Monday, August 29, 2011


I am sorry for the unscheduled break just when I was getting into a groove, but we've been sick here. My husband and oldest were first to come down with a cold, while Michael and I were experiencing a minor stomach upset. By the time they recovered, that mild tummy upset had turned into a horrible stomach bug that will not be described here to preserve the sensibilities of my readers.
Michael seems to be still rather tired but getting better. I however am still in the throes of it. Not fun. I will hopefully be back very soon, because that means the plague here is over.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pretty, happy, funny, real


Perhaps not my usual definition of pretty, but I did buy new running shoes. I promised myself not to buy any equipment for an exercise program/ thing that I wouldn't keep up with. After one month of dutiful walking/ running on the treadmill every day though, I had actually run holes in the bedroom slippers from target that I was running with. So now I have these pretty new running shoes.


Happiness is a new lunchbox. I have a thing for organizers. And for lunches. And for boxes. Combine everything into one and you have this pretty, organized lunchbox. I had my eyes on it for over a year, but at over fourty dollars it was just too expensive. A groupon however finally brought the coveted item in reach. Hurray!


Very nearly asleep on his feet. I shouldn't find that picture so funny, because getting a pair of new molars has him up several times at night, and of course me as well. So I quite often feel the way he looks in this picture. But oh my does he not look sweet, and cute and funny and grumpy all in one sleepy whole?


I've been posting all these pretty food pictures lately, with cute shapes and happy faces, or put down on the 'pretty-tablecloth-in-the-dining-room-that-is-seldom-used-and-therefor-stays-pretty'. But half smushed grilled cheese sandwiches are a mom's reality of life, just as much as pretty boxes.

Lunch Tray and block building

The lunch tray was such a success last week, that I decided to try it again. The idea is an old one, based on muffin tin lunches. I've tried it in the past and it's almost always a hit. The cute little food sticks just finished the pretty picture: we have carrots, bell pepper, mango, tiny pizza rolls and left over toasted ravioli. We had a serious orange theme going on there. No special reason, it just turned out that way and I thought it looked pretty cheerful.

As a completely non lunch related topic: we have been building a lot with blocks lately. Finally. My eldest never really cared too much for blocks. Wooden train tracks, yes. Blocks, no. Which is too bad, because I've always liked blocks. It's one of my few non girly girly things that I thought I could share with my sons. Joseph received blocks of course, the right size for the right age, but he never seemed to care too much or play with them for too long. Michael however has more of the builder in him, and seeing his younger brother play seems to have awakened Joseph's interest. We are currently making spaceships. To fly to Mars. He will be captain Joseph, and I can be passenger mommy. That sounds just perfect to me.

As a side note: what is it with boys and not wearing pants? They start out fully clothed most of the day, but by afternoon, well.. let's say that there is a reason why you mostly see my boys from the waste up!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chicken rice coconut curry soup: almost quicker to make than to pronounce.

This fast and yummy microwave soup (no, it's not an oxymoron) came about somewhat by accident because I wanted something quick and tasty for lunch, and something that wouldn't require me to spend much time at the stove.

I had leftover rice from last nights dinner. I had made too much. I always make too much. Even my husband's lunch burrito for the next day still left me with left over rice. The children had vegetarian corn dogs for lunch and I couldn't really think of how to add rice to those. I already was pushing the envelope there with the broccoli.

My first thought was to just add some broth to it. Well, maybe I could also add some veggies. Then I would have a soup.

I used a microwave rice steamer. Any type of microwave cookpot will do. I put in some mixed frozen veggies (california mix: broccoli, carrots and cauliflower), and added water. Then I added some chicken base. (you can of course also use stock cubes or chicken stock or whatever you have on hand). I gave it about four minutes due to the frozen veggies. Then I, on impulse and because I felt like experimenting, I added some shredded frozen coconut that I had in the freezer for smoothies, and some yellow Thai currypaste that I have in the fridge for well.. curry. I gave it another two minutes in the microwave then spooned in some rice from the fridge, 30 more seconds and YUMMY! Much better than what I was expecting.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Adventures in lunch

... with a bit of breakfast thrown in. It really does pay off to have a plan. Who would have thought it? Now I need to shop tomorrow and make sure that I make a new plan for breakfast and lunch and dinner for next week. I tried to pay special attention to making some fun things for the boys but found some inspiration for myself as well. Here is a picture gallery of a few of the things I made. Now trying to find more inspiration for next week for more original ideas.

Dinosaur shaped turkey sandwiches for breakfast.

Snack tray raisins, prunes, apples, pears, pretzels and graham crackers.

leftover soup: chicken, coconut, curry rice.
Inspiration of the moment, ready in ten minutes and YUMMY!

