Saturday, October 30, 2010

Meeting Myself Coming and Going

So in addition to making Halloween costumes this week, I put on my grownup clothes and went out into the world three days. Yep, THREE! I spent Tuesday doing work for the board I'm serving on, and Thursday and Friday I logged some time for my paying gig.

It felt great to get out in the world and be productive in different ways than I am around the house, but it has really thrown me for a loop! I think the addition of some volunteer or paying work or a project like the Halloween costumes to my usual routine would have been fine. The combination of all three has made me a little crazy. And zapped all my blogging time.

I promise my absence here will be worth it when you see the pics of the kids in their costumes tomorrow. If it isn't, don't tell me. My fragile ego can't handle it. ;-)

I'm sure you'll like the costumes, because we road tested them tonight. We went out for a Halloween event and our costumes got rave reviews. The boys now get the whole concept of trick or treat, and LOVE it, of course. I'm sure they will all act like pros when we go door-to-door tomorrow.

I got a couple decent pictures tonight, but we weren't in the best picture-taking circumstances, so hopefully I'll be able to do better tomorrow.

It sounds like all the over-tired, over-sugared children are asleep, and I'm soon to follow. Good night, all!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Blog? What Blog?

I thought last week was going to be crazy since Jeff was out of town all week. Turns out things have been crazier since he got back.

Our weekend was chock full of getting together with friends, which was fun, but made for a busy weekend. This week I'm putting in some time on my volunteer activities and my job. By Friday I will have put on my grown-up clothes and left the house sans kiddos four times. That's a real change of pace for me, which I love, but there's prep work to do before I go and then catch up to do when I get home, so it adds to the craziness.

Then, of course, there's the self-inflicted craziness of the Halloween costumes, though they've gone together pretty well and are turning out great if I do say so myself. I'm down to the final details on the last one, so almost there! I can't wait to share pics with you. I just hope the kids cooperate.

In and amongst all of that I'm trying to explain to the boys that while I'm happy they are not going potty in their pants, it's still a no-no to pull their pants down and pee on the floor in the playroom.

Never a dull moment around here!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

From My Kitchen: Easy Homemade Alfredo Sauce

Whew! I made it through the week. Jeff left early, early Monday morning for a conference and got home early, early this morning. This is a tough enough gig with a partner. Without it's exhausting.

So what does the exhausted cook make for four kids? Their favorite: noodles with sprinkle cheese. Most days that's noodles with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese, also known as "sprinkle cheese" around here. I use good old Kraft, straight out of the package.

On days when I'm not so tired, the kids get noodles with mama's special sprinkle cheese sauce, also known as alfredo sauce to the adults in the family. Yes, homemade alfredo sauce. It's fast and easy. Well, not as fast and easy as olive oil and a sprinkling of parmesan, but still fast and easy. But once you make your own you'll never buy a jar of alfredo sauce again.

The recipe starts with a basic white sauce, and then gets a little loose from there. I always start with real butter. But I don't always use exactly the same amount of parmesan. Sometimes I add garlic powder. Sometimes I don't. When I'm making this for a special occasion, I use half and half, or even cream if I'm feeling especially indulgent and thin. Sometimes I just use whole milk, which I always have on hand. It isn't quite as creamy that way, but it's still delicious. So feel free to experiment a bit and make this one your own.

Here's the recipe:

Homemade Alfredo Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper
1 teaspoon garlic (optional)
1 cup milk or half and half
1/2 to 3/4 cup grated or shredded parmesan

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Blend in flour, salt, garlic and a dash of pepper. If you're a purist, use white pepper so it won't show. If you're like me and never have white pepper and refuse to buy it just for white sauce, a little black pepper does nicely, too.

Add the milk or half and half all at once. Cook quickly, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and bubbles. I have a heat-resistant spatula that is perfect for this job.

Remove sauce from heat when it bubbles. If the white sauce cooks too long, it becomes to thick and the butter separates out. If that happens, never fear. Just add a little more milk and cook quickly, stirring constantly until the sauce bubbles again.

