Archive for the ‘Home and Family’ Category

Where we see playground equipment, my son sees armour,  a sword–a noble knight!  (Do you see it?)


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Click here to view the previous post in this series.

If there comes a day when your eight glasses of water are hard to swallow, remember this post.  When you dread every drop of liquid because you know it means that you will wake up five times in the night to waddle to the bathroom, remember this:  it is preparation

I heard about it when I was pregnant with my first.  An older friend told me that the disrupted sleep is nature’s way of preparing a new mother for the first several months of motherhood, a sort of warm-up for those nights of broken, restless sleep.  I thought it was a brilliant theory!   But, after having four kids and mothering for several years, I think the frequent potty breaks get us ready for a lot more than just the first few months.

Consider this:  going to the bathroom once an hour is tedious and inconvenient.  You must stop what you are doing, use the restroom, readjust your lovely maternity garments, wash up, spend minutes checking out your preggo profile in the mirror to see if it’s changed in the past hour, then finally return to what you were doing.  It’s not like you have a choice, either! The bladder calls; you must respond.

That’s parenting, sister.  (Well, not the bladder part.)  Parenthood is strewn with endless mundane, sometimes mind-numbing tasks.  Through diapering and  potty training,  instilling good habits, tieing shoes, settling squabbles, helping with homework and always disciplining, a mother (and a father) is called to do the same thing over and over and over and over. 

I know. It doesn’t sound very fun.  Please keep reading!

Just as the incessant need to relieve yourself is a good thing for your body, the consistent, routine tasks of parenthood are good and necessary for your child.  Yes, it gets tedious (oh  believe me, it does!)  But one of the wonderful things about raising a child is that they are constantly maturing.  Their well-being and good health, that first smile and laugh, the first step, the first time they “help” you clean up; all of these are in great part due to your diligent care.  You constantly get to experience the reward of your work!

These rewards are a sweet (and necessary) boost when you are  cleaning soggy toast chunks out of their neck folds for the 273rd time.

So when you are visiting the ladies’ room for the fifth time (before noon), remember that you are a parent-in-training.  Like a professional athlete conditioning their body for competition, you are getting ready for a mighty big challenge.  Just remember, your reward is not  the top podium, a trophy, a medal or your face on a cereal box. 

It is simply the sweetest thing you will ever hold in your arms.



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I know, this is a repeat picture. But I can't resist this hand--look at the chub on those fingers!

The previous post in this series is found here.

I mean it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!  Thank you for not waiting to find out the gender of your baby.  Thank you for choosing to let that sonographer rub all over your preggo belly until the great secret is revealed, because I might spontaneously combust if I had to wait until your due date to find out!  Hold on…

I’m back!  Just the thought of not knowing for five more months sent me to my Halloween stash for another fun-size Snickers.  Anyway, despite my desire to tell you everything I can about pregnancy, lately I find myself  thinking about your baby and wondering if we’re going to welcome another boy cousin into the family, or if you’re going to even things out for the girls.  Instead of dispensing maternal wisdom I chew on my nails and check the calendar to see how many more days until the crucial appointment.

Now, I have to admit something here. I think I know what you’re having.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but I feel pretty confidant!  You’ll encounter other people–friends, perfect strangers–who will declare the gender of your child based on how you’re carrying, the type of food you prefer, or simply their own intuition.  (They might  be really obnoxious about it and depending on your hormone levels at the time you may or may not respond graciously.)

But I’m your big sister.  I’m not  sure why that makes a difference here, but still, I think I know and I’ve revealed my guess in this post!  Try to find it!  Or not. Perhaps you rolled your eyes after the first couple of sentences and went off to do something more interesting like winterize your pool.  But it’s here, on record, so that if I’m right I can slide into big sister mode and say:

I told you so!

If I’m wrong?  I sincerely, absolutely, unequivocally do not care.  The gender, when revealed, will suddenly be exactly what I wanted my baby sister to have.  (It’s crazy how that happens!)



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To view the previous post in this series, please click here.

I’ve worried about this message for a few days.  It involves a topic that is particularly guilt-inducing for some moms.  Perhaps–I thought– it’s better to just leave it alone. 

Wait…what?  Leave it alone?  I’d have to give up my Bossy Big Sister status!  No way. I’m licensed to interfere, push, prod, nag, pester, bug, irritate, dictate, speculate, never hesitate and when all else fails–boss. (Or tie you up ’til you promise to behave, whatever works.)

Anyway, I’m talking about preserving memories for your sweet baby and I’m going to keep it short and sweet this week.  If you want to create a scrapbook that weighs fifty pounds by Baby’s first birthday, go for it! If a pre-fab “baby book” is more your style, grab a cute one and start filling in the blanks. 

