Tuesday, April 29, 2008

before and after

I just LOVE before and after pictures. Whether it's a weight loss success story or a home renovation project, there's something inspirational and exciting about seeing someone or something transform. That's why, when my friend passed along this picture from earlier this year, I couldn't resist blogging about it:

We went from this...

Traci (6 months pregnant), Erica (7 months pregnant) & Me (8 months pregnant)

To this...

Titus (Traci's son), Micah (Erica's son) & Chloe (all mine)

What's more miraculous than that transformation?!

Monday, April 28, 2008

expressions of love

One of the most fulfilling things about being a wife and a mother is knowing that I'm loved. Despite my faults and imperfections, I am confident in knowing that my husband and children love me. Granted, there are days, weeks even, where I feel under-appreciated and taken for granted by my family. I know this happens unintentionally, and I'm just as guilty anyone, but I think mothers and wives tend to take the brunt of it. Life just happens, sort of takes control, and you feel like you're forgotten in the middle of all the chaos.

But then, out of nowhere, chubby little arms hug your legs. You look down to meet your child's face and see that cheesy little grin smiling at you. This hug lasts only a moment, but it's in that fleeting moment that you remember you're loved.

I love those moments. I love these moments:

My little Chloe, staring at me with her bright blue eyes, gives me the sweetest little smiles. It's in her gazes and her smiles....That's how I know she loves me. Baby love is so innocent and so real. It has yet to be tarnished by life's imperfections.

Lying next to Britten, having snuggle time before bed, she reaches up to my face and starts tickling my cheeks: "I like you, Mommy. I like you soooooo much!"

Ella walks up to me, out of nowhere, and says: "You're so beautiful, Mommy." I ask, do you know what "beautiful" means, Ella? She says, "It means, I love you." What a perfect interpretation of beauty.

My husband, a man of few words. I've learned recently that actions DO speak louder than words, at least in his case. He has this thing about hitting my...clearing throat...bottom. He does it all. the. time. and it's the most irritating thing in the world. He'll hit me with his hand, he'll snap me with towels, he'll clock me with a brush. He's even taught my girls to do it, and now I'm getting it from everyone!

A few weeks back, I had had it! It was after about the 10th swat when I responded by throwing something back at him (not my proudest moment, I'll admit).

"Do you realize how much I HATE it when you do that?!?!"

"Yes, I do." He responds, with a smirk on his face.

"Then, WHY?! WHY do you keep doing it, when you know I HATE it?!"

"It's my way of showing you I love you." He simply responds. And he meant it. That made me smile, despite the inner rage I was feeling at the moment. It really IS his way. Bummer. Now I have no choice but to let it happen. The things you do for love. The sacrifices are endless. ;)

So amongst our crazy lives, our busy days and hectic schedules, it is in these small, but meaningful moments, that I know I'm loved. I am not forgotten.

daddy daycare

While Daddy was spending some quality time with this little one in the living room...

...Our two budding artists were taking advantage of this by giving a new meaning to body art!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

snow, snow GO AWAY!

Ella's response to the sight of snow on the ground this morning:

"Ugh! It snowed again! God is funny! We need to go into the sky and tell Him to stop making it snow!"

She turns to me and says:

"Blog that, Mommy."

I'm serious. Those are the exact words that came out of her 4 year old mouth.

Friday, April 25, 2008

my mango

Mangos are my new favorite fruit. Nothing can beat the taste of a fresh, ripe, juicy mango. I LOVE them. But I guess you could say I have a love/hate relationship with mangos. For as much as I love the flavor, I hate the mess they make, or should I say I make, while trying to cut and slice them up. I've literally Googled "How to cut a mango" online and have yet to master the skill without leaving a juicy mess all over the counter and wasting half of the fruit trying to cut around the oblong seed!

A few weeks ago, I decided to temporarily stop buying mangos. When it comes to buying fruit, they are on the more expensive side. I couldn't justify the price when I felt I was wasting so much of the fruit and leaving such a mess in the process. I was done. I was going on a "Mango Strike."

