Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Snow Storms, Memories and Chicken-less Noodle Soup.

This morning I woke up with an extra dose of negativity about winter.  The being totally over the snow and cold usually doesn't hit me until March or April, not sure why it decided to come early this year.  Maybe because it's been a particularly cold and snowy one.  Maybe because we aren't packing our swimsuits to head to Florida for Spring Break like we have the last two years.  I have tried to be more positive about the cold since the girls were born.  I try to keep the cursing at the meteorologists warning of another winter storm to myself.  This has been successful because as much as my girls love summer, they seem to equally love piling on snow pants to go sledding or make a snowman.  As they've gotten older I've become more lax about keeping the negative thoughts to myself.  This morning as we woke to another 6 inches of snow I grumbled the whole way to school drop off and then continued on my tirade while talking to the produce guy and checkout clerk at the grocery store.  I kept it up with other moms at school pick up.  

And then, just as I was getting really comfortable with my grumpy attitude, good old Bozeman reminded me of it's winter beauty.  

The snow stopped, the sun came out and our big blue sky opened up.  Longer days meant my first evening run in a very long time.  The air was the cool and fresh and the Bridgers were magnificent.  I smiled and felt grateful for the beauty that surrounded me.  Beauty that came in the form of the glistening snow I was cursing about earlier.  Remembering the silver lining...all this snow means playing in these mountains this summer will be better.  Better because more snow equals less chance of forest fires.  And I remembered what a friend pointed out to me the other day...we are on the downhill slide.  When these snowstorms and cold fronts hit, at least we are coming out of winter, not just begining it.  Gotta remember the little things.  So there Montana winter...you can't bring me down.  (In a month, I may be singing a different tune).

After my last post about the girls and the latest fairy adventures around our house, Matt told me he was really glad we have documentation of things like that.  Stories and memories that may be forgotten.  Of course we would probably remember some version of it, but the details often get lost.  It was a good reminder for me as to why I started this blog in the first place.  For memories of my girls childhood.  I forget that sometimes when I hit a writers block...it's only meant to be tid bits of our lives.  The things I want to remember and the things I want my girls to know.  

Remembering... the cold day we went ice skating with Layla's Girl Scout Troop-

Big fat snowflakes falling down and seven giggling girls slipping down on the ice.  Big sister and I there tagging along and getting to be a part of it.

Remembering... the time we went to the museum's member exhibit with friends so excited kids could see the geckos-


Once there realizing we would be joined with the other hundreds of members in our town and it was not as exclusive as we thought.  Pretty sure all us adults were feeling overwhelmed and claustrophobic with the amount of people crammed around the exhibits.  Carrying all the winter coats and trying to keep track of little ones as they searched for the lizards.  But knowing, these are the moments.  

While there I made the observation that the museum on this evening was full of two types of people.  Families and elderly.  I suppose that would be expected on a Friday night at a museum.  It's times like that I realize...this is my family.  I am a total grown up.  Right in the middle of family life.  It all goes so fast, sometimes you miss this.  As a young woman, I always wanted to get married and have babies.  I had these dreams along with others like wanting to move to a tropical beach or take over the fashion world. Like most things with life, some of them come true and some don't.  Of all the things I dreamed about to come true, I am so very happy it was this.  Family.   

Remembering...the time Sadi ate our snowman-

After the snow, the girls wanted to make a snowman.  However, it was not ideal snowman making snow.  It was light and fluffy, not the crunchy stuff that sticks together well.  It took us quite some time to get this little guy together and I knew the usual rocks we used for eyes and mouth would not hold up.  I suggested Cocoa Puffs, which Layla eagerly went to grab.  The snowman survived a day, but the next day when the girls went out to play and Sadi joined them, she must have realized it was food.  When I peeked out at the girls, I saw the snowman had been smashed.  I asked what happened to him and Layla replied "Sadi ate his eyes and mouth and then knocked it down and started to eat the carrot".  Something about the casual way she said it made me laugh like crazy.  Now that I know Sadi attacks snowpeople I could legitimately put up a Beware of Dog sign for our golden retriever, right?

