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Monthly Archives: July 2012

{big girl bed}

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3 weeks shy of her 2nd birthday, Brooklyn Elle moved out of her crib and into a bed.

Like her sister, the transition was easy as pie. Her crib was in a room with a queen bed, so we just moved her over. Its a HUGE bed for such a wee lass, and she hasn’t figured out how normal people sleep.

For example, she treats it like a huge, luxury crib. I’ll put her to bed on her pillow up at the top, but when I go to check on her at 10 pm, the game is trying to find her on the bed. Sometimes she’s fallen asleep at the bottom, arms and legs stretched out like a starfish. Other times she’s curled in a ball in the top left corner.

I think its because she was moved into such a big space. A toddler bed, or even a twin bed, wouldn’t have given her so much space to roam. But, I wasn’t wasting money on a toddler bed since she is already to big to sleep comfortably in it. We are saving up to buy the girls a bunk bed to share in the new house, so I wasn’t going to spend money on a twin right now. So, the queen for a queen, apparently. 🙂

Luckily, when I move her back to her pillow before I go to bed, she seems to stay put until the morning. I think she just plays and then falls asleep wherever she happens to be! It was such an easy transition for her; no tears, no crying, no getting out of bed. You just put her in and she stays! And sleeps!

Bittersweet for me, though. The crib is gone. Not technically; its a lifetime crib, so we can use two of the pieces for a headboard and footboard, which happens to fit London’s mattresses which will be Jackson’s mattresses when we move. Follow? 😉

Now, I tried to do the whole “sneak in and take pictures of her sleeping” thing. Didn’t happen. Not with siblings clambering around, waiting for her to wake up.

That’s okay. This picture is super sweet. My children are friends. They love and care for each other.

Fills up my heart with love. *kairos moment*

 

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{The New House}

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I’m spilling the beans, officially.

We are building a new house!

(See? I couldn’t even contain myself for more than one sentence. No suspense, no mystery.)

We’ve officially been in this home for 3 years now, which means we can leave. This was a great first house for us, but the location is less than ideal. Greg has a 1.5 hour commute 3 days a week, and an hour the other two. We are 10 minutes away from any stores, and 30 minutes away from the rest of them. I’m 30-40 minutes away from most of my friends and any activities they plan.

We are soooooo ready to move!

So! The house! Its in Chandler (hello?!?!? AWESOME city!) about 15 minutes from Greg’s job. It won’t be finished until sometime in January (boo!). We are downsizing a bit, which I am thankful for. Our house is too big. We have space we don’t use. Also, the new home is one floor! ONE! FLOOR! No stairs! Hallelujah! So, we are moving from 2700 sq feet to 2100, but I’m completely fine with that. It’s 4 bedrooms, but we are turning one of those bedrooms into the schoolroom and having the girls share a bedroom. We are across the street from a public library and aquatic center, which I’m really excited about!

While I don’t have any pictures now, I’m sure I will soon. I’m not sure when they will break ground; probably within the next 3-4 weeks. I’ve been busy picking out carpet and tile and lighting and all the other little details you get to do when building a home!

In the meantime, you can click HERE and see what the house will look like! In the virtual tour, our home is Model 203, except we added a 4th bedroom. If you look at the floor plans, we are model 204. The pictures of the homes are towards the end of the virtual tour; for some reason there are lots of pictures of the community!

Stay tuned! 🙂

Basil Bacon Pasta Salad

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Oh, friends. Bacon. Avocado. Basil. Cherub tomatoes. I mean, how could that be wrong?

That’s simple. It can’t be.

Before I get into the recipe for this, we must discuss two very important things:

1. There is NEVER  substitute for fresh basil. If you want your dish to taste awesome, always use fresh basil. Basil is super easy to grow; I have a blacker than black thumb and have still managed to grow a pot of basil on my kitchen windowsill.

2. Please, for the love of all that is bacon…use real bacon. I had been torturing myself with turkey bacon these past few years until someone (I shall love her forever) informed me that turkey bacon was actually worse for you because of the salt. And the angels sang, I tell ya! They sang!

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and changed it a bit (shocker, I know). It was originally from recipe.com.

{ingredients}

8 oz bow tie pasta
2 medium chopped avocados
8 slices of bacon, crisp cooked and chopped
1 cup cherub tomatoes, halved
2/3 cup chopped fresh basil
2 TB lemon juice
1 TB olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
dash of salt and pepper
1/2 cup parmesean cheese

{directions}

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients except the cheese. Add the pasta and toss to combine. Sprinkle with cheese and serve!

How easy is that?!?! It took 20 minutes to put together, and the kids went crazy for it. Jackson gave it 7 stars. He’s never given anything I’ve made over 5 stars. Mostly Little Mr. Picky gives me 3’s.

Give it a whirl! What’s not to love?

{Why I’m Leaving Facebook}

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I know what you are thinking.

I’m attempting the impossible, and I shall surely fail.

