Saturday, March 31, 2012

dork rhymes with pork

So I stopped over at my mom's yesterday to pick up a couple things. One being a photograph of my dad and I. A specific one. And we had to search EVERY single photo album twice before we found it. But it was sort of fun, looking back on all those memories. And as far as I am concerned, I have just two words to describe half of the photos of me that we came across:


Ok, maybe three words. But seriously, I don't think I realized the severity of my dorkishness from back in the day. If my mother ever wanted to blackmail me or just embarrass me so bad as to make me move to the Bermuda triangle and never be heard from again, she's sitting on a gold mine.

I am NOT photogenic in any way shape or form and nearly every single photo of me over the age of 5 is hideous. Not even kidding.

Fast forward through the dork days of school to after I had my first child and while I probably remained a level 10 dork, I added pudge. Lots of it. And the sad thing is, I was so used to being skinny that I didn't even realize it when I was getting plump. My dad was aware of it though and was the only one brave enough to comment about it. He always said what was on his mind. Sometimes it wasn't always very tactful. And telling a woman that they are getting pudgy really isn't smart. We are self conscious about our bodies enough as it is. Instead of accepting it and using it to start some better habits, I chose to let it offend and hurt me. He was only telling me the truth as he saw it. Looking back at those pictures, I see what he saw. What I was unable to see at the time.

Anyway, so after every picture I saw of myself going through these photo albums today I would gasp and moan and say things like "LOOK at how FAT I was!". To which my mother would yell, "CHARLOTTE! KNOCK IT OFF!". Until finally I shoved a picture in her face and said, "LOOK!". There was a long moment of silence and then she said, "What? Do you mean your round face or your double chin?".

Um, yeah. Told you so.

"Oh, yeah, you were getting a little chubby, weren't you." haha.....

It was all that nasty fast food and drinking. I had no idea how to take care of my body. I was NOT the picture of health. And if I had continued on that path, I shudder to think what I might look and feel like today.

Anyway, I don't want to get all preachy about fat/thin/weight/fitness/blah/blah/blah....I'll save that for my other blog ;)

So yeah, I now have my treasured picture, the one of my very last piano recital when my dad got up to give me a rose and a hug that produced wet snotty bawling like you've never seen before. I am going to put it in a little picture frame on my piano. Because whenever I sit down to play, I play for him. Love you dad. Miss you every day.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I feel like I've been totally neglecting this blog since my heart and soul these days has been into my other blog. Sorry 'bout that. But, I'm passionate about it. It's my thing that keeps me sane. Or drives me insane. Is it bad that I can't tell which?

 And besides, we don't do much around here that seems blog worthy. Most of the funny things that happen in this house make good one liners. Here are a few from yesterday:

"Lizzy Bear and the raw chicken lickers" - for a future band name, because, you know, we might start a family band some day. If you assume there is a story behind this, you are correct.

"Captain Disgusto and the butt flavors" - another future band name, maybe? This story might be better left untold.

"Butt trunk" - let's just say I think it's time to start locking the door when we shower around here.

Seriously, it's worth having kids just to listen to the hilarious stuff they come up with.

Right now, we are dealing with a butt obsession. Our little 5 year old (almost 6!) likes to spank other people (mainly Eden) and it happens so often, I think it's just a compulsive reflex sort of thing anymore. Of course, Eden is none too thrilled at getting swatted by her younger sister all the time. On the bus, at school, at home. Emma thinks it's funny. She buckles over with demonic laughter every time she does it. Maybe it's because Eden used to encourage it, like a game - "I dare you to get me again" and it just escalated from there.

Anyway, I'm not too worried about it. 5 year olds can be quirky. So she has a thing for butts. Isn't that like one of the Freudian stages of childhood? Hopefully it's just a stage and won't become a fixation ;)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The weekend

Saturday morning was glorious. The sun was shining and it was hot. I had a tank top and shorts on. We took down our Christmas lights from outside. Then decided it would be fun to try out my new bike I got for Christmas with Emma's tag-a-long. We just went around the block, maybe 5 minutes. It got super windy and cold in just as much time. So we spent the rest of the day inside. Until the evening when we took the kids to the circus. It was a blast. We had great seats and saw some impressive acts.

