Monday, December 31, 2018

Christmas 2018 (Another Pukey Christmas)

Hello and Happy New Year!

I am back from the gym and furiously typing, hoping that Mira doesn't wake up for the 6th morning in a row by getting sick in her crib.

Poor baby. Poor Momma. (Is it bad to truly feel sorry for yourself? Ha!)

Backing up to Christmas Eve, we had a fun filled day that started with Dan's company party at Top Golf. What a fun place!

We ate lunch and swung golf clubs while I enjoyed meeting everyone Dan works with. From there we quickly went to Granny's house to pick up the girls and get them ready for church.

Our church had a Home Alone theme for the sermon, and had a photo booth set up with some of the characters, and some of the "booby traps" which we didn't know until after that photo was taken.

My face hurt from smiling so much.

From church we drove to Grandma Frankie's house to celebrate Christmas. The girls had fun, but on the way home everyone was complaining and whiny, which I attributed to the increased amount of sugar intake.

By midnight I was proved wrong once with Ina, 4 am twice with Cora, and then  6 am, a third time with Mira. If you are ever interested in challenging yourself, try playing Santa while tending to three puking children.

I was also starting to feel sick, but tried to ignore it as I had 16 people coming to my house in two hours and cinnamon rolls to make.

We all held it together as we forced ourselves to open presents and go through the Santa scavenger hunt I had printed out days before...literally between puking episodes for everyone.

Then we hurried to clean, put everything away, and made cinnamon rolls and meatballs for brunch.

We greeted our family and tried to hold it together. The girls actually did great, but I pretty much just laid on the floor and hoped that my welcoming smile was enough.

We were all spoiled so much and the girls have all sorts of new toys to play with.

The last few days have mostly been spent trying to survive. Poor Dan caught the stomach bug two days later and I think it hit him the hardest. Mira mostly cries unless I am holding her, which makes cooking, cleaning, or anything else very difficult.

(A perfect visual representation of the status of my house right now)

We did get out of the house on Saturday for my gym's Christmas party and on Sunday for church and my mom's side of the family Christmas.

I am not going to sugar coat it. This "vacation" week has been rough. I am really looking forward to starting work again on Wednesday.  Next year we are going out of town for Christmas.

I hope you had a great Christmas and I am looking forward to a healthier 2019.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Week Before Christmas

Hello! I hope you had a fantastic Christmas! Our's was...eventful...but I will leave that for the next post. Until then, let's play some catch up.

(Ina was so proud of her gingerbread house she made at school. She put it on the counter and many times I caught Cora sneaking pieces off to eat until it could no longer stand.)

Monday night we soaked in the beauty of not having dance class, ate curry, watched Nailed It (the holiday edition, which for some reason, we cannot give enough of) and basically recovered from a very busy weekend.

Backing up to Monday morning, I reached a PR at the gym and snatched a 50 pound dumbbell! I always forget to mention the gym, but I am still going every single weekday morning (except when I don't wake up to my 4:40 alarm, which has happened once or twice...). I absolutely adore starting my day this way with these people that push me and motivate me.

Tuesday I picked up the girls and Dan and we drove directly to Longview Lake to enjoy their Christmas in the Park lights display.

Because we were moving at negative 2 miles per hour, we let the girls out of their car seats. Ina and Cora stuck their heads out the sunroof while Mira sat in my lap and either tried to press every button on the dashboard or jump out the passenger window.

Every single display was appreciated and ooh-ed and ahh-ed over. They particularly loved all the things that lit up above our heads and Ina would beg to stay put and let the reindeer/Santa/skier/snowflake go over us just one more time...

Thursday I stuffed my face at my department's holiday lunch and then drove to Ina's school for her holiday party.

These events have drastically improved since I was in school. They had a bounce house and crafts and snacks and games and after only 45 minutes I left with one question: HOW do teachers do this every single day?

God bless them.

Also, something worth noting from Ina's party: she knows every single person in that school. Like every single one. I was impressed when she was introducing me to kids in the other kindergarten classes, but when we walked by the first grade line and she enthusiastically said hello to each kid by name, I was blown away. She is a little social butterfly!

I had Friday off work, but had still scheduled for the girls to go to Danielle's. So, I cleaned and wrapped my little heart out.

