Saturday, September 29, 2012

Size doesn't always matter, but relationships always do

We are pretty settled into our new house.  We feel so fortunate to live where we do, with lots of extra space to run around, play and be together.

Today as we were going out together, T asked G-Bear and E-Bear, 
"How do you like our new house, you guys?"

E-Bear replied,
"I liked our blue house better, where we could go and visit Mr. Gary every afternoon."

Now, we certainly are blessed here in Minnesota with MoMo, Papa, GG, Uncle Charlie, Aunty Cindy and many other dear family members nearby.  We often highlight those blessings together as we adore our new surroundings.  I thought it was sweet, though, that to E-Bear, the most meaningful part of "home" is the relationships, not the extra space.

Sweet North Carolina friends, you are greatly missed by our Minnesota crew.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

All things considered...

On the eve of T's greatly hailed return home, I must reflect that, all things considered, we've done pretty well the past two weeks.

T departed two weeks ago to return to North Carolina for a brief stint of practice preparation.  For two whole weeks leading up to that point, we had been spoiled by his glorious omnipresence.  The kids and I thrive with T around and we miss him so whenever he is away, so naturally it was hard to say goodbye.

The Bears and I have been tough, though, working to establish our routine and make our days productive and fun even though Dad can't be around.  Some days are certainly better than others, as would be expected, and many nights we all collapse together into a heap.

But there was this one morning.....

Buddy Bear woke up, chipper as usual. I got him out of his crib and let him waddle around the room in his sleep sack while I finished getting ready for the day, until I noticed that his sleep sack was soaking wet.  Before he knew it, I had swept him off his feet to check his sack for the offending cause.  With the sleep sack off, it was evident something was wrong.  His whole pj onesie was filled with poop -- and no diaper.  Our little man had been put to bed with a onesie snapped over his naked little rear end! Poor dude!  Yet, he awoke chipper as ever.  I think there are several lessons for me in there somewhere.

It might be especially incriminating to note that I later noticed his unfolded diaper, ready to be applied, lying on the floor next to the bed where I had left it the night before.

Like I said, we've done pretty well, but maybe not awesome.

Thank goodness, T will be home soon!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Saint Therese's inspiration for the routine

"What matters in life is not great deeds, but great love."
~St. Therese of Lisieux

My inspiration today came from a prayer in honor of St. Therese of Lisieux, as part of a novena leading up to her feast day, October 1st:

"Loving God, you gave St. Therese the ability to see you in the ordinary routine of each day.  
Help me to be aware of your presence in the everyday events of my life."
~Day Three, St. Therese of Lisieux Novena

Grocery Bag

A new week already?  Bring it on!  Here is our plan for the week.

Day One
Red lentil and orzo stew from Martha Stewart Living
with homemade bread and carrot sticks
I am a sucker for lentil soups of any kind.  This is a new one for us.
Photo and recipe from Martha Stewart

Day Two
Mushroom and bacon frittata with Fine Cooking's create your own online tool
with spinach and apple salad
This is a great tool from Fine Cooking to inspire your frittata.

Day Three
Rotisserie chicken, steamed green peas
and roasted potatoes
Chickens are on sale today!
We'll need simple and easy to get us through the midweek blues.

Day Four
Bourbon chicken with basmati rice 
A veteran recipe from our kitchen.
Photo and recipe from Happily Ever Johnson

Day Five
Creamy chickpea soup with chorizo from Fine Cooking Magazine
with quesadillas and apple slices
Another new soup to round out our week.
Photo and recipe from Fine Cooking

Blessings on your kitchen this week!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Overheard in the house this week: September 2012

"Mom, I am going to be a farmer when I grow up.  And I am going to grow LOTS of food for people who don't have any food.  And I am going to grow LOTS of food for our family too."
~E-Bear (wearing his John Deer foam State Fair hat)


"We're going to play with soccer balls, soccer balls, soccer balls,
how about you, you, you,
you can come too, too, too, 
we're going to play with soccer balls, soccer balls, soccer balls.....
I had a little soccer ball,
I made it out of clay,
and when it's dry and ready,
my soccer ball I will play,
oh, soccer ball soccer ball soccer ball......
Time for soccer,
time for soccer,
yes it is, yes it is,
time to play soccer time to play soccer,
yes it is, yes it is....."

~G-Bear, in the car on the way to her first soccer team game,
singing along to all the Raffi songs and making up new words of her own


Me: "Buddy Bear, what does a LION say?"
Buddy Bear (whispering with mouth wide open):  "Raaaaaaaarh!"
Me: "What does a MONKEY say?"
Buddy Bear (again, mouth wide open): "Ah ah ah ah!"

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My conversations with Buddy Bear

Buddy Bear, coming to find me in the bathroom:
"Waajah ejah baba amaa?"

"Aala maja baba maja."

Buddy Bear, pointing to the room where his siblings are playing and screaming:
"Yama bala ooba naanna."

