Friday, November 21, 2014

Where are they now? My kids...


Do you ever see those cute little monthly updates that other moms do with their children? 

10 months, 1 hour, 54 minutes
Fun fact: Crawling everywhere!
Favorite food:  Bananas
Favorite activity: Reading books

I am in awe that people can be that put together! When L was a baby I tried to take a picture on his monthly birthday. Just any old picture not even with a cute sign or shirt—just on that day.  I failed about month 2 and his 5 month and 6 month pictures are about 3 days apart. With B I didn’t even try. #2ndchildproblems Sorry kids! You will not know how you grew in perfect one month increments.  Who am I kidding, your photo books probably won’t even be in the right order.

However, I have been thinking of some pretty creative (and true) statements I could say about these little men that will probably horrify them at their graduation; which, lets be honest, is basically the whole reason you take photos (or is that just me?).


8(ish) months old
Fun Fact: Loves to be growled at. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself saying, “L, go roar at your brother so he stops crying”.
Favorite food: Monkey
Favorite activity: Gnawing


Gnawing on his monkey--he's in heaven!
22(ish) months old
Fun Fact: Loves deodorant. We find him hiding all over the house putting it on his hair and once I caught him biting it—don’t worry I'm still using the stick with the bite marks.
Favorite food: Deodorant (see above)
Favorite activity: Stuffing toilet paper down my legs while I’m trying to pee.


There may be another update like this in a month, maybe six, maybe never. So L may never know when Deodorant stops being his favorite food.... I just hope we aren't serving it at his graduation party.

Next week: let's organize something!

Thanksgiving is coming! A cooking success from a chronic kitchen underperformer


Disclaimer: As Mr. M can attest, I am NO gourmet cook.
Exhibit A: Last week I threw a package of brats, fettuccine noodles, and vodka sauce (*not made with real vodka-False advertising!) in the crock pot and called it 'supper'. I also forced Mr. M to bring it to work for lunch several times in the following week. The containers did come home empty--how they got that way, I have chosen not to ask.

Exhibit B: I recently went to a freezer meal party with a friend. I got a strange look when I explained that instead of pre-cooking the chicken in the freezer meals, I just throw it on top and crock pot it until it (eventually) cooks. I'm going to guess my invite to the next party may get lost in the mail.

While writing this, I'm starting to realize I have a problem and my biggest enabler comes in the form of a crock pot. It's true what people say about getting hooked, once you get a taste of it...... **********************************************************************************

Now that you are SUPER PUMPED to try any recipe that I whip up:

This week, my mom brought me a gift, brussels sprouts on the stalk.


Who knew that's how they grew?!?!? (I'm ashamed to say I live in Iowa and sometimes don't know where vegetables come from.) P.S. is it brussel sprouts or brussels sprouts? Don't ask me, I didn't even know they grew on a stalk!

This beautiful stalk of sprouts inspired me to try to crank up the old oven (it still worked-phew) and try out a new recipe. But in true 'me' fashion, rather than actually find a recipe, I decided to wing it.

First I cut the brussels sprouts off the stalk and halved them onto a cookie sheet.


Cover that with a layer of balsamic, EVOO (I just wrote the acronym that way because it makes me sound so chefy), salt and pepper. In case you are wondering, layer IS the official measurement.

After baking in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes, here is the finished product.

They actually turned out pretty tasty and I know someone else who agreed.


But let's be honest....he was just happy I didn't make it in the crock pot.
Next week: Back to the kiddos!

Friday, November 14, 2014

New threads for this old mom....


Those of you who know me know that I am not the most fashion forward person. I kept barrel roll bangs about 5 years longer than was reasonable and fought skinny jeans until this year. I normally depend on J for my fashion advice (our mantra for me is '______ For Dummies' i.e. 'Jewelry for Dummies' or 'Makeup for Dummies').  
Now that J has a job and a life outside of my closet, I decided to give her a break and recently signed up for Stitch Fix. My philosophy is to look for things I would either never pick out for myself or never be able to find for myself.

