Buff Hiking: Enjoying Summer Vacation THIS WAY in Estes Park Colorado

I won't be blogging for a few weeks, I will be enjoying a summer vacation*.


We are traveling to Estes Park, Colorado.  


By Car.


With two leetles under three years old.


Gee, we should have brought our 86 pound dog too, why did we leave Steve behind?


Did I mention it is a SEDAN?


I will be so glad to arrive at our precious Dreamland cabin and then later in the week to PARTY WITH THE CURLEES for a reunion. 


Every group event with my Dad's three brothers en familie (approx 27 with cousin's mates and now kids too) requires excellent beer (or Coors) lots of music and singing and often mooning. Which the brothers strongly denounce and passionatly claim never happens. 


And once a nude hiker (Uncle Paul, you are soooo...UH...wrong?  Free? Well thanks for carrying a modesty guitar at least.  SHEESH.)   But we children have photos and the scarred memories of plenty of such rabble rousing.  Whatever will be this year?


*Definition of summer vacation with two little kids is spending money to sit in the car for thirty+ hours, spending lots of money on daily life and still doing most of the work I do all week but in a different location and without all our normal stuff.  YAY ADVENTURE! 


Hope you are all well and would LOVE to see your wild adventures recounted in the comments below upon my return.  MWAH!

Haiku Challenge Friday: Spin, Spin Spin Again Class


Haiku Challenge Friday?  Let's have some brain gym fun!


A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. 

My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and many of us have encouraged him to publish them in a book. I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the challenge word and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

spin class is from hell
these bikes don't go anywhere
but I am tired

Your challenge word to use in your haiku is : bikes

Let's hear your haiku!

The Earliest Part of the Morning is...JUST WRITE!

I sunk into bed last night after Libby's barfing olympics--and I do not mean she was pretending to be a dog--I was so pleased I could 'sleep in' today.  No  5:15AM spin class.  


Only running at 8am with Whitney.  And by 'running' I mean me whining after about half a mile, wondering why I think I want to run when I so clearly do not.
And of course my alarm goes off, at 4:30AM.  And like a (reasonably) good girl I do not turn it off but instead hit snooze.  And by good girl I do not mean knees together but rather being wise and respecting yourself.  I am so  looking forward to having that conversation with my girls. 


So I am up and awake as birds chitter and peep.  The kitchen is a wasteland of lazy people's dirty dishes. And by lazy people I mean folks tired in their bones from a normal day at work...awake enough for TV but not awake enough to wash dishes.  At all.  All day? 


I put things we do not normally put into the dishwasher into it.  Hiding them, or hopeful they will come clean?  Who cares when my coffee is ready!


Then I light a candle, gather my laptop and sit. On the couch instead of the desk. Novelty.


The coffee hot and dark and so strong I can chew bits of the ground beans when I sip it.


And I simply tell you about life.  And when I say life I mean my life, and I hope that is OK.

This post is part of the Extraordinary Ordinary's JUST WRITE series.  I just read todays' post and there is a precious lesson there.  LIKE THIS:  "Sometimes you have to surprise people right out of themselves." AWESOME. If you want to link up come over here!

Haiku Challenge Friday: Speak the Truth in Love


Haiku Challenge Friday?  Let's have some brain gym fun!


A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. 

My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and many of us have encouraged him to publish them in a book. I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the challenge word and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

Speak the truth in love
encourage others but don't
confuse love with law

Your challenge word to use in your haiku is : love

Let's hear your haiku!

Voting with Our Forks: Costco House Blend Coffee


I always struggle with how rich we are.  

If you have been to my home or heard me speak of our budget and Pear Budget,  you might be puzzled.  

Although at 1,400sf it is smaller compared to most family of four houses these days, there is shining woodwork(where it isn't dusty....) and a wonderfully appointed (if just a smidge bigger than my backside) kitchen.  We have older furniture, some of it slipcovered, lots of it deftly discovered by yours truly second hand.  My car is wheezing and 12 years old....over 200,000 miles on Carl and he is still ticking nicely.  We spend a lot of money on quality organic and farmer's market and whole food.  We spend too much money on food.  I can see that in our waistlines and in our pear budget account.

We choose to live simply in order to save for the future.  In order to not carry credit card or car debt.  Although my husband has a generous income, choosing not to use credit and pay cash means we make lots of choices about what really matters.

And so I struggle with how rich we are.

As Americans the poorest among us are still the richest 1% in the entire world.  We support a young girl in Swaziland through World Vision, but should be doing more.  And we don't.

