Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Savoring the Small Things

Life passes too quickly. We may put off doing something because it would just be easier to do it tomorrow. What if tomorrow doesn't come? We may curse the long nights with an infant, but they suddenly aren't babies anymore and we can never get that time back. The last few days I have really been thinking about this and looking around my house for a few quick examples. 

I may not feel like sitting next to the baby and force feeding him carrots is fun, but soon enough he won't need me to help him any more. He is already on the road to independence so I should savor the time it takes to wipe his chubby little face clean and enjoy the fact that vegetables still make him so happy. 

I may not enjoy my counters being covered in science experiments or other bulky boy products but some day the kids are going to be out of the house and I won't have any good excuses to have these types of cool things around. Magic growing crab and octopus, yes please.

Dinosaurs at lunch? Why not have a few buddies watch you while you slurp some soup. My table won't always be covered with gingerbread men in baker's hats or plastic toys won't always litter the family room floor but for now it's ok to linger at the table just a few minutes longer and just enjoy the giggles that follow.

I won't always have to lug around a suitcase sized diaper bag, or in extreme scenarios, a diaper bag and a  purse. Right now I dislike having to lug around a bag carrying changes of clothes for the two littles, plastic bags, first aid kits, snacks galore, and any other toy or paperwork we might need for the day. But some day in my future I might miss having anything I could possibly need right at hand.

Lincoln was so sick the other day with a ear infection and cold. We even had to get out the nebulizer and give him some breathing treatments for his cough. While time consuming and a huge battle to get him starter, he sat with Shane and just cuddled. Being sick is the pits, but somehow it always involves extra undivided attrntion and time spent with Mom and Dad. Some day he won't need me, so for right now I need to savor the fact that he does.

"We are glad you are home!" That was the last picture I sent to my grandpa. I sent him an email with three pictures of the boys and the sign they made for great Grandpa Poppy after he got out of the hospital last week. I even got a response back from him Thursday night last week. It was so great to know he knew we were thinking of him. Unfortunately the next day he had to go back to the hospital and at this point in time it looks like his end is very near. I was able to talk to him on Monday night and he sounded really good. He told me I was always easy to love and that he always enjoyed my blog. If nothing else all these years I was able to use my blog to keep family updated on our brood. The boys did say hi to him too but I'm not sure if at that time he knew who he was talking to. My great grandpa died when I was pretty young and I only remember him because we had a picture of me with him and the stories my parents told me. Hopefully I have done enough that my boys remember this great man. My dad was able to fly down to California to be by his side and now it is just a waiting game to see when he is sent to Heaven. 

Oh the really small things. Warner loves this wooden spoon. He will carry it all around the house with him, he will bang it on anything that makes a cool sound, he will gnaw on it, he will hit himself and me in the face with it. His precious little buddy. The funny thing is that we have it because Shane bought a set from the dollar store for Lincoln to play with when he was this age and I never got a picture of the two together. Now I have documentation :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Scale in a Room - Mantle Makeover

So I am no professional anything but the other day I realized that the mantle over our wood stove was in a very sad state. The picture hung there had been changed over time and it was awkwardly to one side without any character. All of the nicknacks were the same size in a line and the extra remotes had landed there. Just not pretty or inspiring. So I had enough and go to work on a no cost, little effort mantle makeover. 
First I threw on a coat and slippers and went out under the deck to get the board my hubby had cut to size a few summers ago to frame the painting I did. It was supposed to be part of my present, but unfortunately the cutting had happened and nothing else so there they sat for a year and a half. I had to pry them off of the frozen ground and clean them up a little so this took a little longer than anticipated but I kept at it. After washing and we used L brackets to attach the boards around the canvas. See how the size of the painting now looks much more like it fits in the room? I also wrapped a glass vase in twine, added cool moss and pinecones and then put in the tall grass looking stuff from the dollar store that had previously been collecting dust in our bathroom. I also hung the smaller painting up a bit on the wood paneled wall to add some height. After moving some candles around and finding a new home for the remotes I wanted to find something for underneath the new framed painting. Luckily enough my hunter of a hubby had tons of antlers filling up the hutch. I am definitely not into all of that but I realized he is and I should just embrace it. So out came the antlers into a sculptural looking piece. I also took one of the wooden cake toppers from our wedding, painted it black and scuffed it up a bit with some sand paper. Now it is personalized, balanced and rustic, all for free!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Up, Up and Away!

