Friday, November 27, 2015

Quick, Easy, DELICIOUS Apple Crumb Pie

Life is Good: Even the Crumbs!

I was just looking for my apple crumb pie recipe and realized that I had written this post, but never published it. My guess is that it had something to do with a pre-term newborn, nursing every two hours, pumping after each nursing, attempting to parent two other people, and oh, a whole host of other things going on at the time!
This is one of our family's favorite pies, especially Grant's. Try it! You will like it!
So...a year later, here is the post...

A friend of mine recently asked for favorite Thanksgiving foods on Facebook (thanks, Jen!). I have always loved my mom's sweet potato souffle and pecan pie, but sadly, they have been retired because our kids have egg allergies.

I have a new pie tradition, though. This has to be the simplest, yet most tasty dessert that just screams, "Autumn!" which is what the season should be if you don't live in Minnesota! Booooo for early snow!

Our big kid is having a Thanksgiving Friendship Feast tomorrow, so what am I doing tonight? (Tonight being my first night home with our newborn who arrived 26 days early.) I'm making an apple crumb pie for him to take to his class! Here's the recipe. It does not disappoint.

Susie's Apple Crumb Pie (Adapted from Martha Stewart) 
Pie filling

Approx. 2 ½ pounds assorted apples (I like a blend of Gala and Granny Smith for a sweet & sour pie), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/8 to 1/4 -inch-thick slices
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
⅓ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt

Crumb Crust (Makes enough for one 9-inch pie)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons oats (I used rolled oats)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, and salt.
3. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger clumps remaining. Using your fingers, squeeze the mixture together to create pea-size to ¾-inch pieces. If not using right away, cover and chill until ready to proceed.
4. Evenly and firmly press a little more than half of the crumbs (about 2½ cups) into the bottom, up the sides, and onto the rim of a 9-inch glass pie plate. Press firmly into the edges.
5. Freeze pie shell until firm, about 15 minutes.

6. In a large bowl, toss together apples, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
7. Pour the mixture into the chilled pie shell, mounding apples slightly in the center.
8. Dot with butter.
9. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs in clumps over the apples to cover completely.
10. Bake, rotating halfway through, until the crust turns golden and the juices begin to bubble, about 1 hour. (Depends on the oven.)
11. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
12. The pie can be kept temperature, loosely covered, for up to 2 days. Or you can refrigerate it for longer.

Seriously, if you are looking for a relatively easy pie to make that will wow your guests, this is THE PIE! Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Best Eggless Egg-free Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Bread Ever

Life is good: thank goodness for chocolate! (STILL)

I just made this yummy bread in prep for our littlest's FIRST BIRTHDAY! (Whew! Twelves months flew faster than a jet plane!)
This time, I omitted the cocoa powder because I have to grind up chocolate chunks to make my own and just didn't feel like doing that one extra step (a lesson I've learned this past year...sometimes you need to omit a step or two!)
Every time I have mixed this up, I remember that I want to just put a dash of cinnamon in it the next time. And then, I forget. So hopefully, with the help of this post, I will remember next time.) I put the batter in two loaf pans and cooked for 60 minutes.

The original post is...
This past year, we were so fortunate to enroll our oldest child in a magnificent preschool. All of the staff were joyful, kind, nurturing, and encouraging. To top it off, the school had a carpool lane, which meant that teachers stood out in the rain and snow and everything in between so that parents didn't have to. I felt especially grateful that I didn't have to get our littlest in and out of the car to drop off the big kid during inclement weather. So the last week of school, I made some chocolate chocolate chunk zucchini bread for the teachers at his preschool as a way to say, "Thank you!!!" for weathering the carpool lane (pun intended!) as well as creating an atmosphere of safety and fun for our child.