Add your parmesan cheese to the hot sauce and stir until mixture is smooth. You may need a whisk to smooth things out. Kraft melts down pretty well, but if you are the type who must grate your own fresh parmesan, be sure to grate it as finely as possible, or be prepared to stir a lot. It doesn't always melt really easily. You may need to return your sauce to the heat briefly to get it properly combined. Then taste, taste, taste.

Sometimes I throw in a little more cheese. Sometimes a little more salt or garlic or even a little more milk if things are getting too thick. When you like it, it's done. And it only takes five minutes from start to finish.

This recipe makes about a cup of sauce. You can do the math to make more as needed, just keep in mind that this doesn't freeze particularly well.

Serve over hot pasta. Top with some chicken cooked with some herbs and garlic and a nice loaf of bread and you've got my hubby's favorite meal! It's also delicious with shrimp. 


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Halloween Crazies

I've got the Halloween crazies.

Because I'm in the midst of making costumes.

Yes, I said making. As in actual sewing.

It's not because I'm such a fine seamstress and have all kinds of time on my hands. It's because I'm cheap. I can make a costume for less than $10. Like last year's Little Bo Peep and her sheep.

I might be able to buy costumes secondhand for about that, but it can be tough to put together a theme when you're shopping secondhand. And I have even less time for shopping than I do for sewing. At least I can sew while the kids nap or are tucked in for the night.

I figure I'd better do the theme costume thing while I can, because knowing my opinionated children it won't last long. This year I already had to come up with something for the boys that would go with Amelia's choice of costume.

Fortunately, my 10 years in 4-H gave me enough sewing skills to manage a simple pattern. Not without having to rip a few seams and open a bottle of wine, but still.

I'm a little rusty, but unlike nearly every 4-H sewing project I ever undertook, this one hasn't moved me to tears...yet.

Stay tuned for the results!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Goin' To The Chapel...

Long ago and far away, when I was a junior in college and still had my pre-babies body, I spent a semester in London. I went partly for the adventure, and partly to get away from the most challenging roommate ever.

Long ago and far away. Pre-babies! Ha!

One of my roommates in London was Kris. She hailed from sunny California, and I had traded the Great Frozen North for the Semi-Frozen Midwest for my college years. (Kris later visited me in the Semi-Frozen Midwest in January and nearly froze to death. But that's a story for another time. I'm not sure she's forgiven me for that yet!)

We became good friends, and had many adventures in during our semester in London. I vaguely recall one night when we decided that wine spritzers would make laundry night much more tolerable. They did. I remember lots of laughing and not much laundry.

When Jeff and I got married, Kris came to the Semi-Frozen Midwest in June to be our photographer. It was her wedding gift to us, and it was priceless. She not only took great formal pictures, but took pictures of everything else that happened, too, from me at the breakfast table to my family doing some crazy dance long after Jeff and I had left the reception.

I've been to San Diego to visit Kris, too. I think she worried the entire time that my pasty, white Midwestern skin would get burned to a crisp. And, because she can't imagine living away from the ocean, she tried to ensure that we spent as much time as possible in sight of the Pacific. We had a great time.

Me, Caryn (whom I also met in London), a friend of theirs, and Kris. San Diego ~ 1998.
Over the years Kris and I have kept in touch in spurts, but every time we reconnect, we pick right up where we left off.

So last week when a heavy, cream envelope addressed in beautiful script arrived with a return address of San Diego, I was breathless with excitement. Kris was getting married.
I tore open the envelope, scanned the invite and then ran to the computer and dashed off an email titled "Yay!"

When the invite arrived I immediately started trying to figure out if I could make it to Kris's wedding. For Jeff and I both to go would be impossible, but maybe, just maybe, I could sneak away?

I checked ticket prices and hotel prices and started figuring out logistics. And then I started debating the cost and how little time I'd get to see Kris, and if it would be better to go later instead.

I almost let my head make the decision instead of my heart.

And my heart leapt for joy when I got the invitation. My heart cheered that Kris had finally found the man of her dreams and was going to get married. My heart wanted to be with her on that big day.

So, I'm going. I'm flying out on a Friday night, and I'll be back by Sunday afternoon. It will be a short trip, a crazy trip, but most of all, a JOYOUS trip.

Sometimes love trumps logic.

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Welcome to the Week of Crazy

We launched the Week of Crazy here at 4 a.m. this morning, so I'm thinking the blog might suffer a bit in the next few days.

