Just Some Things

I can’t believe it’s already mid-October.

Dylan and I celebrated our eighth anniversary on the eighth. <–That sounds surreal.

Nellie is going to be a tiger for Halloween, we found a cheap second-hand costume from Old Navy that is super cute and will be so warm and snuggly–both points that fit the bill for this North Dakotan mama. Dylan and I are still working on Ada to agree to be a tiger trainer/circus trainer. We may have ideolized (I just made that up) so well that she’s unsure she wants to be someone who’s “so mean to animals” and that “animals are meant to live in the wild and not do tricks.”

We’ve picked up our “Eat the World” Challenge again and are trying to at least get through the “Bs” before the end of 2013. Right now we’re planning our Brazilian meal and combining it with another new dinner theme (apparently, I really like theme-y things, well actually, I always knew that)–movie nights. Movie nights we watch a movie together as a family and eat dinner at the same time and have cutesy foods to match the characters/setting of the story line. The girls love it because it’s so against the grain of eating together at the dinner table. Anyhow, Brazil will be combined with movie night because we checked out “Rio” at the library this weekend and thought it would be a fun tie-in. The girls will be boggled. Minds will be blown.

Work is going great–it’s been busy up to my eyeballs but I continue to love it just as much as when I started. I’d consider myself one lucky ducky in that realm.

Dylan is half-way through his student teaching at one of the highschools in town. It’s been hard to juggle the schedules but  I guess it’s boot camp for when he graduates and becomes a teacher of his own domain. Word on the street is that he’s doing pretty awesome, but that’s no surprise here. (I can hear him rolling his eyes now. Literally, hear the movement.)

Ada has started kindergarten and she’s a rockstar. Learning her letters and phonics, she’s so excited to read. She’s been coming home with little “I Can Read”-type books and showing off her new sight-word skills. I continue to be amazed at the collective knowledge she’s gained in such a short period of time, what happened to my baby?

AND speaking of babies (no, not that), my Nellie’s one month or so away from turning 3! THREE?! In honor of the occasion she has chosen to have a “Kung-Fu Princess” themed birthday party. Thankgoodnesstobetsy for Pinterest.

Ufta.

And then there’s this whole shutdown business…

Maybe that’s a good place to stop for now.

Fear not, I will be back.

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Monday Meal Plan on Tuesday *Again*

I’ve got some big news…

(NO. I am NOT pregnant.)

I got a promotion!

This is mostly why it’s been so quiet around these parts, I’ve been trying to keep it on the DL until a bit closer to my start date, but I just can’t resist anymore. Plus, we’re due for a “Monday” meal plan.

I will still be working with New Americans but now, instead of the Employment Specialist, I will be the Resettlement Coordinator for the Grand Forks office. I.am.STOK.ED. (<–So stoked I had to separate that last word into two. I know, party animal.) So instead of focusing mainly on employment for clients, I will be overseeing my sub-office (LSS is based out of Fargo), completing assurances, finding apartments, working on community relations & giving presentations, writing grants, etc. It’s a big step, a big promo for me, and I can’t wait to start.

I’ve been training on and off throughout last week and my first day will be Monday, March 18th. (It’s getting SO close.) Then after that I have a relatively quiet week to situate myself into the new position before all the conferences barrage my spring schedule (Building Bridges, LIRS/EMM—luckily for me they’re doing a tri-agency conference this year so I don’t have to worry about being gone for 2 weeks, and NDACP). It’ll definitely be a “jumping in” experience but I’m looking forward to it (anticipating it gleefully, even…there may be something wrong with me).