Remembering... a night away with my guy celebrating a dear friends wedding-
Oh, how I love weddings.  It has been awhile since we've been to one, and oh what fun we had.  Pre-wedding snacks in our hotel room consisting of cheese, crackers and pickled Brussels sprouts.  Probably one of the best snacks ever.  Getting all dressed up.  Seeing people we haven't seen for years.  Dancing until the DJ finally cut it off.  Wishing we could dance more.  Laughing a lot.  Waking up after way too little sleep and too much wine and laughing some more about all the fun we had.  Making it back to Bozeman for a greasy breakfast and mimosa to cure it all.  I'll say it again...oh, how I love weddings.  

Remembering...the comfort food I make when one of my babies is under the weather-

Ava has a cold and has lost the sparkle in her eye.  She tries to tough it out, but a mama can tell.  I promised this morning as she went off to school that I would get some orange juice and make soup for her for dinner.  I believe in the healing power of good ole chicken noodle soup, but in our house we have chicken-less noodle soup.  Personally I think it kicks the Campbell's versions butt.  Especially because it has homemade noodles in it.  I added some spinach mozzarella rolls to go with it because cheese fixes everything.  (Recipes at the end)  After lots of soup, OJ and tea with honey I tucked my sad baby girl in with wishes of sweet dreams and feeling better in the morning.  As a kid, I remember feeling so taken care of when I was sick.  My mom was a pro at sick days.  7-up if your stomach hurt, OJ for a cold and always a bed on the couch and TV while you rested.  

That's enough memories for one evening.  That's the great thing about it...there are always more to come.  

Chicken-less Noodle Soup
In a crock pot combine the following:
-4 1/2 cups veggie broth
-4-5 celery stalks, chopped
-4-5 carrots, chopped
-1 small onion, diced
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-3/4 cup frozen corn or peas
-Salt and pepper
-1 tsp thyme
-A bit of fresh or dried basil
-1-2 bay leaves
-Salt and pepper
Cook on low around 6 hours.  I cooked my homemade noodles in water because I have a hard time cooking noodles in the crock pot.  I cooked them al dente and then added to the crock pot to let them finish up for the last 15 minutes or so.  

Spinach Mozzarella Rolls
First, make the dough from the recipe here.  
In a bowl combine some olive oil with minced garlic, sea salt, a touch of dried oregano and some fresh torn basil.  Roll the dough out on a pizza stone and spread the olive oil mix on it.  Spread some fresh spinach leaves over that and then fresh mozzarella.  Roll it up jellyroll style, tucking all the edges in.  Place it seam side down and put a few slices on the top for air to come out.  (With the amount of dough you have, you can make more than one roll)  Bake at 400-degrees around 20-25 minutes.  Be careful...the oil and mozzarella will probably leak out a bit onto the pizza stone.  Cool slightly, slice and serve.

Enjoy.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Make Believe and Growing Up.

We have started a "fairy" thing at our house that doesn't seem to be leaving anytime soon.  I can't quite remember where it began, but the girls now set up fairy notes and treats in hopes that they will be visited in the night.  I think it is happening because they are both losing teeth at an abnormally slow pace.  Ava, almost 9 years old has lost only 3 and Layla none.  They must somehow know they aren't going to get all the tooth fairy years they deserve so are making up with other fairies, like the horse and pig fairy which are being summoned often.  One random day last year I remember Ava wondering if there was a horse fairy.  Probably stemming from one of the many fairy books we read where there is every kind of fairy you can imagine...the rainbow fairies, party fairies, dance fairies and of course animal fairies.  She wrote a very sweet note and I felt compelled to indulge in this and the "fairy" wrote a letter back telling her who Helen the horse fairy was.  Ava was so excited and I thought we were done.  Oh no we weren't.  A few months later, she was writing another note to yet again tell Ms. Helen how badly she wanted to own a horse because she loved them so.  Luckily this fairy is reasonable and hasn't brought her a horse...just sparkles and treats and words of encouragement that if she keeps dreaming one day (aka, when you don't live at home) you can own a horse.  It didn't take long for Layla to jump on this band wagon.  

Enter, Patsy the pig fairy.  

