Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fast Approaching 1000 Posts

I can hardly believe that I am fast approaching 1,000 posts on this blog. That's a lot of writing in just under four years, especially considering all the little people in this house. Little people who both provide blog fodder and keep me from blogging all at the same time!

It's been quite a journey so far, and I have enjoyed my little writing playground here immensely. Thank you all for coming along for the ride with me. I appreciate your comments and emails and most of all your willingness to laugh along with me.

I have just nine more posts to go to number 1000, so I'm giving you the chance to tell me what you want to see here in the run up to that big milestone. Throw me a bone and toss out a comment telling me what you wish I'd write about. I pretty much tell it all all the time, but maybe I've missed something along the way and you're just dying to know. Well, here's your chance!

And if no one has any burning questions, then I'll be forced to subject you to whatever I can come up with on my own while chasing three toddlers around the house and helping a kindergartener with her homework. It probably won't be pretty.

So, what say you?


© Trippin' Mama 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Politics Starts Early

Last week Amelia learned about various presidents in school in celebration of President's Day. That night when I was tucking her in, I asked her what she was grateful for.

She replied, "President Obama."

Ahem. Her mother spent three years working for the Republicans, and while her father has never been on the Republicans' payroll, that's where his votes go, too.

"Did you learn about him in school?" I asked.

"Yes. He's in charge of the whole country. That's a really hard job," Amelia replied.

Well, she's right there, and we respect the office of the President, no matter what.

"What else are you grateful for?" I asked, assuming we'd move off the topic of presidents.

She answered, "President Ruth."

"President Ruth?" I thought for a minute. "Do you mean President Roosevelt?"

"Yeah, that's it," Amelia said.

"Teddy or Franklin?" I asked. Amelia looked at me quizzically. I tried again, "The Roughrider or the wheelchair?"

I held my breath. She had a shot here.

"The one in the wheelchair," Amelia answered.

I broke the news to her Daddy a short while later. He looked at me and said very seriously. "We are clearly doing something wrong."

Let the indoctrination begin!

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

From My Kitchen: Free Pancakes!

When I say free pancakes, I'm not talking no cost. Sorry! I'm talking wheat-free, dairy-free, soy-free pancakes. We've tried a couple of mixes and gluten-free Bisquik, but nothing has really bowled us over, so I got busy for Fat Tuesday and whipped up THREE batches of homemade pancakes.

We measured. We poured. We cooked. We tasted. We compared. And we found two winners. Because wouldn't you know it, not everyone liked the same pancake.

I made an oatmeal pancake with oatmeal flour and lots of cinnamon that was a hit with the boys. Amelia ate an entire one before saying she didn't really like it. Hmmmm. I think she liked it just fine. I started with this recipe for Flourless Oatmeal Pancakes from Lauren's Blog.

Since Lauren grinds her oatmeal into flour and I already had oat flour on hand I just used that. This recipe includes yogurt, so I used vanilla So Delicious coconut yogurt and omitted the vanilla extract. Lauren suggests adding pumpkin, banana or any fruit puree, which I didn't do, but I think the pumpkin version sounds delish! My version is included below.

Amelia's favorite was "Dad's Best Pancakes (Made Gluten Free)" from Ginger Lemon Girl. And Jeff and I agreed. Personally, I think Dad's Best with cinnamon in them would rock. Maybe next time. You can follow the link to the original recipe above, but I made a couple small changes so I've included my version below. (Also, because this blog is becoming my recipe box and I want to be sure I have this recipe included!)

I also tried Buttermilk Pancakes with Coconut Flour from Bob's Red Mill. They did cook up nice and fluffy, as promised, but I'm not sure that the substitute buttermilk (So Delicious coconut milk plus 1 tablespoon of vinegar) really did the trick. And they were a touch gummy, which is a problem I'm finding with things made from rice flour. I would consider trying this again with sorghum or millet flour in place of the rice flour, and rice milk plus vinegar as a substitute for the buttermilk.

