Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy THanksgiving…


Thankful for a full table….

DSC_0410 …. good neighbors who deep fry a turkey for us…

DSC_0418 …. food that all came out at the right times…


…. grandparent time in warm sunshine….


…. Pop Pop….

DSC_0413   …. with the newest baby…….DSC_0417….. and Aunt Judy taking a turn for snuggles.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

More later…. but for now…. click here to get your Happy Thanksgiving greeting from Catalog Living. It’s a good one today. =)

In my bathrobe…. ingredients in the breadmaker for rolls… listening to David read to the boys…. time for a shower!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

how to enjoy the holidays…


Our speaker at MOPs today was a wise, older woman with 4 grown daughters. At one point, she had 17 consecutive years of having a preschooler in the house! She often comes to us with great advice… and it’s usually some form of “Don’t stress out so much! Enjoy your children!” =)

Today she talked to us about how to enjoy the holidays. Here I present some of Miss Martha’s wisdom, and some tidbits of my own.

- Write down your vision of the perfect holiday season. Then figure out how much of that vision is actually attainable. Figure out what you can do to make it happen, and think about what depends on others. Hang on to some of it, let go of some of it. PLAN TO BE A CALM, RELAXED, KIND MOMMY!

- Delegate. If your mom-in-law makes good pie, let her bring it. Don’t try to make it all yourself. Do what comes easiest and is most enjoyable to you, and outsource the rest. For instance, I’m making rolls and mashed potatoes from scratch this year for Thanksgiving. Everything else will come from a box or can, be bought from Trader Joe’s, or come from someone else’s kitchen. Everybody gets their traditional Stove Top and green bean casserole, and I’m not a total wreck.

- If it’s a busy season of life (aka. “you have 3 children under the age of 5), don’t think you have to make homemade cookies in order to visit the nursing home on Christmas Eve. Buy a box of candy canes, and head on over. The residents care more about getting a hug from your kids than they do about the cookies, anyway.

- Don’t feel responsible for everybody’s happiness. Do the best you can, make the holidays as beautiful as possible for your immediate family, and don’t worry if Aunt Sue and Aunt Hilda can’t seem to get along for 5 minutes in the same room.

- Think about how some of the different activities you plan can lead your little ones to Christ. Try again with that advent wreath, even if you only get in a couple of readings this year. Patiently explain about how the Pilgrims gave thanks to God. Make the time to order that catalog of geese and cows, and pick out some livestock to gift to a needy family with your kids.

- And remember… You’re the Matriarch now! Enjoy the power to create special, goofy, and tender traditions, and bring it on, woman! =)

first smiles…

DSC_0391 He’s 3 months old now…. and we all, even the big boys, call him our “precious baby.” (Evan especially… he baby talks to him and hugs/crushes him all day long.)

Who wouldn’t, though? I love you, my tiny man.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

First leaf raking…


It’s been a whirlwind last few days…. David and I went to D.C. for The Justice’s 20th anniversary on the bench dinner…. spent some time with old friends from when we lived there…. wandered around at our old apartment complex in Arlington with a different sweet baby boy than we left with… and spent long hours in the car, talking and listening to said baby boy cry….

I went to Mom and Dad’s to pick up the big boys yesterday. After struggling with whether or not to attempt the fun, yet ambitious, playdate that I’d planned for my MOPs small group today, I decided that my decision to bail was right after I locked my keys in the car while attempting to load the van. Thank the Lord that David hadn’t left to drive to a courthouse a couple of hours away or I would’ve been picking them up today instead. Sometimes I just have to figure out what will take me over the edge and cancel accordingly…

Sometimes I think we’re nuts attempting everything we do right now…. and other times I think we are probably striking the right balance. It just depends on the week….

Today has been absolutely gorgeous, so we played outside some. Baby napped in his swing, so there was time to read Richard Scarry books, practice drawing “2’s” in a workbook, play games with Seth of his own devising, watch Evan run around with his new ball David bought him on the trip, etc.

Every day, Seth seems so much older to me. He’ll be 5 in January, and I’m just not ready in some ways. But he’s become sooo helpful that maybe I can be reconciled to the change. I sat them both down with blank sheets of paper and leftover stickers from our years of teaching Sunday School. Evan can’t peel stickers off the page yet, but Seth can. Guess who peeled stickers for his brother today for the first time? He would attach them to the end of his new slide whistle and hold it out, and Evan would pull them off. Adorable… and immensely helpful.

Don’t let the picture above deceive you. Both of them cannot rake, even though Evan did a passable impression for the pictures. He did eventually prove helpful by picking up leaves and putting them in the bucket. Seth raked up pile after pile and put them in the bucket, and then he was actually tall enough to take those two buckets out to the yard waste can and pour them in! My first baby is growing up…

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A good day…


The past couple of weeks have been difficult at the Suburban House. Evan was the main culprit, since he’s been a teething, drooling, parent defying wreck. There were some days when I didn’t know how I’d get the energy to try again tomorrow….

With that in mind, I woke up yesterday to a 2-year-old who’d miraculously had an attitude adjustment in his sleep… and therefore, to a much more pleasant day. =)

By the way, if you are about to become a parent to 3 children under the age of 5, I can tell you exactly what not to do…. =)

But I’ve finally learned that you should start off the morning catering to the baby’s needs the most. Yes, I know, this goes against a lot of conventional wisdom, but it has worked for us around here. If I get Ben happy and secure, feeling like I’m not going to pick him up and put him down every few minutes, then he’s a lot more settled. That means that he’s willing to eventually, possibly, stay asleep somewhere other than my arms. This worked for us yesterday when I was able to transfer him to the swing for an hour of nap.