That is, until I was walking through the fruit section at Byerly's and came across the following handy, dandy notebook tool, called the Mango Splitter:

Listed for $9.99, I thought it was a little spendy. But if it guaranteed satisfaction (which it did!) and promised to successfully remove the mango seed (which it did!) with ONE simple press (which it did!), I was ALL for investing that sort of money into the Mango Splitter! I was so excited. I dropped it into my cart, along with a mango, and headed to the check out counter.

I'm an impatient person, so the second I walked in the door from the store, I HAD to try out my new purchase. I rinsed the mango, washed the mango splitter with warm, soapy water (like they suggested), laid out my cutting board and went to town:

In one simple press (like they promised!), I was able to slice the fruit in half around the seed!

It left me with 2 beautiful "mango boats"....

...and one ugly seed, that I instantly threw in the garbage!

I sliced them, cubed them, and ate them right up! YUM! It had been too long!

My "Mango Strike" is officially over, thanks to my new Mango Splitter!

fountain grocery check-out lane of youth

After a 45 minute trip through the grocery store with all three of my children, I had just about had it! Ella and Britten were crawling all over the cart, running down aisles, and had their hands all over everything. Chloe started getting fussy towards the end and wanted out of her car seat. I intended to bring the baby carrier with me in the store, but decided against it last minute. Why is hindsight always 20/20?

By the time I pushed the cart into the check-out lane, I was a frazzled mess. My hair was all over the place, I hadn't showered in a couple of days and I was wearing my work-out clothes from my earlier run. Did I mention I was a mess?

As I was rounding up the troops and packing my groceries, the gal that checked my groceries said:

"You don't look old enough to be the mother of these children. In fact, you look like you could pass for their age!"

(Hmmmm....4 years old, 2 years old and 5 months old....)

"Really?!" I asked, a little caught off guard. "Wow. I guess it'd be nice to be 4 for a day again!"

Check-out gal: "Okay, maybe not young enough to be 4, but you could certainly pass for their sister!"

That makes a little more sense, but there's still a 24 year age gap between me and Ella! But I'd take the comment for what it was worth and consider it a refreshing compliment!

Thank you, check-out gal, for making my grocery shopping experience a little brighter!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

oh where, oh where has my little phone gone?

I searched high and low and low and high and I could not find it anywhere!  By it, I mean my cell phone.  It was gone. G-O-N-E.  I checked all the usual places.  My purse(s), my coat pockets, the van, my bedroom, the kitchen counter, on top the bread box, under my bed, under my pillow (I put it there at night when my husband travels) and any other place I could possibly think of.   It was nowhere to be found and I was becoming more and more frustrated by the minute!  

Little did I know, that moments before I launched my little search, someone's little hands found my little phone. and these same little hands decided it would be fun to find a nice little place for Mommy's little phone:   

But at least the little stinker (Britten), when asked about my phone, brought me over to the Exersaucer and showed me right where she put it!  It was actually a clever little spot, if you ask me, but probably not the best place for my little phone.  

the child was nestled all snug in her bed...

...while visions of sugarplums danced in...

...Britten jumped on her head.

Sadly, this was not a vision. This was reality. Britten, did in fact, jump into the crib on top of Chloe's head. While Chloe was peacefully napping in her crib the other day, Britten decided it was time to play. I'm not sure Chloe agreed.

just one of those moments

Have you ever had one of those moments where you purposefully decide to ignore what your child/children is about to do, knowing full well it could possibly destroy your reputation as a parent around the neighborhood? Well, I had one of those moments last night, while home alone with my girls.

We were taking advantage of the beautiful 70+ degree weather by spending the day outside doing all sorts of fun stuff. We went on a walk, played hopscotch, jumped on the trampoline, played on the swing set, ran around the yard, and of course, ate all 3 meals on the deck. We were having a great day together, bonding in the way that girls should bond.

By 7:30pm, Chloe had had enough "Baby Bjorn" time and was pooped out. She was ready for bed. Not wanting to disrupt Ella and Britten at play, I told them I was bringing Chloe in the house to feed and put her to bed. I told them they could stay outside as long as they stay in the yard and play nicely together.