Since we had two winners, I'm sharing both recipes with you.

Oatmeal Pancakes with Cinnamon
(Free of  wheat, dairy, and soy)
1 cup of oat flour or ground oatmeal (pulse rolled oats in food processor or blender until finely ground)

½ tsp baking powder
3 eggs
1 egg white
½ cup of vanilla So Delicious coconut yogurt (or any plain or vanilla yogurt, if you're not dairy free)
½ tsp of vanilla (I omitted this since I used vanilla yogurt)
1 tsp of cinnamon
* Optional (1/3 cup of Pumpkin Puree or 1 small banana smashed or add any fruit at the end)
Stir ingredients together until just blended. Spray griddle or pan and cook pancakes until top bubbles and edges are dry. Flip and cook until nicely browned.
The result is a pancake that definitely tastes a lot like a bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon. They were not too thin, and had a nice texture.

This next recipe, though was a real winner. They were thin, but delicious with no hint of gumminess or grittiness. A real home run!

Dad's Best Pancakes (Made Gluten Free)
Adapted from a recipe by Carrie Forbes @
(Free of gluten, dairy, and soy)

Dry Ingredients
3/4 cup sorghum flour (the original recipe calls for brown rice flour)
1/2 cup arrowroot starch (the original recipe calls for tapioca starch)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients
1 egg
1 cup non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious vanilla coconut milk. I you use plain milk, add a teaspoon of vanilla)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds + 2 tablespoon boiling hot water (Mix and set aside for 5 minutes to gel, then add to wet ingredients.)

In a medium sized bowl add all dry ingredients and whisk together thoroughly. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the vanilla (if using), an egg, 1 cup of non-dairy milk, and the oil.

Whisk wet ingredients together with dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed. You will have a very wet, but slightly thick batter that will cling to the whisk.

Brush skillet or non-stick pan with olive oil or non-stick spray. Heat pan on medium high heat until it's hot enough to make a drop of water sizzle.

Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto the skillet. Cook until bubbles form on the top and pop and the edges are slightly dry. Flip and cook the opposite side for 1-2 minutes.
This recipe made very thin pancakes, but they tasted the most like the pancakes we're used to. I did omit the 3 tablespoons of rolled oats, which Carrie says add great texture. I was afraid my kids wouldn't like the "lumps." I did like that I was able to boost the nutritional value a bit with sorghum flour and flax. The next time I make the oatmeal pancakes, I'll probably use flax in place of one of the eggs.

I have a recipe for buckwheat pancakes that I'm planning to try, too. Buckwheat is not gluten free, but it is wheat free, in spite of its name. (Buckwheat is actually a grass, like wild rice, not a grain.)

In the meantime, enjoy either one of these recipes. We sure did!

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Extraction

Yesterday I took Sam to the ENT so they could remove the foam sticker from his ear canal.

It wasn't pretty.

Sam already suffered through two failed attempts to remove the sticker, so I practically had to sit on him to get him in the car seat and to the doctor's office.

By the time I got him there he was so excited to have alone time with mom he was his usual happy self.

Until the doctor came at him with the metal hook. Then Sam freaked out. I was holding him. The nurse was holding him. Sam was yelling, "No! No! No! Let's go home!"

He would not cooperate.

The doctor, who I am told has a set of twins who are three, said "Is he always like this?"

I gave him a dumbfounded look, then replied: "You mean terrified and upset? No, he just gets like that when someone comes at him with a sharp, scary instrument."

Hello?! Have you done this before? I'm betting most of your three-year-old patients don't lay here cooperatively while you dig in their ears.

Anyhow, the doc decided to use this little vacuum to suck the sticker out. Only problem is that he told Sam it was just going to be noisy and it was just like the vacuum at home. Sam does not like noise (unless he is generating it), as I have documented here, here and here.  and he HATES the vacuum cleaner.

