Monday, February 25, 2013

Pink or Blue?

image from http://goodluckcharlie.wikia.com/wiki/File:Boy-or-girl.jpg
I'm not very good at keeping my own secrets...if there's news to be shared I want to share it!  When we confirmed this pregnancy I figured it'd be fine not to find out the gender.  After all, we're not buying many new items.  Between what we have for a boy and hand me downs from friends for a girl, we're covered.  The new nursery is currently yellow and will be staying yellow; nothing is changing in the way of baby gear; and one of the boys' cribs will become New Baby's crib.  But then Joe said, "Absolutely not, we're finding out!"  Ok, done deal.  

In the last couple weeks Joe and I have both dreamed Baby is a boy.  But all along I only had girl names and girl bedroom visions in my head.  The boys' opinions changed by the hour of the day.  The grandparents were all rooting for pink.  My honest to goodness opinion was just healthy.

Today was reveal day and quite the family affair.  Joe's parents and my brother and niece joined us via Skype and Face Time and my parents and Hannah were here in person.  Garrett and Gavin knew just what to do to share the news:


So the verdict is in.  In case you missed the color of those balloons, they were pink.  Our family of five will be rounded out with a little girl:)  Her name is Katharine Ray.  Katharine is after Joe's mom, whose given name is Katharina, and Ray is after my dad and his dad (pictured below).  She'll make her debut in mid July.  I'm pretty giddy.  In her room will hang a picture of my grandpa and me from when I was little and a quote my dad gave me about what little girls are made of:
 

Then reality sets in.  When the boys were just a few days old I called my dad in a panic worrying about how I was going to raise responsible, respectful, kind, motivated young men.  His response was, "Kris, let's just them to weigh 5lbs."  And now I find myself worrying with this sweet pea already: How do I instill confidence?  What if she doesn't feel pretty and worries more about what's on the outside than on the inside?  What if the mean girls are really mean to her?  What if she obsesses about her weight?  What if she does some of the same things I did in college?  (Crap).  What if she never gets a date in her life because no boy will be able to get by her two big brothers and dad? (I'm ok with this one.)  What if I just constantly annoy her?  How do I french braid?  What if she inherits my blah sense of style and inability to adequately apply make up?  How do I instill the importance of honesty?  What if someone tries to take advantage of her?  What do I say when her heart is broken for the first time?  How do I keep her away from the hoochy mama clothes that have invaded the little girls' section?  But alas, let's just get her here healthy:)

So now we wait.  And grow.  And dream.  Ok, and shop just a little:)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Despite a few ugly moments around here, the good ones manage to find their place at just the right time.

***

Like on those days my sense of self worth is below a 0, a friend will post THIS and I'm reminded how sweet this time in my life is right now and having the freedom to what we want when we want won't last forever, so yes, how we spend our days is indeed important.  To us.  Right now..  Because sometimes [always] MOTHERHOOD, and the choices that come with it, are hard to adequately describe without totally talking in circles.

***

It's been a while since sickness has reared its head around here, but in the last 48 hours it's been plain ugly.  Snotty noses, crusty ears, oozing eyes, sharp ear pains, crying boys, and not much sleep.  And the bad part was that at the doctor's office the nurse had to swab the boys' noses for a flu test not once, but twice.  Cue pinned down, violently flailing, screaming kids.  x2.  But the good is that the flu tests were negative, we got the antibiotics we needed for an ear infection and pink eye, and were eating popsicles and strawberries at the grocery store in no time while prescriptions were filled.  Also in my favor were the snuggles I got with Garrett while I let him sleep in our bed the other night and the hot spot his breath left on my chest while he dozed on me during an early nap time today.  Even if it meant ignoring a grumbling tummy while my hot lunch waited for me on the counter downstairs, I really do enjoy those rare moments even if they happen only when sickness strikes.  P.S. As I type the boys are going on a 2+ hour nap that started at 11:30.  Sleep was so needed.

