7 Reasons We “Only” Have Two Kids

There’s something so beautiful and personal about a family dynamic, whether it be big or small.

Here are some reasons, (7 to be exact) we are a family of “only” two kids.

1) Two is a lot. Sure, three is more than two, and four is more than three, and five is more than four. But two is still a lot. One is even a lot. We are talking about human beings here. Humans, who for the rest of our lives will be intimately connected with us and involved with us. Read: Effort and selfless work. And joy and fun and laughter, yes, but effort and selfless work nonetheless. Just because some families have ten kids doesn’t take anything away from the fact that two is still a lot.

2) It’s okay to want two. I remember telling my therapist a while ago that I didn’t feel called to have a big family and I felt a lot of guilt about it, like I should want more kids. I mean, wasn’t that the “godly” thing? Shouldn’t I be selfless and sacrificial in this area to the extreme?

Women all around me were having more kids and it was difficult not to compare myself to them. Why could they handle more than me? Why did they want more responsibility than me? Was it a deep and telling deficiency that I had? Did it mean I had less love to give? So many questions and insecurities pop up when we compare ourselves to others. We are not everyone else! I am me and they are them. God made us different for a reason. I’m embracing the crap out of that.

3) Children are a lot of work. My parents had three more babies after I was in my teens so I spent a lot of time with amazing/hyper/sweet little kids all around me. Even being intimately involved in that beautiful chaos didn’t prepare me for the emotional, spiritual, and physical work that goes into each one when they are your own.

4) I know my limitations. I want to be of actual use to my community, my family, and my world. I want to have the capacity to foster children in the future or be children’s advocate in court (CASA) or maybe even adopt? I know if I continue to grow our family from my own body I will be tied up with little time and energy for anything else. I want to create time and space in my life to be available and capable.

5) I’m thinking about my marriage. Yes, having another child would mean more richness when they are older and even more grandkids for us to enjoy later (yay!!) but it also would mean more stress on our marriage overall. (See #3.)

It’s no secret that babies add stress to a marriage. The lack of sleep, the hormones raging and dipping, the fear of my baby suddenly just ceasing to exist. (Why do they have to be so fragile for the first few months??) And then there’s pregnancy…. I’m a tyrant when I’m pregnant, and that’s being gracious.

There’s something so sweet about having the time and energy for my husband that I simply wouldn’t have the luxury of if we added numbers to our crew. It would be there, under the surface, dormant and waiting to come out at some future time when things were calmer and the baby was older, but it would be pushed to the back burner. I feel like we have arrived in this area and it feels good.

6) Age is definintly a factor when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. I know I don’t take the term “advanced maternal age” lightly. (Geez, could they come up with a more flattering name for women having babies in their late thirties?? How about “overly-ambitious” or “glutton for punishment”?)

7) Labor: I just can’t leave out the obvious… I don’t want to go through labor again. I chose to do it all natural, twice. And both times were the most intense, incredible, empowering experiences of my life. And I have no desire to do it ever again! There are babies who are already on this earth who need someone to love and care for them. That can be meeee!

I’d love to hear your story!

XOXO

(Pictured: Michael and Brielle, ages two and four. Michael had a microscopic boo boo and was getting sissy’s sympathy.)



Bacon Wrapped Whole Chicken with Maple Herb Butter

Apparently fat really doesn’t make us fat after all?? Sugar does? Says this guy.
He’s adopted a keto diet over the past year and most of his calories come from fat. And somehow he isn’t blowing up…
(This picture makes me so happy. Rhode Island in summer!)

I love to cook chicken because it’s economical and I really enjoy eating it. But Brenden doesn’t like it much. Something about it not being “fatty” enough?

Well the other day I had a whole chicken sitting in the fridge and I knew if I roasted it and served it up for dinner I would get some “thank you”s but not a lot of “wow this is good”s. And sometime a girl just needs a “WOW”.

So I decided to wrap it in bacon. The best part of the experience was the kid’s reaction.

