Sunday, February 28, 2010

Meatless Meals

On our menu each week I try to include at least one meatless meal. This both helps us stay in budget and pushes us out of our chicken/beef/pork/pasta rut. Here is my current favorite. It whips up in about 15 minutes and is healthy, filling and yummy.
Araepas
Mix one cup of hot water with one cup of MeSaCa (find in the Hispanic part of your store, it is in a white bag)salt and mix. Let set until cool enough to handle. Shape into patties about the size and thickness of your palm. Fry up in oil, flipping when lightly browned. Cool slightly, slice length wise and stuff with cheese.
Huveo's Rancheros
Open and rinse a can of black beans, mix with half a cup of your favorite salsa and dump into a skillet. Heat until bubbling. Make a 4 "wells" in the beans and crack eggs into them. Salt and pepper the eggs and cover the skillet. Cook until eggs are as done as you like them (we are an over-easy family)
Serve the above with a green salad. If your feeding more than 2 you will need to double.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Things To Make

- Magnetic "paper" doll set for Elie: I found a 9 x 13 metal cake pan with lid, paper doll pattern and now just need to buy the magnetic printer paper and cut them out.
- 3 sock monkeys: I have the socks and stuffing now I just need the time
- 4 hoodie towels: Towels are sitting in my ever-growing "to be sewn" pile
- 2 Swaddling blankets for the babe: Annabelle will only sleep well swaddled or held. She is currently much to big for "normal" size swaddling blankets and I can't hold her all the time. I have the fabric and now am dreaming of owning a serger.
- 3 baby gifts: I have a LOT of fun ideas but haven't decided for sure what I will make, all the babies are BOYS so there goes all the fun, frilly stuff.

I want a craft room. Matt wants me to have a craft room so I will stop leaving my sewing machine on the table. I also want a nanny so I can do all the crafts I have in mind. Oh yeah, and someone who has decided to finance my life, where can you find those?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Strength based parenting

Currently on my floor: empty wipes container, one white sock, old play cell phone, cup lid, nursing pad (clean), paper, something sticky, 3 books, 2 pair of shoes... and that is just what I can see from my chair at the table. I say this to prove a point that doesn't really need to be proven to anyone who has ever walked through my front door; I am a terrible house keeper.

I have books on my shelves titled "How Not to be a Messy" and "Easy Organization" and yes, I have read them. They didn't seem to help. I have made improvement over the past 10 years, you should have seen our first apartment, and that was WITHOUT kids.

My current revelation is this; I should spend more time on my strengths and less time on my weaknesses. This might seem counter intuitive. After all, i have the most progress to make on the areas I am weakest in. After 10 years of trying and not much headway made, I decided there is a better way.

There are only so many hours in a day, things I am bad at take twice as long and I accomplish half as much (see the laundry pile for proof). This is not permission to never scrub another toilet, but it is permission to do it "good enough" and let it go. My house will never be spotless and I refuse to judge my self worth by the things I am least good at.

I am a good mom and I enjoy doing mom things. I like to play games with my kids, to color, to create. I like to organize things, just not clean them. I am social and like to have people over. I like to cook. I can do all of these things, they are GOOD things to do. God gave me a skill set and i should focus on using it instead of lamenting all the skills that seemed to skip me.

If I invite you over, don't look too closely at how clean my bathroom is or if my kitchen sink has dishes on it, I can tell you now that the floors probably will need to be swept and there will be unfolded laundry on the bed. Feel free to judge and feel superior, if you need to. I will be playing with my kids and serving a fabulous gluten free coffee cake, toilet be damned.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Love and the art of Relationship Matainence

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results"

After a morning conversation was interrupted by each of our children repeatedly, I looked at Matt and said "This isn't working for me". I wasn't just referring to our conversation, I was referring to the way we were doing life.