"Okay!" They chimed in unison.

The "dynamic duo" are known for brewing up a lot of trouble in a little bit of time, so I decided to perch myself next to an open window, just to keep an eye on them. Things were going swimmingly for the first 30 seconds, until I overheard the following conversation unfold:

Britten: "I have to go potty. I'll be right back." She starts walking towards the house when Ella stops her in her tracks.

Ella: "Wait, Britten. Do you want to squat instead?" I was about ready to yell out the window and tell Britten to come inside to go potty, but decided instead, to watch how this scenario played out.

Britten looks toward the house, then back at Ella, then back at the house, then back at Ella. Britten's never "squatted" before, and I think the idea of going potty outside made her a little nervous. But it seemed my little 2 year old was up to the challenge! Next thing I know, they dash off to the big pine tree in the back of the yard.

At this point, they're a little too far away for me to hear them, but from what I saw, I knew Ella was giving Britten step-by-step instructions. After a moment, Britten's pants dropped to her ankles (Oh, how I wish I had my camera! I was still nursing Chloe, so there was nothing I could do but watch!), and then she sits down on top of the landscaping brick that surrounded the pine tree. She sits and sits, but I could tell nothing was happening. I think her nerves were getting the best of her and even with coaxing from Ella, she wasn't able to relax enough to make herself, you know, go. Next thing I know, Ella's pants drop to her ankles and she plops down next to Britten. After several moments of silence, cheers break out:

"Britten, you did it! You squatted! Good job!"

"Good job, Ella! You did it, too!"

Together, as a team, they did it! They both stood up with pee dripping down their legs, pulled their pants back on, and ran off to the swing set. Moments later, when Chloe was finally down, I quickly grabbed my camera and ran outside. I couldn't resist taking the following shots. Like a dog marks his territory...

...Britten and Ella marked theirs!

They're so proud of themselves!

And quite honestly, I was proud of them, too. I know it's not proper to go to the bathroom outside, and unless it's an emergency, it's not something we normally let them do. But as I secretly watched them from the window, my heart swelled with pride and my eyes filled with tears. Even though they fight like cats and dogs, Britten and Ella love each other so much. By encouragement and support, they know how to help each other stay strong through the difficult and somewhat unnerving situations. They're a team, and as a team, they can do anything together --- even squatting on our landscaping!

Friday, April 18, 2008

don't play with your food, unless...

...you're using it for educational purposes!

We sat Ella down at the table with a snack of pretzels and moments later came back to this.


When you come to our house, you'll be greeted by this...

...standing on our couch in the front window!

About 10 minutes before you arrive, I say to girls, "__________ is going to be here any minute!," and they both dash off to our front window, climb up on the edge of couch and wait for YOU to pull in our driveway. They proceed to jump off the couch, roll onto the floor (usually bonking heads or some other body part in the process) and meet you at the front door. Wow, what a welcome you get! How special you are! My girls really know how to roll out the welcoming mat...

What's the purpose of owning a dog when your own children welcome you home like this?!?

Am I bad mother for letting my kids do this?! Wait. Don't answer that.


Chloe's all time favorite game right now is peek-a-boo. But not the kind of peek-a-boo where I hide behind my hands or a blanket and pop my head out to surprise her. If I start doing that, my always-smiling baby furrows her little eyebrows together and gets this really serious look on her face. The photo aboves captures that precise moment, as I was popping up from behind the blanket with my camera. I wanted you to see "the look" for yourselves. Quite cute, don't you think!? So yeah, she doesn't like it. I think the idea of me disappearing really bothers her.

Chloe, instead, prefers the sort of peek-a-book where she makes herself disappear...

Here she goes...

Almost there...

...Poof! She's gone!

Oh, but wait! She's back! My always-smiley baby is back! Peek-a-boo, Chloe!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

a matter manner of fact

Britten and I were standing in the pharmacy line this morning, with Chloe beside us in our stroller. While we were waiting, in the dead stillness of the pharmacy, Britten decides she needs to pass some gas --- very loud gas, I might add.

Me, clearing my throat, and speaking loud enough for everyone to hear: "Britten, honey, what do you say?"

