Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Six months with J-Bear

In two days, our sweet J-Bear will be SIX MONTHS OLD!

Six months on All Saints!

I am celebrating this milestone with an early post for two reasons.  First of all,  I don't want it to get lost in all the Halloween and All Saints festivity that we have going on the rest of this week.  Second of all, J-Bear has already made several milestones this week in preparation for her 6 month day, as if to say, "I am ready!"

J-Bear began this week by pushing out a tooth.  That's right, there is no going back, our little lady has a tooth!  Her bottom right gum is no longer soft and squishy.  Now, she has an extra tool with which to gnaw on my fingers :)

Today, J-Bear sat upright by herself for the first time.  She was so pleased with herself!  She was flashing her glowing smile to anyone who would walk into the room.  Yes, it was a short-lived stint, only a minute or so, and then she slowly tilted onto her side on the ground.  But, I was again reminded that there is no going back.  I have officially put the bouncy seat away for yet a fourth time.  *SIGH*  Oh, how quickly these early days pass.

J-Bear still loves her johnny jumper.  She is also sitting in the high chair in the kitchen as I cook dinner. Buddy Bear is only too eager to share it, because it means that he gets to sit like a big boy on one of our kitchen counter stools.

J-Bear continues to be a princess beloved and doted upon by her older brothers.  She is a precious treasure to her older sister as well.  For her part, J-Bear is delighted to simply be around them.

Now, all that is left for J-Bear's six-month milestone is to start solid foods.  This can't come soon enough, in my opinion!  I just need to get my act together to take the plunge.  Given how poorly sweet J-Bear is sleeping at night these days, we all need it!

Lord, thank you for these six sweet months with our sweet J-Bear.  
We are all blessed and better for having her with us.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A favorite quote for today...

E-Bear: "I am ready for Nana to go home.  She is taking too many of our leaves."
(Super Nana gets no credit for raking and packing our whole yard of leaves yesterday!!)

Buddy Bear: "Mommy, mommy, knock-knock!"
Me:  "No more knock-knock jokes, Buddy Bear.  But you can tell Papa a joke when you see him."
Buddy Bear:  "Ohhhh, that a good idea.  My tell PAPA a knock-knock joke.  Gweat idea Mommy!"

E-Bear: "Papa, do you want to play soccer with me?  When we play together, you are going to be impressed, because I have some really good moves."

A peek into my day... with this precious crew. 

n.b. Thanks to the Simple Woman's Daybook for the Daybook inspiration

Friday, October 25, 2013

On Guys weekends, breakfast biscuits, mom's group and Robie the iRobot

I am miss T during his annual Guys Weekend coming up.  He has planned the group gathering again this year.  While it is always a lot of work and sacrifice to make it happen, it is always a weekend that blesses him and our family.  He comes back refreshed and encouraged, supported and challenged, a stronger husband and father.  I am so grateful that these wonderful Christian men continue to be part of T's life.

I am hoping...for the success of a new mom's group that is starting at our church.  I am helping to arrange childcare at our house once a month for all the pre-schoolers and toddlers of the mom's who attend the group.  I am hoping this will free moms up to attend the group, facilitate friendships among these great kids, and not result in the crumbling of our home ;).  Today, we hosted three caregivers and ten kids, ages 18 months to 5 years, and it was great!  The kids read a story, did crafts, sang songs and had snack and playtime, while we moms discussed the great topic of gift giving all by ourselves.  I am praying that these mornings will be a blessing to both kids and moms, to help us all in our walk with the Lord and each other.

I am make biscuits--real, southern style biscuits.  I have tried and failed numerous times since T and I got married, to my great disappointment.  T loves biscuits, thanks to his Grandma Cookie's awesome baking skills and general upbringing in the South.  But, he has had to settle for the refrigerated dough type.  Until now, that is.  I think I may have found the recipe we've searched for, thanks to Southern Living Magazine, and I think I have figured out the technique (fingers crossed!).  Last weekend, we celebrated Nana's arrival with breakfast biscuits!  Hooray!  They tasted great and looked like the real thing.  Now if only I can do it again this weekend....

