Confession: I am a Series of Contradictions

A few months (weeks? days?) ago, I wrote a post – A Type A Housewife’s Thoughts on Cleaning. I stand by that post, but today I NEEDED to clean. Seriously clean. Not just pick up and wipe up. I needed to dust, scrub, shine and polish. Not because it was dirty (it was filthy), but because I needed to feel in control of something.

Sometimes things get too crazy. Too chaotic. Too loud. Too fun. Yes, I just said sometimes things get too fun.

There are times that I feel like the ONLY thing I am accomplishing is entertaining and engaging my kids. Such an upbringing is sure to spoil them, right? Turn them into entitled little creatures that require immediate gratification? They have to learn (at some point) how to entertain themselves or be complacent with a little boredom, right? Maybe not. But today, that was my theory.

Today, I let my kids wander, tinker with toys, watch TV, and spin in circles while I almost completely ignored them and cleaned house. Not to worry, I made sure they were safe, fed them when they were hungry, and changed their soiled diapers, but I also did my own thing.

I think they actually enjoyed it. They played together, fought a little, found toys they had forgotten, and let their momma clean house (translation: reclaim a small piece of her sanity).

Windex makes me giddy. Crumb free floors make me want to dance (albeit badly), and polished furniture makes me feel brand new.

The kids are now napping, and I am sipping a cup of tea in a CLEAN house. All is right in my little world. What can I say, sometimes I just gotta scrub something.

Knoephla Soup

Pronounced /ˈnɛflə/

I am paying homage to my home state of ND with this recipe – a German soup perfectly suited for chilly, rainy days like today.

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Dough:

1 3/4 cups flour

1 egg

1/2 cup water

1 tsp salt

Base:

one small onion diced

2 cups potatoes (peeled and diced)

2 cups precooked ham cubed

3 chicken bullion cubes

salt and pepper to taste

3 cups milk

1 cup cream

Combine dough ingredients to make a stiff dough. Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour. Roll dough out on a floured surface and cut into small pieces (I use a pizza cutter).

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Cook dough pieces in a kettle of boiling water for 20 minutes, stirring often. Drain and Reserve.

In a dutch oven, saute onions in 2 T. butter. Add potatoes, ham, and bullion cubes. Add enough water to cover the ingredients and cook for 25 minutes (be sure to fork test your potatoes to make sure they are done).

When the base is done, add the cooked knoephpla, milk and cream. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes.

We like to serve ours with buttered french bread. Try it! You won’t be disappointed!

 

Small Changes Add Up

When we moved into our home, there were a TON of updates I wanted to do. A few projects in, I realized my to-do list needed to become more of a wish-list. Let’s face it, renovations are costly and time consuming. But, that has not stopped me from making small updates that make a big difference [without inflicting much damage on the budget or monopolizing entire weekends].

For example…

1. Painting our millwork instantly made our entry feel lighter and brighter.

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2. Painting our mantel instantly modernized an otherwise dated fireplace.

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3. Painting our cabinets black completely changed the look and feel of our kitchen.

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Those are just examples of what paint can do, and proof that you don’t have to make drastic changes or spend a ton of money in order to update your space. Small changes can really add up :).

On Caving…

Every book, article, and pamphlet I have read on parenting says the same thing: consistency is important – children thrive within boundaries, and routines are essential.

It’s not that I disagree… it’s just… well, sometimes “caving” is just as necessary. I have yet to read any literature that endorses “caving,” but I’m going to say  SHOUT it: SOMETIMES GOOD MOMS AND DADS GIVE IN!

Today I took the kids to the mall. Rex had won a prize pack in a drawing and we went to pick it up. Exciting stuff for an almost three year old! Not so exciting for his little sister. The nice lady who gave Rex his prize offered Sydney a sucker. Let me be clear, this was not my “caving” moment. While a sucker is not something I would have allowed Rex to have at 16 months of age, she is my temperamental second child and I am not no longer one to scoff at a treat that guarantees 15 minutes of contentment. She squealed and started sucking happily. We then decided to go to the indoor play area…

I couldn’t fathom allowing her to toddle around with a sucker so I decided it needed to go ba-bye. I took pried it out of her little hand death grip and the shrieking started. She threw herself to the floor and screamed in a way that frightened other mid-trantrum toddlers.

{crickets}

I felt other parental eyes searing into my spinning head. I could “hear” the questions conveyed by their eyes. “What’s she gonna do? Is she gonna stand her ground? Is she going to march that little tyrant out of the play area, strap her flailing, screaming body back into the stroller and go home? Who is going to win?” 

I wrestled with these questions for [what felt like] 5 minutes [though I’m sure it was closer to 22 seconds].

