Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

Isn't it interesting?

Isn't it interesting how life changes? Looking back, I remember many things I said I wouldn't do and I can't believe I am or have done them.

Growing up I loved city life and always wanted to live in a big city.  While visiting NYC, my parents thought it was too dirty too crowded and I thought it was perfect.  As a young adult, I settled in Minneapolis.  After marriage, we moved one suburb out and I had a hard time saying I lived in Richfield vs. Minneapolis.  In August, we are moving further south to a town not a suburb and I'm excited.

While working for a design consulting business, I said I'd never work for a big corporation. I did. For 7 years.

I never thought I'd suffer from infertility, I did and am now thankful because that experience has made me a better parent.  I thought I would never be a stay at home Mom because I'm not cut out for it, now I am and can't imagine working away from home.  I never wanted to breastfeed, but I did and I am.  (First set of twins 14 months, second set TBD.)    I never thought I'd own a mini-van, but I do (this was hard for me to accept) but its necessary for a mom of 4. 

I never wanted twins but got them, twice. {thank you god for blessing me with them}

I used to have closets full of shoes, purses, and beautiful clothes. Now, I have a sparse closet with diaper bags, flip flops, flats, and mostly baby stained clothes.  My kids have the closets full of beautiful clothes.

One of my favorite quotes is "It's not the destination, it's the journey!"  My life has been an incredible journey so far and I am looking forward to where it takes me while enjoying every minute. [well...maybe not the minute like a few days ago when 2 babies were crying, 1 child was in hysterics and 1 child and 1 husband were trying to talk to me loudly over the crying and I felt like shouting "callgon take me away!" but in all the others.]

:: What have you done that you thought you wouldn't? ::

Thursday, June 17, 2010

summer reads

Drew's favorite is anything nonfiction. He picked up Into the Rain Forest, part of the Jeff Corwin Experience series from Scholastic. If it isn't nonfiction, it isn't cool for the 6.5 year old.

Owen's taste is a bit different. He wants to be entertained. He wants to LAUGH. Our favorite is Russell the Sheep. He received this for his birth day from his aunts Stef and Kara.

As for me, I'm all over the place for summer reading. I heard from a friend that American Wife is a must read. Right now I'm trying to finish Before you Know Kindness, but it is moving slow for me. I keep trying to will myself to get into it, but I. just. can't. Which is odd for me. Usually I have to finish a book if I start it, but this one...I might not finish. I have East of Eden to start next, and I'm really ready for that read - excited!

Most importantly, we are reading. Every day and every night - which is key during our hectic and busy summer days. We slow down for a few minutes to pick up a good book.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Oh the differences

"No. no. no. no. no mommy, I do it." Owen says as he grips, white knuckled, his shirt and shorts. It doesn't matter that we are in a hurry. It doesn't matter that he has his left are up through the head hole. It doesn't matter that he refuses to have me reach for his shirt let alone touch it. And God forbid that I lay out his shirt for him on THE FLOOR. THE DIRTY FLOOR. Yes, I have an almost four year old who has decided that he has just recently learned to pee standing up that, indeed, he is in no need of MY help.


makes getting places difficult. It makes getting ready in the morning and night that much longer. And what do I do? What MUST I do? Stand aside and wait.

Drew wasn't this way. Oh no, he was easy as pie. In fact, we had to encourage him to get dressed on his own. I think he would have happily let us dress him until he was 42. But not Owen, oh no...

And I love it. I love the differences. It gives me reason to have the conversation with Drew about fair and how fair doesn't look the same because people aren't the same. I get to chuckle at Owen as I see the other traits of me that Drew doesn't possess emerge. It makes me shake my head, hang my head, and look to the heavens and ask, "Seriously?"

But this same boy who is screaming that he "don't like you, MOMMY!" and "NO! I. DO. IT!" is the same boy who giggles with me, snuggles into my neck, and clasps my hand harder than Drew ever did - not because he needs me, but because he knows I need him. And in the car coming home tonight he said, "I love EVERYONE!"

And he does :).

