Monday, April 7, 2014

Multi-tasking has its limits...
This is a 'guest-post,' if you will.  The first one on IN MY LIFE!  My friend sent me an email the other day and I immediately asked her if I could share it on here.  While she might have been feeling crazy, her scenario left me feeling totally normal.  Totally normal in that my brain can't remember squat anymore and that it only operates about half as well as it used to.  Sigh.

So the following story came from my friend Cory.  Cory is a rockstar mom, rockstar teacher, and rockstar wife. (Among many other rockstar roles)  No seriously.  She teaches 4th grade and we met while going through the National Board Certification process (a big, hard-earned honor in the teacher world).  She passed.  I did not.  It's ok, I got over it quickly.  She intimidated me at first, ALWAYS having her ducks in a row, ALWAYS having something worthwhile to contribute, ALWAYS being super organized and prepared, ALWAYS being purposeful in how and why she did things in her classroom.  As we got to know each other, though, I realized I could  learn a lot from her and we clicked as friends.  We stayed in touch after the whole National Board bit and then became moms at the same time.  For obvious reasons our 'new mom' titles brought us closer and we've stayed friends since.  Cory's husband is a commercial pilot, which sounds kind of glamorous, but it also leaves Cory to pull the majority of parenting and household responsibilities solo each week.  In full, honest disclosure: I don't know how she does it.  I guess it's a good thing she always has those ducks of hers in a row.


Not sure what came first, the chicken or the egg...

I don't know how the unfortunate set of events started, but I know I was roasting veggies for my dinner while baking chicken tenders for the kids, ( I said I wasn't going to make separate meals, yeah right), trying to pay bills online as I opened the mail, when I discovered Nadia (the dog) had peed on the wood floor and Cameron (the youngest son, age 18 months) was stuck between the couch and the wall... I yawned a few times and realized I hadn't taken my vitamins today.  I looked in my purse to discover my weekly pill case is empty, so I dashed upstairs to medicine cabinet.  
Thought: Refill vitamins and acne pills in this case.  
I had difficulty opening the bottle of little white pills I'm supposed to be taking to battle my acne (brought on by stress and hormones as an adult, which just adds more stress). 
Thought: This must be some new child-proof cap!  
I had only enough pills for 3 days, so I dashed back downstairs to call in a refill to the pharmacy.  As I dialed the number I realized that I was calling the animal clinic and holding the container to Nadia's pain pills from the time she was bitten by a spider and tried to chew her leg off.  Thank goodness I hadn't ingested any of today's dose yet.  They were still sitting by the kitchen sink.  Then I noticed the cute dog and cat on that child-proof cap.

Thought: If I had taken Nadia's pain pill, would I have just fallen asleep on kitchen floor with roasted veggies and chicken tenders smoldering in the oven?  Would Brody (the oldest son, age 4) have eventually pulled Cameron into bed with him as Mommy 'snoozed' on the floor in front of the fridge?          

Lessons learned:  Multi-tasking has its limits.  Pay bills after kids are in bed.  Refill vitamins after kids are in bed.  Keep pet medicine separate from people medicine.  Share knowledge with the girls.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The New Nest


Is there a better feeling than to have realized you've made the RIGHT DECISION for 

-In the 16 days we've lived in our new house we've had friends and family over for dinner 5 times.  Never were there less than 10 people in attendance.  And     there     was     space     for     everyone.  Do you hear the angels singing?!?!?!  Did I mention that it was no sweat to cook 4 pizzas in my double oven, feed 7 kids ages 4 and under, and continuously keep adult beverages in the hands of the parents during one of those get togethers?  Eh, no BIG deal.

-On Thursday Gavin was running through three rooms like a pro soccer player dribbling a squishy ball.  I said, "Gavin, do you love to have all this space?"  "Yep!" he replies with a breathless grin.

-Waking up one morning this week the boys excitedly told me about all the games they planned to play that day: The Nana and Pops Game, The Hospital Game with Snow Bear and the Ambulance, The Tree House Game, The Seeder Game.  "Mom, there are so many  new games we love to play at our new house that we never played before at our old house!"

-This is a daily occurrence now..."Mommy!  We are going to ride out bikes on the driveway, ok?!?! Gavin snapped my helmet for me and I put my coat on all by myself!"  Um, hello big boys, and yes, go free!