I was shaking my head no, but the doc was not looking at me. So Sam cried harder and held his hands over his ears even tighter.

Eventually the doc left and the nurses took over. They gave Sam a lollipop, took him for a ride on the chair, and blew a glove into a balloon and drew a face on it for him. Once he settled down, the doc came in to try again. It took three of us to hold him down and he kept yelling at us to quit "squishing" him. Of course, we didn't have a choice.

Finally the sticker was out. It had actually adhered to the eardrum. Really? Those foam stickers won't stay stuck on paper for eight hours let alone eight days!

Here's the most expensive foam sticker ever to enter our house. (I hope!)

When we got home Isaac crawled up next to Sam and looked in his ear. Then he said, "Did they take your brains out buddy?"

Fair question under the circumstances.

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wordful Wednesday: A Princess Party

Last week Amelia was invited to the birthday party of a classmate.

It was a princess party, so all the little girls got to dress up. We borrowed this amazing Belle dress from our friend Sarah, and Amelia was so excited to wear it for the party.

The birthday party was a tea, so the table was set with a pretty tablecloths, real china (brave mama!), and all kinds of tea sandwiches and little cakes.

The birthday girl's daddy and uncle even acted the part of waiters, in jacket and tie, serving tea to all of the princesses.

After a couple quick pictures, I scooted, because this was a big girl party, no moms required. And she certainly looked like a big girl!

Play along with Wordful Wednesday over at Seven Clown Circus.

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Preparing for the Season of Lent

Tomorrow is the start of Lent, so we celebrated Fat Tuesday with pancakes for supper. Wheat-free, soy-free, dairy-free pancakes, of course. Since I was going all out, I made three different recipes and we ranked them. I think we have found a winner! I'll post recipes, reviews and photos of that later.

But tonight I want to share this idea. I have pinned more than one prayer wall/list/bucket idea on Pinterest. I really like the idea of a visual reminder of the people and things we are praying for, to help the kids learn to pray. I especially like the idea of using something during Lent.

Today I was talking with the kids about Lent and how we would remind ourselves of the sacrifices Jesus made for us by giving something up (no TV one day a week), doing more for others (not sure what we'll take on there), and by praying more.

Then I realized that the Valentine's wall cling I had yet to take down would make the perfect prayer wall. Tonight I moved it to a more prominent spot in the kitchen, and used a dry erase marker to start our prayer list.


Tomorrow I will have the kids talk about who and what we should pray for and give thanks for, and we'll fill it out more completely.

This wall cling is made by Hallmark, and I bought it the day before Valentine's Day at Wal-Mart on sale for about $5. I'm sure you can get them even cheaper now.

I wish you all a prayerful Lent!

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

What Are You Up To?

Today a little blurb about my recent election (it was uncontested) as president of a volunteer board appeared in the paper. I got several nice notes from people today congratulating me on my position.

One came from a professional colleague I haven't talked to in a couple years. It said, "Congrats! What are you up to these days?"

I looked up at the kitchen table which was covered in the remnants of this morning's school project. N is for nest meant there was straw all over the table and the floor. (Kids had a blast, but my floor looked like we really do live in a barn. At least there wasn't any poop on it.)

I had one naked child, one princess and two wearing their sister's leotards and/or swimsuits.

My To Do list for the day included calling the doctor's office about extracting the sticker from Sam's ear, putting together a costume for Amelia's career day, fixing a couple of broken toys and torn books, finding a decent recipe for wheat free, dairy free, soy free sandwich bread, folding laundry, a pass at cleaning a bathroom and vacuuming. It also included some freelance work, board work, and a task to be completed for my multiples' group.

All I could think was, "I have no idea how to answer that!"

I am in turns, a cook, a maid, a teacher, a doctor, a costume designer, an entertainer, a repairwoman, a writer, a marketer, a leader, a follower, a wife, and a facilitator.