*** 

When I found out I was pregnant with the boys I looked forward to working out up until delivery.  I thought for sure I'd be in those cute running skirts or at least walking with a big ol' bump each Saturday with my regular running crew.  By 12 weeks I was cut off from all forms of exercise.  It took my doctor and my husband and my parents to make me realize that doing a 6k hilly race at 18 weeks pregnant was not necessary.  Because the boys only had a 50/50 chance to make it to week 28 it was our thought that I needed to do everything in my power to control what I could and should anything have gone wrong I didn't need to second guess any of my own actions.  I remember around 18 weeks trying to do a push up in my bedroom and falling flat on my face.  Any strength I had I was losing fast.  I convinced my doctor to let me bring 5-8lb weights into my hospital room so I could at least do a little upper body toning while on bed rest.  Alas, after being in a hospital bed for 3 days my legs started to ache because, as my doctor put it, "Muscle degeneration starts taking place after 72 hours."  Awesome, I had 42 days left in that damn bed.  And so, I finally called the gym and froze my membership.  The statistics against us and the atrophy my body experienced was the ugly part of my first pregnancy.  The bad part were the low points I had in the hospital while on bed rest.  And of course the good, well the good is actually amazing, and has stared me in the face for almost three years now.  

But going back to the working out aspect...this pregnancy I've enjoyed working out and plan to continue to do so.  Well doggone it if the pain in my heel hasn't flared up again.  Last time this lasted 18 months and was ugly, ugly, ugly.  The bad part is that it keeps me from my running girls each week.  But the good aspect is that I've discovered some awesome classes at the gym.  Enter water aerobics.  I'm not kidding.  I used to think this class was for retired ladies, age 70 and up.  However, I tried a class this week and was left winded and sore and had spaghetti legs as I climbed out of the water.  I'm quite certain I've found my new Monday morning routine and look forward to spending it with the sweet Spanish lady that teaches the class along with everyone else who is already in on this little secret.  There are men, women, young, old, black, white, and all fitness levels, and because we only see each other from the neck up no one really cares what you look like in a bathing suit in the dead of February.  Pregnant or not.

***

And other gems that I've appreciated lately...

The man at the cash register, who kindly told me I'd left my groceries behind after just paying for them.  Certainly he thought I was an idiot, but these space cadet moves are all too common in my book lately.  Kind of like how I left the popsicles in the car for almost an hour once we got home and it's actually not freezing today. 


The boys' recent surge in using and recognizing manners...please, thank you, you're welcome, and "That a great idea!"  Their sense of compassion is coming out too.  They say, "Mommy EAT!  Baby get food."  When I had a stomachache Garrett said, "Baby be ok?"

A great, uneventful doctor appointment the other day to check in on Baby and hear his/her heartbeat.  I thought for sure I'd worry less this go round, but I've learned that when it comes to growing babies, be it 1, 2, or more all at once or separately, there will always be worry.  Sigh:)
17 weeks

The boys' love for all things Daddy, including ACDC's song "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" and watching live streaming of a friend at a four-wheeling race in California.

Appetizers and four wheeling racing, with Garrett's favorite penguin hat and all:)

And my family's recent demonstration of true love...all 20 of us across 4 generations came together from all different states to celebrate Grandma and Grandpa's 60th anniversary.  It was said that their commitment to each other has held steadfast thanks to love and tenacity (or vice versa at times:)).  Our time together was nothing short of AWESOME.



On that note, today is Valentines Day!  Lots of happy love to you and yours:)  
Thank you, Oma!  We're obsessed with our Mickeys!















Monday, February 11, 2013

In the Kitchen - Winter Meal Staples

Want to feel like a rock star?  Go to bed at 9:00pm, hit the gym the following morning before anyone else is awake in your house (or get out because they are awake too early), make scrambled eggs over sauteed spinach,tomatoes, and Parmesan for breakfast, and have dinner prepped and simmering before you leave the house again.  You'll feel like a super hero wife and mom for at least 24 hours.  Share some of these meals with a friend and you'll feel like a great friend too:)

Over a year ago I shared a couple of my favorite crock pot meals.  This winter I've come across a few other gems, some in the crock pot and one on the stove.  We can eat on these for a week and even the kids leave clean plates.