Here’s the thing. While I wrestled with my choices [stand my ground or cave], I felt myself escalating. My face felt hot, my shoulders were up around my ears, and my hands were clenched. My choices weren’t so much “stand my ground” or “cave”…they were more like “stand your ground now and later explode in the car” or “cave now and NOT turn into scary mommy later.” Honestly, given the two choices, the latter seemed the lesser of two evils.

So, while I acknowledge that consistency is important, I also feel [with great conviction] that sometimes “caving” is just as necessary.

Sydney got her sucker, I kept my sanity. We both won :).

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Maximizing Refrigerator Storage and Freshness

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1. Place a new container of Baking Soda on the top shelf every thirty days

2. Store milk on a shelf vs. in the door (as the temps there are too variable).

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3. Group and containerize like items (i.e.  fridge bins are homes for kids’ snacks, deli meats, and dips & spreads).

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4. Stackable fridge bins allow you to group like items AND maximize vertical space

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5. Store raw meat on the bottommost shelf or drawer (in case of leaks)

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6. Designate one shelf (at eye level) for left overs [so that they don’t get lost in the mix and forgotten] and another for beverages

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7. Label!

8. Keep a sharpie on top of the fridge  so that you can quickly jot “opened dates” right on the container

9. This is pretty straight forward, but still worth a mention – keep cheese in the cheese drawer, butter in the butter compartment, and fruits and veggies (together) in the crisper 🙂

10. Group like items [dressings, condiments, pickled “anythings,” sauces, and bottled water] and store them in the door compartments

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Just like a well-ordered pantry, a well ordered fridge reduces food waste as well as makes cooking and food prep easier and more enjoyable.

P.S. I haven’t done a major grocery trip this week so our fridge is pretty bare, which made it easier to clean. There’s another tip for ya 😉

Everything is Going to be O.K. {Happy Easter}

“31” has been an “awakening” of sorts for me. It’s almost as if the very moment I blew out those candles, sh%* got real. Suddenly, things that happen to “other people” are happening to people I know, my people, and me. Things that only existed hypothetically are actual realities: cancer, death, divorce, infertility, terminal illness, job loss… etc.

These undeniably harsh realities define the human condition, and we all face them.

{Confession: sometimes the future scares the shit out of me.}

Whether it be money, health, family, or our relationships, I think we can all point to something that’s responsible at this very moment for deepening the creases on our foreheads.

Life is hard.

Today [Easter Sunday], while peeling potatoes at the kitchen sink, a soft breeze carried with it the sound of laughing children. I was overwhelmed with a sense of peace and joy. Life is so very good for me right now, but for so many people I know, this is a trying tragic difficult  hard time. Some faced this Easter for the first time without a loved one. Others faced the inconceivable reality that this may be their last. Still others are uncertain of what the future holds.

My joy in juxtaposition to their struggle is hard to reconcile. Why am I so [mostly] lucky?

Truth is, we are all blessed and we all face tragedies – just at different points in time.

I have seen an inspirational quote floating around the www a lot lately… something to the effect of “choose happiness.” While I understand the premise, and find it to be a noble thought, it implies that people who are not happy are choosing sadness. That’s simply untrue. No one chooses sadness.

Sometimes the circumstances are dire. Sometimes, there just isn’t a visible silver lining. Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes, people are sad.

Several years ago, one of the pastors at our church did a sermon about life and its inherent struggles. Specifically, he spoke about worry, anger, sadness, and grief and he said something that resonated with me. He said, “It’s ok to visit there…just don’t live there.”

That is my hope for all of us – that our visits with struggle are “visits” and that we take heart in HIS promise.

John 3:16
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

While I do not believe people “choose” happiness, I can say this with certitude –EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE O.K.

Happy Easter everyone!

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Sorry… I couldn’t resist going “college” for a minute. haha. Good times, good times.

Anyways, not long ago I posted about ways to reduce kitchen clutter. One thing I mentioned was creating a “drop spot” – somewhere to place your keys, wallet, sunglasses, etc.

Previously, I just had an occasional table on an awkward wall near the kitchen (in close proximity to the front door and garage entry). I recently moved that occasional table to our family room so we were left without a “drop spot.” Seriously, not more than 5 minutes later, his [the hub’s] wallet, keys, phone and chapstick were mocking me from the previously clutter-free counter.

[Confession: I am a serial furniture re-arranger… my husband stated (quite bluntly and not very nicely) just this week that every.single.day SOMETHING is moved, and he therefore cannot be held responsible for misplacing ANYTHING… I don’t agree…but I cannot deny that there is a bit of logic in what he said… just don’t tell him that.]

So, I decided to go budget friendly and semi-permanent. Meaning, I chose something cheap and not quite so easy to move.

Our new “drop spot”

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…just a picture ledge. It really does work perfectly for our needs though. My wristlet, his wallet, and both our phones fit perfectly. The best part is that I have a place for a couple favorite photos AND there isn’t extra room for unwanted clutter.

I’m diggin’ it :).