You want to know something funny? One day you think your youngest will just stay small and never really learn how to crawl like a real baby and then all the sudden he learns... and within a 24 hour period he is climbing on little boxes and the fire place hearth. And then another day goes by and he can pull himself you to a standing position at the couch. He is definitely getting into everything and just loves to play with his brothers. Pretty soon he will be the one becoming a karate master. 

Free Bathroom Decor Idea

 Shel Silverstein had been one of my favorite childhood poets and I have been relishing the fact that I get to pass his work on to my kids. One of my most favorite poems he wrote is below:
Somehow I feel like this is our bathtub when all of the boys are in there together. In a good way though. For years I have imagined drawing the image and printing the poem on a canvas and putting it in the kids' bathroom. Because I don't happen to have any canvases or much random free time on my hands I just copied the page from his book A Light in the Attic. I found an old frame and took out the picture that was in there (unfortunately it had been in there so long it was stuck to the glass so I had to toss both). I found a piece of scrapbook paper I had lying around and then I cut it down the copy to the right size. I taped the copy to the scrapbook paper and put the backing cardboard back in the frame and hung on an existing nail in the bathroom. Now there is a little bit of free whimsy in the bathroom and no big blank space on the wall. 

Sorry my pictures aren't great. It has been overcast for weeks here and not much natural light is getting into the house so the pictures have been less than ideal. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What We've Been Eating January

I haven't posted a menu plan in a while, since last year actually (ha ha get that new year joke!) but we obviously have been eating and I still plan a month of menus. With the holidays, then trying to recoup from the holidays and Shane's long hours, and sickness of everyone and so many other things my menu planning changed often, but we still pretty much ate what I had planned. There were also some near disasters, some crafty leftovers, some cheapies and some so healthy I can't believe the boys ate all of it types of dinners. Here is a quick recap: 

Tuna Pot Pie
Chicken pot pie is a yummy, comforting dish familiar in so many kitchens, but I'm not sure why it took me so long to think of this inexpensive idea, swap the chicken for tuna and get a whole new dish. I had some soupy left overs from a tune noodle casserole that Shane and I thought might make an ok pot pie filling. *Word to the wise, don't use egg noodles in the crock pot, just doesn't keep it's texture at all* I also added some curry so it looks really yellow. Well it tasted good and I think because I didn't let it sit long enough after taking it out of the oven it just spread out everywhere and looked horrible. Luckily everyone ate it and when Shane got home from work his portion had firmed up and looked slightly more appealing. 

Prime Rib Stroganoff 
We had this amazing herb and salt crusted prime rib that I had made for our family Christmas dinner. I also had plans to make prime rib dip sandwiches for a planned leftover dinner. But I forgot how good prime rib can be and how big my family is getting so the amount of meat left wasn't what I was expecting. So I improvised. I caramalized some mushrooms, added onion and celery and the chopped up prime rib, a bottle of beer, some au jus, some water, some flour and some sour cream. Spooned over mashed potatoes it was a big hit.

Turkey Chili

I love using dried beans because they are so cheap and they make so much! If you don't count the add ons (we used cheese, sour cream, salsa, hot sauce and the beloved avocado) this meal cost $6.25 and there was enough left for a complete meal for the freezer. 
bag of dried kidney beans, soaked and cooked for 1.5 hours = $1.50
1.25 lbs. ground turkey, browned = $3.50
can of petit diced tomatoes and their juice = $.50
half can of pumpkin puree = $.50
1 cube of chicken bouillon, assorted spices, chopped onion = maybe $.25
3 cups of water = $0

Sweet Potato, Apple and Ham Hash

Yum, my kids love Breakfast for Dinner or B4D as we call it around here. This meal is pretty. Pretty easy, pretty cheap, pretty hearty and only 6 ingredients. I peeled the sweet potato and diced it, the onion and apple into similar sized chunks and sauteed in a pan for several minutes with my favorite McCormick Grill Mates Sweet and Smokey Rub until golden brown. Then I added about 1/4 cup water to help them cook throughly. Add in the diced ham to heat through. Top with a picture perfect sunny side up egg and enjoy.