It’s okay; I know it. I know that Facebook has a grip on my life that I don’t even really understand, and that’s why I’ve decided to leave. Let me be clear with this: I, in no way, think that this is something EVERYONE should do. I’m not declaring Facebook as the evil internet giant that everyone must escape from or surely perish. But, for me, it has become an idol in my life. It’s something that I must let go based on my own convictions and experiences in my life. I’ll take you on the journey as to how I got to this point. Pop some popcorn and settle in.

I joined Facebook in 2006, shortly after Jackson was born. I had made the transfer from MySpace, and was riding high on how awesome it was to reconnect with old friends and see what everyone was up to. Really, though, I should say how much I liked everyone being connected to me. 

I’m not exactly sure when the shift happened. All that I know is that, now, when something happens in my life, my first thought is, “That would be a great status update!”. Ridiculous, right? Instead of just enjoying whatever moment it is, whether it be staring at the lot of my about to built home, or listening to the funny dialogue that escapes my children’s mouth…I’m thinking about Facebook. I’m thinking about how many people might like the picture, or comment on the status, etc. That just doesn’t seem right to me. It seems prideful. It seems full of gloat and pomp.  It seems like something I should flee from rather than run to. That’s not the person I want to be perceived as or want to even be. Once, a dear friend said, “Facebook is the highlight reel of people’s lives. No one posts the bad stuff, but we compare ourselves to the good stuff of others.” I’m a mom. I stay at home. I homeschool. I compare myself every single day to those around me. But, I’m using people’s “highlight reels” to compare my own life to. Or, people are using my highlight reel to compare their lives against. Yes, I bake. I homeschool. I’m a generously awesome person with mad skills…but so are YOU. My house is a giant mess all the time; you don’t see me scurrying to clean the background of my living room to take a picture of the kids. You don’t see the meltdowns and anxiety of making glitter seahorses. You don’t see the enormous mess of the kitchen after the mango scones. I’m tired of being perceived as a mom who has it all together; I’m mostly a mess and I want to stand beside you in that. ‘Cause we all are.

Also, communication. While I’ve thought that Facebook has brought me closer to people, I’m beginning to realize that “more friends I talk to” doesn’t mean “more friends I’m closer to”. Facebook has turned into an ocean of inch deep relationships. I would rather have a puddle of mile high relationships. I want to get back to phone calls (remember those?) rather than wall posts. I want to spend more time hearing you rather than trying to perceive what is meant over a computer screen.

So, instead of Facebook, come here. Here is where I will still keep you updated on our life. The blog is my log of our past, and I’m keeping it. It’s become the book of my children, and I’ve neglected it to instead make status updates about them that are gone as soon as they hit the bottom of the page. Instead, I will document their lives for my keepsake, not my glory. You can communicate through comments here or emails or phone calls if you need anything. So, if you are interested in what we are doing, make sure to bookmark this site, because I can no longer link it to Facebook when I do a new post.

So, I can’t delete my account; Facebook won’t let me. I’m deactivating it, and I actually like that. I like being able to hop on if I need to in order to get a phone number or something like that. I don’t know if this is a permanent break or temporary.

*sigh*. Off to do the impossible. It feels good.

{summer days}.

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This is about the time of the year when the Phoenicians wake up, look around, and wonder if they were somehow transported to the surface of the sun while they were sleeping.

We hibernate. We stay inside. We only venture outside if there is a body of water nearby, swimsuits on, and sunscreen slathered.

Unless, of course, you have in your possession a cardboard box with a hill nearby. Then…and only then, do you venture out in 110 to see how much fun you could have.

You can have a lot of fun. Hot, sweaty fun…but fun nonetheless.

But why stop there? I mean, we can see the park! We are already hot and dehydrated, sweaty and stinky…I know! Let’s add sand and hot plastic into the mix!

It seemed like we were out there forever, but it was only like 10 minutes, lol! The kids were red and hot and sticky, so we took them inside. Filled their bellies with water, gave them a good bath, put on Tinkerbell, and popped some popcorn.

Yesterday morning, Jackson caught a lizard.

This lizard had actually been living in our house for…well, who knows how long. We noticed him the night before, but he had darted underneath our couch. In the morning, Larry the Lizard got brave and attempted a tour of the premise, which quickly found him in the cage of a tupperware, then the hands of a 6 year old boy.

Poor Larry.

After Jackson tortured played with Larry for a bit, he set him free. Larry was a bit traumatized, so he just hung out on the porch, which meant Jackson could further inspect him. It was quite hilarious seeing Jackson and Greg hovered over the computer looking up facts about this lizard, with Jackson running over to look at him every few minutes to find descriptive features.

Thanks, Larry, for your sacrifice for science.

{Bountiful Baskets}

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A little over a year ago I heard of a produce food coop called Bountiful Baskets. Basically, you sign up, contribute $15, and then pick up your basket of goodies on Saturday at the location of your choice. Now, we go through produce in this house like crazy; my kids get fruits and veggies at every meal, and that is a lot of food! However, it took me a year to finally do it. Something about it seemed intimidating to me until I saw one of my friends do it. I’m rarely the first one to try something; I usually hang back and see how it goes before I dive in. So, I’ll show you the lay of the land in case YOU want to try it as well!