The system is pretty great--you fill out a style profile with sizes and preferences (yes they have a 'as cheap as possible' option and yes I did select it for everything). They send you a box with 5 items--can be all clothes, can have accessories, whatever you are looking for! You try things on and send back what you don't want to keep. There is a $20 styling fee, but the great thing is--if you keep anything, that fee goes towards your purchase. They also take requests and suggestions. For my most recent box (shown below) I asked for some fall pieces, but I have a friend that asked for dresses for an outdoor wedding and they sent a dress just for that.

They also send you a style card that helps show you how to wear the pieces they send you ('Styling For Dummies'-right up my alley!). So essentially your own personal shopper!

I am several months in and have had varying success but have always found at least one piece that I love. Considering I keep asking them to push me out of my comfort zone, I find this pretty impressive.

My most recent fix included these 5 items.


And here they are on! I always snapchat the pictures to my sisters for their opinion #codependency issues  (Ignore the kid shenanigans going on in the background).


I'll let you guess which pieces I ended up keeping. I'm not saying that to be mysterious, I'm actually saying it because its only day 2 and I don't even know yet!

If you decide to give it a try--refer me by following the link below (is this me shamelessly working on referral credits--just refer up to the 'as cheap as possible' comment above and I think you can figure out the answer):

Next week: Brussels!! No, not another trip post--brussel sprouts (I know what you are thinking--Oh good, that's way more exciting)


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Europe 2014 (part 9)

Day 13: Venice

Where to start? Love, love-love-love, love Venice! This was my second time and just as fantastic as the first. Maybe even better since I knew what to look for!

The view from our boat coming into the Harbor was truly magical. We were able to see the entire city.


We arrived and boarded the water bus (when the roads are made of water, the bus is a boat!)


We took in some of the sites...


J had some major navigational difficulties this day. Normally she is the go-to navigator, however on water her internal compass must get a little wonky. Last time I was in Venice I was with J and the same thing happened. She reminded me REPEATEDLY that getting lost in Venice was literally what we wrote down on our itinerary so we should be enjoying ourselves. Note to self: NEVER put ‘get lost in ___’ on an itinerary again, I simply am not made for it.


ON this visit, we ended up passing the same cafĂ© three times and walking in exactly the wrong direction. However, we were all forbidden to point this out (don’t you love family dynamics? J ) and had to follow her anyway. This happened again on the way back to the boat at 10pm and we somehow ended up next to Venice’s prison. To be fair—this was not an attraction we had visited yet.


  We then walked several miles in the rain (uphill the whole way, with no shoes, in a snowstorm) back to our ship. A and I passed the time singing Girl Scout songs our mom taught us when we were kids.  I know what you are thinking—yes there are people who sing camp songs after the age of 10—and those people weren’t even in the Girls Scouts. 

Never fear, these Girls Scouts (and their fellow ear plugging travel companions) still had an extraordinary time and Venice was the perfect place to end our trip.



Next week:  Back to real life!


Friday, October 31, 2014

First Post From D!!!

A note from H:

  A miracle has occurred!!! D has submitted her first post! But first a quick background:

D is one of those smarty ‘I love to learn just to learn’ type of people who reads biographies and studies for the fun of it. She also loves cleaning her bathroom. WAIT!! Come BACK!!! She also loves fiction (I just got her started on Game of Thrones), HGTV, and is the family ‘workout guru’ who definitely knows her stuff.

D and 'Lick'

D lives with her silly dog ‘Lick’ (names have been changed to protect the innocent); is a recovering Lululemon addict; an experienced runner who is dabbling in the triathlon realm (just won the Sioux Falls Marathon this year!); and a practicing gluten-free, mostly-vegetarian. Needless to say, her posts will be different from my cheese covered kid disasters and half-a$$ed workout attempts.  The blog is diversifying!!!!  And D may actually have some quality, HELPFUL posts--how-to's instead of my usual how-not’s—so we are really upping our game!

She's just a girl who loves to run!