This means that I’m doing everything with one hand to get breakfast ready, so it goes a little slower. It also means I’m eating breakfast with one hand, so breakfast bars help a lot. Kraft has this new milk and granola bar thing that I am finding useful.

I’ve also learned that I’ve got to let go of the idea of doing anything other than play with the boys for the first 2 hours of the morning. Wanna put a load of laundry in? Sorry, forget it. Wanna wash dishes? Nope, ain’t gonna happen. BUT, if I will just sit with the baby and talk to them while they play, cultivating a patient heart, THEN I might be able to get a few chores or games or reading done later on because they all have their love tanks at least partially full….

Sooooo, some things that I was thankful for yesterday…

- Singing and dancing with the baby in the kitchen, on the screened porch, etc. to Pandora’s Christian Rock station. Who says you have to have a local Christian radio station anymore?

- Boys lining up and racing matchbox cars on the porch in the autumn sunshine.

- Being able to let them go out in the backyard because the new grass is finally established enough. Watching them explore, find sticks, pick up big rocks, etc.

- Cutting a full pink rose from my bush and putting it on the vase for my table. It’s a small, simple thing, but I love being able to cut flowers from my yard for my table.

- Ordering “The Ox-Cart Man” new and hardback on Amazon. Just because….

- Discovering the Amazon Wishlist feature. If you want gift ideas for us, just go there, and search under my maiden name, Ellen H. W……. Great place to keep track of resources I want to get eventually for the boys for school, etc., and then I don’t forget!

- Watching an old episode of “Reading Rainbow” with the boys on YouTube. I have such fond memories of that show. Seth was mesmerized the whole time…

- An almost 3-month-old who is learning to smile and coo at his brothers. “Mommy, he’s smiling at me!”

- Crockpot stew bubbling away all afternoon, making the house smell delicious.

- That Ben can sit up snuggled in the middle of my lap now while I type this. =)

Friday, November 04, 2011

“Oat balls,” Vs. 2…

Ok, I know, I know, I post nothing but recipes right now…. but I’m having to scramble to find ways to cook and feed us easily, so that’s what’s on my mind. I have a version of these that includes powdered milk, but these are just as delicious and healthier for you.

No-Bake Energy Bites

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)

1/3 cup honey

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, or other add-in

1 tsp vanilla

Mix everything above in a medium bowl until thoroughly incorporated. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls and enjoy! Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

This is our go-to meal after church. We all get home tired and hungry, and if I’ve taken the time to make these on Saturday night, lunch prep is a lot easier. Just throw some bananas and carrot sticks on the table with them, and you have a kid pleasing meal! Evan is a picky eater, but he’s a big fan of these, and they’re not terribly sticky. Most of the time, I double the recipe….

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Crockpot Chicken Marrakesh…

We had another family to dinner tonight, and I served them this. It was delicious, totally company worthy, and I made up the whole thing last night. I put it in the crockpot this morning before we headed out to Bible study, and I didn’t touch it again until they got here at 6:00. With a little garlic naan from Super Target or Trader Joe’s, you’ve got yourself a meal….

Crockpot Chicken Marrakesh

1 onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (can substitute regular potatoes, but it doesn’t have a really strong sweet potato flavor, so I wouldn’t)

1 (15 ounce) can great northern or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, completely frozen

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

A little bouillon and water at the end if needed (I didn’t need it.)


1.Place the onion, garlic, carrots, sweet potatoes, garbanzo beans, and chicken breast pieces into a slow cooker. In a bowl, mix the cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, parsley, and salt, and sprinkle over the chicken and vegetables. Pour in the tomatoes, and stir to combine.

2.Cover the cooker, set to Low, and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened, 7-9 hours. Shred chicken with a fork in the crockpot, and serve…

I peeled and cut up the sweet potatoes last night before bed, along with the other veggies, and put together the spice mixture in a little baggie. You can store the rinsed potatoes in a bowl of water, completely covered, overnight with no problems.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Crockpot bean and rice soup….

Hey, all. Today was truly hard. Evan is teething, and he has been a drooling, coughing, whiny, whiny little guy for days now. Seth has too much energy, and I didn’t have it together to get us out somewhere to play today. Ben doesn’t want to be put down, and I’m not ready to fight him on it because he’s so little. It’s hard not to get discouraged, even though I know this is just a season. But…. at least I had dinner in the crockpot! =)

Crockpot Bean and Rice Soup

2 cups cooked, cubed pork, beef, or chicken, or smoked sausage (I used turkey sausage, sliced and browned the night before)

1 cup cooked rice (or 1/3 c. uncooked)

2 cans black beans, drained

4 cups beef or chicken broth

2 Tablespoons taco seasoning

1 cup tomato sauce or 1 can diced tomatoes

Toppings: grated cheese, salsa, chopped cilantro, chopped onion

Place all ingredients (except rice) in the crock of a slow cooker. Stir gently. Place the lid on top and turn on the cooker. Cook for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high. Serve with toppings.

This didn’t affect the flavor, but the rice was basically mush because I put it in with everything else in the beginning. I’m going to try adding the rice several hours into the cooking process to see if that helps.

I highly recommend buying taco seasoning from a company like Penzey’s or Savory Spice Shop. No preservatives and less salt. Penzey’s has a salt-free mexican seasoning called Arizona Dreaming that I may sub in for 1 T. next time, since I did use canned broth and beans.

I got this recipe from the Life As Mom blog, and I didn’t change much. She’s got good recipes!