They were pretty amazed at the process:

“I’m not going to taste that. That looks gross.”

“Are you putting those carrots in its bottom?”

“Is it dead??”

They touched everything and loved it. And somehow we managed to not contract a foodborne illness.




Next time I will use twice as much bacon. I didn’t realize it would shrink so much!

I used a recipe from The Cookie Writer for a delicious maple syrup herb butter. I poured 1/2 cup beef stock into the bottom of a baking dish. stuffed the bird with chopped carrots (I cooked them again outside of the bird before we ate them) and doused the bird with the herb butter before we wrapped it.

The butter recipe:

  • 1 tbsp.fresh rosemary, chopped (I used dry)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped (I used dry)
  • 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper

The kids loved to mix mix mix and spread spread spread.

Then we wrapped it with bacon and baked it at 375 for an hour and 10 minutes. I turned it to broil and cooked it another 5 minutes to get the bacon extra crispy.

To salvage all the delicious bacon fat/chicken drippings I made a delicious out of control gravy to go over all of it. Not like a bacon wrapped chicken doused in butter needs gravy. But why not, right?

The gravy was super easy and rich thanks to the bacon grease!



Butter, drippings, corn starch, salt and pepper. Stir stir stir. It thickened right up.

There’s nothing like gravy with bacon grease in it. Oh my.

And bonus, I used the chicken bones and leftover meat to make a delicious chicken soup later. It was really rich and different thanks to the bacon flavor. Bacon bacon bacon. Sorry, I’ll stop now.

XOXO!



Slow Cooker Keto Chicken Tikka Masala

I’ve been trying to write this post for a week now. Life has been crazy with these littles. CraYzee.

(I chose this calm picture because it’s the exact opposite of how it’s been around here lately.) 🙂

I’ve been contemplating some big family changes that have my mind spinning on hyper-drive. I hope I’ll start to feel normal again soon? Probably not. I have a feeling I’m about to embark on a journey of weirdness and “non-normalness” like none other. Which has me saying “help” and “I’m excited” simultaneously. But back to the point of this post: FOOD!

I made this amazing Indian inspired dish last week and Brenden and I lovvvved it. I’m meal planning for next week and realized: it’s not on my blog! I love having all my favorites right here so I can meal plan somewhat painlessly. So into my arsenal it goes!

Let me tell you first: If you order Tikka Masala at your favorite Indian restaurant you’ll love this recipe. Like love, love. I found the recipe on ruled.me and made just a couple small changes. This is the first time I’ve made a Keto diet recipe!

The ingredient list:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. Chicken Thighs, bone-in skin-on
  • 1 lb. Chicken Thighs, boneless/skinless
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 inch Ginger Root, grated
  • 3 tbsp. Tomato Paste
  • 5 tsp. Garam Masala
  • 2 tsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 4 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 10 oz. can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream (I used full-fat coconut milk)
  • 1 cup Coconut Milk (from the carton)
  • Fresh Cilantro, chopped (to top)
  • 1 tsp. Guar Gum (I used almond flour)

I had no idea why they called for one pound of skin on bone in thighs AND one pound of boneless skinless thighs. It didn’t make sense until I saw it all come together. The boneless skinless thighs provide a lot of extra meat and the bone in thighs provide the skin that melts into delicious flavor and fat during the long cooking process.

It was a labor of love though, considering I dislike (okay, hate) dealing with raw poultry. I had to cut cut cut into skin and bone. And if a vegetarian is reading this I’m sure they are like WHAT…?? Yeah, it’s pretty gross when you think about it. Which I try not to do.

I cut all the chicken into little bite sized pieces. I used kitchen shears for the bone in skin on pieces. Which made things easier, but also potentially more dangerous. My hands were freeeeezing and I could have just taken a finger off without noticing much. So I used a different technique to cut the meat. I didn’t cut the meat like I would cut paper. Instead I held the scissors vertically, point to the cutting board, and sliced downwards. Again, labor of love! But the end result was worth the time. I had delicious Tikka Masala leftovers for lunch for a week!

