Sunday, February 21, 2021

Something's Cooking in the Kitchen

 "Hope you like spicy!" he called from the kitchen as I let myself. 

He made me this meal after we had been dating for awhile. He liked to cook and was good at it. (Probably because he's a "follow the directions" kind of guy). Many of our dates centered around cooking in the kitchen. 

He poured a glass of white wine as I watched him finish up. "The real treat of this meal is the sauce. You just dip crusty bread in it. It's sooo good." 

Chicken Dippin' is his signature meal. It comes from a cook book our brother-in-law has since gifted us. We make it twice a year. My birthday and Valentine's Day. We make it together, even though he is perfectly capable of fixing this dish on his own. There's just something that brings us back to those dating years when we're in the kitchen together. It doesn't happen as often as we would like, but when it does, we always have a good time. 

I give him a hard time about following everything little detail of the recipe... 

"you can just eyeball it you know...

Followed by, "seeee this is why we follow the recipe.

And usually ending with him mentioning how much he loves cooking dinner with me. I just love hearing that. Not because I need the help, but because its our quality time together. We laugh, reminisce, plan for the future, and dream. The kitchen is a big part of who we are. We have seen our roles go from dating, to engaged, to married, to married 10 years with four kiddos. The kitchen has been a part of each of those stages. The food we make, the laughs, the yells of "I'm cooking...can you change the diaper?" Cooking has been through it all. 

And when we think of the future stages of parenthood we know that the time we'll get to spend together will grow as our kids fill their schedules with new friends and hobbies that don't involve us. One of the things we look forward to is getting to spend more time around the cookbook and stovetop. Something's always going to be cooking in the kitchen at Weber Haus. 

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Final Fourth

This little nugget joined our family on Monday afternoon, February 25th, 2019.  Today he turns one. I went in to be induced that morning and he was out "like a linebacker" by 3:00 that afternoon.

It didn't take long before we realized that little Austin Joseph had his own way of doing things. I mean, I should have realized this. I'm not new to the "mom" role and I've had the opportunity to discover how different each baby is...but I had the confidence of an experienced mom with a full bag of tricks ready to throw at this little guy and all his demands.

Until my bag of tricks didn't suit him. At all.

This little bundle of joy has really made me stretch my "mommying" skills.

At a time when I'm stretched pretty thin as it is (but that's another post for another time).

He is our Final Fourth.

He completes our little family. Or big family depending on your perspective.

Austin Joseph, AJ. Today you have been our 6th member for a year.

A year of your silly little hair flip.

A year of figuring out how you want to sleep. Never the same way two nights in a row. Swaddled, pacifier, in the swing, in the crib, in a sleep sack, just a diaper. No consistency with you kid.

A year of your big little appetite.

A year of your sisters dragging you from place to place.

A year of earning your nickname as "monster-baby". A loveable way to describe your uncanny ability to get into EVERYTHING you're not supposed to. Dog food. Trash can. Billy's potty. If the door's been left open. You. Are. In.

A year of smiles, slobbery baby kisses, love, and hugs. And much more to come.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

It's a Good Time for Good Habits

So... my last post on this blog was over a year ago on February 9th. I had just completed Katerina's birthday post (over two months late) and we were still awaiting little AJ and I was MIS-ER-A-BLE waiting those last few weeks.

I wanted to blog more.  I planned on it while on maternity leave. I even started a couple.

Didn't happen.

Wanna know why?

Life hit us with a few big turns. Putting blogging about our lives at the back burner. Trust me. It's not for the lack of things to talk about. I've got some good stuff to share with you. Funny. Deep and meaningful. True insight into what goes on inside my head and what's been consuming our lives for the last year.

It just hasn't been a priority.

I want it to be again. I miss it. I really do love putting words down for us to read years later and smile, laugh, and cry as we remember the feelings that went with each story. I love sharing our lives and what comes our way.

Lent is approaching.

Seems like a good time to get back into a good habit.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, February 9, 2019

This Girl.

This girl turned 5 in November.


So I thought it appropriate to share 5 things about little "Kit Kat" that you may not already know.

#1: Her name.
Ethan and I are planners. Not only have we found out the gender of each of our babies, we had the names picked out since before we were married. Although, just because we are planners, it doesn't mean that we aren't flexible and willing to change plans. As it so happened with Katerina. She was "supposed" to be Claire. I love that name. Always have. Still do. BUT while on leave after Jackie was born, Ethan decided to dive into our family tree. Me, being the history teacher, loved hearing all the different unique things about our families while he poured over all the materials. One very interesting thing he found... we both had a Katerina deep in our family history. He immediately fell in love with the name, and suggested that if we have another girl someday we call her Katerina. Unique. Beautiful. And very "princess" sounding. Paired nicely with Jacqueline. I had no objection. Turns out...there was no other name that would suit this little princess!