Knowing the importance of keeping communication honest and open, and frankly, not being good at beating around the bush, I sat down and rattled off a list of grievances. I was sick of the single mom gig, I wanted more time and more attention and I was inches away from losing my mind. My solution was Matt finds a new job. Now.

I didn't get my way but we did come up with a plan. We added Matt to the gym membership. We can now go to the gym, drop off the offspring and work out together. I'm not talking treadmill here, or the elliptical (which, sadly enough, I am much too uncoordinated to do) but fun exercise followed by time in the hot tub or spa. We also decided to swap childcare with my sister a couple times a month so we get to go our sans-kids. Now maybe we will be able to complete a sentence or even a thought without having to stop and wipe a butt or shush a baby.

Marriage is a lot of work, more than I ever thought. It requires sacrifice and honesty and occasionally a husband with thick skin. It requires creativity and resilience and most of all a commitment to keep pluggin' even when things suck, knowing that given prayer and a little time together, things will get better.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Addilyn

Addilyn has been cracking me up lately, I really enjoy the age of 2, most of the time. Her current favorite song goes something like this: "ABCD e-i-e-i-o". She has some new elmo undies (thanks Sarah!) and today she told me "toot on Elmo, he sad, cry, need buba binky", and then she giggled. She loves to help in the kitchen and snuggle with her sister. If Annabelle crys she is the first to see if she can fix it. She is a monkey, climbing up everything. It is not unusual to find her in the crib with the baby. This is one middle child who will never have to worry about being over looked.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Small World

God is in the interruptions. We make plans and God shows His hand in our lives by throwing our plans out the window and giving us opportunities to do something else. Tonight was that something else.

We only own one car and it is not by accident. If we have 2 cars, we have 2 payments and more insurance. It isn't only because we are cheap (thrifty?) but we just don't NEED 2 cars. This is where Bobrock comes in handy. He is the nice Afghany man who drives Matt to the airport when he travels (which is alot). Over the past year or so, Matt and Bobrock have formed a relationship of sorts. This week he invited our family over for dinner at his house. We accepted even though is would have been so nice to spend the evening sitting on our butts, which was the plan.

I was a little nervous. We were going to the house of almost perfect strangers from a different culture. Would I say something offensive? Would my children behave (Addilyn did pee on the floor of a restaurant last week)? What if the food was nasty? I was immediately appalled by the fact that all my worries could be boiled down to "what will they think of ME?". How often do I ignore the God interruptions because I am afraid of what others would think?

The evening was wonderful. As soon as we got there Eliana and Bobrocks daughter Sami ran off to play. His older daughters loved Addilyn and Annabelle. The food was amazing, though I am not really very sure what I ate. Bobrocks wife was sweet, quite and demure, everything I am not. His wife's sister (I would give you names if a. I could remember them b. I could spell them and c. if I had any clue how to pronounce them) was kind and funny. Parenthood is the great equalizer and they have 4 daughters and 6 nieces and nephews. She come from a family of 16 children by 2 wives and he comes from a family of 12. She was married at 16 and hasn't worked (outside the home) a day in her life. They have a beautiful family and home.

What if Matt and i had decided to stay home tonight? What a blessing we would have missed. I am not sure how the relationship between our families will develop, but I hope it does. And for the record, no one peed on the floor, the food was wonderful and I am not even sure that Eliana noticed that they looked and dressed differently than we do and was on her best behavior. Next time God interrupts, I hope I am quicker to say yes and not so quick to worry about whats in it for me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Vail-entine



No, it isn't a misspelling (although I can't blame you for thinking it might be since your are reading my blog). Thanks to the Kari Godmother, Matt, Annabelle and I had a very nice time in Vail over the weekend. While our goal was not educational, I did learn a few things.

1. I don't have enough money or pretense to really enjoy Vail the way many do.

2. Make sure your cell phone actually works in Vail or come up with a plan ahead of time. Saturday night was frustrating as Matt and I chased each other all over Vail trying to meet up because the stupid cell phones were not working well.