Baked Salmon with Minted Israeli Cous Cous and Pea Salad
I used this recipe to bake the salmon we caught over the summer and this recipe for the side and the boys ate it up. Well Lincoln didn't like the peas... but last time he ate them so I guess you never know. I couldn't get enough of the cous cous though, so creamy. 

Fort Sadler

Ah so sweet. These are the first pictures of the boys playing together in a fort. The Leap Pad was just to intriguing to get them all looking at the camera at the same time unfortunately... but still adorable. Now that Warner is crawling (if you can call it that) he can get himself into some situations but this was so cute to see them all in one place. He is also starting to get interested in what they are playing with and will go see what they are up to. I have a feeling this is the first of many three-on-one days where things might start to get just a little easier.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

You can't even tell that I got like 3 hours of sleep and have been puked on countless times this weekend, right. Right?
Oh bangs... it's the one love/hate relationship in my life. I love them because my face is a little long an boring without them. The also make a hairstyle more fun. I hate them because they get greasy fast and I have a widow's peak so they get a little funky easily and then you have to pin them out of the way if you don't want them hanging in your eyes. I had been growing them out for months (ok almost a year) and they were pretty much gone but the love finally returned when I chopped them this morning. I am happy to have them back. Will I regret it and grow them out again in the future, probably. But for now they are back. The only thing I wasn't expecting was for them to be brown! Yikes. My hair dye has grown out so much that there wasn't any blonde in my bangs... I didn't get too much sun this summer with the new baby and haven't been into a professional hair person in over three years. Double yikes. Not sure if I'm ready to join team brown or if I will get highlights or something. If I keep letting my natural color go, in theory some time soon I will have Ombre hair which people are actually paying big bucks for in the salons. I don't get it but whatever.
By the way, bang trimming is super easy. I pretty much always cut my own hair because we are cheap frugal and this is one thing I will never pay someone to do. To avoid the blunt bang look, hold whatever amount of hair you want to cut in front of you between two fingers. With sharp scissors cut straight up to the length you want. Always start longer than you think you want. You can go shorted but not longer if you mess up.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Sugar Sugar, Ah Honey Honey

You are my candy girl... I had to put that song on youtube to listen to while writing this post. I don't think the Archies would make it in today's pop market, but I love the song none the less :)

After dinner the boys were running through the house and I didn't want them watching another episode of Jesse or Honey Boo Boo so I got out my trusty roasting pan, poured about 1/4 of a cup into it and let them play in the sugar. -Make sure not to put too much sugar in or you won't be able to see what you are writing- I told them they could draw whatever they wanted. Dylan drew a dice and Lincoln made a bunch of swirls. He also made an alien and a spaceship and told a whole story. Unlike crayons or paint, when drawing in sugar, the picture can easily evolve, or be erased by a gentle shake of the pan. It might also be fun to put a drop of food coloring in for a slight change to relate to whatever holiday or season it might be. 
They boys have had so much fun over the last few days, doodling whenever the desire strikes. I've also used it to have Dylan hone his new skill of cursive and to practice his spelling words for the week. 

I love his attention to detail.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Remembering How to Play

In my quest to become a more playful family I have stumbled across something. It's not so much remembering to play, it's remembering how to play in my case. The boys know what playing is. Sometimes they just need reminders on how to do it. I need reminders on how to not take myself so seriously and that letting a task sit for 5 minutes while I go do something with them isn't going to ruin the whole day. In fact, it will probably make it better.