Oatmeal, left over from breakfast as a pre lunch snack. Yummie!

I have been eyeing this lunchbox for over a year. With a great coupon I finally bought it:
bento style lunch, which we ate picnic style on the living room floor.

Smoothies! My boys love them. Banana raspberry and coconut in this one.

Raspberry muffins in assorted muffin cups for saturday breakfast.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

There you are..

Well, what do you think of my new header? I think I am finally done with blog changes. I am pretty happy about how it finally turned out. There may be some final tweaks, but no big things for now. On another note.. is there anyone still reading? *L*

Friday, August 19, 2011


Yes, I have been experimenting with the settings of my blog again. Don't worry, this won't become a habit. I just was never fully satisfied with the previous look. I am happy with the wider text portion that I have now, but not yet with pictures and colors. So stay tuned for some more changes over the next two days.
After that, I have some interesting things to show, ahum, on our continuing lunch saga. We've been having a bit of fun with our food lately! Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My husband's lunch

Since I am trying to put a bit more thought in lunch, I am also trying to put a bit more thought in my husband's lunch. My husband honestly doesn't care too much about how his food looks, as long as it is tasty. And even there he is not too discriminate. While I fret over whether a soup is as good as last time and whether or not I should add a little bit more nutmeg next time, he just says "It's really good." That's why I try not to waste time on cutesy-ing up his lunch. He likes to take left overs and my main contribution is trying to pack them immediately after we finish dinner and put them in the freezer so he has a variety to chose from.

Yesterday evening though after the children were off to bed and my husband was doing P90X exercises, I decided I would feel better if I cleaned the kitchen instead of playing bubble games on the computer. I did. I also saw the left over gumbo had not been put away and for some reason when putting it, with some rice in a lunchbox and back in the fridge, I noticed the wraps. Hmmm... Inspiration dawned. I recently had an amazing vegetarian burrito from Chipotle. Could I come close to making one? I didn't have the guacamole, but I hope texturally I came close.
So off he is for his "first day of school", the beginning of the new semester at University, and ready to great the students, with this little treat in his lunchbox.

How does your husband feel about lunch or food in general? Does he like it all prettied up? Or does he care (almost) exclusively about taste?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I love it when a plan comes together...

I have no illusions that from now on I will never face the lunch day slump anymore, but at least for today, things went well. It might also be because our day was, by necessity a bit more planned out than usual.
Breakfast worked out fine. Everyone ate something, and I even thought about packing two bento's with healthy snacks (okay, and a few animal crackers) for our morning.

I had a meeting in the nursery of the church. A great part of working for the church is that the people I work with are very accommodating. They thought it was an asset that I was a mother with children, because in working with teenagers, this gives them a vision of the realities of life. They also are willing to work, not just around my schedule with the children but with the schedule, so many a meeting comes takes place in the church nursery with the boys playing around my feet. After that, we had a moms meeting. This is not a moms day out, but moms and children coming together to play and talk while we watch our children and each others children at the same time.
After that we went home and it was lunch time. I didn't have to think. I realize now how much easier lunch and breakfast are if I do not have to think.
We had veggie corn dogs with ketchup and broccoli. For some reason my oldest son loves broccoli, so we have it once a week at least for dinner and sometimes thrown in for lunch as well.

I even managed to 'cute up' the plates a little bit. It's a start.

this picture made me feel virtuous.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Doing something...

So after I made that little post about half an hour ago, I decided that this was a case of 'knowing what I should be doing and just not doing it'. I needed a plan. I always do better if I have a plan.
My first impulse was of course to go trawl the net to find the perfect little menu plan maker. Then I decided that was silly, overly perfectionist, and putting off the part that would actually help my children get a decent breakfast or lunch. (My husband has a decent lunch because he takes leftovers from the healthy and yummy dinners that I cook, and prefers a bowl of cereal for lunch.).
So off I went to the fridge that was nice and full after our shopping trip to Aldi on Sunday and Publix today. My very special tools were a piece of paper that I had grabbed from the printer and a pen. Fancy, I know!
But.. tadaa! Here is the result. Now hopefully this will keep me on track for the next week!

The eyes eat firsts...

That's a very loose translation of a Dutch saying. I am striving lately to make the food for my children look nicer. I know that it's important how it looks, because Joseph will refuse to eat anything that is a stew, no matter how much he loves the ingredients that are actually in there. I do not make him anything different and now and again stew will find it's way on our menu, but I also try to keep my boys visual appeal in mind when I prepare something. Putting oatmeal in a silicone bear cup and calling it fuzzy wuzzy oatmeal gets it in quicker and is not anymore trouble for me. I would love to make our lunches look like bento's, but since we usually eat at home for lunch, I am afraid that rarely happens. In fact, a decent lunch rarely happens. today's lunch was.. popcorn and apples. I need a lunchplan. Anyone have any ideas or tips for me?