#2: Her Emotions.
There are kids (and adults) out there who struggle to identify exactly how they are feeling during certain situations or how to express their emotions appropriately for the situation. Not Katerina. Not by a long shot. This girl is in touch with her emotions and wears each one right on her sleeve. There is never any doubt about how she feels. You'll know. Just by the look on her face. And in case you missed it...she'll tell you.

#3: Her Buddy
When we brought home our new little puppy, Rocky we knew our kiddos would love him. We didn't really know who would take to him the most. Katerina didn't waste any time taking charge of the new addition. Tagging along with Daddy to Rocky's training sessions allowed for them to build a pretty special bond. She loves it when she can bring her "buddy" inside. She is charged with keeping him under control and knows that it's her job to put him in the kennel. That dog listens to her better than he listens to me. And why wouldn't he... she just loves him so!

#4: Her Sweet Tooth
Pancakes - Yup. Doughnuts - Of course! Cereal, ice cream, candy - all acceptable options for breakfast in Katerina's eyes. This girl LOVES her sweets! Want her to finish her healthy lunch or eat those veggies at dinner??? Just tell her she can have a cookie or a root-beer float when she's done and it'll be gone in no time.

#5: Her in the Kitchen
Katerina LOVES to help in the kitchen. Every meal, even if I'm just warming up leftovers, she wants to be a part of the action. Up on the counter, wearing her apron, and helping with the food. I love involving her (even though many times it is easier to just do it myself). I can always count on her to want to be a part of it! Now that she is five I need to start teaching her how to do more than just pour in liquids and dump in cake mix. Time to break out the knives and kitchen scary as it may be, I need my kiddos capable in the kitchen! I have no doubt she'll figure it all out!

Happy Birthday Post little Kit-Kat! (Even though it is a few months late) :)

Monday, December 31, 2018

My "One-Word" of 2019 & Goals

So...2018 ends today.

Reflection is the key to self-growth, and as I look back on the year there are many things that I'm proud of, and things that I'm looking forward to working on in the new year.

I think it is important to look at ourselves as a work in progress, as opposed to a "one and done" shot of improvement during the month of January. With that in mind, the first thing I look for is my "One Word" of the year. Last year my word was CONSISTENT. What I love about the "one word" idea is that it can encompass many different areas of our lives. Instead of focusing on one, health, career, etc...the "one word" can apply to improving anything that falls within the focus.

Last year I focused on consistency. I found that when I was doing things, I really looked for "how is this consistent with who I want to be." It doesn't mean that I was perfect...but I was FAR better at focusing on consistency than I ever had been at any "resolutions" I had set.

This year...I'm not going to forget about my "Consistent" focus from last year, only now I'm looking to add to it with this year's focus.


This. Is. Needed.

Trust me.

The addition of a fourth child will come in March (or hopefully February) and the previous 6 months haven't been easy on this mama's mind or body. Once most women reach baby #4 they decide to become a stay-home-mom. Especially when the four kiddos will be under the age of 7. I'm not choosing to stay home. I want to keep teaching. I progress in my teaching career and family life continues to multiply, it has become obvious that a work-life vs. family-life balance has shifted dramatically since we were new parents 7 years ago. Trying to figure out what that looks like is part of the reason for my "balance" focus of 2019.

The other reason for the "Balance" focus has to do with my other "goals" of 2019. Keep in mind that I don't look at these as all things I'm trying to start on January 1. These are things I want to try and tackle throughout the year as step-by-step improvements to achieve a more balanced lifestyle.

For me, a 2019 Balanced Lifestyle consists MORE or LESS of...

MORE: Books and reading at night before bed.
LESS: Screen time and aimless scrolling of my phone

MORE: Bags of donations and trash
LESS: Clutter and just moving things from one storage location to another

MORE: Water
LESS: Non-Water

MORE: Stretching and moving
LESS: Sitting in the recliner

MORE: Blogging and captioning our REAL lives and not just the "picture perfect" moments. Although, I will still post those picture perfect times too!
LESS: Online "window shopping"

MORE: Continued focus on a consistent healthy choices for my family and myself
LESS: Moments of  "gluttony" on my favorite unhealthy choices.

MORE: People surrounding me with the same mindset and goals I have. Positive people help promote a positive lifestyle.
LESS: Negativity and people who spread it.

Achieving any goal we set is a step-by-step process. One slip-up doesn't mean that we failed, it's that we continue to move past it towards a bigger dream and better things to come. Great things come in small steps, not the 31 days of January!