 But if traditional, detailed chronicles of any sort are not your style, don’t beat yourself up about it.  Just save something. You’ll enjoy the flood of memories  every time you reexamine the keepsakes and your child will treasure them all their life.  Here’s a few no-stress suggestions to get you started.

  • Keep a pocket-sized notebook in your purse and jot down a poignant moment when you can. Encourage hubs to add his thoughts as well.
  • Keep a small camera with you to snap photos of sweet and silly moments–like when you first realize you can no longer see your feet, grab that camera and record the new view!
  • Print copies of any e-mail correspondences related to the baby.  Did you e-mail anyone with the big news?    Do you and the hubs e-mail back and forth about appointment times, possible baby names, how many times you’ve felt the baby move, what food just gave you indigestion or the ten egg rolls you need him to get for you right now? Print them out and tuck them away!
  •  Hang on to a receipt for your maternity clothes or the first package of diapers that you buy.
  • Keep an easy memento of pregnancy cravings.  Stash an extra copy of your favorite take-out menu (circle the things you’ve ordered over and over during your pregnancy) or a grocery store receipt that shows the ten pints of Super-Duper Triple Chocolate Chip (theoretically speaking).

Remember, these memories are not just for you and the hubs to savor, they are the beginning of Baby’s personal history.  Trust me on this:  kids love hearing their story.  It doesn’t need fancy, color-coordinated packaging, it just needs to be preserved for all of you to enjoy.



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I blame this post on the latte. Some of us can't hold our coffee.

You can view my previous bossy-big-sister advice here. 

Don’t ever hesitate to call your doctor if you have a question.  Ever.  I’m feeling really very bossy about this right now, so if you’re not in the mood you might want to come back later or block me with security settings or something because it feels sort of like when I was twelve, you were six  and I knew everything.  (I think I should have made that latte I ordered this morning a “tall” instead of a grande.) 

Okay, where was I?

Right. Calling your doctor.  If you have an absolutely fabulous doctor then she has already assured you that you can call any time you have a concern or question.  Do it!  Don’t ever talk yourself out of a phone call because:

  1.  “It’s a silly question.”
  2. “I should know this.”
  3.  “I should be able to figure this out on my own.”
  4.  “There’s no way I’m going to say that word out loud.”
  5.  “She’ll think I’m a complete idiot for asking that question.”

I’m going to ditch these objections  for you.

1.  It’s a silly question.  Really?  Why?  Because you think you should already know it?  Because you think everyone else probably knows this and has never called your doctor to ask it?  Not likely.  In fact, I would wager Grandmommy’s cake stand that someone has asked it before.  In fact, I challenge you to come up with a sincere, pregnancy-related question that your doctor has never heard!  Now, for the sake of argument I’ll admit that silly questions are possible.  If you called your doctor to ask, “What’s the likelihood that I’ll deliver a six-toed cat with black ears and a purple tail?” even I would call that silly.

2.  I should know this.  Why? You’ve never had a baby before!  Don’t trip yourself up with this one; it’s silly ill-advised.

3.  I should be able to figure this out. Well, if you let yourself go down that road, you just might convince yourself that you and the Hubs can ditch the doctor and deliver the baby yourself!  Seriously,  I know you’ve got a lot of great resources (ahem!) to consult when you want some information and I’m not suggesting that you ignore these, but just keep in mind that your doctor is the medical expert here.  She’s the ultimate resource. 

4.  I can’t say that word out loud.  Okay, I get this one, I really do.  Fortunately, if it’s a problem, you have a great vocabulary and can probably get the idea across without saying the actual, precise, completely mortifying, anatomically correct word. If not, drive to your doctor’s office and write it on paper or draw a picture.

5. She’ll think I’m an idiot.  I’ll make this brief:  (a) No she won’t. (b) If she does she’s too professional to show it. (c) If not “a” or “b”, then get a new doctor!  (On this point, please refer back to number one.)

The thing to keep in mind is that the doctor knows you are totally new at this. Guiding a first-time mom through all the little details is part of her job.

I’m so glad I got this out of my system!



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I’m a fan of cornbread. I like it sweet or savory, but always buttery.  I like it with any meal, any snack, but particularly with beans

They've got a bit of golden crunch to the outside, but inside they're moist and tender.

Last night I made Creamy Bean and Vegetable Soup, adding cooked, crumbled, sweet Italian sausage at the very end.  The soup was delicious and hearty without being too heavy. These muffins–slightly sweet, buttery, moist and tender with a bit of crunch on top–were a perfect side.