London Broil with Potatoes, Carrots, and Onions
from Man Tested Recipes

1 onion, peeled, halved, and sliced  
1 (6 ounce) bag baby carrots  
3 to 4 potatoes, quartered  
1 (2 to 3 pound) London broil
Creole seasoning for dry rub (recipe follows)  
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup  
1/2 cup red wine  
2 cups beef broth (bouillon cubes can be used)
 

Creole seasoning:  
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika  
2 tablespoons salt  
2 tablespoons garlic powder  
1 tablespoon black pepper  
1 tablespoon onion powder  
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper  
1 tablespoon dried oregano  
1 tablespoon dried thyme

In a 3 quart slow cooker place sliced onion on the bottom, then the carrots, then the potatoes in layers.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, take the steak or roast and cut into 3 pieces (for sake of fitting in the slow cooker), and rub generously with the Creole seasoning all over. Put about 2-3 tablespoons of oil in skillet and tip side to side to coat pan.  (Note: I just seasoned each side of the meat with the seasonings listed...I didn't measure and mix them together to create a rub.)  Place the seasoned meat in pan and sear on all sides until well browned. It will smoke a little so open a window or turn on vent. Take meat from pan and set aside on a plate. Take your ½ cup wine and pour in the pan to deglaze the good stuff that stuck to it during searing lightly run a spoon or fork around to help loosen it up (pan should still be hot enough to help bubble the scrapings off).  Stir in broth and soup.  Pour the liquid mixture from the pan into the slow cooker, getting as much as you can out of the pan. It may seem like there isn’t enough liquid, but the meat will produce the remainder as it cooks. Now place the meat in as well as you can, it will be a tight fit but will cook down, so if the lid doesn’t fit don’t worry. Set the crock pot to low for 8-10 hours, or high for 6 hours. After that set to keep warm. If the gravy is thin at the end, combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons cold water mix well. Slowly stir cornstarch mixture into gravy, repeat until desired thickness is reached (I didn't find this necessary).  We ate this as is or over egg noodles.  So yummy!

Moroccan Chicken
my mother in law gave me this recipe from a magazine, but from what I can tell it came from dashrecipes.com

1 12oz bag butternut squash cubes (or peel and chop whole squash and use about 3 cups)
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic (I just chopped up 3 cloves because we love garlic)
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup chicken broth
1/2-1 cup raisins (dried apricots work too)
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
3 lb skinless chicken thighs
1 (10 oz) box cous cous
1/2 cup pitted black olives, halved (optional)

Combine squash, tomatoes, onion, garlic, chickpeas, broth, and raisins in slow cooker.  In small bowl stir together spices and broth.  Arrange chicken pieces in a single layer on top of veggies and chickpeas and pour spices and broth mixture on top.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Prepare cous cous according to package directions and fluff with fork.  Stir olives (if using; I don't) into slow cooker and serve chicken and veggies with cous cous.

Ham and Bean Soup
I truly have no idea where this recipe came from, but by the looks of the page in my recipe binder, I've had it for a while and made it many times:)

For the stock:
1 ham bone (I usually save the bone from a honey baked ham after a big holiday meal and freeze it until I'm ready to make this)
1 chopped onion
2-3 chopped garlic cloves
1 rib celery, chopped
1/8 tsp thyme
black pepper to taste
3 qts water

Heat a large stockpot over medium heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil.  Add onion, garlic, and celery and saute for 5-7 minutes until the onions start to turn clear.  Add the water and ham bone.  Bring to a simmer (bubbles just breaking the surface, NOT a full boil) and continue simmering for about 2 hours. Skim any foam that comes to the top.  Add the thyme and pepper and continue cooking for 30 minutes more.  Remove from heat.  

For the soup:
1 large bag mixed beans and seasoning packet found in the bag (I usually use about 1/2 of the seasoning packet; I also don't worry about soaking the beans overnight because I usually let this simmer all day so they soften up just fine.)
ham chunks (the more the merrier)
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
2 qts ham stock
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion
1 rib celery, diced
1/2 bag baby carrots, sliced in half
1/8 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion, garlic, celery, jalapeno, and carrots in olive oil over medium heat. Cook until onions start to turn clear.  Add stock, beans, ham chunks, and seasoning packet.  Bring to a simmer and let cook until beans are tender.  I cook it on medium low almost all day.  Add oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper.  This freezes well too!


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