This change also means we’ll get to see a bit more of Dylan, which the girls and I are exceptionally excited about. Instead of being gone Thursday-Monday every other week, we’ll just be Daddy/husband-less for Saturday-Monday. Much, much, MUCH more manageable. And since this is the weekend that he works, I’m excited to see how much quicker it will pass by since it’s only three days now…

“Monday” Meal Plan 3.4-3.10

Monday 3.4
D: Tacos (because we have a ton left from Ada’s party)
Tuesday 3.5
D: Eat the World: Bosnia and Herzgovina …Seriously. We’re actually going to make it happen tonight.
Wednesday 3.6
D: Coconut shrimp soup w/cilantro
Thursday 3.7
D: Nellie & Dylan will be on their own as Ada and I will be in Fargo getting fitted for dresses for my cousin’s wedding.
Friday 3.8
B: Pancakes (I typically freeze leftover pancakes every other week that I make them so that I can use them as quick and easy breakfasts/snacks. Put 1-2 in the microwave for about 40 seconds and they’re good to go.)
L & Tea: Ada will be at Grandpa Terry’s
D: Pizza Night!
*Extra*
Feed Brucie and mix up a sponge for Sourdough 1.
Saturday 3.9* Happy birthday Sheilaaaaaaa!
B: Rhubarb cream cheese strudel
L: Peanut Sesame Noodles
D: Birthday dinner for Sheila @ Texas Roadhouse
*Extra*
Mix & raise Sourdough 1 & mix up sponge for Sourdough 2.
Prep the scones to bake tomorrow morning.
Sunday 3.10*
B: Birthday scones for Sheila
L, Tea & Dinner: Terry & Sheila’s House
*Extra*
Bake Sourdough 1 & Final raise Sourdough 2 (bake Monday morning).

Eat the World 20: Bolivia

Last Wednesday we sampled the cuisine of our 20th country on our Eat the World adventure. If you are wondering, we did indeed skip Bhutan but will be coming back to it later next week.

Bolivia is a South American country surrounded by Peru, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Brazil. While Dylan or I have never been there,we were familiar with the cuisine and culture since we lived in Ecuador for a year. In fact, looking through the pictures and answering Ada’s questions brought back a flood of fond memories such as this:

Rainy season fun.

And this:

Alabanza!

And this one too:

The square.

Basically, Bolivia brought so many memories still so fresh in the mind, and it’s been eight years past since our time spent there. EIGHT years. I can’t believe it. Bolivia was indeed a nice reminder of our old home.

At the time I was planning this meal I think that I was feeling a bit industrious, much more so that what I actually felt last Wednesday, so we ended up limiting my four piece menu down to two. I think that the avocado salad would’ve been pretty delicious but it was just one extra step and I don’t think that it would’ve tasted outrageously different than anything else we’ve ever sampled. I’m still a bit sad that we skipped out on baking the Cocadas (coconut candies, think macaroons), so I’ll probably attempt those sometime later this month just for fun. We’ll see.

The two recipes that did make the cut were Aji de Lentejas con Sarsa (Lentil stew with salsa) and Saltenas (Meat and potato hand pies). I opted to cut the stew servings in half because I wasn’t sure the girls would eat it…and I was right, except that Dylan and I definitely could’ve eaten more than the small bowls that it made. Ah well, proxima vez. It was a fairly simple, quick cooking stew (due to the lentils) and a great vegetarian option. I’d make this again for sure. You can find the recipe here.

The saltenas were a LOT more work. Dylan and the girls made the dough while I prepared the filling. Ada and Nellie loved the dough part because they got to play with their own piece of it. Rolling, shaping, squishing, all that good stuff. They were good, but I’m not sure that I’d remake these. They were just really large and quite dense. I’m a bigger fan of Ecuadorian (think crispy-fluffy fried) and Argentinian (think flakier-more pie-crust-like) empanadas. When the saltenas cooled they were like light dumbbells. Big, heavy, and SUPER filling. You can also find the recipe here.

I think the general consensus was that dinner was good but that it wasn’t necessarily something that we would repeat again out of craving. The stew might show up again because it’s cheap, healthy, and light…but if I’m going to put a lot of work into something, I’ll make mandu or biryani or something much else.

And just a fun video to round everything out: 

Picture dump in 5…

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Monday Meal Plan (on Tuesday)

I’m not sure how I fell behind since I only seem to blog on my “gimmicky” days lately. I feel stuck in a rut when it comes to blogging lately and everything other than pictures or food seems to be mundane. I’m hoping that our Belize post later this week for Eat the World helps to lessen that fog but I’m not honestly all that confident. So…we’ll see.