Me, nodding in agreement:
"Yaaja baaba."

Buddy Bear, questioning:

Me, assuringly:

Buddy Bear walked off completely contented with our conversation.  I didn't understand a word uttered.  Such is life with our most darling, 16-month-old linguist.  I know I'll miss these days when intelligible words aren't nearly so sweet.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Grocery Bag

Ahh, I have missed my grocery bag.  Thanks to several loving friends and T's omnipresence during our first few weeks here, I haven't had to do much meal planning.  We've been flying by the seat of our pants, for the most part.  Now, it's time to get down to business as we re-establish our routines.

This Grocery Bag marks both the return of the Minnesota edition and my first fall menu plan.  The air is crisp and we've pulled out our light jackets for the week.  Dinner will have to rise to the occasion.  Here is my plan for the week.

Day One
Lentil sausage soup from Cheap Recipes Blog
with breadsticks and applesauce
A new favorite soup!
Photo and recipe from Cheap Recipes Blog

Day Two
Butternut squash couscous with chutney from Real Simple Magazine
with steamed green peas
I use craisins in place of the chutney, but otherwise I love this dish.
Photo and recipe from

Day Three
Butternut squash mac & cheese from Tasty Kitchen
with pears and carrots
The kids have no idea :)
Photo and recipe from Tasty Kitchen

Day Four
Rotisseri chicken with 
This is one of my favorite side dishes, perfect for this week's produce.
Photo and recipe from My Kitchen Table

Day Five
Cauliflower and cheddar soup from Everyday Food Magazine
with homemade rolls and apple slices
Another favorite soup will round out our week.
Photo and recipe from

Blessings on your kitchen this week!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Enduring in Trust

Today I came across this beautiful meditation in an old edition of Magnificat.  I found it so encouraging to be reminded of the greatness of God's plan for our lives, even when it doesn't make sense to us or align with our hopes.  We need God's strength to persevere in faith and trust Him for what we cannot see.

God's word cut deeply into Mary's life: it cut all the ordinary homes a young woman might have for her future, for her family life, for her child.  Yet, she accepted with a courageous consent that anticipates and mirrors the obedience of her Son "even unto death on a cross." (cf. Phil 2:8)

You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised. (Heb 10:36)

Psalm 40:6-9
How many, O Lord my God,
are the wonders and designs
that you have worked for us;
you have no equal.
Should I proclaim and speak of them,
the are more than I can tell.

You do not ask for sacrifice and offerings,
but an open ear.
You do not ask for holocaust and victim.
Instead, here am I.

In the scroll of the book it stands written
that I should do your will.
My God, I delight in your law
in the depth of my heart.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever.  Amen.  Allelujah!

~Magnificat, September 2005
Vol. 7, No. 7

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Special Delivery

G-Bear seems to love Kindergarten.  We are only four days in, but she has handled the transition beautifully.  Despite the early (by our standards) 6:50am wake ups, she bounds out of bed, enthusiastically dresses in her new uniform and waits patiently while I do her hair.  She races to her class line on the plaza, and waves goodbye with gusto when the bell rings.  When we pick her up at lunchtime, she greets her brothers with hugs and excitedly tells us about the parts of her day that she can remember.

I am so happy for G-Bear, but I miss her terribly.  I look so forward to picking her up from school each day.  Of the two of us, I am having a much harder time with the transition.  Sweet G-Bear always has a knack for making others feel better, though.  Yesterday, as we arrived home, I said,
"G-Bear, it is so nice to have you home.  I missed you!"
To which our sweet girl replied with a grin and a twinkle in her eye,
"Mommy, you remember my secret, don't you?  I really miss you guys too while I am at school!"
Then she pulled out this envelope from her backpack and gave it to me.
She made a picture for me during free time and sounded out the words for the envelope by herself.

"Mommy Delivery" by G-Bear
Many moments of motherhood bring tears to my eyes.  Several of them have presented this past week alone.  If we do our job well, we are not just raising children, we are raising adults; compassionate, caring, loving, gracious adults at that.  These misty-eye moments that come when our kids move another tiny step along their journey need not be moments of sadness, but are signs of hard-fought progress, a piece of the job well done.  

Thanks to G-Bear for the Special Delivery.  It was just the pick-me-up that I needed.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A First Haircut for Buddy Bear

Just look at those curls.

Some people spend a lot of money to get their hair to curl like that.

Sad to say, those curls were making it hard for Buddy Bear to see.

'Seriously, Mom and Dad, I can't see over here.'

 So, this past week, we paid someone to cut them off. 
 After all, big brother and sister shouldn't be the only ones celebrating big firsts. :)
*Sigh.*  Good-bye, curls.

The stylist made quick work of Buddy Bear's locks.  Her hands were flying!  But, there were no tears or fears from Buddy Bear.  He was dialed into Elmo the whole time.

