A Step

Wednesday afternoon. 1:55 P.M.

I know lots of moms were doing the same thing I was doing. Transferring wet to dry, thinking about folding to putting away and maybe a little Ellen on deck with some dishwasher loading.

For some reason, nap time, as relaxing as I want it to be, stares me in the face with guilt. Like this long ‘to do’ list that I really only care to get done so that when Scott gets home, it will look like I’ve done something other than write, plan play dates and plug into social media outlets. I have an image of me in heels, wearing my green gingham ruffly apron I’ve only worn once, leaning over to pull out a roast while the kids sit at the table with combed hair, holding milk in their clean hands. The house is spotless and when I smile my teeth sparkle.

Well, sometimes I wear green? Does that count?

Anyway, this guilt. Grouse, right?

So, it’s nap time. I walked with reluctance into the bedroom, ready to get down and dirty with 4 large and very separate piles of just my laundry. I was kind of, sort of picking socks up off the floor, half staring at the monitor, maybe even pacing a little bit, fresh with a little anxiety of whether or not I am going to get a 2 hr or a 3 hr nap from the three upstairs. (Vegas odds around here.)

The haunting begins; laundry, dishes, picking up weird brown mashes of banana in odd places (toddlers really can hold food in their hand, undetected, for 2 hrs+) and deciding whether or not to get out the cutting board and actually prep fruit for snacks, rather than open a bag of “fruit snacks”. The problem is, those snacks alway come 5 in a box. Who does that work for? Make it 6 and we would all be square, especially moms of three’s.

And then it dawns on me, these aren’t real problems. Over my lunch I read a post by Glennon Melton on her suffering with Lyme Disease. And then I read an article about 4 local moms that have found support in each other after giving birth to children with Down Syndrome. And I think of hungry people out there. And hurting people. People that are sick. People that just want a baby – I mean, have you seen these woman rocking real life baby dolls because they could never have children?? So much bigger than my struggle to use up the odd number of fruit snacks.

I started to think, who am I to keep telling myself I’m not enough? That I’m not doing enough? Life is so FULL and sometimes we just need to remind ourselves it is OK to just be. To be more and do less. To accept the dirty laundry will never be done. To realize the kid’s hair will always look like uneven pieces of shag carpet. And to acknowledge nap time can be peaceful, should I choose it to be.

I read this quote by someone on Twitter the other day: “Be careful how you talk to yourself. Your soul is listening.” (unknown)

I decided that since I get really overwhelmed by anything more than a small task (meal planning stops at 3 days max for me or my chest tightens), I would break it down. Scott’s advice he learned from his mama; just break things down and tackle them. So, since I know I will fail at big things (the TWENTY FOUR day cleanse was just asking for me to fail,  I went to a DMB show 6 days in, you would have failed too), maybe I can succeed at small things. So, I am going to try positive self talk in 15 minute increments, just for today. To do all those things I always preach about, but to refuel my mind every 15 minutes so I stay afloat in my quest. It sounds easy, but boy can you derail in 15 minutes.

Using self talk, 15 minutes by 15 minutes – I am trying to say, “It’s OK and I’m OK”. Taking a deep breathe into my belly, holding it, and then exhaling all the unnecessary chatter until my belly feels soft and relaxed. “I am right where I am supposed to be. I am good. They (kids,hubby,other people I somehow manage to worry about) are good. Everybody is good.”

(Or your own version of positive self talk. You would be amazed at how much more exhausting the positive self talk is at first…when you are used to saying negative things like “I should be doing laundry. The kids were a mess this morning. I am so tired. I don’t want to make dinner. If I could only get the house clean…”)

It’s that theory: The conscious brain can only hold one thought at a time. Choose a positive thought. (lulu manifesto)

Maybe you can do the 15 minute challenge. Maybe you need an every 3 minute challenge or possibly you are an advanced self-talker and you can last an hour without mental alignment. Today, or for the next hour, try to switch your thinking around, one minute, or one step at a time. It helps me, it really does. (Keep in mind, I am a BIG FAN of talking with truth about the junk in your head – getting that crap OUT so it’s not holding any power IN. But sometimes, just sometimes, we need to talk nicely to that inner woman that actually believes she can do it all even though “all” requires a 27 hour day. It’s confusing. It all started when women had to push a watermelon out a hole the size of a grape. You just can’t always do the impossible.)

Maybe today you can take your 1st step. And then maybe tomorrow you take your 1st step again. That’s OK too. It’s a step. One step (or 15 minutes at a time).

 

 

Tuesday Taste – Food Safe 4th of July from Stacie Vetor

I really do love the kitchen, I promise. The kitchen just doesn’t love me right now. So, in order to keep the Tuesday Taste dream alive, I’ve been getting by with a little help from my friends.

Today my help is from a friend from the “underground” (it’s just a triplet mom support group, but it starts to feel like we should have a secret code because we pretty much all just get it.) She not only has triplet girls, but a super big brother too!

Summer means getting together with friends and family, after a day at the lake or pool, and digging into delicious grilled meals, fresh sides and sweet desserts. The community and culture offered by food are things we all treasure – starting as early as we can remember back. But for kiddos (or adults) with food allergies, these seasonal festivities may be a little less than barefoot and carefree.

Stacie has had her share of working around food allergies (for children) – including gluten, dairy, eggs, soy and corn. Below she shares some tips and seasonal recipes that are fun to try for the 4th of July for any kids – allergy or not! Her contact information is included at the bottom and she would be a great help if you or someone you know is dealing with food allergies!