Yes.  Now we have two fairies who make random appearances to our house.  Normally, I'm all about this land of make believe.  However...most recently notes were left for these fairies on a Monday night.  I think fairies should have Mondays off because they tend to be especially tired on those evenings.  But the girls put so much time into making them little bits of food and notes with questions and they leave them gifts.  How can a fairy resist?  I do believe the girls were less impressed this time when the fairies only left notes.  They must not have had time on a busy Monday night to make it to World Market for a gift from fairy world.  I continue to indulge in this for a couple reasons.  First...because I also feel bad they haven't got the full tooth fairy experience because of their apparently glued in baby teeth.  Second...I think it is going to be absolutely hilarious when they are grown up to remind them of their belief in Helen the Horse Fairy and Patsy the Pig Fairy flying into their rooms eating the grass and slop they leave for them on their night stands.  Telling them how I fed the dog the smashed up crackers.  I know we are on the down hill slope of the make believe years and I plan to soak it as long as I can.

The realization that my babies are growing up hits me at weird moments and I've felt it a few times these past couple of weeks.  It's little things.  Things like noticing the bathroom stool has been pushed to the side of the room and no one is using it.  Layla would rather stand on her tip toes to spit out her toothpaste than use the stool.  At first I thought it had just been pushed to the side for one night, but it hasn't moved now for several.  I can't bring myself to take it out of the bathroom yet.  I sort of need them to still be small enough to want to use it.  I can justify this because I still have baby nephews who need a stool in there when they are over.  Thank goodness for that.  

I had another realization of how big theys seem when I found myself not knowing what to buy a toddler.  I was at the store trying to buy a birthday gift for our three year old friend.  I stood in the toy store trying hard to remember what my girls played with at three.  Did they like finger painting then?  Was a stamp set too grown up at that age?  I actually found myself asking the mom standing next to me with a two and a half year old if she thought what I had picked up was appropriate? I felt crazy because 3 wasn't that long ago, but the memory seems to have faded.  How could I not know what that age played with when I was immersed in it for so many years?  When did we go from toddlerhood to school age??  How are we closer to tween years than that now?  It is crazy.  

Okay...I gotta stop before I get all mushy about my babes growing up.  Because they are pretty awesome right where they are.  I mean, can you resist this face...

Giant marshmallows after playing in the snow with cousins.  I most certainly am sick of winter, but for these kids I think it could go on and on.  Deep, drifted snow that has been melting and re-frozen from our up and down weather equals perfect fort and tunnel making.


It was a three day weekend for the us.  We did it up in my favorite way.  Part of it very full, balanced with a couple of low key, do nothing days.  Saturday we took our girls to the winter fair here in town.  It was the first time we've gone to something like this.  I forget sometimes to take advantage of these things while our girls our young.  Having grown up here, occasionally it feels too "Montana" too me.  And, then I remember we live in Bozeman and things that could seem a bit hokey in any other Montana town are perfectly balanced here with a mix of cowboys and hipsters.  Whatever it is my girls were in heaven both seeing their beloved animals...horses and pigs.


It is beyond me where these girls get their love of farm animals.  All I know is if it was up to them we would have come home with a piglet.  And a horse.  And probably a chicken. And, don't get me started on the rabbit races.  Layla and I stumbled upon this when we walked into one of the buildings to sneak out of the rain.  We walk in and see a mini track set up and sure enough there were bunny rabbits racing.  I have never seen anything like it, but within five minutes we were hooked.  Found a seat in the stands, cheering on these sweet 4-H girls and their rabbits to jump the highest and hop the fastest.  Only in Montana I tell ya.  The next two days were spent inside.  Slow mornings, pj's on until far later than necessary.  Calm.  Family time.  Feeling grateful.  I do believe three day weekends should be the norm rather than the exception.

A long weekend means a short week and I am happy another weekend is only a hop, skip and a jump away.  Now if only spring was that soon.  I can't even get started on how over winter I am.  In fact I think I'll end before I go there.

Happy Thursday.  


Friday, February 14, 2014

Love.

Ah, Valentine's Day.

I think you either love or hate this holiday.

I've always leaned towards the love side of it.  I tend to be mushy in that way.  Don't get me wrong, I can get annoyed by some of the cheesy parts of it, but mostly it makes me smile.  It's all pinks and reds, chocolates and flowers.  I don't need to get any of that stuff, but seeing it around makes me happy.  I think I have fallen more in love with Valentine's now that we have kids.  Exchanging cards with friends at school is a fond memory I have of my childhood.  Today I got to go to Layla's class party and watch excited first graders go through their handmade mailboxes to read each Valentine from their friends.  And to eat all the candy that was attached to it.  Layla wrote a poem about Valentine's and to me, it sums up why I adore this Hallmark holiday...