After the meat was all cut up I put it in the slow cooker and grated a knob of ginger over the top.

Next I added the spices.

Talk about fragrant! This is what Indian food is made of. (And I did not buy the salt-free blend on purpose! But I made up for it in pink Himalayan salt, don’t worry.) 😀
Next I added this stuff.

I mixed well and closed the top of the slow-cooker.

I turned it on low for 6 hours. (You can also cook on high for three hours but there is something about the low/slow heat that works magic on skin-on chicken thighs.)

After it was done I added some more coconut milk instead of the heavy cream (the cream at the top of the can this time) and left out the Guar Gum and used almond flour as a thickening agent instead.

Michael and I made cauliflower rice to go with it.

He’s wearing a pair of swim trunks his friend Waltie just gave him. He lovvvvves swim trunks. And wearing them while cooking in January?? Why not.

The end result is so worth the time and effort and I can’t wait to taste it again!

Oh and don’t forget the Cilantro!

 

 

 

 

 



All Other Ground Is Sinking Sand

Watching Brielle deal with her Great Grandmommy’s death has been fascinating and painful. I’ll be be buckling her in her carseat and she’ll say, “Mommy when is great grandmommy coming back from heaven?” And I gather my resolve to answer yet another question. Because this one holds weight and consequence, un-like the previous five-hundred questions that morning. Well, except for this one:
“Is God shy?”
No sweetie, He’s all powerful and mighty!
“Well is He invisible then?”
No sweetie, (well, sort of?)
“Well, why isn’t He HERRRE then??”

But the Great Grandmommy question… She’s asked it before. And every time my heart breaks when I tell her, she isn’t coming back, we are going to see her… And she is so much happier where she is, with great-granddaddy… And Jesus… And will be even happier when she sees us!

Then with her 4.75 year old wisdom, Brielle continues…

“But mommy, it will take forever to see great-grandmommy then. I have to have white hair to get to heaven. And I still have to be a kid. And then I have to be a parent. And I’ll miss her so much until I’m old.”

And it cracks my heart in half and takes my emotions to a new heightened level that I didn’t know existed.

What do I say now? The words choke in my throat. They feel so unnatural as I speak them to her huge eyes staring back at me. I say some things out loud and I think some things internally, not even sure what I should say at all:

Just be happy and live your life and savor the memories of your great-grandmommy. Your heart will grow to feel this less and less as the days pass. Your life will take on so much adventure and excitement that it will pass by in a blink. And… Not everyone goes to heaven when they are old and grey. Some people go to heaven when they are young and half-way.

STOP.

That is the realization that caught in my chest last night as I lay in bed after a delicious day of loving on my babies. I’ve never feared death before. Well, I’ve feared getting caught in an elevator and flying on planes but I’m not sure I’ve ever thought the concept of “death” was as terrifying as the thought of being stuck in a metal box slash tube.

But last night I feared death. Hard-core and completely. Dark thoughts and crying. Because I wasn’t just fearing it for myself. I was fearing it for the little love of my life, who if I let my mind wander, would be sitting in her carseat asking whoever was buckling her in: “When is mommy coming back from heaven?”

The mind is a dark scary place. It is also a bright joyful place. I can choose to think thoughts that are life-giving or think thoughts that are depleting and paralyzing.

Last night I chose to watch the shows in my mind that were soul-sucking and depleting. And I couldn’t find the remote control to turn the channel. I remember doing this as a child too. Laying in bed, crying because my mom might die and leave me. Now I’m crying because I might die and leave my daughter. And I imagine her dealing with it. And it’s not hard to imagine, because I see how she’s processing her great-grandmommy’s death, and I add a trillion percent. And my soul and spirit and mind and heart get so spun up and out of control that I am shipwrecked on a dark shore.

Brenden lay next to me and told me “This isn’t healthy. You aren’t going to die. You are thinking the worst thought you can, and making it a reality in your mind.” Funny thing about anxiety, it’s not logical. So I keep crying.

