Saturday, December 28, 2013

25 Books in 2013-- Update

Well, I didn't quite make it to reading 25 books this year, but I did finish the 20th book this morning. Pretty good considering I forgot about this challenge when my mom got sick this spring and things got very hectic. Thankfully things have settled down this fall and I was able to read 7 books in the last 2 months. I wish I had written a little blurb about each book after I finished it, like I did when I did the 50 book challenge a few years ago. Now it's been so long since I read them that I don't remember my initial feelings on some of them. I did enjoy all the books though, especially Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Unbroken & Seabiscuit. I guess I had a thing for memoirs this year. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked The Cuckoo's Calling, which proves that I enjoy JK Rowling's writing in any style and under any name. I'm thrilled that Hubby has started reading Harry Potter aloud to C & O this month. They will soon to finish Book One and there are definitely 2 new fans of the series in this house.

Hopefully I'll have more success in both reading and writing in 2014!

25 Books in 2013 
(well...20 isn't so bad!)

1. Nemesis by Jo Nesbo
2. The Devil's Star by Jo Nesbo
3. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
5. The Dark Monk: A Hangman's Daughter Tale by Oliver Potzsch
6. The Beggar King: A Hangman's Daughter Tale by Oliver Potzsch
7. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
8. Carry On Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
9. Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robinson
10. The Woods by Harlan Coben
11. Hannibal by Thomas Harris
12. The Expected One by Kathleen McGowan
13.  The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
14. The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
15. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
16. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
17. Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
18. Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCreight
19. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
20. Inferno by Dan Brown

Nemesis by Jo Nesbo
The Devil's Star by Jo Nesbo
The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
Hannibal by Thomas Harris
The Woods by Harlan Coben
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberley McCreight
The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
Inferno by Dan Brown

The Dark Monk: A Hangman's Daughter Tale by Oliver Potzsch       
The Beggar King: A Hangman's Daughter Tale by Oliver Potzsch
Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
The Expected One by Kathleen McGowan

Memoir/Personal Essays
Carry On Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robinson
The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

Fiction-- Children's
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Monday, December 9, 2013


Today I volunteered at the boys' school for O's library time. It's really fun to help the kids find and check out books. The hottest titles in the first grade class are definitely Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants for boys and girls alike!

C's 3rd grade classroom happens to be right outside the library, so we spotted him at his locker on the way out to the car. I wouldn't have talked to him, but a couple of the boys in his class said "Hey C, there's your mom!" C  then proudly pointed out Baby A (my ever popular sidekick for library time) to his friends, "That's my littlest brother!"

When I walked by C, I patted his head quickly and said softly, "See you later!"

"Stop that!" he hissed as I walked away.

Later, on the ride home, I asked if I had annoyed him by patting his head. He said yes, because "Moooooommmmm, all my friends were there!!!!"

Welcome to the age of embarrassment...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"I no idea !"

I'm desperately trying to hang onto Baby A's daily nap, but as he is getting closer and closer to 3, he is only napping about half the time. Today I put him up in his crib and he never fell asleep. Instead, I could hear him singing and talking to himself. When it became clear that he was not going to fall asleep anytime soon, I went to get him out. I walked into the room to see him standing up in his crib with both arms straight out in front of him.

Baby A: "This hand is not talking to this hand!" (gesturing wildly with his arms).

Me: "What?"

Baby A: "This hand" (holding up his left hand) "is not talking to this hand!" (holding up his right hand).

Me: "Oh. Why not?"

Baby A: "This hand is Percy." (gesturing with his left hand).  "And this hand is Thomas." (gesturing with his right hand).

Me: "OK...but why aren't they talking to each other?"

Baby A: "I no idea!"

Me: "What do you mean? How come Percy isn't talking to Thomas?"

Baby A: "I no idea!"

Me: "But aren't you in charge of your own hands?"

Baby A: "Yes, I in charge of my hands!"

Me: "So then why aren't they talking to each other?!"

Baby A: "I no idea!"

Interesting to see a little window into what's going on in his head.  I have no idea either!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Almost Alphabet

Baby A is into singing lately. His favorite song at the moment is the Alphabet song. All day long I hear:

Now I know my ABCs
Next time won't you sing with Elmo?"