3. Any place that provides fluffy white robes and slippers should be stayed in for more than one night.

4. It is easy to eat well on someone else's dime

It was a very enjoyable mini-trip. The drive up and back was very "Colorado" with lots of snow on the roads and a beautiful view. The hotel was very nice. We had an amazing dinner with some of Matt's co-workers. My favorite part, by far, was the bottomless Mimosa breakfast we had on Valentines day. We sat and enjoyed watching the snow fall, ate a fabulous spread of food and drank one to many mimosas. I am blessed to have such a great valentine, who in turn has blessed me with 3 mini valentines.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine


Some days I don't want to be the grown up. Thursday was one of those days. So we ate bluberry coffee cake for breakfast. We painted our feet to make a special valentine. We made fudge for papa. Over all, we just hung out. It was nice, not productive, but nice.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Name that Crocker- 3 months



It is time for another round of "Name that Crocker!" Here are pictures of the ladies at 3 months. The first to post a correct answer gets a handmade hat or hoodie towel. Good luck!

Potty Training- Part 2

"Your so big, Addie, you trained the potty!" Eliana age 4 to Addilyn age 2

Eliana lost interest in potty training Addilyn when she refused to perform on command. Addilyn was thrilled to find yet another way to annoy her sister. I ignored the whole thing. I am not a fan of potty training and certainly didn't want to bother with it while I am feeling stretched thin anyway. I figured I would fight that battle this summer, when it was warm enough to be naked.

The other morning Addilyn didn't want to wear a diaper. She is two and gets random opinions about stupid things, I don't fight it. I told her that was fine but she couldn't make a mess on the floor. She agreed. Several times that morning I would see her come up stair, muttering under her breath. She would go into the bathroom, put the potty seat on the potty, pull over the step stool, pee, wipe and flush. She didn't make a mess on the floor...ever.

I was in denial about it for about a week. Addilyn was stealing Eliana's underwear. Finally my sister said "Will you just buy that kid her OWN undies already?!" My friend Sarah thought she deserved her won new undies too and brought her some Elmo ones.

Since that day Addilyn has been out of diapers except for nap and bed time. She has had an accident or two and doesn't like to use pottys away from home very much, but over all the kid is potty trained. Go figure.

Monday, February 8, 2010

When the Cat's away

I am sneaky and proud. My girls are over all good eaters, but I am not above sneaking in extra good stuff if I can get away with it. Last night was a perfect example. It was cold and wet and Matt had left for the week to New York and the girls requested "silly waffles". I agreed.

To the girls, "silly waffles" are nothing more than waffles we eat for dinner instead of breakfast, therefore making them silly. But I am a sneaky mama. When I make waffles, I always sneak in a little extra nutrition. Sometimes it is in the form of baby food carrots or pumpkin, last night it was bananas. I also add a couple of tablespoons of ground flax and an extra egg for more protein.

Not wanting to get everyone hyped up on maple syrup (which we happen to be out of anyway) right before bed, I told the girls we would be having them with peanut butter and jelly. Natural peanut butter and whole fruit jelly are guilt free. I served them with a side of fruit. The girls ate a ton, which they always do, and I felt smug.

Of course I ate mine with sliced banana, pecans and a drizzle of Carmel sauce. Hey, I am the grown-up, I can eat them with caramel if I want to! I was going to take a picture of this fabulous dinner a la food blogger but my camera battery was dead. On both cameras. Sigh...I long for the days when I grow up to be one of those responsible adults who doesn't forget to buy the syrup and knows where the battery charger is located.

Tonight's dinner will be Sweet and spicy Asian pork shoulder, stewed apples, rice and a salad. The meat and apples are cooking in my 2 sided crock pot, the rice is ready to go and the salad is left over from the other night. Look at me, the good mama, caring for the nutrition needs of her family. I guess I will just have to pretend that I ate more than a pumpkin doughnut and chips and dip for lunch, just so I can feel Superior.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

12 weeks

Annabelle is 12 weeks old today. Wow. I like that she is getting bigger since I am not a huge fan the newborn stage, but since she is most likely my last baby (God willing) it is a little bitter sweet.