First, go the Bountiful Baskets website. They have a very informative page that will answer all of the questions you have. I will write about my experience which may answer some of those questions as well.

So, this is how it went down for me. On Sunday, I set up my account. Very easy to do. On Monday at NOON (check on what time your state opens), I went to the BB site to put in my order. I clicked on “Get my Produce Basket”, clicked on my state, county, and site location that I wanted to pick up from (there was one about 5 minutes from my house…SCORE!). It takes you to your order page. You can choose between a conventional basket ($15) or organic ($25), both have 50% veggies and 50% fruit. You do NOT get to choose what is in your basket; it is whatever is in season and whatever the farmers markets have in stock for the coop to purchase from. Every week they have add-ons, which you can choose for an additional cost. This week I got a Veggie Lovers pack in Italian Theme for an additional $8. Next week I’m going to order bread…5 organic loaves for $12. Some weeks they have special add-ons…this week was a case of cherries, but I didn’t get it because they were sold out by the time I ordered. So, I put in my order and had to patiently wait until this morning.

It was SO worth it! This is what I got for a total of $28 (there is a $3 charge for new customers, so normally it would have been $25)
-1 lb strawberries
-2 canteloupes
-5 peaches
-5 plums
-huge head green leaf lettuce
-eggplant
-head of cauliflower
-yellow squash
-bag of basil, bag of rosemary, bag of oregano
-5 organic tomatoes
-8 limes
-2 pounds green beans
-red pepper
-2 lbs grapes
-3 mangoes
-huge bush of parsley
-1 lb mushrooms
-1 red onion, 1 yellow onion
-1 bulb garlic

I won’t do the additional veggie add on every week, but I wanted the fresh herbs. I got a huge amount of them…the basil alone I got would have cost me $10 in the grocery store! And the quality is superb! Today I made a Strawberry Mango salsa from the basket and they were the best strawberries and mangoes I’ve ever had! Delicious!

A few things to note:
1. Make sure to go to the website and order your basket as close as you can to the open time. Some sites fill up very quickly!
2. Make sure to check your produce before you leave; there are no returns or refunds!
3. Yes, you may get things in your basket that you are unfamiliar with. That’s the fun! I’ve never cooked eggplant before, but a quick internet search found a recipe that I can’t wait to try! Not quite sure what to do with the cauliflower though, lol!

I can’t wait to do it again next week!

{I scream, you scream, we all scream for…zucchini?}

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You are probably thinking two things.

1. You never, ever have screamed for zucchini

and

2. If I’m talking about the photo above…where is the zucchini?

What? You don’t see the 2 POUNDS of zucchini in the delicious pasta dish I’ve created above? No? Look harder…

Ah, you don’t, do you?

And neither did The Littles.

In fact, Jackson only knew it was there because he helped shred it. By the time the dish was in front of his face, he had completely forgotten about it.

Would you like to know how to stuff 2 pounds of a healthy vegetable into your kid’s bodies without them catching on? Or, if they do catch on, the dish is so delicious that they don’t care?

Follow along, friend. I’m about to rock your world. And your nutritional intake.

So, I was inspired by a recipe from the Food Networks magazine, July/August edition. It’s called Broken Lasagna with Zucchini-Tomato Sauce. I followed their recipe almost to a T, but I changed a few things. First, I didn’t use broken lasagna pieces. I used bow tie pasta. I was just lazy and didn’t want to take the extra step to break noodles, although that would be a fun job for the kiddos. Also, the recipe calls to “coarsely grate” the zucchini, which means that you see it. I really didn’t intend to hide the vegetable; my shredder was just fine, so it grated it super fine. This is how you pack all that in without them seeing it. The trick? FINELY grate the zucchini. There is no “sauce” in this recipe; the zucchini/tomato mixture is what gives the noodles their flavor. It’s awesome.

So, here is the recipe. Try it. It’s great. And minus the 3 TBS of butter, its pretty good for you!

Zucchini Tomato Sauce with Bow-tie Pasta

2 large zucchini, finely grated
12 ounces bowtie pasta
3 TBS butter
2 cups cherry tomatoes (1 cup whole, 1 cup halved)
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Boil your noodles. While they are cooking, shred your zucc’s on a paper towel to collect all the moisture. Give a gentle squeeze to drain your pile of healthy. Grate some lemon zest.
2. Heat the butter, add the cherry tomatoes and cook until blistered and softened.  Add the zucchini/lemon zest to the pan. Crush your tomatoes with a wooden spoon, add some salt and pepper to taste, and cook for about 5 minutes.
3. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the pasta and cheese. Stir it all together and serve!

The Littles gobbled it up, and Brooklyn even asked for seconds! It really was delicious! Enjoy!