Meet Stacie Vetor and be nourished!

Birthday parties, cookouts and picnics add excitement to the summer, but for kids with food allergies they require a little extra planning. Independence Day is around the corner, so here are some tips to be sure your kiddo can enjoy a holiday full of fun treats just like everyone else. 

At our house, only one of my four children suffers with food allergies but it definitely throws an added amount of work into our meal planning.  We are going to start our 4th of July with these cute American Flag toasties courtesy of BeDifferentActNormal.com.  My recipe will include 1 piece of toasted wheat bread that contains NO CORN SYRUP (substitute with any gluten free bread as well). Then, spread on a thin layer of cream cheese (which is an easy step to skip if you are cooking non-dairy) and organic (corn free) strawberry jam.  Finally add your blueberries and ½ banana slices to create your stars and stripes!  This will be a fun way to begin your holiday as a family and also provide an opportunity to talk to your kiddos about what Independence Day is all about. 

 

Before you leave for the day be prepared especially if you are attending a parade or cookout with friends and family.  Any 4th of July parade will be raining candy.  If corn is an allergy for your child, pack some of his safe candy snacks.  Almost all candy contains some type of corn product.  Allow him to catch candy and participate but trade him his bag for your premade bag of safe treats.  Surf Sweets are always a good option for kids because they offer corn free gummy bears, gummy worms and jelly beans.  (Currently, Aldi stores are carrying Florida’s Natural Nuggets, which are typically found at Target.  These are corn free and gluten free fruit snacks.  Definitely a hit in our house.)  

 

When it comes to cookouts you can’t expect others to be aware, or cook for your child’s specific allergies, especially if they are hosting for a crowd.  If the cook is not used to watching labels, chances are something will get into a recipe that you would not feed to your child.  So be cautious.  It’s OK to pack a meal and take to a cookout or gathering.  Hamburgers are typically safe but skip the cheese, ketchup and bun.  For corn allergies, avoid marshmallows, jello dishes and anything with powdered sugar or Cool Whip (unless made from heavy whipping cream.)  Depending on your allergy, read labels at the event if bags of chips are available or premade salads like potato salad or macaroni salad.  A great tip is to always sign up to bring a dish that your child can eat and make it a side or dessert your kiddo likes.  That way when he’s tempted with all the goodies, he’ll have a safe go-to option.

 

I have found that homemade is always better than packaged foods when it comes to allergies.  I can make almost anything and avoid adding corn syrup or corn starch unlike the manufactured food.  For example, I will be making a corn free fruit pizza with red, white and blue fruit similar to the Toasties.  The only alternative to my festive red, white and blue fruit pizza will be homemade sugar cookie dough.  That way I can guarantee there is no corn in it.  The cream cheese, sugar and fruit will all be safe for my son.  

 

Best wishes to your family for a food safe 4th of July! 

 

Stacie Vetor
Mama of an amazing boy and triplet girls
Blog: vetorfamily.blogspot.com
Email: stacie.vetor@gmail.com

 

PS: We have struggled with food allergies since 2008.  Previously we had to avoid gluten, dairy, eggs and soy.  In 2011 a new test indicated Ryan had outgrown his allergy to gluten and dairy (so it is possible) but developed a new, more severe allergy to corn.  I am always available and open to talking with other moms who are struggling to find good substitutes for their children.  We’ve tried just about every product on the shelves and are amazed at how certain stores are really stepping up to the plate to support these diets.


 

 

What NOT to do

Well, to answer your question (if you even asked the question), yes. Yes I have been hiding under a rock. A rock buried in 83 pounds of sometimes cuddly but mostly temperamental toddler bodies. (Kind of literally.)

So, I started this post a week ago and am extending myself grace for just now posting it. It happens. You know what happens – that kind of happened last week. With that said…

When you have 18 month old triplets – this is what you should NOT do:

Eighteen Wheelin’ Around Here

1) Don’t start a 24 day cleanse .

A cleanse your hubby wants to do, and not do alone. A cleanse that requires you avoid caffeine, sugar, wheat, dairy and alcohol. (Yes like wine is not allowed). BUT, according to marriage laws and covenants – his cleanse is my cleanse and when my sweet loving (sweet on me and sweet on sugary cereal) hubby asked me to do this with him, I had to refer to line item #126 of our marriage: Thou shall always support the cleanse. Ouch. Even when it hurts so bad. In case you are curious, we chose this one: Advocare 24 day challenge.  Our nanny is a rep for this company and we had heard good things from lots of other friends about this one, so here we are, on day 4. (I may be a cheater on this one, shhhh.)

2) Don’t plan a garage sale.

Besides the retail hour logistics of sorting, stacking, pricing behind the scenes and after bedtime, the belief that I am emotionally ready to rid of all things baby is CRAaaaaaZY. Swimming in piles of untouched totes from the storage closet – compiled of swaddle blankets carrying the lingering smell of newborn, plaid shorts your son wore when he first sat up alone and matching sweaters your girls wore when they were kicking freely into the air from those velvety bouncy seats.  For some, this is probably a healthy and normal turn of events. Your kids grow up, your kids need new things. You sell old things. You buy new things. And the world goes on.

