Sunday, September 29, 2013

Grocery Bag

Whether afternoon office hours, morning pre-K field trips, or fresh, fall evenings, dinner must adapt for all.  Here's how we plan to get it done this week.

Day One
Shrimp pad thai from Cooking Light Magazine
with cabbage cilantro salad and peaches
Photo and recipe from

Day Two
Ravioli with peas and shallots from Real Simple Magazine
with pears and mixed green salad
Photo and recipe from

Day Three
Tilapia curry with basil from Everyday with Rachael Ray
with couscous and apples
Photo and recipe from

Day Four
Bacon and butternut pasta from Cooking Light Magazine
Photo and recipe from

Day Five
Sweet potato soup from Southern Living Magazine
with cheddar biscuits and kale craisin salad
Photo and recipe from 

Blessings on your kitchen this week!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Welcome Home

This fall, for a few hours each week,
 I am away from the house while I teach physiology to college students.

So far, this experiment has gone remarkable well.

Because I lecture in the early morning, the day is still just beginning when I return home.
This is nice, because I love having the rest of the day to spend with the Bears.

Yesterday, Buddy Bear welcomed me home by inviting me to read him a story on the couch.
As he crawled up next to me, I said,

"Well, I am glad I am home, Buddy Bear.  I missed you!"

Buddy Bear replied, clear as day, with a big shy smile,

"Oh, Mommy, I miss you too."

I melted.  
That's my sweet Buddy Bear.

Monday, September 23, 2013

My little medic

Buddy Bear was the first to succumb to the fever this past weekend.  
He was a real trooper and recovered quickly with the help a little Tylenol and a lot of TLC.

By the time G-Bear, the next in line, was feeling feverish, 
Buddy Bear was making a full recovery.

Upon finding G-Bear snuggled under a blanket on the couch, Buddy Bear made his assessment.

"Mommy," he said, coming to find me,
"G-Bear needs med-sin."

Buddy Bear was right.  I headed right upstairs to get the medicine for G-Bear.

G-Bear is blessed to have such a thoughtful little brother looking out for her!
By sticking together, we'll all be on the mend soon.

Warm soups and easy main dishes are on deck for this week.  We have the first sickness of the season running through our ranks!  I need plenty of time to tend my sicklings.  Thank goodness for the meal plan.

Day One
with bulgar and brown lentils

Photo and recipe from My Kitchen Table

Day Two
Summer squash and corn chowder from Cooking Light Magazine
with homemade bread and green salad

Photo and recipe from

Day Three
Bacon mac from Cooking Light Magazine
with celery sticks and apple slices

Photo and recipe from

Day Four
Tortilla pie with chicken from Everyday Food Magazine
with carrot-cumin slaw and nectarine fruit salad

Day Five
Curried lentil and chickpea stew from Cooking Light Magazine
with naan
Photo and recipe from

Blessings on your kitchen this week!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Reach out and touch someone....

Today, that's exactly what J-Bear did to me for the first time.

When I woke her up this morning, J-Bear reached up and grabbed my cheeks with her hands.
Then, she gave me a great big smile.
She was so tickled with herself that she had my face in her hands.

What a great way to start the day!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Called to spread the Gospel of Life

Although I am not currently practicing medicine, the profession of medicine, and especially the specialty of obstetrics and gynecology, is something I think about on a daily basis.  Not surprisingly, I read with great interest Pope Francis' comments before an international conference of obstetrician/gynecologists at the Vatican today.

I so deeply admire Pope Francis.  I admire the way that he has exhorted Christians to be messengers of healing and mercy, reject a culture of waste, and adopt a simpler life of love in harmony with the richness of Christ's Gospel.

I also care deeply for my friends, former teachers and colleagues who are working as obstetricians.  I appreciate the struggles of the profession, including the responsibility of maintaining a balance of compassionate leadership and faithful service to their patients.

The Pope's loving, encouraging remarks are words that I want to remember.  I want to be prepared to share similar exhortations in the future with friends who need encouragement in their walk within obstetrics.

The full translation of Pope Francis' address can be read here.

"...We witness today a paradoxical situation, regarding the medical profession. On one hand we see – and we thank God – for the advances in medicine, thanks to the work of scientists who, with passion and without sparing themselves, are dedicated to research of new cures. On the other, however, we also verify the danger that the doctor loses his identity of servant of life. The cultural disorientation has affected an ambit that seemed unassailable: yours, medicine! Although being by their nature at the service of life, the health professions are induced sometimes not to respect life itself. Instead, as the encyclical Caritas in veritate reminds us, openness to life is at the center of true development. If  personal and social sensibility is lost to welcoming a new life, other forms of reception useful to social life are hardened. The reception of life tempers moral energies and makes possible mutual help. The paradoxical situation is seen in the fact that, while new rights are attributed to the person, sometimes even presumed, life is not always protected as primary value and primordial right of every man. The ultimate end of medical action always remains the defense and promotion of life.