E-Bear and I celebrate buttermilk biscuit success.

Around the house...we have a new friend, "Robie" the iRobot.  Robie came highly recommended by Aunt A, and now I know why.  He is a great new buddy to have around the house.  I wasn't so sure I would like him.  T, however, made the recommendation when he heard how often I was sweeping the kitchen floor on a daily basis.  Now, Robie keeps me company nearly everyday during afternoon rest time.  He follows me around, vacuuming, as I pick up the toys, books and chairs in his path.  He also works hard when I leave to pick up the kids or run errands during the day.  While we are still experimenting, I think he's a keeper.  He's much cheaper than a cleaning service and has far fewer side effects than the caffiene I would need if I were try to clean our floors on a daily basis.  Plus, the kids LOVE him!  They love to either sit on the couch and watch Robie work or follow him around the house.  He is quite the pied piper!

I am pondering...when to start J-Bear on solid food.  We are closing in on her 6-month mark, and she is starting to have trouble sleeping at night (because she gets hungry?).  I can't believe I will get to introduce another little soul to the wonderful world of solid food.  Sweet potatoes are looking good right now, so I better start pureeing for sweet J-Bear's upcoming meals.

(Thanks to the Simple Woman's Daybook for the inspiration!)

Monday, October 21, 2013

On new cookbooks, Jumping J-Bear, and a full, fall week

I am reading...New cookbooks sent by my sister-in-law, Aunt A!  Thank you, Aunt A!  Our whole family will appreciate the inspiration from these three great books: Indian Cooking UnfoldedLighten Up America from Cooking Light, and Budget Bytes (a pre-ordered preview!). I have already planned several meals that I can't wait to try.  These cookbooks are such a thoughtful, unexpected gift.  What a treat!

One of my favorite watching J-Bear jump in her Johnny Jumper.  We got ours out for her this week.  She took to it like a duck to water.  Now it is her favorite toy!  She especially loves to jump and watch us from the dining room doorway as we eat dinner.  From there, she can turn herself around to watch the kids play in the living room once they finish eating.  She has quite the perch. Sweet little J-Bear....

A few plans for the rest of the week: G-Bear goes back to school today, and we have a jam-packed week with Nana here to help us!  We're going to celebrate T's first year of work over a dinner with his co-workers, tackle lots of meetings, I'll prep for cardiovascular lectures and maybe do some fall shopping that I have been putting off. We're ready to hit the ground running!  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

On changing clothes, teaching class and awaiting Nana

I am fuzziest sock and my warmest fleece sweater.  A chill has arrived in the air.  This past week I spent a morning with all the kids in the closet changing over our clothes from summer short-sleeves to fall/winter warmth.  I was amazed to see how much G-Bear has grown in the past year (most of her winter clothes no longer fit).  I was also feeling nostalgic as I got out E-Bear's old clothes to add to Buddy Bear's shelves.  What a blessing it is for us to be able to hand clothes down to younger siblings!  Buddy Bear gets so excited to wear "new" clothes that E-Bear once wore.  

I am creating...a second exam for the students in my physiology class.  I have enjoyed teaching immensely.  I have also found it to be immensely challenging.  There is never enough time in the day to prepare as much as I would like.  Since T is able to be home with the kids during one of my lectures and during my lab time, we only have 3 hours of babysitter time each week.  That means I stay up late and wake up early to plan my lectures so that I can spend the daytime with the kids.  I enjoy introducing the miraculous human body to my students, as I watch them make connections that I remember making for the first time a decade ago.  I am also humbled and comforted by the fact that if I ever have the chance to teach again, I'll probably (hopefully!) do a better job having done it once before.

