Sweet Dreams

pjs 029


This Afternoon...

PoolTree 041

PoolTree 021

PoolTree 025

PoolTree 033

PoolTree 027

PoolTree 030

PoolTree 035

This Morning...

PoolTree 006

PoolTree 003

Thanksgiving... Part IV (Soup and Notes)

PoolTree 047

Turkey Noodle Soup (from the Star Tribune Paper)

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp. chopped thyme
4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
2 c. baby spinach
2 c. cubed or shredded turkey or chicken
1 and 1/2 c. uncooked wide egg noodles
1 (15-oz.) can cannellini beans, drained
1 (14.5-oz.) can sliced carrots, drained
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onions, and cook for 3 minutes. Add thyme and stir to blend. Add broth, spinach, turkey, noodles, beans, carrots, and salt and pepper, and stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer about 15 minutes, or until noodles are tender.

Also some Thanksgiving Day notes for next year...

~ We had two turkeys- a 24 pound one and a 12 pound one- for 16 people. This was not necessary, but it was very nice. We have had plenty to share and eat over the last three days and today I made a double batch of turkey soup.

~ It worked well to have the roasting pan and crock pots downstairs. Next year we will set up that area ahead of time.

~ I gave my mom a bag of potatoes from our garden for mashed potatoes and some fresh sage for the stuffing. I don't know the recipe she used for either of these things but they were both delicious. She should have them again next year.

~ Katie made her cream cheese corn and used 4 bags of corn. This was enough for 16 people with plenty left over (well "plenty" might not quite be accurate since I could eat this corn everyday for the rest of my life).

~ For her green beans she used 3 bags of beans. This was enough for 16 with plenty left over.

~ If we ever end up grilling a turkey again (we roasted the big one and grilled the little one) don't bast with butter right away.

~ Acorn squash worked well in the roasting pan.

~ I loved having edible place-settings. This year I had the kids paint green water colors on paper and cut them out to make leaves for the pears. I suppose we can't really do that again next year but I'd like to think of something similar.

~ Starting to plan and think ahead days and weeks early was so essential to my happiness for the day. I want to make sure and remember to do that next year.

~ Katie needs to stay over the night before Thanksgiving! This is what she concluded after all was said and done and I have to agree. As my co-host it was so great having her there the night before. Much more fun that way (also then if someone has to make a late night trip to the dreaded Walmart at least we can do it together).

~ And actually next year we will plan ahead so there are no late night trips to said store.


A Day of Nothing

Relaxing 006

Relaxing 002

Today we did nothing but sit around the fire and hang out. All. Day. It was noon before I was dressed. Grace and Jackson never did get out of their pajamas. The two of them played outside for a little bit this morning (while Ryan and I continued to sit by the fire), and then they came in for some hot chocolate. We read books, built a fort, played games, I even managed to sneak a small nap in. It has been along time since we have had a nothing day. It was very much needed... and enjoyed.


Thanksgiving... Part III (Dinner)

Thanksgiving 034

Thanksgiving 035

Thanksgiving 038

Thanksgiving 041

Thanksgiving 044

Well we did it. We managed to fit 16 people in our kitchen at the table for dinner.

And it was really wonderful.

There were so many highlights, especially during dinner. There was a moment right before we all sat down, when all 16 of us were standing in the kitchen next to the table but not at the table (ah, if it's not obvious by the picture- there was not room for this) when someone finally yelled out "we all just need to sit down". Which we did only to realize, oh dear, now how will we get the food. Yes, I didn't quite realize how tight it would be in there once people were actually sitting at the table. But of course we figured it out and the challenge made our dinner all the more just right as our family gatherings always seem to entail some good drama and chaos.

But I think it would be unanimously agreed upon that the best moment was "the picture". Wanting to capture a picture of all of us at the table Ryan set up the camera on timer and took a few practice rounds while he was standing next to it to make sure it was angled right. Finally deciding it was sitting just right he set the timer once again. But suddenly realizing he had came to the other end of the table by actually going outside through the french doors and coming in the side door (as there was virtually no room on either side of the table) he suddenly made a mad dash under the table to get to the other end. Of course this had us laughing hysterically (and moving our feet out of the way as quickly as we could) only to capture just his head coming out of the table with the table cloth draped around him like it was part of his outfit. The blurry picture, we concluded, could have only been the result of our laughter shaking the whole kitchen as no one was actually holding the camera.

Thanksgiving 047

Thanksgiving 049

All in all it was such a fun day and evening. A lot of laughing, cooking, singing and silliness mixed in with a little family chaos. The perfect Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving... Part II

Some highlights...

Thanksgiving 021

Pumpkin pies

Thanksgiving 024

Our dinner menu (although I forgot to include Scott's homemade ice cream)

Thanksgiving 027

Thanksgiving 028

Delicious hors d' voeueres

Thanksgiving 008

It was so beautiful out (although very cold)

Thanksgiving 022

But inside it was nice and toasty

Thanksgiving 058


Thanksgiving 052


Thanksgiving 055

Good entertainment (this being Jackson showing off his fancy dance moves)

Thanksgiving 032

And of course there was turkey. A lot of it. More on that in the next post.

Thanksgiving... Part I

Thanksgiving 005

I didn't have a chance to post on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. I did however take this one picture- eating pumpkin muffins and clementines on Thanksgiving Eve.

I have a tendency to get stressed out during the final hours before a big gathering such as this one. I don't like this about myself. It is a holiday, it should be fun, even the planning. So I worked really hard to keep my cheer throughout the day... even though these two followed right along behind me undoing my attempts at order. But in the end everything got done. The house was clean (maybe cleaner then it's ever been), and I even managed to make vegetable soup for dinner. All the while keeping my cheer about me (well mostly). Of course the falling snow, crackling fire, and Christmas music certainly helped.

