Archive for the 'family' Category

Outdoor pursuits

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Like much of the country, we had little in the way of winter around here. We’ve been enjoying this early spring weather…but we fear what summer might bring as a bitch slap for the mild winter. So we will enjoy the outdoors while we can. This beautiful weekend was begging for some outdoor fun. Saturday we took a little road trip on the back roads of TN. Sabrina started to get a little car sick so we stopped at a church in the middle of no where to let the girls get out and get some fresh air. (The first one is just a gorgeous photo of my child that I wanted to share. I took it before we left.)

Such kids. Where are my babies?

Over 250 years old.

Sunday the girls wanted to ride their scooters. And their bikes. And Sabrina tried out the roller skates I picked up for her at a consignment sale. She did much better on the skates than I thought she would. Tessa was mad I didn’t have skates for her so we let her try Sabrina’s big girl bike. Child has no fear and was zipping around the cul de sac with my hand hovering near her back in case she leaned too far in one direction.

Marching forward

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Wow. March. How did that happen? Steve is home. He really seems to be loving his new job. Life is slowly returning to normal. The girls are still a little nervous about daddy leaving. Yesterday, Steve left for work before the girls got up. When she woke up and he was gone, Tessa immediately began to act out and became very clingy. He was home late and both girls were being difficult. When he finally came home, Tessa came to me and said “Daddy home. I happy again.” I think it will take awhile for them to trust that he will come home every day.


February seemed busy but I couldn’t say why. The only thing out of the ordinary was that I…well hosted isn’t the the right word because others did the work and I provided the space…provided a venue to celebrate the pregnancy of a wonderful friend. The baby shower reminded me of how much I love this community I am a part of here in TN. Partially because there was the warm fuzzy aspect and partially because the theme of the baby shower was chickens. Big metal ones to be exact. And if you have no idea why this is hysterical to all of us, go read this now. We are petitioning that she name the baby Beyonce after the chicken.



I picked up my 3rd CSA box yesterday. The photo above is the 2nd box. It contained Amish whole wheat egg noodles, muscadine jelly (had to google it – that is a kind of grape native to this area), kale, carrots, a big jar of spiced peaches, and 4 or 5 sweet potatoes. This week’s box contained Amish noodles (thicker and not whole wheat this time), carrots, kale, 2 sweet potatoes, jar of apple sauce, and a large jar of pickled carrots. (And I bought a dozen eggs.)

I’ll be honest, the pickled carrots are the first thing that I am seriously considering just not trying. Nothing about that sounds good to me.

So how have we been using our goodies? The kale I’ve used in a couple of ways. First, I cut the stems off, tossed it with a little olive oil and sea salt then baked.  It becomes crunchy like a chip. Shockingly, Tessa, who doesn’t eat any vegetable unless forced, ate them and asked for more. She loved them. Sabrina was luke warm on them. Steve and I thought they were pretty good too. Win. Second, I’ve been using it in place of spinach in recipes. Last night, I made quesadillas with shrimp, onion, red bell pepper, mushrooms, kale, and cheese. I sauteed the kale with the other veggies and its flavor was so mild you didn’t even really notice it was there. Win.

The sweet potatoes are a little trickier. No one in the house particularly likes them. The girls don’t like potatoes (white or sweet) in any form except french fried. Not even mashed. Just last weekend Steve forced Tessa to eat a bite of mashed potatoes and it resulted in her throwing up on her plate – the texture has always bugged her. Steve isn’t a really a fan of sweet potatoes. And to be honest, I only voluntarily eat them as sweet potato fries. But I was determined to use them in some way so I got out my mandoline and sliced them thin. Tossed them with a little olive oil and sea salt and baked them into chips. (Noticing a theme here?) The girls loved them. They fought over them. So apparently, if I make things into crispy chips, my children will eat them. Who knew?

With the peaches,  I am going to make a cobbler or crisp for Steve and the girls. I’m not a huge fan of canned peaches. The carrots we eat raw. The pickled carrots – I’m not sure what their fate will be. The noodles we had some as a side dish (the girls weren’t crazy about the whole wheat noodles) and I will use the rest in soup sometime. The noodles from this week, I will use in a pasta dish with shrimp and kale most likely.