Then, my dad and his girlfriend came over to watch not only my three kids, but also Chessa's two kids, so we could celebrate her birthday.

We ate delicious pizza and cake and briefly felt like we were in college again.

Saturday we had a slow start and then Ina and Cora went to Grandma Frankie's to make Christmas cookies and stay the night while Dan and I got to work on their Christmas present - a dress up clothes stand.

Why buy something pre-made when you can spend more money and more time making something yourself?

All joking aside, it turned out great and the quality is much better than anything Amazon could have sent us.

In between trips to the hardware store and paint coats we watched The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It funny and heart warming and something that we both enjoy, but not for little viewers.

After Grandma Frankie dropped the girls off on Sunday I took them to visit my friend Sarah (in town from DC) and her family.

The girls always have so much fun at Doug and Charlotte's house. Not only because of the company and cool toys, but also the treats they leave with. This year I also left with a treat - Blue Bell ice cream (still not available in Kansas City) and I have been thoroughly enjoying every single bite.

Sunday night we ate double-decker tacos (Ina's new favorite) and watched the Chiefs game until half time after which I plopped into bed, completely exhausted.

I don't have any meal recipes to share - we have been kind of winging it. BUT, if you are looking for a good NYE recipe to bring to a party, this hoagie dip never disappoints.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

All of the Things Weekend

Like all of you, I'm sure, this weekend was one for our family record books as we tried to squeeze in as many things as possible within 48 hours.

On Friday Dan and I put on adult clothes (a sparkly skirt for me and...well...long pants for him), dropped the girls off at Grandma Frankie's, and ventured to the city for my part-time-job's Christmas party.

We devoured some delicious food (this was our first time at Lidia's!) and enjoyed talking to the people we only talk to once a year. I do adore built in date nights.

I worked (my 4  hours a week for aforementioned part time job) on Saturday morning while Dan and the girls cleaned out the van, that desperately needed a good vacuuming. Then Dan dropped Mira and I off at Aldi to grocery shop while he took the older girls to Home Depot to pick up the supplies to build their Christmas gift (unbeknownst to them!).

We watched a Christmas movie and then headed to our friend's house for a little game night birthday party. The invite said it would be "low key" so I wore leggings and Mira wore her PJ's (and no shoes). We played Things, ate chili, and soaked in some time with some of our favorite people.

Sunday the girls and I picked up grandma and grandpa at the long term care facility while Dan was at church serving with the baptism team. I feel I should mention this because when you have three small children the simple act of picking two people up takes a lot of effort and planning and may have involved a red headed child screaming in the bathroom, which caused other residents of the long term care facility to come check on her, which only led to a lot more screaming.

Once we were all loaded in the van, we headed to church where the girls performed with the rest of their class.

Ina was directly in front of us and dutifully went through every motion and word perfectly. Cora was across the stage, so I didn't get as good of a view of her, but she seemed to be giving that drum all the gusto she could drum up.

She and one of her friends also adorably peeked their heads on stage before their performance started.

This was the same girl who flat out refused to go on stage at her dance recital the week before.


From church we headed to my nephew Jake's birthday party. Cora wanted to make sure that all of his new toys were well played with before we left, while Ina and I wanted to make sure that every kind of pizza was sampled.

Much to Cora's dismay, we left the party a tad bit early to make it to our next destination, a play! Our town recently started a community theater and I jumped at the chance to reserve tickets for the Christmas performance, A Neighborhood Noel.

I didn't know how much I would sincerely love the show, but I absolutely did. One of Ina's friends was in the show as well, which added so much to her excitement. Cora may have been a little too young (or a little too exhausted) for the play, because Granny had to pick her up at intermission after she was making rude noises while laying under other's chairs.

After the play was over we hurried home and arrived with the rest of our small group for our annual cookie exchange.

Dan made chicken and noodles and I had baked and cleaned earlier that morning. After we filled the cookie boxes and ate dinner we sat around watching YouTube videos and listening to the kids sing and dance.

I just love doing life with these people.

Other notable things from the week before this one:

- We endured our last dance practice of the season. Whew.

