Silhouette Cameo…the best gift I ever bought myself

Have I blogged about the sheer amazingness of my Silhouette Cameo? I bought it for myself for Christmas two years ago and have used it as much or more than my sewing machine. For totally different projects of course. And man I wish I had pictures of more projects. It’s basically an electronic dye cutter. That works like a printer. You just feed card stock (or several other materials) into the machine and instead of printing an image, it cuts it out. Any SIZE shapes, words, AMAZING!

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I used it for several projects for women’s retreat decor to create a “thankful tree”.

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I have used it to make birthday cards, invitations, banners, and holiday decorations. Think JOY TO THE WORLD strung across the windows. I cut out a few cars with the pieces all separate and Lyle had to glue them in the right places like a puzzle. Or order the letters in his name. It finally occurred to me to decorate for halloween…on halloween and with a sleeping baby upstair and no desire to buy decorations, we just spent the afternoon making them. I cut out some pumpkins, spiders and ghosts and the boys colored and hung them with tape. We are doing something similar for Christmas tree decorations because ours are all in storage. Just so much fun. That’s all.

*this is NOT a sponsored post. I don’t have any sponsors. But I like free stuff. Just saying’.

More butternut squash

Are y’all over it yet? These meals have actually all been spaced out by at least a week…it’s just the post are coming one after another.

Last night we enjoyed Penne with Butternut squash and Goat cheese thanks to Giada De Laurentiis. I mean…she didn’t make it for us…because that would have changed my life.

I do a couple switcharoos (the technical term for using a different colored Lego piece than the instructions call for because that’s all you can find in your stash) in the recipe to make it Greg friendly. We use corn penne pasta from Trader Joes. And no cheese on his. For the sauce, I just use a bit of the pasta cooking liquid and a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper. And Greg swears it’s still soooo good. I then double down on the goat cheese and parmesan for the boys and I. The basil is fresh and the walnuts are crunchy. It really is a delicious dish.

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*Also it is worth noting that all hell was breaking loose at my house while I was trying to make dinner and I still managed to get it on the table. Which means its a really easy recipe. (of which the risotto is not so much).

** and by “all hell,” I mean first grade homework.

Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash

This is the second installment in my butternut squash series. In 5 years I have never done a series on this blog. Random that it would be about squash.

I have 1,000 other things to write about, but will try to stay focused. Two years ago Greg discovered he had (A LOT) food allergies. What started as an elimination diet (that we thought would last 60-90 days) has turned into a way of life. He does not eat gluten, dairy, eggs, tomatoes, vinegar, brewers or bakers yeast, shell fish, sesame, almonds, green beans, mushrooms…and about 10 other things. We eat a lot of roasted veggies, rice, beans, corn tortillas, avocados, lentils and fruit. Some days I don’t even think about it I am so use to cooking this way. Some days I eat full baguettes in the car by myself as a way to cope with the ridiculousness of feeding someone who loves food but can not have parmesan cheese. Dry. Flaky. Salty parmesan cheese. Glad it’s not me honey.

Anywho…early in this journey I spent a LOT of time looking thought cook books for anything and everything Greg could eat or I could easily modify for him to eat. And I discovered risotto. Oh glorious, creamy risotto. It’s just rice (arborio). But when cooked properly it melts onto your plate and taste like it has cups of cheese in it. (and most recipes do call for cups of cheese but when eliminated it’s JUST AS GOOD!) It is cooked slowly, adding one ladle of hot chicken stock at a time until absorbed and all the starches make it all starchy….just try it.

Here is Ina’s Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash. That’s her picture too. The only modification I make to this recipe for Greg is not adding the cheese. (which means I get twice as much). It does call for a small amount of wine (which has yeast in it…but doesn’t seems to bother him when cooked).

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Bon appétit.

Fall-owing the rules

I am a rule follower.

