Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Firsts in the Kitchen

This has been a month of firsts… for ME! If you had been at my supper table the last month, you would know that I have been very uninspired in the kitchen lately. I just have no interest in cooking a meal after a day of working and then trying to wrangle a very mobile Clara while slaving over a hot stove. Cereal, turkey sandwiches, and frozen fish sticks have been the extent of my meal preparation. Even with all this said, I did manage to accomplish a few firsts in the kitchen this month.

I fried an egg for the first time in my life. Pathetic, I know… but I don't eat eggs, so I've never had a reason to make one. I made it for Clara, and actually had to call my sister to ask how to do it. She only laughed at me for a minute J. I also got lots of egg advice from my dad who makes and eats eggs regularly – this made me smile!

I made macaroni and cheese for the first time as well. From a box. Don't mock me. I don't remember eating it a lot as a child, so I'm not sure where I got it in my head that I didn't like it. It was the only thing in the cupboard one night while I was searching for a side to go with the chicken Paul made on the grill… or the burnt hockey pucks that he brought in the house. It turned out pretty well – Clara even liked it! …the mac & cheese that is… not the chicken J

My final kitchen feat was roasting a whole chicken. When we had our chickens processed last year, we had them left as whole birds. We didn't have any freezer room, so my parent's volunteered to keep some at their house. Slowly, we have been eating our way through them… one Sunday at a time. When we brought the new chickens the other day, we grabbed out a whole chicken to take home and roast. My mom walked me through the process, so on Monday I decided to give it a shot. I salt & peppered inside and out, put some garlic and onion in the cavity, put it in a cake pan, and placed it in the oven. Apparently I roasted it with breast side down… but it still turned out fine. So now we have LOTS of shredded chicken!

Help me out… What are your favorite recipes to make with shredded chicken?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Y3W = Your 3 Words

Three Day Weekend!

Woohoo! I am so absolutely excited for this 3 day weekend! We have absolutely nothing planned, it's supposed to be crappy weather, and I think Paul has to work... but I don't care! YEAH for a day off!

I used to have 3 day weekends all the time - but then I took maternity leave and ate up a bunch of my vacay time. If I want another 12 week PAID maternity leave in say... a year or so... I need to start saving now! (and no, we aren't working on that yet :))

I can think of a few things I need to shop for, and Old Navy has 30-50% off clearance this weekend, so a trip to Rochester might be in the plans. Otherwise, I am looking forward to snugggling this babe!





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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

11 Month Old!

31 more days and my little baby will be 1 whole year old. That’s crazy.

Clara is one busy little girl these days… constantly on the move and getting into everything! She crawls like a pro and likes to make a mad dash for the kitty water bowl. She is really good at crawling with something in her hand too and sometimes sounds like a little peg-legged pirate moving across the floor… slap, thunk, slap, thunk… This past week she has been pulling herself up on everything… the baby gate, the coffee table, the couch, the kitchen cupboards, the bath tub, my leg… She definitely likes to stand! This weekend she walked across my parent’s living room pushing the wagon with blocks, and last night she did the same at our house behind the walker. She is so proud of herself when she does it too… giving me this cheesy smile and laughing.

She likes to put her own food in her mouth. If I come at her with a spoon she closes her eyes and furiously shakes her head. If I can get just one spoonful in her mouth it’s a success! She has been holding her own bottle for awhile, but now she will hold it out to you when she wants more. We have been pushing the sippy cup with little success… I guess when she gets thirsty enough she’ll learn to use it.

We have her outside with us almost every night when we are bringing in the laundry or working in the garden. This has resulted in LOTS of dirt being eaten! It’s a good thing the closest thing we come to as far as chemicals go is baby powder for the potato bugs and the only fertilizer we use is chicken poop!






A little dirt...







That's not oreo... that's dirt too!




Clara's first taste of pizza... Casey's of course!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

College Roommate Weekend

Do you miss college? I do. I don’t miss the tests, or the papers, or the stress… but I miss my roommates. I miss living in CampusView #11 in River Falls, Wisconsin. I can’t tell you the number of times I have wanted to just wonder across the hall and ask Lindsay’s opinion on something, or have sat watching a tv show waiting to be interrupted by someone’s drama, or the times I have made Chicken Alfredo from a bag and wanted to share half of it with Lisa.

It was 9 years ago this spring that a group of 6 girls from the first floor of Johnson Hall signed a lease on a little townhouse-like apartment across the street from campus. Not every day was a walk in the park, but we made it work. Faces came and went, but I will never forget the times spent there or the ladies who left their imprint on my life during those years. Lisa, Sarah, Kristin, Courtney, Dana, Leslie, Tara, Lindsay, and Jacqui.

Each year we try to relive the magic by getting together for a weekend. We can’t always all make it, but we try. Our lives are changing… some of us are married, some are engaged, some are dating, and some are single. We have 2 moms and a mom-to-be now. Some I have lost touch with.

Last year, I was one month away from delivering little Clara. This year, Clara came along. I couldn’t find a baby-sitter for the weekend, and Paul was working, so I loaded up the car with baby crap, strapped her into the carseat and headed for the cities. The girls were happy to see her, and she was so good. I think they also all got a lesson in how much work it is to take a baby somewhere…

It was a rainy weekend, so we did a little shopping at fabric stores and home d├ęcor stores, did lunch, ordered in Chinese for supper, and crashed well before midnight. On Sunday we drank coffee, sampled mega muffins, and got pedicures. There was also tons of reminiscing and catching up as there always is.

These are some treasured weekends. I hope Clara finds a group of sister-friends like these.

Have I Seemed Distracted Lately?

