an afterthought, but was so happy I did because all the other families did as well and it was just so darn cute.)


After one day of fun and one night of horrible sleep (I'm looking at you, Mira), we were all a little worse for the wear on Sunday, Ina's actual birthday.

We pressed on and ate breakfast at the hotel buffet, and then spent a few hours in the water park before we changed and spent the rest of the day lounging in our living room

On Monday the birthday magic wore off and Cora woke up with pink eye and Ina woke up with two ear infections. Ina's school nurse and I on quickly approaching BFF status.

I should also note that the week before Mira dislocated her elbow (seriously) and Ina had a bladder infection. I am so thankful that the sickness stopped for a few days of fun for our family. We now have a new antibiotic and lots of eye drops and are praying that if anyone else gets sick, it will be before January 1st when our deductible starts over.

This is dance recital week, so I am praying for patience at the dance mom level. I hope you are soaking in all the joy that December brings!

Just a few recipes to share this week - we have been eating a lot of leftovers.

Copy Cat Carrabbas Sausage and Lentil Soup: absolutely delicious and perfect for hunkering down during a blizzard. All three of the girls finished their bowls.

Chex Mix - a Christmas tradition in my family.

Sprinkle cookies- I sent these to Ina's class and she said they loved them!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

Happy Sunday after Thanksgiving!

The day before Thanksgiving I took off work and decided to make pies with Ina in the afternoon.


There are two types of women in the world: when making a pie they either 1) buy the 89 cent pie crust pre-made or 2) make their own and think buying a pre-made crust is completely not necessary. I am so proud to announce that this year I moved categories and after some encouragement made my own pie crusts. After the crusts were mixed, frozen, rolled out, and pressed in to the only three pie pans I own (all while shhing the voice in my head telling me I could have skipped all this for 89 cents), I recruited Ina to help me mix the filling for our pecan and pumpkin pies. She actually did a pretty good job and we mostly had fun, except for the 10 minutes where one egg miraculously covered every surface in my kitchen.

Thursday morning I woke up around 5 and had the turkey roasting before 6. I made the rolls, chopped the vegetables, peeled the potatoes, and set out all the dishes. Dan was in charge of the gravy and potatoes. Granny carved the turkey.


This made the rest of the morning flow smoothly and by noon all of our guests had arrived and we were ready to eat. After lunch the kids played outside and the adults chatted and watched football.


After everyone left I made the last minute decision to take Ina and Cora on a walk. We saw lots of neighbors putting up Christmas lights or walking their guests out to their cars. We admired to lights already up and made plans for our own house. We had to much fun that I am making a mental note to do the same next year.


A few things that worked for us this year:

Having an activity for the kids to do. Jessie brought a table cloth with Thanksgiving activities on it and they loved it.


Have plastic containers ready to send leftovers home with guests. Why do we always make so much food?

Do as much as you can the day before. I made sure to make the pies, clean the downstairs bathroom, and do the cranberry sauce on Wednesday. I should have also made the deviled eggs and cleaned the upstairs bathrooms. Oh, and laid out everyone's clothes.

As you are carving the turkey, put the extra fat and bones directly into a slow cooker on your counter and and start the bone broth process. By the end of the day you have extra broth!

The day after Thanksgiving we I took the pumpkins to the compost pile (Ina cried. She was convinced we could get good use out of them by carving Santa in one or just saving it for next year. She is her father's daughter).  I had most of the house decorated for Christmas before anyone woke up. Cora came downstairs, saw the lights on the mantle and yelled, "Mom! What happened? Christmas lights!"


While I was finishing the lights on the stair rail Cora and Mira managed to take most of the ornaments off the tree and then take them apart.


Our Christmas tree will just have lights this year with an ornament or two hanging over three feet from the ground.

While we were watching The Grinch Grandma Frankie came to pick up the older girls and take them to a movie while Dan, Mira, and I headed to Home Depot to buy OUTDOOR CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!