Unless breaking the rules feels very rebellious and freeing and there are no possible consequences. The summer before my freshman year in high school, a few of my friends’ older sisters sat us down (in a parking lot while drinking beer and anticipating their reign as seniors!) and shared the rules we were to live by for the next 4 years. Indecently some of these sisters were the same ones that had routinely locked us in the attic not to long before. So I am not sure if I was paying attention out of reverence or fear. But I digress. We learned things like “don’t ever ride the bus ever for any reason ever. Walk home 10 miles if you have to but don’t ride the bus. Carry your back pack by one strap only. Dress like Brenda Walsh. Get involved in as many extra curricular activities as possible. And basically follow the rules your first three years to earn trust…and you will be able to get away with all sorts of shinaghians your senior year.” At least this was their plan. And I will say it pretty much worked. If you consider – skipping AP Econ everyday with out a teacher or principle questioning where I was going…and then failing the AP Econ test – working. Oh that 55 minutes of freedom. Glorious.

That intro has little to do with the meat of this post. Or the veggies. So back to rule following. I am a bit compulsive. Orderly. And routine-loving. This is shocking to no one. I am a controlling person. And I also practice moderation. For moderation sake. I try not to overindulge too often (although it totally happens….trader jojo’s…WHAT?!?!) But I limit the good stuff of life to an extent that I can really enjoy and celebrate it at the appropriate times. I abstain on occasions, just to enjoy indulging at a later date. Examples: I don’t wear sandals in the winter. There are no exceptions to this rule (unless I’m feeling rebellious). But come March 1st (which is technically still winter, but totally not in Texas) I bust out the flips and take a stroll. No drinking before 5:00 pm (unless it’s been a really hard day). No white before Labor day. You get the jist.

Where is this going? Several years ago we started eating seasonally. Please tell me you know what this means. What is means for us, is that we have not had butternut squash in 6+ months. I mean you can eat strawberries in the fall….but why when they taste soooooo much better in the spring? And likewise with root veggies. We’ve eaten fruit 3 meals a day for months. With quinoa, on salads, and in smoothies. But with the fall upon us (WHERE DID SEPTEMBER GO?!?! my birthday is saturday :) I enthusiastically picked up a few bags of pealed and chopped butternut squash at Trader Joes. There is maybe nothing on earth I appreciate more than someone else pealing and chopping my butternut squash. So for the first dish of the season, I went with a very traditional and super easy soup.

And it was worth the wait.

My kids even ate it. Proportionality with an entire baguette for “dipping.”

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*photo is before the pureeing.

Bon appetit. And this might be the first in a series of posts featuring the gloriousness of butternut squash. And I only dare to mention “series” because one little 18th month old has finally started to appreciate** the glory of TV (which I know rots the baby brain) and thus returned my sanity.

**As long as he is strapped into his high chair with a jojo in each hand. Moderation people. Moderation.

I got this.

Our day started out quite nice and peaceful and a bit lazy if I do say so myself. And since I didn’t get out of bed until 8:30, I do say so. The boys watched cartoons and Greg made smoothies. Mid-morning we made our way to get donuts and to the park with friends. We had plans to see a show in LA this evening and were making a picnic dinner for the group so that was lingering as a to do at some point. The “show” was a Sound of Music sing-a-long which sounds crazy maybe but is basically heaven with different words. It’s 15,000 people watching The Sounds of Music movie on a huge screen with subtitles and singing along. It’s 1,000,000 times better than you can imagine. And with my striking resemblence to Julia Andrews, I’d planned to dress up this year. But hadn’t quite pulled my outfit together. I couldn’t quite locate fabric. And then I walk in on Lyle saying he’s made a hat out of curtains.

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It was right in front of me the whole time! And hilarious because he’s never seen the movie and I hadn’t even mentioned that we were going tonight (with out them).

Mean while, Callum was doing this:

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Which is just one of the 1,000 places he likes to climb up and play. Which will explain the “accident” at the end of this post.

So the dinner plan was sushi. Trucks full of sushi. Greg went fishing in San Diego yesterday and Lord have mercy I have never seen so much fish in my life. He went to the market to get ingredients for poke. And Callum woke up from his nap a little fussy…so seconds after Greg got home I handed him off. (Greg is his favorite. Hands down total favorite parent.) And seconds later he puked everywhere. Including on Greg’s running shoes.