Monday, August 15, 2011

I won't call it homeschooling...

I have a friend who protests against anyone saying they are 'homeschooling' until their child is actually six and the choice needs to be made between either formally teaching the child at home, or sending it to school. According to her whatever you do before should just be called parenting. After all, are we not the teachers of our children throughout their entire childhood, even if you send them to a public or Christian school? Whether you homeschool or not, are we always looking for opportunities to teach our children?

The last weeks, we are trying to fit in more 'formal' teaching moments. We don't have a set schedule, we don't have a set program. We just.. chose to do some reading and writing exercises now and again, because I just can not wait to share this with my boy. Something I could easily wait with would be mathematics. Unfortunately Joseph seems, just in daily conversations and what he catches here and there on a parents whim, to have a bit of a knack for mathematics. So I decided to buy a math book from the Target dollar aisle, and today we had our first mathematics session. In my opinion, he is MUCH quicker about it than I ever was. Let's see where this adventure leads us!


A picture of my latest needlework venture. This will be, when it is finished, a bible cover in black work embroidery. It will be a grooms gift to the fiance of a very special friend of mine, my youth ministry college Anne. It is rare to encounter someone who shares a spirituality, a sense of humour and an outlook on life with you. A year ago, I met Anne and found all three in one. She is ten years younger and about to embark on the journey of married life. Her fiance is a wonderful young man and worthy of her. He is a recent convert to Catholicism, and I was planning on making this bible cover for his official entry in the church. That was last february. Oooops.

Friday, August 12, 2011


I love to be creative and I love to give my boys attractive and healthy food. Unfortunately, I usually lack both the time and the energy. I settle for healthy food. And sometimes I just settle for food, period. Still... I keep trying. Healthy works out most of the times, especially in the evening. My oldest is a slightly picky eater, but he does not have a problem with veggies. I make the same meal for everyone, with two exceptions: Joseph does really not like peas, so I make sure there are two vegetables. And Michael has trouble digesting milk so I buy him soy milk. Aside from that, we all eat the same adult meal. Why would I feed them chicken nuggets when we are having stir fry?

Lunch and breakfast are my big challenges though. So when the stars aligned today and I managed a cute and healthy lunch, I had to snap a picture as proof! It took less effort than it looked: I had some microwavable ready rice and after microwaving, I just squeezed it into two silicone bunny baking molds that I had. (Bought them on sale for Easter, forgot about them, never used them till now.) While they cooled down, I put some frozen cauliflower in the microwave steamer, and cut a few baby carrots. That's it. Easy enough. Now if only I found a rice like that that did not come pre salted!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"That mom" is a member of my church. I had the pleasure of teaching her oldest daughter last year in confirmation class. We are part of the mom's group together. Our lives regularly cross. And I LOVE reading her blog.. This week's entry resonated with me. Siblings. I guess unless you are an only child yourself, sibling relationships are not something that really wonders you. But to me it is magic to see it. Last week, Joseph had gone to spend four days with his grandparents. While he was there, he didn't even want to come to the phone to talk with mommy, so much fun he had. But he DID admit to missing his 'baby'. When he arrived back here at home, he ran right past mommy who was waiting with open arms and dived for his brother who was sitting on the couch.

I grew up with other children at the 'stay over' mom after and before school. But it was not the same as having brothers and sisters. We were friends. We now are acquaintances. But living together, and sharing parents and space every single day is different. I can see it in my boys. It's intriguing to me to see how they become friends and more. The last two months I have seen them discover each other as playmates. Joseph realizes that Michael can run after him, or that he can run after Michael. Michael learns how to push a train over the tracks that Joseph has made. Sometimes they cuddle up and wiggle all over each other like puppies.
I have never known that. Never seen that. It is both strange and miraculous for me to watch those two very different children of a different age interact and grow together.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Some pictures

Joseph is spending a few days with his grandparents, which leaves me with only one child. This feels very strange. Quiet and serene, but strange. I decided that I needed to have some pictures taken of Michael since we have a lot less of him than of his brother. After all, every photo shoot now has two boys so there can't be all the time devoted to one. And Joseph who is a bit older just outshines him. So.. to keep all Michael's cuteness forever fixed so it can not slip out of my poor visual memory.

I thought they came out cute! Here is a small selection:

It's all so... quiet...

Well, life is not. I am dealing with some extended family troubles that are too private to speak about in such a public atmosphere, but I would really appreciate your prayers! I hope to get back to regular blogging very soon!