What is your "One-Word" for 2019? What are you striving for?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Shaggy the Elf

Like all good parents of littles we took our kiddos to see Santa. I'm a frugal parent, and I refuse to go to the mall and pay hyped-up prices for a picture with the big guy. We are fortunate enough that Ethan, as a member of the Knights of Columbus is given the opportunity to bring kids to see Santa, take pictures, color, and eat some cake for a short afternoon get-together.

It's awesome.

Not terribly crowded (which pleases the hubby and I), the kids are entertained, and the "Santa" has an actual real beard and brings "friends."

One of his friends he brings along is a silly elf named Shaggy. Shaggy gets in to all kinds of mischief by teasing Santa and playing little tricks on the kids. Our little Jackie was very interested in Shaggy. To her, he was super annoying and quite funny at the same time.

He took her little toy Santa gave her. And then gave it back. Boy was he silly!

Santa was a hit with our girls for the first time! They actually went independently and sat on his lap without having to be taken by mom. They told him what they wanted for Christmas and that they had been good girls. Jackie also took the time to tattle on that Shaggy.

Billy wasn't a fan right way, no how was he going to sit on that lap. BUT when Santa was about to leave he couldn't let the big guy get away without a fist bump and high-five. Then some swift movements by Santa and mommy got Bill right up on his lap for a picture!

It was a great afternoon.

But little did I know, it wouldn't end there.

Jackie is at a great age for Santa. She is VERY inquisitive about everything he does and how it all works, and for now, the answers that we (and movies) give her seem to satisfy her curiosity. It is such a magical time as a parent too, seeing the joy and wonder of Santa. One of the coolest things our elementary school does is have the little ones write letters to Santa. Preschool through 2nd grade get to spend a little class time writing a letter and sending it off to the North Pole. Those kids come home SUPER excited a few weeks later when they receive a REPLY letter. What those littles don't know (yet) is that our 8th grade students write them back as busy "elves" helping Santa.

This puts me in a unique position. I usually know the 8th grader who writes back to Jackie and this year I was able to provide some "inside information" to her Santa experience that made it all the more REAL. I was able to pass along the information about that mischievous elf, Shaggy! Which was promptly added to her return letter. Jackie found it hilarious that her elf "Shimmer" actually knew Shaggy and was doing her best to try and keep him out of trouble.

But the Shaggy Saga doesn't end there...

You see. Jackie wanted quite a few things for Christmas, and like a typical 6-year-old there were last-minute changes and things she asked for that were NOT going to come from Santa. I worked hard those last few weeks leading up to Christmas trying to explain to her that Santa doesn't just give her "whatever she wants." He tries to giver her things he thinks she will want, even if she doesn't realize it. However...the one thing she was consistent in asking for was Mermaid Pajamas.

There were NO mermaid pajamas in stores this winter. None. Amazon had very slim options. Everything was Unicorns. (Which was her little sister's current infatuation.) Little sister was easy... but imagine Jackie's "belief" in Santa when Katerina gets her unicorn things and there's no mermaid stuff for Jackie. Ugh. It's not like she was asking for something that was going to cost us hundreds of dollars. This should have been a simple fix.

And then in comes dad with the BEST idea. Shaggy!

We're going to use him to buy us a little time.

So on Christmas Eve, when Santa stopped by and set out the gifts, he left some cute, soft bunny PJs for Jackie along with a little note explaining why those PJs weren't printed with mermaids.

And BOY did it WORK!

She was the first one up in the morning came bounding in our room flabbergast as to why Santa would give her rabbit PJs when she asked for Mermaid. But after a little further investigation and reading (she had to read the letter herself...LOVING that I could tie a little reading into this!) she discovered that the SILLY ELF SHAGGY HID HER PAJAMAS and that Santa would send her some mermaid ones as soon as he found them!

Hook. Line. & Sinker.

That simple explanation made complete and total since to her. She understood competely and is no awaiting new PJs in the mail. We have explained to her that Santa may have to wait until closer to spring time before sending them!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Finding Consistency Through Losses and Gains

We are always learning, growing and continuing to become the person we are meant to be. This means that we try things until we find something that works for us. Many people who follow my social media know that I've stumbled onto something that works for me, in more ways than one.

I have struggled with making healthy choices for a long time. And about 6 years ago, I tried something different. It worked then. And it worked for about a month at a time. I would lose the 10-15 pounds I wanted to lose, feel good, but it would last about a month. I'd spend about 4-3 months slowly putting the weight back on, making one poor choice after another. Then, I'd repeat the cycle.

I thought this was normal.

Until I was tired of "normal."