It's partly volunteer work, partly paying work (yay!) and, a few more mom duties than usual. But the real culprit is Halloween.

Halloween and four children to costume.

I would like to apologize in advance to those of you who live in the Midwest and may be subjected to my tortured screams.

Stay tuned though. I've got lots to share: a blast from the past, the sudden onset of a stutter, and probably a Halloween costume-related tirade, though I hope not!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Further Genetic Proof

Two weeks ago as we were getting ready for the boys' birthday, Amelia brought a piece of paper and a pencil to the table to make a list of things we needed.

She's four. And she's already making lists.

Wonder where she gets that from?

Anyway, Amelia told me the items she wanted on her list and painstakingly wrote them out as I spelled them.

Amelia's list: "Balloons, cupcakes, gifts, marshmallow, frosting, flower."

As we were listing things, Amelia said, "Cupcakes! We already made them so we should put them on the list so we can cross them off."

That, perhaps even more than her love of mashed potatoes, is clear evidence that this girl is most definitely my daughter, and her daddy's too! (Sorry about that, honey. The OCD gene runs strong in our family.)

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

From My Kitchen: Southwestern Avocado Chicken Wrap

One particularly busy night I was hunting for a fast and easy meal for the WBH and me. The kids had eaten chicken and diced avocado for supper, so I grabbed the leftovers, added a few more ingredients and voila! My version of a Southwestern avocado chicken wrap was born. It's become a go-to meal for us lately.

This one is fast, easy and full of flavor. You can adjust the spiciness to your liking by throwing in some chipotle or cayenne, and even change up the ingredients a bit. Jeff prefers that I leave the red pepper out, and I'm sure it would be delicious with the addition of some black beans, onion, and/or tomatoes.

Here's how I make mine:

Southwestern Chicken Avocado Wrap
1 cup diced, cooked chicken
1 avocado, diced  
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup frozen sweet corn, thawed
1/3 cup Southwestern salad dressing (I use Briannas Chipotle Cheddar)
Romaine lettuce
Flour tortillas

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. My big cheat is to use the frozen unbreaded chicken nuggets I buy for my kids, although I usually have cooked, diced chicken in the freezer. I like to cook a bunch of chicken up at once and freeze it in small batches to toss into casseroles, soups and this tasty wrap. You could also buy precooked chicken strips if you need to put this together super fast.

Combine the chicken with the avocado, pepper and sweet corn in a medium bowl. Pour dressing over and stir to coat. I don't like mine to be overpowered with dressing, so if the mixture isn't wet enough for your taste, just add some more.

To assemble the wrap, lay a Romaine lettuce leaf on a flour tortilla. I like to use Romaine for some crunch. Spoon filling onto the lettuce leaf, fold the bottom of the tortilla up and the fold the sides over. You could even skip the tortilla and just use lettuce leaves if you prefer.

It's that simple.


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Family Photo Marathon

If you're looking for a recipe post, tune in tomorrow. In the meantime, here is a recap of today's adventures.

Today we had family pictures taken. The photo session went well, considering the subjects included three energetic two-year-olds, but today was a piece of cake compared to getting everything ready ahead of time.

I now understand why my mother only had photos of the whole family taken twice when we were kids. I think I was two the first time and eight the second time. She probably spent the intervening six years trying to find clothes that matched and fit everyone. We still talk about how my brother Paul wore red socks with his blue pants in the first family photo that included all eight of us kids.

We had our photos taken outside, so I put everyone in sweaters. Do you know how hard it is to find simple children's sweaters that are unadorned by poodles, ballet slippers, baseball gloves, cowboys and more? HARD! And coordinating clothes for six people was no easy task either. To top it all off, I was hemming jeans for the boys at 11 p.m. last night.

When we got up this morning it was clear that it was going to be a great day for pictures, but chilly. It was barely 50 degrees when we left the house. I wanted to make sure everyone was warm enough, so the boys all wore a pair of Amelia's old tights under their jeans. The ran around the house in their pink striped and heart-patterned tights shouting, "Ballerina! Ballerina!" as Jeff and I tried to get them dressed this morning. Don't worry, we made sure to pull their socks up high enough to cover up the girly tights.