No matter how many times I suggest it, he just won't add "K" & "O", or sing with anyone but Elmo. Honestly, I've heard it so much that it's starting to sound right this way! I actually sang "LMNP" the other day. Uh oh. I'm sure big brother O would not agree that we only need 24 letters...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

1st trip to the Dentist!

In a sure sign that Baby A is not a baby anymore, today he had his first trip to the dentist! He was awesome! I remember C & O's first trips to the dentist, and both of them were nervous and wiggly. I ended up sitting in the chair with them in my lap for at least part of the visit. But Baby A was a pro. I think it helps that he's been dragged along to all of our dentist appointments over the last two years. When it was finally his turn, he sat calmly in the chair by himself and didn't fuss at all.

Here's hoping he always remains so relaxed at the dentist! And that he always has zero cavities!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ovarian Cancer Awareness

In honor of all the beautiful women fighting this disease today, especially the one closest to my heart!
Celebrating her last chemo today with hope for the future!

Friday, September 20, 2013

But, what do you want??!?!

A little window into my daily life right now....

Baby  A: "Mommy, listen to me! Listen to me!"

Me: "Yes, A, I'm listening. What is it?"

Baby A: "I want something I want!!"

Me: "OK, what do you want?"

Baby A: "I want something I want!!"

Me: "OK, do you want an apple?"

Baby A: "NOOO, I want something I want!!!!"

Me: "Graham crackers? A banana? A yogurt?"

Baby A: "Mommy, I want  SOMETHING I WANT!!"

Me: "Do you want something to eat?


Me: "But what do you want? Do you want to eat? Do you want something to play? Do you want to watch Thomas?"


Me: "Ok, just calm down and tell me what you want and I will get it."


Commence 5 minutes of wailing...

Me: "Sigh."

Repeat 20 times a day.

I never do figure out what he actually wants.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Beautiful Acadia

We ended the summer with a wonderful week in Acadia National Park in Maine. Earlier this summer my cousin, an amazing artist and photographer, visited us and gave me a few tips on photography. She got me started on using Aperture Priority mode. Not quite full Manual mode, but a big step up from Auto! I tried to practice what she taught me on our vacation and these are some of my favorite shots.

Over the summer I signed up for a popular online photography course that will be held this fall. I can't wait to learn even more!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

School Year's Day

Ok, clearly my New Year's Resolutions were a bust. What did I say I was going to do? I had to look back at my old posts from 6 months ago to remember! Hmmm....

1) Lose the 15-20 lbs of baby weight that refuse to disappear nicely on their own! 
2)  Read 25 books.
3) Explore a new hobby and take more pictures.
4) Blog more.

Yeah, that didn't quite go as planned. I think my main problem with New Year's Resolutions is that the year is interrupted by summer vacation. I got into a nice routine of going to the gym a couple times a week, and then school got out and I never went again. I was reading more books while Baby A napped, and then school got out and Baby A stopped napping because his brothers were home. I could never get a moment's peace and I never read anything again. All those purchases on my Kindle are just taunting me now. I did try to take more pictures, and finally succeeded last week when we were away on vacation. But otherwise this was a no go. And since I didn't blog a single time all summer, clearly, that was a bust too.

What was I doing with all that summer time off? Hopefully, I was creating good memories for my kids, but honestly I'm not really sure. The summer seemed to stretch out so far into the distance back in June, and then all of a sudden it was over. We didn't tick off half the things on our annual summer adventures list (which I failed to post this year...). We even missed blueberry picking, which frankly is just sacrilegious in my book.

We were busy with other things though.  My in-laws, who spend most of the year in Florida, decided to spend their summer in our neck of the woods, and it was great for the boys to see them every week. Time with their grandparents has become even more important, because I've become painfully aware this year that one never knows how much time is left. My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer back in April and that has made me face a lot of hard realities.  The boys have adjusted to her illness fairly well, and seem to interact with her in the same way they always have (although they do periodically mention that they will be happy when her hair grows back). Watching her go through surgery and chemo has been very difficult, and I think the stress of that has taken more of a toll on me than I realized. Honestly, there's just not much energy left for resolutions.