As part of this, I’ve started doing dinner a little differently. I usually put the food on the plates then take the plates to the table. I am still doing that but I’m putting veggies and fruit on the table for free access. Carrots, celery, cucumbers, salad (not a lot in season right now) are all on the table to pick at and eat as everyone wishes. Also grapes and any other fruit I have around (come on summer – I’m craving fruit!). I’m hoping that this will encourage the girls to eat more of those things and also that they will see us munching on them and pick up on us modeling the healthy choices.

There you have it – way more than you ever wanted to know about our CSA boxes and dinner habits. Who knew this raising kids stuff would require so much thoughtful planning?


A couple of photos from Tessa’s visit to the fire house yesterday:

John Denver ear worm

Monday, February 27th, 2012

I’ve had various John Denver songs stuck in my head since we headed out for the mountains on Friday. Since my last update about Steve having to return to Pittsburgh, he accepted a new job here in Nashville. We are very fortunate that his skill set allows him to change jobs with relative ease. To celebrate, we decided to head to the Smokies for the weekend. We snagged Sabrina from school at lunch time on Friday and took off.

We are only 4 hours from Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg but we only made the trip once since moving to TN…about 3 1/2 years ago. Everyone got sick on that trip except for me so perhaps that is why we haven’t returned.  The amount of bodily fluids I had to deal with might have colored my memory. This time was much more successful. No one got sick and a good time was had by all.

We decided on a hotel instead of a cabin this time. Mostly because it was a last minute trip and I didn’t have time to obsess over cabins. And the hotel boasted a pool which is all that is required for a 5 year old and a 3 year old to have a good vacation. Traffic was horrendous, as always. We were trying to imagine how insane it must be at high season. Do you just rent a cabin and then not get in your car again until you leave at the end of the week?

A rare photo with mommy on the other side of the camera.

We drove up and down the mountain. We looked at scenic vistas. We ate BBQ. We took many photos. We took the girls walking in the woods. We swam with the girls (the pool water and pool room were FREEZING). The hotel was a nice solution for a quick weekend but we likely won’t do that again. Mostly because sleeping with Sabrina is torture. We had 2 queen beds and there is no way the girls would sleep together. They would giggle and fight and giggle and bicker and generally drive us insane. I slept with Sabrina the first night. She spent the entire night kicking me and trying to spin herself 90 degrees (by pushing off me with her feet) so that she could sleep sideways. She also hit me in the face 4 times and talked in her sleep and ground her teeth. I slept in 20 minute spurts. Thank goodness the hotel was nice enough to have decent coffee for the in room coffee maker.

The girls didn’t appreciate the beauty of the nature around us as much as they appreciated the pool and eating out. But they had fun. And they are great kids. The disruption to their schedules didn’t phase them much. They are good little road trippers.

We had gorgeous weather. It was cold and windy at the top of the mountain on Saturday but less so on Sunday. My hands were numb after snapping photos on Saturday but it was worth it. So many beautiful spots it was hard not to take some nice shots.

Tessa might be starting to get over her camera shy ways. Or maybe it was the thin mountain air?


Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

One of the favorite Christmas gifts this year were the V-Tech Innotabs.  They love them. My only real complaint about them is they eat batteries. We went through 5 sets if 4 AA batteries for each of them in the first 2 weeks and then promptly bought wall plugs and new rechargeables.

It lets them play music, play games, read e-books, and do art (and who knows what else – I let Steve set them up). Part of me worries about the girls having too much screen time. The whole idea of these pads are almost intuitive for them. That seems weird to me. But I realize that screens of all sorts are part of their world in a way they never were or will be for my generation. So I try to not get too uptight about them playing with them. We are talking 30-60 minutes a day – usually not in 1 sitting so please don’t think I mean I allow them to vegetate in front of them. And we don’t let them play with our computers or phones.

Sabrina – I expected her to pick it up pretty quickly. But Tessa blew me away with her almost immediate understanding of how to work it. Oh, I do have 1 other complaint. I wish they made it harder to delete things. The girls deleted a lot of the items we loaded on there because they didn’t understand what “Are you sure you want to delete this?” meant when the computer asked. Not a big deal, just a pain to reload it all.