I am looking forward to... Nana's arrival this weekend.  We'll enjoy a full week of Nana's love and support, and we're all doing an excited, happy dance as a result. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fall break and fall sandwiches

Nota bene: continuing with a week of Daybook entries, I am grateful to the Simple Woman's Daybook for ongoing inspiration.

I am thankful...that we all get more time with G-Bear this week, as it is her fall break from school.  It is such a treat to have everyone home together all week.  We have enjoyed trips to the library, Children's Museum and various playgrounds.  But, what I enjoy most of all are the sounds of all the kids playing together like we did all summer, as well as the more leisurely conversations we're able to enjoy since we aren't always rushing to our next pick-up or drop-off.

In the kitchen...I am enjoying new recipes as I use up fresh fall produce from the farmer's market.  Today I had a delicious lunch sandwich made with fresh tomato salsa (using up tomatoes from our garden) and carrot-top pesto.  When I bought fresh carrots for the kids' lunches this week (the fresh carrots taste SO much sweeter than the mini variety!), I just couldn't bear to part with the gorgeous top greens.  So, I saved them and later found this great bon appetit recipe for carrot top pesto.  No joke, it tastes DELICIOUS on whole wheat bread, even better when topped with fresh pico salsa (made with farmer's market cilantro, green onions, jalepenos and homegrown tomatoes!).

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

One year of work for T!

I am thinking...that today is the one year anniversary of T working at his practice.  What a blessing the past year has been for our family!  After so many years of training, we have been so grateful to see the other side of residency and fellowship.  There are certainly challenges in the first year of a medical practice.  But, T has weathered each of them with his signature calm and poise.  When we look back on this first year, I can assure you we won't remember the challenges, but instead the blessings we have received.  T has been home some mornings for breakfast, we enjoy a new norm of family dinners together, T is able to attend school and family events and we enjoy greater free time together on the weekends.  I am also thankful for the way that T enjoys his work with his patients and comes home so happy.  We are grateful for the friends we have made through his practice, the hardworking team members that help him everyday, and the support and mentorship of his partners.  May God continue to bless this path!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Preparing to say goodbye to the garden

Outside my window, I am savoring the final days of our bountiful garden.  After a decade of moving and living in mostly rental homes, this summer was our first with a garden. I still remember when we all piled in the car last May to travel to a local plant sale.  J-Bear was only days old and it snowed light flakes as we arrived at the sale.  The weather stayed so cold for so many days that our purchased plants lived in our dining room for over a week before I could plant them!  Eventually, though, each one of those precious plants found a loving home at our house.  There were many late nights during the summer when I stayed up late watering the garden after sundown.  Many afternoons passed while I weeded the garden as our kids played in the yard.  Now that October has arrived, we are have seen many fruits of our labors: spring lettuces long since gone to seed, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, peppers, heirloom tomatoes, basil, sage, mint and even pumpkins!  What a treat!  

As the weather turns chillier in the evenings, I find myself feeling nostalgic and wistful at the idea of saying goodbye to our fruitful plants.  I am hoping to save the strawberry plants and our jasmine vine inside this winter, perhaps even keep the geranium that is a graft off of my dad's prized plant.  I suddenly understand my father's perennial autumn pacing between his garden and garage, covering and carrying plants to safety to help them survive the first few frosty nights of fall.  Until the hard freeze arrived, he could never quite say goodbye to his carefully crafted garden.  I now understand, because neither can I.

p.s. Thanks, as always, to the Simple Woman's Daybook for the inspiration for Daybook entries.  This time around, my Daybook will be more of a weekbook, hopefully one entry one day at a time.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Thoughts for today

"Am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time? The culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes it toll on the way we live our faith. God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday actions. He goes on to say that, even if we are sometimes unfaithful to him, he remains faithful. In his mercy, he never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength."
~Pope Francis, Homily on Ocober 13th, 2013

Monday, October 7, 2013

Grocery Bag

This week, we're juggling guests for dinner one night, lab instruction (for me) another night, and many afternoons of fun fall activities!  Here is our plan to get it all done.  This week is full of favorite fall flavors and some of my favorite recipes.

