Thursday, October 7, 2010

I love you, a bushel and a peck!

No one loves this time of year more than my oldest boy, Eric. He starts getting excited for fall about mid to late July when the humidity is so high that walking out your front door at 8 in the morning merits a shower. So, he packed us all up and took us to Tuttle Farms. This is the apple farm we've gone to as a family since Meg was ten months old. Unfortunately, this was probably our last year there. As they have grown, so have their prices. They now charge $3 a child just to play on their playground. So, we've spent $12 before we've even picked an apple! Since we were already there, we ponied up the dough and let our annual traditions proceed. They enjoyed all the usual stuff : the hay bale maze, the swings, the pedal tractors, sandbox, and the llama. Megan has had a special connection to this less than charming creature since she was a toddler. You would have to be there to believe it, but I swear that animal remembers her each year. It is truly amazing the connection she has with animals.
After the extortion, I mean playground time, we headed to the orchard. Another tradition we observe is the fight over who will pull the wagon. Megan has conceded this battle to her brother and sister and left our more bullheaded children to duke it out. Inevitably, Ian wins when Claire realizes that the ground is not perfectly smooth and pulling the wagon may strain her delicate nature in some way. Ian is happy to comply and takes on the burden of the Radio Flyer. Ten minutes later when they've all eaten their weight in apples and lost interest, we head to the gift shop for a treat and Daddy's apples. Yes, that's right folks, Eric doesn't buy the orchard apples. He opts for the Honeycrisp...the Holy Grail of apples. So, with our bellies full of apples, apple cider, cider slushies, and a few candy corn mixed in there somewhere, we head home to two week's worth of apple recipes. Happy Fall!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ian goes back to school

Well, I'm out of kids...two days a week, anyhow. Ian is back in preschool at East 91st Street God's Kids' preschool. It's at our church and this is our 8th year there. Both girls started there as 1 1/2 year olds and graduated from Kindergarten also. And now Ian is following in their prestigious footsteps. Last year was a little rocky as his teacher changed frequently throughout the year. I was nervous about this year being the same and having to hear Ian whine all the way to school about not wanting to go and listening to him cry as I left him each week. Fortunately, he has two teachers that my girls had and they aren't going anywhere! He is in LOVE with school this year. It's so fun to take him when he can't wait to get there and is so happy he doesn't even turn to say goodbye. As painful as that should be, I find so much comfort in knowing he's learning in an environment where he is covered in prayer, loved, and taught about God's love for him. It helps that there's 6 boys in his class too, as opposed to last year only having one other boy. Ian is a man's man and likes to hang with the guys. And by hang I mean play trucks and beat the tar out of each other.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Open up and say AHHHHHH!!!

Ian has had another milestone and passed with flying colors. He has had his first trip to the dentist. Now, many of you parents out there know that this could go one of two ways. Some children come in, see the big chair, hear all the sounds, and once someone is coming at their mouth with a silver hook and saying open wide, the screaming like they're being stabbed ensues. Then there are the other children that thrive on the mere fact that regardless of what's being done to them, they're getting attention. This was my son. Oh, how the ladies in the office fussed over him! And while they were probably putting on a show to make him feel comfortable, it WORKED. That boy was like the only man on an all female college campus. You would have thought they had never seen a three year old boy the way they were talking to him. He is, after all, a man in the making, and would have let them stick knives in his mouth if they had asked. He sat and did everything they told him without a moment's hesitation. They even did his x-rays which apparently they usually leave for the second appointment so as not to overwhelm the little ones. He loved his new toothbrush and prize bag which wrapped up his perfect first trip to the dentist. The girls were there too and they mentioned discussing orthodontics for Megan next time we're in. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit from typing that.