I wish I had a recorder going for seventy-percent of our conversations. I would replay them over and over and write them down and keep them forever. Last night was one of those times and I can never do what he said justice. His words were balm to my soul. They calmed my spirit and I was able to sleep, the feeling of not being there for my baby in her darkest hour of need, gone.

If I allow anxiety into this area of my life it can and will lead down a destructive path. It will fester and breed, taking on new form and new depth. Anxiety is anxiety, no matter the flavor or category. This kind of anxiety is not somehow more honorable or courageous because I’m thinking about my daughter and her well-being. No, it’s still sin. Christ wants us to look forward in Hope, not dread and fear.

And only God is in ultimate control.

The pilot of the plane we will be boarding for Key West in March is not in ultimate control.
The driver heading toward me in the opposite direction going 60 miles an hour is not in ultimate control.
The doctors who care for me and try to keep my healthy are not in ultimate control.
I am not in ultimate control.
Control is a myth. No matter what I do to try to gain and maintain it, it is not attainable.

Only God is in ultimate control. And He wants me to find Freedom in that. And Trust. And Joy. Christ wants me to look forward in Hope.

This morning I sit here reliving all this. I’m having my coffee and feeling alive and refreshed. I feel a joyful surrender. It’s the kind of surrender that brings life and peace and is not of this world.

And I remember an old hymn that I haven’t thought of in years.

His oath, His covenant, and blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.



Plans Are Funny That Way

I’ve been thinking a lot about school lately. Brielle and all her little friends are slated to start kindergarten this Fall…

I told Brenden last night out of the blue: “I think I might want to try homeschooling.” He looked at me and blinked and said, “But you said, there is no way in hell I am ever homeschooling. Not once, but many many times.”

He’s right. We decided two years ago to send our then 2-year-old to public school when she was ready. We toured schools and then based our home-buying solely (literally solely) on that decision. We would never have chosen this home otherwise. I’m not sure either of us even like this house. Poor house. It’s a split level brick house in a neighborhood where all the other homes look the exact same.

It’s a great neighborhood though. Family-friendly and safe. Deer wander through our backyard which is a great quality depending on if you want to keep plants or not; and we are walking distance to one of the better ranked public schools in the area.

Ever since she was three years old, whenever we drive past the playground I say “There’s your school and your friends!”

But so much for planning. Because now I feel another think coming. I feel equal parts dread and excitement at the thought of home-schooling.

I am no stranger to the feeling of crazy and loneliness and exhaustion that a day as a stay at-home-mom can bring. But I also am no stranger to the feeling of wanting what is absolutely best for my kids. And letting it fuel and guide me…

Brielle thrives at her now-preschool. She has the most perfect little block letters and writes as fast as I talk. “Mommy, how do you spell “Happy New Year.?” I start spelling: “H. A. P. P. Y. Space. N. E. W…” She writes adorable little letters. Usually going in the right direction. (I think writing from left to right occasionally instead of writing from right to left is a “leftie” problem??) Who knows.

And I love my me-time three mornings a week and our schedule. I’m excited about her little neighborhood school and our upcoming adventure there this Fall.

But just yesterday I started to hear a small-voice: “What is best for her.” Yes, she may thrive and do well after a bit of an adjustment with her new schedule and longer school days. But what is over-all best for her?
And I find my mind wandering. I find myself reading homeschooling articles and researching curriculums. I find myself feeling equal parts dread and excitement.

Wish me luck. Just like everything in motherhood, there is rarely a decision that we make that is all tied up in bows. Comfort and pros. No matter what we decide there will be a lot of cons too. Such is life. But I am determined to do what is best for her to the best of my ability.

Be still my anxious and excited heart.

XOXO



My Week Of Single-Momming It… Coming To A Close

Ah what a week! Spurred on by the imagination and ingenuity (and straight crazy) of these little minds around me.

