Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Elusive Double Nap

Tap tap.

Is this thing on?

Oh. Hi!

Do you know what's happening right now at this very moment? Both of my children are sleeping. The last time this occurred was approximately 67 billion years ago, so I'm going to try to be fast here. (Because obviously now that I've declared my victory one or both girls will start shrieking and my quiet time will be over.)

We cut Anna's nap a few months ago when we were having a hard time with bedtime. While our nighttime routine got about a bajillion times easier, let's just say that Mama has been struggling with the whole "no break from the three-year-old" thing. And boy is this child a three-year-old - in the best and worst ways. She's affectionate and loving ("You're the best mama in the whole town!") and imaginative (just this morning she told me that I didn't need to wipe her butt because she has a boyfriend named Eugene that will do it for her) and also moody and whiny and demanding. I'm trying my best not to hold it against her (rumor has it that I was once a three-year-old, too) but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a daily struggle. 

But then she does things like this and I laugh so hard I forget about everything else and remember that this girl is pretty much the greatest ever...

And Amelia is truckin' right along, too. Alllllmost crawling. Almost popping a few teeth. Sweetness and smiles all over the place. I know that I've been promising a post devoted to her, and I swear I'm working on it. Until then...

That's all for now...I hear a baby stirring. Told you I would jinx it!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I Need to Work on My Exorcism Skills

Remember on Thursday when I posted about declaring our house germ free?

This is kind of how it played out...

Me: Germs be gone! Scram! We're done!


No sooner than I hit "publish", Anna was complaining that her ear was hurting. If there's one area of parenting that I feel like maybe I need to step up my game (one area? ha ha. more like 100 areas, but let's not even start with that today.) it's in the part where I react to injuries and sickness. I'm pretty laid back when it comes to that stuff and I usually brush most things off with a "oh, you're fine, let me kiss it". I think a lot of that attitude comes from teaching and coaching - seventh graders are reaalllly good at faking illness (or think they are, at least) to get out of doing things like take tests or run laps. So when Anna said her ear hurt, we gave her some Tylenol and went about our day. On Friday she never mentioned it, so I figured it had been a headache and forgot about it. By Saturday afternoon, however, she was saying it hurt again, and this time it was clear to see she was feeling miserable. No appetite, glassy eyes, just generally out of it, so Mike and I decided to swing by the pediatric urgent care on our way home from swim lessons. (See? My kid complains of her ear hurting and I'm all, "shake it off! get in the pool!" Mother of the Year, for sure.) And then I started feeling really bad because in both the waiting room and in the examination room she laid her head in my lap and fell asleep - which never happens. And then I started feeling horrible when the nurse asks me if she's been running a temperature, and just when I'm like, "No, not that I know of," she slides the thermometer across Anna's forehead and shows me the reading: 103.4. Raging fever and ear infection. Like I said, Mother of the Year.

Antibiotics and Tylenol began working their magic right away, enough that Anna could go to a birthday party that evening, but just to be sure we didn't get any slick ideas about getting healthy again, the Universe threw another wrench in our get well plans. And that is how our St. Patrick's Day was spent like many more before it - cleaning up vomit. Except instead of our drunk selves drunk college kids, it was our sweet girl, having a bad reaction to the taste of the Tylenol. (I need to give a major shout out to Mike here. I was all, "Ahh! Puke! She's puking! Ahh!" while he's just calmly holding Anna's hair out of her face and rubbing her back as she spews all over him. He was awesome and it was reason number 4,378 why he's a great dad.) We did manage to make the trip to see my parents, although in hindsight we probably should have just stayed home.

Sacked out at Mema and Grandpa's.

So I guess I learned a few things this weekend. First, don't tempt the health gods with declarations of sickness-free households. Second, I chose well in my husband, particularly when it comes to dealing with the bodily fluids of our children. And last, and probably the most important, I need to do a better job of listening to my kid when she tells me something is wrong.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

So. Much. Sick.

Ok. I don't want to jinx anything here, but I'm going to go ahead and declare this the end of the sick season in the Arends household. I mean, yes, both the girls still have slightly runny noses. And Mia is still coughing a little. But seriously? We. Are. Over. It.

It's been more than a month since Mia tested positive for RSV (a nasty, highly contagious respiratory virus) and it was all pretty much downhill from there. I was sick. Then Anna. Mia then had an ear infection. And even Mike and his iron-clad immune system were no match for this yuckiness. This virus was sneaky, because just when you would think you were feeling better, it would come back even worse.

I'm putting my foot down. And disinfecting the crap out of every possible surface in our house. Enough. RSV, you may have owned February (and a good chunk of March). But you're done. We're fighting back.

Plane tickets have been purchased for a vacation to Florida. New summer sandals and bathing suits have been ordered. Dreams of drinking icy cold beers on the beach are replacing feverish dreams of regaining the ability to breathe through my nose. I may even go extra crazy and bust out the self tanner this weekend, because nothing says "I'm healthy and free of germs" quite like a tropical glow. (Also, I just tried on said new bathing suit and I may have been blinded by the pastiness of my skin.) (Also, that might have been a good thing since I probably didn't want to see myself in a bathing suit anyways.) (Also, that is why I will require several alcoholic beverages when on the beach.)