She thinks a second and responds: "Can I be excused, please?"

Me: "Oh, I guess that'll work (same meaning, different context). Yes, you can be excused."

Britten: "And thanks for the good meal, Mommy."

Well, at least she knows her manners!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I enjoy a good workout. I've been an avid exerciser since high school, but it all began in my junior high days, when my mom would literally drag me out of my bed at 6:30am on Saturday morning and force me to walk the bike trail with her. I didn't exactly enjoy those early mornings. In fact, I can honestly admit that I hated them. I'd get so exhausted half way through our 3 mile walk, I'd grab hold of my mom's little arm and she'd end up dragging me the rest of the way home. I guess, in the end, it gave me a little break from our speed walk and resulted in an intense workout for her.

My mom is known around our small hometown for her "speed walking." She's a little lady, but when her arms start flying, that woman can walk faster than most can run! It's amazing, really. My mom also enjoys a good workout. Before we had a local community center, she had to be creative with her "workout routine." I remember finding my mom in the living room doing crunches, aerobics and all sorts of crazy stuff to her Praise and Worship music. I thought she was so weird and was always so embarrassed of this, especially if I had a girlfriend with me. Now that I'm a mom, I think I have clearer picture of her reality. With 4 little children, my mom was doing what was necessary to get "the job done." If that meant exercising in her living room, among the toys, dog bones and kids, so be it. Good for you, Mom! (Please note: My mom kept a very tidy and clean home. Never do I recall toys or doggy bones being thrown about the living room floor. Kids maybe, but that's about it.)

Because of my mom, health and exercise has become a crucial part of my life. I don't enjoy speed walking, and in case you're wondering, I still can't keep up with her when we go for walks, I enjoy RUNNING! I was never in track or cross country (tried both, quit both), but started running more in my college days. It began as something I forced myself to do, knowing the benefits behind a good run, but is slowly evolved into something I loved and now NEED as a part of my life.

Running is such an easy and convenient way to exercise. Weather permitting, I'll run around our neighborhood, or easier yet, I'll jump on my treadmill. Lately, I've been taking advantage of the childcare at our local gym, and exercising there several times a week. It's a nice little break during the day for me and the kids absolutely love their play area.

Last Wednesday, as I was doing crunches on one of their ab machines, I happened to glance into the Studio where they hold their classes. Normally, I wouldn't pay much attention to their classes (I'm not a "group class" kind of girl. I prefer to keep to myself, do my 40-minute run and finish with some quick ab and floor workouts), but lately (since having Chloe), I've been wanting to do more strength and core training. This class really grabbed my attention because the workout looked fun, and different, and between all of the different things they were doing, really seemed like something I'd enjoy! So, right then and there, sitting on my ab machine, I decided I'd be going to the class next Wednesday.

Which brings me to today. I found out, by looking at my class schedule, this class is called F.I.T. Not sure what it stands for, but it seemed appropriate, just by what I witnessed last week. I dropped my kids off at childcare and walked confidently up the stairs to the studio. After telling the instructor I was "new" to class, she guided me through what props I'd need. Four dumb bells, a bench, an exercise ball, a weight bar and a mat. Sounds easy enough, right?!

10 minutes into class, we were still doing the "aerobics," getting our heart rate up and warming up for the hard stuff. I thought, bring it on, lady...bring it on. I can DO this!

10 minutes later, we're into the "hard stuff" and my muscles are starting to hurt. They were hurting in places they've never hurt before.

10 minutes later, my body is screaming, "OOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWW!"

10 minutes later, I found myself inwardly crying for my mommy (I'm not even kidding) and thought, "How on earth will I make it 20 more minutes?"

10 minutes later, I'm screaming at my instructor (under my breath, of course), praying to be put out of my misery!

The last 10 minutes...Countdown is on! We do a some push-ups, a little abdominal work and some stretching.

Finally, we're done...and I'm a noodle. I almost stumbled down the stairs I confidently walked up just an hour before. I went to childcare to pick up my kids. I can barely carry Chloe in her car seat, my arms are trembling so much. I finally get them strapped in their seats and I'm able to sit...sit, take a breath and think.