Unfortunately, D has suffered several sports injuries the last couple years and is currently on crutches recovering from her latest ouch. The good news is….she keeps getting to renew that handicap parking pass so she is great to bring along to a crowded parking lot! =)

Hi there!  I'm so excited to do have my first post officially on the blog!  I'm sure all of you are too considering this blog is titles 4 Iowa Sisters, not 1... Although I may not have any cute baby pictures, I'll do my best to keep up with H! Being her younger sister, I know this role well. ;) 

Recently, things in my world have been interesting...  I'm currently injured, not able to run, and desperately trying not to wallow in my own world of shallow despair.  Sounds appealing, huh?  Stay with me...  Without going into details of what happened and why (the doctors are still working on that one) and instead of over-analyzing how this is going to impact next year’s racing season, I've decided to do what I do best: ignore real problems and choose to see the world as only pleasant and happy.  This skill is usually best applied in circumstances such as reviewing my bank account balance or impossibly full trash can, but I decided it would come in particularly handy now given my current situation.  Today I’m going to highlight the surprising number of benefits of being on crutches.  Yes, they do exist and if anyone can find them, it is the new, ‘everything is awesome and life is a peach’ me.  So, without further ado and in no particular order, I present you…

1.       You can finally convince people you're not a whimp.  You may still have a cushy desk job, but no one can argue with your killer palm calluses. 

2.      You get to be creative with accessories.  Purple armpit pads and handy pocket anyone?  Being tough doesn't mean you can’t be pretty too.

3.       You learn some fun tricks.  My favorite?  Using one crutch as a freakishly long appendage to hit automatic door buttons so you can stay on the most efficient walking path.  #promove

4.       In your extra free to time, you can watch the entire first season of Gilmore Girls on Netflix that was miraculously just released.

5.       You have the opportunity to be this for Halloween:

6.       You get to work on some serious upper body strength.  My triceps have never been stronger… is it tank-top weather yet?

7.       Handicap parking.  Enough said.

8.       You don’t have to wait for a machine at the gym.  The arm bike is inexplicably always free.

9.       People do things for you.  This is by far the best.  It mostly applies to small things like opening doors and picking up the pen you've dropped for the eleventh time that day, but I've even scored 2 pieces of free dark chocolate out of the deal.  It just goes to show that underneath it all, people just like to be nice.  (Please remind me of this the next time I get cut off in traffic.)

10.   Most importantly, it actually helps the injury heal.  This may seem obvious, but despite your best intentions, no amount of limping around and crying will help, but babying the injury just may.  Turns out I’m not a wizard or vampire who heals inhumanely fast, who knew?  (BTW, do yourself a favor and read the Harry Dresden series.  It’s hilariously amazing and there are millions of injury-proof fantasies that can be generated.)
It’s all about radical acceptance people.  I’m just doing what I can each day and trying to make lemonade out of lemons.  Don’t worry I won’t charge. :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Europe 2014 (part 8)

Day 12: At Sea

So you might be wondering what our kids, L and B, were up to while we were at sea. Our babysitter took 200 pictures while were gone (love her!) and here are a few of my favorites:

We also found out that our charming little L left the babysitter a present in the tub while were gone. She walked in the room to him holding said present and saying ‘all done’.

What. An. Adorable. Child.
Next week: Venice, our final destination!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Europe 2014 (part 7)

Day 11: Athens


Nothing takes my breath away like the site of the Parthenon in Athens. It makes me imagine what it would have been like thousands of years ago, paddling in from my mud hut in my little row boat (*probably NOT historically accurate) and looking up to see this:

Almost as breathtaking: getting off the bus to see THIS SIGN:

I have been looking forward to this since I left this yogurt stand 4 years ago on our last visit.

 It did not disappoint.

Again we road a Hop On Hop Off bus to take in all the sites of Athens.
The last time we were in Athens, our bus was late getting back to the Cruise Ship terminal, (and we may have been buying pictures from a street vendor). Scared we were going to MISS THE BOAT (my heart still palpitates at the thought), D and I had to run several miles to the ship! Meanwhile, Dad and J waited and took a leisurely tram ride, showing up at the ship the exact same time we did,except they were not sweating and panicking (in case you are wondering-we made the boat).   At one point in the run, I turned to D—who is significantly more athletic than me--and said, give me the bags and go. It was our own personal Marathon (in Greece even!) 
*Note-this photo is a recreation NO one was smiling in the original. 
Next week: What were the kids up to?