Day One
Caramelized pork with apples and balsamic onions from Health Magazine
with crusty bread, spinach salad and chocolate soufflĂ© with whipped cream
This is one of my favorite pork recipes, nice enough for company, but only an hour of prep from start to finish.  I always hope for leftovers because they are delicious!
Photo and recipe from

Day Two
Baked potato and broccoli soup from Southern Living Magazine
with homemade bread and broccoli slaw salad
One of our favorite soup recipes (I puree the soup so the kids eat the broccoli) along with 
a new salad recipe from my sister make for a yummy meal.
Photo and recipe from

Day Three
Ham and broccoli shells from Joy in My Kitchen
with pears and steamed corn
A longtime favorite recipe from one of my favorite cooking blogs.
Photo and recipe at Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Day Four
Parmesan chicken with mushrooms and brussels sprouts from Everyday Food Magazine
It is nice to be able to heat up the kitchen with roasting recipes as the temperature drops!
Photo and recipe from

Day Five
Cauliflower and cheddar soup from Everyday Food Magazine
with pear & romaine salad and homemade bread
Another favorite fall soup, perfect for Friday night
Photo and recipe from MarthaStewart. com

Blessings on your kitchen this week!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Knights of the Mysterious Alphabet

My mornings are filled with the wonderful energies of two precious boys. 
While G-Bear is away at school, the little men of my life rule the roost.
The difference in tempo and topic during our time without big sister is amazing.

Slowly, I am learning how to craft this time to capture the imaginations of my boys.
On the one hand, I want to stretch E-Bear's hungry young mind,
while still preserving Buddy Bear's full participation.

So, last week, we created a game called,

"Knights of the Mysterious Alphabet!"

As most good games do, ours began with costumes...

...and a dragon hidden in the backyard.

We also prepped for the game by hiding the letters of the alphabet throughout our backyard.  Some letters were made our of sticks in the grass, some were on pieces of paper taped to bushes, still others were written in tape or chalk on our walkway. Then, I gave the boys a "map" to follow.  As you can see, it was really an alphabet connect-the-dots that I connected in a strange order.  

E-Bear's job was to start at the "E" in the backyard and then find each hidden letter in the order given to him by the map.  Buddy Bear's job was to grab the letters after E-Bear found them.  Ultimately, the letters would lead them to the dragon, so that the boys could defeat him.

The quest was challenging at times. 

Some of the letters were camouflaged quite well.  The knights had to hone all their energies to stay on the dragon's trail.  Occasionally, a benevolent fairy mother had to appear to give the boys clues as to where to find the next hidden letter.

 The knights were persistent, however.  In time (about 5 minutes), they were able to find even the sneakiest letters.  

 Then, it was time to do battle!
And, thank goodness, because the future of our kingdom was definitely in peril.

Fortunately, by working together, the knights were able to defeat the dragon.  Several times.

it was time for our victorious heroes to break for lunch.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Five months with J-Bear

Today, of all the flowers in my garden,
one was by far the fairest.

She happens to be five months old today!

J-Bear, we rejoice in the way you greet each day with a smile
and help us to do the same.
You are adored by your doting siblings, and with your sweet disposition, it is easy to see why.
Buddy Bear loves to see you, hug you, tickle you.
E-Bear loves to hold you, distract you, and make you laugh.
G-Bear loves to come home so that she can play with you on your mat as I make dinner.

Your interest in the world grows by leaps and bounds everyday.  You can hold new toys, pull the grass, and put your beads in your mouth to chew.  I love to hear you giggle as we walk past the bathroom mirror together -- you are quite good at getting the attention of our reflections!

It is such a joy to have you in our lives, J-Bear.  
I love to snuggle you at my side in the sling, I love our afternoon rest time while you sleep next to me as I work, I love to see you enjoying your siblings and all the crazy chaos of our life around you.

We love you, sweet J-Bear.