Sunday, May 15, 2011


C: What do you think about combining frosting and pudding for this cake I’m making?

D: Frosting and pudding?

C: Yeah, I could whip them together in my mixer.

D: And you could call it frudding! Or prosting! Maybe it will become our family thing for all of our birthday cakes.

C: Yeah, maybe it will catch on and this is how I’ll make my millions. This could be MY Skinny Girl Margarita!

Anyone want in as an initial investor in Frudding?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

What's For Dinner

I am always searching for meals that my family will eat. I really enjoy cooking, but didn’t have the time to do much of it when I was working full-time. So, I have been cooking quite a bit over the last two months and I thought I would share some of the recipes I’ve tried recently…

PW Jan’s Dilly Bread
This was the first time I’ve ever made bread. It was good and I would make it again. Don’t tell my husband it had cottage cheese in it…

PW Tortilla Soup
I love tortilla soup and I would definitely make this again!

PW Coq au Vin
Meh – This actually wasn’t great. Mine ended up pretty oily and my house smelled like bacon for a few days – not my favorite smell…

PW Chicken Scallopine
Loved this! I made it for New Year’s Eve and it got rave reviews. I added capers to my sauce and it improved the flavor. I also adjusted the recipe slightly to make it gluten-free. I would definitely make this again!

PW Three Cheese Stuffed Shells with Meaty Tomato Sauce
I made this for dinner with an old friend and her family. I added some spinach to the cheese filling (I frequently do this with lasagna too), and it turned out well. I make this again.

Warm Steak and Potato Salad
This was delicious and is a great meal for entertaining. Filling, but not too heavy. I served it with French bread and shrimp stuffed mushrooms (my own recipe).

Beer Bread
This bread turned out well. I added a little bit of sour cream and some sharp cheddar cheese. As my sister said, it made her house smell like sweaty gym socks, but the end result was worth it. As you will see in the recipe, the bread is best on the first day, so I wouldn’t make this again unless I had some hungry people on hand – I have half a loaf still in my freezer and it’s not great reheated.

How about you? What’s for dinner at your house today?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Who Says You Can't Go Home?

Warning: This is a long one…

I’ve been absent from this blog for quite some time and there is a good reason for that. When I wrote my last post in November, we were also in the midst of a major transition. For quite some time we had known that Northern Virginia could not be a long-term place for our family. When we moved to the area we imagined spending warm spring Saturdays walking through Georgetown or perusing the Eastern Market, attending the acapella sing along of the Messiah at the Kennedy Center, heading to the mountains to ski in the winter and vacationing on the beach in the summers.

But as it turns out, we did very few of these things. Maneuvering the streets of Georgetown to find a parking spot is in itself a test of personal endurance, attending the Kennedy Center sing along requires arriving hours in advance and standing in line in frigid temperatures in hopes of getting a ticket, and the traffic to get over the bridge to the eastern beaches is a nightmare. I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’m just saying that we didn’t do it. Instead, we spent a lot of time rushing our children out the door so that we could sit in mind numbing traffic, working to afford our over-priced and under-sized home, and living in a sea of strangers.

As we prayed about a move, we looked at areas with lower costs of living, values that more closely mirrored our own, and the opportunity for a better quality of life. About this time, I took Evan to Iowa for a week. During that week I watched him fish with my dad, forage for firewood, catch a frog and camp outside for the first time. And he was happy - unbridled, unrestrained, happy. I remembered our trip the previous year when we drove down Grandview when Bryant school was getting out and I saw kids walking home from school, some with parents and some without (something I could never imagine my children doing in Virginia). As we looked at this tree-lined street adorned with American flags on both the lamp posts and houses, we remarked how there were more American flags on this street than we ever saw in our neighborhood in Virginia. I remember thinking to myself, “maybe life doesn’t have to be this hard…” Much to my surprise, for the first time in my life, when I thought about living in my hometown as an adult, I only felt relief.

So, as we considered where we might raise our family last fall, one of the places we considered was Dubuque. The more we thought about it, the more right it felt. So, Dave started to apply for jobs in Dubuque and through doors we believe the Lord opened, he received a job offer late last fall. So, we are starting 2011 with a fresh start in a new location. I am embarking on the new adventure of staying at home with our children full-time. And I feel peace and hope – two things I haven’t felt for a long time.

