Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Berry Granola Parfait

berry granola parfait trifle 

I posted this picture last week in an Instagram round up and have gotten so many emails and comments about the trifle that I figured I should give y'all some addition details.

Our bi-monthly moms group rotates which ladies bring breakfast dishes to each meeting, and my table was slotted for this past week.  Sickness and work situations had a few of the moms at my table unsure that they'd be able to attend, so I upped my game and prepared three dishes instead of the required one.  I don't say that to toot my horn, but to lay the ground work when I tell you I needed to keep it simple and inexpensive.

The parfait in the trifle dish was the belle of the ball, but was SO simple and frugal.  In fact, I think I only spent $4.50 to purchase the ingredients I didn't have on hand.  Here's how it breaks down:

Ingredients include blueberries and strawberries (I thawed out only what I needed from my freezer stash of summer's bounty); store brand granola cereal ($1.49 at Aldi); vanilla pudding mix (of course you could use yogurt instead), and whipped cream.

I merely laid a ring of blueberries around the base of the dish, filling the center with granola.  A layer of strawberries followed, then a layer of pudding.  More granola, then fruit, then the remainder of the pudding right in the center, topped with fresh whipped cream (just a pint of heavy cream whipped with a little powdered sugar), and a final sprinkle of granola and berries.

SO pretty, and SO easy, and SO yummy.  Granted, I realize that yogurt would have been healthier than pudding, but, well, I like pudding better, and since I figured I might be bringing leftovers home, I wanted to make sure it'd get eaten.  (I needn't have worried; I only brought a large serving home, and Jim and the kids and I were all fighting over it!)

I promise, you could throw this together for any potluck or shower or holiday gathering coming up, and it'll be a sure hit!

Monday, October 29, 2012

BLTN: Tennessee getaway, Instagram style

Jim and I were able to get away for an anniversary getaway a few weeks ago, and it was WONDERFUL.  I will have a handful more pictures to share (from the regular camera), but wanted to get some Insta-proof up in the meantime!

It was our briefest visit ever,  but it was so wonderful to have lunch with Tiffany, and to catch up, and to get on her case about a half-dozen things like the surrogate parent-siblings that we are. ;)


Friday morning, after a yummy breakfast at Panera (if you haven’t had their breakfast panini, you totally should try it!), we headed east from Nashville towards Knoxville.  It was a dreary day, but traffic was light, and it was just a nice drive through the mountains.


One of the best moments of the trip was arriving at our time share and discovering a bouquet of birthday balloons in the dining area.  (There were more balloons and roses for our anniversary in the bedroom.)  I was just so impressed with the activities staff, and it just set the tone for the weekend.


Saturday, we took a guided ATV ride to some ridge of some mountain range….forgive me for not remembering the details.  They were jarred right out of my brain with the bone-rattling ride.  But the view from the top was worth it – both of the scenery and the happy smile on Jim’s face.  I don’t feel the need to ever do that again, but I’m SO glad I did it this one time, with, and for him.


After our ride, we were famished, and though we’d planned to visit our favorite local pizza place, we came across the Mellow Mushroom sooner, so we just stopped there.  The pizza (a version of BBQ chicken meets Hawaiian meets buffalo chicken) was stellar, and the service (waiter who just “assumed” we would give our check check for his tip) was subpar, but it was YUMMY!


We were EXHAUSTED Saturday after our ride and then a couple hours of shopping at the outlets, so we crashed when we returned to our townhouse.  Like, showered and then fell asleep on the bed in a towel version of “crashed.”  Which translated to not getting ready and heading into town for dinner until 8 PM.  Which, and I know this will sound silly, made me feel like a real grown up – getting to put on clothes that didn’t have to be nursing mom-friendly, and eating dinner after 9:30.  It was a wonderful pick me up for me, to be able to take my time to pretty up for Jim and wear grown up clothes.


This was the view from our balcony:  perfect and private and oh, so pretty.


My Arby’s cup on the way home summed up how I felt about the trip, but also how excited I was to be seeing my littles after 6 days.


And then there was James…..who smiled when he first laid eyes on me, but then acted like a stereotypical cat (you know, who gets left alone for a few days and then hisses at his owner when she returns, and pees on everything?) for the next few days.  He cried and screamed and fought me, and didn’t want to nurse, and was generally not my happy baby.  Which I guess I deserve for leaving him for so long.  But then he got over it, and I’m once again his favorite person.  Yea!


And that is the abbreviated version. =)  There is more – the trip down, the Steelers/Titans game with some of our besties, dinner with some former business associates of Jim’s….but we’ll get to that eventually.

Have you ever been to Gatlinburg?  Do you have any traditions or must-see/eat places to visit?  How do you feel about Dolly Parton?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Once upon a freckle

I grew up calling them “beauty marks.”

But they’re moles, really.

And I’ve never paid any attention to the majority of the one I’ve got.