Sunday, I spent the morning fighting with the girls to get ready for church. Honestly, I don't know how it is that we can't seem to make it out the door without some sort of issues EVERY Sunday. Church isn't until 11:00, so you would think there would be enough time to get everybody ready. I'm trying to get myself ready, plus encourage 3 girls to get ready, get us all fed, and out the door in time to pick up Grandma and get to the church by 11:00. Some days are better than others. But this Sunday in particular was a bugger.

Eden insists on wearing a dress that is too small for her. So I dig out something that fits her and is pretty. She doesn't want to wear THAT particular outfit, for no apparent reason other than to be obstinate. So we compromise on a different dress and braid her hair all cute. After a while, she comes into my room as I'm getting ready and sits on my bed and starts pouting. I'm trying to ignore it because I know that whatever it is she is pouting about this time, I'm not going to give in. But it gets to me after a while and I finally say "what IS it, Eden?".

"I want my hair down."

"Fine. We'll take your hair down."

Still, that doesn't seem to satisfy her. "What?"

"I don't want to wear this."

"But it was fine a half hour ago. What's changed?"

"I want to show you something." she perks up a little now.

Turns out, she's been digging in my summer closet and has found my beach cover up dresses. She desperately wants to wear one.




"But mom......"

"Its WAY too big for you."

You know where this is going, right? I eventually gave in after probably 2 hours of her relentless pouting, following me around, whining and just being a huge pain in the butt.

"Fine. Wear it. But it's going to look funny."

And wear it she did. I thought she looked ridiculous but my mom said she looked nice. "It's really no different than you with your long skirt on." she says.

"Really? Cuz mine actually fits me. It's supposed to go down to the ankle".

Whatever, some battles I just have to learn to let go.

Then there is Hanna, who insists on wearing the same sweat shirt and sweat pants. Over and over and over. Seriously, I hardly see her in anything else. I got over the fact that she is always in sweatshirts, but at least she used to vary them. This one she always wears now is all I ever see on her. It drives me bonkers. And she wears these pants to school for days on end, sleeps in them, and then thinks she going to wear them to church? Ew. No. I made her go change. She was not happy with me either. But she put up far less of a fight than Eden did.

Emma wanted to wear something else too, but she got over it in less than a minute so it wasn't a big deal. Her deal was that 30 seconds before we were to get into the car and leave, she had a headache and she was hungry. "I want cereal." Couldn't have done that, oh say, a half hour ago? I asked her, "Do you want to stay home?" (actually I was trying to convince her she should stay home).

"Nooooooo, I wanna goooooooo."

Well, at least 2 out of the 3 kids like to go to church. That's a plus.

It started out kinda hairy but the day ended well. We went to a birthday party at a friend's house. It was just what I needed. Awesome time. The kids took home some swag and got to eat rainbow cake. Then we took them to the grocery store at one of the busiest times of the week, came home and ate dinner, then spent a relaxing evening watching new Futurama episodes.

This was the beautiful weather for the first couple hours of the morning,
before we had to put the winter coats back on.
It's like Denmark weather.

So happy she finally got her "glow up" Sketchers. Mom held out for a sale PLUS
a coupon in the mail. Got a great deal!

Princess Lizzy, eating a treat.

And Eden, Miss Squint. She refuses to wear sunglasses.
I always wear mine. Sunny or cloudy.

Hanna was inside with a friend. So no photos of her, as usual.

Monday, March 19, 2012

You've been CHOPPED!

We had an impromptu Chopped - "dessert round" in our kitchen after dinner this evening. Let me begin by saying that I was victorious over my dear competitor. Although it was very VERY close.

The kids picked 4 ingredients out of the kitchen:
1)Nestle's Quick instant chocolate drink mix
2)Maple syrup
3)Greek honey yogurt
4)Dill pickles Lady fingers

Uh.....dill pickles? We had to use a "do over" for that 4th ingredient. They chose lady fingers instead. Much better.

You know, I think I'm getting much better at these little Chopped competitions now that I've been using "living in the moment" and "mindful" thinking practices. It allows me to focus on what I know and what I can do at this very moment in time, and let the rest come to me.