This morning as I ground coffee beans in my sleep and put the kettle on for the french coffee press, I thought.  Tricky to do when sleeping.  I thought about how good this Costco coffee actually was even thought Starbuck is my favorite.  

I thought about how it wasn't Fair Trade, and that was disappointing.   I like to vote with my fork, with my wallet by buying good food.  I like that Fair Trade ensures a 'good' wage for the farmers, the workers.  

Then I woke up, I saw the label!  "FAIR TRADE" it said.  "Roasted by Starbucks Coffee Company" it said!  I think I have found our coffee, Family. Read about their siren here.

The three year old will be so pleased.  

She doesn't drink coffee folks, that is a joke.

So even as I struggle that we are so rich we could feed two families,  I can cut some corners.  I can cut some corners and still vote with my fork.  Or in this case, my coffee cup.  

What do you think?  What do you do, with your fork?  Am I ridiculous?

TRK: How to Cook Weird CSA Vegetables Like Kohlrabi

Yeah kohlrabi, that is right, I called you WEIRD.  You look like an alien vegetable and I have never bought you from the grocery store because I was worried you would take me to a spaceship.  Or more truthfully, that you would rot in my fridge  "crisper"(should be called a "rotter") before I could figure out what to do with you.  Thanks to the Interweb, when you arrived smuggled in my CSA bag (THANKS L.E. Farms!)  I found lots of options on preparing you.

After getting tired of looking at ways to prepare kohlrabi I did what any waist and waste conscious woman would do: Chucked you into our compost bin.

Of course I didn't do that.  I did what any red blooded 'merican with thirty excess pounds on my posterior would do: fried ya up!

Yup.  I made potato latkes without potatoes.  I used shredded kohlrabi instead!

Turned out down right tasty. Even the kidlets chowed down.


HOW TO DO IT
I shredded one good size kohlrabi in food processor shredder.  I cut the leaves/stems/antennae off first but didnt' peel it  My weird well trained foodie kiddos ate some strips raw.  (I didn't let them see me spitting my raw bite out.  ACK.)

I made breadcrumbs...maybe 1.5 cups and stirred that into the shredded alien with three eggs, half cup each parmesan and mozzarella, garlic powder, nutmeg lemon pepper and salt.  NOTE:  I should have squeezed the water out of the shredded kohlrabi BEFORE mixing everything together....do that please.)  Then I shaped small patties and pan fried it in a well oiled frying pan about three minutes per side. Maybe it was longer...you just  have to wait till it dries out on tip a bit and holds together to flip with a spatula.  (Sorry, not a cooking show!  Just a hungry girl here desperate to be a good steward of my hijacked CSA bounty!)

I mixed dried dill into plain fat free yogurt as a 'dippit!' topping.  Fabulous.  And I do not think I was brain washed with any alien rays either.....success.  EAT UP!


P.S. Speaking of weird CSA vegetables:   I think we are looking at green onions, garlic greens, what the heck are the loopdeeloop dealies?  And what do I do with them???



Haiku Challenge Friday: Biggest Loser


Haiku Challenge Friday?  Let's have some brain gym fun!


A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. 

My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and many of us have encouraged him to publish them in a book. I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the challenge word and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

Biggest Loser show
I watch while eating junk food
I know you do too!

Your challenge word to use in your haiku is : Loser

Let's hear your haiku!

Win a $50 Home Depot Card for Father's Day!

Head over to Mumbling Mommy Blog and tell them about a great Dad you know.  You will be entered to win a $50 Home Depot Gift Card!  Head over to Mumbling Mommy and share your story!

Mamas: Don't Boss Your Baby Daddies! Father's Day Advice



Father's Day.  Oh you Menfolk.  

And you tired Mamas.

What is the deal with the Daddies?  They play with the kiddos here and there, MAYBE change a diaper if you are already tending to a neighbor's house fire or are indisposed in some serious emergency related matter. But otherwise, his most regular parenting exercise is handing you a child in need. Or handing you a child who interferes with his videogame/TV show/bathroom time/meal consumption/sleep schedule etc.

What is the deal with the Daddies?

And my husband?  I am so blessed!  He is a great dad to our girls because he NEVER hands them off to me with a weak excuse that I do it better.  



Well maybe if a trip to the milky bar is the only visible solution.  He surely doesn't do that.  But he does bust out a bottle if my bust isn't available.