F.I.T. Fabulously.Insane.Training. Will I be back next week? You bet I will!

Monday, April 14, 2008

does my butt look big in these jeans?

Ella wasn't actually looking at the size of her bum in the picture.  Ella was demonstrating a new dance for Britten, the one that she refers to as her "booty dance."  I SWEAR, neither my husband or I had anything to do with teaching her or helping her name these embarrassing graceful new moves.  

Friday, April 11, 2008

watching the "SnewS"

I turned on the news early this morning so I could hear about the weather. I was supposed to be heading to MOPS later this morning, but with sleet and snow in the forecast and a 30 minute drive one-way, I don't think I'm comfortable driving my children in such unpredictable weather. Maybe if we wouldn't have traded our Suburban for a Honda Odyssey, I'd be a little more risky, but that's a regret I'm not in the mood to talk about.

Well, maybe I will talk about it...a little. I have to say that if you would've told me a year ago that I'd be driving a mini-van, I would've never believed you. I promised myself, before kids, that I wouldn't be that soccer mom. You know, the one on the free way driving everyone bonkers by her annoying driving habits! I would be the cool mom, in my clean, detailed SUV. The one who never missed stop signs or accidentally drove through a red light because she was busy telling her children to "BE QUIET!". Being pregnant with my third changed my perspective on the reality of vehicles. For as much as I loved the Suburban, the idea of hoisting another infant into the back seat, or crawling over the middle seat to buckle my older two in, did NOT sound appealing. Hence, the trade-in. There's no regret, really. I do love the practicality of the Odyssey with having so many small children, but a Suburban handled so much better in our lovely Minnesota weather!

Back to the news. I'm back on the couch, nestled in my blanket (my husband refers to this as "perching"), sipping my coffee, when Britten comes running into the room and turns off the TV (yet another reason, among many, my husband wishes we could buy a flat screen to hang above the fireplace).

Me: "Britten, please, turn on the TV. Mommy's watching the news because I need to watch the weather."

Britten: "No! I don't like "Snooze." I like "Snazzy" (for those of you wondering, she's referring to the Go Fish CD's)!"

Me: "Not "Snooze." The NEWS. I'm watching the news."

Britten: "Oh, I don't like "Snooze." And runs off, without turning on the TV. When did my compliant child turn into such a 2 year old?!?!? Well, I guess I know the answer to that question: September 7th.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

sleep, sleep, wherefore art thou sleep?

I'm trying to find the words to say, I'm trying to think of a good subject to write about, I'm trying to think of clever titles, but all can do is yawn. My mind is a blank slate. My brain feels like mush. I'm so tired! Bedtime duty (and middle of the nighttime duty) is my sole responsibility for the next few days as my husband is traveling for work, and as I sit here on my couch, nestled in my blanket, I can still hear Ella and Britten awake in their rooms. Rooms being plural, because the room sharing thing went to bits about a day after I ranted and raved on my blog about how well it was going. I've been in Ella's room 5 times already. She was crying because she genuinely misses her Daddy tonight. My husband travels often for work, but this is the first time Ella has ever cried because of missing him. Maybe I should be more stern with her because she won't settle down and fall asleep, some would tell me to discipline her, but I can't. I tickled her back, rocked her a little, prayed with her and did my best to comfort her. She's singing now, not crying, and I'm okay with that. I've made several visits to Britten's room, but it's not doing much good. She's crying, too. The loud, inconsolable, unreasonable 2-year old cry. She also misses her Daddy, but I'm having a much harder time staying calm with her because she won't listen to or reason with me! Hmmm...A 2 year old unwilling to listen or reason? It's unheard of! Chloe is sleeping. I did have to take a brief pause in writing this post to rock her back to sleep, but fortunately, she's not crying and missing her Daddy tonight (she's the only one!) but sleeping soundly in the pack 'n' play in our room.