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Which were then hosed off in the grass. Then Ben wrote a book about it. And rigged a shower in the back yard as an unrelated project.

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So the baby sitter was cancelled and Greg got to making the poke anyway. Which was insane delicious.

And Callum climbed up on a table…and fell off. And I took pictures of his ankle that looks horrible and texted it to my forever best friend from high school that is a pediatrician which comes in all sorts of handy and her trusty orthopedic surgeon of a husband…handy I tell you. And they were confident that we could wait until morning to take him in for an x-ray. Which doesn’t phase me a bit because we’ve already hit our medical deductible for the year and are total pros at the little person cast thing.

As I say to myself Greg all the time, “I got this!”

Did I mention we’re moving again in 10 days and Ben has actual homework this year and I am planning the women’s retreat for our church and Callum only likes to play with dangerous things? Seriously people, “I totally got this!” Unless you are available on Tuesday October 1st to take a car load of clothes, toys or food to our new (temporary) house. If not don’t worry, there will be another opportunity soon as we continue to work our way around the city nomad style.

The Nursery/Laundry Room/Office

So I’ve mentioned that we are living at my parents house in Newport for the summer while they are in Colorado. It is a beautiful place and actually bigger than our last house, but only two bedrooms and a den. So Ben and Lyle are in the guest room and the den has become a playroom. Which left Callum…in the laundry room. It’s a large room with built in cabinets, desk, utility sink, ironing board and obviously a washer and dryer. It’s a small space that I couldn’t resist staging to look like an actual nursery. In hopes that he would transition to sleeping there easily. Let’s just say it’s cute but there have been some bumps in the sleeping road. Oh child.

So the design…I put a changing table pad on the top of the cabinets…next to the sink….next to the washer and dryer. Added a little storage bin for shorts and PJs, hung all his shirts and on the laundry rod that was already in place and the mobile for decoration. The pack and play fits in front of the cabinets and can be moved around as needed in the space. There is a window in the room which I think makes this a fire safe situation. But I did go buy a carbon monoxide detector for peace of mind.

What I am realizing….is that all nurseries should have a utility sink and washer/dryer! I can quickly and thoroughly wash my hands after every diaper change, thrown dirty clothes in the washing machine, or the baby in the sink for a bath if things are really out of hand. Seriously so convenient. Until someone else gets the stomach flu and I am in and out of the baby’s “room” doing laundry all night long. On a positive note, he has gotten quite use to the hummmm of the washer and drying at bed time and I might need to make this a permanent situation in our future house. Now if I could just teach Callum to do the laundry for me.

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Aloha and mahalo

So funny story. The last time I went to Ohau, Hawaii…I followed a band. I was young and spontaneous. And fun. (serious people…not a care in the world and totally FUN!) And maybe kissed the guitar player. And that band may or may not now have a show on a popular kids TV network. And my boys may or may not watch it. And occasionally may pretend to be members of said band and run around the back yard with capes yelling….we are the Aquabats! Oh life…you crack me up. Also….that was a LONG time ago and band members and my moral compass have changed a bit.

Related: Greg and I spent a glorious 7 nights and 8 days (plus one bonus night due to a cancelled flight) on the island of Ohau this past week. And oh heaven on earth it was all I’d dreamed it could be for a tropical vacation – get so far away – much needed rest and relaxation break from life. Glory glory hallelujah. Aloha and mahalo. We have not taken a tropical vacation of this nature since our honeymoon in Costa Rica. Which was 1,000 (9) years ago.

And we have never left the kids for more than a long weekend.

But a seed was planted and a house rented and I started packing 4 months ago. And have been wearing my bathing suit daily since January. Not really. But maybe.

We spent the first two nights at the Ko Olina Resort on the south west side of Ohau. It is set on one of four white sand lagoons that were a perfect back drop for watching the moon set, (three hour time difference had us up EARLY everyday) morning yoga, mid morning runs, lots of ocean swimming and floating, afternoon naps and late night strolls. There were no dishes or laundry or people calling me mommy. We eased into vacation quite well which included a lot of raw fish and several pineapple rum drinks…a day.