In short: I have exorcised the germy demons. This house is clear! And ready for spring!

On an unrelated side note - Mia is over five months old. How is this even possible? I'm working on a post devoted entirely to this sweet girl, but here are a few pics to tide you over. I am so, so happy that she is finally feeling better, because she truly is the happiest baby - so quick with a smile or a giggle and such a pleasure to be around.

Oops, ran out of ink in our printer, so I had to get my Photoshop on!

What are your tricks for staying healthy? And what are you most looking forward to about spring?

Happy (and Healthy!) Wednesday!

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Valentine's Day With No Pie

I had every intention of a post today filled with adorable pictures of my girls in cute Valentine's Day garb and gleeful pictures of me scarfing delicious pie.

Alas, Cupid had different plans.

Back story: For the last two years, Alexia and I have taken our girls to a local pie shop for bakery treats, yummy pie, and Valentine's Day celebrating. It's such a sweet tradition, and this year was going to be even sweeter because there are now four little girls to join in on the fun instead of two.

That's where that sneaky Cupid comes in. He came a little early this year, and instead of shooting us with arrows filled with love, he got us with a nasty virus - RSV to be exact. Apparently this virus is pretty common, but when babies get it, things can get scary if it gets into their lungs. After a three-hour trip to Urgent Care (three hours! the irony!) with Mia on Tuesday night, it quickly became obvious our Valentine's tradition was going to be coming to a screeching halt.

And then I got sick, too. If being sick sucks, being sick when your kids are also sick might be the worst torture I can think of. Props to Mike for taking over for a day or two, because I was miserable, complainy, and not feeling romantical in the least. (And despite all that he still bought me roses! He's a keeper I do believe.)

Luckily, I was still able to bribe with candy persuade Anna to put on some of her Valentine's Day gear so I could get a few pictures. Despite having a crusty eye (is my child the only one whose eye starts oozing green crud when she gets any sort of cold?) I think she pulls the look off well.

Here's one of my little patient. RSV or not, she's cute.

Fingers crossed we're all on the mend. Poor Mia has been sick more times in her short life than I can remember Anna being her first two years. Her cough is getting better, and she's slowly returning to the smiley, relaxed baby we're used to. Mike and Anna, other than her eye, seem to have avoided this round of yuckiness so far, knock on wood.

And we're hoping for a rain check for next week. Because after this week, Mama needs some pie.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A New Training Plan

The good news is that it's February 11th and I've actually kept up at least part of my New Year's resolutions.

The bad news is that it's not the part where I write more on my blog.

For those of you paying attention, that means that I've made our bed every single day since the start of 2013! It might not happen until three in the afternoon, but it happens. And I know some of you might be all like, "Not impressed." I don't blame you. It's probably a totally normal occurrence for most people. But it should be obvious to you that I, especially when it comes to matters of staying organized and mess free, am not like most people.

I need to start small. I need clear-cut directions. If I get overwhelmed or intimidated I lose focus. Remember when my sister helped me get organized? It didn't all stick, but the parts that did involved a label maker and specific instructions on where things go. Our bathroom closet is filled with sets of plastic drawers that say things like "First Aid" or "Dental" or "Shaving Needs" and in a shocking turn of events, I can go to those drawers almost two years after Kristin helped me set them up and find Neosporin or razor cartridges or nail files exactly where they're supposed to be.

I'm also this way, I've realized, when it comes to running. For so many years, I would think "I want to be a runner! I'm going to go running!" And then I would lace up my shoes, hit the pavement, and feel like keeling over ten minutes later, muttering curse words under my breath and vowing never to run again because running sucks. Then I read an article about this plan called the "Couch to 5k". You start small - like running for 30 seconds at a time. But it doesn't suck at first, so you keep at it, and then before you know it you're eight weeks in and you can run 3.1 miles without stopping. There is a specific schedule, and if you follow it, it works. I've actually done this program at least three times - once before Mike and I got married, another when Anna was about nine months old, and I finished it again a few weeks ago. I never, ever, thought I could be a runner, and then I ran two half marathons in one year. Luckily, my friend Katie and I just decided to train for a 10k, because I know that I need to follow a training schedule to stay motivated.

So I guess my bed-making resolution was kind of my attempt to start "training" for a more organized house. I'll probably be in training for a reeeeally long time, but that's ok. It's working. Our bedroom is staying neater. It's amazing what a smoothed bedspread and fluffed-up pillows will do for your overall attitude - it's spilling over into how often I deal with the pile of clothes I let accumulate at the foot of the bed and how often I vacuum. Maybe I can call it my "Slob to Neat Freak" training plan? And maybe, just maybe, it could actually work?