I set rules, I break up fights, I have the dickens scared out of me by my kids' antics at least once a day.

I am well versed in My Little Pony and monster trucks. I speak fluent Dora the Explorer, Umi Zoomi, Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Backyardigans. I know all the words to a stunning number of children's songs and books.

I can whip out a press release or polish someone else's text like no one's business.

In any given day I tell stories, sing songs, make three meals or more, pray, laugh, yell, and tickle.

I can segment an audience and bring targeted marketing to the table. I can collaborate with others or work alone (when I can get a chance to BE alone).

I know how to get out nearly every laundry stain known to man and I can help a three-year-old hold their scissors correctly. (Although I already regret ever letting them know there is such a thing as scissors.) I can make a meal that will please no one, even though they ate the very same thing yesterday and asked for seconds.

I can do a media buy and create a marketing plan.

I have magic eyes, and I can hear mischief from three rooms away. I can wolf whistle. I can hold hands with four kids at the same time.

I am a diplomat. I am a dictator. (Aren't all parents? Generally, I am a benevolent dictator.)

I strive to find balance. I savor the quiet. I write. I read. I laugh with friends. I cry with them, too.

I fail. I succeed. The ratio of those two varies widely from day to day.

I am full of energy and enthusiasm, and I'm completely and utterly exhausted.

How about you? What are you up to these days?

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ear's the Thing

Pardon the truly awful pun in this post title, but my plan for today did not include a trip to the doctor's office for a failed attempt at removing a foreign object from a child's ear canal. A FAILED attempt, mind you.

I double checked my To Do list, and that wasn't on it.

Jeff had Sam on his lap this morning and happened to notice something red in Sam's ear. He got out the flashlight and determined that whatever was in there didn't belong in there.

It took me one glance to know that it was a piece of a foam sticker that we had used to decorate our Valentine's treat bags on Tuesday. I remembered that the boys had taken the large stickers and put them on their ears. I immediately told them not to put anything in their ears ever or we might have to go to the doctor to remove it. I even checked to make sure everyone's ears were clear.

Either I missed the sticker in Sam's ear then, or he didn't listen to me and stuffed it in later.

Seriously, dude? Ironic that you didn't listen to me and now you've got something stuck in your ear, isn't it?

Anyway... Five days, and Sam hadn't complained about it, but that puppy needed to come out. We tried to wash it out, but no luck. So, off to the doctor's office we went.

We optimistically took everyone, hoping we could breeze in and out and get on with the day. How naive are we? Not only was the doctor unable to remove the sticker, when he tried to wash it out Sam started to squirm and it went the wrong way. So it's now resting on the ear drum. 

To make matters worse, Isaac and Alex started having sympathetic ear pain while we were in the doctor's office, and started crying to have their ears checked. 

Really guys? Because it looks like Sam's having so much fun?

Alex was in such complete meltdown that I picked him and Isaac up and carried them out to the van. (That's 65 pounds of meltdown and tears these days!)

The doc told Jeff that if the sticker doesn't come out this weekend, we'll have to bring Sam back Monday so they can refer him to the ENT where they will knock him out and remove it.

Because that sounds so simple, right?

Amelia, AKA Florence Nightingale, was right beside Sam the whole time, comforting him and watching the doc's technique. After naptime she suggested we just knock Sam out and get the sticker out of there.   

If only it were that easy!

We flooded that ear with water tonight at bath time, and I added a little warm oil before nap and bedtime. So here's hoping there's a little Valentine's decoration on Sam's pillow tomorrow morning.

On the plus side, when I Googled "removal of foreign objects from child's ear canal" I found this blog post. It's a collection of the best of hundreds of comments Single Dad Laughing got on his blog post about his son stuffing a pistachio up his nose. I guarantee it will make you laugh.

And, Sam's situation makes Alex's sticker on the testicles episode look like a cakewalk. At least that didn't require a trip to the doctor's office!