But today C & O are back to school. A third grader and a first grader. Unbelievable!
With the start of school, comes the chance to return to routines, which I think I need as much as they do. Maybe the secret to successful resolutions is to follow the school year calendar. Because today feels like New Year's Day to me! Maybe I'll give these another try. Happy School Year's Day!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Not only does Baby A watch more TV than his brothers ever did at age 2, but he also watches very different programming. He's never once watched Sesame Street because his brothers are "too old" for that show. But he's learned all of the Sesame Street characters from books and strangely enough, he still loves Elmo, despite never having watched "Elmo's World". Baby A's diapers also have Sesame Street characters on them, and he will often sort through them to find his character of choice for that day ("Eh-mo, Tootie Monstah, or Oska Chouch").

One morning when he chose a Cookie Monster diaper, I asked him, "What does Cookie Monster eat?"

Baby A replied very emphatically, "Fruit!"

"Fruit?" I asked. "Doesn't he eat cookies?"

Baby A said again, "No....Fruit!"

I guess maybe he's somehow picked up on Sesame Street's healthier Cookie campaign after all....

Monday, March 25, 2013

Beginning Dictionary

Every year the boys' elementary school has a used book sale. It's a great event. Families donate their used books, the school librarian gets the first pass to grab all books she thinks would be good for the school library, and then students and staff visit the sale to choose some treasures for themselves. All the books cost $0.25-$1 and the several hundred dollars made from the sale goes to the school to fund other activities. Last year, C was thrilled to come home with 6-7 books for less than $2.

I've been very frazzled lately since my mom had a knee replacement a couple of weeks ago and all my spare time has been spent driving back and forth to visit her in the hospital and rehab. So the book sale snuck up on me. I had grand plans to donate a whole bunch of books, but that didn't happen. And on the first day of the sale I even forgot to send C with his $2.

When I picked him up that day, I apologized profusely for forgetting to give him the money.

C: "It's ok, Mom. Mr. G said that anyone who forgot their money today can go back first thing tomorrow morning if they remember their money tomorrow. I just hope the one book I really want is still there!"

Me: "What did you want to buy?" I assumed it was one of the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Magic Treehouse books.

C: "Mom! I know exactly what I want to get! It was the coolest book there! It's a Beginning Dictionary!"

Me: "A Dictionary? You want to buy a dictionary?" I was confused.

C: "Yeah, Mom! It's so cool! It says "Beginning" Dictionary and I thought that was perfect for me! I know you and Dad already have a Dictionary, but I thought I could start with the Beginning Dictionary. I really hope it's still there tomorrow."

 Me: "I think that's a great idea. I hope it is still there. It probably will be." I said, smiling.

C: "Yeah, I was really worried someone else would buy it but Mr G. said that I shouldn't worry about it. He says the Dictionaries are usually there until the very end of the sale. I don't know why, because they are so awesome!!"

The next day, I sent C off with his money and when he came home beaming, I knew he had secured his prize.

C: "It was still there Mom! I got it! I got the Beginning Dictionary!" he exclaimed. "Do you know that even though it was in the kids section, they said it was an adult book and it cost $1. But that's ok, because the only thing I really wanted to get this year was the Dictionary."

C was thrilled to show off his new Dictionary to Hubby when he got home from work that night.

C: "Look Dad! Look! I got a Dictionary! Isn't it great!"

Hubby: "Wow C, of all the books, you picked a dictionary?"

"Me: "Yes, Hubby! Isn't that wonderful? What a great choice!" I said sternly. "I used to love to look at all the words in the dictionary when I was a kid. I still love to look up words! C picked a great book!"

Hubby: "Oh C, there you go, encouraging your mother and her love of dictionaries...(sigh)... It is great! Why don't you show it to me?"

As C went to go grab his dictionary. Hubby whispered to me: "You know, it is a little nerdy to buy a dictionary...of all the choices, he picked a dictionary? I wonder what the other kids thought of that?"

Me: "It's fine. Don't discourage him!!"
But I too wondered what the other kids had said about C's choice. So when C returned, I asked him. "So C, what did your classmates think of your dictionary?

C: "They thought it was awesome! Most of them didn't even see the dictionaries. But after they saw me buying a dictionary, a bunch of them went and bought dictionaries too! At least 4 of my friends bought dictionaries after I did."

Me: "Well, isn't that great! Look at that, Hubby! C started a dictionary buying trend!"

C: "I'm going to look up 'trend', Mom. Hmmm....'A direction or course that seems to be followed.' You're right! I did start a trend."

Beginning Dictionary circa 1987

C's fallen asleep with it almost every night since...

And he was right. It is an awesome book! It has color pictures and everything!