Love is the color of red.
Love smells like roses.
Love sounds like kissing.
Love looks like love.
Love feels warm.

At a yoga class yesterday the teacher talked about love.  Not the candy, sugared hearts and teddy bear love, but true love.  And compassion.  Loving everyone, even those who test our patience.  She talked about how much we learn from those who frustrate us.  By extending our love and compassion to everyone not just the people who are easy to love.  That's what I think about on this day.  Celebrating this.  And, Layla's right...it makes you feel warm.  

We don't do too much for Valentine's.  The girls get a small love gift from us and the last couple years I've sent them on a scavenger hunt to find the gifts.  I like the idea of it being more about the experience than the stuff.  And, I don't know what it is, maybe I've read too many Dr. Seuss books, I LOVE writing riddles for them to solve.  They ran around the house following the clues...

The end result was a jump rope and strawberry gum.  Something that will be forgotten about years from now.  I like to think it is the adventure they will remember.  When they are adults maybe they'll say "Remember when mom used to make us go on those scavenger hunts to get a silly Valentine's toy".  And of course I hope it's followed by "She's the BEST mom ever".  Ha.

Valentine's for us always means pizza out.  A tradition we started the year before Ava was born.  That Valentine's I was pregnant with Ava and we had plans to go out to a fancy restaurant like we usually did.  However, that evening when we got to said restaurant we were told some "very important customers" had stopped by and they had to push back our reservations.  This didn't work for me because- number 1-how rude, number 2-you can't expect a pregnant woman to wait 45 minutes for a table and number 3-who shows up on Valentine's day without reservation and expects to get seated?  (By the way, this restaurant is no longer in business...probably made one too many pregnant ladies wait).  Anyways, we left and took our dressed up selves out to pizza instead.  And from that year on, it was pizza dinner for Valentine's instead of fancy schmancy dinners.  

On this Valentine's I hope you get to celebrate love in your life.  Love for a spouse, your kids or a friend.  And maybe throw some love and compassion out there for someone else while you're at it.

Happy Love Day.  


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Short, Sweet and Happy.

After a week of frigid cold, we finally got to get outdoors today...

Saturday we attempted it, but it was short lived.  The kids didn't get one recess all week at school because it couldn't seem to warm up past zero.  Add to that the extra kids in our house all cooped up and you get a bit of crazy.  When I saw it was 9-degrees on my phone Saturday I declared it officially time to bundle up and get outside.  It was cold.  But, it was necessary.  We all had so much energy to burn and I was officially beginning to lose it.  None of us lasted long, but it was worth it.  

Today we actually got to go out because we wanted to.  After the freeze out, 20-degrees today felt balmy.  The sun was shining and the snow was fresh and fluffy.  It's funny how just getting out of the stale inside air and feeling the sun on your face can change your whole perspective.  Nice way to wrap up a weekend.



Before we hit the sledding hill we received good news.  Sisters coming home tomorrow.  That's right...tomorrow.  It seems really crazy to me that she was able to walk out of the hospital 48-hours after brain surgery, let alone be ready to come home.  I'm trying to believe this is because like most things, she's being an over-achiever and rocked brain surgery so well they are letting her go.  I think I would feel better if she was under a doctors care for a few more days, but I guess you have to trust they know what they are doing.  Thursday was a really long day.  It wasn't until the evening when we finally heard from my mom that they had gotten to see her.  She was awake, knew who everyone was and the docs were happy with how it went.  Best news ever.  This morning I got to see for myself when the kids face-timed her.  Funny side bar...we had just finished face-timing Matt's parents in Florida when we hung up with them, Kim turned to me and said "Can we please Twitter mama now?"  Crack me up.  We did not "twitter" her, but we did in fact call her and get to see her.  That is when we got the news they changed their tickets and are heading home.  As much as I wish she would stay a little longer to be near the hospital there, I'm really looking forward to giving her a big ole squeeze.  

After an emotional week and full weekend, I'm going to keep this short and sweet.  Thanks for all the thoughts, prayers and good vibes for my sister and her family, apparently they worked.  Although, I'm a bit bummed our cousin sleepover is going to be cut short...it always feels sadly quiet after they leave.  

A little spring to end this snowy, cold weekend...
  
I know it will be awhile before we see the first signs of tulips popping up from the snowy ground so for now these will have to do.  

Happy week to ya.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Distraction.