I tried so hard to get everything ready in advance, but we still forgot Amelia's shoes and had to turn around to get them. She had pink shoes on, but we were all in browns and greens, and I wasn't about to repeat the red sock incident that haunted my mother.

Our photographers were great, the kids were fairly cooperative, and the scenery was glorious with the colors of fall. The kids chased each other around, throwing leaves and generally having a blast when we weren't coaxing them to sit still long enough for a couple shots.

Kurt and Laura were thrilled with the photos they got, so I can't wait to see them and share some with you. But now I'm headed for bed. I got up well before the crack of dawn this morning. It was painfully early, but on the plus side I did get to shower today!

Night all. 

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Eyes Have Had It!

Amelia had two rough nights with nightmares and "eyeballs" in her room. So she and Daddy had a little talk about the eyeballs on the way home from preschool yesterday.

When Daddy asked where the eyeballs went during the day, Amelia told him they went into the forest and slept. Good to know someone's getting some sleep.

"Oh," Daddy said. "They are nocturnal."

After an explanation about what nocturnal meant, Amelia agreed that the eyeballs were nocturnal.

"Well, then we'll just tell them to go to Jerry's house," said Daddy. "Jerry's pretty nocturnal too, so they can visit with him."

Jerry is one of our neighbors. He used to work nights at the post office, so he is a bit nocturnal even in retirement.

"You would do that for me, Dad?" Amelia asked hopefully.

Yes, honey, Daddy would do that for you...and just about anything else that would buy us some sleep around here!

Last night things were better. Amelia still woke up a couple of times, but the eyeballs were no longer a problem. Score one for Daddy, and good luck to Jerry!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Celebrate Like A Two-Year-Old

You're seeing lots of videos lately because the boys are just so funny right now and talking a blue streak. We know we need to catch this stage before it's gone for good.

We captured this video on the boys' birthday. It really is a glimpse of life with multiples: Whatever one does, another one (or two!) quickly follows. And things that are funny when one kid does it, can become downright hilarious when the others join in! 

I guess it goes to show that you can do what you want on your special day!
© Trippin' Mama 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Eyeballs and Alligators

Last night the boys all slept all night. No coughing, no calls for a paci. Nothing but beautiful silence. This is still unusual enough to be noteworthy. Especially since everyone has a little cold.

Unfortunately, Amelia had a nightmare and woke up screaming at 12:30 a.m. I raced to her room and she clung tightly to me crying. Her heart was pounding like crazy and she was sobbing, she was so scared. As I held her tight I realized that she also had a fever.

Jeff went to get the thermometer and the acetaminophen and I turned the lights on low and stayed with Amelia. It was clear she wasn't going to go back to sleep by herself. So, I pulled out the trundle in hopes that I could sleep near her, but not share a bed. Because I am certain it would be easier to sleep with a whirling dervish or a rabid dog than to sleep with a small child.

That was a great plan, but it wasn't happening for Amelia. She was in my bed in a flash, and then she starting seeing alligators and eyeballs everywhere. I started to think the fever was causing hallucinations. She kept pointing at the wall and wanted me to touch it to show here there was nothing there. So really, any bed at all was pointless. I didn't get to close my for two hours. Every time I did, Amelia panicked and told me to wake up.

It was a fun night.

Finally, at 2:30 a.m. we had the lights all the way on, and Amelia finally quit asking if it was morning yet. She drifted off to a restless sleep, and I tried to pretend the lights weren't on and she wasn't kicking me in the kidneys.

About 4:30 a.m. Amelia's fever broke. I suppose she woke up raring to go for the day because she felt so much better, but UGH. I begged her to go back to sleep. I was sympathetic about the nightmare and the fever, but the lack of sleep was starting to be torturous for me.

When the boys started their 6:30 a.m. wakeup call, I was toast. Jeff decided to go in to work a little later and sent me back to our bed for a quick nap before he had to leave. That probably saved the day around here. That and a mandatory nap for everyone, including Mom.

Amelia slept until 8 and woke up her usual chipper self. She struggled at times today, because she didn't get enough sleep last night either, but overall she did pretty well.

