Sunday, October 25, 2015

Fall Fun!

"Gonna go wild wild wild Kratts, Gonna go wild wild Kratts, Gonna go wild wild wild..."

I wouldn't say that we emphasize Halloween at all.  In fact, my favorite holiday is Christmas and we go ALL out for December/Christmas, but for whatever reason the boys have grown to love Halloween, and they talk all year long about what they'll dress up as.  It's innocent fun, they enjoy choosing their costumes (within reason) and getting candy and treats that they get to eat (also within reason).  

So the talks of Halloween began in early Summer.  There was lots of watching Halloween Curious George, and lots of debate about what they will dress up as.  My goal each year is to get the boys on the same page and do costumes that go together.  I have no doubt that I won't always be able to do that, but for now, they can be somewhat coerced.  Examples, we've been minions, and last year they were Charlie Brown and Snoopy.  

So when the chats first started, the boys were going in opposite directions-- there were talks about being Lego Movie characters, which was pretty hilarious when we decided that baby Joel could be the piece of resistance.  And there was talk about family costumes of Star Wars characters.  And then in August the boys finally settled on being the Wild Kratt brothers and were SUPER excited about it.  I set out to Pinterest for ideas and inspiration but because I have a newborn, we had to keep simple.  AND knowing how much the boys love the Wild Kratts, I also wanted the costume to last a little while because I imagined them wearing it every single day..... and they have worn it every single day.  
Purchased black and white fleece to sew the vests at Hobby Lobby, got their green and blue long sleeve shirts from The Children's Place, printed the creature power discs from and had them laminated at Staples and added velcro to them, and got some black knit gloves at Target.  It was a multi-day project working while the baby was sleeping and in between our school work with children watching over my shoulder and asking literally every 5 seconds when they would be completed.  But the look on their faces once they were completed was SO perfect!  And subsequently watching them run circles all over the house leaping off of furniture "activating" and "deactivating" over and over was pretty priceless.  

For our 4th year, we headed out on Saturday to the orchard to see "The Great Pumpkin."  I say it every year, but I'll say it again and again-- it truly is one of my favorite family traditions.  I really love that while we have things we did growing up, and we have things that are families still expect at the Holidays, we've also gotten to where we are creating our very own family traditions.  Things that the boys will talk about when they are older and have their own families.  (Unless of course Leeland is speaking truth when he says that when he grows up, he wants to be nothing and doesn't want to get married and wants to stay with us forever.  Oy vey!) This one just happens to be one of my favorite traditions.  What can I say?  I'm a "Peanuts" lover!  We rode on a hay ride, devoured s'mores and watched the Charlie Brown movie on projector screen outdoors under the stars by the light of the moon.

Glow necklaces from the Target $1 spot were a hit too!
Then on Sunday we devoured my recipe of Pumpkin Patch Pasta, I made pumpkin lactation cookies and we carved our pumpkins.  Daddy Kroh had mandatory work on Saturday night and sadly had to miss the orchard festivities, so we were so happy to have him home to help and enjoy carving pumpkins with us on Sunday.
We've got Emmet and Wild Style from the Lego movie and a classic one tooth Jack-O-Lantern.  A Fall fun filled weekend! Now we wait and look forward to trick or treating and the great Pumpkin's return. ;)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Joel is 2 months!

Our little munchkin is officially 2 months old now and it seems like so much has changed in 1 month.  The little fellow is SO alert and has started interacting with us.  He's growing out of that sleepy newborn phase and he'll chat and smile and laugh and coo.  It drives Leeland crazy because when we say that Joel is talking, Leeland doesn't like that "he can't understand what Joel is saying."  Of course, while we won't understand what he is saying for several more months, we can certainly tell that he is one very happy baby and we are so thankful for that.

I'm beginning to get used to this whole mom of 3 thing, and (knock on wood) but I'm also beginning to get more sleep and that has been ultra wonderful.

Little man's next pediatrician appointment isn't for another week, so these are "unofficial" home stats, but according to our scale and our best measuring, 2 month old little Joel weighs 16 pounds (oh my!) and is 22.5-23 inches long.  (Honestly, measuring a kicking baby ain't easy so we'll see what the doc says next week on how I did. Ha!) At 2 months old, he wears a size 2 diaper (when we use disposables) and is already wearing 3-6 month clothes.

We are enjoying these precious moments with the little man and looking forward to lots of "first Holidays" coming soon for him.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Crockpot Family Favorites

In the recent months I have seen lots of posts asking for crockpot recipes from friends.  Like LOADS of them!  Maybe it's just a busy season, maybe everyone else is procreating and expanding their families and lacking time to cook too.... Either way, I thought that I would share some of our family favorites to help out some other Mommas, because I have grown to LOVE my crock pot.

Crock Pot Mississippi Pot Roast
Don't judge me, but if loving this is wrong, I don't want to be right!  Serve it up over mashed potatoes because it is so rich and amazing!

Crockpot Pumpkin Chili
You had to know I'd get a pumpkin recipe in here.  To keep it child friendly, I sub the sausage as 1 pound of sweet sausage and 1 pound of hot, and I only use 1/2 of a can of chiles. 

Crock Pot Spaghetti
My one critique is to make sure you stir it about half way through so your noodles don't clump together.  But it's awesome that noodles and all go right in the crock pot all at once!