If you enjoy culinary contrasts then you'll enjoy these muffins with a savory soup.

Sweet Buttermilk Cornbread Muffins

12 servings

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup sugar

1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2  teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup melted, unsalted butter (about 1/2 stick)

1 egg, beaten

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease or line with paper 12 medium muffin cups.

Combine dry ingredients.  Stir in buttermilk, butter and egg, mixing  just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Pour batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

The best part of this recipe?  I’ve got leftovers for breakfast!

Happy cooking,


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To view the previous post in this series, click here. ~K

When I was pregnant with my first baby, a good friend suggested that I start buying diapers well ahead of my due date.  I don’t remember her rationale for doing so, but I followed her advice! 

Babies: small parts, big changes.

I purchased two to four packages of diapers a month, starting in the middle of my second trimester.  I had a nice stockpile by the time my baby was born! Here is why I recommend it: 

Preparation boosts confidence.  Every action you take to get ready for the baby boosts your self-confidence as parents.  It’s good to feel “ready”.  Building up many week’s worth of diapers feels “really ready!” 

It’s one less concern.  Instead of  running to the store for a package of diapers when your baby is a week and a half old, you can do more worthy things with your time. Get to know the newest member of the family.  Grab sleep when you can.  Chat on the phone with all of your well-wishers.  Go get a pedicure.  Call your big sister and tell her that you would never have survived pregnancy without her timely, brilliant advice.  

You can get used to the expense.  Frankly, I was shocked when I took my first stroll down that foreign aisle stocked with rows of diapers, wipes, soaps, lotions and pureed human food.  Was it possible that it cost that much for disposable infant underwear?  At the time, we kept a strict grocery store budget of $50.00 per week.  A month’s worth of diapers increased that amount by just over 50%–if we bought the store brand. The first month that I purchased diapers, I bought only one package (about a week’s worth).  The next month I bought two.  By the time our baby arrived I was buying one package a week and we had adjusted to our new budget. 

It’s fun to shop for your baby!  It feeds the excitement, the giddy, joyful anticipation of that sweet little person you are waiting to meet.  Yes, even something as utilitarian as diapers contributes to the fun. 

There are other consumables such as wipes and formula that I also suggest stocking early.  Start slow if you like.  Ease into it.  Most of all, enjoy the preparation! 



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I really don't know if this should be called a treat; health-food-on-a-stick, maybe?

Last week I first made these treats for my kids.   Sky-hued eyes were enormous above their chocolate smeared mouths. They affirmed yet again that I am the greatest mom EVER!  (This affirmation is often inspired by sugar, some form of media experience or a trip to the playground.) 

And  check out the ingredients:  fresh bananas, semi-sweet chocolate, lightly salted peanuts.  It’s practically health food!  Seriously, it deserves its own dessert. Okay, okay, so there is a weensy bit of heavy cream involved, but it’s hardly worth mentioning.  Besides calcium is important–can’t neglect your teeth and bones! 

You can google chocolate covered bananas and come up with a recipe that goes something like this:  skewer peeled, fresh bananas and freeze; melt chocolate melting chips; dip bananas in melted chips; freeze again and eat.  You will also find recipes that call for combining chocolate and paraffin wax.  

No, thanks.  If I’m eating wax, it better be in some awful, processed treat about whose ingredients I am blissfully ignorant.  I’m going to pause here for a melodramatic shudder.  You feel free to keep reading! 

Here’s how I turned a few ingredients into my kids new favorite frozen treat. 

Chocolate-Peanut Covered Frozen Bananas 

serves 6 

3 ripe, peeled bananas, cut in half and skewered on popsicle sticks or bamboo skewers 

Approximately 8 oz. of Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips.  (I just eyeballed 3/4 of a 12-oz package of chips) 

Approximately 1 cup of heavy cream 

3/4 cup of lightly salted peanuts 

Place skewered bananas on a platter covered with foil, plastic wrap, parchment paper, wax paper, etc. and set platter in the freezer until bananas are throughly chilled. 

While bananas are chilling, coarsely chop the peanuts using a food processor, blender, or by placing the nuts in a ziploc bag and using a rolling pin to break up the nuts.  Put the nut pieces into a pie pan or large plate. 

They didn't last long in my house!

Place chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl.  Heat cream in a small sauce pan over low to medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until very hot. Do not let the cream boil. Pour hot cream over chocolate and stir briskly until all of the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.  One by one, dip the bananas into the chocolate, thoroughly coating the fruit, allowing excess to drip back into the bowl.  Immediately roll bananas in the nuts, then set back onto the freezer platter.  Repeat with the rest of the bananas and return them to the freezer until thoroughly chilled (30-60 minutes) or completely frozen (at least 2 hours.) 

