Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Christmas Pageant

The girls' school did Christmas pageants this year for the first time and all but the infant classes participated. We had such a fun time seeing them perform and it was truly cute overload! For all you teachers out there that work programs like this into your days (and nights) on top of lesson plans, corralling kids, and everything else you do; THANK YOU; these memories are the best!

Charlotte's teachers provided the song lyrics in advance so that we could practice with the kids at home, and we had a lot of fun singing and dancing along as a family! Her teachers told me that she did great during all of their rehearsals, but I wasn't sure how she'd do on the day of the performance given that she's fairly shy and a big Mama's girl. It was jam-packed in the gym when we arrived, but we were able to snag a seat fairly close  to the "stage," but apparently not close enough for Charlotte to see us (or maybe she couldn't see much of anything through her sunglasses, ha). She was cool as a cucumber during the performance, but didn't appear to love or hate it, just took it in stride and wore her sunglasses like she owned the place. I'll take it over throwing a fit a crying and there's always next year!

We were welcomed back to her classroom afterwards for cookies, lemonade and a visit with Santa, but she wanted nothing to do with the jolly old man and neither did her sister who had joined us for Charlotte's performance. We took Anna back to her classroom to prepare for her performance and went back to the gym to grab a front row seat. While we waited, someone found her groove and we had to pull her kicking and screaming off the stage when the older kids entered. Such is life!

Anna and her class did wonderfully and what a difference two years makes! Her teachers also told me she was a star during practice and rehearsals, but she never showed us much when we asked to practice at home. I was SO happy when she was one of the few children interacting during each song, and I couldn't get over how cute they all looked with their antlers and red noses!

Singing and using sign language to "Silent Night"

"We wish you a Merry Christmas" with the added verses of:
Now lets do a clapping (... jumping ... waving ...) to spread Christmas cheer!

It's confirmed that our girls are NOT fans of characters and we also skipped (literally ran from) the opportunity to visit with Santa in Anna's room, but enjoyed cookies and lemonade. I can't wait to see what the kids come up with for next year!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday funny

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What's cookin': Jamaican Gumbo

Wow, I haven't posted a new recipe on almost a year and a half ... it's not because I haven't been cooking, it's because I've been cooking for a toddler and a preschooler and I'm pretty sure y'all know how to make mac n cheese.

Before kids I knew that the dinnertime routine would change as I started to cook for a family, but I had no idea how much. When we started to think about finger foods with Anna, I heard several people talk about how "my child eats everything we eat with no exceptions."

I've since realized they were blatantly lying. Their pants are definitely on fire somewhere!

Over the past three years, I've found myself making meals, side dishes, and dish modifications I would have gawked and scoffed at pre-kids. Sometimes your priority becomes getting calories into your kids body and if it happens to be relatively healthy, that's a bonus. We've found that appetites and preferences ebb and flow ... if a child likes something one day, enjoy, because chances are they will hate it tomorrow.

Literally tomorrow, usually when you send leftovers for lunch.

Anyway, I digress.

I went to a freezer meal workshop almost a year ago and although some of the recipes turned out to be duds, this one was a hit and graced our kitchen again a few weeks ago. The recipe called for stovetop preparation, being the rebel that I am, I threw the ingredients in the crock pot partially frozen in the morning and came home to a delicious dinner 8 hours later.

Jamaican Gumbo

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (whole or cut into pieces)
12 oz andouille or smoked sausage, sliced (I use smoked turkey sausage)
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2-3 stalks of celery, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, small diced or grated
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons Jamaican jerk seasoning blend
Cooked white or brown rice (slow cooker preparation)
3/4 c rice and 3/4 water (stove top preparation)

Slow Cooker instructions: Combine all ingredients except rice in your slow cooker and cook on low 6-7 hours. Shred chicken thighs with two forks if cooked whole. Serve over cooked rice.

Stovetop instructions: Combine all ingredients except rice in a large skillet or dutch oven and turn to medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Add rice and water, return to a boil. Turn to low, cover, and cook for 25-30 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

Suitable for advance preparation: Throw all of the ingredients other than the rice in a freezer-friendly zip-top bag, double bag and lay flat to freeze. Thaw for 12-24 hours and prepare as instructed above.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sunday funday

Mike and I both grew up going to church and it's something that is important to us and our family now ... but it's HARD with two half-pints in tow. Just getting everyone dressed and out of the house is a challenge most days, much less wrangling (begging!!) them to sit relatively still for an hour. Most sermons are spent in the restroom with Anna, and if not there, definitely in the cry-area where we listen through a speaker and watch through the glass window. But we go. We sing, we listen, we respond, we commune, we pass the peace, and we hope that the girls understand just a little bit of why. It's not only what we believe, it's what we want for our family.

All of that said, this article really spoke to me when I saw it come through a news feed last week, even though it was published over a year ago. It gave me faith that we're building the right kind of faith foundation in our children, slowly but surely, and the same one that was started for us by our parents.

This year we signed Anna up for Sunday School and I signed up to be an assistant teacher in her class, because, let's face it, I'd probably be in there with her anyway. We have at least 15 kids each Sunday and sometimes up to 20. They are eager to learn, to share, to be involved. It's been a real treat to see Jesus through their eyes and in a way it's brought me closer to God in a time of my life when I don't always dedicate enough to him.