Outdoor lights are a new thing for our family, but the girls love seeing them on other houses so much that I insisted.

I insisted while we measured the gutters. I insisted while we drug out the tall ladder. I started hesitating a little when I actually looked at the bushes in front of the house blocking space for a ladder and came to a full blow hesitation when Dan had to climb on the roof.


Like so many things in life, I have a better appreciation for lights now that I have (kind of) put them up myself. The girls were so excited to see them on the house and they now scream, "CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!" when we drive up to the house.


That evening we went to Main Street in our town for a tree light ceremony and then headed to the Champs' to celebrate Mr. Kyle's birthday with Pad Thai.


Saturday was absolutely beautiful outside so we decided to work on the pool deck to make it not kid penetrable. We have a gate, but if a kid wanted to climb through the rungs to get up there, it would have been possible. Not anymore, thanks to the pieces of old fencing that we have laying around our backyard, Dan's tools and his handy craftsman skills.


While Dan was working I ran around the house trying to parent the girls and pick up their mess. Ina and I played cards. The younger girls fought over magna tiles. (Speaking of fighting, Mira is going through a strong hitting stage. She hits everyone all of the time. Sometimes with a ferocious look on her face and other times with curious eyes, waiting for my reaction. We have done everything from completely ignoring her to hitting her back and nothing has seemed to tamper her rage. I am praying this is a short stage.)

We ate leftover turkey enchiladas for dinner and watched White Christmas, which is appropriate, because we are now under a blizzard warning.

I hope your holiday was just a restful and productive.


Monday, November 19, 2018

Out of Sorts

Hello!

After the "Mira versus confetti incident" we more than met the maximum out of pocket expenses of our high deductible insurance plan, so I decided to get my lovely varicose veins (from three pregnancies in five years) removed.


Three ultrasounds, one CT, two laser treatments, and TWELVE phlebectomies (via an instrument that greatly resembled a crochet hook) later, I am on the amazing road to pretty(er) and painless legs.

The recovery road also involves not lifting over 20 pounds and no aerobic exercise for three weeks. While the later is relatively easy (even though I so miss the gym!), not lifting over 20 pounds is proving difficult as my children all weigh more than that and all insist on being lifted. Some more than others.

Poor Mira just doesn't understand why I won't hold her when she wide-legged walks over to me, wraps her arms around my legs, looks straight up at me and squalls. After I was able to take my ACE wrap off, Cora happily observed that I "didn't have a broken toe anymore" and immediately wanted me to pick her up. Even Ina wants me to lift her to see something every now and then.


Also, Danielle and Kyle (who have been living in our basement for 10+ months) moved out this past weekend.  I will miss their family so much. Making only two cups of coffee is just sad. The open spaces in our fridge and pantry make my heart hurt a little. Morning coffee walks won't be the same. I will have to start grocery shopping again. But, they are still in our small group and Danielle will still watch the girls every Friday, so I suppose life will go on.

Also, my grandparents' (who now live in a long term care facility) house sold (which produced a gut wrenching sadness that I have yet to fully face) and the estate sale was this past weekend. I could not bare to go and watch strangers sift through the things that framed my childhood, but thankfully Dan did attend and waded through to find items that would remind me of that lovely place. He actually did a fantastic job, but now I look at my grandmother's things sitting in my house and my stomach turns in knots.


So, needless to say, the past few weeks have made me a little out of sorts. But, we still lived life and had lots of fun, because that is what we do. We made a thankful tree out of Trader Joe's paper bags to remind us of this...but have yet to put any leaves on it.


We had dance lessons and swim lessons, although both are more difficult with the colder weather and the necessary dress required for each. We had dinner at a friend's house, celebrated my nephew Bauer's birthday, had friends over for lunch, had parents as teachers, enjoyed an absolutely amazing night of worship at church (during which my children treated me like a jungle gym), and attended a delicious and heart filling Friendsgiving.