He does everything I do, play, dress, diaper, feed etc.  Because we both know we are equally unskilled parents.  Neither one of us has done this before.  Neither one of us is getting any parenting awards.  We are real people just keeping the kids alive, loved and sometimes happy!  



John is so active and involved and I have so much respect for him because of it.  Happy Father's Day John Novak!  You are an excellent Father:  Thank you for all the choices and efforts that make this so. You are a REAL MAN!

A real man knows how to father.  

But the mamas HAVE to get out of the way for this to happen!   

He won't do it your way and that does not make it the wrong way, so keep your mouth closed. 

He won't do anything your way because he is not you.  And NEWSFLASH:  Your way is not the best way.  It just isn't.  You think it is because....it is YOUR way.   Your way is simply 'a' way.

Respect your husband as a PARTNER.  

Use your mama strength to enable and encourage his parenting, not to tell him how you do it.  He should not do things you do;  your kids need what he has to offer.  



Your kids will live through time with their father.  

Every time you are tempted to correct, guide or overbear remind yourself if you keep telling him how to do it, YOU will end up doing it.  ALL.  Because your man will believe you  when you tell him you are the only person who does it right.  And you will be able to do it "the right way" every time because he will step aside and let you.

I saw this happen-one of the blessings of having kids at 38: I got to learn from everyone else.

Here are five things I learned about raising a baby with the Baby Daddy:

1)  Let him learn and discover his way.  Even if you know better, let HIM learn it.  He is also an adult with a driver's license who can vote.  Respect him.

2)  Your kid won't die if they wear something ugly/dirty/mismatched/otherwise inappropriate out of the house.  You wanna emasculate a man?  Change the kids clothes after their Father dresses them.  
If it is ACTUALLY going to be a real life problem...a mama could spill something on it before you leave or skip a bib at mealtime.  Not that I would ever do that.  (HI Honey!  You are AWESOME and I never did this.)  Same goes for extended time without a diaper change (like not as often as you do it, but I am not excusing an all day diaper, folks!), interesting meal choices(cake has four food groups, right Bill Cosby?), or reasonable roughhousing. 

3)  A mama who wants an active daddy asks his opinion and encourages him to make his own parenting decisions.  Do this from day one.  When we brought our first baby home, John would often turn to me as in "What do we do?"  Even if I had an idea, at times I would say, "I don't know...I have never done this before either!"  I was rewarded with his take on things, often wiser and not as obvious as my approach.  He continues to be more insightful with our kids than I am. (YAY!  I'm glad someone else knows what to do when it gets tricky.)  It might be difficult, but if you start right away you will learn together and grow as active parents together.  CRUCIAL.

4) Do not talk badly about your husband's parenting efforts to anyone.  Speak words of encouragement and build him up.  Unless he did a SUPER boneheaded number and you have to dish with one mama pal who will keep her mouth shut.  And unless you want him to blab all your mistakes.  Especially if the only times your kids fall down or off of the couch is on your watch when you are thisclosetothem. Not that I am that mama. OK.  Maybe I am.  I only look away for a second and it is circus acts of daring do and that is why we have so many boxes of angry bird bandaids. Hidden safely so we cannot find them. SHEESH.

5)  Let your husband fail.  It will happen.  The kid will get a sunburn/diaper rash/MIL fashion critique.  Let it happen:  Fails are how you learned to be such a great mama. Doesn't the man you love deserve the chance to learn how to be a great parent too?

(NOTE:  If there is a serious endangerment problem, drug or alcohol problem, abuse situation, none of this applies. Please be actively involved and seek outside help too.) 

If your parenting life is not what you would like it to be, have a talk with your husband.  Apologize for being so bossy and depriving him of the freedom to be a great dad.  Share this post with him, ask him what applies and agree to start over.  NOW.  Especially if you feel you do most of the parenting.  He wouldn't mind doing more, you just need to start over.

Uh....What is that smell? 

Is that...?

Hey.......now is probably a GREAT time to start with "a change".  

Happy Father's Day Mamas!  And Happy Father's Day to you Baby Daddies too!

I would love to hear of your tips Mamas & Daddys...and we all want to hear your disasters...so please share with us in the comments!

Things I should have blogged about: 50 Shades of Grey, Ethiopian Food, Bathing Suit Shopping

Once you get into blogging, everything is a potential post.  We are all so similar and one event can resonate in many ways with others.  It can get gross though, and the temptation can be to live your blog instead of living your life and maybe sharing special things that can encourage other folks.  At times I just put the camera phone down and live my life, but here are things I should have blogged:


Maybe it looks like baby food, but BABY!  What food!