Eggless Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Bread
2 C flour
2 C sugar
3/4 C cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
mixture of 3/4 applesauce and 1/2 T baking powder (mixed together in a separate bowl until foamy)
3/4 C canola
3/4 C buttermilk (I have often used milk and it has turned out well)
3 C grated zucchini
3/4 C chocolate chips or chunks (I got this recipe from my friend Merie. She used a 1/2 bag rather than measure them)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease and flour two loaf pans.
3. Mix applesauce and baking soda together in a small bowl and set aside.
4. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
5. Add applesauce mixture plus oil and buttermilk into large bowl of dry ingredients and mix well.
6. Mix in zucchini and then chocolate chips.
7. Pour into pans (half of batter in each) and bake. In my oven, this recipe is done after about 45 minutes. However, all ovens are different, so I suggest that you start checking the middle of the loaf with a toothpick or cake tester after 38-40 minutes.

I leave the cocoa powder out of the recipe when I make this bread for my kids since they are allergic to nuts. Most cocoa powders are processed in facilities where nuts are present. The absence of cocoa powder doesn't affect how delicious it is. However, the addition of cocoa powder kind of "takes the flavor over the edge", if you will, and makes the bread much, much more rich. Try it both ways and see what you think!
The original recipe calls for 1 tsp of cinnamon, but it makes for a very obvious cinnamon taste and I prefer it more subtle, especially when leaving out the cocoa powder.
This recipe was originally a cake made with eggs that my friend, Merie, who happens to be a marvelous and adventurous cook, posted on Facebook a few years ago. (Thank you, Merie!) I adapted it to be eggless and the result was more of a bread than a cake, so I bake it in loaf pans, but if you want to try it in a cake pan, go for it!

I made two different recipes--one with cocoa powder (for the teachers) and one without (for my kiddos). Here is a pic of both recipes in the dry ingredient stage.
In this pic, the batter is ready to be poured into the loaf pans.
Here is the Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Zucchini bread version...
And the Chocolate Chunk Zucchini bread version (I used Enjoy Life chocolate chunks.)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Finding Peace

Life is Good: and messy

Note: Well, hmmm! I wrote this a few weeks ago--okay, maybe more than a month ago?--but it appears that it must have been on one of those days that I was a little more sleep-deprived because instead of clicking "publish", I must have clicked "save" instead! Baby boy is really doing great at sleeping through the night most nights, so maybe it isn't fair to blame this one on him. But, I will! It's cumulative, right?!
; )

I have a basket of clean clothes waiting to be put away, sitting on the buffet in the dining room. And one upstairs in our bedroom, too.  There are dirty dishes from dinner in the sink. The dining room rug needs vacuumed. There are toys to be put away in two different rooms. If you know me a little bit, you know that this does not sound like me. This is not how I like to run this house. This is the stuff that makes me nutty.

It's taken me three days to mark one item off of my very long to-do list. I'm behind on doing our taxes. Okay, getting our stuff put together for our tax guy to do our taxes. I need to use a magic eraser on the wall going up the staircase. And I'm fat. I have baby weight to lose (ugh) and I've also been dealing with some extreme swelling. I mean, extreme. The kind of edema that hurts when you get down on the floor to play superheroes and hurts when you stand up to play Simon Says. The kind that make people's eyes bulge when they haven't seen you for a while. Nothing fits well and depending on the day and the degree of my swelling, some days, nothing fits at all. I've never been overweight and so this is a strange existence that I don't enjoy.

I have thank you notes to write and three Christmas gifts to mail. And a new baby gift. And a birthday gift. In fact, I still have about 20 Christmas cards to mail. Or maybe 40? Why is it so hard to pull out the hard drive, hook it up, and search for those addresses? I have friends' calls to return, photos to download, oh gee, the list goes on. This kind of disorganization plays havoc with my head. It's so unsettling. Now I have a headache.

And yet, I am happy. So happy. So absolutely, truly happy.  In fact, I am the happiest I have ever been in my life. Really.

And it's not because everything is perfect. But everything is just right. I have this overwhelming sense that everything is finally how it is supposed to be. And I have three little blue-eyed boys and their daddy to thank for it.

I've found this sense of peace like I have never known before. It was a gift from our littlest one. His arrival, albeit surprising, has given me a sort of rest assurance. It sounds absurd and it is hard to articulate. It's like I've been holding my breath and now, I can let loose and...breathe.