-Upon moving in I received a nice note and a post card in the mail from one of our back door neighbors.  It was a sweet message, but what jumped off the paper at me was "I'm 14 and love kids!  Please call for a mother's helper or babysitter anytime!"  I swear it was written in gold, glittery letters.  Joe assures me it was normal, black print.  Did I mention her mom's a pediatric nurse and her dad is a fire fighter?  I'm putting their number on speed dial now.

-On Friday we had plans to run across town to drop off a gift at a friend's house.  But then I got a message from the boys' best buddy's mom that they happened to be down the street and our new neighbors wanted to meet us.  Within minutes the boys were on their bikes, I had Katharine in the stroller, and off we went to make new friends.  The errand could wait.  We returned home almost three hours later.  I'd say it was a successful friends-making trip.  I learned of 10 boys under the age of 7 in our new neighborhood.  My boys account for 2 of them and we've met 4 others so far.  Cue visions of a wild bus stop in a few years.... 


Leaving our old address behind was nothing short of chaotic and exhausting.  I've yet to bring myself to even drive by because it does pull on my heart strings to acknowledge that chapter of our life has closed.  Joe bought the place as a bachelor.  He and his parents worked endless hours refinishing/painting/scraping EVERY surface in EVERY room to bring it up to date.  I moved in 3 years later and just over 7 years after that we were busting at the seams with 3 little ones running around.  

Moving and having a baby feel quite similar.  For the better part of a few weeks I was enveloped in my own world, relying on the generosity and helpfulness of friends and family to keep our daily lives going.  I paid no mind that my house was flipped upside down when people stopped by; I was later than usual to every social commitment; and I didn't care if people saw my mess, my dirty laundry, my unkempt kitchen, the fathoms of junk deep in my basement.  I just needed manpower to box, pack, tape, label, feed, and babysit.  And the manpower showed up thanks to my phenomenal, willing, understanding, and kind neighbors, friends, and family.  It     all     got     done.

So now here we are throwing down area rugs, hanging our own pictures on left-behind hooks and nails, working with the paint colors that were already here, and making countless trips to Target for the know, the glorious items like toilet brush holders, Windex, curtain rods, and black out shades.  I haven't even wrapped my head around new drapes, new rugs, new paint colors...but for all that there's time.  

For now I'm enjoying the windows that flood our den and kitchen with morning sun .  

I'm enjoying the view from those windows that overlook our spacious backyard.  

I'm enjoying the double sinks in the master bathroom.  

I'm enjoying the HIS and HERS closets in our bedroom.  

I'm enjoying my mudroom with hooks for everyone's stuff.  

I'm enjoying that my kids already recognize the way home and shout from the backseat, "We're almost to our neighborhood!"

I'm enjoying how Katharine naps peacefully in her quiet, carpeted room despite rowdy brothers who now have room to be typical, noisy boys.  

I'm enjoying the fact that those boys have room to spread out their toys and can play independently while I find new spots for old things.  

I'm enjoying the space in which our family can comfortably exist, grow, play, and relax.  

So yes, I'd say we're settling in quite nicely and enjoying nesting in the new nest.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

In the kitchen: Comfort food

Cold temps mean comfort food and these two recipes are my latest favorites....

Beef and Veggie Pot Pie (original recipe found here)

1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bag frozen veggies (I used the stir fry blend)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 t dried oregano
1 t dried thyme
1/2 c red wine
1/3-1/2 c tomato paste
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 cup beef broth
2 T cornstarch
2 T water
1 can refrigerated Crescent dough sheet or bread stick dough

Brown meat and drain fat.  Add veggies and garlic and saute until tender.  In a separate bowl mix herbs, wine, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and broth.  Stir in sauce to veggies and meat and bring to a boil.  Cook 3 minutes.  Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir with a whisk.  Add this mixture to the pan and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Spoon beef mixture into a baking dish and arrange dough in a lattice fashion (If using the sheet dough, I just cut it into strips with a pizza cutter).  Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until browned.  

Coconut Red Lentil Soup (Thank you, Amy, for sharing this gem!)