I feel like this is a stage of life where there is so much to contemplate and express and it’s also the stage where there is absolutely no time to do so.

All I want to do is write (all caps: w.r.i.t.e.) about it all day long. But I don’t get the chance.

But here I finally sit.

Scanning my mind and thoughts for the beauty that was this week. The beauty that I savored and want to keep forever. The difficulty. The trying moments that came and went. Remembering it all. Summoning it and asking it to the surface.

Brenden has been gone since Monday. He doesn’t travel much anymore so when he’s gone it’s a huge deal. It makes me realize once again how amazing military wives/single moms/anyone who is alone with their kids are.

We went to the library and checked out a book showing exactly where he is. Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The Capital of hipster-ness. Truly.

Our favorite bakery is there, Sweethaus.

It was started in Charlottesville by two Brooklynites (Is that what they call themselves?) who moved back to Brooklyn to open a store there as well. We took this picture last year.

I love this place for so many sweet reasons.

So there have beens lots of “I miss Daddy”s this week. And today, with tears from Brielle, “I miss Daddy to the Galaxies and back.”

That’s kind of a big deal. We usually miss each other from “Brazil to India” or “New York to Africa” but to the Galaxies?? What does that even mean.

More tears.

And then from Michael in the back seat:

Mommy I so hot turn on the heat.
I so hoooootttttt!!!! Turn on the heat!

I rolled down the window hoping to distract/cool him down. In came the cool air.

Roll the window DOWN!! I cold!!!!!

All day every day.

Depending on my mood I will either laugh hysterically, because let’s be honest, kids are freaking halaruous if we have the sense of humor and sleep under our belts to enjoy them. OR I will sit with twitching eyelids as my body goes into shock. My nervous system shutting down; shock.

Thank God for the reintroduction of preschool this week. Oh preschool. Three weeks away from you is far too long.

And last night my sister came over for dinner with her kids.

Older kids are heroes, just because they are. But older kids who are “cousins”?? Don’t even. This is one of my favorite pics of cousin love ever; from this past summer.

Brielle made a “pig-naut” party-hat for Ivan. (Think “astronaut” in pig form.) It was a huge hit for the moms in the room. Namely me.

I mean, this is incredible.

Sisters are built in best friends. And I am so grateful for mine.
This was last year in the same NYC. What memories!

I’ve realized this week that a toddler who misses his daddy is the same as a toddler who thinks his daddy has deserted him; doesn’t love him anymore and all other negative/similar things either existing or imagined.

A toddler who misses his daddy doesn’t just “miss” his daddy. He thinks his daddy has abandoned and left him forever and for dead. And so of course his mom is going to leave too. Cue attachment anxiety.

This week I’m learning how Michael processes things. And it’s very different from how Brielle processes things.

Brielle says: mommy I miss daddy. Huge tears.

Michael says: Throw. stomp. rage.

He speaks in actions, and I’m not used to that, because I have a daughter who literally says things like, “Mommy, I’m jealous.” I don’t have to read her mind or her emotions. They are laid right out there for me. And I hope that doesn’t change.

Michael says more with his facial expressions and his throwing and stomping and biting (yes my kid bites) than his words ever do.

And it’s my job to interpret/read his emotions from his actions. Most of the time his horrible actions.

Yesterday I found myself in public saying: “you miss daddy don’t you.” As a response to him throwing trains. I love how as moms we feel the need to explain everything to everyone around us. Us poor moms.

Last night I was tired and running on empty. And I knew Michael was on empty too. He’s been dad-less for the past four days. No 5pm daddy coming in. No wresting and talks and star wars battles. No DADDA. Poor guy. You don’t just erase that part and still be okay 4 days later.

My kids are very different in what fills up their cups. Sometimes with Brielle it’s kisses all over her face and I feel her tank being filled and her security coming back. “Kiss me on my lips” brings a light to her eyes. “I love you THIS much.” Hands from here to here make her smile and warm inside. Sometimes it’s just lots of books and conversations. Connecting and talking. Communicating.