I used to look at pictures of my two, sweet big kids and no matter how cute or funny or silly the photo, it always seemed like something was missing. Not that I am not absolutely grateful for those two big kids. Not that I haven't been utterly enjoying every single morsel of a minute of a moment with them. But still, it was like things were just a little off.

And now, our family is complete. Within minutes of the baby's birth, Grant said it aloud and the funny thing is, I was thinking it at the exact same time.

So this love letter is for our youngest. Don't ever doubt how much you are loved. Or how much you were wanted. Or how precious you are to this family. Or how very incomplete we were without you. You and your brothers are our sunshine. Our cherry on top. So I'm going to take a deep breath and try to savor each and every sweet moment.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Brotherly Love

Life is Good: and precious

Our big kid has been home sick from school for three days. And he has been miserable. Not because he feels bad--he's had a fever that rises pretty high, then drops down a little, then rises again, but no real discomfort beyond feeling tired. The misery has come from not getting to go to school. Every day, he pleads to go and then complains that he "won't learn a single thing today!" Poor kid. He really loves school and we are so grateful for that.

There's someone else in this house that has been miserable the past couple of days, too. No, it isn't me. I've definitely been kept on my toes here and there, but it's been okay. The miserable one is our little kid. Each morning, the first thing he asks me is if his big brother is sick. When I tell him that he is, he frowns dramatically and tells me how very, very sad he is about this. It's been hard on everyone---I've tried to sequester all three kids in hopes that while the big kid is getting healthy again, the other two will remain that way. Being apart has made us all feel out of balance.

Today, in an act part defiance and 100% love, the little kid went and got a chair from his little table and chair set and carried it to the door of the big kid's bedroom. Then, he went and got some toys and sat on the chair. He asked his brother, "Do you want to play with me? I stay right here and you watch."

And so I just had to write this down. It was the sweetest moment. Totally ordinary, but nonetheless impactful to me. I need to remember this. This is one of those moments to treasure. This is who we are. Sure, we go places, we do things, we know people. We're lucky and fortunate and blessed in many ways. But when it comes down to it, it's moments like this one that define our family. There's nothing more rewarding to Grant or me than to see these sweet little, voluntary displays of love shared between our children. This, is love. This, is family.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Banned from Pinterest: Basketball Cupcakes (Kind of)

Life is Good: so let's have cake!

Well, the Little Kid's preschool teacher decided he should celebrate his "half birthday" with his class since he has a summer birthday.

So I asked him what kind of treat he would like to bring. He paused for a millisecond and then said, "Um, ketchup and mustard cookies!" Yes, that's right, folks. He lovvvvvvvvvvvvves ketchup and mustard and after a few questions, I surmised that he wanted ketchup and mustard bottle-shaped cookies decorated with red and yellow.

And, breathe...

So, of course, I was about to consult my best friend, Google, to find a bottle-shaped cookie cutter when I recalled that it was when the Big Kid was in this exact same preschool class that I thought I had been charged with the most difficult birthday treat request of all time. Cupcakes decorated to look like sheep. That's right. Sheep. We still don't know where he got this idea, but he did. And since I am my mother's daughter, I was bound and determined to make cupcakes that looked like sheep for that kid. I won't say that they were the most gorgeous creation ever, but they made the Big Kid happy.

So as I am starting to type, "goog-", I remind Grant of the sheep and then the Little Kid decides that he wants cupcakes, too. I was partially relieved and partly afraid to ask how he wanted them decorated. "Basketball cupcakes!" I breathed a half sigh of relief. Okay. I can do that. I guess...

He asked for pumpkin bread cupcakes. I think this is because my pumpkin bread is quite possibly the best pumpkin bread you will ever consume! Really! Go here for my recipe!

As with all of my recipes, this one is eggless because of my kiddos' allergies. It also happens to be vegan. The original recipe calls for eggs, but I have adjusted mine using applesauce and baking powder as the egg substitute.