I'm so proud of my little guy for choosing something a little different. And grateful that he thinks dictionaries are cool. Just like I do!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Resolution Update #2

How did this month go? February wasn't the greatest month for my resolutions, but I did make progress in a few areas.

1) Lose the 15-20 lbs of baby weight that refuse to disappear nicely on their own! 
The scale still isn't showing much progress, but I did meet with the personal trainer at the gym and she gave me some ideas of a few circuits I could do for strength training and toning both in the gym and at home. I'm aiming to get to the gym 3-4 times a week, and did so this past week. Hopefully by the March update, I'll finally see some progress here! I ordered my bridesmaids dress for SIL's wedding, so now it's on...

2)  Read 25 books.

I only read two books this month, and one was a book that I started last year but never got around to finishing until now. I will still count it though. Sick kids and school vacation did a number on my reading time, so I'm glad I at least read something. And with 7 books in 2 months, I should still be able to meet my goal of 25 books this year.

6. The Beggar King: A Hangman's Daughter Tale by Oliver Potsch
The latest in the Hangman's Daughter series, and the followup to the book I read last month. I still enjoyed all the characters and appreciated the change of scenery from the small town of Schongau to the big city of Regensburg. I look forward to what happens next in this series. Again, the author's notes at the end of the book about the true history and descriptions of all of these German locations was as interesting as the story itself.

7. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
The third book in a series about a time traveling nurse Claire and her Scottish Highlander beau Jamie. I really enjoyed the characters developed in the first book Outlander, but found this one harder to stay with. Part of that may be due to the fact that I didn't get to finish this book in a timely fashion, but I'm not sure I'm invested in the series enough to read book 4. 

3) Explore a new hobby and take more pictures. 
I've been having fun playing around with my new 50mm 1.8 camera lens and have been taking a lot of pictures with that. Mostly of Baby A since he is the most convenient subject! On the recommendation of a couple of friends, I also joined ClickinMoms, a website for moms who love photography, both amateur and professional. I hope I'll be able to learn a lot more through their forums, and maybe even a beginner course.

 4) Blog more.
This month I wrote 3 posts (including this one).  Here's where I really fell off...Hope March brings more time to think and write!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for VEGAN Ice Cream!!!

For Christmas, SIL gave us a fancy ice cream maker. But even more wonderfully, she gave us a book full of dairy free ice cream recipes!!

The New Scoop by Alina Niemi

Due to C's milk allergy, we've never been able to enjoy the traditional family outing to the ice cream shop at the end of a fun summer day. Yes, there are soy ice creams that one can buy, and our freezer is typically stocked with some of these, but the flavors are limited. I've always thought about trying to make my own ice cream for C, but didn't know how to begin. I never even thought to look for a book on how to make dairy free ice cream. It just didn't occur to me that such a thing existed! But as I discovered, this book plays to a wider audience than just those with food allergies, also targeting people who are vegan, people who prefer to make their own ice cream to avoid common additives like dyes and preservatives, people who like the idea of using the freshest produce, and those who just want to experiment with exciting new flavors of ice cream!

The boys requested that we make a "normal" flavor first, which was easy since the book does have a section detailing how to make the most typical flavors. They settled on strawberry ice cream, and it was quite fun to make our own beautiful pink ice cream with fresh strawberries, tofu, soymilk and some oil for fat. It tasted quite like the store bought strawberry soy ice cream we've had in the past.

Our First Homemade Vegan Ice Cream Experiment!

For our next experiment, I wanted to try something more adventurous, and went for Avocado ice cream. With great flavor from fresh avocados and freshly squeezed lime juice, this came out delicious!! I will definitely make this again.

Avocado Ice Cream
Most recently I tried the Pomegranate-Strawberry-Banana Sorbet recipe and that too was delicious! While I love this book for its dairy-free aspect, I've also come to appreciate just how delicious and healthy freshly made ice cream can be! I look forward to whipping up a lot more flavors in the future!
Pomegranate-Strawberry-Banana Sorbet

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Picture Update

Somehow it's been 3 weeks since I last posted. I have been taking a lot of pictures though. I got a new 50mm/1.8 lens and have been enjoying playing around with it. I'm also thinking of taking a photography course to learn how to use the manual settings on my camera, but we'll see if/when I can fit that in.

A few pictures from the last couple weeks...