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

From My Kitchen: Spanish Omelette

Years ago when Jeff and I lived in England, a friend of mine from college was studying in Spain. Chris came to visit us and as a thanks for our hospitality, he made us a Spanish omelette or Tortilla EspaƱola for supper one night. Potatoes, onions and eggs all in one dish. It was simple, economical and tasted great. What's not to love about that? 

Tonight Jeff dropped his bowl of jambalaya, the last of anything to eat we had in the fridge, so I whipped up an omelette, Spanish style. I tossed in a little ham to appease the carnivorous appetite, but the original recipe only includes potatoes, onions, olive oil, eggs and salt.

Cooking this baby takes a bit of a steady hand and a quick wrist, but even if it doesn't come out looking perfect, I guarantee it will taste great.

Here's the recipe:

Spanish Omelette
2 lbs. potatoes
3 TBSP chopped onion
1/4- 1/2 C. olive oil
4-5 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp. salt

Peel and dice the potatoes and onions. Heat oil on medium high heat. Add the potatoes and onions, spreading them out evenly. The oil should almost cover the potatoes. Turn potatoes and onions frequently until completely cooked.

Remove potatoes and onions from pan with a slotted spoon or spatula. I like to put mine in a colander and let a little more oil drain off while I prepare the eggs.

Beat eggs in a large bowl. Stir in the potato/onion mixture and add salt.

Pour a little olive oil into a small frying pan and heat on medium heat. Pour the potatoes, onions and eggs into the pan and spread out evenly. If you want to add a little ham, now's the time. Let the eggs cook around the edges. Once the edges appear cooked, lift up an edge with your spatula. If the mixture has browned nicely on the bottom, you are ready to turn it over to cook the other side.

Here's where the tricky part comes in. Take the frying pan to the sink. Cover with a large dinner plate. Hold the plate in place with one hand and quickly flip the frying pan over, so the omelette falls onto the plate. Slide the omelet back into the frying pan. You can add a little more oil to your pan if needed. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pan sit for a couple of minutes.

Slide the omelette out of the pan onto a plate and cut into wedges to serve. If you want to use it as an appetizer (it's as good cold as it is hot), cut in smaller wedges or cubes.

Don't let the flip scare you away from this recipe. It's not as hard as it sounds! Check out this video if you need a little visual aid to help you master the technique.

Feel free to add a glass of nice Spanish wine for an authentic experience.


© Trippin' Mama 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Are They Sisters?

Almost from the time the boys were born, Amelia has asked for a sister. In fact, more than once she has asked for three!

Well, as it turns out, she doesn't need to ask any more.

That's right.



You think I'm...?

Heavens, no!

Turns out these guys are happy to stand in:

P.S. I know they'll hate me for this one day, but I'm just documenting life around here. They are the ones making it up as we go along!

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Wordful Wednesday: Pirate Party!

The other day we had a pirate party. There was a Peter Pan movie on TV that the kids wanted to watch, so I decided to make an evening of it.

The kids got dressed for the occasion in their Halloween costumes and I made everyone a pirate sword out of newspaper. They had a blast!

Sam shows off his mean pirate face.

I was a little concerned that despite assurances from the author of the post that she's never seen anyone get hurt with one of these, we would manage it. It's been two days, and while the swords are rapidly disintegrating, the children are still intact. Score!
Amelia poses with her sword.

Yes, there was some smacking that probably stung a little, but overall they played nice. We had to laugh when someone ran to the bedroom and came out with a hanger so they could be Captain Hook.

The kids had so much fun that I'm sure I'll be making these swords again.

Play along with Wordful Wednesday over at Seven Clown Circus.

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I Blame Frank Barone

The other day Jeff and I were in the kitchen when Sam picked up a basket of toys and dumped them out all over the floor. 

"HOLY CWAP!" he said. Then, "HOLY CWAP!" again. Followed by, "Hey! I found my Batman!"