Monday, August 23, 2010


OK, so remember that Sunday night feeling? You know, that feeling of bummerness that comes over you around 4 in the afternoon on a Sunday when you realize your weekend is almost over? You have school the next morning which means five days of getting up early, working hard, and maybe even some drama with classmates. Yeah, well, that never went away for me. I still get the bummers on Sunday nights. If I had my way, my family would live in a bubble and we would never have to be apart. Sounds sensible and healthy, eh? Well, yeah, I know it's not so I send my kids to school like the law tells me I have to. I even go all shoes, outfit, feigned enthusiasm. Fortunately, my neighbors rally and we all have breakfast together at the bus stop that morning which adds some genuine excitement to the morning. I did OK this year. I kept it together until I could hear the bus enter the neighborhood. I had on my biggest sunglasses to try and hide my misty eyes, but Meg is too in tune with me emotionally. She looked over at me with tears in her eyes at that same moment. I told her I was so happy for her to be a third grader (that's right, folks, THIRD GRADE! Didn't she just roll over for the first time last week?) and couldn't wait to hear her stories when she got home. Claire, of course, could barely contain her excitement to show off her new earrings, gab with friends, and have the same teacher that Megan had loved the year before. So, with knots in my stomach and a lump the size of Idaho in my throat, I put my two lovely, sweet, growing up too fast girls on the bus and sent them off so other lucky people can spend all day with them. Did I mention I really like being their mom?

I still have my buddy Ian. He fills my days with laughter, anger, energy, and frustration all wrapped up in one. I am so thankful for this one on one time with my little man. I hope I can make the most of it until he climbs on that bus just before I'm dragged into the ambulance that will take me to Shady Acres as their newest out patient. You know, the crazy mom who can't stand to be away from her children so she volunteers to spend hour after hour in front of the school copier? Yeah, that's me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Giveaway from Lisa Leonard!

Lisa Leonard is having a giveaway in honor of her birthday! Since I love her jewelry designs but I love free stuff more, I thought I'd pass this along!

Seven years of Claire Strauss

Ok, so maybe it's because it's the first number to have two syllables, but seven just seems older. I can handle all the birthdays between 2 and 6, but seven is tough for me. She's all thinned out, no more baby fat. She falls a lot less (not our most graceful child, but fortunately she has the high pain tolerance to go with it). She even has teaching moments with her little brother. She's still struggling with a temper, but has come a LONG way with that, especially in the last year. She's always ready for a hug...or having her back scratched. I call her my massage junkie. She's been like this her whole life. As a baby, even in the midst of a fit, she would stop dead in her tracks if you just started rubbing her ears. Note to future husband: That will be your power over her. Most of all, she's just a bubbly, happy girl that's funny and a joy to be around. Thanks, God. We're enjoying our loaner!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Menu Swap Week two

Ok, so I forgot last week, but I'm back on board with Menu planning! I'm telling you, when I don't plan my menu for the week, my anxiety goes up about 30%. Our budget goes up about that much too! I am MUCh more inclined to just tell Eric to meet me and the kids out on his way home from work if I don't have meals planned for the week. This only takes me minutes, and it saves me stress and money. Given that this Wednesday is Black Wednesday at our house, A.K.A. first day of school, I need all the help I can get. So this week will be quick, easy meals that make it so I can focus on getting acclimated to our school year schedule. Anyone else wondering where summer went? *sigh*

Monday: Grilled cheese and tomato soup...Ice Cream social at school

Tuesday: Grilled Chicken breasts, steamed broccoli, and rice

Wednesday: Dinner at Mimi's while Daddy and Mommy work

Thursday: Spaghetti, salad, garlic bread

Friday: McDonald's happy Meals to celebrate 1st week of school

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Judgement time

Why do we judge ourselves so harshly? I, for one, am so guilty of this. Being a girl that struggles with filtering what I say, I am CONSTANTLY replaying in my mind everything I say in any given situation over and over wondering if it was OK and hoping every one's OK with it. I am what you call a "yes" person. I like making people happy. I like cooking for people, helping with their homes, entertaining them, all of it. My very favorite thing is making people laugh. Who doesn't love to laugh? But in order to do that, you have to be willing to say what people are thinking, but may not be willing to say out loud. When someone actually does say those things, there's usually laughter, right? But then there's the times when it's just to much and that's what I'm left with. The self doubt, paranoia, and second guessing that comes with putting it all out there. The thing that bothers me the most is how much of what I say probably isn't pleasing to God. He's the ultimate judge and I want to be Christlike while still entertaining my friends and family. What a fine line to walk! So, as we all do, I struggle each day with my sinful self and try to be me while striving to be like Him. Will I ever not fall asleep at night playing back the soundtrack from my day in my mind? Who knows. All I know is this is how I've always been. What you see is what you get with me and it's hard to turn that off...even when I sometimes know I should.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Menu Planning and sharing

