Wednesday, July 29, 2015

9 Things Every Mom Should Have in Her Kitchen

I made the mistake a while back when my sister-in-law introduced me to the "wine and goldfish" combo that coffee would be equally as good with said goldfish. Can we please just chalk that up to some sort of "mom brain" or something? It. Was. Terrible! So two weeks ago (yes, I'm a terrible blogger and need to blog more often so I don't say things like "two weeks ago") I watched my nephew, Isaac, while my brother and sister-in-law were in South Carolina for a romantic getaway...they paid me in coffee because they know me so well.

It was a good weekend, though it had some crazy mixed in. Everyone kept telling me that it was practice for #3 but I kept telling myself that #3 comes in the form of a baby...not a three year old boy. Big difference. Regardless, it was a good weekend that resulted in this coffee which I highly recommend! I'm drinking it now, thank you, Hannah.

Drinking my coffee got me thinking about a conversation that I had with Marty the other day when he said that I should write a blog about the top 31 things I keep in my house that every mother needs...which I thought would be fun and crazy all at the same time because let's be honest you all probably need nothing of what is in my house; but I also figured that Marty is paid to be an Internet guru so I should listen to him.  However, I'm the mom who runs all over the house so I adapted this, thinking it would be fun to have a mini series of lists (because who doesn't love a list? and how in the world could I pare down my whole house to 31 items?) about some must-haves in our life. I hope you're in for the long hull my friends...we'll see how this first post goes considering it's not even nap time and Judah is already playing with the knobs on the let's start in the kitchen.

1. Coffee:

Do I even need to explain the usefulness? Make sure you have good mugs, and really that just means big.

2. Water bottle:

I would love to meet a mom who's toddler hasn't "dropped" aka thrown something in their water cup or their baby hasn't tried to drink out of it and it goes everywhere...maybe it's just my kids. I prefer this one because it closes up nice and tight...though I hear they are breakable...what can I say, I like to live on the edge.

3. IPad:

And by IPad, I mean Netflix. Again, need I explain? We don't have a television but I love being able to put on a quick show if I'm prepping dinner or trying to get the bills done...and of course rainy days go by much quicker with shows in a 900 sq ft apartment. We're going on a mission, start the countdown...

4. Quality Utensils:

There are a few things I don't think you should skimp on and one of them is a quality spatula. My sister-in-law got us this one, by Kuhn Rikon for our wedding and we love it so much we actually bought another one so if, for some strange reason I don't do all the dishes, we have a back up. Another utensil I always have on hand is a coffee scoop...I'm terrible at guessing...and it would be a bad day if my coffee wasn't strong enough. Lastly, for me I would say I always need to make sure I have a good set of measuring cups on hand (again, thank you, Hannah).

5. Cast Iron:

Get a cast iron skillet if you don't have one. They are better for every one's health than nonstick and cheaper than All Clad (though, if you have All Clad, I still think you need at least one cast iron).  I love Lodge because they are affordable and you can beat the crap of out of them and they are still perfect!

6. Snacks:

Because sometimes dinner is snacks.  I love making sure Marty and the kiddos get good solid meals, but some nights Marty works though dinner and the day is just long...anyone feel me? So cooking goes on the back burner (my puns are amazing). Marty jokes that we only get kids snacks for the house now, and looking at this list, I would say he's spot on. We keep goldfish (not to be paired with coffee), Snackimals (not a bad pairing with coffee), cheese, grapes, coco lite pop cakes, cereal, applesauce, Annie's bunnies and Clif kid z bars in our kitchen at all times.  That sounds like a lot and now I feel like I should pair that down...

7. Hand Lotion:

I keep it on hand (haha) because what mom doesn't have sandpaper for skin with all the washing she does? I am a huge fan of Palmer's cocoa butter, and for some reason I always end up buying the kind for stretch marks because of habit (I guess) and who knows maybe hands start getting stretch marks at some point.

8. Frozen Girl Scout Cookies:

Okay, I don't actually have these in my freezer right now, but I kinda wish I did. Thin Mints make my heart melt. I always thought if they were frozen I'd eat them slower but....moving on

9. J.R. Watkins:

I love, love, love these products!  We use it for dishes, hand soap, and all purpose cleaner! It's plant-based and all natural which is a big deal for me when I'm cleaning with little ones. 