Here's hoping the nightmares and eyeballs and alligators stay out of our house tonight!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

We All Scream for Ice Cream

Grandparents are good for so many things, like teaching my kids how to politely ask for ice cream:

Thanks, Grandma Alice!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Birthday Boys!

Happy birthday, Daddy!

To celebrate, Jeff got a nap and a new golf bag. Can you guess which one he liked more?

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sorry, The Kitchen Is Temporarily Closed

Sorry for the lack of a recipe post today friends. I know you'll all understand that with THREE birthday boys in the house today (and one tomorrow, too!) I'm too busy keeping up to get to the blog.

Today I took the four kiddos to the Children's Museum and we had a little birthday dinner with friends. We Skyped Grandma and Grandpa D. for gift opening, sugared the boys up, and then listened to them party for more than an hour after we put them to bed in their room.

I am tuckered. The museum trip alone was enough to do me in for the day...or the week. Throw in boys fighting over new toys (all of which make noise, by the way) and whew! The boys got police cars, ambulances and musical instruments. Our play room sounded like a twelve-car pileup involving a marching band.

I suppose could post the recipe for the boys' birthday dinner, but I don't think any of you really need instructions for making frozen peas and Kraft macaroni and cheese!

I promise I'll make it up to you once I've recovered.


© Trippin' Mama 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sometimes All You Need Is A Helping Hand

The other night at supper the boys had yogurt. It's one of their favorite foods, and it gives them a chance to practice using their spoons...on each other.

Apparently it's easier to feed someone else than it is to feed yourself!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The End of An Era

After nearly two years of living with a crib in our family room, the time finally came to take it down.

It's been time for a while, but our motivation came in the form of two boys climbing out of the crib, onto the changing table, and nearly up the built-in bookshelves. It was another one of those moments that makes me ask Jeff how much money we have in the budget for hair color.

In the early, early days, we actually had TWO cribs in the family room. We used one for all three boys to sleep in, and the other was a feeding and holding area.

Bottom to top: Isaac, Sam and Alex ~ 6 days old, October 2008

Feeding time!

Once the boys started sleeping in their own cribs and sleeping better at night, we moved one of the cribs to the nursery, giving us three there. But, we kept the fourth crib in the family room. We dubbed it "Exile Island" and used it for those nights when someone couldn't settle down in the nursery and was disturbing his brothers.

I also used it during the day for time outs and to give boys a chance to play with a toy uninterrupted by siblings. Sometimes I used it as a jail while I cleaned up a mess or two. Remember the baby powder incident during Thankgiving last year?

Sam, Alex and Isaac: Jailed!

The boys liked to go in the crib to bounce and play. It held up pretty well against 75+ pounds of boy (and often another 30 of girl!) jumping up and down.

I let them all have a good bounce the other day because I knew the crib was coming down.

They sure fill it up differently than they did in the early days!

Of course, as soon as we got rid of the crib, we needed Exile Island. We'll have to keep a pack-and-play handy for those nights in the future.

Oh, and do you see that large framed painting hanging above the crib in the background above? It took the boys less than 24 hours to knock it off the wall once the crib was removed. Fortunately there was no injury to the children or the artwork.

Who said this gets easier as you go? Some days I long for those three little babies snuggled up together in the crib. They were a lot quieter and got into less trouble!

© Trippin' Mama 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

From My Kitchen: Taco Soup

This recipe comes from my sister Mary. She's the queen of fast and easy recipes, so get out your can opener! You can whip up this great-tasting soup in the crockpot or on the stove. If you like tacos and Mexican food, you'll like this one.

Taco Soup
1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 pkg. dry Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
1 can refried beans
1 can kidney or black beans
1 can corn
1 can diced tomatoes or diced tomatoes with green chiles (if you like it spicy)
1 can tomato sauce
1 can water
1 C. white rice and water as needed (optional)

This one is pretty straight forward, folks. Throw everything in the pot and give it some time for the flavors to come together. I prefer to include the rice, and I sometimes leave out the refried beans. It's a texture thing for me. And I usually make mine with black beans and use the tomatoes with green chiles for a little heat.

Serve with shredded cheddar and tortilla chips for sprinkling on top.

Simple to make, and it really fills you up, too. Enjoy!

© Trippin' Mama 2010