Crock Pot Cilantro Lime Chicken
When I was prepping freezer meals while pregnant with Joel in preparation for easy meals post-birth, I made 2 bags of these to pop in the freezer.  Super easy, and never imagined that all of us would love them so much!  I cook it and pair it with rice, and optional salsa or guac and call it a burrito bowl.
(Link contains other ideas too)

Crock Pot Pork/BBQ
In the crock throw in a pork roast, a roughly chopped onion and a bottle of beer.  Cook on low for the day and then shred with 2 forks.  Pair with your favorite BBQ sauce. 

Crock Pot Lemon Garlic Chicken
This one is a new discovery, but it went over very well.  I'm not a fan of rosemary so I subbed that with fresh thyme and it was lovely!  (Make sure you buy a chicken that fits in your crock though! Haha!)

Crock Pot Chicken Tater Tot Casserole
This one doesn't get made often because I know it isn't the best for us.... but everyone likes it, and I do appreciate the occasional dinner with NO complaints from anyone.  I typically add in some veggies to make myself feel a little better.  Just layer in some mixed frozen veggies amongst the layers of other ingredients.

Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
It says the wine is "optional"-- don't skip it!  Do it.  The wine really adds to the bland flavor of stock.

Crock Pot Black Bean Chicken Chili
Into the crock pot, toss 2 cans drained black beans, 1 can drained corn, 2 cans of diced tomatoes with chilis, taco seasoning, 4 chicken breast.  Cook on low for the day and then shred the chicken at the end and toss it back in.  Serve with your favorite chili toppings whether it's cheese, sour cream, corn bread, tortilla chips, avocados... whatever you like!

Crock Pot Enchiladas
Seriously, you can put anything in the crock pot!

Those are few favorites to get your started!  Seriously though, you can cook ANYTHING in a crock pot.  I've also done greek yogurt, applesauce and desserts in the crock pot.  It's definitely an underrated appliance, so go forth and give your crock pot some love my friends! 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Mom of 3

We've all seen the blogs and the studies floating around cyber land about Moms and the amount of children they have and how easy it is or how difficult it is or how happy they are.  To add to the voices, here's my 2 cents for what it's worth and how the transition from 2 to 3 is going.  ... And it's worth 2 cents.

Just my opinion, but any time that you add a baby to your life whether it be your 1st, 2nd, or 7th, it rocks your world.  Looking back to just Leeland, I did all that I was supposed to do as a first time expecting Mom.  I read every single book I could get my hands on, read blogs upon blogs upon blogs, purchased every single helpful baby gadget that my friends raved about, by golly I pre-registered for his birth at the hospital MONTHS in advance.... Wanna know what happened after he was born?  Feeding issues, constant screaming, no sleep for me or for him, and postpartum depression.

I was prepared in every single way possible and still was shaken to my core, and in a place with postpartum depression that I struggled to climb out of.  I know that I came out of that place a better Mom, but it doesn't take away the struggle that it took to get to that better me.  I learned a lot about my expectations and I learned a lot about priorities, it changed me and it shook me.  Baby number 1 rocked my world.

Then baby number 2 came along and by then I was a seasoned pro to having one baby.  The struggle of my postpartum depression from the first was still in the front of my mind.  I knew that I wasn't going to put so much pressure on myself this time around and Daniel knew the signs to look for in hopes of avoiding it a second time.

... Our 2nd little bundle joined our family and he rocked our world.  Total Momma's boy, glued to me 24/7 in every way.  Nursing, nursing, nursing around the clock, absolutely refused to sleep anywhere other than right next to me in our bed, cried in the car, often cried when other people held him.  I did not battle depression this time around, but I sure was exhausted. And in the throws of it all, I was caring for a 2 year old, and learning how to do things like cook and clean and take a shower when this infant just wanted to be snuggled around the clock.  One of my first outings with the boys to a store I nearly lost the 2 year old in the shopping cart to the parking lot!  (For real, read here.)  Baby number 2 rocked my world.

And alas we come to baby number 3.  The one that I actually felt the MOST prepared for.... Mostly because now that I'm a somewhat seasoned parent, I now know that you should go into these sort of situations with absolutely ZERO expectations because you just never know what's going to happen.  By the time you are having your third, you somewhat know your priorities and can expect to fail and know that things will be different.

Birth went great, the first few weeks were bliss because all a newborn does is sleep.  Then Daniel went back to work and I was suddenly thrown into the trenches of keeping 3 kids alive and well and the pressures of keeping a home and cooking dinner and homeschooling.  There have been a few days that I could barely get off the couch and wondered if watching The Magic School Bus could count as school.  Days of getting pooped on and spit up all over and then wondering if it's still appropriate to go to church when I haven't showered in 2 days.  Just refresh the deodorant, right?  And then as we near the 2 month mark and I start to feel like I have it all together, I learn otherwise.  Like today for example, we finished all of our schoolwork without issues, everyone was happy and fed, I showered (woo hoo!), and I even managed to mop the kitchen floor for the first time in 2 weeks.  Super Mom, right?  ..... Then I lay my head on the pillow to nurse the baby before bed, and it hits me that today was Monday and I completely forgot about Leeland's soccer practice!  My memory of practice by then was only about 4 hours late.  So no, baby number 3 is almost 2 months old and I don't have it all together.  (And yes, I really had not mopped the floor in two weeks.)  Baby number 3 rocked my world.

All of this to say, life with an infant is tough.  You can read those blogs about those happy moms and how easy it was to transition to a certain number of children if you want to, but I'm not buying it.  In reality, we're all a hot mess, some just hide it a little better.  So keep on keeping on moms of little people, whether it's your 1st or your 10th, go easy on yourself.   The little guy or gal is going to rock your world those first few months.... maybe even the first year... but in the end, it will ALL be worth it, every moment and every shake up is worth it.