Pretty soon, our little buddy could see again.

All done!  We couldn't believe how different and how grown up he looked.  He seemed truly pleased with himself.

The best part was getting to pick out a lollypop of his own.  He even shared a few with his brother and sister.

We couldn't get him to take the lolly out of his mouth to take an after-haircut photo!  He and that lolly were stuck like glue.  It was a well earned treat, to be sure.

Great job, Buddy Bear! 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Happy Birthday, MoMo

Happy Birthday, MoMo!

Tonight, thanks to MoMo, we held the first birthday celebration in our new house.  
We felt so flattered to host our very gracious guests! 

E-Bear and G-Bear were in charge of frosting the cake.  They did a great job!  

We treated MoMo to dinner on the lawn, complete with a mishmash of birthday decorations:  first birthday lanterns, birthday murals courtesy of G-Bear and E-Bear, and giant flower plumes made of packing paper (we have plenty).  T made appetizer popcorn and sweet tea, plucked flowers from our garden and turned on the oldies tunes.   Pretty nice! 

The birthday girl was radiant as always.   She was even gracious enough to let her grandchildren help blow out her candles (their reward for making such a great cake!). 

We love you MoMo!  What a treat it was to all be together for your birthday.

Six in the Garden

Perhaps more than any other corner of my parents' house, 
my children love the garden.

My kids are in heaven during planting season when Papa asks them to help him plant his annuals.  In late august, there may not be much planting to be done, but Papa managed to find some planting work to do when the five cousins convened last week.

A sweet little zinnia had grown from seed in the wrong spot, and he dug it up with the crew to transplant it to a patch with more space.

Everyone helped with such gentle hands!  They are learning from the best.

The garden is such a sweet place to be, together.

Friday, September 7, 2012

G-Bear's First Day of Kindergarten

It is hard to believe that we have a Kindergartener in our midst.  Dressed neatly in her new school jumper and hair bows, G-Bear was walking on air this week for her first day of school.  While she admitted to MoMo that she was a *tiny* bit nervous, her nervousness didn't show as she ventured into her new school for the first time.

On Wednesday, T and I joined G-Bear for her Kindergarten orientation with her teacher and classmates in their new classroom.

G-Bear set right to work.  She and her classmates made Kindergarten look like a piece of cake!  She was proud to show us her artwork at the end of orientation and declared that she was "very excited" for her first day the next morning.

G-Bear hard at work during orientation.
 Thursday morning was almost a magical time.  MoMo and Papa were in tow to see G-Bear off at her new school.  All the kids line up on the plaza to enter into school together.  As the Kinders walked in with their classmates, all of the older students, parents and teachers erupted into applause.  It brought tears to my eyes!  Fortunately, I held those tears back, because our sweet girl turned to give us a long wave just as she walked into the building.  What a blessing that T was standing elsewhere and could get a great picture!  Then, off she scampered to have a great time.

G-Bear waving to us as she walked into school.
It will take me a while to get used to the new quiet in the house when G-Bear is at school.  Today, E-Bear said to T, "Dad, do you know who I like to play with the most?  G-Bear."  We will all be missing each other a little bit more these days.  Thank goodness that Kindergarten is only half-day!  Our pre-lunch, after-school reunions are super sweet.
G-Bear and E-Bear after the first day of school.
So, after two days down, we have a school year to go.  May God bless this school year, our learning, our friendships, and each of the days to come.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

State Fair Fun 2012

Nothing helps our family get ready for fall like the Minnesota State Fair!

After reluctantly missing the Fair last year due to our cross country move, we were back in force for 2012.  Thanks to MoMo and Papa, who coordinated so much of the festivities, to Uncle C, and to Uncle T and Aunt K, who brought the cousins to share in the fun-on-a-stick.  

MoMo and Papa were thrilled to have their whole crew in tow!

We couldn't visit the Swine Barn this year because of the dangers of Swine Flu, but we had a great time mooing in the Cow Barn, watching the horse shows at the Coliseum, climbing the tractors on Machinery Hill and, of course, riding the rides at the Kidway.

E-Bear loved the bouncing tractors,

everyone loved the Dora swings,

Cousin H and Uncle T drove circles around the other drivers,

Aunt K and Cousin T hitched a ride on a tractor,

and before the day was over, G-Bear convinced her dad to join her on the whirling beetle bugs!

Buddy Bear liked his ride the best.  It came with a nice view of the Fair!

Perhaps you can tell that we spent more time riding rides this year than in years past.  I guess we have hit that stage!  *Sigh.*  Not that I am anti-rides, but I still hope for a day when my Bears are excited to join me in the Education, Ecology and Home Improvement buildings.  Ha!

Of course we nibbled some treats throughout the day, despite the heat and crowds.  There is nothing like a Pronto Pup at the Fair, right Cousin T?

It was another great year at the Minnesota State Fair!  Until next year.....