Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Holiday | Traditions at Easter

^^Seb's first Easter^^

It's so hard for me to sift through ideas about traditions, and decide what I want to do with my family. It's nice to have Pinterest to help, but seriously, the number of hot cross bun recipes in the world is just a little overwhelming.

Fortunately, The Pioneer Woman has come to our rescue. She has a heavenly looking recipe for hot cross buns, a tradition I can get behind. (Okay, and these look like a good idea, too) Nothing brings a family together like food, and in the years to come I hope it will spark discussion around our table and contemplation of the death of Christ.

For Easter morning, make these resurrection rolls for a perfect visual of the resurrection story and a tasty treat. I hope to have Seb help make these.

Dyeing Easter eggs seems to be a tradition that must be kept, though the thought of figure out how to dye them is daunting to say the least. Nevertheless, it's a great opportunity to create something beautiful and experience the idea of renewal and life coming from something lifeless—the resurrection of Jesus. Honestly, I highly doubt we'll actually get around to dyeing eggs this year, but if you do, these natural dye recipes look good.

And lastly, I thought this post over at This Whole Family was inspiring. I love how their family is seeking to make Easter simple on the consumerism side of things, but a treasured time of creativity, excitement and joy. I can't help but be a little jealous that they get to have an Easter egg hunt in their garden! Marvelous.

What Easter traditions are important to you? What would you recommend doing with a toddler to bring the meaning of Easter to life? I would love your input!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Little one | Everything baby shorts should be + tractors

It's a good thing these shorts only go up to 12-18 months or I would probably buy one in every color for Bruno. How 'bout that smoky lilac!? Okay, so maybe that color isn't quite Bruno's style, but still!

I'm also digging this Etsy shop—tractors!

Home | For the love of Gartenzwerge

We've been holding our breath, waiting, wondering what is going to happen. Where will we be this fall?

Cody concludes his masters on April 30th at approximately 4:30 p.m.—no I'm not excited at all—and then we have decided to end our lease at the end of May and move home for the summer to live with our families. In part because it is one of our highest priorities for our boys to have a strong relationship with their grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and in part because Cody will be enrolling in a 7 week intensive language program in Vermont toward the end of the summer, and I didn't want to be on my own during that time (military spouses, you amaze me).

All of this is in preparation for our next big adventure: A YEAR IN GERMANY (!!!!!!!!!!), the land of my heart. You guys... we're going to Germany! To live! For a whole year, what?

^^This is pretty much how I feel (Berlin, Germany 2008) ^^

It's completely surreal, terrifying, heartbreaking, and exhilarating. But then it seems so right for us, for Cody, for our kids, for this time in our lives.

And tonight, when Cody sent me this article, I had no doubts. Ich hab' mein Gartenzwerg gern.

^^Behold my Ritzenhoff Gartenzwerg. The most frivolous-awesome-expensive thing I've ever purchased, and I haven't regretted it once. I'm trying to figure out if I can take him back to Germany with me... he probably misses it.^^

P.S. Top picture: Hiking in Kaiserslautern, Germany in 2007

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Food | Vegan banana oatmeal pancakes

So... I'm doing this crazy diet.

Essentially, it's 3 weeks of no dairy, gluten, eggs, sugar, peanuts, soy, and corn. After the 3 weeks, I'll reintroduce each item one at a time to see how my body responds. I'm not really doing it for the weight loss, but to see if eating differently will give me more energy and help me better distinguish how my body feels after eating different foods. The unexpected result after 4 full days on the diet is that my attitude toward food has changed. I've had to say no to a lot of undoubtedly delicious things, but in the process have learned that it's okay to say no to foods. I often feel like I eat absolutely everything that is offered to me or available, but really, I'm probably not always hungry, right? Do I always need to eat a piece of cake at a party? Or do I have to put half and half in my coffee every single day, even though I also enjoy it black? And pancakes... they are delicious, don't get me wrong, but it's good to realize that I can get a very pancake-like experience without any sugar.

So this diet has really turned into an experiment in challenging my assumptions about and expectations for the food I eat. And in the process, I'm finding some amazing recipes. These pancakes are going to be entered into our regular rotation because all four of us love them.