We ducked into the bathroom to laugh and laugh and laugh. Great parenting skills, I know.

It's possible Sam may have heard me say that some time, perhaps even recently when he and Isaac covered themselves in diaper cream.

But I choose to blame Frank Barone from "Everybody Loves Raymond," even though Sam has never seen the show.

Because Sam's intonation was absolutely perfect.

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

From My Kitchen: Chocolate Popcorn Chews

If you like popcorn, chocolate, and Rice Krispie treats, you'll love these fast and easy bars. I made these as a treat that accommodates Sam's new wheat-free, soy-free, dairy-free diet, and they were pretty popular.

This is a modified version of a recipe on the Orville Redenbacher Web site. The original recipe called for white chocolate, dried cranberries and chopped almonds, which sounds fantastic. But I have kiddos, so we went with just chocolate chips. (The Enjoy Life brand is dairy free and soy free.)

Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Popcorn Chews

1 bag (2.9 ounces) (11 cups popped) Natural Microwave Popcorn
1 cup chocolate chips
1 package (10.5 ounce) Miniature marshmallows
1/4 cup margarine or butter (I used Earth Balance Soy-free, Dairy-free Buttery Spread. Coconut oil would probably work, too.)
Spray 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Prepare popcorn according to package directions. Remove all unpopped kernels. Combine popped corn and chocolate chips in large bowl sprayed with cooking spray.

Place marshmallows and butter or butter substitute in 8-cup glass measure. Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes or until smooth when stirred. Immediately stir into popcorn mixture; toss until evenly coated. Spoon into prepared pan. Spray hands with cooking spray; press mixture evenly into pan. Allow to cool. Cut into 24 bars.

These were a nice change from Rice Krispie treats, and way easier to make than popcorn balls. We all enjoyed them, and I ate way more than I should have. I'm always up for a salty/sweet treat!


© Trippin' Mama 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

True Love

When Jeff left the house this morning all of the children were either crying, whining or throwing a fit. I'm sure he was glad to leave.

Over lunch he called to see how things were going.

Not well.

At 3:30, just as I gave up and decided I had to unleash the noise and chaos by waking the boys from nap, I heard the garage door open.

Jeff had come home early just because he knew it had been a tough day and he thought I needed a break.
You can keep your big diamonds and your bouquets of roses, my friends. They can't hold a candle to the kind of love that walks in the door almost two hours early to join you in the trenches.

THAT is true love.

And that's why, bad days like today aside, this really is my happily ever after.

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Diaper Cream Disaster

We have a cabinet in our family room that is full of games and puzzles for the kids.

Today Sam and Isaac reminded me that in the very, very back hidden behind everything else there is a basket of things left over from their baby days including diaper cream, Vaseline and calamine lotion.

Exactly how did they remind me, you ask?

Like this:

Sam and Isaac are a little too proud of their mess.
I totally blew this one. I'm usually tough as nails, but this one made me laugh. I tried not to. God knows I tried!

The boys caught me and immediately said, "It's funny, Mom!"

I told them they looked funny, but what they did was not funny.

They didn't buy it. All they remembered is that I laughed. I ask you: How could I not?

We were 10 minutes away from loading up to go to gymnastics, and cleaning a half inch of diaper cream off anything is no piece of cake.

Since there was no way around taking these two clowns smelling of diaper cream and with pasty hair, we stopped for a little interview. You'll hear Amelia in the background suggesting a bath and a babysitter. She is so helpful!

It was vaguely reminiscent of the baby powder explosion that marked Thanksgiving of 2009. But that was a LOT easier to clean up.
© Trippin' Mama 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

A LOUD School Project

The boys and I are still doing school projects on Amelia's school days. We've done all kinds of things: made fish bowls and pattern turkeys, had shape hunts, exercised our alphabet and crafted helicopters and kittens. One of our most recent projects was a big hit: jellyfish.