This is why…
My Master of Education Degree is finished… finally! I have been slaving over my final project for the last few months and really cramming it in the last few weeks! But now I’m done! I don’t have a diploma to show for it… yet. It’s coming :)

My parents, Paul, and Clara joined me for commencement at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis. It was great walking across the stage with many of the classmates I have weathered this journey with. We even paused at the end of the ceremony to snap this photo.


I took my first class during the summer of 2008 – it took a little longer to finish than I would have liked, but Clara is a pretty good trade-off!

So I think I’m done with school now… maybe… the PhD hooding was so cool though… hmmm ;)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Cloth Diaper Series: #1 – Why Cloth Diapers?


It's no secret that we cloth diaper… I'm quite vocal about it actually. I love cloth diapering! This wasn't something I "leaned" into either – I jumped in with both feet. I did a TON of research (remember this post?) and finally decided CDing was what I wanted to do. I'm not saying I wasn't met with some opposition when I brought up the idea to others in my family, but I think I have changed their minds after seeing how easy it really is to cloth diaper these days.


There were LOTS of reasons why I wanted to cloth diaper:


#1 – I wanted to save money. According to my post here, we have been diapering for free for the last 3 months. Our total investment in diapers was a little over $500. The average family spends $2500 - $3000 to diaper a child from birth to potty training. Multiply that times a few kids and well… you could pay for a year of college by the time you're done. That won't be the case for us, as we'll be able to use the same diapers on future children as well. So in reality, our investment of $500 will be all we will spend on poop containment. Period.


#2 – I care about the environment. I'm not crunchy granola, (I DO drive an SUV…) but I have always made a conscious effort to recycle, not waste water, compost, turn off lights, etc. The thought that the diapers I wore as an infant 30 years ago are STILL sitting in a landfill somewhere is just disturbing. (actually, my parent's probably burned my diapers… so maybe not MY diapers, but someone's…)


#3 – All the things I DON'T have to deal with… rashes, blow-outs, chemicals, running out, buying the wrong size, etc. These things are just not a part of my daily thought process. Yes, I do have to wash her diapers 2 times a week, but I do more laundry than that of her clothes. I can handle 2 loads of laundry J.


#4 – They're cute. A fluffy butt is just so darn cute – there's no arguing with that.


I see the stockpiles of diapers that people have in their homes and it just makes me sad. They are so proud of their piles of diaper boxes in the closest and I just see waste… solid waste, financial waste, wasted space… I don't have room in my house to stockpile diapers!


People always ask me if it's as easy as I make it out to be. IT IS! I'm lazy, I wouldn't do this if it wasn't easy! Changing the diapers is no different than changing a disposable… in fact it may be easier since you don't have to unfold it and all that. Just take it off, throw it in the diaper pail (wastebasket with lid), put on the new diaper and you're ready to go!


What about the poopy ones? If I have a moment, I'll rinse them off right away, otherwise I just leave them until wash day and rinse them out then. If I remembered to use a flushable liner, I just pull that off into the toilet and I'm done! We have tank sprayer on our toilet (think kitchen sink sprayer on your toilet), which I love and will probably keep even when we are done diapering just because it is so handy for cleaning other things as well!


I wash diapers on Mondays and Thursdays. I usually throw them in when I get home from work, run a cold rinse cycle, then a hot wash with 2 rinses. In the summer the whole thing goes on the line the next morning, and in the winter the covers go on the drying rack and the inserts and wipes go in the dryer.


Like I've said before… cloth diapering might not be for every family, but how will you know unless you try? I challenge you to give it some thought!



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

FREE Diapering!

I figured out the other day (and re-checked my math today) that we have been diapering for FREE for the last 3 months. That is music to this mommy's ears!

I will fully admit to the fact that I am a bit addicted to cloth diapers… they are just so darn cute! It is hard for me to turn down a cute pattern that I don't already have or a great sale on my favorite brand… but I have used some strong self-discipline to keep my debit card in my wallet and my paypal account closed! I was able to sell off some of my impulse buys that just didn't work out for us as well.

The best part is that diapering will be free from here on out – hopefully we will continue to successfully cloth diaper until Clara potty trains in another year or so.

Cloth diapering might not be right for every family… but for us, it's a perfect fit! J

Monday, May 2, 2011

Easter

Easter post, a week late... better late than never right?

wait... I think I've said that before - maybe the title to this blog should be Better Late Than Never!

Easter is always a flurry of early mornings and sore feet for this household. Paul and I as co-leaders of the church teen group (Luther League) are 2 of the adults responsible for the Easter Breakfast at our church. On Saturday we met with the teens and prepped 20 pans of eggbake, fruit, juice, muffins, and coffee for 300 or so people. The teens are fun to work with, but some you really have to keep on task.

Sunday morning dawned early and we dressed in our Easter best and headed to early service. I ducked out after the sermon to help Carmen (other LL leader)make sure everything was set. Each year the whole process gets a little easier, so it went really well.

After church we headed to the Heise's for dinner - Clara ate only off our plates and seemed to really enjoy her meal of ham, potatos, green bean casserole, and whipped cream!

It was a fun day to celebrate with family the jubilant victory of our Savior over death and sin.

While I spent days working on Clara's outfit for Easter, I threw on whatever out of the closet for the day... my how times change!




Clara all smiles in her Easter finery! (dress from Children's Exchange, cardigan from Target)





Never far from her paci...





Clara wearing the little slippers my mom knitted for me for my first Easter in 1982. She tells me she was up until midnight finishing them. I love that we were able to get this pic of Clara wearing them... even if she was clearly done with the picture process!