(original recipe found here
1 cup split peas
1 cup red split lentils
5 cups water
2 medium carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger 

   (I didn't have any ginger the second time I made it and the soup turned out just fine without it!)
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 teaspoons fine grain sea salt

Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse - until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.
In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don't want to burn the curry powder, just toast it. Set aside. Place the butter in a pan over medium heat, add onion, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Saute for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and saute for another minute or two more.  Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time, if you like.  The original recipe calls for 7 cups of water, which results in a pretty runny soup, perfect for serving over rice or quinoa.  I prefer a thicker consistency and served on its own, so I reduced the water to 5 cups.  I enjoyed this over the course of a week and each day it tasted better and better!

Winter temps may be soon leaving us now that March has arrived, but I don't think you can ever go wrong with comfort food.  YUM!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

February 23 is now bittersweet

February 23, 2010 is the day I became a mom.  The other night I stayed up way too late looking through pictures from that day and the 5 1/2 weeks in the NICU that followed.  Old, raw emotions surfaced as I thought about what a roller coaster ride their early days were.  But on Sunday we celebrated my two littles, who aren't so little anymore, as they turned FOUR.  So far the verdict is, "I love being four!" from both handsome men.  And according to them red is their favorite color (although just today Gavin said his was blue); Super Man is strong; Daddy hangs the moon; Katharine is 'so stinkin' cute; Jay is their best friend at school; their muscles are big and their brains are smart; Garrett loves cantaloupe; Gavin loves watermelon; they both love orange ice cream and raspberry ice cream; they can dress themselves, clear their dishes from the table at mealtime, and have become excellent cleaner uppers; they love to build contraptions (constructing marble runs and setting up Mouse Trap might be foreshadowing some engineering degrees); anything race car or truck related is cherished; and playing games fills up much of our time (Bingo, War, Go Fish, Candy Land, Sequence, Chutes and Ladders, Connect Four, Super Why, hide and seek...I'm telling you, they're pros).  Oh, and let me not forget that they are excellent make believers and eavesdropping on those moments is most hilarious.

Our celebratory weekend kicked off with a visit to the Monster Truck Show with Pops as the favorite guest.  Nana spent quality time with Katharine at home and upon our return we had pizza and cupcakes for dinner.  The next day (their actual bday) we headed to Krispy Kreme, per request, of course.  At lunch the boys went nuts over fresh cantaloupe and watermelon (proud mom moment because...1) something healthy was needed to round out all the treats; 2) they were just as happy to get their own melons as they were to get their own cupcakes).  Thanks to a 70 degree day, I decided to invite some friends and their kiddos over for an impromptu bday playdate in our backyard!  8 adults, 12 kids, lots of toys, lots of noise.  Last minute, comfortable company certainly makes for the best kind of parties.  In between all of the hullabaloo, the boys played with their new toys and games and practiced riding their new bikes!  Big things to come, for sure:) 

February 23 is also now marked as the day Grandma Moss left us for good.  Aunt Mary Ann shared a few words and so did Aunt Carol on the day's event.  My second grandparent to pass, she went peacefully in her sleep.  Her body was frail, dementia had taken the best of her mind.  I'm quite certain that her sisters are throwing her a welcome party (I hope she finds something other to wear than her classic house dress she donned most of the time) and getting her garden beds prepped; Grandpa is saying, "Oh s$&t, I better be on my best behavior; Moxie (their dog) is running circles at her feet; and The Big Man is giving her a fresh bottle of holy water to replace her vinegar.  No lie, she once sprinkled vinegar on the wheels of our car before we left for a trip.  A devout Catholic, she frequently prayed the rosary and blessed us with holy water.  She was a military wife and moved her four children to various parts of the world every few years, but in the next phase of her life she was a homebody and loved to garden and watch her bird bath.  She made yummy enchiladas with mole sauce and set her egg timer for everything.  When I was little I have vivid memories of swinging in her backyard, making green Jello popsicles, and listening to records in her dining room.  She had a way of saying my name that made it sound like "Kreeesy," in her sweet voice with a slight Spanish accent and minor inflection at the end.  I also remember the infamous argument from a family reunion trip during the summer I turned 10.  I think everyone was up in arms about how to best wrap up the leftover meat or what to do with the potato that Grandma accidentally dumped too much pepper on.  Important issues, you know.  She visited me twice in college, and during my first year teaching I spent my Spring Break vacation with her.  I'm most thankful for the trips that allowed my children to meet her.  Her face lit up at the sight of her great grandchildren.  Those encounters may not be remembered by the youngest and oldest involved, but thankfully we have the pictures to prove it.  In the meantime we have time to grieve and process all of this.  We will celebrate Grandma's life in the spring.  