I'm sure there is a lot more than nine, but Marty told me to keep it small or make it huge...and I don't have time to write 101 things down, or no "go big or go home" for me today...I'm home so I think I lost by default. I'd love to hear what some of your must haves are, so I can add to my list (because I have a ton of room to play with....).

Now, I am going to sit and twiddle my thumbs while I wait for my polka dot box to come in the mail...why does it seem like mail takes twice as long to be delivered when you see that the status is "out for delivery"? I suppose it doesn't help that it's so rainy and gloomy out that I have every light on in my house, which is probably the reason why we use 74% more energy than our energy-efficient neighbors...oh well...

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Babies change your world...

There's a newsflash for you. I know, I know, you say of course babies change your world, but let me tell you a few ways they've changed mine…

Eating: Don't get your hopes up. I used to love sitting down and enjoying a wonderful, HOT dinner. Homemade, a little gourmet, and leisurely. We used to have things like Italian meats and cheeses from Trinacria, paired with crusty bread and wine. Oh wine. Now I pair wine with fish, a specific variety of fish, you may have heard of comes in an orange and white box and tastes like cheddar cheese, and raised farm fresh from Pepperidge Farm. Ring a bell? Goldfish, yes. Let me tell you, my sister-in-law turned me onto something that I wish she wouldn't have.  Eating goldfish while sipping wine...I know, I know it sounds so classy. Considering that, in reality, my sister-in-law is the epitome of classy there is some irony here. But the combo works, trust me. And it beats eating cold dinner that has been rewarmed a million times. Trust me here, skip that and head straight for that box of goldfish, just do yourself a favor and don't open that box of wine. It isn't worth it...unless it's a Bota Box...then go ahead.

the Best
Weekends: What?! People sleep in? One day last week the babies slept in and it was glorious! They woke up at 5:45.
Yeah. That's what I thought too.
hair buns are a must with curly hair
Mass: I used to go to church early to get some extra prayer time in., if we're on time, we're lucky to make it past the Our Father before sneaking into the back with one of our more charismatic children, who may or may not be speaking in tongues...she shall remain nameless. 

Grocery shopping: I think Marty and I might have fallen in love grocery shopping together. It was so fun walking up and down every aisle deciding as we went what to buy. Now this is how we roll... (literally) 
Wegmans car-carts save lives
And if it doesn't have a coupon it's not getting in the cart and snacks in the cart happen and a detailed list with aisle numbers is a must. In and out my friends. 

Style: I like to think in my early days, I was something of a trendsetter.  Okay, maybe not, but I knew what was in and I'm out...out...out. Maybe someday I'll be back in, but not likely. Hey, it's not like I'm wearing turtlenecks and jumpers. We just won't be breaking out the two-piece for a while....

I could go on and on, it's now a potty, not a toilet, it's a tushie, not a butt, we don't use words like shut up, or damn it; we water down our apple juice and try to avoid rounded objects that cause choking. I don't think I can sleep without a white noise machine...but the biggest change to date is my joy. 

I cannot imagine a day where I wake up and I don't see two of the cutest faces God has created. I cannot imagine a day that I don't hear squeals of laughter and the Curious George theme song being sung and danced to. I cannot imagine a day that diapers don't need to be changed, and meals don't need to be rewarmed. I cannot imagine a calm bath time. I cannot imagine a day where I don't snuggle two littles to sleep and stare into their angelic faces. And I pray to God I don't ever have to experience that any time soon! 
Memphis is always lurking in the background
Again, Memphis...
modesty people, modesty
Our life has changed SO much, and everything about it is good. Hard, but so good. I might not be the woman that I thought I was going to be when I became a mom, and that's okay. And whenever I start to beat myself up over something I can just go grab myself a glass of wine and some goldfish, that makes everything better...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

There and Back Again...

I feel like since technically my two littles are still so little this could be called a Hobbit's Tale but I've always been a little sensitive about my feet looking like those of a hobbit so we'll just leave it at the title.

A year ago today we were driving to Colorado, thinking that God was calling us to a new adventure...and He was; it just happened to be back in Maryland. Sometimes God has a funny way of helping us become holy. I'm sitting next to a certain little man who is eating Cheerios like he might run out and needs to store up for winter; and I keep thinking about how much we have been given in this past year.