Baby Belle is growing well, she nurses fine with lots of wet diapers and is much happier if I avoid all dairy. She smiles and "talks" when she is awake, loves to lay on a blanket with toys and has started to roll. Baths calm her down and wiping drool off her chin makes her smile. Almost giggles. At night she will often go for 4-5 hours between feedings and has even done a 7 hour stretch. During the day she wants to eat every 2-3 hours. She looks like her sisters, chicken legs and all.

According to the March of Dimes, by the end of their third month, most babies:

Raise head and chest when lying on stomach (head yes, chest not quite)
Support upper body with arms when lying on stomach (starting to do this)
Stretch legs out and kick when lying on stomach or back (yup)
Push down on legs when feet are placed on a firm surface (yup, supports her own weight)
Open and shut hands (check!)
Bring hands to mouth (and drools all over them)
Grab and shake hand toys (bats at toys but can't grab them yet)
Follow moving object with eyes (loves to watch her sisters)
Watch faces closely (yup)
Recognize familiar objects and people at a distance (yup)
Start using hands and eyes in coordination (see above, trys to bat at things)
Begin to babble and to imitate some sounds (I swear she says "hi")
Smile at the sound of parents' voices (loves to be talked to)
Enjoy playing with other people (any time she is the center of attention she is all smiles)
May cry when playing stops (or when you stop looking at her)

At 3 months:
Annabelle is 11.8 pounds, and that is
at the 24th percentile for weight.
She is 24 inches, and that is
at the 58th percentile for height.
She has a head circumference of 16 inches, and that is
at the 55th percentile for head circumference.

I have learned in the past few years of being a parent that I tend to march to the beat of my own drummer. No shocker there. Lately I have been struggling with the whole doctor thing. We have insurance but still have to pay a $25 dollar co-pay. At our well baby appointments they weigh and measure, I fill in a questionnaire about what she can do, the doctor checks her reflexes and asks if I have any questions. I know my daughter, I spend every day with her. Why would I pay someone who spends 10 minutes with her every 8 weeks to tell me she is ok? I decided that I am comfortable taking her to the doctor every 3 months, unless she is sick or I am worried about something.

I tried to take a cute picture of her today, but she wasn't having it. Oh well.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Frugal Fashion: Part 1- The Reflection

Fashion is one of those funny things, kinda like good parenting. What some consider awesome, others not so much. Most agree on the truly horrendous (such as Britney Spears, in both fashion and parenting), but there is really a lot of gray area to consider. Everyone does it differently. After some reflection here is what I have learned:

1. Just because it is "in style" doesn't mean I should wear it. Case in point: skinny jeans. I have a friend who rocks the skinny jeans WHILE PREGNANT and looks fabulous. I look a bit like an overstuffed sausage. I have too much butt and too little...well nothing is too little and there in lies the issue. No skinny jeans for me. Also the "underwear as outerwear" thing is not exactly conducive to my lifestyle. Little lacy numbers are not made for people who actually put there breasts to good use.

2. Don't betray yourself, it wont look good on you. Just because it is "in style" and you can pull it off doesn't mean you should. I like some kinda funky stuff, it reflects my personality well. My sister Amanda dresses very well and differently than I do. Her life is different than mine as is her personality. Know yourself, your style and what calls to you and stick to it.

3. Fashion is fickle. Don't spend a ton of money on a hot item that will be cold next season. Invest in jeans that make you butt look Divine and your legs look long, you will wear them for several years.