I am not na├»ve enough to think that changing our location will magically create the life we’ve always wanted. But, we have more support here, and fewer things working against us. We have a print hanging in our family room that says “We tend to seek happiness, when happiness is actually a choice”. I know that true joy and happiness are only found in the Lord. I also know that this joy is something we have to CHOOSE to walk in. And one of my focuses in 2011 is to CHOOSE to walk in JOY.

(Of much less importance, I am also going to try to blog a bit more in 2011. So, hopefully no more two month absences….)

Friday, November 19, 2010

We laugh. Only so we don’t cry….

I have had a week! In fact it should be Week or WEEK to do it justice. My dear husband has been out of town and my mother-in-law and now my mother (who henceforth will be referred to as Saint Judie and Saint Gail) have been here to help me. If it weren’t for them, I would likely be curled up in the fetal position sucking my thumb. (But, the night is still young, so let’s not count that out just yet.) I told someone the other day that if I were writing a book, I would not have written about half the things that happened this week for fear that the readers would view them as implausible. But, no, they are instead, my reality. So, I’m choosing to laugh, because if I didn’t I’m certain I would cry.

We moved our kids into the same room a few weeks ago. Overall, it is going well, but when one of them wakes up, they’re both up. On Wednesday, I heard Evan calling for me just as I finished my shower. His call sounded unusually frantic. When I asked him what had happened, he said that Lauren had a dirty diaper that had gotten all over her crib. So, I wrapped a towel around myself and went to see what had happened.

Sure enough something was all over Lauren, her sheets, and her crib. I quickly grabbed Lauren, but I realized that I didn’t have anything to lay her on. So, I took off my towel and laid Lauren on it. At this point, I am "sans clothes" and attempting to change the blowout diaper with Evan dancing around asking frantic questions. I soon realize that our issue has nothing to do with the diaper – Lauren has thrown up. At this realization, I start gagging and Evan starts jumping on his bed to get away from “that stinky smell”.

Saint Judie must have heard all of the commotion, so she came upstairs to help. She knocked on the door and entered. At this point, I was relieved to see that the reinforcements had arrived. But, my relief was short-lived, because I also realized that I was without clothes. The next few seconds went like this:

C: Hold on a sec – I don’t have any clothes on…

SJ: (looking at me – confused) What?

C: I’m naked – I don’t have any clothes on.

SJ: (still looking at me – confused) What?


SJ: No you don’t! Sorry!

She quickly shut the door, I retrieved the towel, and our relationship went to a new level that I think we would both rather ignore.

That morning was the beginning of our endurance race with a stomach bug. I am currently the last man standing, but I don’t think the odds are stacked in my favor.

This morning, Saint Judie came down with the bug and Evan kept saying his stomach was upset. At this point, I hadn’t connected the episode with Lauren to Saint Judie, and I thought Evan was just pretending to have an upset stomach so he could stay at home with Grandma. We had a terrible time getting out the door this morning and I may or may not have told my whining three year old son to “man up” as we were trying to get out the door this morning. (Not my finest parenting moment, but I’m just keepin’ it real.)

Anyway, my disappointment in myself was exacerbated when I received a call from his preschool at 9:30 this morning that he had thrown up twice at school. So, I went to get Evan and the rest of our day involved some details that I’ll leave out of this blog post. But, most of it went like this:

E: (in the bathroom tossing his cookies) You're supposed to say "Good job Evan!"

C: Good job Evan....

E: (in the bathroom tossing his cookies)

C: (rubbing E’s back)

E: Stop touching me!

C: Okay, I was just trying to help….

E: (in the bathroom tossing his cookies)

C: (NOT in the bathroom rubbing his back)

E: Where are you? Why aren’t you in here?!?! I need you!

C: Okay, I was just trying to stay out of your way

E: Hold me... Stop touching me!

The highlight of my day so far was probably the hour I spent with our SpotBot trying to clean red Jello vomit out of our carpets. (Note to self: Next time, limit sick kids to color-free liquids, no matter how convincing their “my tummy’s all better” routine is.)

Saint Gail arrived tonight and at this point, the kids are outnumbered. I have a bathrobe and a bottle of Purel. I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Bedtime Shenanigans

M: Okay, Evan time to go into your bedroom.