Yes, the pack 'n' play. We've been playing the lovely game of musical beds/bedrooms ever since Chloe was born. We have a 4 bedroom home, but with the 4th bedroom downstairs, we're left with 3 upstairs to work with. We never expected that transitioning the girls into the same room would prove to be so difficult. We naively assumed they'd love sharing a room so much they'd do whatever it took (even listening to their parents) to stay sharing a room! We were wrong. We then took a little hiatus from working on the "room sharing" thing and decided to semi-permanently move the pack 'n' play into our room so Chloe could have a place to sleep. Up until 4 months old, Chloe slept with us, but we were ready to have our bed back as much as Chloe was needing more space to wiggle around.

A couple weeks ago, we decided to move Britten's big girl bed into the nursery and try having Britten share a room with Chloe. Long story short, after two nights of Britten throwing her bedding, pillow and then herself into the crib with Chloe, we quickly put the kabosh on that setup. We didn't want Chloe getting killed or anything. So, Chloe is back in our room for now. The next step is Ella and Chloe sharing a room and I think we'll test those waters next week. Wish us luck. It's our only option unless we decide to move Ella or Britten downstairs, and that's not really an option, because that room doubles as a guest room/office.

There it is...finally. Quiet. The house is quiet and I can finally relax. Funny how I instantly get my 2nd wind the moment my girls are sleeping. I wish I didn't. I wish I could crawl under my covers and take advantage of an extra 2 hours of sleep. But I won't because I can't. My body won't let me shut down before 11:00pm. For as exhausted and sleep-deprived as I am right now, I am incapable of going to bed early. It's a curse.

Sleep. To be completely honest, I almost dread going to sleep. Between all three of our girls, we're awake half the night. Chloe, in particular, wakes up a lot. Up until I took dairy out of my diet two weeks ago, she was waking up every hour. That's something I'd expect from a newborn, but a 5 month old?! It's getting better now and she's sleeping for three hour stretches. I'm hoping it will get better as the days progress. The lactation consultant said I needed to give it a good two weeks before noticing a big change. Even a little change helps a lot right now.

I'm tired. I'm so, so very tired. My mind may be a blank slate and my brain may be mush, but I'm happy. I'm happy and I'm blessed. God has blessed me with three beautiful little girls, who I swear require less sleep than any other child I know, and a husband who's always supportive and willing to lend a helping hand (this is particularly appreciated in the middle of night). So I can deal with tired. In fact, I'll gladly deal with tired. I know that someday, hopefully sooner than later, I'll be sleeping for 8 hour stretches again and feeling good as new. At least having more than one child has taught me something; This too shall pass...and it always does.

I. Must. Share.

When we moved into our current neighborhood, we were excited to learn there was a young couple, Cory & Jess, living two doors down, and they had a baby boy, Tristan. At the time, almost 4 years ago, we only had Ella and she was just about 9 months old. We thought we were so fortunate to have found a couple, living so close, with whom we had so much in common! In our first conversation, we realized Ella and Tristan were born 6 days apart! How ironic, right? Well, the irony only begins there...4 months after settling into our new home, I found out I was pregnant again! Within the same week, I was having a conversation with Jess, and upon sharing my news with her, I learned she was pregnant, too! Though our due dates were a couple weeks apart, our babies (mine a girl, hers a boy) were born 3 days apart! About 15 months later, Jess called me to tell me she was pregnant again and because my hubby and I were actually going to start trying for our third (because we never actually tried before Chloe), I knew we'd have our third babies close together! Sure enough, Aidan (yet another boy for them) and Chloe (and another girl for us) are about 2 1/2 months apart (quite a long span for us, but still close!).

So, having our children so close in age has been wonderful and, as you can imagine, gives me and Jess a lot to talk about. Jess and I could practically pass as sisters and have been mistaken as that on many occasions. There have been several times, while dropping off Ella at school (Ella and Tristan go to preschool together), that someone has stopped me in the hallway thinking I was Jess. Once they notice I'm toting 3 little girls versus 3 little boys on my arms, they realize they have the wrong Mommy. Aside from looking alike and having kids the same age, we share a lot of the same beliefs, have similar parenting styles and share an interest in healthy, natural foods. I'm not much of a cook, but I love getting new recipes for easy, healthy recipes. Jess is great about trying new recipes and passing them along to me. One she recently gave me, and I just tried out today, was a recipe for Homemade Granola. It's amazing! It's so amazing, in fact, I couldn't help but post the recipe on my blog and share it with all of YOU!