I craved consistency. I wanted something that would help me build a consistent healthy lifestyle. I envied those people who could turn down the bread bowl at the pasta restaurant or the brownie at the potluck. I just thought I could never do that.

But I can.

And I do.

On a consistent basis.

Seriously. For over 7 months I have stayed consistent with my healthy eating choices at least 80% of the time. I have "reset" myself every month for 10 days. I focus on getting quality nutrition and I don't cheat. Those 10 days are for me, each month, to help remain consistent. As I sit here reflecting on what that has done for me...I am amazed.

So what really have I gained, lost, and reduced in 7 months? Listen (read) up...cause I never thought I would be saying (typing) this.

Let's start with what I have REDUCED in my life...or do/have minimally.

  • The SCALE: I was dependent on the bathroom scale. No matter how many times I heard that you shouldn't weigh yourself everyday, I still did. Multiple times a day. Everytime I walked into the bathroom I would weigh myself. Not only was I addicted to the bright blue numbers that showed up, my mood and confidence was affected by the number that showed. Even if I had been "good" and the number was higher than I wanted, I was sad. 
  • CAFFINE: I had NO IDEA how addicted I was to caffine until I gave it up cold turkey. Holy cow. Now I have one cup of coffee maybe half of the days in a month. That's it. And the crazy thing? I'm not near as tired. I feel so alert and awake, even when my children combine their efforts to get some "mommy time" in the middle of the night. 
  • DAIRY: Again, something I never thought I'd say. I have very little dairy...and for the most part (other than a splash of milk in my coffee) I don't have it anymore. I save my cheese for the flavorful cheese on pasta or special occasions. I no longer need it on sandwiches, mexican food, or in my eggs. 
  • PAIN: I have joint pain. I have "old lady knees" and arthritis that you wouldn't believe. There is at least one knee replacement in my future. I hurt when the weather changes and my knee will swell up for what seems like nothing. BUT...when I am fueling my body with natural foods, whole fruits and vegetables, and taking my plant-based Omegas regularly...I hurt LESS. It's amazing to me to know that if I have a more painful day it usually follows a day where I indulged a little more. 
  • GLUTEN: Talk about a reduction. This was (and is) the most difficult part of changing my ways. I just love things filled with gluten. But I have learned to cut it out completely for 10 days every month and reduce it tremendously from what it was a year ago. I try to make smarter choices and eat it less. 
OK...So what have I LOST?
  • WEIGHT: Ok...let's get right to it. This is the question that I'm asked most often. "How much weight have you lost?" That's what people want to know.  Here's the deal. I've lost 10 pounds. 10 since I switched my focus from monthly challenges to consistent health. The bigger deal on this is that I've KEPT IT OFF for over 7 months. I haven't gained - lost - gained - lost. I've stayed strong. People comment that I look like I've lost more. I have lost some inches, I've lost some puffiness, but 10 lbs. is it for now. (I also haven't integrated regular exercise in my life. That will come, but facing some injury issues right now.) The point is...the weight loss doesn't really matter. I know it sounds crazy, but once I started focusing more on nutrition and less on the number, the number didn't matter. How I feel is a direct representative of what I've been eating. 
  • CONFIDENCE. I can't stress this one enough. I feel good. I feel like I look good. I'm wearing clothes again that I haven't worn in years, and not because they finally fit, but because I feel confident wearing it. 
  • A GLOW: My skin is awesome. Seriously. The nutrients from all the fruits and veggies that I've been consuming are paying out. Huge. I noticed it a few months in. Other's started mentioning it about 6 months in. 
  • COMMUNITY and FRIENDSHIP: Throughout this journey I have met some amazingly positive people who only want to see me succeed. I have made new friends, good friends who fill my cup with joy. Surround yourself with people who make you better, not bitter. Life is too short to be around people who want to see you fail. This group of people make me smile on a daily basis.
  • HEALTHIER KIDS. This one is huge. I want to lead by example. Our kids model us and what we do. Within a month of starting this journey my girls started wanting to eat what I was eating (at least some of it). They wanted to know if certain foods were healthy and if it was good for their bodies. This summer I started including them more in the lifestyle. It's a slow process, but we make progress everyday. 
  • ENERGY and ALERTNESS. I didn't think I was living in a fog. But I was. I thought I was awake and alert. But I wasn't. I am now. Without the aid of energy drinks and coffee on a consistent basis. Sure there are days I'm tired...I've got three kiddos, but it isn't a consistent tired. 
Again. I am in no way perfect. And I don't strive to be. Perfection is boring. I'll never fully give up pizza. But I can try to reduce the amount of times we have it. I will have wine and beer when I'm not on my 10-day reset. But I will continue working on consistency for myself and my entire family.