Everything that's swirling around in my head is just plain sad, but there is delight and humor in remembering and learning about her quirks.  I'm sitting here revisiting Aunt Carol's page and Angie comes to life again in many of the posts tagged 'family' in the archives.  Aunt Carol also discusses end of life care and important talks to have so one's wishes are known.  Have you done that?  My dad and I have.  Joe is still on the fence about a few decisions.  Maybe it feels weird.  Personally, I think it'd make it easier on everyone to plan my own funeral.  I texted my dear friend today to give her the run down in case Dad and/or Joe are not able to make sound decisions regarding my farewell party.  It said, "I want to be cremated.  If a family member needs/wants a place to go to mourn me then get me a cheap headstone and bury a little of me there.  Spread the rest of me in the ocean so I'm all over the world and then have a big ol' party with good music (preferably U2 and oldies), BBQ, fresh pineapple, and lots of gooey chocolate desserts.  No sadness, just funny Krissyisms (mood swings and all).  The only church songs allowed are 'On Eagles Wings' and 'In the Garden.'  However, gospel songs are perfectly acceptable, but only if a large black woman is singing them properly (no, that is not meant to be derogatory, gospel music is just delivered most beautifully that way).  And make sure people clap for her because I hate silent church awkwardness.  You got all this?"

In typical circle-of-life fashion, we celebrated the growth of two lives as another one left us for good this weekend.  Cliche but true....the beat goes on.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Quiet and Awesome and Boring

Today has been quiet and low key and a totally boring kind of awesome.  Here's my top 10 reasons why...

1) Despite being paged by the child care center at the gym twice on Friday and none of the running girls meeting on Saturday, I ended up getting in a great run on the dreadmill (yes, dread, but it wasn't so bad) to kick off the weekend.

2) Friday was family movie night at the boys' school and there is something to be said for reliving the magic of one of my childhood favorites through the eyes of my kids. 

3) The boys had a sleepover at Nana and Pops house, to which they counted down all week!  So, thanks to said sleepover and Hannah-the-rockstar-babysitter, Joe and I enjoyed a date night at one of our favorite restaurants.  Good company, good wine, and worthwhile food coma.

4) The good news in the latest getting-baby-girl-to-sleep-through-the-night saga is that we're into a pretty good routine and only up once a night.  The bad news is that our day starts at 5:30.  But today I crawled back into bed at 7:30 and slept for a glorious two hours.

5) Our lazy morning was capped off with good coffee and breakfast on the run as we ventured out to the new house.  Yes, new house.  Big things have been happening around here and the [packing] madness is about to begin.  Add to the awesomeness that an old friend has given us oodles of packing boxes and supplies!

6) After visiting said new house, we stopped by Lowe's to look at all things know fridges, cook tops, paint colors, washers and I said, a boring kind of awesome.  And maybe there was a little hop in my step because I find all of this quite exciting, despite being totally overwhelmed by the notion of decorating an entire house.  Help is welcome.

7) Lunch was Nutella and banana on an English muffin.  And I didn't have to cook for anyone else.  And no one fought me for the Nutella jar.  And I didn't even have to clean up little faces or a high chair or slimy dishes when all was said and done.  That awesome sleepover turned into an all day play date.

8) Nap time was long and quiet and rid of anxiety of when I might hear the stomp stomps of heavy feet, knowing that today I was not on borrowed time.  It was spent aimlessly on the computer catching up on emails and browsing my new favorite app, Houzz, for once again, all things domestic: a dining room chandelier, kitchen lighting options, the perfect curtains, and cork board ideas.

9) My chocolate craving was quickly fixed with a batch of brownies whipped up from scratch.  And licking the bowl was oh so good.

10) In looking ahead at the calendar this week, it's empty!  EMPTY!  Rejoice!  With the exception of bringing a new mommy friend dinner (which I have to cook for my family anyway), we have no obligations!  

Awesomely boring, indeed. 

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