Good for you, sensible women of the world that know that a blanket is a blanket, not the living proof your child, now big and sticky, was once small, soft and swaddle-able. You probably even believe that a onesie is just a onesie – not a walk down memory lane that may just start breathing if you hold it long enough on your chest.

See what I mean? Craaaaazy.

It ends up resulting in the following: a good ol’ Come to Jesus Panic Attack. (This deserves a post all of it’s own. Post to follow…stay tuned in the coming days, still trying to digest that one.)

3) Don’t get poison ivy.

A few day ago, I had developed what looked like either a flesh eating mutation of the skin or a case of chicken pox in a 31 year old…(see above for panic attack). Turns out it is poison ivy. Turns out the panic is and was the mutation.

4) Don’t go swimming with the following ratio - One Me: Three them.

Granted, we met my dear friend Tracey and her mom at the pool so they could help – but have you seen 18 month olds move? (Tracey’s hubby is kind of a big deal - which makes her even more of a big deal for being home, 8 months pregnant with a toddler in 95 degree heat, while he travels/races.)

I learned an 18 month old turns into a faster, more wobbly and in some cases less scared version of themselves in a pool. Even a one foot baby pool. In a nutshell, I saw all three of my precious toddlers go face first in the 1 foot baby pool and will never, ever shake the images. When we left the temp on the car had spiked to 104 degrees. My blood pressure had spiked even higher… we love you Tracey, but next play date: dry land.

5) Don’t Wish away the days.

I don’t know who said it first, but I say it a lot, “the days are long and the years are short.” Somedays I can’t catch my breath as I dodge the crying, the whining, the leg pulling, the meal planning, the keeping three alive-ing.  I often to start to drift off in my mind, thinking how easy it will be when they can talk more and need less. What will life be like at ages 4, 9, 17?? Then, I remember…those swaddle blankets, they came and went in a flash. And now I sit here, physically trying to breathe in the smell of the memory – even the parts that weren’t so blissful. I almost ache for their little blow-out pooping, meek crying bodies, all swaddled up, laying on my chest.

So much is happening now – the sweet, the sour and the other s word. (Use your brain.) This is happening now – and I really don’t want to wait until they are starting kindergarten to know how sweet it is.

Maybe I’ll just lift up Gracie’s little rompers and bows and thank God she twirls around in them every morning and night, coming for cuddles and giggles in-between. And I’ll lay out Harper’s chewed on shoes, that are always too big for her narrow pitter-patter quick feet and say a little thank you for her energy. And snuggle up to Quinns giraffes, his constant night night friends that calm him down, only 2nd to his mother and give praise for that sweet little man.

So for today, I’ll try it again. I’ll learn from my heavy heart. That indeed, the days are long and the years are short. I will try to soak it in. Eighteen months in all it’s glory, panic and near drownings.

And I’m slowly, but surely, making my way out from under the rock…for today.

Tuesday Taste – Quick Summer Snacks by Laurinda

You know you how you meet some people in your adult life and think, “Oh yeah, duh, we are friends already – you’re just too cool/funny/normal/not normal like me –  to not be my friend.”

That’s Laurinda. Gymboree brought us together and our six kids under three keep us crazy and sane. She is so Martha (Martha Stewart) but won’t admit it. But when we get together for play dates, let’s just say my kids always have snack envy.

6 toddlers in one place you ask? Snacks. Snacks. And More Snacks.

Meet Laurinda and enjoy some of her quick and easy Martha snacks. I know the egg recipe has changed my life already!

Do you have a quick summer snack you love? Please share in the comments!

Guest post by Laurinda Oliver 

Ahhh old trusty Toshiba laptop. I have not seen you for the past 3 years since the first rugrat made her appearance. Here I sat thinking, if only I had an ipad I could sit and watch House (DVR version so I can skip the ads) while writing for Kristin’s awesome blog and eating my dinner at the same time. Then my rusty old brain cogs started turning and I thought, huh, I have that old portable thingamagig down in the basement somewhere I could dust off and type on. And you sweet thing you went ahead and started up just like I hadn’t ignored you for 3 years. Kinda like an old best friend you have lost touch with, we picked up right where we left off (although I did have to reset your date and time, just like old friendships…). In no particular order here are a few recent highlights.

So this morning started on a positive note. I was still asleep at 7 am when I heard bom bom bom bom, ”Mommy!” from upstairs. Still I actually showered before all 3 unleashed their list of demands and desires for the day. I even got to brush my teeth after I showered as C wanted to brush hers. So as I put the regulation mini dot of toothpaste on her brush she decided to be helpful and put paste on mine. Well, as it turns out , the tube of zinc butt cream looks exactly like the tube of toothpaste to an almost 3 year old. Lucky for me I realized it before it made it into my mouth and in an unusual twist, I even had a new toothbrush in the drawer (otherwise I would have had to choose between trying to scrape off the butt cream or using someone elses toothbrush. Both highly questionable.)

So eagle eyes spotted a sanitary pad in the bathroom and asked, “Whats this?” The best explanation I could come up with at the time was “It’s a special nappy for mummy”. To which she replied “a big one for your big boppum?” Yes…. Yes it is for my big bottom.

I was so proud of her yesterday when she heard ‘ob la di ob la dah’ on the radio and said ‘that sounds like the Beatles”!!!! Thanks to my Mum for teaching her some music culture!

It seems like life revolves around feeding the gang, cleaning up after they smear and toss their way through meals and snacks and of course dealing with the end product. So to make the last job more interesting I like to try lots of different foods just to see how they look at the other end….