But maybe even more triumphant, was the fact that Ryan and I got along all day. It is just this sort of planning, cleaning, list checking off kind of day that can cause some tension between us. But on this day, besides a few snips (by me), followed quickly by some "I'm sorries" we got along really well. In fact, at one point, when the kids were both in bed and we were cleaning the kitchen together he suddenly blurted out, "I'm having fun!" Which made me realize that hey, I am too (of course it probably sould be added that he did have a drink in hand when this was said... another aid in increasing your holiday cheer).
I guess I can't ask for more then that the night before 16 people come over for Turkey dinner.



mombday 022

This is my huge brine pot (formerly Ryan's smoker). It has become a tradition now to be hunting down this pot two days before Thanksgiving so I can make the brine.

Brine Recipe
10 cloves garlic, minced
3 quarts water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup black peppercorns, plus
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1/4 cup sugar, plus
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 bay leaf

I had to quadruple this recipe for our huge turkey. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely before using.


It's Hot In Here

Fireplace2 010

Hot. And I'm sick. But I don't even care because our thermostat is set at 60 degrees and the temperature in here is holding strong at 71. All night long it kept this house toasty warm. Love it.



Fireplace 012

Tonight I am feeling especially grateful for this... our fireplace! And all the people who helped make it possible. We have been waiting patiently for a year for this moment. After month's of hard work by Ryan (and a few generous friends), our fireplace is finally burning wood.

I am so overjoyed at the idea of spending the next several months snuggled under a blanket in front of a toasty hot fire.

The Holiday Fair

Holidayfair 021

Holidayfair 003

Holidayfair 018

Holidayfair 005

Holidayfair 020

Highlights of our day at the annual holiday fair...

~Getting faces painted. Grace got a star and Jackson got a santa claus... I have never seen him so proud.
~Decorating cookies (well actually eating them was probably the highlight)
~Seeing new friends
~Picking a treasure from the pocketeer.
~But for sure the biggest highlight was visiting the gnome cave. They were so enchanted by the treasure chests, gems, twinkling lights, and singing gnomes.

I think they were both completely mesmerized by the whole experience. So much magic and good energy there. Can't wait to do it again next year.


The Perfect Day For...

Fort 002

staying in jammies all day and building a fort. No school or work today (our school closes for a day to prepare for the holiday fair... reason number 79 why I love this school). We are enjoying every minute... and I'm checking things off my Thanksgiving list.



The Countdown Has Begun

Moreplanning 003
(the only downfall of my new chalkboard is that it doesn't have spell-check... don't look too closely at my spelling)

We are really starting to get excited around here for the big day. (Not sure too many other people refer to Thanksgiving as the big day...). I think I enjoy the planning and preparing part as much as I do the actual day.

My week...
Thursday- Katie is coming over for an official Thanksgiving planning meeting.
Friday- Clean, clean, clean. (Friday night the Holiday Fair)
Saturday- (More Holiday Fair) More cleaning.
Sunday- Clean (yes there will still be more to clean) and bake (also fireplace officially going in)
Monday- Grocery shopping and pick up turkey.
Tuesday- (My Mom's birthday) start decorating, brine turkey
Wednesday- Iron table cloths, napkins. Get "guest rooms" ready. Go get Christmas tree.
Thursday- Thanksgiving. Cook. Eat. Enjoy my family.


On My Mind...

"Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth."
by Khalil Gibran

Play 006

I have always loved this poem and I recently came across it again. It has been running through my mind over the past few days. Just floating around in there, reminding me how truly fleeting these precious moments of parenting really are.

While it at times feels like this life I live right now is just going to continue on forever- it will not. My children are not mine. They will grow up and someday find their own calling in life. They will most likely get married and have a family of their own. They will find their people. And while I am hopeful that we will also continue to be "their people" just as our parent's are for us, it will assuredly not be the same.

So this is my time with these two little beings. Not only during the stories and snuggles but also during the tantrums and arguments. This time is a gift, all of it. And the question then becomes not "what to do" but "how to be." How do I want to be? When it is all said and done what are the memories- and more importantly what are the feelings inside those memories - that I want to have to look back on.

I want to have blissful moments to remember. Moments where I am sitting with my child playing or reading a book and the only thing on my mind is my child . I want to have patient moments to remember. Moments where in the face of a screaming child I am able to stay calm, and retain my own maturity. Where I am able to respond in a loving way, even though I might be at the receiving end of some unkind words or actions. I want to have peaceful moments to remember. Moments where I am comforting my children, such as rocking them to sleep. I want to have moments of real clarity. Moments where I am so certain that nothing else in life is more important then this. Where the dishes might be piled high in the sink but I am outside on an adventure with my two little ones.

And while this is what I want, so often I get caught up functioning on autopilot and I am not able to be this. So I must also learn to forgive myself when that happens... and just try again. I have to continue to keep this image alive in my mind and keep striving. Though it may be an impossible image to live up to, I do know that the more I strive for it, the more frequently I am able to create those precious memories I so desire.

It all goes so fast. This is my time. As I am sending my last child off into the world I want to be able to look back with happiness. I want to be able to say I was present for the journey... and I enjoyed it all.

(And now off to rescue the cat, who is locked in the bathroom with my two darlings being forced to play the role of the baby... I think they may be trying to put a diaper on him. All with a skip in my step and a smile on my heart of course.)



Nov 036

Nov 040

Nov 037

Nov 039

Nov 029

Nov 045

Enjoying the first snowfall of the year.



Nov 015

Gathering fresh spinach and lettuce from the garden.