One of many snows!
Valentine's Day brought a pretty bouquet!
Fun with Chalk...
...and Trains!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Resolution update #1

On January 1st, I posted my resolutions for this year. In order to keep myself accountable and to attempt to make more progress on my personal goals, I plan to update monthly with my progress on each.

Let's see how things have been going...

1) Lose the 15-20 lbs of baby weight that refuse to disappear nicely on their own! 
So far, not too much progress on this one. I've been fluctuating up and down the same 2 lbs this whole month. Until they seem permanently gone, I won't count them! I have been to the gym a few times though, and Baby A seems to be acclimating well to the childcare there, so hopefully I'll be able to put in more time in the coming months.

2)  Read 25 books. 
I'm doing better on this one. So far I have read 5 books, so I'm on track to meet (or perhaps even exceed) this goal.

1. Nemesis by Jo Nesbo
2. The Devil's Star by Jo Nesbo
3. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
I read the Jo Nesbo's The Redbreast in paperback during my last book challenge and was excited to see that some of his later novels are now available for the kindle. I love these Norwegian mysteries featuring the flawed police detective Harry Hole. The characters are complex and the story lines always have many twists and turns. I always think I know "whodunit" but then a few pages later realize that actually I have no idea! I love mysteries that keep me guessing. There are two more books in the series currently available for the Kindle. It was difficult to put the series down, but I figured it would be good to change gears and save some for later!

4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Yes, this is a kids book, but C really wanted to read this series since many of his friends are reading these books. While I know all the boys love them because "they're so funny, Mom!", I've heard mixed reviews from parents since the main characters really are not well behaved. Rather than telling him he couldn't read them, I read the book as well so C and I could have a discussion about all the things he should not emulate from these characters. He's already moved on to books 2 and 3. I guess I should flip through those too.

5. The Dark Monk: A Hangman's Daughter Tale by Oliver Potzsch
This is the sequel of another book that I read during my 50 book challenge in 2010. Revisiting these familiar characters has been really fun, and it's definitely helping me stay motivated to read. I would classify this as a historical fiction/mystery, loosely based on the author's ancestors who were hangmen in Bavaria in the 1600s. The story is a very easy read, and I also enjoyed the authors notes at the end where he described some of his research into his own family tree and his travels in Bavaria for inspiration.

I am really enjoying reading more again!!

3) Explore a new hobby and take more pictures. 
I have worked my way through the camera manual and have also started reading a book about photography that many people seem to recommend highly, Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson. I am still using the auto mode on my camera, but I am working on finding the times with the best light so I can take flash free photos. I had fun taking a few "artsy" shots of Baby A and his favorite Thomas. Hopefully as the year goes on, I'll be able to move to more manual settings.

 4) Blog more.
This month I wrote 9 posts (including this one). That's not bad, considering that I only posted 23 times in 2012. Here's hoping I can keep it up!

And of course...Be more patient and loving. Spend more time playing and less time yelling.
Well...this one is always a work in progress!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

TV time

All three boys crammed onto the ottoman to watch one of their new favorite shows: Wheel of Fortune! I love it when they all get along!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Our Dairy Free Favorites

When C was diagnosed with an allergy to milk seven years ago, we were totally confused and overwhelmed. We basically had to learn a whole new way to cook and eat. Since everything that C eats must be completely dairy free, I've spent a lot of time poring over ingredient lists and trying to figure out where I can stock up on safe foods. I'm not sure if he'll ever outgrow this allergy. I hope he does for his sake. Sitting on the side, eating his own snack while everyone else is gorging on cake and pizza, is C's norm at birthday parties. While I hate that he has to do this, I am grateful for all the milk-free foods that exist.  Here's a list of some of our favorite brands; my ode to the foods that make our dairy free life possible! While some of these products can be found in regular grocery stores, we do make special trips to Whole Foods to buy several of them.

1) Silk vanilla soymilk. While they will drink other soy milks, my boys think this is the best tasting variety out there! This is what they drink daily and also what we substitute for cow's milk in recipes. It definitely helps that we can buy a 3 pack for a reasonable price at Costco since dairy free/vegan food is typically much more expensive.

2) Earth Balance natural buttery spread. Despite the name, this is a completely dairy free vegan margarine. Before C was diagnosed with a milk allergy, I had no idea that most margarines actually contain milk. This one tastes great and comes in both tub and stick form, making it super easy to substitute into recipes. Our fridge is always well stocked with this.