A widespread mentality of the useful, the “throw away culture” which today enslaves the hearts and intelligences of so many, has a very high cost: it requires eliminating human beings, especially if physically or socially weaker. Our answer to this mentality is a decisive and unhesitant “yes” to life. The first right of a human person is his/her life. He/she has other goods and some of them are more precious; but life is the fundamental good, condition for all the others.  Things have a price and are saleable, but persons have a dignity, they are worth more than things and they have no price. Because of this, attention to human life in its totality has become in recent times a real and proper priority of the Magisterium of the Church, particularly for life which is largely defenseless, namely, that of the disabled, the sick, the unborn, children, the elderly.
Each one of us is called to recognize in the fragile human being the face of the Lord, who in his human flesh experienced indifference and loneliness to which we often condemn the poorest, be it in developing countries, be it in well-off societies. Every unborn child, condemned unjustly to being aborted, has the face of the Lord, who before being born, and then when he was just born, experienced the rejection of the world. And every elderly person, even if he/she is sick or at the end of his/her days, bears in him/herself the face of Christ. They cannot be discarded!
...Be witnesses and propagators of this “culture of life.”...
...Dear doctor friends, you who are called to take care of human life in its initial phase, all of you must remember with facts and words, that this is always, in all its phases and at every age, sacred and is always of quality. And not because of a discourse of faith, but of reason and science! There is no human life that is more sacred than another, as there is no human life that is qualitatively more significant than another. The credibility of a health care system is not measured only by efficiency but above all by the care and love of persons, whose life is always sacred and inviolable."
~Pope Francis, September 20th, 2013
Audience with the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations

Monday, September 16, 2013

New schedules

G-Bear is two weeks into 1st grade, E-Bear is into pre-K, 
and I am on my third week of collegiate teaching.

We are reeling from new schedules, trying to juggle needs of six people 
between pick-ups, drop-offs, nap times, nursing, and outside responsibilities.

Today I picked up G-Bear and E-Bear from school, with J-Bear in my arms and Buddy Bear
at my side.  Buddy Bear got big hugs from his siblings, and we all ran to the playground to play together.  As we walked to the car, I said to the kids,

"I have been looking forward to this time all day, 
when we are all back together."

As we arrived back home, I felt the tug of a million different items on my To-Do list.
Pay the bills, clean the closet, do the laundry, prep dinner, write my lectures for the week, prepare for lab, start G-Bear's homework, pick-up the playroom.....

But instead of doing any of those things, 
we all snuggled onto the couch to read Stuart Little together.
With J-Bear on my lap, Buddy Bear on my legs, 
E-Bear under my arm and G-Bear leaning on my shoulder, 
I was enjoying the only place I really wanted to be.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Grocery Bag

Welcome back, grocery bag! We have made it through the first two weeks of school, even without my computer, which has been broken and in the shop being fixed .  Now, we're headed to the grocery store to stock up for the weekend and next week.  Our meal plan will keep us on track.  As the nights grow chillier and the fall produce comes in, we are enjoying some different dinner fare. 

Day One
Fresh Mex Penne with sausage, corn and peppers by Happily Ever Johnson
with cheddar biscuits and spinach salad

1 lb penne pasta
1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, sliced 
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups mini bell peppers, sliced
1/2 c corn
1-2 jalepenos, minced
10oz. apple chicken sausage, chopped
1 Tbs taco seasoning
salt, pepper to taste
1 c reserved pasta water
1/4 c sour cream

1.  Cook penne according to package instructions; drain, reserving 1 c pasta water.
2.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Saute onion, garlic, jalepeno, peppers, corn for 3-5 minutes or until roasting and browning slightly.  Add sausage and cook until browning.  Season with taco seasoning and salt and pepper.
3.  Add drained pasta, reserved pasta water and sour cream, stirring until combined and a smooth sauce coats the pasta.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4
(Or two hungry adults and three kids)

Day Two
Sweet and sour chicken from Everyday Food Magazine
with basmati rice, mango slices and cilantro cabbage salad

Day Three
Onion and pepper quesadillas with spinach salad, chips
and corn & black bean salsa from Rachel Ray

Day Four
Tomato and lentil chili from Vegetarian Planet
with buttermilk-cornmeal drop biscuits from Everyday Food Magazine

Day Five
Hamburger stroganoff from Cooking Light Magazine
with roasted brussels sprouts and peaches

Friday, September 6, 2013

State Fair Highlights

In case anyone was wondering, 
we did make it to the State Fair this year,


People have asked us if we are crazy.
"You went TWICE?!  With all FOUR kids?!"