Here are a few snacks that are popular around our house:

*Snack cup ‘trail mix’*

 

 

 

 

Mix together small animal shaped cheesy crackers, small graham style crackers in cute shapes, craisins or raisins and small freeze dried yogurt drops. This is our basic blend but you can substitute any of the ingredients for other current favorites (cereal, freeze dried berries, unsalted pretzels etc). It makes me feel like at least there is the opportunity for them to eat something different (although normally the crackers get eaten first). I make it to order, in the cups daily, as they tend to stick together if you leave them in the cup longer than a day. Keeps small people busy for around 30 min at a time and works great at filling in all the crevices in the stroller/carseat.

*Peanut Butter Bites* courtesy of Leslie Babione

Ingredients:

2 graham crackers

½ cup creamy peanut butter

½ cup powdered sugar (1/4 cup works fine too)

1 tablespoon of honey or agave

¼ cup shelled sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons craisins or raisins

 

Place 2 graham crackers in a ziplock bag. Use hands or a rolling pin to crush crackers (awesome job for kids!). Pour crumbs in a pie pan or on a plate.

Mix together peanut butter, powdered sugar and honey or agave. Add sunflower seeds and dried fruit.

Roll mixture into small balls then roll balls in cracker crumbs. Chill in refrigerator for one hour. Eat and smear in your hair.

 

*Speedy microwave egg omelette*

This is my ‘go to’ recipe for a fast protein snack, breakfast or dinner. It works great for my short people and travels well in a plastic container for outdoor meals. It is also one of my favorites as it is the perfect size for a homemade ham and egg muffin/ sandwich.

Basic recipe in a 2 cup pyrex glass container whisk together 2 eggs and a ‘slosh’ of milk (approximately 3 or 4 tablespoons). I just use a fork to whisk. Place in microwave and cook on full power for 2 minutes. It should puff up to the top of the container then collapse when you take it out. Check it is cooked underneath by peeking through the bottom of the glass. Run a knife around the perimeter and tip out onto a plate. Cut into bite sized pieces for short people and allow it to cool or leave it whole to place in a sandwich.

Additional ingredients can include; salt/pepper, cheese, chopped ham, parsley, peas or anything you would throw in an omelette or scrambled egg. If it doesn’t look cooked on the bottom, microwave for 30 seconds extra then recheck.

One egg takes one minute to cook, 2 eggs 2 min and 3 eggs around 2 min 30 sec.

Makes a great tactile toy, missile and hair conditioner as well.

I have tried to make it in bowls/mugs and it comes out OK but by far the most consistent results seem to be with my trusty pyrex bowl.

Hope you and your kids enjoy some of these snacks!

L SAHM to C (almost 3yrs), I and Ch (almost 18 mths) xxx

Guest Post – Scott Hackman, Father’s Day Letter

I married a man I thought would love me unconditionally (like, a few pounds gained here and there), play with my hair at night and that would always cheer for my dreams. I sort of kind of considered what it would be like to have his kids…but really, the playing with the hair thing was higher on my priority list at age 25.

It wasn’t until we were in the delivery room and I heard his voice crack when he heard that first cry did I know….

just what a gift it would be.

To watch a father be born.

I adore this love letter, written by my husband, to our children. I loved experiencing the emotion of Scott compiling his “father story” even more. I realized as a mom, we always get to tell our birth story amongst circles of other moms, our “this is so emotional for me to pack up baby clothes” story and our “I cry at every wedding now because I see our mother/son dance already” story.

Daddies? They are asked to show up on time for dinner and help load the van on Sunday mornings.

I realized asking Scott to put together and share his father story was also a gift to him. One that will last for our kids to treasure.

Maybe you can start a new Father’s Day tradition – a gift for the special Father in your life to “get out what is in.” Just tell him to write from his heart and to write to those babies (babies classify as 2 months or 2 years or 2 decades.) No matter what it says, it is a perfect Father’s Day gift for everybody.

Meet my husband and father to our Quinn, Harper & Gracie – Scott Allen Hackman.

My Dearest Quinn, Gracie & Harper!

 

I thought I might take a minute to Thank You for letting me be your Dad!

549 days ago you came into this world and changed my life (for the waaaay better) forever!  I don’t think I realized the void I had all these years waiting for you to make an appearance and boy, did you ever make a grand entrance (15 nurses in the delivery room) on 12/16/10!  I am only one man with one opinion, but I am convinced you are the best babies in the world (no disrespect to other babies)!  Good sleepers, good eaters, unbelievably cute, too funny, smart, well-behaved and so on and so on and so on….  …Thank You!

I try to remember the day I realized things would never be the same (Driving home from the hospital with no owner’s manual comes to mind)!  To date I have changed just under 3,000 diapers and never once would I have wanted to be anywhere else (maybe a few times)!  To date I have made just under 2,000 bottles and loved making every one of them (except when Queen Gracie needs hers warmed up)!  To date I have given just over 5000 hugs and kisses and can’t wait til the next! To date I have missed being with you EVERY minute I am not with you (Although teething time isn’t so great).. …Thank You!

 

My dark days get brighter when you are near!  My good days get better when you are near!  My crazy days get crazier when you are near!  I make myself let you sleep in the morning even though I can’t wait to race up the stairs to see your first big smile of the day (my favorite time of the day by far)!  Just when I think you have done something so sinister (Harper – dumping her plate on her head every single day), you make me laugh and remind me of all of your innocence (big, deep hugs can’t hurt).. …Thank You!