The 30 minutes went by quickly yet effortlessly and by watching Chopped on tv, I have learned a few things that actually helped me out today. Here's what I made:

I crushed the lady fingers in the Magic Bullet and with melted butter, I pressed them in to a mini tart pan and put them in the oven.

Next I took the maple syrup, added it to a hot pan with corn syrup and butter and made a maple caramel, spread it onto a roll pat and stuck it in the fridge to cool.

Then I blended together the Greek honey yogurt with some soft brie cheese, and apricot preserves.  I put that in the freezer to thicken up.

I then melted butter, chocolate chips and the Nestle's Quick for some drizzle.

The tarts came together nicely. A one bite wonder. The flavor was terrific, if I do say so myself. I was especially impressed with  my maple caramel topper. I've never made caramel before.

This was Andreas' dessert:

He did a take on one of our favorite desserts: tiramisu

He boiled some brandy, instant coffee and water and then soaked the ladyfingers at the bottom of the dessert cup with it.

Then he made some vanilla pudding and added the honey yogurt to it.

Layered it with a quick chocolate sauce.

Topped it with fruit. And I can't remember where he put the maple syrup. With the fruit maybe? It was delicious.

But in the end, I won over the panel of judges with my creativity and plating. Taste was a 50/50 - although I would suggest mine was slightly more flavorful ;)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Paddy's Day and the energy stealing leprechauns

Look at my green girls.
And look at this gorgeous weather!

But what's this.......?

It's my husband, taking a little pre dinner nap. I wonder why he's so tired??

Ah.....I think I see the culprit.

The evidence.
No, not the remote. It's an EMPTY bag of candy.
Sugar crash.

Want to see what I've been up to today?

This table was in the house when we bought it. The top was splattered with paint, the legs were white and pink - basically, a disaster. Andreas sanded the paint off the top and revealed some beautiful natural wood. We kept the legs white. It looked pretty good.
Hanna had been using it as a desk in her room.
But I decided I wanted to give it a new look and add it to our living room instead.
We have a bare corner that needs some decor.
So I figured I'd spray paint the legs black and stain the top a nice cherry oak.
I've only given it two coats of stain, one more should do it.
I almost wouldn't have minded a mahogany either.
But it's looking rather nice with the cherry.
Better than before.

This is how the wood used to look. Notice the "pretty" pink edging
and white legs. Too bad I didn't get a photo of the top before it
got sanded down.

Hope those leprechauns weren't too naughty to you today ;)

Friday, March 16, 2012


Typically I don't use a lot of recipes because most of my dinners consist of strictly protein, vegetable, carb. Pretty basic. And pretty boring when eaten over and over to be honest. Seriously, how often can you put fish, broccoli, and rice in front of your family and have them say, "YES! I LOVE when you make this dinner!" Not very often, if ever.

But because of my own selfish aspirations, I continuously choose to "torture" them with healthy food.

Currently, I am trying to "lean down" my legs for summer. I spent most of the fall/winter trying to GAIN weight (muscle) through weight training. Now, I'm trying to shed any extra fat that snuck along for the ride. So I'm eating as clean as possible. Clean meaning no pre-packaged or processed foods. No frozen lasagna. No canned soup. No crackers. Just as close to nature as I can get. And I'm tapering starchy carbs, which means I try not to eat things like rice and potatoes in the evening. (Don't worry, I still feed them to my family)

So, as you might imagine, it gets hard sometimes to come up with stuff that fits into this "diet" or that I haven't had 1000 times before. Once in a while I will get creative and hit on something good. This is what happened last night.

(pardon my lighting, presentation, and general lack of artful composure here - I had no idea I was going to take a picture of this dish until after I tasted it)

This meal is SO simple and SO tasty and SO healthy, I had to share it. There are 3 main ingredients and that's it; zucchini, red bell pepper, chicken.