With Micael a lot of the time it’s tickling and wrestling and all the physical things Brenden is so good at. But he also loves talking about tomorrow. And what we did today. And praying. Which is amazing. I love that he loves praying.

Last night we read lots and lots of books. Lots of time on each page. Pointing to this and that. Not turning the page when I desperately wanted to be done. “That’s a grader. That’s a steam-roller. That’s an excavator. That’s a front loader.” Over and over. The details. The care. The time. It filled up his cup and he was happy.

The time I spend with my babies is what makes them feel secure.

And when they feel secure they go to sleep happy.
And when they sleep I sleep.
And we all wake up happy. And healthy. And then I can laugh at those harrowing/crazy conversations that only a toddler can create.

Time and attention. It’s priceless and more valuable than anything else on the planet. And it’s not an unlimited resource. Which is why I am so grateful that Brenden is on his way home.

Wow this post was all over the place! Kind of like our week.

Happy almost weekend and we are doing a hope-for-snow-dance over here!
XOXO

 



2017! Let’s DO THIS. (Odd number and all.)

Happy New Year!

Wow… In three years it will be “2020”. I will be in even-number-heaven. This year, however… 17??? Eeeew. I’ll get over it.

Because this is going to be an incredible year.

It will be a year of “Stripping Away.” I was going to say “balance” but what does balance really mean anymore? It’s such a beat-up word.

I think my scales are “balancing” a lot of the wrong things anyway… Half the things on my scales shouldn’t even be there. They just sort of accumulated over years of “yeses” internally and externally and suddenly here I am.

I want this year to be a year that tips the scales. To the side of scarcity, and quiet, and whatever is on the side of living and “being” with more intention and purpose, love and joy, and simple pleasures. Helping others, enjoying the quiet in-between moments that have become so scarce in my distraction-filled life.

I want this year to be the year where I create new scales on which a new balance is measured. A whole new scale. With individual items I place after much consideration.

I want to have less so I can enjoy what I have more.
I want the house to be less cluttered so I can play more and clean less. (That really is how it works.)
I want to live like I don’t have an unlimited amount of days/weeks/months and years.
I want to pray. Pray. PRAY. A lot more than I do.
I want to encourage my kids to be dreamers. And goal-oriented. Even little goals like leaning to whistle.
I want to continue to get to know myself. And spend time alone with myself. It’s so fun, who knew!
I want to help someone in the community. Really help. And I want the the kids to help too.
I want to discover God’s purpose for me in a deeper way. Past what I “think” He wants for me in this season, to what I KNOW He wants for me.
I want to be a better wife.
I want to have an easy laugh. Brenden says I already have an easy laugh… but I want to have an EASIER laugh. People who laugh make everyone around them so happy!
I will be more empathetic,
I will be less judgmental.
I will spend more time with my mom.
I will read more fiction.
I will have daily devotional time.
I will pray for my husband.
I will keep things in perspective.
I will work out and eat whole foods.
I will eat less sugar, and feed less to my children.
I will learn to embrace aging and the passage of time as a gift, not a negative thing to dread.

I am so so excited about this new year.

God, thank you for the privilege and blessing of being healthy and alive to see this New Year. I am so grateful for your provision and Grace.

This year is going to KICK ASS.

Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.
– Unknown



Just Another Thursday

Today was a day I could actually HEAR Michael and Brielle growing.

Do you ever have days like that? Where your kids wake up and just look different?

Today Michael woke up from his nap and I swear his head looked bigger. This poor guy has a tough job ahead of him growing into this head. 🙂

Some days I go from start to finish without even thinking about how fleeting this stage of motherhood is. But today I was constantly in tune with the changing of the seasons, the slightly different/more mature way Brielle responded when I said certain things, the way Michael’s little chubby cheeks didn’t look quite so chubby.

It’s insane watching this happen. And when I get a quiet moment like right now, sitting at the end of Brielle’s bed while she stirs and tries to go to sleep, I let the emotion of it overwhelm me. Because it is so overwhelming.