 

For each of you there is something that I think about when I am away at work!  Quinn – your giving nature makes me believe you will be a doctor (Of course after your football career)!  Harper – your energy level (the pitter patter of your feet on the floor makes me melt) makes me believe we are raising a soccer star!  Gracie – your laid back attitude and positive vibe makes me know Grandma McKean lives on in your spirit!  For each of your many strengths and talents.. ..Thank you!

 

Most of all I want to Thank You for allowing me to be your Daddy, knowing it is ok to make mistakes (as long as we learn from them) and continue to grow as a family unit!  For all of these things and more.. ..THANK YOU!

 

 

Most IMperfect Perfect Last Minute Father’s Day Gift

I am not crafty. Scott will say “You’re a good cook,” with inflection in his voice and shrugged shoulders when I attempt laundry or ironing or crafting.

So when I decided it would be best to capture all that is age 1 1/2 in the shape of a crafty gift for Daddy, I should have just stopped there and called the golf course for a gift card.

Still, I powered through, really wanting to somehow get a body appendage recorded next to one of those cute hand or feet poems that make me break up inside every time I read them. (I mean every time).

Here are some of the poems I found: Poems for Handprint or Footprint Kid’s Crafts 

I chose to use this one:

Sometimes you get discouraged
Because I am so small,
And always leave my fingerprints
On furniture and walls.
But every day I’m growing,
I’ll be all grown up someday,
And all these tiny handprints
Will simply fade away.
So here’s a special handprint
Just so you can recall,
Exactly how my fingers looked
When I was very small.
–unknown

I had to refer to my craft specialist for guidance on how to execute this project. My sister-in-law, Katie, has crafts running through her blood. When I asked for help and direction, without hesitation, my desire turned into “easy” steps with a bag full of the supplies I needed being sent home with me…from her well stocked craft cabinet. I don’t have a craft cabinet, let alone “A” craft to necessitate an entire craft cabinet. (Wayne’s World , anyone? OK, it was funny to me.)

So, here is what I wanted: A picture with the poem and three sets of handprints beautifully placed like a wreath around the poem. Easy for some. Not for me.

Here is what I came up with … should you need a very imperfect, perfect last minute Father’s Day idea. (My friend is doing a similar picture with feet…either would be cute. Not any easier, but just as cute.)

Disclaimer: Totally laughable I am giving craft instructions. I feel like I’m teaching someone French on the basis I went to France one time. I am stepping out of my comfort zone, so you can too. You’re welcome.

Supplies:

11 x 14 (JoAnns had 50% off all canvas, so I bought a double pack for mistakes, and used both. Could have used a 3rd…)

Tempera Paint bought at a school supply store (I had a time figuring out what is safe for the babe’s hands but will also stay on canvas. I just went with washable tempera from The Learning Store since everything they make is non-toxic . The washable part is already the best idea I’ve had all year – as I stare at the kitchen side wall full of paint splatter.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modge Podge

Foam paint brush (looks like sponge on end)

Tissue Paper

Thick printer paper

Permanent Marker in a fun color

Here is how we did it.

1) We need to get the poem on tissue paper so we can modge podge the poem to the canvas. (It will appear to just be printed on the canvas. Sort of…in my case.) We do this by taping tissue paper onto thick printer paper and print the poem on the tissue. Since you know, tissue can’t run through a printer.

I cut out the tissue paper to be just a little smaller than the 8 1/2 x 11 printer paper. I carefully taped the edges to the paper and ironed the tissue on the paper to take out any wrinkles. The tape can be flat on the paper, as the poem will only print on a small area in the middle of the page. Just make sure the tape is flat and not sticking up, so the printer can run the paper through. Now we are ready to print the poem on the paper. (Make sure you make poem big enough for the canvas but not so big it won’t allow handprints. My font was set to 22 and was a little too large for 3 hands, but still worked out OK.) You can test with normal printer paper to measure against canvas. I printed the text in blue.

2) Now, you cut a box around the poem and take tissue paper off printer paper. All you need is the tissue paper. Don’t worry about perfect edges, it blends into the canvas.

3) WAIT a few hours and let print dry (maybe 1/2 a day or a day if you can. Mine still smudged after a day) before you modge podge on the canvas.

 

 

 

 

 

3) Using foam brush, dip in modge podge. “Paint” a box around the size of the poem in the middle of the canvas, or wherever you want to place the poem. Just make it “sticky” where you want your poem to be placed. I did my first one at an angle so I wouldn’t have to worry about centering…but then it was too large for the hands. Wherever you place it will look fine.

4) Now once it is placed and free of as many wrinkles as you can smooth out, dip brush back in modge podge and brush over poem to seal to canvas. Be gentle as the ink smears easily. Mine smeared … but, I ended up being OK with it. Remember, the imperfect gift is the new perfect gift. 

 

 

 

 

5) Now the fun part. Once the modge podge is dry – get the kids suited up and ready to dip and stamp. I put them in their little art aprons (Baggino brand – these were a gift from my friend Cathy and they are great for spaghetti nights and art dates) and we were off. I put them in their seats at the table and laid down old towels and gave them each a foam paper plate. This kept the other 2 occupied while watching the 3rd baby in action.

