family

Merry Christmas!

Remembering the reason for the season and Wishing your day is merry and bright!
…And best of luck lining up those perfect family pictures; when everyone is smiling and looking at your camera, because I give up.

Pizza Pasta

Who enjoys having fun with their food? I do! Let’s face it, I’m not in the running to win a Michelin star. Although I think I get 4 stars on this! (One from each of my kids). We have growing athletes in this house, so we eat a lot of pasta. And I don’t know one kid who doesn’t like pizza! Let’s just get crazy… As if we needed further proof that easy weeknight meals can be as amusing as they are tasty.

Serves 6-8

As organic as possible:

1 lb Penne pasta or pasta of choice

1 – 14 oz. jar/can or homemade Pizza sauce

1 – 15 oz. jar/can or homemade Tomato sauce

1 tsp Sugar

1 tsp dried Oregano

Salt and Pepper to taste

6 oz. Pepperoni, sliced *reserve 12-15 slices for topping, quarter the remaining

2 cups shredded Mozzarella or Italian cheese blend, divided

1/4 cup (approx) of freshly grated Parmesan

*Optional diced veggie “toppings”such as onion, green pepper, mushrooms, etc.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cook pasta according to package instructions, less 1-2 minutes. *I like to salt my water when it comes to a boil, before adding dry pasta. Drain and return to pot.

In the meantime, in a sauce pan, combine pizza and tomato sauces, sugar (to balance tomato acidity), oregano,  quartered pepperonis, and any diced/sliced veggies. Stir until combined and warmed through. Taste for further seasoning, i.e. salt & pepper.

*Side note: this could easily be a vegetarian dish by omitting the meat! 😉

Pour the sauce mixture into the pot of noodles and stir. Place half of the saucy noodles in a large baking dish in an even layer. Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese on the first layer of noodles and repeat with remaining noodles and shredded cheese. Strategically place the full slices of pepperoni around the top of the pasta dish, followed by the grated Parmesan, to create your piece of art. Kiss your grouped finger tips and throw your hand in the air while shouting “Bellissimo!”

Place the loaded baking dish into the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the top pepperonis are starting to brown on the edges. Yum!

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*It might also be noted that I reserved some of the saucy noodles, which I placed in a separate small baking dish for my dairy-free son. (Which you may or may not need to do yourself.)

Pizza Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Penne pasta or pasta of choice
  • 1 - 14 oz. jar/can or homemade Pizza sauce
  • 1 - 15 oz. jar/can or homemade Tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 6 oz. Pepperoni, sliced *reserve 12-15 slices for topping, quarter the remaining
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella or Italian cheese blend, divided
  • 1/4 cup (approx) of freshly grated Parmesan
  • *Optional diced veggie "toppings"such as onion, green pepper, mushrooms, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cook pasta according to package instructions, less 1-2 minutes. *I like to salt my water when it comes to a boil, before adding dry pasta. Drain and return to pot.
  3. In the meantime, in a sauce pan, combine pizza and tomato sauces, sugar (to balance tomato acidity), oregano, quartered pepperonis, and any diced/sliced veggies.
  4. Stir until combined and warmed through. Taste for further seasoning, i.e. salt & pepper.
  5. Pour the sauce mixture into the pot of noodles and stir. Place half of the saucy noodles in a large baking dish in an even layer. Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese on the first layer of noodles and repeat with remaining noodles and shredded cheese.
  6. Strategically place the full slices of pepperoni around the top of the pasta dish, followed by the grated Parmesan, to create your piece of art.
  7. Kiss your grouped finger tips and throw your hand in the air while shouting "Bellissimo!"
  8. Place the loaded baking dish into the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the top pepperonis are starting to brown on the edges. Yum!
http://sadiesnest.com/pizza-pasta/

 

Visions of Grandeur – Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom

I love my family. I love my children. I love that we, as a family, have the opportunity for me to stay-at-home. I never want to take that for granted. That said, I have more to give! Ok that’s an overstatement, I’m exhausted. Maybe it is more accurate to say I desire to do more.

I don’t want to quit my day job. I don’t want to give up my nights and weekends, sacrificing our only all-member family time, for a part-time job. But I do want a connection to the outside world. As of late, that yearning has lead me down a path of expression through blogging; writing and dabbling in the art of photography- specifically food photography. I’m inspired to write short stories, mostly in the form of plays and dialogues- but first I need to get the kids on the bus. It’s the regular routine of changing the baby’s diaper, making breakfast, packing lunches, cleaning up breakfast, getting the kids dressed (or checking what they have dressed themselves in), inspecting teeth, braiding hair, etc. It’s a sigh of relief when the oldest two out of four are on the bus and on their way fully prepared.

Now would be a great time to enjoy a cup of coffee and jot down that funny thought I had earlier! What was that line again? …But realistically, first I should probably start the dishwasher anyway. That reminds me I have a load of dish towels in the dryer. Crap, the dish towels are still in the washing machine. I need to bring this load of boys clothes upstairs so I can dry the dish towels. “Kids, we’re going upstairs.”

Laundry, my nemesis. They say write about what you know. How can I personify laundry? A dark, looming presence always growing in strength, a force my heroine has to face head on. A little dark maybe, but not untrue. Meanwhile in the real world, what is Noah playing with? It looks like he is in his sister’s jewelry box.

“Oh no, mom, you have to see this!” Elijah yells. Ah! Noah has painted his bangs with nail polish. Oh Noah, I’ve already cleaned up two large spills from you this morning! (Which meant his sister wasn’t on the bus fully prepared, because her baby brother swiped her water bottle -that he poured all over my comfy chair- as if I was going to sit down anyway).