Lots of thoughts running through my head today.  I keep trying to ignore them instead of sorting through them.  It worked pretty well at first, but I don't think it is anymore.  You see, today is my sisters brain surgery day.  She went in early this morning and we have been patiently waiting for updates throughout the day.  Little pieces of hope that everything went okay.  The waiting game is tough.  I have a wide array of emotions.  I feel anxious, but also optimistic.  I feel hopeful, but also terrified.  The surgery part went well, but until we know she's still Kori I will continue to have these feelings.  I keep trying to remain positive and send those vibes all the way to Minnesota.  But, occasionally dark, scary thoughts creep into my head.  I have been saying a Kundalini healing meditation while wearing Matt's Rosary...probably sacrilegious, but spirituality and faith sort of go that way for me.  All I know is as I said the words "Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung" while thinking of her in an operating room, I felt peace that it would all be okay.  This will be her final road to recovery.  My heart believes this, now if I could just get my head to get fully on board.

To avoid my real feelings I have mastered the art of distraction today.  My house is spotless, after school snacks are out, dinner is prepped, I even made brownies for the kiddos for dessert.  If the weather wasn't so crappy I probably would have spent the morning running.  However, negative-twenty-something-ridiculous kept me indoors.  To continue my distraction I'm going to write about happy things.  

Things like having the gang back together...

The house is loud and messy again and I love it.  The noise helps with distraction.  These kids are awesome.

Before the house doubled in kids we celebrated my birthday weekend.  It was a mix of time with my girls, a night away with my man and a lovely lunch with my mama and sisters.  I can't think of a better way to celebrate my 36 years.  

First ice skating and warming up with cocoa.  Then kissing my babes goodbye and leaving them with Grandma.  

Heading up to Big Sky with Matt for some relaxation.  Best husband ever surprised me with a stay at the Rainbow Ranch which is a beautiful resort nestled in the mountains.  It makes having a February birthday worth it.  All cozy inside a beautiful room with two wood burning stoves and a soaking tub with snow all around outside.  Staying in except to make the run to the huge infinity hot tub.  Or to run across the street to the dive bar for beers and catching the middle of the Super Bowl.  We were only there for 24 hours, but it was perfect.  I said goodbye to 35 and felt incredibly grateful for where I am.

And one more bit of gushing on the snow before I rant about how crazy cold it has been. The day before we left there was a fresh layer of snow on the ground and I went for an early morning run before any snow was trampled.  It was beautiful...

The picture does not do it justice...it was glistening like diamonds, even in the air.  So lovely.  BUT, then the temps turned frigid and now I am so incredibly over winter.  I am sick of everything about it...the cold, the being stuck inside, wearing boots and jackets. I have got to find a way to get over this because spring is still so. very. long. away.  Boo.

Oh yea, I was talking happy things.

Future Fashionistas...

Whenever the girls play "mommy and baby"  I notice my shoes and purses begin to disappear from my closet.  Add cousin Kim and more go missing.  I smile as I see little girls clonking around in heels and carrying Coach purses as play purses.  My sisters and I used to play a similar version of this game, but we always called it playing "house".  Same concept...busy mamas raising baby dolls and shopping.  Although now I notice the girls are working mamas because the dolls have to go to school and they go to Starbucks a lot.  

And, always on my happy list...food of course.  Three of my favorite ingredients.  

I do believe any meal that starts with basil, mozzarella and tomatoes will be delicious.  This was no exception.  


It was a caprese quinoa bake and is definitely in my top ten.  This was another Pinterest find...you can see the recipe here.  Because it's quinoa instead of pasta it somehow feels better for you.  If you ignore the piles of melty, gooey cheese throughout it.  The difference for mine, is I made my own pasta sauce.  My pasta sauces tend to vary depending on what I have on hand.  For this one I sauteed some onions and garlic in olive oil for around 10-minutes.  Then add some diced carrots and cook around 5 more.  Add a can of diced tomatoes, s&p, a small spoonful of sugar and around a tsp of each of oregano, basil and marjoram.  Simmer for around an hour and then puree for a smooth sauce.  This is comfort food at its best.  

Well, this helped for another hour of distraction from my thoughts.  Fortunately it is just about time to go pick up the kids so I can continue to avoid any thoughts until we know more.  If you are reading this and don't mind, send a quick prayer or positive vibe to the Midwest.  Or both.