Dylan’s home this week so I get to play with a few more “daring” recipes than if it was just me and the girls (since they generally won’t be convinced to eat it by just myself). Ada’s been chomping at the bit to “eat a country” since we re-booted last week with ETW, so that makes me happy. I’m hoping it’ll pull her out of this everything-is-icky phase we seemed to have begun.

Has anyone else had that issue when their kid(s) started daycare/school? Ada used to eat anything and everything we put in front of her, albeit not peas, but pretty much everything and now that she’s eating lunch at school turns her nose up at things she used to love. I know this is a developmental stage too but it’s driving me near bonkers. Especially when I’m really trying to plan out meals and provide a variety of foods for them to taste. She already has to eat what’s on her plate, we offer a small amount of anything new or things we know she doesn’t necessarily like just so she can keep trying it. Do you have any other tips or tricks to help with this? 

OH, and on an AWESOME note, one of my BFFs (seriously, I still use that term) is coming to visit me in early August!! She is flying into Fargo with her husband and going to spend FIVE days with us. I am over the moon!! Hopefully the weather will be beautiful and we’ll spend time at the lake and just putzing around town together. This summer is gearing up to be epic!!

Bert and the girls on the beach a year and a half ago...too long ago.

Bert and the girls on the beach a year and a half ago…too long ago.

Me and Bert. She loves me for me, can't you tell?

Me and Bert. She loves me for me, can’t you tell?

Bert & The Hubs with her Goddaughter.

Bert & The Hubs with her Goddaughter.

Monday Meal Plan : 1.14-1.20

1.14 Monday

Dinner: Leftovers

1.15 Tuesday

Breakfast: Homemade granola bars

Dinner: Salmon w/crispy edamame and lemon souffle pudding cake (Ada’s been dying for a dessert lately)

1.16 Wednesday  

Breakfast: Granola w/yogurt & honey

Dinner: Fully loaded baked potato soup w/crisped sausage

*Extra*

I made a sourdough starter last weekend and I’m hoping to try baking with it this night. We’ll see how it goes. It is still nameless which I hope to correct shortly as I want to hand it down to my girls someday (yeah, I’m cheesy like that). 

1.17 Thursday 

Breakfast: Cereal w/fruit & milk
Dinner: Eat the World: BENIN

*Extra*

Apple cinnamon scones from King Arthur’s recipe files. These can be made ahead and popped into the oven for a fresh brekkie…I’m in. 

1.18 Friday 

Breakfast: Apple cinnamon scones

Tea Time: Ada will be at Terry’s…

Dinner: Dachtler Pizza Night!

*Extra*

Peanut butter cup popcorn. The girls missed their Daddy mucho this past week while he was working, so I think, barring anything pressing that may come up, we’ll have a movie night. Shut ourselves in with some Red Box/Netflix, good pizza and popcorn, and just veg out together. My favorite kind of family time. 😉 

1.119 Saturday

Breakfast: Pumpkin cranberry waffles w/Cool Whip. Cool Whip? Yes. Cool Whip. 

Lunch: Beer cheese macaroni. I’ve been wanting to try this for quite some time…here’s to hoping it’s delicious!

Tea Time: Assam w/milk & sugar and fruit snacks

Dinner: Spiced black bean, avocado & goat cheese tacos

1.20 Sunday 

Breakfast: Granola & almond milk/leftover scones

Lunch, Tea & Dinner: @ Terry & Sheila’s for Sunday, although if we come home for dinner I’ll make caramelized mushrooms & dumplings. I saw this recipe and my mouth instantly started watering. 

Monday meal plan

Yesterday we spent the morning at church and skating with some friends. I wish I had some pictures BUT I was too busy enjoying the moment with Dylan and the two monsters. I’m proud to say that Ada did AH.sum. (ß I apologize for the overzealous use incorrect grammar, I got excited.) Seriously, she did SO well and both Dylan and I were so proud. She started off shaky as expected but gained so much confidence as the minutes ticked by and, did I mention this earlier?, I was and am SO proud. I am looking forward to many more years of Sunday mornings and evenings, week days and nights (you get the picture) of enjoying this pastime together.

So without further ado…

Monday Meal Plan : 1.7-1.13

1.7 Monday

Breakfast: Granola w/almond milk

Dinner: Belize (Because to be honest, last week’s meal plans pretty much flew out the window due to friends, dinners, and life’s general happenings. Stay tuned for pictures and a review of our meal as I am determined to get back on track for Eat the World.)