3) Whole Soy & Co yogurts. Like with margarine, I was shocked to find out that many "soy" yogurts, including those made by Stonyfield farms and other major brands actually contain milk protein, and are unsafe for people with milk allergies. These yogurts have become our favorites, with great flavors like apricot-mango and key lime as well as all the standard ones.

4) Cherrybrook Kitchen cake & frosting mixes. I cannot say enough about these mixes!!! I use these cake and frosting mixes to make all of our birthday cakes and they honestly taste delicious! People have no idea that it is a dairy free cake. And these mixes are free of eggs and nuts as well, so they are also great for birthday party cupcakes where there may be kids with multiple other allergies. I try to always have a few boxes of these in the pantry because I cannot always find them in stores. This fall, I actually ordered a case of our favorite chocolate cake mix directly from the company to be sure I would have enough for all the upcoming birthdays. That's how much we love these products!

5) Daiya cheese. This vegan cheese is a relatively new discovery for us. As is the running theme of this post, many "soy" cheeses actually contain milk protein to make the cheese melt and stretch more like dairy cheese. So for a long time we avoided soy cheese altogether. I eventually discovered some vegan cheese slices, but Daiya was the first shredded cheese we ever found. This is definitely one of the better vegan cheeses out there because it does melt well. We use it to make homemade macaroni & cheese and pizza. It has a sweeter taste than dairy cheese, but the boys still love it. And it's so nice to be able to let C enjoy some of these classic childhood favorites in a safe way.

6) Tyson & Kirkland brand chicken nuggets. Most chicken nuggets have milk in the breading, but these two typically do not. I buy big bags of these at Costco. Even kids with allergies love everything in nugget form!  Not the healthiest food of course, but these are great to microwave up and serve with veggies for a quick dinner.  Since most prepared & frozen foods have milk, butter, or cheese in them, having a quick cook staple in the freezer is essential!

7) Tofutti ice creams. My boys love these soy ice cream sandwiches and cones and they are one of our favorite warm weather treats. We've tried their "Better than cream cheese" spread on bagels and that is quite tasty too.

8) Amy's kitchen no cheese and vegan margherita pizza. My boys love to eat pizza, and these are a nice staple to have in the freezer for nights where I don't feel like cooking. Again, one has to carefully check the ingredients of all of these pizzas, as the Amy's kitchen soy cheese pizza does contain milk. But the vegan pizza is actually made with Daiya cheese so that and the no cheese variety are both dairy free.

9) Kashi cereal bars. Granola/cereal bars are another staple childhood snack, but most of them contain milk. I was so happy when I discovered these! I try to always keep a box in the car since they are perfect for on the go snacks.

10) Oreos, Honey Maid Graham Crackers, Wheat Thins, Triscuits, Snyders mini Pretzels. These are some easy to find dairy free snacks that can be bought almost anywhere.

****I always read ingredient labels each time I shop and then again each time I open a package at home, even for these products that I buy regularly.  For serious food allergies, this is the safest method, since product ingredients can change at any time.****

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


While carrying Baby A back to the car after kindergarten dropoff...

Me: "You're getting so big! Who's such a big boy?!"

Baby A: "Baby!"

Me: "That's right! You're getting to be such a big boy! And you're getting heavy to carry!
Who's getting so heavy?"

Baby A: "Mama."

Baby speaks the truth...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I have a dream....

O has a monthly calendar of brief daily assignments to complete for kindergarten. In honor of the upcoming Martin Luther King Day, one of this week's assignments was "Talk about Martin Luther King. What is a dream that you have?" After we discussed the MLK video they had watched in class, I asked O about his dreams.

O's initial response: "To play Super Mario!"

Me: "OK. But do you have any bigger dreams than that? Maybe something about everyone? Or about the world? Not just about you and videogames?"

After a thoughtful pause, O said:  "I dream that people would stop polluting the oceans, to save the sea animals! So all the sea animals would be happy!"

C, who is studying water availability and conservation in second grade, chimed in: "I dream that everyone would have clean drinking water without having to walk more than 2 miles to get it!"