- My work department had a White Elephant gift exchange. We were to bring something we already had and didn't want anymore and give it as a gift. Nice idea, right? I brought something from my kitchen I hadn't used once in ten years and happily came home with a beautiful tray from India.

- My aunt and cousin came over to watch the Chief's game on Thursday night and even though they lost by one point in the last few seconds on the game, I enjoyed watching it with them and drinking RumChata cinnamon hot chocolate.

Recipes to share:

Bacon wrapped dates - we used cream cheese instead of goat cheese because we know some people don't like goat cheese, but honestly, I kind of regretted that decision.

Chicken and potato yellow curry with brown rice, naan, and cucumber/tomato/red onion salad - this was everything I wanted in life and I looked forward to eating leftovers as soon as I finished the first meal.

Asparagus, bacon, and egg salad with a Dijon vinaigrette. So delicious. I want to repeat this all spring.

For the cookie exchange I contributed spiced pecans and the amazing shortbread chocolate chunk cookies (rolled in red sugar for a little festive touch). I would strongly recommend those recipes to anyone looking to do a little holiday baking.

Also, because you just need to - egg nog.

I hope you have a great week before Christmas! <3

Monday, December 17, 2018

Dance Mom in Training

(Let's pretend like I posted this a week ago...)

Hello and Happy Christmas season!

Par for the course, a sickness has taken over our house and everyone has been, well, drippy for the past week.

This extra drainage has led to many an ear infection and cough and each night at bedtime I am putting my pharmacy skills to good use as I hand out the medicine.

Not letting sickness get us down, we still had four dance practices in one week and did a lot of celebrating over the weekend. Friday night my family from Texas came over to celebrate Christmas.

The girls were absolutely spoiled with so many cute outfits, dress up clothes (Cora hasn't taken her yellow Minnie Mouse high heels off), a Polaroid camera, and a karaoke machine that even Mira loves to "sing" into.

After presents we ate dinner, played cards, and ate Christmas cookies and my heart was full.

The next morning after I worked for a few hours we took Granny out to eat for her birthday! We love Granny so much and we loved getting to celebrate her.

On the way home from lunch two out of three girls fell asleep in the car, so Dan did the tuck-and-roll drop off at home for me to pack dinners while he continued to drive them around. By the time I was ready to get back in the car, all three were asleep and we drove the 35 minutes to my niece Hallaway's dance recital.

Hallaway was in The Nutcracker and it was adorable. Ina was entranced and Cora kept on asking when she was going to get to be a ballerina. Soon! As we had to leave a little early to make it to their rehearsal for their recital the following day.

Cora was loving the rehearsal until she wasn't. Remember when I took the girls to see Little Shop of Horrors? They loved it, but Cora was a little scared.

(Cora, standing completely alone on stage...)

Guess what the theater team left backstage? Yep - the man eating plant! With all of its bloody teeth glory. Poor Cora was so scared. The fear, combined with the sickness and her overall red headed temperament made her not want to do anything more. After a lot of coaxing she finally got up there and sang and we came home very tired from a long day.

Sunday morning we woke up and hurried to early church, stopped by Target for a last minute costume change, and then headed to the theater for the girls' first show.

One of the other moms was so nice to help the girls during the first show (she is a saint) so I could sit in the audience and enjoying seeing them come out and sing My Favorite Things (so stinking adorable), Ina (as a reindeer with a lot of hip action) pull out Santa's sleigh, and Cora as a cute little gingerbread man.

The most precious moment was Ina gently guiding Cora up to the microphone to sing her part. She is (usually) such a good big sister.

I needed this first relaxing show, because the second show was hard. Cora was just done, which would have normally been no big deal, but we had 20+ family members coming and I knew she would be sad later if she didn't do it. After a lot of coaxing and bribing, I finally just handed her to her teacher (another saint!) and ran away.

She went on stage for her song, and then again for her dance, but was crying by the end. As soon as she walked off stage I handed her to our family and she was all smiles. We celebrated a job well done with Mexican food and margaritas.

A few recipes from the week:

spiced shrimp (made into tacos and served with a spicy cabbage slaw - yum)

pork shoulder ragu (make sure the pork is boneless!)

parmesean chicken - everyone loved this! Served with a kale pear salad.

meatloaf with roasted veggies

I hope you had a good weekend! <3

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.

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