I cooked some chicken tender pieces (Gold N Plump) in the iron skillet and got a nice golden crust on them. I took out the mandolin and put it on the julienne setting to get the vegetables in small, uniform pieces. I sauteed them in a bit of olive oil. Meanwhile, I cut the chicken into small pieces. Then threw it all in the same pan (and here's what makes the whole thing amazing

I squeezed in some chili peppers and garlic from these glorious tubes. And BAM! Flavorful, wonderful, yummilicious! I've never bought these before because they are kinda spendy, but I've always wanted to. I finally caved and splurged and I'm so glad I did! I could squeeze the garlic in my mouth straight from the tube, I love it that much. The only thing that stops me is the fact that my husband probably wouldn't kiss me anymore if I did ;)
Anyway, I had to go very easy with the chili pepper, just a dab will do you. Or me. It all depends on how spicy you like your food. I like spice but nothing that completely burns my palette. What's the point of that anyway? I've never understood it.
And if you are looking to watch calorie and/or carb intake, this is a great meal for you!

p.s. If you are interested in more health and fitness related posts, check out my fitness blog at
or click on the sidebar picture on the top right side of this blog.
Let's get ready for summer!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Lizzy Chronicles Lizzy

And this is what comfort looks like to Lizzy.

That couch. That poor beat up, lived in, worn out couch. It was beautiful once. When it graced my parent's den. When my father died and my mom moved to a small two bedroom apartment, she gave me the couch. And that's where it all went downhill.
It's endured fingernail polish spills, dogs chewing the stuffing out of it and now it is forever covered in Lizzy hair. She has made it her couch. And that is her spot.
Right by the window so she can bark at things like very small dogs and children....and plastic bags, and wind, and squirrels. Oh how the squirrels like to torment her.
Come to think of it, the neighborhood kids like to torment her too.
They stand on the sidewalk, watching as Lizzy goes crazy barking and clawing at the window.
Then they laugh when they realize how riled up they can get her.
One of these days I fear she will break the window and leap out at her tormentors.
They won't be laughing then!
Just imagining the horror on their faces makes me smile a little.

I'm sort of drifting off topic here. But I had to set the tone. I never would have guessed that this quirky dog would end up being MY dog. But she is. Whether by my choice or not, she has become my dog. Actually, I think it was by Lizzy's choice. She loves me. I'm her Mama.
And I love her.

It certainly wasn't always love I felt for her. Sure, I loved her when we first brought her home, all small and fluffy. I loved her through the first week when all she did was whine for her Mama and I laid on the kitchen floor with her, comforting her, letting her know that it would be alright.

Then came the not so fun potty training. And the chewing. And the destroying of EVERYTHING. And the fur. OH MY LORD, the fur. I spent the first year cursing the dog and my husband for the fur.

Somewhere along the way, I grew to love this giant dog, who really does not fit the description as promised by my beloved, when trying to convince me this was the best pet for our family. Sure, she's a gentle giant, but you have to realize that she's a 120lb dog that thinks she a tiny little lap dog and that humans enjoy being tackled, drug around the house by the hood of their coat, laid on and drooled over. We have a word for her: defective.

But she loves us so. And whenever we leave the house, we see a little black snout at the side window of our front door, watching us leave. And upon returning, she's there again, ready to greet us happily.
Occasionally, we all leave the house together for a little trip somewhere. Lizzy can sense this as she watches us make up sandwiches to take along and pack our bags in the van.

Then starts the prancing. This is similar to the prancing she does when she knows she's about to get a treat, except more intense. She follows you wherever you go, either excited that she's going to go for a ride or scared she might be forgotten. But it's a high stepping, bouncy, ears all perked up kind of prancing.....and it's SO DARN CUTE!

I felt so bad watching her prance around as we were packing up for our trip to Maplelag last Saturday. Knowing she would be left behind and seeing how excited she was to go.
In the final moments, she did her very best to sneak along. She escaped into the garage and jumped into the open door of the van. There she sat, not planning on moving those big furry butt cheeks. They were planted firmly on floor of the van. Andreas tried to get her out but we were all laughing so hard. It's difficult use the muscles needed to drag this giant dog out of the van when you are splitting a gut.