Now that's more like it!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Well Loved Thomas

Scraped and scuffed, but still his favorite!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Monday, January 7, 2013


Hubby and I have wondered about O's vision on and off over the last year or so. We noticed that he seemed to lean closer to the computer and books than his brothers did. But he knows how to read well, could easily spot signs on the road, and seemed comfortable watching TV from the couch like the rest of us. I brought up my concerns about O's vision at his 5 year checkup last spring but he passed the pediatrician's vision screen and I was reassured.  Hubby and I are both nearsighted and got glasses in late elementary school, so I assumed that while all our boys will probably need glasses eventually, for now everything was ok. So I was caught off guard when I got a letter from his school nurse last month informing me that O had failed the kindergarten vision screen and needed a full evaluation. We took him to an ophthalmologist over winter break and found out that while his overall vision wasn't terrible, he has significant astigmatism and is starting to get a lazy eye, so he does indeed need glasses. O cried hysterically and exclaimed over and over that "I don't need glasses! I can see just fine!" Until he put his new glasses on. Since then he hasn't complained about wearing them one bit. It seems he can really tell a difference..."Mom, before everything was a little bit smudgy. But now it's not!"

Despite feeling comfortable in his glasses at home, O was really nervous about returning to school because none of his classmates have glasses. He worried that the other kids would make fun of him. He even said that he was sure his friends wouldn't want to play with him anymore. Hubby tried to reassure O that his friends like him because of his fun personality, and that that wouldn't change just because he has glasses. But O remained unconvinced. So I was thrilled to hear that his first day back to school went well. His teacher, who typically wears contacts, wore his glasses that day so O wouldn't be the only one. And O said only one of his friends asked him why he was wearing glasses. When O replied "because they help me see better!", the friend said "ok" and that was the end of it. He even created a new Mii for the Wii that shows him wearing glasses. Here's hoping his love of glasses continues, and that the glasses help his lazy eye improve so we can avoid patching!

Who wouldn't want to be friends with this guy?!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


It's that time of year again.

In general, I don't do too well with resolutions. I have a lot of energy for them in January and then things get busy and my attention wanders and come December, I am making the same resolutions again. Lose weight. Get more exercise. Read more. These same ideas keep cropping up over and over and over, in various permutations. But a common thread in all of them is to do something for myself. To make me feel better about me. It's so easy for me to spend all my time and effort on the boys, and then late at night, when it's finally my time, all I have the energy for is watching TV. I'd like to do more than that. And be more than that. Because success in those areas gives me the extra oomph I need to achieve the other resolutions that I always make. Be more patient and loving with my family. Spend more time playing and less time yelling.

The one time I was really successful with a resolution was when I challenged myself to read 50 books in one year and I documented it on this blog. At the time I wasn't sure I could do it, but coming here and writing about it kept me motivated and indeed, I did it! But that was 2010. With the addition of Baby A, life got even busier. So I guess it's understandable that some things fell by the wayside. Now it's time to focus. I'm hoping that if I challenge myself and blog about my resolutions again, I'll have the same kind of success in 2013.

So here goes...

This year I would like to:

1) Lose the 15-20 lbs of baby weight that refuse to disappear nicely on their own! My baby is almost 2 so really, the time for excuses is over. Another motivator: my size 0 sister-in-law is getting married in September, and I would love to be slimmer by then. No one wants to be the one chubby bridesmaid. As part of this resolution, I want to take more advantage of my gym membership and its free childcare. I joined this new gym with the best intentions this fall, but haven't gone there much. If Baby A and I can get there a couple times a week, that would be a good start. It's also time to dust off the stack of fitness DVDs that I've acquired over the years.

2)  Read 25 books. While I would love to read 50 books again this year, I think that is probably unrealistic. 25 books is more reasonable. Two books a month is still way more than I have been reading lately. And if I can read more than that...even better!

3) Explore a new hobby and take more pictures.  After contemplating updating our camera for a while now,  Hubby & I finally took advantage of the Black Friday sales and picked up an older model Nikon DSLR as a Christmas present to ourselves. I've been having a lot of fun playing around with it and would like to learn even more. I have a couple instructional DVDs that came with the camera so I'll start there. Here's hoping some great pictures of the kids will follow!

4) Blog more. I keep saying that I want to write more, and then I never do. 2010 was the year I posted the most, and it was also the year that I was the most successful with my other resolutions. I think that just the act of carving out a few minutes for myself here helped me focus in other parts of my life too. So maybe this resolution will be the one that helps tie all the others together.

And of course...Be more patient and loving. Spend more time playing and less time yelling.

I'm ready to start fresh in the New Year. Who's with me?