And there are even more things to look forward to that continue to put a smile on my face, the first of which being Thanksgiving. We are hosting this year. I have the grocery shopping done and our menu contributions planned. Hopefully I didn't forget anything. I have been out of the grocery shopping game for almost a year!

In case you are interested, here are the recipes we are using:

Here are some other recipes we have made the past few weeks that have been excellent and you should make them too.
  • Korean BBQ burritos: the flavor is just so good - a must try recipe.
  • Kale Cesar salad (made twice!)
  • Carnitas with cabbage slaw: one of my favorite meals of all time.
  • Lasagna - good recipe, everyone in the family loved it, but I have never met a lasagna I didn't like.
  • Jambalaya - Dan mostly did this one and it was fantastic. Ina didn't like the shrimp. Mira devoured it. 
  • Pumpkin roll - such a delicious treat.
I hope you have a great week and you remember all the blessings in your life to be thankful for. <3

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Halloween Plays and Turkey Legs



Monday started with a birthday workout, which are always so fun at our gym. Well, really, everything is fun at our gym. I almost forget that I am working out.


Also fun (maybe my favorite thing on earth):  Liz's carrot cake topped with candied pecans.

After the work thing I picked Ina up from school and Cora up from Granny's and then changed them into some costumes in the car and took them to dance class.


Cora dancing in her witch outfit while being completely mesmerized by her costumed reflection in the mirror was so stinking adorable. Ina was not happy with the way her butterfly wings were hanging on her, but suffered through.


After dance we scrambled in the van and raced to Ina's school, where their Trunk or Treat event was just wrapping up. I felt bad that we missed it, but they mostly seemed happy to say trick or treat!, receive a few pieces of candy, and see a few scary costumes.

Tuesday their dance school put on a little Halloween play called, The Missing Cape. Ina and Cora's song class sang and danced to Rockin' Robin while wearing crow hats and tail feathers.


I walked in having zero expectations and was pleasantly surprised to see them both sing and dance their little hearts out on stage. Of course Ina's hat fell off and Cora somehow ended up behind girls much taller than her, but they both had a blast. I sincerely enjoyed the entire 30 minutes and am strongly resisting the urge to sign Ina up for drama class.


Wednesday was Halloween. As soon as Ina walked in the door from school I quickly painted her face and  helped the other girls get dressed.


Poor Cora wanted her face painted so bad, even though her costume didn't really require paint. Out of hurried desperation I painted a pumpkin on her face and then quickly had to wipe it off when Cora decided that "Violet doesn't have a pumpkin on her face."


Mira was just happy to have a warm and snuggly costume that featured her adorable belly.


We hit up a few houses in our neighborhood first and then made the drive to Jessie's house for full block trick or treating. Jessie, Uncle John, Dan, and I followed the kids around for an hour or so, making sure they said thank you and didn't get hit by a vehicle.


The weather was perfect. The hot chocolate (spiked with rumchata) in my yeti was warm and comforting. Seeing the girls run from house to house with their cousins made my heart soar.

After their candy buckets were too heavy to carry we made our way back to Jessie's house for cheeseburger soup and pajamas.

Our calendar was free on Thursday, so as soon as I picked up the girls from school/Granny's we went to visit Grandma June and Papa Ed at their assisted living facility.

They both seemed really good and we had a very nice visit. We tried to stay with them while they were eating dinner, but left in a blaze of glory when Mira attempted to pull the table cloth out from under an unsuspecting patron's plate of spaghetti. Pro tip - when you need to entertain three children and you think you have packed enough snacks for an one hour outing, you haven't. Pack more.

Friday Dan visited me at work for a little lunch date and we hunkered down with pizza and wings for dinner while watching The Incredibles 2.

While I worked on Saturday morning Dan took the girls to a basketball clinic the high school girls team puts on. Ina was super nervous to leave, but came back home excited with some fun stories to share. The coach even let Cora go out and play for a little bit. I love watching the girls dance and swim, but I would be lying if I said I didn't want them to play basketball one day. One day.