Jim, on the other hand, happened to notice that a “beauty mark” on the back of my right leg was changing, and not in a good way.

Can you guess where this is going?

I had my family doctor look at it, and he was quick to say that it needed to come off, and soon.

So, last Tuesday, I went in for a “routine” removal.  I say routine in quotes because, as per usual with me, it wasn’t quite routine.  It was deeper than he anticipated, and located right on a blood vessel.  The procedure took longer than expected, and bled more than anticipated, and has taken its sweet time healing.

(If you’re squeamish….brace yourself….)

Here’s what it looked like three days after the fact:

2012-10-26 11.24.08 I know, right?

Yes, it hurts.  Yes, it is in the most inconvenient of places. And no….I don’t have the results of the biopsy yet.

Which actually brings me to the point of this post.

It occurred to me earlier that there have only been a handful of days in my life where I have actually had the thought, “my life will change today.”  That has usually only occurred when I was gearing up for childbirth.

But Friday, I woke up and actually thought, “I could get a phone call today that might change my life.”

You see, I left the doctor’s office Tuesday having words like “oncology,” “plastic surgery,” and “melanoma” ringing in my ears.  My doctor seemed to be preparing me for bad news – moreso than I thought the situation warranted.  He gave me a half dozen reasons why he thought this particular biopsy could come back with abnormal results.  And I listened, and have repeated the conversation to a handful of people as the week went by.

And now I’m rambling….

I guess my point is this.

Waiting is hard.

I’m not actually concerned with the outcome, truly, no matter what it is.

I just felt like I should document it.  To make note of a day that I spent very aware that life is temporary and any level of comfort I have can change in a moment.  And in the days to come, as I wait for the test results, I plan to stay aware.  To treasure the “normal” moments with my family and friends.  And to take some  Tylenol.

Because my leg hurts!

Friday, October 26, 2012

InstaFriday 10.26.12


Stupid mid-post-drafting computer updates.  It ate my post captions.  And now I’m embracing imperfection and posting my Instagram pics from last week without the captions.  Because I want to document the week, but not neglect my children in my attempt to perfectly center photos and describe their contents….

So….make up your owl own captions.  We’ll see how close y’all get to the reality.

 IMG_20121016_150712 IMG_20121016_155147 IMG_20121017_160136 IMG_20121017_210117 IMG_20121018_094644 IMG_20121019_171512 IMG_20121020_174018 IMG_20121022_091205 IMG_20121023_100838 IMG_20121026_113416IMG_20121023_123132 IMG_20121026_102840

Friday, October 19, 2012


I've delivered four amazing, beautiful children.


I don't think about my miscarriages often.  But when I do, I allow myself to really think.  To remember.  To feel.

Four years ago today, I had my most sudden, unexpected, and traumatic loss.  So many factors went into that experience to make it such, and I've never really talked about it.

My memory was triggered this afternoon.  It is 4:59 as I type, and despite the wonderful vacation that last week was, this week of reacclimating kicked mt butt. I caught a glimpse of my weary, disheveled self in the hall mirror.  Cranky baby on hip, still-in-their-pajamas toddlers at my feet.  Grocery lists wrote themselves in my head as I kicked a overflowing basket of clean-since-Tuesday clothes from the hall to the bedroom (where, undoubtedly, they will continue to wrinkle, unhung, for a few more days).

I paused, feeling worn and defeated.  Wishing I were doing better with the chaos.  The noise.  The chores.  The tears.  The to-do list.

And then I thought, it's the 19th.  October 19.

Four years ago, at 4:45 PM, I was still pregnant with twins.  And by 8:00 PM, I was only pregnant with one.  And by midnight, I wasn't pregnant at all.

So, present day 2012, with an over-tired James soaking his blanket with piteous tears, and with Seth and Erin rearranging the playroom, I stopped.  And I remembered the heartache and anger and fear and sadness of that night four years ago.

I remember that the ER doctors had my blood type wrong, and just as they were about to administer a transfusion that might have killed me, my wonderful Dr. G showed up.  I remember thinking, "I'm never going to have the family I've dreamed of."  I remember staring at a heart, so very still on the ultrasound screen, and wanting to kick the technician in the head.

I remember all the tears that night.

And in remembering, I rejoice in the chaos.  The noise.  The chores.  The to-do list.  The toe-stubbing laundry baskets.  The PBJ for dinner.  The 24-hour-plus-some jammies.

My family has been rewritten with each conception and loss and delivery, a half-dozen times over.  And I'm okay with that.

The beauty that has come from the ashes of 10/19/08 is beyond comprehension.

Monday, October 8, 2012

10.8.05 / 10.8.12

4  homes.

10 rental properties.

6 jobs.

7 vehicles.

3 couches.

7 pregnancies.

4 children.

2, 557 kisses good night.

7 years, and I love you more than ever.

7 annv