I squirted a little paint on one plate and let Baby 1 dip hands in the paint and practice stamping on another plate. (I should have practiced more, but I was working against the melt down clock).

I moved down the assembly line and everybody got to stamp and play a little in their paint. Only a few sneaky licks and tastes! Hooray!

6) For clean up, I moved canvas and paint out of the way and had them all dip hands in a big bowl of warm water. This kept their attention, as they love any chance to splash in water. And then – off to the baths we went!

7) Final touch on the canvas: took a Sharpie and wrote Father’s Day ’12 and then wrote the names of the babies in the order of their handprints. I wrote them clockwise with arrows, matching the handprint “wheel”.

8) I haven’t done this yet, but I read it is good to seal the art. Hmm…back to the craft closet at sister-in-law’s for this…

As we finished cleaning our hands in the water bowl and admiring our art, “Jesus Loves Me” came on. (The Kids music is great on spotify - its guitar and banjos mixed with sweet crooning – we both like it around here.)

We (I) sang “Jesus loves the little children…red and yellow, black and white – (smeared and green and dripping red) …Jesus loves the little children of the world”

And felt pretty darn full thinking of gifting this memory on canvas to Daddy.

The canvas is SO horribly imperfect (look closely where I smeared an entire hand off to start over and where the red and green dripped because I’m smart and propped it up to dry – don’t prop up to dry).

But the memory of the doing, this season and this Father’s Day is PERFECT.

Go Daddy Go, It’s Your Big Day.

 

 

My Bucket

Remember when you were little and you would suffer from little kid puke episodes, like little kids do? And to nurse the situation, your mom would place a bucket next to your bed … just “in case.” We must have not had buckets in Leo, Indiana because I always got a brown paper grocery bag. I still get a little flash of woozy when I fold up a big brown bag from grocery shopping, recalling those days of childhood bedside nursing.

I have this issue. I’ve always had it, but it’s on speed now, in my thirties and with three kids, a husband and a big world of scary things waiting to show up on my doorstep. It’s the theory, if I’m worrying and festering about it, it will be OK – like the night guard at a museum with one eye open- on watch for the unexpected. Making sure nothing shatters. My worry, alive with glory, will save my circle from evil. Or so I choose to believe, with heavy shoulders and an aching back.

So even when I go do things for myself like get a massage, go to yoga, go to church or just hang out with friends, I often let the watchdog mentality creep in.  And you better bet that the gift of being still and in the moment is robbed right out of my hands while playing with blocks with my children or eating a rare dinner out with my husband.

Here is what usually happens.

Intention: “Here I am! I am in this moment, at this time to do ‘_________’. My mind is centered and my actions match my intentions and my thoughts reflect the moment. I am present.”

Reality: The list. The list starts to be listed. The never ending, OCD list of to-do’s. (You know the one.) Or, I hear a story about another child that is sick or a family tragedy and it scares me and chills me to the bone, placing my mind in a place of impending doom. Or, I think of a good memory or time and place and leave the present moment, wishing or dreaming myself into a perceived better arena. Or the guilt piles on for being in that very spot, at that very moment – whatever that spot is. Or in general, just a speedy cycle of thoughts on repeat – often hitting a speck on the CD and just skipping…rrrrr,rrrr, rrrrr (that’s my song skipping, you know that.) The boxing match in my head I often refer to is on. Like Donkey Kong.

These little voices are so distracting that I have had to implement this new rule. In case I’m not the only human being to ever experience this havoc, I decided to share the rule.

The Bucket Rule. (Or a brown paper bag, if you were born in Leo.)

When I am having trouble being present at this or that activity or moment, I envision placing a bucket outside the door. It started in yoga one day. I was in class and just couldn’t get out of my head. I don’t remember the exact day, because this has happens so often it feels like a constant rather than the exception. And so, I had to actually tell myself, “Hey. You. Stop.” And more importantly than just stopping, I told myself this, “It’s OK you are thinking about this, or that or them – but for now, just put it in the bucket. It will be sitting at the door when you are done. Waiting for you, ready for you, right where you left it.”

The bucket dumping gives me permission to have rambling ridiculous thoughts while also offering a gateway of escape.

And this works fine and dandy for other things outside of yoga. When I feel guilty for not being present, I back it down, tell the guilt to “go stick it” and I get out the bucket. Accept it and keep moving.

I got myself out of bed this morning at 5 am with hopes and dreams of a peaceful and powerful flow of hot yoga – bringing me to my knees in gratitude and pushing me to my edge of power. That was the intention. The reality; I got there, sat in the silent and inviting room full of breathing, half awake and slow moving bodies and went straight to the opposing team. To-do’s, worries and realities hit me from every downward dog, triangle and child’s pose angle. What was worse, all I could think about was shutting my eyes, rolling over in the fetal position and eating biscuits and gravy. Like, I could smell them. I don’t even really like biscuits and gravy – unless I’m pregnant. Then I like biscuits and gravy. And syrup. And donuts. (And see why I need the bucket?)

Sometimes I worry my bucket will be so heavy that I won’t be able to pick it up on the way out. If that’s the case…well, I probably really needed it. Today I used the bucket a lot. I picked it back up after class and it’s all back in it’s place – in the list, on my shoulders and in my gut. (I’m considering “using” one of those REALLY big coolers they have at Costco in the summer and maybe shutting the lid and letting it all sit there longer than just a class or dinner or outing- it’s in a cooler, it will be fine.)