The chocolate and cream mixture is basically a heavenly concoction known as ganache, without the butter. If you have peanuts and some of the ganache left over, stir the peanuts into the chocolate and put the mixture in the fridge until chilled enough to roll it into balls. Now you’ve got yourself an easy-peasy truffle that’s essentially a spherical, luxurious Mr. Goodbar.   Or, you could just dip  other things in the chocolate:  sliced apples, candied orange peel, strawberries, grapes, pretzels, graham crackers, animal crackers, potato chips, ants, grasshoppers, smalll children…kidding!  Just making sure you’re still with me. 

Happy snacking! 


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Crockpots can be tricky.  The thing is, food is trapped inside and cooked slowly for a long, long time.  Flavors meld, textures soften and disappear

I love fresh basil, but fresh herbs can be tricky in the crockpot so I use a basil marinara and it works just fine. You can use any marinara you like in this recipe!

 altogether.  Sometimes, with certain foods, this is bad news, and sometimes it’s delicious.  When utilized well, your crockpot can produce much more than a jumbo recipe of that dip with processed cheese and canned, spicy tomatoes.  It can give you something better than chicken thighs with condensed soup. How do I know this?   Several years ago a co-worker gave me a recipe for one of her favorite “easy meals”. 

I tried it.  We ate it. We ate some more. I filed the recipe in the family cookbook.  The End.

Well, not quite, actually.   I’ve tweaked it a bit over the years, changing a detail or two whenever I feel sassy in the kitchen.  Here’s the current version, just in time for the cooler weather that I am expecting any day/week/month!

Beef in Red Wine Marinara

Serves 4-6

1 lb. stew meat

1 T. vegetable or canola oil

1/4 tsp of salt

3  grinds  of fresh black pepper (a couple of shakes if you’re using the stuff in the can)

1 medium yellow onion,  chopped

1  8-oz package sliced baby bella (or your favorite) mushrooms

1 cup dry red wine, divided (optional)

1 jar of your favorite tomato-basil marinara sauce

Hot cooked rice or egg noodles

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until oil is hot.  Toss stew meat with the salt and pepper and add to skillet.  (Meat should sizzle and start to cook right away, but not smoke a great deal.)  Turn meat as necessary so that each side is browned and most of the meat is seared at least a little.  Remove meat with a slotted spoon and place in the crockpot.  Add the onions to the skillet and saute for about a minute.  Add half of the wine to the skillet, stirring to release any particles at the bottom of the pan. Add contents of pan to the crockpot.  Place remaining ingredients, except the rice or noodles, into the crockpot.  Cover the crockpot and cook meat on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 2-4 hours.   Serve over rice or egg noodles.

This keeps well in the refrigerator or freezer and is delicious the next day.


Happy cooking!




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To view the previous post in this series, click here. ~K

All the joy and wonder of pregnancy is happening for the first  time and it marks the transition in your life between without-a-child and Mommy.  Whether you end up with one or five kids, this is the only “first.”  So be greedy, grab with both hands and shovel in as much of these wonderful experiences as you possibly can.  You’ll never have another first pregnancy!

Moments to treasure…

Take many opportunities to laze around and do nothing. Such a luxury will be scarce for many years to come!

The ability to rest when you need to and sleep in when you can.  If another pregnancy is in your future, it’s unlikely that you’ll have the freedom to pamper yourself like you can now. (You’ll be taking care of another little one!) 

The opportunity to spend quality, uninterrupted time with your husband.  See above.

The physical changes.  Some are surprising, some are fun, and some may have you groping for your phone in the middle of the night to call your doctor. Still others may have you and your husband rolling on the floor with laughter. You might feel kind of strange sometimes or you might feel perfectly normal for nine months (except for all the internal gymnastics and increased waist line) or you might feel like that stretchy super hero mom in The Incredibles! Whatever you feel, treasure it. It’s all a sign that a life is growing in you–for the very first time!

All the fussing and attention you receive.  When I was pregnant with my first child, a friend gave me this advice and predicted, good-naturedly, “you’ll never be fussed over like this again!”  She was right!  While friends, family and even strangers  shared our joy and anticipation of the next three children, I was never again the focus of so much attention as I was during that  first pregnancy. Soak it up!

The extra curves.  I think this is self-explanatory! If not, ask your husband.

I can’t wait to hear about what you enjoy the most as your baby grows!



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