The original recipe also suggests a much larger amount of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, which I have decided overpowers the flavor of the pumpkin, so I have adjusted that, too, in my own recipe. It need not be adjusted for cupcakes or muffins. Just change your baking vessel!

Well, all I can say least they tasted good. And thank goodness my livelihood doesn't depend on cake decorating! Here is a pic for your daily dose of laughter:

Yep, that's one lumpy basketball. Good thing no one needed to dribble it! I think they looked better inside of the cake carrier!

No they don't! ; )

Oh, you will never have to worry about me taking myself too seriously. My cake decorating photos are proof of it!

So you won't find these on Pinterest. In fact, I'm pretty sure if you try to pin these, you'll receive an error message and possibly a flashing thought bubble with the word, "WARNING!" inside of it.

It's a good thing that three-year olds aren't too discerning about their cupcakes. They had orange frosting from forehead to chin. And that's all they cared about. The end.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

How to Write Your Own Birth Plan

Life is Good: and totally unpredictable

Three months ago, we became a family of five. Every birth story is amazing in the truest sense of the word. I mean, really. How a human being is created, formed, and grows...inside of another human! And then, the whole journey the mother and child make together to get the child out into the world--awe-inspiring! I can't ever talk about babies being made or born without saying, "Wow, God is so creative!"

But seemingly, our third little dude wanted to make sure his birth story was especially interesting. He clearly wanted to make a splash. You see, throughout this pregnancy, I had concerns. Concerns like every other mother does. But the one thing I never worried about was my water breaking. With our first two sons, I had gone through every bit of labor you can with my amniotic fluid in tact (sorry for the TMI!) and they had to break it in order for our children to be born. So I felt like I had a "lock"  on that area. Well, this little man decided to show me who was boss. As much as I had imagined in my head over and over the perfect scenario for his birth, he was going to write his own birth plan.

I'm not sure if it was still Thursday night (before midnight) or officially Friday (after 12 AM) when I turned a bit in bed and felt a, well, gush. (I guess I should just make a big, blanketed, "Sorry for the TMI" statement that will hold up throughout this post.) Since I had my aforementioned security about my water not breaking, I wondered if I was having bladder control issues. And then I thought, "Ewwwww." I got up and went to the bathroom. It seemed I wasn't having either. I went back to bed and started to go to sleep. But something kept one eye open. I started to wonder if maybe I was leaking amniotic fluid. A friend of mine had this happen with her first child and had to have an emergency c-section. I knew this was serious business. I needed to make sure this wasn't happening to me. So I picked up my friend, the iPhone, and did what all doctors tell you not to do...I consulted my old pal, the Interwebs.

I googled something like, "How to tell if you are leaking amniotic fluid" and began to read something found on It was a question submitted by a mother with a long thread of answers from other mothers. No, none of them were OB/GYNs. I read through the answers and determined that I most likely wasn't leaking. Oh, that just sounds so gross. Admittedly, I have never thought that the miracle of pregnancy and birth was "beautiful". So, anyway...then I read a post by someone whom I will never know, but whom I will always be indebted to. Some wise woman wrote that no matter what, this was serious and if anyone had any doubts about whether they were leaking or their amniotic sac had broken, that they should call their doctor.

I try so hard not to be "that patient". The patient who overreacts and calls their doctor about every little thing. I don't want to bother my OB and I also want her to respect me so that when I do have something wrong, she will take me seriously. So I really didn't want to call in to the clinic. But it was serious business. It was our child. I decided I would phone in and explain what was going on and let the doctor on call tell me that it was no big deal and I should go back to sleep.

But he didn't. He told me that, because I had been on bed rest (long story for another time), I should go in to the hospital just to be sure. He was there with some other mamas and could see me quickly. I asked him if I could drive myself and he paused. "Well, I guess so, but don't you want your husband to come just in case?" Yes, I told him. Except that my husband was in San Francisco. Grant had been gone that week for a conference and my mom was in town to take care of the big kids. I didn't want to disrupt the kids' sleep or make them anxious by having my mom take me to the hospital. The doc on call said that as long as I was not showing signs of amniotic leakage, he "guessed" I could drive myself since it was less than a 10-minute car ride.