I know what to do when I need rest. Rest from my own head. I get out the bucket…place it by my bed, or outside the door…”just in case.” Maybe you can use one, just in case, too.

When would you use your bucket this weekend?

 

photo credit:lushlee.com

 

 

 

Tuesday Taste – From my Dad’s Kitchen

photo credit:brightboldbeautiful.com

Since we took a week to celebrate all that is motherhood, I thought it only fair to shed a little light on Dads this week…leading up to Father’s Day this Sunday.

As an honor to my Dad for Father’s Day week – I am going to share some of his tried and true recipes. They remind me of him and are asked for time and time again. People request his pie for events, Scott almost waits by the door for his chocolate bread and I can remember coming home from college excited to eat “camper’s stew.”

Maybe you can enjoy some of these with your Father this weekend!

The Early 80's - the original instagram

Be nourished and don’t forget to honor your Father this weekend! Thanks Dad, We love you and this is part of your HONOR!

*Chocolate Summer Squash Bread*

Scrumptious squash bread like cake with chocolate and spices that
even the kids will love. It’s a great way to us up all of
those extra summer squash from your basket of vegetables! Seriously, when he brings this to our house, it’s like temptation island. It’s like cake that  you can feel good about eating …because of the vegetables, you know.

Recipe:
(makes 2   9×5 inch loaf pans)

-   2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened
OR chocolate (3 big tablespoons)
-  1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-  3 eggs
-  2 cups all-purpose flour
-  2 cups white sugar
-  1 teaspoon baking soda
-  1 cup vegetable oil
-  1 teaspoon salt
-  3-4 cups grated summer squash
(patty pan, yellow straightneck,  butternut squash or zucchini)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon                                                                                                                                                                                                                        -  3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

- 1 cup nuts (optional)

- 1/2 coconut (optional)

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly
grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans. In a microwave-safe bowl,
microwave chocolate until melted. Stir occasionally until
chocolate is smooth.
2) In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, grated
summer squash, vanilla and chocolate; beat well. Sift in the flour
baking soda, salt and cinnamon; stir to blend. Pour batter
into prepared loaf pans.
3)Bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a
toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf comes out clean. Do
not overbake.

*Concord Grape Pie*

My Dad is notorious for showing up with a pie in the summer. This is a very unique pie and would be great to take to a picnic in the summer for others to try. This recipe looks like a labor of love (slipping skins off grapes,hmmm?). But worth it for a special occasion. I don’t like to make pie and if I want one, I ask him because he seems to whip it up with no trouble. Also, my Dad just told me …legend has it, that this was actually my Great Aunt Grace’s recipe. I would guess her namesake, Miss Gracie Jean would devour ever last piece of this…

Recipe:

4 cups of Concord grapes
1 cup sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1½  tablespoons butter, melted
1 9 inch unbaked pastry shell

Instructions:    

Slip the skins off the grapes, set the skins aside.  Bring the pulp to boiling point, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.  Press through a sieve to remove all the seeds. Add the skins back.

Combine sugar, flour, and salt.  Add lemon juice, butter, and grape pulp. Pour into the pastry lined pie plate.

Top with a Crumb Topping:

Sift ½ cup flour and  ¼ cup sugar together.  Cut in 1/3 cup of cold butter, until crumbly,  Sprinkle over the pie.

Bake in pre-heated 400 degree oven, for 40 minutes.

*Camper Stew*

Dad & his friend Jerry "camping & stewing"

 

From my Dad: This is a “stew” that I first started making 40 years ago, while camping, It can be made many different ways. 

To cook this on a campfire, you need to start the fire before you start making the food. Use a harder wood, so you will get really good coals. You need an inch or two of coals to cook on.  You can use barbecue briquettes.

To cook in an oven, you need a big enough pan to hold all the ingredients You will cover it with foil. (A metal pan with lips on the sides works better than a glass one, because the foil can be folded over to seal better.)

Seriously so good. If you camp, it would be wrong if you didn’t make this with a campfire. It is a really cool memory for me as a child that “stew could come out of the ground!” I can’t wait to camp and make stew out of the ground with our kids.

*Recipe-ish* (can’t really mess it up)

Basic ingredients:  (vary amount of each, depending on preference)

Potatoes – 2 large – cut into pieces (I don’t peel)
Carrots – ½ cup, sliced
Tomatoes  – 2 – cut into pieces (or ½ cup of canned tomato pieces)
Corn – ½ cup
Peppers – ½ cup
Hot peppers to taste
Onions – ½ cup
Green Beans – ½ cup
Garlic salt to taste
Barbecue sauce, mustard, and ketchup to taste
Add ¼ water, wine, or beer.
And any other vegetable you like!
**Meat  – I normally use ground beef or beef stew chucks

**I normally first cook the meat in a frying pan, if made at home. When I am going to make this while camping, I cook the meat before I leave and freeze it

To cook on a camp fire:

Put all of the ingredients on a sheet of aluminum foil (12 inch wide, or wider heavy duty) – make sure the piece is long enough so it will hold all the “stew” when folded over.   After getting everything on the foil, fold it over and seal it.  To seal it, you must very carefully fold the edges together (line the edges up, fold over ¼ inch at a time, fold 3 times).  Press the folded area together very tight. Before sealing the final side, push the foil down, leaving room for it to expand.  (see pictures) If you do it right, it will swell up like a balloon when cooking. (if not, if will not swell up, and the food will burn!). Place on hot coals and cook for around 35 – 45 minutes.  It should swell up like a balloon (meaning it is steaming inside).  After it swells up, cook for 25 minutes or so.  See picture for ingredients on foil at a campsite.