Ethiopian Food. 

I love the stuff and my hubs has a Frugal Gourmet Immigrant Ancestors cookbook that has recipes for the basics including injera bread!  I've made a meal three or four times now from it, always delighted.  Last week my favorite woman in all the world, my bestie since high school Jenny Joy Galloy Arndt came to spend the night with me while my husband was away at a conference in New Orleans (grrr, jealous of the food porn he enjoyed, even while 'dieting').  She came without any of her three children!  I got her all to myself.  Well, with my two girls too, but it was great.  We went to the beach, we drank mojitos on my precious porch and giggled like when we were young and I was single and careless. (The kids were napping, lest you find my parenting irresponsible.) And we made Ethiopian food.  I think it took about three hours. You have to make the bere bere sauce and spiced butter condiments required to make the meal first.  We made Doro Wat and spiced cheese and greens and injera bread.  HEAVENLY.





Bathing Suit Shopping.

Wouldn't it be refreshing if I had photographed my bathing suit shopping ala my skinny jeans fat fanny? post?  Honest views of a plumper posterior in suits?  HMMM.  Maybe not?






Fifty Shades of Grey.


I am not reading this fast.  There isn't much point in that.  I mean, one doesn't read it to read the story, do they?  I am titillated and embarrassed and thrilled to read such a dirty book.  I'm pretty sure Jesus isn't happy about it.  Maybe he can help me have energy for the real thing by helping my sweet girls be sweeter? And sleep more.   And clean up the house for me?



I love all the chatter about Fifty Shades of Grey and am very surprised this kind of book is mainstream.  Usually you buy it from a seedy joint and they put it in a brown paper wrapper....wonder how it got so popular?  Even my conservative friends are talking about it.  Not all of them disparagingly.  It is funny along the lines of the pastor at our new church met me and expressed interest in reading my blog theverysameday I posted about porn.  


He said, "I'd like to read your blog."

I said, "Oh you might not enjoy reading it.  I just wrote about porn."

He laughed and said, "Well, it depends on whether you said it was good or bad."

I said, "Well....uh it was neither?"  






WHAT I SHOULD HAVE SAID:  "It is a post about how once you are married with kids you have little interest in sex when there is sleep to be had, even if you used to be a bombshell.  And how any shred of sexuality you do have is threatened by every magazine, in particular Maxim Magazine, and yet the same thing that threatens you also reminds you of your sexuality and therefore....isn't so bad?"

But I felt safer just talking about porn?

YUP.



















Tiny Red Kitchen: We Fired the Pizza Guy



It is the end of a mediocre four day weekend with my husband and little girls.  We had some fun, we had some stress, we had a few days of normal life strung together. I escaped all by myself one day, thanks to my husband.  But still.




I always have such high expectations for time.  I want to live the movie life where most moments are precious and there are no poopy diapers.   I crave experiences and I want everyone involved to passionately enjoy all of them like I do.


Sometimes this just isn't reality.
  


We had some fun, we had some stress.  In general we have a very blessed and fortunate life, so who am I to grumble about a lack of fireworks?  Especially when there is an absence of ambulance lights.  Or sick kids, really sick kids.  Everyone who is precious to us is OK, and that in and of itself is fireworks worthy.


So anyway. I wanted to order some pizza.  It is Sunday night and I wanted to feast a little.  As if Joe's Crab Shack Friday wasn't feasting?  Oh but that was days ago.  What about this moment?




THIS MOMENT wants cheesy fireworks.  Even though we are invested in a Biggest Loser-esque weightloss contest with seven of our friends.  Surely a little pizza wouldn't hurt?  We debate.  We were 'not eating out this month' unless it was an "emergency."  Are Sunday blahs an emergency?  We agreed to order in some comfort food.


But.


I can make pizza.  I make good pizza.  Healthier and cheaper than delivery.  And I can pronounce all of the ingredients.  I make it a lot, so ordering in sounded.....


easier


better


tastier


more fun 
(because y'all know funner is NOT a word)


I choose what my family eats.  I am responsible for most of their well being when it comes to food.  In an unusually restrained moment I decided we would not order pizza.  I could make it.  We had so many interesting toppings: garlic mushrooms, roasted asparagus, heart of palm, kalamata olives.  I took basil leaves from my loved herb garden and chiffonaded 'em.  Five points if you know what that is....I have just learned!


It was wonderful.  Fire the pizza guy and make your own.