4. Remember that it doesn't really matter. Fashion is not life changing. It may seem trite that I should devote 4 blog posts to something innate as what to wear, but I have my reasons. You see, fashion may not save the world but it makes me feel better. When I give thought to my outfit and feel good in what I wear, it makes me happy. I feel put together, ready to take whatever may come my way (which more often than not involves some sort of bodily fluid)

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and i am most often beheld by my girls, who think I am beautiful in yoga pant and a tee. But on those rare occasions when I get the opportunity to interact with someone over 4 feet tall, I will now be able to hold my head up high. I will look put together, effortless, trendy and with the times, because, after all, looks can be deceiving.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Frugal Fashion: Part 3- The Shopping

So off I went to my favorite store, Goodwill. Yes, i know it seems like an oxymoron to shop for in style clothing at a resale store, but hey, this chica is on a budget! I had about $50 or so to spend. In hindsight (which they say is 20/20) I should have gone on half off day (which is this Saturday, if anyone cares) but I digress. After about an hour of shopping and trying some stuff on, I ended up with the following:

pair of pinstriped gray capri length pants
short jean skirt
knee length jean skirt
red empire waist shirt
mens vest
ballet flats (new, with tags)
leather jacket (from Wilsons, for $8!)
belt
scarf
silk blouse
funky blue t-shirt

I also had $75 in Gap giftcards from my wonderful husband. I went and put those to good use on the clearance rack and came up with this:

brown pair of cords
pink sweater
pink waffle knit top
white button down with ruffles
white and red striped shirt with ruffles
thin gold belt

I brought all this home and once again scoured my closet. I found a pair of Old Navy jean in my size with the tags still on. I have no memory of buying those, but don't look a gift horse in the mouth. I laid everything out. I tried everything on. I mixed and matched and this is some of what I came up with

New shoes, skirt and top. Old leggings and sweater


New top and vest, old scarf and jeans
Not sure if I love this outfit, I sorta think I look like Captain Jack Sparrow. New pants, shirt, and scarf. Old boots.

Why am I only wearing one shoe? I don't know where the other one is...duh. New skirt and shirt, old tights and shoe (s)

Over the modeling thing. Here are some other combos I came up with. A mix of old and new.






And there you have it. I now have a big pile of clothing waiting for a new owner. I will donate it to Adullam's closet and maybe cut some of it up to create new things for my kids. Tomorrow will be the last post in this series, a reflection on this whole fashion thing. Hope your feeling inspired to go through your closet!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Free Days

I have part 3 almost done, but then I did a bit more shopping tonight, so I have a couple of pictures to take. Will update tomorrow. Until then, for the thrift ones...

Looking for something fun to do, a creative date night? Check out http://www.denver.org/events/free-events

2010 SCFD Free Days

Monday, January 11
Sunday, February 21
Monday, March 1
Sunday, April 18 – Earth Day
Sunday, August 8
Monday, August 30
Monday, September 13
Sunday, September 19
Sunday, October 3
Monday, October 18
Sunday, November 14
Monday, December 6

Denver Art Museum: The Denver Art Museum designates the first Saturday of every month as a free day in 2010.
January 2, 2010
February 6, 2010
March 6, 2010
April 3, 2010
May 1, 2010
June 5, 2010
July 3, 2010
August 7, 2010
September 4, 2010
October 2, 2010
November 6, 2010
December 4, 2010

The Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield designates the first Friday of every month as a free day, except for Friday, July 4, 2010.

The Botanic Gardens in Denver and at Chatfield both hold free days. In 2010, the Denver gardens will be free on February 15, April 22, July 22, August 25, September 26 and October 28. The Chatfield gardens will be free in 2010 on February 5, March 5,April 2, May 7, June 4, August 6,

Denver Zoo
Saturday, January 9
Monday, January 18
Sunday, February 7
Tuesday, February 16
Wednesday, October 13
Thursday, October 21
Sunday, November 7

Children's Museum of Denver: free first Tuesday monthly, 4-8pm

KIDS EAT FREE! (Double check these)
Sunday
LoDos - $1.99
Lansdowne Arms - after 4 pm
La Masa Mexican Restaurant
Sunset Grill
Jose Pepper's Authentic Mexican Food
Chartroose Caboose
Big D's BBQ (Parker)