So my friend Angela from her blog, has decided to do a menu swap. This is a fantastic idea for someone like me who loves to plan and plans our meals for the week in advance. And as much as I love being this organized, I get into ruts...especially when dinner is involved. I have three kids and a husband who all like routine and it's easy to slip into a pattern. By menu sharing with people form all over, we can really mix things up and discover new recipes and meal ideas that can really surprise (and maybe even impress) my family! So, here's my menu for this week. Prepare to be amazed...he he he.

Monday: Chicken Crescent rolls--Mix one can chicken breast meat with two 8 oz boxes of reduced fat cream cheese (softened slightly for mixing) a bag of frozen peas and carrots, 2 T softened butter, 1 T parsley, 1 tsp onion powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Combine ingredients and spoon onto reduced fat crescent triangles that have been rolled thin. Fold over and crimp to seal. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Mmmmmmmmm. I serve sliced apples with this meal

Tuesday: Grilled tuna steaks brushed with olive oil, salt and pepper, steamed broccoli and rice, all topped with sesame seeds.

Wednesday: My husband and I work and my son will eat with my inlaws. The girls are out of town this week!

Thursday: Crock pot pork chops-can of golden mushroom soup, packet of onion soup mix, fresh cracked pepper. Mashed potatoes and peas.

Friday: Daddy cooks!

So, what do you think? Does my cooking scream Hoosier or what? Enjoy!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

My boys have a birthday

So, when I went in for what turned out to be my last checkup when pregnant with Ian, the doctor said I was measuring overdue for twins in my 35th week of pregnancy. She suggested I get induced that next week. She casually threw out "How about next Tuesday?" I thought for a second and did the math in my head. "Isn't that the 22nd?", I replied. "Yes". "Hold on, I need to make a phone call" said the extremely uncomfortable pregnant woman desperate to get this person out of her body but not wanting to forever take away her husband's birthday. So, I called Eric, asked him if it was ok if our son was born on his birthday, and after a little mulling over he decided that might be kind of neat. So, three years later, it is kind of neat. Really neat, in fact. I LOVE that the two main men in my life started their lives on the same day. They will forever be able to celebrate together. We have enjoyed putting them in matching shirts, taking their picture together, and our newest tradition...Benihana. That has become a family favorite for the boys' birthday. We did it for the second time this year and I think it's tradition that's gonna stick.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Indy Car...the next generation

Well, ok, so probably not. But it sure is fun to visit Daddy at work! I'm thinkin' these moments will be remembered for sure!

Monday, February 8, 2010

That's Mighty Neighborly of you!

One of the biggest blessings God has given me this past year is a new found closeness with my neighbors. We've lived in our neighborhood for almost ten years and have always loved it. We are surrounded on all sides by good, generous people. But this last summer, more than others past, we've all gotten very close. I suppose it started with convenience. Hanging out with neighbors means no sitters, inexpensive cocktails, and lack of necessity to plan ahead. From the convenience came a camaraderie that I have come to cherish. We laugh a lot, gripe about our woes, and love on each other's kids. I know that Eric and I will one day look back on this season of our lives in this neighborhood, with these people, as some of the best of our lives.

Here are some pics from Christmas and birthday parties, just to give a taste of how much fun we have!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Snow what? We like it cold!

The Strauss's love snow. We will never complain about too much, or the mess, or the shoveling, or any of that. We love the look, the sounds the fun of snow. Couple that with a new SLR camera I'm currently obsessed with, and it's a pretty fun day.

Merry Christmas 2009!

Whew! What a busy month! We started off the month with a visit to Eric's family in Tennessee. We are blessed that MANY of his family members are able to gather at our cousins Gwen and Robert's house to celebrate Christmas. The most precious part of that, is the time that four generations of Strauss men get to spend together when we're there.
After that, there's a slurry of parties at friends' homes, church, school, work, and more! Mix in Meg's birthday somewhere in the middle and December is over in a flash. We are blessed with family, friends, good health, and faith. Thank you, God, for all your goodness in our lives!