I can’t imagine what my childhood self would have thought of such a thing. I thought my Magic Merlin was the bomb and it can’t even be compared.

Christmas: The Lost Photos

Monday, January 16th, 2012

I realized that I hadn’t posted many photos from Christmas and that a few people (like my mom) might be interested. So a photo filled post is ahead – click away if it doesn’t interest you. My photo quality isn’t great. I hate using my flash so many of my photos weren’t great quality (no flash indoors = dark and blurry). There are more photos of Tessa than Sabrina because Sabrina was way too busy being a big kid with her older cousins to hang out where mommy and daddy were.

Tessa really got the whole unwrapping and gift thing this year. It was fun to watch her.

Grandma always gets the kids special fancy Christmas outfits.

Tessa wouldn’t stand still for me to get a photo of hers.

Sabrina wanted this Hello Kitty gumball machine so badly and was thrilled to see it under the tree. (Her mouth is stuffed full of gumballs in this photo.)

The Innotabs were a hit. But holy cow do they eat batteries. They each went through 6 set of 4 AAs before we bought cords and told they to sit near the wall.

Sabrina was so excited about her cool color hair extensions from Aunt Rusty – and her manicure.

Poor Tessa got sick during our trip and spent a few days throwing up and sleeping.

We celebrated Steve’s birthday on New Years Day.

Then we celebrated Christmas again when we got home.

Remember Fashion Plates? Loved those things! This is the closest I could find. It doesn’t have nearly as many variations but Sabrina thinks they are fun.

Sabrina is pure girl. She loves purple and sparkle so these shoes made her very happy.

And Tessa wasn’t left out of the sparkle fest. And yes, she did get some new jammies that aren’t capris on her.


On co-sleeping

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

We aren’t co-sleepers. And I have no opinion on those who are. Okay. That is a lie. I think y’all are crazy but only because I like my sleep and I’ve found co-sleeping isn’t conducive to actual sleep for my family. My children only sleep with us if one of them is extremely sick. I tried to let Sabrina sleep with me just for fun once while Steve was out of town. She stayed up all night petting my hair and arm and reassuring me that if I needed her, she was right there.  I kicked her out around 3am. But if co-sleeping works for you? Fabulous.

On our very long trip home from Pittsburgh, we were forced to stop for the night due to snow and ice and southerners not understanding how salt can help that situation. The hotel only had with 2 double beds so Steve and I decided we would each take a girl and sleep that way. I will say this, snuggling into bed with Tessa and watching her fall asleep? So freaking cute. Like watching a cute, cuddly tiger cub. Actually trying to sleep with her? Not so cute. Like watching that cute, cuddly tiger cub grow into a full sized hungry tiger that proceeded to rip my arm off and eat it in front of me.

Maybe I exaggerate. A little. But wow, not a restful night. Tessa may be small but child can take up a bed like no one’s business. And she snores, snorts, and yells out in her sleep. Plus she kicks and pokes (managing to land in my eye more times than seems statistically possible if it was truly random).  Every time I rolled over, she would yell out “MOMMY!” in her sleep. So I was clinging to the edge, trying not to move. And I discovered Sabrina grinds her teeth loudly enough to wake me up from across the room.

That night cemented the fact that we are not a co-sleeping family. The girls spend a lot of time in our bed reading and playing with us. But when it is lights out? Everyone goes to her own room.

Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy, and joyous holiday season and new year.

There are several versions of Christmas cards this year. My attempt at taking a photo resulted in 2 mediocre shots (out of 217) I couldn’t love enough to choose between so I ordered 2 versions. Then my friend, Crystal, took photos with Santa at our annual MOMS Club party. They were a little late but I liked that photo best. So I ordered a few more cards with that shot on it.