Whole Wheat Pizza Crust 
(in about 5 minutes)

Mix one packet or one tablespoon yeast with one cup lukewarm water.  Add one tablespoon honey  and two tablespoons oil (I use olive oil).  Slowly add in two and one half cups whole wheat flour. Stir until it comes together and let rest 10-15 minutes.  Or not at all.


I tried rolling it out to get it thinner, but you can just patiently finger press it out to the edges of a pan/ cookie sheet.  I got almost two pizzas out of it by rolling so the crust will be thin vs. heartier curst and one cookie sheet pizza usually from the same recipe.  


We prebake just the crust for about 8 minutes at 450 degrees, then add toppings and cook another 8 minutes or so till it looks like we like it.  Any toppings.  Any at all.  Any cheese. (less is healthier!)


It was AWESOME.  And we ate a fair amount of it.  Wanted more, but we are in it to win it.  Kind of.  Maybe we should have a pizza delivered to our Biggest Loser competition, yeah?

Haiku Challenge Friday: Yarn Bombing!


Haiku Challenge Friday?  Let's have some brain gym fun!


A Haiku is a three line poem with 5 syllables the first line, 7 syllables the second line and 5 again for the last line. 

My Dad is a BIG Haiku guy, he loves them and many of us have encouraged him to publish them in a book. I do it randomly and rarely but always enjoy the process. It usually starts with an idea or a moment in life I want to capture.

Haiku Challenge participants...just write your haiku in the comments of the relevant post!

Please email me a Haiku Challenge if you would like to be a Guest Challenger. Include the challenge word and your starting Haiku poem.

Here is this week's challenge Haiku:

"June 9th, Int'l Yarn Bombing Day"

spread grafittti joy
colors soft and whimsical
yarn bombing is fun

Your challenge word to use in your haiku is : yarn

Let's hear your haiku!

Pole Aerobics Made Me Fat

You can hear this on NPR station WVPE 88.1Fm by clicking here!

My awesome "Mothers and More" group hosted a monthly mingle one time at a dance class.  To be more specific, a pole dancing class. We are all mamas and usually of young kidlets so any attempt to "bring sexy back" is either welcome or a subtle annoyance getting between us and more sleep! So Pole Dancing Class. RIGHT. Well, they called it Pole Aerobics but you all get the idea, yes?

I think I used to be a sexy woman, so my 40 year old thirty pounds overweight loose neck skin mama self decided to go. I put on makeup and did my hair. For an exercise class.  I thought them calling it an exercise class was a *wink wink nod nod* to encourage more women to attend. They were serious. I was the only one in a sparkly tank top and lacy bra, I will tell ya that.

The instructor was a woman named so appropriately "Summer". I think she was pretty young.  Like twelve.  She was at least a real woman in the figure department….pretty curvy and strong like bull.  I was so excited to take this class. I was more excited to get out of this class. Pole aerobics class made me fatter!!

I am not just a little fat (although clothes hide it) I am also so very weak. How about no core strength at all? My favorite yoga instructor Kim Sellers talks about using our core strength all the time.  One of the moves involved holding onto the pole and lifting up both legs, sexy style, but most of us were laughing and flailing out in a decidedly unsexy manner. Parenting magazines talk about how defined my arm muscles must be from hefting thirty pound toddlers all day.  Well.  My arms must have missed the memo.  How about floppy arms where apparently the muscles have fallen from the bicep area down into the tricep area and just hang there. Doing Nothing.  I couldn’t pull myself up the pole for anything.  It was probably sad to see. 

I didn't realize how bad off I truly was until taking this little class.
I knew I should have had a drink or two or six before hand. Only one of our number was able to follow Summer in all parts of the routine.  The routine in which one backs up to the pole, somehow wraps her legs around it, pushes up said pole with legs and arms, then slides all the way down to the floor and crawls forward. Sexily. Riiiiight.  Um, usually the biggest trick I can pull off is taking a shower.  Maybe I will strike a match to light a candle.  The only crawling on the floor this mama does is to find lost toys under the couch.  Well.

But here is the silver (matched my tank top) lining: I am more motivated.  I want STRENGTH. I want arms that can do something. I want a core that lets me pull something up from somewhere else instead of laughing, standing there, unable to lift a single thing.

I took this pole dancing class because I wanted to feel sexy, instead I got an ugly wake up call. And I answered. Core and arms: My priority!

Summer, we probably won't see each other again. EVER. But you taught me more than you could know, thank you, thank you thank you!


I guess I should start with some pushups. 

Yuck. 

OK, here we go!  Friends, you count ‘em.