And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3

Not only are we supposed to have a child-like faith, I believe this is also saying that it is ok to play like a child. In reading that verse I have thought about it over the course of the last week. When we were at my dad's house I took the boys into his backyard to run off some energy before heading to my nephew's first birthday. Normally I would encourage them to run and play and watch from the sidelines. How not fun is that? So Dylan and I played a game of tag (Lincoln was quite enamored with the playhouse but did run for a bit). I didn't realize how fast Dylan has gotten and actually had to run at my top speed. We had so much fun, I couldn't believe it.

After dinner another night, rather than splitting off to watch tv or play with some other electronic toy I set out a big bowl of ice cubes, two platters and a shaker of salt. In theory you are supposed to build with the salt like mini ice blocks. Either the shape of our ice was too rounded or something but it didn't work like I imagined. Luckily the boys didn't care and they played with the ice and it gave us a few more minutes of togetherness. I've also read about blowing bubbles outside when it is freezing and the bubbles are supposed to freeze. Well that didn't work yesterday either but at least Linc and I got a few minutes of sunshine and he didn't care or know that it didn't work anyway.
Another thing I have been trying to figure out is how to play with everyone at the same time while they are at such different stages in their lives. Warner is starting to get more into non-blobby baby play time, but Lincoln is Dylan is more concerned with doing it right but we find a way to make it work. Take for instance the double airplane...

Here are more quick tips on remember how to play:
  • Take a look at your kids, or better yet, take a look through their eyes.
  • Playing isn't an organized thing. Sometimes I can be, but the most fun just happens.
  • Look for play opportunities in the mundane.
  • Enjoy spending time together and play will follow.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Old Man Baby

When you have no teeth and your gums are sore it's pretty easy to look like an old man baby. Good morning all!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cheap Date with my Boys

During the summer, Gogurt had a promotion where if you buy so many boxes you can enter the codes online and get a free child's movie ticket. Since the GoGurts were the same price as the store brand yogurts in a tube I took advantage and got two free movie tickets. However I had a fairly young baby who didn't like to be at home and a babysitter I didn't want to take advantage of for date nights with my husband so they sat unused. I also found some random movie theather gift cards that we had accumulated. I wasn't even sure how much money was on them but I figured even a few extra dollars would help out. Since the printed tickets had an expiration of the end of January I finally convinced Shane to watch Warner and the two older boys and I headed out the door on our special "date" planning on spending a bit of money the boys had recieved as a gift or foot the rest. Of course I stopped by the grocery store to pick up something else and let the boys pick out a special candy to bring (don't get me started, Dylan already pointed out the "no outside food or drink" sign and I had to deal with that issue) and after the printed tickets and part of one gift card we were in the door. We also got a medium popcorn and a medium Sprite to share at *gasp* $9.50. Between the cards, printed tickets and savings at the grocery store we had a fun, cheap date for $5 total. My boys loved watching Rise of the Guardians, I had fun taking them to do something out of the ordinary, we didn't break the bank and Lincoln only had to go to the bathroom once. I was a fun day for all. Except on the way home from the movie Lincoln kept asking when we were going to go on our date...

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Belated Christmas Pics

Because I didn't download any pictures for a while, and then it was after Christmas and things got wild for a while I kind of skipped over the actual holiday so several weeks late, here is how we spent our Christmas. I didn't get any pictures when we were over at Shane's family's house but we spent lots of time over there too. 

All four kids in one picture together! Warner kind of blends into the tree skirt but his little baldish head stands out. Luckily the matching pajamas I bought for the boys last year still fit too. 
Head lamps for spying on Santa.

Opening presents was a daunting task for Lincoln.

I think this was when he realized asking only for a "princess and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich" wasn't the best of ideas. Don't worry he got plenty spoiled.

The messy aftermath.

Lincoln playing in his new tiny little kitchen.

My brother and dad at our house.

My mom and brother decorating a giant gingerbread man with the boys. Lincoln ate half the candy before it was actually attached. 

My sister with Warner and her son. 