To say this last year has been hard would be an understatement but to say that it has also been one filled with extreme blessings would be the truth. I think it will be many years, or maybe never, before I will be able to look at this year and only see blessings but that's why I'm not God. I'm certainly far from perfect. But I feel like maybe I'll be a little introspective and spend some time praying for those blessings to overshadow any of the trials.

I was a month away from my due date with Judah and we were driving across country with an 18 month old (G) and a dog (Memphis) that struggles with being car sick. A bad scenario for Marty. But shockingly we made it to Colorado in less than three days and I will solidly state for the rest of my days that Marty stopped to go to the bathroom more than I did! But the trip back was a different story because we had another human in the car, and that little human had to eat every 4 to 5 hours. And there was a different feeling driving for a second time across the country with our littles. But the in between and settling back in is where there are bittersweet memories. It was a hard year, I don't think Marty and I could explain it and I don't think anyone could really understand if we tried. So, I guess in a way this last year was about marriage for me. I look at this year and am so happy I married who I married. It was hard and we struggled (I think that for anyone who has had to change careers for their family knows it's a challenge) but we made it. And we just kept focusing on our family and our future. Our end goal was simple: to make the best decisions we could for our family.

We did and we were met with a lot of disapproval from family and friends but they didn't see our end goal, and we had to keep that in mind.  I'm sure to the outside world (and our "inside" world of family) we looked crazy and irresponsible moving our family across country twice, but I really was able to reflect on the story of Abraham and God calling him and his family out of their home and how he went, trusting blindly.  I'm sure we kind of looked like a nomad family...and there were days we felt like it too...but it was awesome to see (even during the struggles) God working in our family.  It was amazing to really be in a place where we HAD to trust God. One year made a huge difference in our family, I see that everyday. And everyday I am thankful for the Grace we have been given to live this adventure.

I know, I know...not such a lighthearted blog...but a good reflection for me.  And just in case you were wondering what my kids do while I sit introspectively...wonder no more...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

slap a diaper on cart

love the imagination of children! No, seriously when did we decide it was a good idea to make babies grow up so fast? "oh your child is 2 and doesn't know the alphabet and how to count to 50? wow they must be slow." I walked into our living room the other day to find my two and a half year old with diapers, wipes and diaper cream (thankfully with the top still on) all over the floor and she was putting a diaper on her shopping cart, one on each wheel to be accurate. I cracked up!

But I immediately started to explain that shopping carts don't wear diapers, and then I stopped. Why would I do that? Was it because she needed to know that shopping carts don't go to the bathroom? Was it because she needed to be taught that diapers go on some things but not others? Was it simply because this is not the way of the world? Why would I tell a two year old that her play was wrong? It wasn't hurting anyone or anything. Gabriella is going to spend way more of her years being an adult who lives in a reality that imagination doesn't thrive in, so why would I take it away from her sooner than it needs to be?

This is a soapbox I feel I could stand on forever. After becoming a parent it was very easy to fall into the comparison of my baby to others, and making sure those 'milestones' were hit on time or ahead of time. Because heaven forbid she not be up to par with those other drooling babies. After watching her grow and develop and having another one (baby that is) I realized that (newsflash) all babies are different and develop at their own pace.  What?!?!? I know, I know, it's a crazy new idea I'm trying out.

Gabriella sings and dances and helps clear the table, she makes her bed, she comforts her brother when he's crying, plays with her cousins, she makes pancakes and she talks...all. the. time....but just not always in English; and I can't tell you how many people, family, friends, strangers are constantly asking if we're concerned and if we've seen a doctor and my personal favorite: telling Gabriella she needs to use words (I grit my teeth every single time)...I feel so sad that she's already been put into a classification of being a "late-talker."  We have become so concerned with making sure our kids fit in, that we have lost what is so fun about kids...that they're little!!!

The possibilities are endless for them. I watch her play and I am astounded by how much she enjoys playing, just playing.  She learns constantly by watching, I don't have to make everything a "learning activity." She cooks in her little kitchen because she's watched me cook in our kitchen, I didn't need to show her how to stir a bowl of pancake batter, she knows how because she has watched, etc, etc.

I know that stay-at-home mamas can relate that the days can be long with little ones who are always on the move, but every single night (even the sleepless ones) I look at my two blessings and I think about how fast they will be grown up, how fast they're already growing up and I'm perfectly at peace with where they are in their development and I am imperfectly thankful for these long days that I am so blessed to be having with them.  They will be gone soon...and then a shopping cart will just be a shopping cart...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

It's a feast day miracle!!!!