I went to the door of the guest suite and told my mom not to worry, but that I was just going to go and get this checked out to be sure everything was okay. I went to get my little bag that I use for my keys and my wallet and started to pull up the covers on the bed when...well, let's just say it was very apparent that my water had, in fact, broken.

I had been on bed rest because an ultrasound showed my amniotic fluid level was on the "low end of normal" so the fact that my amniotic sac had just broken caused a sudden rush of anxiety and worry to burst through my heart and my head. I tried to stay calm and asked my mom if she would please clean up the floor after I left. (Yes, even in a state of emergency, I need to know things are clean!) My mom and I decided (That word makes it seem like there was time and deliberation. There was none.) that, just in case, I should not drive myself to the hospital. But I didn't want her to take me. I needed to know that the big kids were safe and snuggly, tucked into their beds. I needed to know that my mom, the person Grant and I trust with our children more than anyone in this world, was at home with them. That she would get the big kid ready for school and off to the bus that Friday morning, that she would watch after the little kid and make him totally at ease while I was gone.

So I called a taxi. And they said they would get me. In 5-25 minutes. I explained my emergency situation. And they said they would get me. In 5-25 minutes. So I asked them to hurry. Then I called another cab company. And another. And two more. Each one said it would be 5-25 minutes. 5 minutes, okay. Twenty-five minutes was way too long. I didn't know how much amniotic fluid I had left and it was currently dripping all over our 100-year old maple hardwoods. I didn't want to awaken our beloved neighbors, Sandy and Brad, but while I was trying to appear calm so as not to worry my mom, I was becoming frantic in my head. I called Sandy and she said she would send Brad over to drive me.

So I waited. And waited. It felt like I waited a half hour. Most likely, it was three to five minutes. And then a cab arrived. I looked down the block to see if Brad was walking over or in his car. He wasn't. I couldn't wait. I asked my mom to apologize to Brad and any cab drivers that showed up. I hobbled as quickly as I could to the taxi and we were on our way to the hospital.

I will skip the parts where the cab driver drove under the speed limit, where I asked (probably shouted) for him to zip through red lights (It was after midnight and no one else was on the road. This was an emergency.), how he dropped me off at the wrong entrance and a security guard had to push me in a wheelchair to the right area. I will skip the phone call I made to Grant apologizing that he would miss the birth of our third, and last, child. Oh, yes. This would be the last kid. And he was making it memorable. I will skip how recalling all of this sounds like the makings of a bad sitcom, minus the humor. I will skip all of that.

Once at the hospital, the nurses and quickly, my clinic's doc on call, assured me that my baby was safe. Yes, my amniotic fluid was mostly gone now, but I was in the best birthing center in the city and I had an ultrasound monitoring my baby's every moment. And the baby looked fine. Better than fine. He looked perfect.

So now that I could "relax" (said with a bit of a wink), I could just focus on feeling rotten that Grant was going to miss the birth of our third child. Less than a week before this moment, we had discussed something like this happening. Grant didn't want to go on this trip. He didn't want to risk missing the birth. And he absolutely refused to leave me and our kids unless my mom could be with us. (Of course, she was eager to help.) I urged Grant to take the trip. He was speaking at it and one of a group of "roundtable" speakers, too. And he had won the conference's big award. And why not go to San Francisco and eat some seafood, soak in some warmer weather, and have a break from a pregnant wife on bed rest and two noisy kids under the age of six? So, he went. And now, he was in a hotel room in California with no earlier flights available and I was in a hospital with the birthing process started. I felt so guilty.

So now I lay in a hospital bed, hooked up to an ultrasound, waiting. But not quietly waiting. Not silently waiting. You see, like no pioneer woman who birthed her babies in a field on her own, in the cab on the way to the hospital, I had quickly tapped out a text or an email (I really don't know, I was in such a state of I don't know what) to some of my nearest and dearest. I can't tell you how many exactly, but I had sent out something that was part state of affairs and part plea for prayers to some of the women in my life who had shown me support throughout my pregnancy.