Monday
Brothers BBQ
Buffalo Wild Wings - $0.99 - 5-8 pm
C.B. & Potts
CiCi's Pizza
Chartroose Caboose - after 5pm
Cinzetti's - 5-9 pm
Fuddruckers - $0.99 - 5-9 pm
Gunther Toody's
Rio Grande
TGI Fridays
Big D's BBQ (Parker)
Bono's BBQ

Tuesday
3 Margarittas
Bennigans
Black Eyed Pea - after 5pm
Brothers BBQ
Champps
Chick-Fil-A
Cinzetti's - 5-9 pm
Denny's - 4-10pm
Fazolli's - $0.99 - 5-8pm
Fuddruckers - $0.99 - 5-9 pm
Lone Star Steakhouse
Perkins
Pizza Street
Planet Subs - after 4pm
Ponderosa Steak House - after 4pm
Salty Iguana Mexican Restaurant
Big D's BBQ (Parker)
Treo (& ½ price hamburgers)

Wednesday
Applebees - $0.99
Old Chicago
Rainforest Café - after 5pm
Zarda BBQ
Big D's BBQ (Parker)

Thursday
Buffalo Wild Wings
C.B. & Potts - $1.00
Big D's BBQ (Parker)
Saturday
Lone Star Steakhouse - 11 - 4pm
LoDo's - $1.99

EVERYDAY KIDS EAT FREE:
IHOP - $0.99 - 3-9pm
O'Charley's Restaurant
Old Spaghetti Factory
(with coupon from Kids Pages Magazine)

Frugal Fashion: Part 2- The Assessment

Off to the closet (and, if I am being totally honest, the bedroom floor) to see what I already own that might be considered in style.

Boots: I have these in black flats and brown heals. I also am the proud owner and wearer of FUGGS (fake uggs, so dubbed by my friend Kari) which Matt tells me are unsexy. Unsexy as they may be, the are soft and keep my feet warm. They are also huge and easy to find both of, which is a plus.

Funky tights: I have black tights which are decidedly "unfunky". I do have a pair of black and gray stripped tights which straddle the line between "funky" and "practical". Might need to buy some that are a bit more fun...or at least more colorful.

Tunics: I don't have one. I have a couple of longer fitting shirts that are, you guessed it, cotton knit. Solid color. I toss out several sweaters that are just to short on me. I toss out some unflattering turtlenecks. I dig these out of the pile and decide to do something more fun with them (dress for Eliana? Hat for Jen and Reece?)

Scarves: I have some of these but they often disappear. My house is usually in some state of disarray and my children like to perform the dance of the 7 veils with them. Note to self: must keep better track of accessories and keep children out of my closet.

Menswear: I consider approaching Matt's side of the closet for this but decide that it is cheating. I do have a cute, short black pin stripe jacket thing. And I have a long black sweater vest that could be cute. Adding a "suit vest" to shopping list.

Boyfriend Sweaters: Ugly sweaters? Check! Unflattering Sweaters? Check! I do have a cute long brown sweater, but it is chunky not fitted. I too, am chunky and not fitted so I am not sure if this makes the sweater better or worse? Might need to add one of those to the list too.

Also added to the shopping list: fun chunky necklaces, another pair of cute flats (really, can a girl have too many pairs of shoes?) something ruffled.

I am not doing to bad once I pull out the stuff that is out of date or just plain un-cute. I have several pair of jean that fit. I need a pair of khakis or black pants but I am not doing too bad on bottoms.

What not to wear:
1. Anything Disney if your over the age of 10. Especially while pregnant. Your having a child, not turning into one.

2. Mom jeans: If the hit your belly button they are too high. If they taper in any way at the bottom it isn't good. Dark wash is better than light and more flattering.

3. Super chunky shoes: Dated and best left to the young.

Comming tomorrow: Part 3- the shopping!