Luke just learning how to walk. I take full credit if anyone asks.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Warner 8 Months

Look at this smiley little guy! Yes teething has been taking it's toll on him (all of us?) but he is still quite a happy and content little guy. He actually only got up twice last night. Yes I know he is 8 months and should have been sleeping through the night like 25 weeks ago, but he has his own plan. Still no teeth but I swear he has now said "dada" and "mama" but mainly dada. 

He sort of has Eddie Munster hair. He has really long hair on top and it usually goes to a point now since it is too long to put into a little faux hawk. Oh well he's still cute.

He is interested in everything and spent about 10 minutes investigating the little plastic bin the mushrooms came in today while I was trying to make dinner. He wants to eat our food, play with anything in my hands and likes to try to get over to the fire place poker. He is crawling in the most unconventional way possible. He does little baby push ups, lunges forward and then pulls himself with his arms. He'll figure it out eventually but I am in no rush to teach him the easier way :)

He's not a giant on the scale of babies, but my oh my he has got some thighs on him. I can barely squeeze up 12 mo. baby jeans on him. Maybe it's all those strong muscles from trying to stand all the time. He also likes to eat. This week or so he's figured out how to get food into his mouth by himself so now it's fun to watch him try to eat up all the snacks I put on his tray. In true Sadler fashion he like to shovel in one after another. 

Eight Months, that's 3/4 of the way through a year right? Yikes it's hard to believe. His cousin turned a year old yesterday and it's hard to imagine that these boys are growing up and there is nothing we can do about it. My sweet little serious dude. 

Lincoln decided that enough was enough and ripped off the sticker in favor of more jumping off the furniture like a super hero.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Making the Mornings Easier

Dylan loves bringing cold lunch to school!
I don't work outside of the home, so generally speaking my mornings aren't usually a rush to get to the office. But my mornings are still mornings. Dylan still has to get to school. I am still tired because the baby isn't sleeping. Any MOPS mornings are early and out the door mornings. Sometimes Shane has to work super early and I like to see him out the door (only during peak Christmas season from now on). See I have plenty of reasons why I need my mornings to run smoothly.
I have finally, finally given in to the idea that if I want to keep my sanity, I am going to have to get up early. I don't like the idea but I can't really sleep in easily these days anyway. Plus in order to achieve my resolutions this year I need to be prepared, I need to plan to be more playful, and I need to be in the right frame of mind.
Here are the things I can plan out ahead of time to make sure I am out the door on time, or not feeling behind all day:

  • Pack your lunch the night before. If Dylan is bringing a cold lunch to school, I can make it the night before and keep in fridge. Things like pb&j can even be made in bulk and frozen so I can just take one out and pop in lunch when I am feeling behind. I am the slowest sandwich maker of all time so this is helpful to me.
  • Get the coffee revving. I can have the coffee pot on a timer and set to go off 5-10 minutes before my alarm goes off. I love me some coffee, and so does Shane. It takes a while to whip up that goodness so setting it early makes the house smell good and I have some instant gratification as soon as my feet his the floor. 
  • Think about breakfast. About half the time we do cold cereal around here because it is easy and my boys really like it. Other times I like them to have something warm and filling. Since I am also the world slowest pancake maker I don't usually do those on weekday mornings either. But pancakes freeze well (as long as they don't get stuck in one giant clump, this is where flash freezing comes in handy) and can be popped in the toaster for an easy breakfast. I loved these pumpkin pancakes and they are getting a veggie with breakfast. I've also made oatmeal in the crock pot (so far with lackluster results) or tried putting all the ingredients in a pot except the milk so I just have to pour and heat in the morning. Easy, nourishing, and you get out the door on time.
  • Pick out your clothes the night before. Yes, just like your mom taught you in the years growing up, planning your clothes out while your brain is firing on all cylinders not only makes quicker and better decisions but it does save time in the morning. Make all of your kids who can dress them selves pick out their clothes the night before. The baby still sleeps in our room and I've found it is much more useful to have an idea of what I will wear and grab it the night before than fumbling around in the dark trying to find things and not wake him up. You can always change your mind in the morning but this helps save some time. 
  • Know where you quiet time stuff is. I keep my devotional with my recipe books because they are right next to the kitchen table and I don't have to shuffle through the mess on the desk to find them when everyone else is still sleeping. 
  • Have all of your stuff ready. If I'm leaving the house, there is usually more than one thing on the agenda for the day so I need to make sure everything is together and ready to go before I head out the door. The diaper bag needs to be stocked and organized. The grocery list needs to be written out with coupons attached. The reusable shopping bags, the MOPS binder, the snacks or lunches, the stuff to drop off at goodwill. Whatever it is I am doing that day I like to have it by the door so I don't forget it. Because I will. 
  • Get the car ready before the kids. Nothing I dislike more than getting everyone bundled and out to the car and finding an inch of ice covering all the windows. It takes forever to get cleaned off and everyone is standing around getting cold and into trouble, or buckled in their car seats getting cold and grumpy. So I plan a little early, start the van and get whatever element has piled on, off then get all the boots on the kids and by the time everyone is in and loaded we can be on our way. If you have a garage, lucky you. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Bringing the Snow Inside