Monday, June 14, 2010


Is a process. It doesn't matter the product, but it is what is learned along the way. Drew is in process of learning baseball technique, and it is gorgeous to watch. He works hard at catching, batting, and learning the rules of the game. Attention spans deter him, but over all, he is focused and wants to get better.

We, Randy and I are important to his creation. We support, get him the tools he needs, and encourage him to keep going when frustration gets the best of him. We remind him it is a game to be enjoyed first, practiced to get better second.

I also see a new piece of my process as I set up my lawn chair between two other moms. We cheer, we watch, we talk, we laugh, and we support. This marks my beginning as a sports mom, and I wasn't sure about the role, but I find it fits me well. I like the independence of the boys, and I look forward to their growth and development, but I still love when they charge into my lap for hugs, reassurance, love, or giggles.

So we create, we shift and change, and look forward to the next step, but not the end because, well, because the end isn't truly there until it is, and then we'll know. And until then we are made to discover, create, and refine.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Catering to a meat-less diet

This weekend I'm hosting friends from out of town. They are vegetarian. I am not. But I have a lot of people in my life who are. Thus, I have my fair share of recipes that cater to those with no need for meat.

It's somewhat intimidating to try to go meat-free, especially if your having to serve vegetarians who are somewhat intolerant. You know, the people who make a lifestyle choice and then make you feel bad for not making that choice too? It doesn't have anything to do with choosing to be a vegetarian; you can be intolerant without ever having to think about food. We've all come across all kinds, and I've always been grateful for the people who are kind and thoughtful, making choices for their lives without shaming those around them for not making the same choice.

For what it's worth, my friends who are visiting now are motivated to practicing a completely meat-free diet due to sustainability concerns. How many acres of land does it take to feed the cow that eventually becomes the burgers we scarf down every week? What about chickens and chicken feed? And I just heard on the BBC World Service last (via Michigan Radio) Wednesday night that blue fin tuna are likely to be extinct outside of farms in the next 3-4 years. That's something for me to contemplate.

My sister went meat-free decades ago. She's raised three kids on the diet. So it stands to reason that when I was faced with entertaining on vegetarian cuisine, she would be a great person to advise me. She emailed me her trusted and true recipe for peanut butter pasta. Tasty, hearty, filling, nutritious. It goes great with fresh steamed broccoli and iced tea in the summer time. Enjoy!


Peanut Butter Pasta

1 lb. uncooked spaghetti
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup lime juice (or lemon)
1/2 cup water (depending on consistency desired)
3 tbsp. chopped peanuts, salted
1 tbsp. red chili flakes or dash hot sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed

Cook spaghetti according to the instructions given on its packaging. Drain, rinse, set aside. Mix together in a large bowl peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, and water. If using optional chili flakes, hot sauce, or garlic, add to the peanut butter mixture at this time. Once the mixture is well blended, add spaghetti and toss until all the noodles are coated. Serve immediately. Serves 6-8.


Though this is a great dish, tonight the kitchen is closed at my house and we are going out to our favorite local vegetarian kitchen, Seva. 'Cause they do vegetarian and vegan better than I could ever dream of!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Our family's accidental Chicago outing

Well, the summer is finally upon us. Our family's summer will mostly be taken up by a trip to Brazil, visiting my husband's family. Our baby is 10-months-old now and hasn't been baptized. Oh, who am I kidding, forget sacraments -- she hasn't even met her grandmother or her aunts and uncle and cousins on her Dad's side yet! So our venture into summer will quickly transition into the last preparations for our trip.

If you've ever traveled abroad, especially with kids, you know that it's a little different from traveling to Disney World. Just for a minor to get a US passport (both of my girls need one), you have to have both parents present when you apply for the thing. When you add another country into the mix, there's even more work. In our family, with respect to Brazil and the US, no two people have the same residency status in the two countries. This means that the documents involved to get from here to there and back can get quite overwhelming. The only thing that makes it more complicated is that the closest Brazilian consulate to us is in Chicago. More than 250 miles away.

