Sunday, May 31, 2009

booger soup

I love having boys. Talk about keeping it real. I’ve been consulting with a nutritionist to help me improve my own diet—and consequentially, my whole families’ diet—and one of her suggestions was to use barley in soups instead of noodles. The consistency is similar, and it just takes on the flavor of whatever it’s in. So a few weeks ago, instead of chicken noodle soup, I made chicken barley soup.

The toddler immediately exclaimed, “There’s boogers in my soup!” (Incidentally, it didn’t slow the boys down at all. Turns out they love booger soup.)

Today before church I started this recipe in the crock pot. It was ready when we walked in the door, and I served it with wheat thins and a bowl of grapes. Zonya calls it Beef Barley Soup, but here at the Llama household it’s “Simple Sunday Afternoon Booger Soup.”

(I made a few changes to the recipe. I didn't have celery or peppers, so I used 3 cups of carrots. Oh, and I ran out of basil, so I used Italian seasoning. I bought the barley at Trader Joe's and everything else at Aldi.)

You can find this super easy recipe here. Nobody has to know it's healthy. Truly. This soup is delicious!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

not my final answer

What a day.

I babysat for a friend this morning, so I had the toddler and an eleven-month old. The toddler was so excited when she came over, exclaiming, “Can we keep her?” By lunch he changed his tune. “I don’t like her.” Nice. And I don’t like you, buddy. (I’m kidding. Sort of. Don’t send me hate mail.)

Holy cow, I’m tired.

A few days ago, my friend, Em, asked a question on facebook. When do you clean? Or something like that. We all chimed in with our schedules and routines, but this woman has an almost three-year old and a six month old. Honestly. I wonder now, was she really asking us, how the hell do you ever do anything?

Because that’s how I felt today. Like I couldn’t even pee, let alone sweep the floor.

Things got really interesting when I tried to put the baby down for her morning nap. I was rocking her and just as she dozed off, the Toddler ran up the stairs and yelled, “Can I get myself a drink?”


The baby’s eyes popped open.

A few minutes later, the same thing happened.

“Can I have a snack?”

“Yes. You can have a snack.”

The baby was wide awake. I finally gave up on the whole nap thing and we came back downstairs. And found this.

That would be a leftover baked potato. What a great snack, don’t you think? I mean, why go for the apples on the counter or the actual snack box in the pantry when you can have a cold, leftover baked potato?

And the drink? Don’t take the sippy cup of milk in the side door of the fridge. Go ahead and pour blue kool-aid all over the floor.


So, Em? I’m officially changing my answer to your question in light of the day I had today. When I had two very small children in my house, as I did today, I didn’t get much cleaning done. I just did the best I could every day, and that was that.

When the baby’s mom came to pick her up this afternoon, I breathed a sigh of relief. She’s still alive and in one piece and on her way home. And then I remembered my own motto, or shall we say goal, when the twins were small:

Everyone alive at the end of the day.

Sometimes that’s good enough.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

potty training


A week ago today, the toddler got up and asked, “Can I wear undies and use my little potty today?"

And I said, um, “SURE!”

It’s been three steps forward, two steps back, but all in all he’s doing great. And today? Today he pooped on the potty.

I know. It’s TMI. But at my house we’re throwing a party! Well, not really, but we are doing a lot of dancing and clapping. Stop by and we’ll teach you the “potty dance.”

Good times. I can’t believe my “baby” is using the potty. And for the record? Potty training one at a time is a lot easier than two at a time. (At least it has been at my house.)


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

breakfast cookies and shakes

I just gave the kids cookies and shakes for breakfast, and was glad to see them gobble them up. That’s because the cookies were packed with nutritious whole grains and nuts, and the shakes were actually smoothies loaded with fresh fruit and yogurt.

And my kids think I’m the coolest mom in the world.

The smoothies were simple: frozen mangoes, vanilla yogurt, and a little bit of orange juice. Often I use frozen fruit from Trader Joe’s for smoothies--the three berry blend is awesome--but I’ve also taken to freezing my own. Overripe bananas are a great addition to smoothies. Just throw them in your freezer—peel and all—and whip them up with other fruit. (Take the peel off before you put it in the blender.) Have a handful of strawberries leftover from dessert last night? Throw them in the freezer. Overripe pineapple or papaya? Throw them in the freezer. You get the idea.

I found the mangoes on the “clearance” shelf yesterday—four overripe mangoes for a dollar. What a bargain! I chopped them up, put them in my freezer, and was ready to roll this morning. Poke around the produce section of your grocery store for these deals, and if you don’t see a bargain shelf, ask. I’ve bought beautiful, ripe and ready-to-eat fruit for a song, and most grocery stores are thrilled to sell it to you.

You can find the cookie recipe here: Zonya’s Breakfast Cookies.

Don’t let the oat bran and ground flax seed scare you. You can find them in the bulk section of many grocery stores, or in the baking aisle. They may seem expensive at first, but a little goes a long way. Whole grains are so important, and most of us don’t eat nearly enough of them. I made up a huge batch of these cookies a few weeks ago and keep them in the freezer. I pulled a dozen out last night for our breakfast this morning.