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday funny

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thankful Thursday

So, this happened yesterday...

Mike had been dealing with a cold for a few days, which included feeling dizzy and lightheaded at times. I had an early morning doctor appointment yesterday, so he got his shower earlier than usual as he would be getting the girls up, ready, and out the door by himself. He started feeling faint in the shower and sat down for a minute. Luckily I was still in the bathroom and knew something was up when he turned off the water immediately after standing up. And then he crashed. I went over to see if it was a clumsy mistake or something else. Unfortunately it was the latter and as he tried to stand he fell again and seemed to be in a cloud as he answered me when I asked if he was OK. The next time he tried to stand and exit the shower he fell again and hit his head pretty hard on the tile floor. The fourth time was NOT the charm and and he fell again as I tried to get him safely out of the bathroom and to the bed to lay down.

When I rolled him over on the bathroom floor I saw he large gash in his forehead and, boy, was it a bleeder. Aside from passing out, the gash was at least 2 inches long and wide enough that a q-tip could fit inside, so I knew that would definitely need medical attention. As soon as he had a towel to apply pressure to the wound, I ran downstairs, got my phone, and called a neighbor who didn't answer, likely because it was 6am. At this point I realized I was physically shaking and could barely keep the phone stable. I called my Mom next and we decided that I'd see if I get get him up and to the car, we'd head to the ER, and if he wasn't stable enough I'd call 911. While talking to my Mom, my neighbor beeped-in and upon hearing the situation, was on her way to our house to stay with the girls until my Mom arrived. I could have taken the girls with us, but they were sound asleep and I knew that would be a huge production. Thank heaven for neighbors that we are blessed to also call dear friends!

We got to the ER and Mike was seen right away. They ran an EKG while they took his vitals and immediately set-up for routine labs, an IV, and x-rays. As suspected, he needed stitches, eleven to be exact, and handled it like a champ. I think I embarrassed him when I offered my hand as they numbed the area ... but that needle was big and I would have needed a hand! He's a lucky guy and all of his test came back fine. He was sent home with a portable heart rate monitor to wear for 24-hours and told to take it easy for a few days. We turned the heart rate monitor in this morning we were told no news is good news and to follow-up with his primary care doctor as directed, who will get the full report. Needless to say he feels pretty sore today and is a bit worn out. His shiner looks a little better, but will take some time to heal. We're working on a more heroic story : )

It's hard living in a town with no immediate family, but I feel so blessed that we've created a family in our neighborhood and I know that we'd all truly do anything for one another. I'm also thankful for a Mom that routinely drops what she's doing to help us out, even at two-hours away. We all slept well last night and will be saying some extra prayers and thank yous over the next few days!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday funny

Or Mickey Mouse, or Sophia, or Frozen, or "MOOOOMMMMYYYY" ....

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Thank you Steve Jobs

Part of the new role I took about a year ago includes a few nights away from home each month. I miss my girls and Mike dearly, but do try to look at the bright side and enjoy the hot meals, not making a bed or cleaning up after anyone, using the hotel fitness centers, and extra time to catch up on work projects in the evenings. I love talking to the girls each evening and Facetiming is one of the best technological inventions ever! We usually Facetime after Charlotte is in bed, but we swapped it up and called before she went down last week; it was a huge hit with everyone. Nothing tugs at your heartstrings like getting a virtual hug and kiss from your children! Thank you Steve Jobs!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday funny

Mommy truth # 592

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Keep on scrolling

I hope I still have a few readers after my unplanned blogging hiatus ... I don't have a great excuse other than the fact that sometimes life just gets in the way. The good news is that we have a home computer (love my MacBook Pro!!) and I'm *sooo* close to having all of our pictures transferred and organized. This means that I can get back to writing, posting, and keeping you updated on all the fun we're having. So, keep on scrolling; I'm back-posting letters and pictures and you never know what you might find!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The last time

I've had this poem saved on my phone for months with the intent to post and it gets me everytime I read it, such true true words. My life hasn't been the same since May 14, 2011, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Not for all the sleep, money, or wine, in the world!

The Last Time
From the moment you hold your baby in your arms you will never be the same
You might long for the person you were before
When you had freedom and time and nothing in particular to worry about
You will know tiredness like you never knew it before
And days will run into days that are exactly the same
Full of feedings and burping, Nappy changes and crying
Whining and fighting, 
Naps or lack of naps
It might seem like a never-ending cycle

But don’t forget….
There is a last time for everything
There will come a time when you will feed your baby for the very last time
They will fall asleep on you after a long day and it will be the last time you every hold your sleeping child
One day you will carry them on your hip then set them down and never pick them up that way again
You will scrub their hair in the bath at night and from that day on they will want to bathe alone
They will hold your hand to cross the road then never reach for it again
They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles
And it will be the last night you ever wake to this
One afternoon you will sing “the wheels on the bus” and do all the actions then never sing them that song again
They will kiss you good-bye at the school gate then the next day they will ask to walk to the gate alone
You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your last dirty face
They will run to you with arms raised for the very last time
The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last time
Until there are no more times…and even then, it will take you a while to realize
So while you are living in these times, remember there are only so many of them and when they are gone, you will yearn for just one more day of them.
For one last time

Author Unknown