*Extra*

Bananananananananannanana bread because those bananas aren’t getting any younger.

Make x2 sour dough loaves for dinner tomorrow.

1.8 Tuesday

Breakfast: Bagels w/cream cheese

Dinner: Corn chowder with sourdough

1.9 Wednesday  

Breakfast: Granola w/yogurt & honey

Dinner: French onion grilled cheese sandwiches & salads

*Extra*

Fresh apple cake with caramel glaze.

1.10 Thursday **

Breakfast: Cereal w/fruit & milk
Dinner: Mexican-ish crock pot chicken tacos. I saw this floating around pretty rampantly on Pinterest and have decided to finally try it out. Wish me luck and maybe it’ll be a “Pin Win” on the next Pinteresting post.

1.11 Friday **

Breakfast: Toast w/butter, bagels w/cream cheese & juice

Tea Time: Leftover cake and assam w/sugar & milk.

Dinner: Homemade pizzas, toppings which will include: pepperoni, green olives, goat cheese, tomatoes, basil, and copious amounts of cheeses. My mouth is watering thinking about it.

1.12 Saturday **

Breakfast: Easy raspberry strudel. It’s so nom nom nommy.

Lunch: American goulash. Dylan’s gone so we can eat whatever we want! XD

Tea Time: Peanut butter honey milkshakes & pretzels

Dinner: Apple braised chicken w/basmati. This looks so good and I want to make more of a dent in the freezer goodies.

*Extra*

Buttermilk cookies w/caramel frosting. Which I will taste test with a huge, steamy mug of coffee while the girls nap. Mom win.

1.13 Sunday **

Breakfast: Maple bacon and apple baked French toast w/juice. I may even bring this over to Terry & Sheila’s for a surprise breakfast since she probably won’t read this. 😉

Lunch, Tea & Dinner: @ Terry & Sheila’s for Sunday

Christmas was, Christmas is

Christmas was…

Lovely and well-fed.

Filled with warmth.

Blessed in all ways.

Peaceful and joyous.

Christmas is a reminder of…

The sacrifices given.

The beauty born from healed scars.

The preciousness of life.

The amazing husband that loves me.

The perfection hiding in our imperfection.

I didn’t take many pictures of our week-long whirlwind of Christmassy happenings. Instead, I chose to try to stay in the moment, savoring this holiday and this time together as a family. The regular updates on Sandy Hook splashed across the televisions and on the radio were a morbid, albeit succinct reminder to enjoy the moments given to me with the littles. So I hugged them a little tighter and repressed my disgruntled-too-many-presents-I’m-drowning-in-wrapping-paper attitude a bit longer.

It certainly wasn’t without its bumps and frustrations (and I am infinitely glad that Dylan is as patient as he is). I’ve struggled with whether or not to write about it, it doesn’t seem very Christmassy or seasonally joyful but I think that, just in case there’s one other person like me out there, that I will. Because as much as I love Christmas and as much as I loved spending it with my family, this Christmas was probably the hardest one I’ve weathered through. Because this was the first holiday that I have celebrated post miscarriage.

I hate that word.

Every gift that I opened, every token of love and goodwill from family and friends, was a brief reminder in itself. No onesies, no blue or pink, no congratulations, no baby toys or books or invasive questions or belly touching. Just piles and piles of dolls, play foods, and coloring books. All of which I am very thankful for, and yet, my heart can’t help but twinge a bit at the lack of joy over the coming of a new life. We would’ve been telling people now about the pregnancy. Maybe even Pinteresting a clever manner in which to reveal the news. Facebook posts, blog posts, Instagram and Twitter…

All silent. Save for a Happy Christmas here and there.

I’m struggling to find words to explain my general dourness this Christmas season, which hopefully had enough Santa facade for my girls not to notice, so that I can continue on this journey of healing and growth. But it’s hard. Way.Hard. Hard enough that I’ve been mulling over this post for quite some time and still, after hours of deliberation, are at a loss for words. Which is a strange realization since I felt that I had dealt with the majority of my grief earlier this fall upon hearing the news. Apparently not. Apparently it takes time and continues to hit you in waves days, months, years? afterwards. So much grief for a life never fully realized.