T’was the Night Before Christmas

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Those of you who’ve been reading here for awhile know I lost my Dad. It has been 5 years this month. I miss him. I hate that my girls never got to know him and vice versa. I try not to dwell because I’ve got it stuffed in a dark corner of my brain and it leaves me alone most of the time as long as I don’t poke it with a stick. Christmas Eve is one of those times I poke it. I tell this story most years on Christmas Eve but it is my blog and as a result I can indulge myself that way.

My dad and I had a complicated relationship through the years for a variety of reasons. None of those things are fit for blog fodder. The important thing is the last years were good. But through all of the years, difficult or not, we had 1 tradition. He read me T’was the Night Before Christmas (the original by Clement Moore) every year. I was a kid of divorce so some years it was done over the phone. Other years in person. As I got older, I kept it up for him. At some point, it flip flopped and became for me again. Although he sometimes grumbled about digging out the book I think he loved the tradition too. I listened to that poem from some strange places over the years. Once a bar bathroom, once a front porch of a party, many times from work. It didn’t matter where I was, I made sure to get in touch with my dad so he could read me the poem before we turned in for the night. Since Dad died, it has fallen to me to read this story to my children. I had always hoped it would be him. I rarely make it through with dry eyes which confuses my girls. And my vehemence about being the once to read it confuses my in laws a bit. For now, I do it for me. And for Dad. I hope in the future my girls come to love it and I do it for them too.

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Looking a lot like Christmas

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

I thought it would be fun to start the whole Elf on a Shelf thing this year. I was too cheap to spend $30 on a real one with a book so I just picked up an elf for $6 and told my kids about it. I stupidly started it Thanksgiving weekend because I was excited to get into the holiday magic – TOO SOON! And I have to say my kids are enchanted by it (although I don’t think it has done any good on behavior modification) but I am not. It is a pain in the ass to remember to move it every night and it pisses me off when I forget and have to get out of a warm bed to find a new place to stick the stupid thing. And I know there are websites with ideas but have you read them? These people are a little deranged. I am not pouring flour or sugar all over my counter so the elf can make snow angels and I can get up in the morning and clean up the mess. But so far it has moved every day and I haven’t run out of spots. A sampling of what he has been up to:

*A little tip. If you decide to have your elf magically turn your milk a color? Go with red. And do it when your gallon is nearing empty. I felt like the elf peed in our milk and it was the gallon that wouldn’t end.

We’ve been working hard to instill the whole giving portion of Christmas in the girls this year instead of just the getting gifts part. We had a few dicey moments with questions about why Santa doesn’t just give presents to those who don’t have enough but managed to negotiate that. Outside of charitable giving, we also wanted them to spend time on gifts for family. I picked up a bunch of unfinished wood items at Hobby Lobby for them to paint. They were beyond excited. I only twitched a little during the painting process – that is huge progress for me. They did a great job. Tessa especially shocked me at her focus and how well she did painting once she got a feel for it.

I found big gingerbread men at Trader Joe’s that came with icing and candy to decorate them so we let them do that. Tessa’s ended up with a big glob of icing in the middle but Sabrina did a little better at trying for a face. They thought it was great fun – I twitched a little during this too because the sprinkles went everywhere.

And just because it is so stinking cute, Tessa got a new hat and mittens:


Saturday, November 26th, 2011

We had a lovely holiday weekend. I have much to be thankful for but I won’t bore you with a list. My mom joined us for Thanksgiving which was nice. The day after, instead of shopping (because I am mostly done nah-nah-nah-nah), we took the girls to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel to see the decorations (above is a collage of our visit there).  I also wanted to try and take a decent photo for our Christmas card. I wasn’t hugely successful at that. I took 217 photos.  214 of them look a lot like this:

Tessa was not about to cooperate – look at the defiance with the crossed arms. (I’m scared of teenaged Tessa already.) And on the rare occasion she was looking my way, Sabrina chose that moment to look at the sky or stick her tongue out. I lowered my expectations and chose a couple that were acceptable. So if you are on my card list, keep the bar low in what you might expect this year.

Hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving. It is truly my favorite holiday – all of the warm fuzzies and family of Christmas, without the pressure and expectations.

Note to self for future Thanksgivings: Do not buy a smoked turkey at Sam’s Club. It will be dry and salty. And the gravy will be like a salt lick.

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