Alex shows off his jellyfish.

It's half a paper plate and the boys glued on tissue paper "tentacles." I drew a little face on each with a 'J' for a nose. (Aren't I just the Martha Stewart of the preschool set?) We talked about jellyfish as we made them. They have seen jellyfish at the zoo, so they knew a little bit about them.

The boys loved this project. After they were done making their jellyfish they raced around the house with them "stinging" each other and me. I made lunch with three boys all stinging me in the legs.

I've had to repair the tentacles twice since we made these a week ago.

Only three boys could take a project involving a paper plate and tissue paper and make it so LOUD!

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

"I Don't Like You" and some Allergy-free Food Successes

We are two weeks in to putting Sam on a wheat-free, soy-free, dairy-free diet. We've managed a few successes, but it's still tough.

On Friday Sam looked at me just before lunch and said, "I don't like you anymore. All the food you make me eat is yucky."


Adjusting? Not so much.

Despite that, we have had a few successes, though some have been pretty hard won.

Sam rejected almond milk, rice milk and hemp milk, including the vanilla and chocolate varieties. I know part of the problem is that we are still drinking whole milk, and the substitutes drink like skim milk.

Finally, after some research I bought the So Delicious brand of coconut milk in vanilla. And Sam drank it and told me he liked it. I held my breath for a couple days though, because he drank almond milk for a couple days, too. Five days later he's still drinking it and he's quit asking for water in his thermos instead of milk. Win!

Then there are the noodles, staple of childhood diets everywhere. We tried a couple packaged brands and they brought tears around my table. Then my friend Bethany brought me a sample of her homemade wheat-free, dairy-free, soy-free noodles. The kids all liked them, so I bought the pasta attachments for my KitchenAid mixer and we made pasta.

Can you see all the flour on my shirt in this photo? The kids' clothes and mine were practically white by the time we were done.

Everyone got in on the fun.

I was thrilled when ALL of the kids ate our homemade noodles. It almost brought me to happy tears when I watched them eat two and three and four (Isaac!) helpings.

Sam and Isaac stuff their faces with their handiwork. (And we do know how to use forks!)

Then I realized just how many noodles they can eat in a week.

We made our first batch last Sunday. We ate the last of those on Tuesday. On Wednesday I made a double batch, which takes EIGHT eggs. Jeff and I spent two hours after the kids were in bed rolling and cutting them. I have enough noodles left for one more meal. Yikes!

If you see me around these parts a little less frequently then usual in the next few weeks, it's a pretty safe bet that I'm making noodles!

© Trippin' Mama 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Remembering a Generous Spirit

Earlier this week my cousin Mary passed away from an aneurysm. She just turned 52 in December, and leaves behind two sons, the youngest of whom is an eight grader.

It is sad, tragic even, but I can tell you this: The world is a better place because Mary was in it. She was a kind, generous, loving person who made a difference, and I know she will be missed by many.

My family and Mary's family lived in the same small town, so we all knew each other growing up, though Mary was quite a bit older than me. I remember lots of things about her, but one story stands out for me.

When I was six years old, I got the flu and wound up in the hospital. Mary, who was 17 or 18, came to visit me. I remember her sitting on the bed playing Go Fish with me. I realize now that she had a lot of other things she could be doing besides entertaining her six-year-old cousin. But that's just who Mary was. She had a generous spirit, and she genuinely cared about people.

I come from a large family and an even larger extended family. This is the first relative I've lost since my grandma passed away in 1999. We are blessed with longevity, and when your parents and aunts and uncles are living well into their eighties, it's easy to forget that life can be short.

I've been reading Mary's Facebook page, and there are many regrets there: phone calls not made, concerts not attended, words unsaid.

Make that call. Throw caution to the wind and go to that concert. Say what is on your heart. Because you never know if today will be your last.

Rest in peace, Mary, and I know you'll be watching over us.

© Trippin' Mama 2012