It’s beautiful and sorrowful and happy and painful all at the same time. And I am thoroughly letting myself feel every single bit of it. I am embracing the thick ache in my chest when my mind wanders to Brielle not being in her little pink room, tucked tightly in her little purple sheets… with lots more tomorrows of fun and laughter and cut up knees and exploring (and childhood!!) ahead of us.

And it’s just that… There’s not an infinite number of tomorrows.

But I take comfort knowing that so far each new stage has been even more amazing than the last. And I can’t wait to see who this little girl will be.

Ah, but back to our day!

They put on a production for me:


And had lots of fun at lunch.

“Michael, let’s play Simon Says. I’ll be Simon, you be Says.” (This was from yesterday but was too cute not to add.)

We made “New York City” for our trucks to drive on, I remember drawing roads for my match-box cars like this when I was their age!

After the gym we went to the playground only to find the slides wet and the swings wetter. But that made for some fun in the puddles.

We went on a walk around the neighborhood and Eustace was the leader. (Always.)

I used to get twenty “sleeping pictures” a week. Now I get none. So there’s this one, taken with a flash!

Brielle is so lucky to have a brother who ASKS to have tea parties with her. And he can pour a mean pot of tea, too! (Okay, his hands look super chubby here, yay.)

Looooong day. It’s true, the days are long and the years are short. I’m so ready to pass out. This is M fishing in his pond at bath-time. He is such a water baby. 

Tomorrow is Friday!!! Goodnight.



Christmas Numero Tres… Co-Starring Braised Beef Short Ribs!

Three days of celebrating – I’m tired! We celebrated with my family Christmas Eve, Brenden’s mom Christmas day and Brenden’s dad the day after Christmas.

That’s a lot of eating and drinking and being merry! I can’t wait to get back on track and organized mentally and physically for the new year.

I made slow-cooker braised short ribs for Dinner for our Christmas Number Three. Compliments of Sarah The Cow. It’s amazing at how fast we are going through this cow share!

Regardless, this was the most delicious fall-off-the-bone meat ever. I found it on glutenfreehomestead.com.

At 9AM Brielle helped me get the meat in the slow-cooker. (3-4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs.) She sprinkled salt and pepper on the ribs after I washed them with cold water.

We cut up three carrots, a stalk of celery and an onion.
I put some coconut oil in a pan and browned the meat, 4 minutes on each side. Then into the slow-cooker it went.
I used the hot pan to fry the veggies up, about 8 minutes.

I added two tablespoons coconut flour (I’ve never used this before and it smelled so good in the pan!)

And 1 and 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste. Stir stir stir.

Add 1 and 1/2 cups red wine, bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 8 minutes to reduce. I used this fabulous $8.00 wine from Trader Joes.

Add 1 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp rosemary and one bay leaf, and 1 1/2 tsp salt. Add two cups beef stock. Stir.

Remove from heat and pour sauce over ribs in the slow cooker.

Cover and turn on low – cook for 7-8 hours and be prepared to be amazed when you open it up and taste it. AMMMMAZED.

I made some fun sides, but my favorite was the bacon roasted brussel sprouts.

It’s exactly what it sounds like: Bacon and Brussels!



I love how there are actual leaves on the stove-top. My kitchen was A MESS during this whole process. Cooking with kids is chaos. 😀

Before dinner we did presents. AGAIN! By far the kid’s favorite present from Grandpop was this remote-controlled ROBOT dinosaur that I promptly named “Shiny.” Even though he is obviously a boy.

He’s so life-like it kind of freaks me out. He’s programmed to lean in when you rub his head, and even when I say, “pet his head” to one of the kids, he leans IN toward them. He was walking and sensed the Christmas tree and lowered his head to avoid bumping into it. At one point I touched his tail and I saw him re-balance himself, making tiny life-like movements. EEEEEK.