To cook in the oven

Put everything in the pan and seal with foil.  Cook at 350 for 21/2 or 3 hours.  Remove from oven and carefully remove foil (steam will roll out!).  Mix up the stew and return to oven, with out foil. Cook until it looks like most of the extra juice is cooked down. Remove and stir again.  If not ready to eat, re-cover with foil to keep warm.

Father’s and campers all over the world need these recipes!!! Please share with your friends by clicking on your favorite share method below.

What is your favorite “Dad Recipe?” Thank you for sharing in the comment section. (Link at top of post)

 

Serenity

 

An oldie but goodie. I went to this prayer yesterday in the shower. I must have needed its words of warmth and lightness. Not because of the shower, but because of all the things that always keep me from the shower.

This prayer is a mix of confession, gratitude and most importantly, waving the white flag of surrender. To me, it is cozy to re-visit, like an old fuzzy hoodie from college you have worn around bonfires and keg stands. It is one of those poems you may remember where you first heard it, or who initially introduced the two of you. My first taste was from my best friend in Jr. High. She copied it down on a piece of pale pink lined stationary with a wobbly manuscript of pencil. I still have it, that piece of paper. It is a pirate’s treasure. Scott knows this poem because he grew up in an AA home. Not quite as subtle as a piece of pink stationary.

Glass breaks a lot in our home. This week it was a glass french press we received for a wedding gift. Usually it’s just a drinking glass, but the occasional meaningful piece sneaks in. When the glass breaks, it shatters so far. So, so far. It doesn’t break and make a neat pile. It bursts into a million little dangerous shards and slivers that hide under rugs and refrigerators for months, waiting for the perfect toe to snag. When I break, I feel like glass. I don’t just break in my own little spot, tending to the mess myself. I slowly explode and feel like I may hit everyone within throwing range with my emotional shrapnel. This typically happens around 4 pm, when the wheels fall off, no one listens and everyone wants held and the caffeine has worn off. Or, it happens at night, when I just can’t bear the thought of not knowing what the future brings. Or, it just happens; I break, for no good reason or rhyme. And the pieces spread far, making it hard to clean up and move on at times.

When I shatter and spread – I know the only thing I can do is surrender to the moment. To slow my breath down and soften my belly. To admit that the glass has broken and to recognize that sometimes it is my fault and sometimes it is not. Sometimes it can be fixed and sometimes it can not. The difference is in knowing the difference.

Which brings me to the Serenity Prayer. If you know this poem, enjoy the visit back home. If you don’t, it is my pleasure to introduce you. Serenity, this is my friend. Friend, this is Serenity.

 

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

—Reinhold Niebuhr

Tuesday Taste – Abby’s Thrifty with Triplets

Two years ago I was newly pregnant with not one, but three babies, and had just linked up to a local support group for moms of multiples. One of the first moms I met was Abby…mother to one little girl and two boys. My husband and I ended up visiting her house to buy her triplet stroller (the underground market place of the multiple mama world is fierce). Coincidentally, her triplets were right around 18 months at the time (we turn 18 months in two weeks). I remember a lot of bouncing and diapered bums running around. I couldn’t even fathom what their life was like as I sat there hot and sweaty from cradling my three in my stretching hips and belly.

Here we are…two years later. I am the one with the bouncing, the diapered bums and the running around. And the cool part is, these warrior moms in my multiples group, they are still a step ahead of me, reminding me, if they didn’t send them to the farm…I don’t have to send them to the farm. Support in motherhood is suggested…support in motherhood of multiples is mandatory.

Meet Abby. She, on top of working full time and raising adorable wide eyed triplets, manages to host a blog called Thrifty with Triplets. Below are three ideas from their busy house to yours. Enjoy and may your family, whatever size, be nourished!

Thanks for your visit! Please comment above if you have a favorite recipe you create with your family! (To comment, click on “leave a comment” under the title, located at top of post)

Trying to get one toddler — let alone three — to eat healthy is a challenge. If it was up to my triplets, they’d be eating chicken nuggets and fries for every meal. Of course, I am guilty of occasionally giving in and going to McDonald’s. But I really have tried to teach my children about healthy eating from a young age. I have heard many moms complain about not having the time to cook healthy meals. As mom of 3-year-old triplets, working outside the home (me, not them), I totally get this.

So what I do is have the triplets cook with me. Being part of the food-making process allows my children to understand what goes into their food and helps to develop pride in the final product. So, whether it is talking about ingredients as we cook them (“Carrots have vitamins that help us see.”), to practicing our numbers as we count cups of flour, cooking together is something we always enjoy.

Here are our three favorite recipes to make together:

 REAL Ranch – Every mom knows that ranch is a great way to get kids to eat their veggies. We love to make our own ranch.

Abby’s Real Ranch Recipe 

Blooming Garlic Bread – Okay, maybe not the healthiest recipe. But my kids love to paint, and getting to use mom’s special food paint brush is fun.

Abby’s Blooming Garlic Bread 

Skinny Monkey Cookies - No eggs, so batter licking is totally acceptable and encouraged. Plus, toddlers are really good at mashing food up, and that is actually a plus in this recipe.

Abby’s Skinny Monkey Cookies

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