That night I took Ina and Cora to see our high school's production of Little Shop of Horrors. I was blown away by the talent these high schoolers had and also excited to see both Ina and Cora sit (mostly) still through a 2.5 hour musical, follow the story line, and enjoy the songs. I see many nights on Broadway in our future.


Sunday was mostly spent preparing for our small group dinner. We made the last minute decision to have a Thanksgiving feast after our normal study. Dan smoked a turkey and roasted another one. We made gravy, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole. Everyone else filled in the sides.

Every corner of our main level was full of people. I didn't do the best job of not stressing out beforehand (I think mostly because the girls were all in needy moods), but thoroughly enjoyed everyone once they were in our house and had a plate of food in their hands.

And just like that another Halloween week is over and we are off to the races towards the holidays.

My heart and my calendar runneth over.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

November Goals + October Report Card


1. Track my time.

Have you heard of this concept? Laura Vanderkam, a writer and one of my favorite podcasts hosts, introduced me to this. Basically, you capture what you do in 30 minute intervals for the entire day over a decent period of time.

A week or two is sufficient for me to get a good grasp of where my time is going. I think I have an idea, but I am a facts and numbers girl at heart, so I want the real data in front of me.

Watching the girls grow up so fast reminds me that time is a valuable resource and I don't want to be wasting it.

2. Read Matthew.

Bible study is a constant struggle for me, but I know it is mostly a habit I just need to start. Matthew has 28 chapters, so the plan is a chapter a day. A great "better than nothing" goal.

3.  Make our bed every morning and wipe down my bathroom counter every night.

Outer order, inner calm. Starting and ending my day with peaceful surroundings helps me tremendously, but I rarely make it a priority.

Other things to do/look forward to in November:
  • A field trip with some church friends
  • A local musical with the girls
  • Getting laser treatment on both of my legs for my varicose veins. I was hoping that those suckers would go away after the last pregnancy, but they have been very persistent. We met our maximum out of pocket cost for the  year (thanks to confetti), so  I am just going to get it over with.  I am praying for a quick and easy recovery.
  • Hair cut/trim - I am so horrible about doing this that I have started adding it to my to-do list every three months. 
  • Small group Thanksgiving
  • Friendsgiving
  • Thanksgiving
  • Ina's birthday dinner (her birthday is technically in December, but we will be starting the celebrations early).
___________________________________________________________________________
And, if you care, my October goal report card.

(Speaking of report cards, we just received Ina's first one and it isn't letters, it is numbers and colors. Although I watched the training video twice, I still am not 100% sure I get it. Ha!)

1. Making moving as a family a priority. B+
Because I knew I had this goal there were a few nights I forced us out of the house to play outside. Ina learned to ride her bike, which was super exciting.

However, we didn't go on one after dinner family walk, or hike, or scavenger hunt, mostly due to the lack of opportunity. Looking back, I can't think of many moments when we were all sitting around and would have otherwise had the chance to move, unless you count football games.

2. Read more books. B-
I really wanted to read 4 books this month. Instead, I read 2.5 (Crazy Rich Asians, Off the Clock, and half of Iron Gold), which I suppose is going to be good enough.

I checked out a few Halloween related books at the library, which the girls loved, and we are continuing to follow Jack and Annie in their tree house adventures (currently on book #10).

I also found a few books Mira would sit still for, and if I made enough hand gestures, sound effects, and read fast, she sat still and listened (and adorably gave the faces on the pages big open mouthed kisses).

3. Lose five pounds. A

Health wise I am feeling pretty darn good. I went to the gym every weekday morning this entire month and walked/ran a few miles all but one weekend day.

I tracked my food for a few days, but then tried to focus on eating a lot of protein and produce and not much processed food. Naturally, there were a few nights of pizza and/or cake involved, but also lots of kale salads and turkey meatballs. I also truly think that switching a traditional breakfast for bulletproof collagen coffee has made a big difference for me.