Having your third child (and especially, having the third boy), is a funny thing. And not funny ha ha. Most people just weren't really interested. Most of my friends were done having babies and the shine of pregnancy had worn off for them. Others probably would have been more excited for me if I was having a girl (sigh) because it would have been "different". And others, well, just didn't "show up". They just seemed to be too wrapped up in their own lives. Too "busy". But still, there were some really special, rather, extraordinary women who showed me love and support and excitement and all sorts of other wonderful expressions throughout my pregnancy and they were the ones that I reached out to in between shouting at the cab driver to drive faster and buzz through red lights because no one was looking. I think there were 12-15 of them. Maybe 20? (And certainly, I forgot to add a few to the list at first. It was after midnight and my mind was a bit muddled with the situation at hand.)

So why was my waiting in the hospital not quiet or silent? Because of the ringing of the phone, the dinging of texts, the bell of new emails. These women (and my cousin, Seth!) rallied. One called me at five AM! Each one sent words of love and encouragement and excitement. One sent a bible verse. Which just happened to be one of my absolute faves, Philippians 4:6-7 (thanks, Pip!).

I wasn't surprised by the responses. I have some truly awesome friends. These women are funny and sweet and thoughtful and smart and successful and pretty. They are great wives and mothers and cooks. They are organized and disorganized. They don't take themselves too seriously. They appreciate a good laugh. They are understanding. They are complicated. They are all of that and more. And I'm so very grateful for events of the past several years that have driven me to focus on the truly good and loyal friends I have because, indeed, I have many. So I wasn't surprised to get the cyber hugs and the promise of prayers and the "you can do it!"s. But what did surprise me, surprised me to no end. If not every one, almost every one (who lives in the Twin Cities area) when discovering that Grant was in California, offered to come to the hospital and be there with me for the birth. Seriously? I was floored. One friend even cleared her schedule and had one foot out the door. I had to argue with her to get her to go to work. A couple of my friends even showed up at the hospital just in case I really did need someone. Everyone wanted to be there for me or go take care of the big kids so that my mom could be at the hospital with me. I reassured them all that I was not fearful of birthing this baby without Grant. I had done it twice before, after all. I didn't need him there. I just wanted him there. But I was in awe of this kind of love and support.

So I spent that Friday talking to my body and my baby. "Wait for Grant (daddy) to get here!" My OB told me that I had 24 hours from the time I got to the hospital to have the baby. If I went over, infection could begin. So 24 hours or a c-section was the plan. And I did not want a c-section!

Grant arrived in the 20th hour. And I went from a dilation of 1 to complete and we welcomed our baby into the world in less than two hours after that.

The baby was a month early. The room was ready for an emergency. Because that's what you might expect when a baby is that early. And with a half of a push. Yep, that's right. (That's what 20 hours of laboring down will do for you, people.) So with a half of a push, our third son was born. Without an emergency. His breathing was great. His color was great. We said hello, we told him how much we loved him and needed him, and we snuggled.

And the rest of the story is as extraordinary to us as it can be. And as ordinary to anyone else as it can be. A human enters the world and it is most magnificent and yet, an every day, every second of the day sort of occurrence.

This is not just a story about a baby coming early. It's not just a story about prayers of gratitude that he was healthy and we didn't have to spend any time in the NICU. It's not just a story about a confused cab driver, an anxious mother, and a dad whose plane didn't leave on time because a two-year old on the flight wouldn't wear his seat belt. This is not just a story about a family of four becoming complete with the addition of baby brother. But, rather, this is a story about friendship. About friends who feel like family.

When I reflect back on our little one's birth story, I will forever feel the strong emotion of love. For obvious reasons, but also because of the love of my friends (and a few distant cousins that I am fortunate to think of as friends, too.). I will forever remember the dings and bells and rings of texts and calls and emails. They were the sweet soundtrack of my labor. They were a constant hug, wrapped around me, giving me strength and hope and comfort.