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At this point in the trip, the fair skinned love of my life thought he might use this opportunity to get a tan. Which means he burned his chest so badly the first day and basically hid from the sun the rest of the trip. Oh honey, I love your optimism.

After day three in hotel land, we were ready to head to the infamous North Shore for a little mellower scene and more pineapple rum drinks. Also, that’s not at all what it looks like in the summer. No waves in the summer. And when I say “no waves”…I mean “honey that wave you caught was HUGE!” The north shore is just a little edgy and local and doubles in population in the winter when the big waves come in. But in the summer it’s a smattering of surf instructors, tourists and 1,000 sea turtles. Greg’s oldest brother and his wife joined us for this part of the trip which was so much fun! And just in time because Greg and I had run out of things to talk about. Thank goodness for a debate about how old Greg was the first time he snuck Aaron’s car out in the middle of the night (13) or who drank more beer in college (undecided). And lots of good information on raising three boys because they are 7 years ahead of us.

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We explored near by beaches, snuck into Turtle Bay resort, wandered through the Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens, cooked all sorts of deliciousness, and read and read and read. And napped. And worked out. Those Texas Thorburns are serious about their Cross Fit so there we were on vacation doing burpies and hand stand attempts.

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And come Saturday we boarded the plane and I had my game face on and kept repeating, “you can do this…you CAN do this. You’re totally ready to go home to the insanity of meeting others needs all day and night. You are rested. And relaxed. And calm.” But when the pilot announced a mechanical problem and cancelled the flight and mentioned something about a hotel room…I was the FIRST one off the plane and back in my sundress ordering a mai thai faster than you can say Waikiki. Thank you American Airlines for a vacation bonus night!

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Side note: For years I have been in a fight with coffee because I started to see my anxiety peak on days where I had some (or too much) coffee. So I have quite entirely. Gone decaf. Halfcaf. And what not. But this little Hawaiian vacation made me start to think that it’s life that increases my anxiety, not the caffeine. I can drink cup after cup on vacation and remain totally calm and relaxed. True story. I am now searching for a therapist who will prescribe vacation for my panic disorder. Surely Anthem Blue Cross will pay for a tropical vacation each year? And if not my insurance company, I am on the hunt now for another sponsor. Because I must go back.

Fair weather fans

We have lived with in smelling and hearing distance of the fair for the last 9 summers. We have anticipated it’s arrival each summer as the ferris wheel is being assembled. We have sold lemonade and snacks to fair goers. We have ridden rides. Eaten corn dogs. Cheered for Willy Nelson and some U2 cover band and BB King. We have pushed the kids in strollers. Drunk beer from the good beer tent. Polished off a funnel cake or two…in one day. We have dragged friends and been dragged by friends. We have sweated it out waiting for the kids’ roller coaster. Won ridiculous prizes causing me to instantly plot disappearances. Eaten a lot of BBQ. Ridden the ponies. Visited the GIANT cows. And apparently taken 1,000 pictures. It’s a love-hate relationship, me and the fair. I had never thought of myself as a fair person until it was literally in our back yard, but it came all too naturally. And my love was greatly helped by the fact that we received 20 free fair tickets from the city each year. Think of it as bribery to not complain about the noise and the traffic and the trash…in our yard. I could not have avoided it to save my life since the kids could see the ferris wheel from the driveway. Every day for 4 weeks they asked to go.

Generally speaking I hate large crowds, the threat of loosing my children, heat with no escape, and situations that are impossible to drag my children away from with out buying light sabers. Which pretty much describes the fair. But they love it. Oh how they love it. The rides. The crap food. The sights and sounds. They love it all.

But be it poor planning or a mail forwarding mishap or theft…we are with out free fair tickets this year. And sorry folks, but it is beyond me to pay for tickets after all these years. The love is gone. And it seems fitting that we took family pictures there last year. It is documented that I was a fun mom. And that I know how to coordinate but not match 5 people to look like casual fair goers. So long fair. We loved you. And we’ll miss you. And when my kids are old enough to drive themselves they can buy that $25 all you can ride wrist band and spin until their hearts content.