I hope you have a fantastic November! <3

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Ina's First Blog Post

Monday Ina woke up not feeling the best and sounding raspy, but without a fever, so to school she went. She went to the nurse twice (still no fever), but I could tell when I picked her up she was worse. By the time we pulled into their dance studio for lessons she could barely hold her head up or keep her eyes all the way open.

While she was home sick with me we watched movies, went to my eyebrow wax appointment and then, out of the blue, Ina told me she wanted to start her own "dot com." I happily informed her that I actually have my own "dot com" and showed her my blog. She was excited to see a picture of herself pop up on the computer screen, so we read a few recent posts. She later requested that we take a picture and that she write something. Here it is:


"I love my mom. This is a picture that we took together. And I love it. I love this house. I love this whole world. And I love this future. My mom. My dad. Cora. And Mira. Help me continue my life."

I think the end might have trailed off into a prayer...but either way, I thought it was cute.

I took the girls to get their flu shots on Thursday and was reminded why I rarely take all three of them anywhere by myself. They were generally well behaved, it is just difficult to take a three year old to the bathroom while a one year old is wanting to play with the toys. Ina and Cora fought the shots hard, although Cora didn't cry afterwards. Ina promised she would never want her ears pierced after that experience. Everyone was rewarded with donuts afterwards.

That evening was Ina's parent teacher conferences where Ina's teacher made Dan and I blush more than once with all the fantastic things she had to say about Ina. I loved hearing that all of her reading/math/social/leadership skills were well beyond kindergarten expectations.

We are so proud of her, but Dan and I approach that emotion in very different ways. I tried to talk to her teacher about the things she could still work on (taking her time on her worksheets) and ways we could keep her stimulated when the class is going over something she already knows (helping other kids, helping the teacher, quietly reading books, more problems, etc). Dan, on the other hand, only wanted to talk about her skipping right on to second grade. That poor teacher, and if that wasn't enough, while we were having this conversation, scavenger Cora had found the teacher's half eaten piece of pizza on her desk and started eating it (mmmm, that was good pizza Momma!) while Mira found the one remote in the room and re-set the electronic blackboard settings.

We set the bar high for parent teacher conferences.

Friday Ina and Cora went with Grandma Frankie to the pumpkin patch and then stayed the night at her house, so Dan and I had a semi-date night with a one year old. We brought home Chipotle and Mira played with the first meal ever ordered specifically for her while we watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Saturday I went on a long walk by myself (listening to a new favorite podcast - The Mom Hour) before working a few hours and finishing up some chores around the house.

Then I took my sweet time getting ready, and we dropped Mira off at Granny's and went to a high school friend's wedding, which required my curling iron to come out of the drawer.


The wedding was beautiful, the weather was gorgeous, and the food was delicious. An all around good night.

After church on Sunday we attempted to carve pumpkins while simultaneously preparing/eating lunch, watching the Chiefs game, and cleaning the house for small group.

Every year I think that carving pumpkins will be a fun experience and every year it is much more stressful than fun. Some of that stress may have been because there were so many other things going on, or maybe because Ina has very high expectations (she originally wanted to carve an entire sentence about how much she loved her family into her pumpkin and then settled for an octopus), or perhaps because it just isn't that fun.


There are only so many times that singing the Batman theme song (thankfully Cora picked something that was much easier to carve) and jumping up and down can brighten the mood.

Maybe next year we should paint them?

(Cora's great photography skills)

Have a great week! <3

Recipes from the week:

Cheeseburger salad with roasted sweet potato fries- if we carry our favorite summer recipe into fall, can we pretend the pool is still open?

Goulash - so delicious. We used new-to-me lentil noodles that were family approved. All three girls cleaned their plates!

Chicken pot pie soup with homemade biscuits and a salad (x3  and took 1/3 of it to Ina and Cora's dance teacher, who injured herself with boiling water). This was basically comfort in a bowl.

Pollo Sabroso with green sauce, roasted broccoli, and veggie rice. Another favorite summer meal. So YUM.
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