Maple Almond Granola

- 4 1/2 C. (18 ounces) of old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
- 3/4 C. shelled, raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
- 1 1/2 C. slivered or coarsely chopped raw almonds
- 2 T. ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 C. pure maple syrup, preferably Grade A Dark Amber
- 1/3 C. Canola Oil
- 1 C. Raisins

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 325.

Place the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add the maple syrup and oil and stir until all the dry ingredients are moistened.

Spread the granola on a rimmed baking sheet of about 12 X 17 inches. Bake the granola until it begins to brown, about 25 minutes, then stir it with a flat spatula. Let the granola continue to bake until it's light golden brown, dry and fragrant, 15 - 20 minutes longer. Stir the granola at least once more as it bakes and watch is closely in the final minutes as it can easily burn.

Place the baking sheet on a cooking rack, add the raisins, and stir to combine. Let the granola cool completely. Transfer the granola to an airtight container. It can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 month or frozen for up to 6 months. You can serve the granola straight from the freezer. It doesn't get hard and it thaws almost instantly.

Makes about 8 cups.

I hope you enjoy this delicious recipe as much as we will!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Thursday, April 3, 2008

oh, what a beautiful day!

Finally, another day above 50 degrees! The snow is finally melting again, let's hope for good this time, and the beautiful sun was shining in the sky! After being trapped inside for days on end, so it seems, we were ready to experience the warmth! We spent the majority of the afternoon and evening outside, beginning with an 1 1/2 hour walk with my lovely neighbor friend, Jess, and her three boys (ages 4, 2 and 8 months - do those ages sound familiar? Jess and I have a lot in common!), and ending with playtime in our backyard with Daddy.
What's actually funny about this picture, is seconds before it was taken, Britten was screaming and crying, begging for the sucker that Daddy brought her from work. She would NOT cooperate for the camera until I said, "Britten, just give us ONE big smile, and then we can go inside and eat your sucker." Oh, ok. SMILE!
Ella just LOVES swinging and can not get enough underdogs. As I've mentioned before, Ella is happiest when her adrenaline is rushing through her veins. As a side note, Ella DID, in fact, dress herself to play outside. She was dressed for school earlier in the day, but the second she walks in the door, she throws off her jeans and puts on her jammie pants....Hmmm...She's more like me than I realized!
Even Chloe enjoyed her time outside today. She literally spent hours in the carrier outside and never made a peep...In fact, she slept for half of it!
But, like everything else in life, all good things (including beautiful days) must come to an end. With the sun setting and the temperature getting chillier by the minute, it was time......to kick off our very muddy shoes and go back inside. Tomorrow is another day...and I hear it's supposed to be 60 degrees! Picnic on the deck, here we come!

we'll take one humble pie, mr. schwan's guy

Every other Wednesday evening, the Schwan's man stops by our house wondering if we're interested in placing an order. He's a diligent worker, if nothing else, because he's been stopping by our house for almost two years, and for almost two years, he's been getting the same answer:

"No, thank you. We just went went grocery shopping." OR "No, thank you, we don't own a deep freezer and our other freezer is absolutely stuffed." Good bye!

I cringe every time I see this...
...pull up in front of my house. You're probably asking yourself the same question I ask myself every time I hear the big yellow truck roar into our neighborhood: Why don't you just tell the poor guy to stop coming? It would certainly save him some time in his busy night and it would save us the hassle of saying NO! Well, I have a very bad answer to that very good question...

My husband and I are wimps! We feel bad telling him we don't want to order anything every time he stops, but for some twisted reason, we'd feel worse telling him to stop coming by our house! We've grown accustomed to seeing his smiley face every other Wednesday and he's such a nice guy! We'd hate to hurt his feelings by telling him we never want to see him again!

Well, we thought we almost solved this problem on its' own, when, a couple weeks ago, Mr. Schwan's guy made his ever-faithful pit-stop.