Vegan Banana Oatmeal Pancakes (gluten free, no sugar)
Slightly adapted from this recipe over at Clourful Palate
1 1/4 c. Old fashioned oats
1/2 c. Gluten free flour (I used this recipe)
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 c. Unsweetened coconut milk
2 ripe bananas
+ Unrefined coconut oil for the griddle

Place all ingredients—except the bananas—into a food processor or blender. After the mixture is blended well, add the bananas and blend until smooth. Pour batter into a hot griddle or pan. Pancakes are ready to be flipped when the bubbles pop.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Nightstand, VOLUME FOUR

Lest you think my neglect of The Nightstand posts means I just don't read anymore, I promise you that I still read, and offer these titles to you as proof: My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (I'm read the next one now), and for the mama's: Fit to Burst by Rachel Jankovic.

So those are my grown up recommendations for grown ups, but here are my grown up recommendations for kids. It always surprises me when we get a book from the library that is gosh darn awful, like this one, which only serve to encourage disobedience and unattractive behavior. I'm all about nurturing creativity and imagination, but not at the expense of my child's development. But I guess those books serve to enhance my excitement when we stumble on the gems of children's literature.

A few of our favorites these last 2 weeks are Terrific and Nothing, by Jon Agee (I love this man!!!), and White Snow, Bright Snow by Alivin Tresselt. With each of these, I found myself surprised at how they captured Seb's imagination. He loves them, and asks to read them over and over. At one point in White Snow, Bright snow, he tries to push the piles of snow off the fence in one of the illustrations. He says, "I can't push it off!" After lots of kisses because it was so darn cute, I explained to him that's it's just a picture, but that's it's fun to pretend that we can push it off. What is it about snow?

I would recommend these books for the 2+ age range. Any favorites in your house, recently? Do share, my friends!

P.S. How did I forget?! I'm also loving The Critter Books by Mercer Mayer.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bruno | The 9th month brings teeth

At 9 months, Bruno is finally cutting his first teeth, and man am I not sorry he took so long to get around to it. It seems that when night rolls around, he can't handle going to sleep unless he's sitting in my lap. Of course, this means I get to work my way through Sabrina the Teenage Witch because I can't help loving Melissa Joan Hart. And lest you think it's all sunshine and couch cuddles when this guy is teething and hate me for it... last night we fell asleep between alternate crying, tummy rubbing, nursing, and other forms of pacifying. These are hard days, but I know they will be gone soon, and I won't remember them with anything less than wonder and wistful sighs. I so often can't believe that Seb was ever this little and helpless, and I certainly don't remember very well all the crankiness attached to his first teeth, either. So I'm taking this one day at a time, and soaking up every last drop of Bruno's gummy smiles.

P.S. Here's a sweet picture of Bruno and my daddy last week.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Family | Spring Break II—Joseph arrives!

I can't even believe it, but my wonderwoman of a sister-in-law went into labor on Wednesday (the day we had all been hoping for!) when we arrived in Wilmington, and delivered baby Joseph at 1:19 a.m. on the fourteenth. Mom, Dad, Joanna and I went to the hospital around 11 p.m. to wait for his arrival, and heard his first cry. It was so fun and strange to be on the other end this time around—waiting, wondering, and you know, not having a baby! So I'm finally an aunt, and couldn't be more excited.

Welcome to the world little man!

So happy to have met you, Joseph!

P.S. Some photos by Joanna

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Family | Spring Break in Cincinnati

We've been in Cincinnati since Saturday afternoon, and it's been a merry little group. Uncle Kurt and Amanda, Aunt Anna, Grandmother and Grandaddy were among the honored guests. Now we're just to the 6 of us, our little family plus Mamaw and Paw Paw, which is still pretty fun fyi. So blessed to have such a wonderful family.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Brothers | A comparison

Sebastian at 8 months on January 30th, 2011 and Bruno at 8.5 months on March 7th, 2013.

I can't even wrap my mind around how amazing, unique, expressive, and joyous these two faces are. 
I love these little guys so very much.

Home | Life is full

So many things! This week has been so full. Full of a cold gone rogue, a super-man like husband who makes calzones when his wifey is sick, eternally snotty-noses, silly sing-a-longs with my kiddos, bumped noses, chocolate to make it feel better, hopefulness and excitement about what this coming year holds, sleepless nights, tv catch-up with Cody, library outings, the "mall place" as Sebastian calls the play place at the mall, and cleaning, packing, grocery shopping, and readying of all kinds for our Spring break trip home this weekend.

Life is full and God is gracious. Shout out to the best husband ever who took a whole two days off of studying and classes to take care of our kids while I was sick to the core. Blessed blessed blessed.