And voila. Breakfast is served!

Nutritious. Kid friendly. Economical.

Three of my favorite things.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

naked and unashamed

According to my husband, a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast can fix just about anything. Well, not really, but it can give a person the needed perspective to simply deal with what is.

After a great night’s sleep in my quiet hotel room and a hot breakfast prepared by someone else, I enjoy a leisurely morning of writing, reading and email.

Then as I get ready to climb into the shower, I glance at my reflection in the mirror. (For the record, there are good reasons I don’t have a very large mirror in my bathroom.) As I climb into the shower, I begin to beat myself up. You really need to tone up that flab, lose some weight. And where did those wrinkles around your eyes come from? Is there cream for that? You should pay more attention to these things.

And then I hear myself and stop. Because, really, why do I need to beat myself up when I’m on a desperately needed getaway? What does God want for me today? Surely He’s not looking down at me thinking, “Wow. She’d be great if only she’d drop a few pounds and work out more.”

How can I see myself the way God sees me? Can I see the woman in the mirror, in need of rest, and just curl up and take a nap? Can I see the wrinkles around my eyes with gratitude, for the years and laughter He’s blessed me with? Can I see my chipped nails and chapped hands and acknowledge my own hard work caring for my family each day? Can I look at a body that has had the privilege of hosting life, and respect myself for that sacrifice? Can I see a woman who nurtures her children day in and day out, remembering all that I do, not all that I don’t do?

I stand in the shower and let the water wash over me. I remember grace, and breathe a prayer of thanks. Yes. Grace. It’s the only way I can stand before God. The only way any of us can stand.

How does God see you today? How do you see yourself?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Mother's Day gifts

Okay ladies, this post is for the guys. So feel free to leave your browser open for your husband (or sons) to read.

Last year, I posted about mother’s day gifts and got such a great response, I thought I’d do it again. (You can read last year’s ideas here.

So if you’re anything like my husband, the Llama Papa, you really want to do something special for your wife for mother’s day to show her how much you appreciate her. You want to make her happy…you’re just not sure how. Maybe money is tight. Maybe you have no time between now and Sunday. Maybe you’re trying to figure out how to juggle honoring your wife and honoring your mom, and you’re not sure how you’ll fit it all in.

My first suggestion? Ask her. Tell her you want to celebrate her as a mom and ask what would be meaningful to her. And ladies? Tell him. The truth. (If it helps, I told Llama Papa I wanted to be completely alone for two days to celebrate mother’s day. So I’m heading to a local hotel on Friday…home in time for a large family celebration on Sunday.)

Now, I want you to think about your wife (or mom). What does she love to do? Shop? Talk with her girlfriends? Read? Garden? Now, given your particular circumstances of time and money, how can you make that happen for her?

With so many families on tight budgets this year, let me suggest a few low-cost ways to celebrate the moms in your life. (Because, let’s face it, if you can afford nice jewelry and days at the spa, you don’t really need to read this. Go. Now. Book the spa! Buy the jewelry!)

Maybe this is the first year you can’t afford to buy your wife a fancy gift and you feel crummy about it. Trust me. The fancy is optional. Do something thoughtful just for her and she will be thrilled.

For book lovers, give her a book she’s been wanting and a gift card to a coffee shop…plus a day “off.” Maybe Saturday can be her afternoon, if you have family obligations on Sunday.

If she’s nursing and can’t leave the baby, or doesn’t want to, spend some time tidying up the bedroom and tell her you’ll take care of everything for an entire day. Manage the children and household and let her just lounge around her bedroom (with the door closed) and read magazines or nap. Bring the baby to her when it’s time to nurse. Tell her how much she means to you. Bring her meals on fancy dishes with a flower from the garden. Let your children see you honoring their mother for her hard work.

If she likes to shop at garage sales, give her a card with $20 in small bills, the newspaper ads (or if you want to be fancy, a google map of garage sales you know she’d enjoy), and an entire Saturday morning to shop. (By herself or with a friend.)

Does she love to hang out with girlfriends? Give her a gift card to a restaurant you know she likes and send her out for lunch with a friend. Or coffee. Or a movie. Really, just give her time and your blessing to hang out with the girls. (This can work out as a "double" gift if you contact her friend's husband and organize it together.)

Weather permitting, skip the restaurants on Sunday and pack a picnic. This is great with little kids. Find a fun park, eat lunch and let the kids play. It’s way less stressful than eating out on a busy day, and you might actually fit in some adult conversation.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you tell her what you appreciate about her. A mother’s work really is never done, and a kind word can go a long way in encouraging her.

Now, women, one more reminder: don’t make him guess. Tell him exactly what you’d like to do for mother’s day—maybe you want breakfast in bed, or flowers—tell him that. Would I have liked my husband to surprise me next weekend with a “weekend away” to write at a local hotel? Sure. Would it ever have happened if I didn’t actually TELL him this is what I wanted? Probably not. Not because he isn’t fantastic, but because he isn’t a mind reader.

I’d love to hear more suggestions in the comments…what is YOUR ideal mother’s day celebration?