All you neat freaks out there - what should be my next step? What's something small (remember, baby steps!) that I can add to my daily routine that would help me reach my goal?

And I know I keep saying it, but I'm really going to try to make the time for this space more often. I always feel like I need to write these epic posts, when really, all I should be doing is documenting our everyday lives. The neat and the messy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fix Me A Chicken* Pot Pie!

One of the very best things I did for myself before Mia made her entrance into the world was to fill our freezer with food. There were many, many items on my "Things To Do Before Baby Arrives" list that I did not get around to, like finish the baby blanket I started knitting six months ago or get Anna out of diapers. But with about two weeks until her due date, I began stockpiling freezer containers and doubling our favorite recipes. Chili, spaghetti sauce, beef and barley soup - it was such a huge relief those first few weeks to know that my family was going to be eating a healthy meal that didn't require much more than heating up.

The night before my water broke, I tried out a new recipe for chicken pot pie - mostly because it made two and I was excited to hoard even more food for my freezer. I also really, really love all things pie. Chicken pot pie was always on my list of favorites growing up, but for some reason the idea of baking one just seemed like it would be way too difficult. Even after mastering Beef & Cheddar Pie, I assumed chicken pot pie would just be more hassle than it was worth.

I was wrong. It's actually not that hard. And it's so, so good.

I should first admit, though, that this recipe calls for store-bought pie crust. Maybe someday I'll tackle my fear of pie crust, but for now I'm happy to buy it. You can definitely use homemade if you're super talented like that...just stop showing off, would ya?

This is comfort food at its finest, and will always remind me of the last meal I prepared before we became a family of four.

Chicken Pot Pie

What you need:

I apologize in advance for these pictures. They're terrible.

2 cups diced, peeled potatoes
1 3/4 cups sliced carrots
2/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup butter, cubed (the original recipe calls for a full cup, but it's still plenty rich!)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 tsp. pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk
4 cups cubed cooked chicken (from 3-4 chicken breasts)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
pastry for two double-crust pies

What you do:

1. Place potatoes and carrots in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large skillet, saute' onion in butter until tender. Stir in the flour, salt, thyme, and pepper until blended. Gradually stir in the broth and milk. Bring to a boil, then cook and stir for two minutes, or until thickened. It might start out kind of lumpy, but keep stirring! Add chicken, peas, corn, potatoes, and carrots. Remove from heat.

I know. Doesn't look that appealing. I promise, it gets better.

See? Told ya!

3. Line two pie plates with pastry. Fill with mixture. Top with remaining pastry and seal edges.

4. Bake one potpie at 425 for 35-40 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Cover and freeze remaining pot pie.

Ummmm. Mine got a little overcooked. But still delicious!

To use frozen pie: shield edges with foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for 75-80 more minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Mike and I have been known to fight over the leftovers.

What's your favorite comfort food?
Are you as obsessed with freezing meals ahead of time as I am?

Will I ever finish that baby blanket?

Happy Wednesday!

*I realize that the original quote from "The Breakfast Club" is actually turkey pot pie, but it just didn't work. But on that thought, this would be a great recipe to use leftover Thanksgiving turkey!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

So. Many. Things.

It's been awhile since I've shown my face around here.

Mostly because we've been busy just sort of living life.

There have been so many times I have thought to myself, "Oh, I should blog about this!" I used to write out posts in my head at night in bed, before I fell asleep. These days I'm pretty sure that the second I close my eyes I'm out cold. It's not that there hasn't been anything exciting to share, it's that I can't seem to find the time to get it all out.

I also sort of blame "Friday Night Lights". Have you seen this television show? Gah. Any free time I might now have is devoted to watching another episode of this awesomeness. So many people (ahem, Alexia, mom, Kristin, etc.) had told me how great this show was, and I even think that Mike and I started watching it a year or two ago. And then when Mia was born I found myself sitting on the couch a lot more and I was all caught up on my other shows, so I decided to give it another go. I'm not joking here, people. Probably my favorite show of all time. Although if you see me in the next couple of days, please ignore my crying and blubbering. Because I have one episode left. ONE. I've sort of been saving it, trying to find the perfect time to watch, because then it will be over and I will be so, so sad. And I will have much more time for productive things, like writing...

What Would Riggins Do?

So, really, not my fault that I haven't been around much.

In all honesty, though, part of my New Year's resolution was to get back to this space more. Because I enjoy it and because I love having this blog as sort of a scrapbook for my life. (The other part of my resolution was to make our bed everyday. Dream big, my friends.) I have some catch up to do - I want to write about Mia's first few months (spoiler alert: she sleeps!) and discuss the completely insane fact that Anna is now three (spoiler alert: she is equal parts tyrant and angel!). I want to do a better job of documenting our story, so that one day, far in the future, I can read back over everything and be reminded of how damn lucky I've been to live this life.

From Mia's newborn session with the extremely amazing Rachel Vanoven.
I can't even describe to you how much I love this picture.

As those Dillon Panthers would say: Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can't Lose.

Hope to see you back here soon.