And though I know this matters naught to you, know Mommy and Daddy love and miss you in the fullest sense. Happy Christmas little one.

Weekend with the cousins

This post isn’t completely about the cousins, I have to admit. This weekend was…full. Truthfully, I’m not sure what other word would best describe it. Maybe I’ll just explain in pictures, I think images are often the best descriptors when words fail anyhow.

Ada and Nellie were reunited with their cousin-BFFs, Lael and Lucy.

@ Grandma Sheila's house.

@ Grandma Sheila’s house.

My Grandma Sue was welcomed into the arms of God on Saturday.

Grandma Sue, the way I remember her as a child, at the lake cabin.

Grandma Sue, the way I remember her as a child, at the lake cabin.

Nellie contracted another round of pink eye and was kind enough to share with Dylan again. We’re still on the fence as to when/if Ada or I am going to get it.

Waiting at the ER for pink eye drugs on Sunday morning.

Waiting at the ER for pink eye drugs on Sunday morning.

I labeled and packed up Ada’s suitcase for her big Florida weekend adventure with Grandpa Pete. (And yes, you did read that right. The Florida trip has been postponed due to recent events and will regain excitement steam this spring when Mom speaks again in March.) There’s just a couple of other things I’ll have to throw in last minute tonight to send with.

Packing for Mayo, again.

Packing for Mayo, again.

And I packed suitcases for the rest of us for our week-long trek to Rochester/Twin Cities.

There is a prayer service on Friday and then the funeral will be on Saturday. I was asked to sing–weddings and funerals. Times for family to come together and celebrate but utilizing different emotions. Meh.

Prayers, I’m sure, would be appreciated.

Christmas Decorating

We spent a laid back Sunday putting up the few Christmas decorations that we own. Ada and Nellie were ecstatic about the Christmas tree and had a blast hanging the ornaments. It’s always fun for me unwrapping the ornaments and remembering the little stories behind each one. Hopefully, someday, both girls will be able to do that with all the ones that they’ll have collected throughout the years.

I didn’t take many pictures of the house because frankly, the kids and the tree are the best things to look at anyway. 🙂

I’m thankful for…

Day 21: I’m thankful for flowers. Beautiful ones of all kinds of shape and size, smelly and fragrance free, colorful and simplistic, and especially ones like these, that my Dad brought up when they came for Nellie’s birthday. I’m cheap when it comes to “disposable” items like flowers, but truthfully, they’re such a nice reminder that someone loves you and they certainly brighten the cold winter months.

2 dozen pink roses from my Dad for us girls.

Day 22: I’m thankful for Ada’s teacher this year. Ada loves school and I can’t help but think that this correlates somewhat directly to the woman who is in charge of her classroom. And after parent-teacher conferences, I’m even more sure that it’s Teacher Zeljka’s patient firmness that has helped her to hone in her impulsive sensitivity and to grow more and more into the little person that she is.

Day 23: I’m thankful that Thanksgiving, though not as awesome as it could have been, was still pretty darn good. I still was able to see some of my family, and even though I couldn’t make it out to lunch, Dylan still brought me back a plate loaded with stuffing. I had time off with my sickie girls, time to leisurely decorate and prepare for a birthday party, and time to celebrate Nellie’s 2nd year of birth. (Nellie actually turns two this coming week but Dylan will have to work that day 😦 so we celebrated early.) Thanksgiving is still, and will always be, my favorite holiday.

Day 24: I’m thankful that Dylan is a morning person who is willing to drag himself out of bed to get the girls’ started and allot me a couple more minutes of precious sleep wakeful rest.

Day 25: I’m thankful for home videos. I’m not sure that’s what they’re called anymore since most of ours are camera videos and uploaded to YouTube  but nonetheless, I’m thankful that I can look back through them and be reminded of what it was like then. And to be reminded that I am so, so, SO blessed.

Day 26: I’m thankful for Christmas decorations and Christmas music. There will be more about this tomorrow, but just know that the holiday season truly puts me in a festive mood.