I always say that we don't have family here in Minnesota. But the truth is, we do. Our third child's birth proved that. Not all of my support system that day was in the Twin Cities, but a lot of them were. And they showed me love and support beyond friendship. And since then, they have delivered food and made phone calls and sent emails & texts. They've mailed cards with beautiful words, dropped cute things off on our porch and yummy things, too. They've waited until their germy kids are in school and then dropped in for a quick "hello, there" to our newest one so as to protect him from illness. They've listened to my birth story (probably more than once) as if they are really interested. And they've listened to me complain about my out of control swelling (definitely more than once) as if they are really interested!

So it's been (roughly) ninety days since we became a party of five. We have a fairly small immediate family. And not all of them have celebrated our new baby's birth like we would hope. Some, we haven't heard from at all. Because, like they say, you can't choose your family. (Or rather, you can't tell your family how to act.) But, I have discovered, you can choose your tribe. And twelve Fridays ago, my tribe showed up. And they've been showering us with love ever since. So pointing out that some of our relatives have been silent about our newest addition  makes the love and support of my "tribe" even more pronounced. It makes them even more dear to me. And appreciated. And reveled in. And emphasized. And I want them to know that. I also want my kids to understand that family is a feeling. They may not have a bunch of cousins or blood relatives that live down the street, but they have a big group of family-like friends who love them just the same.

So, to my tribe, my dear ones who have loved and supported me over the past three months and the 40 weeks before that and even before all of that, I say, "thank you" and "I love you". Five, simple words that don't seem like enough, but for this overly wordy girl, it's all I can muster because of the overwhelming emotion behind it. Thank you for being my friends through all of my flaws. My endless overthinking, blurting of the mouth, need to throw gigantic parties, dramatic gestures, and speed talking. Thank you for being my friends through my bad hair days (months), OCD, overly enthusiastic enthusiasm, mile-long texts, lack of a poker face, and endless sharing & suggestions. Thank you for your presence. Whether it be in person or in heart. But mostly, thank you for making one of the most memorable moments in our lives more memorable with your love.

It seems only appropriate to include a photo of the wee one on this, his three-month birthday. Taken when he was a couple of weeks old, of course, by one of my dear friends, one of the ones who rallied on that day he was born, one of my tribe.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Raising Siblings Who Are Friends

Life is Good: Even though I'm not documenting it!

Oh, gee. I have written so many posts about these three little boys lately. Unfortunately, each one was just in my head. I suppose I could have stopped to type them up. But then I would have missed out on snuggling a newborn, donning superhero costumes with the Little Kid, or drawing Star Wars characters with the Big Kid. Or I would have missed out on sleep. The third time around, I am choosing to go to be earlier than I did when the first two little boys were born. I've discovered that it really is important for me to get more sleep at night so that I can be the mama I want to be during the day.

Soon, this newborn/infant schedule will change and I will be able to document all of the silly things the kids say, the delight I get from the baby's smiles and coos, and all of the other totally ordinary extraordinary things that these children do to make Grant's and my life absolutely thrilling.

Until then, I'll share what someone else wrote. Admittedly, I skimmed this. But I liked what I skimmed! There are some nice thoughts about siblings and friendship and relationship building. Have a peek and let me know what you think!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Cabin Fever

Life is Good: and calm (sometimes)

It's cold here. I mean, colllllllllllllllllld here! And since we have a one-month old, we are especially careful about going out in the frigid temps. Pair that with the fact that the 3- and 6-year olds are on winter break and you have a prime example of cabin fever.

Despite the fact that we have a huge new selection of toys from Christmas, our kiddos have started to get a bit rowdy. So this morning, I pulled out one of my secret

I found this video on YouTube. It is super simple and my kids like the cartoon graphics. We all feel better stretched after we do it and a little calmer, too.