We are going to take a break from Lent today, and say "hallelujah, Jesus has been found!!!" A few months back my mom sent Gabriella a little nativity set that consisted of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. G loved the little baby Jesus so much she took him everywhere with her, and lo and behold before long He was missing. I searched high and low for this little baby, because every time G would see the empty manger she would bring it to me and say "gone?" very sadly. Today, however, on the feast of the Annunciation, when we celebrate the "yes" of Mary, I was walking out of the bedroom and stepped on little baby Jesus. How in the world did little baby Jesus end up on the floor outside of my bedroom? I've been looking for Him for months. 
He is now safe in this bowl, and G is ecstatic!
The family has been reunited. A miracle, I tell you. 

On this note of finding Jesus, I really believe that we don't always find Jesus, He finds us. He takes us right where we are and brings us back to Him, wherever we need to be. I don't think that our mama Mary was necessarily seeking a visit from the angel. But our Lord found her and drew her right to where she needed to be to say "yes" to Him. I hope I can say "yes" to Him often, everyday, in fact (I just hope He doesn't plan on reminding me He's everywhere by me stepping on Him first thing in the never sounds good when you say you stepped on baby Jesus). 

I hope you have a happy feast day. I hope you have cake, or ice cream, or if you're like me a giant cup of coffee, followed by a large glass of wine. I hope you do something that reminds you of how blessed we are to have a perfect model of a mama, who constantly is showing us the way back to her Son. We take a break out of the season of Lent to celebrate, so celebrate! 
"O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee"

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bowtoons and Chocolate Chips...

Parent of the year signing on for the first time in a couple of months...I know you all missed me. Happy first day of Spring, happy snowy first day of Spring.  Seriously??  Have we not enjoyed the snow enough?  I guess not.  I am the worst mother ever because I hate taking my kids out in the snow...I mean hate it.  Which often results in extremely hyper littles later in the day.  So I do laps with them around the living room/kitchen. It also doubles as my exercise some days.  And I need that exercise because of this which I am currently getting ready to try right now.  Don't judge me, I know it's Lent...I also know that I will die if I don't have coffee, and that would be super tough on Marty. So go with me here.
okay we're ready...

Gabriella has been obsessed with Minnie's BowToons for awhile's so funny how incredibly girly she is sometimes.  I love it.  When she cuddles down for a good BowToons marathon she always asks for chocolate to love a girl who knows what she needs.  But in all seriousness we have been working really hard to simplify our lives this Lent.  So not so many BowToons and chocolate chips...and it is HARD with kids to really live simply and actively pray through the day. But speaking of a girl knowing herself a fantastic priest friend of mine told me that the key to holiness is knowing yourself, and knowing that "your self" has changed since becoming a mother. This could not be more incredibly true. There are a lot of days I berate myself for not "spending time in prayer" when in reality I DO spend a lot of time in prayer but my prayer looks much different now that I am a mother.  And I have to not only accept that but embrace it.  My Vocation went from "wife" to "wife and mother" and that is a beautiful thing.

So prayer is different, life is different, and right now my coffee is different, different and delicious.  I mean, seriously, when has Ree ever steered us wrong?  I am going to continue to try this Lent to live simply, Marty and I have talked about a million (or maybe 20 things) that we could of them is not using the stove on Fridays during Lent.  Which is much harder than I thought it would be...but reminds us that there are so many people who don't have hot meals...and I know I sound all preachy and you're thinking to yourself that I'm drinking hot coffee with butter in it but hey, we all have to start somewhere, okay?  Living simply will be different for everyone because, let's be honest, motherhood looks different with much as I aspire to the Pinterest mama, it might not be in my immediate (or extended) future.  But doing the best we can with what (and who) we're given is exactly what God calls us to.  Some days that is a marathon of BowToons and some days it's making sure that my babies get out of the house...God calls us all to our own holiness and as long as our eyes are on Him, it's the best path we can that's that.

In the meantime, I am going to research the evils of foam play mats and their alternative so I don't end up killing my kids...geez is there anything easy out there?  I mean come on, I just need to stop reading altogether I think.  But that's another soapbox for another I just need to drink my coffee and embrace my Vocation....

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