We've visited the Consulate General three times this past year. The last visit was this past weekend. It was a quick in and out to pick up the baby's Brazilian passport. That was a relief after the last visit which took over 3 hours.

So there we were, 11:45a, at the NBC Tower on Michigan Avenue, just next to the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago River. The possibilities were endless.

Stop and take a token picture in front of the Wrigley Building.

Then it was time for lunch at Ed Debevic's on Wells Street. Good, greasy diner food, rock music, lots of silly antics, and a "world's smallest sundae" for dessert. My oldest daughter took the complimentary sundae cup with us as a souvenir.

Then we took a quick stroll back to Michigan Avenue for window shopping up the Magnificent Mile. (Helped us work off the "food coma" that we were risking after all those burgers and ice cream sodas!) Niketown (to check out the World Cup wear for each country's team), the Apple Store (to check out the new iPad), Tiffany's (to check out the bling), and Border's (to rest and catch our breath).

We finally made it to Water Tower Place and to the new location of American Girl Place, where Lord & Taylor used to be. My oldest daughter Grace introduced the baby to all that is American Girl and then tried to convince us that the baby loved the Josefina doll most of all. I think we'll wait a few more years before entering into that roller coaster ride of consumerism again!

Time was running out and we were realizing we would need to move on or face the worst of Friday rush hour out of the city. The car was parked six blocks south back at Northbridge, so we had time for one last stop before ending our day out. OK, then, Garrett Popcorn it was. After a few minutes of contemplation, we decided on a medium bag of caramel crisp popcorn and a bottle of cold water.

All said and done, the whole day cost us about $100, including 6+ hours of parking.

That was the best trip to the Office of the Consulate General I ever made.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Adobo Dip

If you need a party dip, this is a great go-to for any occasion.  The chipotles give it just the right amount of kick.  Serve it with blue corn chips, and all colors of bell peppers. 

Adobo Dip
  • 2-3 small chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
  • 1 scallion
  • 1/2 c or more fresh cilantro
  • 1 c low fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 c low fat sour cream
  • 1/3 cup shredded pepper cheese
  • 1/2 c black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 t fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 t salt
Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend to desired consistency.  I like it a little chunky, but you can process it longer for a bit of a smoother dip.  I also like to make a double batch so I can use all of the black beans & more of the chipotles.  Give it a try!

The original recipe calls for dicing these ingredients, using regular mayo and sour cream, and uses Monterey Jack (not Pepper Jack).  In addition, rather than  dropping them into the food processor and pressing "go," it calls for slicing and dicing.  Either way is good, but my way is much easier!  The original recipe is from the Junior League's Grand Temptations cookbook, a fantastic mix of top-notch recipes from throughout West Michigan.  If you'd like one, you can get an order form or find a MI store that carries it, here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Laminated Laundry Cards

In a house with 3 boys (plus a husband and a dog), we have a lot of laundry.  Mind you, this is not my favorite task.  Although I actually enjoy putting the clothes into the washer, watching it do what was previously considered 'women's work,' I am no fan of folding.  We got to a point where Mt. Laundry was almost insurmountable.  And then I realized:  these people can help.

Folding lessons came first.  Now, if you are a neat freak, this is not a good option for you.  It is quite evident to anyone who cares that my boys fold their own clothes.  The way I look at it, wrinkles on kids' clothing is the least of my worries.

Next we discussed sorting the loads.  I am very big on sorting, especially by weight.  Please do not put towels and t-shirts in the same load.  Or boxers and sweatshirts.  Fabric weight, children--pay attention!  And color, of course.

Finally, I rearranged the laundry room so the older two boys (around 8 & 10 at the time) could reach the laundry soap.  As I did a load myself, I wrote down precise instructions for washing, then drying the clothes.  How much soap?  Where do the dials go?  Don't forget softener!  I printed them out 1-2-3, laminated them, and posted them above the washer and dryer.

As a result, I can now say, in my nicest of mom voices, "Would you please go get a light color, lightweight load of clothes and put them in the washer?"  Easy peasy.  Into the dryer, into their baskets for folding, and we're all set.

And of course they do it all with a smile.