He’s a generally happy dinosaur, unless he’s in “hunting” mode, (yes, you can change his mood) or “cautious mode.” He’s so cute when he’s being “playful.” And the kids just love him. I really have no idea what their future will look like, but based on what their childhood looks like (ROBOTS) I have a feeing it’s going to be incredible. And pretty “futuristic.”

I get really weird when it comes to robots… I feel like one day they will become very involved in our lives.. and after meeting Shiny I have a feeling that time will be sooner rather than later.

Brielle and Michael have been so super cute together the last few days. When there’s no school and no playmates besides each other this is what happens!

Brielle loves asking Michael to “read” to her. This is a Noah’s Ark book that is all illustrations (beautiful illustrations, done by Peter Spier.) And Michael is making up the cutest words.

Whenever he stops: “Keep reading Michael.”

I love my pjs from my MIL and my throw from my FIL. Plaid on Plaid on Plaid! Pokie is giving me some serious kisses. She’s so sweet.

Whew THAT WAS FUN. And more than enough Holiday love and joy to last the whole year through. I’m so ready for 2017 and all the awesomeness it’s going to bring. There’s nothing more inspiring than a New Year!

I’ll leave you with this last bit of Holiday Cheer: A “real reindeer” and my favorite little dinosaur.

XOXO!

 



Christmas Day! Joy To The World!

I was completely off social media this Christmas and it was such a beautiful change. Normally I would fill the tiny cracks and spaces with posting and liking and scrolling. But the last few days have been nothing but “being.”

No running dialogue in my head of things I’ve read or things I’ve posted or things I want to share. No extra “noise.” Just lots of being with family, enjoying/not enjoying moments. Life and thoughts. And I cherished and valued the small quiet moments that would normally be filled with distraction.

It was A Sunday on steroids! Laying around, mess all around us. Literally digging through paper to find this and that to play with. Zero plans to clean up. It’s a Wonderful Life in the background. This. is. Christmas.

Brielle’s request for Christmas breakfast was chocolate chip pancakes. Seemed reasonable enough. I ate three.

Then we went downstairs.

Before:



After:

And lots of in-between:




I love keeping track of what the kids have asked for in years past. It’s so precious because they could have asked for so many things, but the requests have remained simple and sweet. For now. And I’ll enjoy it while I can.

When Brielle was two she asked for a yo-yo. She didn’t even know what a yo-yo was. I’m sure of it.

When she was three she wanted a Cinderella dress and glass slippers.

This Christmas Brielle asked for a beauty kit and sled, and Michael asked for a “real football.” I honestly didn’t know what she meant by “beauty kit”, but she was more than thrilled with the mixture of things I found at Big Lots, (lipgloss, nail polish, cute little adhesive stick on nails, etc.) and a real compact with glitter-y makeup in it from Amazon.

Michael’s favorite present were his light-up shoes. Words can’t explain the love this boy has for those blue and orange Puma shoes! He wanted to sleep in them tonight.

After we opened gifts we headed to Grammy and Grampy’s in Fredericksburg for dinner and more gifts. Brielle brought her new doll, “Cora Bruce.” It’s amazing the names she comes up with for her toys!

Everyone napped, except Brenden. I woke up with my contact lenses stuck to my eye balls. Favorite kind of nap ever! And much needed.

Brielle and Michael were so excited when Grammy’s purple house came into view. I love that Brenden’s mom picked this color out herself, it’s so pretty!

Of all the presents the beautiful sugar cookies were the biggest hit. Or at least for the moment. 




Oh what fun.

And on the way home we prayed to God for snow and talked about the New Year, and what “a new year” even means.

There’s so much more I want to say, so many small details and prayers and conversations that happened throughout this beautiful Christmas day. But I’m going to sleep, and if I put this post off until later I may never re-visit it again. So I am publishing it now and moving on.

One of my favorite quotes (Brenden says it often) is “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” Mmm hmm. If I waited for perfect I would never complete anything.

Merry Christmas and JOY TO THE WORLD!

XOXO



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