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So different this summer

There is something about being in a different physical space that changes my perspective. And moving coinciding with the first week of summer, everything feels different. The rhythm of our days is different. Where we are doing our errands is different. Sleeping arrangement are different. They boys are all squashed together and Greg and I are delighting in a master suite that is about as big as our last house. And the fact that this is not our house feels different. I am on a vacation from home improvement projects for the first time in a decade. Which I didn’t realize took so much mental time. I was compulsively sorting, cleaning, re-organizing to make my house run as efficiently as possible for my family. And safely. Which we are inadvertently still working on here. I have a barricade by the front door to keep Callum in because the door doesn’t dead bolt. But haven’t figured out how to keep him out of the liquor cabinet. At least until after 5:00 pm.

And any familiarity here takes me back to the early 80’s because we are living in my parents house and although it is not the house I grew up in, it’s all the stuff I grew up with. That cutting board? Cooled cookies on it 1,000,000 times as a kid. Jagged edge spoon? Accidentally garbage disposaled it when I was little. Tupperware sandwich boxes? Took them to the lake every Saturday. Bed skirt. Mine in high school. My mom’s dish soap and canned tuna. Cracked wooden spoons. Brass lobsters and crystal tennis rackets. I’ve starred at them so many times in what feels like a different life. And there are family pictures everywhere that I am in. But they are not my family pictures. I am a kid with parents. Or my kids with their grandparents. My brother’s wedding. Gramma Dorie and my mom at her 50th birthday. Surrounded by so many memories. And breakable things. Please children don’t break anything (else).

Aside from the differences in our physical space, we are enjoying the space of summer. Where every night is movie night. (Although we have implemented a minute for minute reading / screen time policy that is working better than I could have imagined. But to be honest I have not once pulled out a stop watch, I just arbitrarily tell Ben that he read for x amount of minutes after each book/chapter. He hasn’t called me out on it yet.) And cereal is what’s for breakfast every day. And lunch is always outside. And usually dinner as well. We’ve been staying up late and going on adventure walks and sunset story time.

And we decided against setting up cable here. Which doesn’t really mean anything for the amount of TV / Movies we are watching. For instance, I have watched 23 episodes of Downton Abbey (which is in fact JUST AS GOOD AS EVERYONE SAYS!) in the last two weeks. I’m nothing if not dedicated to finishing what I start. Except all the times that I don’t.

Also, Callum is sleeping in the laundry room which means it takes a very detailed project schedule to stay on top of the laundry since I can’t do it at night or during nap time.

We can hear the airplanes. But not the fair.

There is an ocean breeze. And we take morning walks to get coffee. It’s different. Gloriously different.

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Familiar

Early Thursday morning we walked Lyle into an out patient surgery center in his jammies. He held his lovey. And his blankie. And I carried his back pack with a change of clothes. Not knowing what he would want to put on after his surgery. The mom in me was walking slowly. Holding his hand tightly. And trying to breath deeply. He was blissfully unaware of what was going to happen. He was not nervous or scared. Maybe because we’d told him he was just going to see another Dr. for his broken arm. The surgery was minor. As determined by someone who has not taken biology in 20 years. No incision. Just moving some bones around so they would heal straight.

He got into the cutest retro hospital gown ever. And they prepped him for surgery. He was beaming from all the attention. Smiling from ear to ear. The Dr. arrived. I kissed his sweet face 1,000 times and watched at they wheeled him away.

Greg walked across the street for coffee. And I sat in the waiting room. I pulled out my journal and began to write. And the first thing that came to mind was thankfulness. In such an unexpected way. I found myself thanking the Lord for my two D&C’s. At the time they were heart wrenching. Signifying the end of life. The end of a pregnancy. The end of hope for another baby. But years later as my heart beat for my sweet boy, I knew what he was experiencing. From check in to pre-op to waking up from anesthesia. I had walked a similar path before him. And I was thankful for that. And thankful that the hard road of loss, led us to him. Our sweet middle son.

To imagine that the Lord had prepared me for such as time as this. For such a time for my son. Was beyond beautiful. And I thanked Him. I thanked Him for those sweet lives lost and gained all according to His will.

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