Lincoln is finally old enough to have a fascination with snow, and luckily we've had plenty around lately to explore. Unfortunately, I'm such a buzzkill because I won't let him play in it all day every day. Oh the bundling up, keeping the baby warm, keeping Lincoln from getting stuck in piles, bundling down, cleaning up drippy footprints all over the floor idea just makes me sigh. So what's a mom to do?
Bring the snow inside for a little cold exploration. I got out my trusty roasting pan and scooped up several cups from outside the front door. I also gather some sand toys and Lincoln picked out a car and he went to town. Scooping, shaping, eating, driving, smashing, enjoying it all. We also made a "cat hat" snowman because apparently the only snow man he could think of was from The Cat in the Hat show on PBS. The regular sized snow man outside didn't stand a chance since he kept kicking it down but this one hung out in the corner the whole time. I did replenish the snow once because it melted so quickly from the heat of the wood stove but even after it melted, Lincoln still had fun playing in the water. And sneaking a sip every now and then.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Crock Pot Chicken, Brown Rice and Broccoli Casserole

I love me some chicken divan. Oh wee baby how I do. But it feels like it takes me forever to make. And the kitchen ends up in a tornado mess. And it really isn't that healthy for you. But that's why it is a birthday and special occasion kind of dinner, right? So on my quest of making life easier while trying to reach our goals I decided to try a crock pot, freezer friendly version of chicken divan... and it's a one pot meal. Those are pretty handy to have around too. So cozy up to a creamy, steamy bowl of goodness. Or serve it on a plate with a salad if you're fancy like that.

One Pot Chicken Divan or Crock Pot Chicken, Brown Rice and Broccoli Casserole

1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 lb. broccoli, cut into bite size pieces (or 1 package of broccoli flowerets)
2 medium carrots, dices
2 cups brown rice
4 cups chicken stock
1 can cream of chicken soup (or make your own homemade and healthier version)
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbs. mayo (omit if desired)
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
Shredded Cheddar Cheese

For Crock Pot:

Add all ingredients to a greased crock pot. Cook on High for 3 hours. Top with shredded cheese when 30 minutes are left in cook time.

For Freezer:
Add all ingredients to a gallon freezer baggie. To cook, thaw and dump into crock pot. Cook on high for 3 hours. Top with shredded cheese when 30 minutes are left in cook time.

Teething Can Jump Off A Cliff

I'm so glad I am not teething because it apparently must suck. Poor Warner is just a mess lately. We are finally getting over a hacky, coughy cold and now he is teething like there is no tomorrow. He jams his fists into his mouth when the pacifier isn't in. He chews on everything else. Poor kiddo. I'm doing all I can for him, even trying the amber teething necklace. He didn't sleep as well last night as he did the night before so maybe I need to keep it on him all night long (they say you can double wrap around an ankle to prevent around the neck tangling) so I guess I will do that tonight. What works best for your baby in times of teething tragedy?

His funny old man face.

My little hunk with his naturally faux hawk hair.