When we finally did get her out, we shut the van door and started to lead her into the house by her collar. But then she escaped from her collar and ran back outside. This time, I was a little afraid she was going to run through the neighborhood, tackling everything in her way. I imagined tall trees falling over, cars overturned, fires, looting, sirens.....chaos! But she stood on the driveway, across from Andreas, both in an old western shoot out type of stance, waiting for the other to make the first move.
There was a little juke to the left and the right (mad laughter rocking the van as all 3 girls were inside watching it all go down). I decided to open the door to the van to coax her back inside. That certainly worked because as soon as the door was open, she made a beeline for inside of the van and planted her butt even farther back, almost on top of Emma in the back seat.

Poor thing. She wanted to go SO BAD. I knew it would be a pain in the butt to bring her. I knew I would regret the decision many times over, but I still wanted to let her go along, simply because she wanted to go where we were going. Because we are her family. And she loves us.
And we love her.

Oh, she's still a royal pain in the butt. That's why we call her our "royal dog". I still log more hours vacuuming the floors than I do sleeping. I eat fur, drink fur, and wear fur. I can vacuum today and by tomorrow it will look as though I haven't touched the vacuum in weeks. But I've learned to deal with it. Because she looks at me like I'm her best friend in the world. She loves me more than herself. The least I can do is love her back. Love her for the joy she brings us, even though she creates more work for us. Love her for always being at my side, loyal and faithful, even though it means a trail of fur and slime all over my clothes. Love her for making us laugh.
Love her for being our dog.


This was Emma's first time on skis. Last year, we pulled her along in a sled (aka pulk).

Here she is demonstrating how to go down a big hill, as per Pappa's instructions.

Don't worry, she eventually got it right.

And they're off!

Below is the first "big" hill Emma had to try and make it up. It was an agonizing 15 minutes (at least) of her falling and crying and getting frustrated until I finally came down to help her. I'm not as patient as Pappa so I was a little more firm with her. I was not about to spend the rest of this gorgeous afternoon listening to a 5 year old cry every time she couldn't make it up a hill.
One too many, "this isn't any fun" and "this is the worst day ever" for me.

So I instructed Pappa to ski back to the van, unload his giant backpack filled with extra clothes we wouldn't need while I helped her up the hill.
As soon as he took off with Hanna back to the van, I took Emma's skis off and made her walk up the hill. Once she was at the top we waited for the other two to come back.
And waited....
and waited....
and waited...
Finally, after we got sick of just standing around, Eden, Emma and I decided to slowly make our way down one of the trails, thinking they would catch up any minute.
They never did.
Emma ended up walking almost the entire length of the trail until we were just about back to the lodge, then she finally wanted to try her skis again. This time, she was much more willing to try the skis and miraculously was also much steadier.

This is where we were standing around waiting for Andreas and Hanna.

Below is at the end of our first round when she decided she liked to ski after all. It was amazing how fast she picked up on it once she mentally decided she wanted to try and that it actually was fun.

Notice the short sleeves? The weather could not have been more perfect. Almost too warm!

This odd hat is of some significance, although I can't remember what exactly. Something from school, perhaps?

This is a picture from after we had just gotten our skis on.

After we made our first loop separately, we met up with Pappa and Hanna at the van, and ate a late afternoon snack of bread and cheese, oranges and chocolate, we were ready to head out again. Together this time. And I can't tell you how impressed I was by Emma. She was a totally different girl from a few hours earlier. We took a different trail and it had a couple pretty steep and fast hills. I was nervous going down them myself, so I couldn't believe this first timer, age 5, headed down fearlessly, knees bent, poles tucked in at her sides. And didn't even fall!

In my next post I will have to tell you about how Lizzy took it when she discovered we were all leaving for the day.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Limo, laundry and other L-words found here!

Right now is usually the craziest time of the day. The kids are home from school and most likely already on each others nerves. I'm trying to finish up what tasks I wanted done before I begin to cook dinner. Basically my stress level goes from zero to BIG. But not so today. It was just Emma for the hour before Hanna gets home. Eden had yet another birthday party to attend. And got picked up from school in a limo....again. This time, a hummer limo. I think we are tied now for number of times riding in a limo. She's 9 and I'm 37. Hmmm, something seems wrong with that. Actually, I think I lied, I might be one ahead of her. Still. Wrooooooong.