The doorbell rings at 7:00pm sharp, I hear the roaring truck outside, and my arms are elbow deep in dirty dishwater.

Me: "Hubby, can you answer the door and tell him we're not interested in buying anything tonight (no surprise there)?"

Hubby: "No way! I had to tell the guy "No" last time he stopped. It's your turn!"

Me: "NO! I don't want to! I'm busy doing dishes, you do it! Go out there, please, and tell him no!"

Hubby: "I'm not doing it." By this time we're practically wrestling around the kitchen. "You do it!" "No, you do it" "YOU DO IT! I'm not telling him NO! I always have to!" "No, YOU!" This went on and on for several more seconds, when finally, I gave him a really good and hard push and my hubby ends up in the living room.

There, standing in our entry way, holding his brochures and order form, was Mr. Schwan's guy. (See, while my hubby and I were wrestling over who'd answer the door and tell him "no," Ella apparently answered the door and let him inside...you know, just being the polite little girl we taught her to be.).

Hubby, clearing throat and donning his most polite smile: "Oh, hi! How are you?"

Mr. Schwan's guy: "Hey, I'm good...So (awkward pause), would you be interested in ordering anything?" I'm pretty sure he knew the answer to that, but felt compelled to ask it anyway.

Hubby, calling to me in the other room: "Honey, do we need anything tonight?" I guess it's on me, after all...

Me, trying to sound cheery: "No, I think we're fine!"

Hubby: "I think we're fine, then."

Mr. Schwan's guy: "Well, ok. Have a good night then!"

Hubby: "Thanks, you too."

Tails between our legs, we were at least a little relieved knowing we likely wouldn't be seeing any of Mr. Schwan's guy again...or would we?

Two weeks later, 7:00pm sharp, door bell rings. He's back.

Hubby, answering door: "Oh, HI!"

Mr. Schwan's guy: "Hi! Interested in buying anything tonight?"

Hubby: "Oh, why not...We'll take a box of drumsticks, an apple pie and one of your turtle pies..."

Mr Schwan's guy: "GREAT! I'll be right back."

He wore us down after all. Even though I always knew he was good at his job, I realized that night, he was great at his job.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

my personal kitchen"aid"

Tuesday and Thursday mornings are always a little quieter around our house. I usually get some phone calls made, some emails returned, the house picked up a little and maybe, if I'm properly managing my time, I might even get a shower. This little lull in my week is created by the fact that we send Ella to preschool on Tuesday & Thursday mornings. It's amazing how the intensity levels change around our house when we subtract one child from the "dynamic duo" equation ("dynamic duo" being Ella and Britten, because together they create lots and lots of...well, dynamic drama).

For as much as I LOVE spending time with all three girls, because I really do, I appreciate these mornings. I get a lot more accomplished than usual, as I previously mentioned, but much more importantly, I get some one-on-one, quality time with Britten. For as much as she adores and loves playing with Ella, I think Britten also appreciates this time with me. Granted, Chloe is home with us on these mornings, but really, does this sweet little face look demanding to you?

Oh, alright. She's not always a sweet, low-maintenance little baby...SLEEPING is an entirely different story with her and deserves its' own post.

Back to Britty. We (or at least, I) cherish this small block of time together and tend to use it by spending time reading books, doing little crafts, playing games or just doing your typical "2 year old" play stuff. But today, I thought we'd try something new. Well, not new exactly, but new for us to do by ourselves. We were going hang out in the kitchen and bake something together! After much thought and consideration, I decided we'd bake our all-time favorite snack, Pumpkin Flax Muffins.

We can't start our baking project without the proper attire...

I told Britten to say "Pumpkin!" You know, instead of cheese, but that didn't turn out so well!

There, that's better! Now, let's get started...
...Well, that was fast! Not much can beat freshly baked pumpkin flax muffins!
Britten wonders if YOU would like to try her muffins?

You really SHOULD! Just click here if you're interested in making this delicious snack!

As you can see, our time in the kitchen today was a success...I wonder what we'll do on Thursday!