Click here to view it:

Graphic Found on

Friday, January 2, 2015

Star Wars Babies

Life is Good: The Force is With Us

The big kid (age 6 1/2) just told me, "Instead of the baby's first word being mama or dada, it might be Grievous, because I just told him all about General Grievous."

Thursday, January 1, 2015

How to Have a Happy New Year

Life is Good: God Knows What is Best for You

Happy 2015! Our New Year's Eve celebration was a quiet one. We got pizza for the kids and Grant picked up my beloved sushi for us. Of course, the big kid highjacked the tuna roll and the little kid consumed both an avocado roll and a salmon roll (which he kept calling a cinnamon roll--a new concept to him thanks to Grandma bringing some for Christmas!). Stolen sushi aside, dinner was just what we needed. Snuggled in at home escaping the frigid Minnesota temps. Lively with conversations of Star Wars, Legos, dinosaurs, aliens, dragons, and Sesame Street characters. Decked out with an amalgamation of costumes--a superman cape over a Flash costume (including sculpted muscles) and a race car driver ensemble, Robin mask, and Batman tunic. Certainly we have had fancier celebrations and those with more people. We've had plenty of celebrations with close friends, gourmet food, opulent surroundings. But this New Year's Eve was grand in a way that we can never repeat again...our first as a family of five.

I welcomed the new year nursing (sorry for the TMI) or just finishing nursing or just about to nurse. Life is pretty much all about nursing our month-old baby boy these days. But that's okay with me. Truly. This time last year, we were wondering if we would have a third child. A child we wanted so very much. A child we felt was necessary for our family to feel "complete". But we had committed to giving it six months of trying and at this time last year, no plus sign had appeared on the EPT. Each month was a rollercoaster ride of hope and then disappointment for me. We grasped tightly to our faith, we hung on to hope, we prayed.

Six months came and went. And no viable pregnancy. No third child. That third child that seemed to be missing from photographs. That third child that seemed to be the missing piece of the puzzle. Grant and I had agreed from the start that we would give it six months and if it didn't happen, it wasn't meant to be. We truly believed that God had one more child to share with us. But we also knew that trying to get pregnant took a toll on our lives---whether it was abstaining from caffeine (agony!) or just being distracted by the constant wondering. We decided to put it in God's hands.

And we did. We prayed. We told God what we wanted. We asked, we pleaded. And then, we begged for it. But six months came and went. Neither Grant nor I wanted to keep our six month commitment. We felt so strongly that our family was supposed to be a party of five. So we decided to keep trying. Our faith in God was strong that He would give us that baby we so very much wanted. And loved already.

I had confided in a friend, who happens to be my awesome chiropractor, that we were trying to conceive and that we were giving ourselves a 6-month window to do so. As the seventh month approached, I went in for an appointment and told her that Grant and I had decided to ignore our six month deadline and she said, "Oh. You're finally going to let God be in control of this!"

On my drive home, I thought long and hard about her words. Of course. We had said all along that we were putting this in God's hands. That we were trusting in our faith. But in giving ourselves a timeline, we were giving God a timeline. How egotistical. How ignorant. How absurd.

It's amazing what having an epiphany like this can do. We reevaluated our attitudes. And then we truly handed the situation over to the Lord.

And after seven months of trying, we got that plus sign on the pregnancy test. We got hope. We got happiness. We got answered prayers.

And so this is my long-winded (would you expect anything else) way of expressing my message to you for the new year. Wherever you are right now, whatever your hopes and wants are, whatever good place or bad place or unknown place you are, God is with you. And He remains. So trust in Him. Hand over your needs to Him. Fully. With no timelines or expectations or deadlines. Instead, share your heart with Him. And He will carry you through where you need to be. Surely, our prayers have been answered in many of the ways we wanted, but not exactly. And it is because we humans really don't know exactly what we need. But God does. He doesn't always answer them the way we want or expect, but God always, always answers our prayers. And in the end, we can see that it was what was best for us.

I hope whatever you are praying for right now comes to be in 2015. I pray that you always have hope. And I know that God will take care of you, will remain right next to you, and carry you through no matter what.
                                                               found on