I feel like such a spy with my big old lens poking out through the patio door, snapping pictures of children across the street. You don't see Eden in this picture because she was at the head of the line with the birthday girl. Already in the limo. What's cute is you see the limo driver helping the little girls inside. So sweet.

I can't believe the birthday parties this girl has gone to this school year. We've actually had to start cutting back a little. Maybe every other invitation or just her BFFs because it gets expensive, y'all! Oh the life of a popular girl. It's all new to me. I was never the popular one.

So anyway, my day was to consist of laundry. Our baskets were overflowing at the beginning of the week, and I've been sick since the weekend, so you can about imagine how dire the situation was becoming. When your 5 year old is asking if you would please do the laundry, it's bad.

I've had every single person in this house ask me to do laundry this week, each on a different day. I was sick for crying out loud! Today, Andreas and I were discussing the possibility of going on a day trip Saturday "but the laundry situation had to be dealt with first"....haha! Seriously, those were his words.

Code green; code green; we have a laundry situation here!

I am a procrastinator in general. When it comes to laundry, I am even more so. I leave it to once a week and I've heard from a few people that this is the wrong way to approach my laundry "situation". With 5 people in the house, I should be doing laundry every day. That seems a bit extreme to me.

But, you'll be happy to know that I've started the laundry today. I haven't gotten very far and it'll probably take me until Sunday to have it all finished. But it's definitely started. Whoo hoo!

And by the way, there is just nothing very pleasant about sorting through the dirty socks and underwear of everyone in the house. I literally hold my breath when I dig into the baskets to sort. I probably have a world record going for longest time holding your breath and don't even know it.

I sort into 7 piles: whites, colors, darks, light colored cold water, dark colored cold water, jeans, towels/sheets. It takes me a half hour just to sort it. Not kidding.

And now that I've shared all my laundering "how tos" or rather "how NOT tos" - since I'm obviously doing it wrong - you can carry on with your day. Wiser to to world of Arff laundry.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Happy Birthday Andreas

I thought since he likes to cook on the weekends, I'd buy him a chef's jacket. I thought it was the perfect gift. But he thinks it would be pretentious of him to wear it.
I don't think so. I think it's fun.
And he's a good chef.

Probably my ugliest Swedish Prinsesstårta yet.

This is what it's supposed to look like. haha...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tonight: a great end to a great week

We've been really letting our creative energy out this past week. And I wanted to show you the end result. But first, I had been meaning to post a picture of Eden's family tree that we made for girl scouts. It turned out super cute. The white paper with green ribbon around it holds a family favorite recipe and the gold envelope that says "treasure" holds "family secrets".

Such a fun project!

This next picture is the back side of Hanna's LaLaLoopsy house.
Sorry about the glare.

The front side. Again, sorry it's blurry.

And next is Emma's finished house.

Her very special "garden room".

And a table we made out of an empty ribbon spool.


I think I already showed Eden's finished house in a previous post.
They had a blast - beginning to end: from picking out fabric and detail
to painting, and taping and gluing
and seeing it all come together.
And finally, getting to play with them!

Our week of spring break was really great. Even Andreas said that he was surprised at how well it went because he thought for sure by day 2 I would be tearing my hair out and wishing they were back in school. It was good to have something to keep them busy with.
And spending a night at the Ramada was a HUGE hit. Swimming was fun for them. I mostly sat with my legs in the hot tub. It was almost too hot to fully submerge myself. I swam too, and went down the water slide. Good times. None of us wanted to leave.

Hanna and Eden are gone for the weekend and all of our projects are completed.
My baby has been crying at night because she knows that her vacation is coming to an end and she doesn't want to go back to school. It breaks my heart.
2/3rds of the kindergarten year is over and she still isn't crazy about school.
"The kids are too loud"
"I don't have time to finish my pictures"
...and various other reasons why she wants to stay home with Mama.
It almost makes me want to home school her. She is my precious baby and I hate to see
her so sad.
Tonight she gets to spend a little time with Gram which will take her mind off of school looming. She loves it over at Gram's house. And Gram loves when she is there.
Andreas and I are meeting my two sisters and brother (and their spouses) at Billiards tonight where we shall school them at pool...teehee. Probably not. But it'll still be fun.