What can we say?

We're Fair people.

Our tricks are as follows:
-Be prepared.  Snacks, water bottles, hats, sunscreen, and baby carriers are essentials.
-Start early! It gets crowded later in the day when nap time crabbies are peaking.
-Get an early treat or snack.  No one likes walking the fair with a grumbling tummy.
-Hit the kid highlights, on a weekday if possible.  There are so many great, education kid activities at the Minnesota State Fair.
-Hit the road mid-afternoon and eat a light, healthy dinner at home.  By that time you have walked off the early day Fair food and tummies are ready for a change of pace.

The kids had a great time at the Kidway with MoMo and Papa.  They each got to choose 3 rides, which built up just enough anticipation without going overboard.  G-Bear and E-Bear loved riding the flying gliders together!

 Next came the Bumper Boats!
Buddy Bear hopped right in behind his siblings.
His face said it all: "Me, ready? I was born for this."

When Buddy Bear was crushed that he couldn't ride the roller coaster with G-Bear and E-Bear, Papa took him on a "Bouncy Car" ride.  It was hard to tell who had more fun:

 In reality, the rides were a very brief part of our Fair tour this year.  We visited the fabulous Alphabet Forest twice, spending over an hour there each time.  There were name necklaces to make, alphabet wheels to color, postcards to write, and lots of wonderful books to read, all in the shade!  

We also visited the LEGO construction tent, watched the parade, saw all the animals, tried our hand at farming at the Little Farm Hands farm (twice!), watched spinning wheel and woodworking demonstrations and saw a dog show.  What's not to love about all that?!  

While it is always sad to say goodbye to the Fair for another year, I have no doubt that after the fun of our trips this year, my kids will be just as excited as T and me to head to the Fair next summer.  That is a great thing, because as I said, we're Fair people.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

First week of School 2013!

G-Bear and E-Bear are back to school this week,
 sniff, sniff.

The excitement in our house has been bubbling over!

G-Bear is officially a first grader.

MoMo was on hand for the official send-off. 
She came with celebration cupcakes in hand. 
Good 'ole MoMo :)

G-Bear only hesitated for a moment as MoMo and T dropped her off on the school plaza.  
She has really looked forward to her first grade year.

Somehow, the rest of us managed to pass the day while G-Bear enjoyed her first day of school.
The boys enjoyed time in the sandbox and morning playtime with T before he left for work.
We sure do miss G-Bear when she's at school!

We were so excited to pick her up, and guess what?  She had a great first day, as expected.
We settled out in the yard with some coloring pages after the long school day.
It was a great way to relax and catch up together.

Then today, we got to send E-Bear off to his pre-kindergarten class!
Our little big man was so excite to go!
"I know you'll miss me, mom," he said.
You got that right, buddy.

Buddy Bear and J-Bear escorted E-Bear to his class, 
along with T, MoMo (who brought cookies!) and me.

The best part of my day was getting to pick these two up together. 
They were so happy to see me and so happy to see each other.

May the Lord bless our school year and yours.

Monday, September 2, 2013

As Summer Sets....

As summer sets,
Our view of the Mississippi River tonight.
a new school year begins.

Cheers to a great summer.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

J-Bear at four months

Today, our little lady is four months old.

I have officially packed away a box of newborn clothes,
because she growing up so much.

 These days, J-Bear enjoys munching on her toes and sucking on her hand.
She enjoys playing on her playmat, watching her favorite purple elephant, 
which happens to be the same toy that G-Bear loved at this age.
She sat in the Bumbo seat for her first time last week, which was brief yet satisfying.

J-Bear remains happy and contented as long as she is along for the ride.
But these days she also appreciates a long nap in a nice, quiet, darkened room.

I still have trouble setting J-Bear down, mostly because she is so cute.
Plus, we are both so happy when I am holding her, we don't have much incentive!
But, those super-squeezeable thighs aren't weightless, so in between arm workouts, 
J-Bear takes a few bounces in her bouncy seat.  By the way, she is almost grown out of that too.

We're looking forward to the next season with you, J-Bear!
Happy four months!