E: It’s too dark! I can’t see anything! I can’t see my Toofies. I need to see my Toofies!

M: Okay, I’ll turn your light on. There. Now, get into bed and I’m going to turn the light off. Let’s pray…

E: You need to start my music! Daddy always starts my music before he prays!

M: Well, I’m Mommy and I don’t start the music before we pray.

E: You have to!

M: I’m the Mommy and I get to decide. No music yet. Let’s pray…

E: I have a secret to tell Jesus.

M: Okay, go ahead…

E: I went to the doctor’s office today. It was so much fun. She had a truck. I REALLY liked that truck. Thank you for that truck!

M: Was that your secret?

E: Yep, let’s pray together now…

M: (Going through our evening prayer)

E: You forgot to pray for Sophie! Let’s pray for Sophie…

M: Okay…

E: Nonna is in Iowa? She just poofed right over there in her car? Poof! There’s Nonna! Poof! There’s her computer! All her friends said, “Nonna, we missed you thanks for poofing back to Iowa!”?

M: That’s right honey. Let’s finish our prayer… Amen. Alright, I’ll start your music now. Goodnight, sweetheart!

E: Look! I have a blanket mustache! I just pulled it up over my mouth, it’s a blanket mustache!

M: That’s funny Evan. Okay, goodnight. I love you. I’ll see you in the morning.

E: (through the blanket) Goodnight Mommy! I wuv you!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Celebrating a Year

We celebrated Lauren's 1st birthday this weekend. We had a great time with our family. I can't believe it has been a year already! Lauren is such a sweet blessing in our lives. Here are a few pictures....

Lauren's Birthday Cake

Opening presents...

A little sibling meltdown...

and a recovery...

Happy Birthday Sweet Girl!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Perhaps not my finest parenting moment...

We are thrilled with Evan's preschool program. We like the facility and the caring teachers and staff. We thought three things set it apart from other programs we considered. First, they have a solid learning curriculum. Second, they take the children on field trips regularly. Third, they offer sports and swimming classes during the day. As I said, we're thrilled with the program.

But, if there is a downside to such a well run program, it is that we constantly have a list of things to remember for the school. Have I paid for the field trip? Is today Spirit Friday? Does Evan have swimming lessons today? Is today Water Friday? I'm not complaining, this is simply context.

So, a few weeks ago the theme for his class was cereal. Each child was supposed to bring in a box of their favorite cereal. Honestly, Evan doesn't really each much cereal and he doesn't really have a favorite yet. As we were walking out the door in the morning, I remembered that Evan needed to bring in the box of cereal. I checked our pantry and there was one lone box of cereal on the shelf. All Bran. Evan reminded me that we needed cereal and I told him we only had All Bran. He said "All Bran? I LOVE All Bran!" Now he's never had All Bran. He has no idea whether he loves it or not. I offered that I could pick up another box and drop it off at lunch, but he insisted that he LOVED All Bran. So, I grabbed the box and we left.

When we got to school, he marched into his classroom, gleaming, carrying his box of All Bran. I was a little embarassed, but I was glad to have one less item on my to-do list. As the week went by, we got updates about cereal week....

Show and Tell: "I just wuv All Bran. It's de-li-cious. It's brown.. and crunchy... I wuv All Bran!"

Art Project: Crushed All Bran glued to construction paper. Want to guess what crushed All Bran looks like on construction paper? Not pretty.

Cereal Party: All of the children in the class got to try Evan's FAVORITE cereal. According to the teachers it was one of the more popular cereals at the party. Well, that, or they knew I was swamped and wanted me to feel better about my maternal shortcomings.

So, here's the kicker. A few weeks after cereal week, I saw the special cereal week craft project on display outside of the classroom. All along the wall were pictures of the children on the cover of their favorite cereal boxes. Froot Loops, Cheerios, Fruity Pebbles, Wheaties, Apple Jacks... And then there was this:

My son on a box of All Bran. The maternal misstep that JUST WON'T DIE. I doubt he will forgive me for this if he finds this blog post in 10 years. I would like to be a perfect mother. But honestly, I am more likely the mother who sends her son to school with a box of All Bran. And when I saw this, I laughed. Hard.