“Noah, No!” I say realizing that at this point it’s not going to make a difference. Let’s get you into the tub. Where is my nail polish remover without acetone… “Stay here.” Okay, I’m back let’s get off that diaper. Plop! Are you kidding me? I just changed a poopy diaper 20 minutes ago!

“Don’t move!” Thankfully it’s in a tub right? (Optimism gets me through the day.) Poop has been transferred to the toilet, now to disinfect. Joys of motherhood. And finally, let’s get to that hair. That is not coming off. I can’t use acetone, this is too close to your eye. What am I going to do? Shave your head? Well, looks like you are going to live with it for a while.

I have a headache. “Everybody downstairs.” I am not doing laundry right now, someone has to keep an eye on the baby. Drats laundry, you win again.

“Yes, Elijah you can have your snack now.” While we’re in the kitchen I should get started on dinner. Crockpot dinner tonight! We need to eat early because Naomi has gymnastics. 

Still, somehow I know these are the best days of my life. I want to cherish every moment. A couple weeks ago, my then still 3 year old said when it was raining “maybe the clouds are crying” -a theory he discovered all on his own. A couple days later, my 5 year old daughter was not feeling well and misquoted a popular saying by explaining “I’m feeling over the weather.” People always say it goes by so fast, and I know it’s true. In the midst of it, it feels fleeting.

So, I am by choice a stay-at-home mom. Coincidingly, I realize the importance of “mommy time”, the need to preserve my sanity and identity. I still have goals! However for me, right now, it’s a necessity that takes a back seat to the priority of “being mommy”. As for my writing career, my prospective coffee shop, my strategy du jour; I’m still dreaming.

Saying Goodbye to Grandpa

Grandpa excelled as an sportsman. He had a keen eye and would point out things in the tops of trees or in the back of a field at a great distance that I could never see. He was an excellent shot and terrific hunter of large and small game. He was one of those intuitive fisherman and had the trophies to prove it. He was a fantastic golfer and had plaques made for achieving two “holes-in-one” in the same week. He was incredible with a sling shot and could swim like Johnny Weissmuller. He worked hard and his life wasn’t easy. Born in Tennessee his family moved to Detroit for more opportunity when he was a young boy. His parents weren’t the most dependable kind. They often left his sister and him to fend for themselves. I remember once when he was asked about what it was like to live through The Great Depression, and his response was that they were so poor they didn’t notice a difference. As an adolescent, the streets of Detroit were his playground. He told me of playing “cops and robbers” with his friends and rolling down the now historic stairs of the Fisher Theater after he would fake getting shot. When he grew old enough he took a job as a cab driver. He would get his fares done early so he could have the car for personal use and drive wherever he wanted- mostly pool halls. He met, fell in love with and married my grandmother. Apparently they were quite the duo winning dance contests for the jitterbug and the such. We really didn’t hear much about all of that. You see, not too long after taking their wedding vows they were invited to a roadside tent revival. They accepted Jesus into their hearts and felt a peace and love they had never experienced before. My grandpa told me how shortly thereafter he was at the 19th hole with some friends. He was drinking his usual beverage that he said tasted like water when he felt this new found peace start to leave- and it scared him. He asked God right then and there that if He would give him back that feeling he would never drink again. He dedicated his life to God and his family. Grandma and grandpa both got jobs in one of Detroit’s booming manufacturing opportunities. They were great providers. They bought a house outside of the city to raise their two daughters, two nieces, nephew and take care of grandma’s mother. Grandpa became a bible teacher at their local church. He wasn’t perfect, but it was clear that he loved God, he loved his family and he wanted to give them better than the experiences he had lived. He said those days with his house full of kids were the best times of his life.

When grandma got sick with dementia, it was hard to watch. Not because she would forget things or regularly repeat herself or ask the same questions over and over. It was hard to watch grandpa. He wanted her to remember. Maybe he got tired of giving the same answers. Maybe he would get embarrassed, for her sake, in front of company. I think mostly he wanted her to get better. The night she went into the hospital for her heart, I drove just over 2 hours home from college to see her. She was sitting up, talking and doing great. I remember telling her I loved her and that she would be going home soon. I couldn’t believe it when I got the phone call that she had suffered ventricular fibrillation during the night and passed. My mom, aunt and grandpa went through the routine of making arrangements. The next year would have marked their 50th wedding anniversary. I’ll never forget my grandpa’s sweet words to me at the funeral, “She was a good woman, I didn’t deserve her” he said.

It hadn’t been a year since grandma had passed and I knew grandpa was lonely. Owen and I had recently gotten engaged, it was the perfect reason to stop over for a visit. Grandpa was happy to see us, but I could tell he was out of sorts. He had the television remote in his hand and was frustrated. I asked him what the matter was and he answered with anger that “Someone has been messing with those wires.” What wires, I questioned and asked him if he had other visitors. The wires behind the TV he explained, and no he hadn’t had any recent visitors. It really didn’t make sense. I asked him who was messing with the wires, and he changed his story to an animal must have gotten in and messed with his wires. Since there was no sign of any animal being in the house, I assured him that that couldn’t be the case and told him Owen would take a look. I figured a wire had gotten loose and disrupted his service. I mean, technology is confusing even for me. When Owen moved the TV set away from the wall, we were all shocked to see that the wall was blackened around the outlet. Thank God there wasn’t a house fire! I told grandpa we had to unplug everything and we would need someone to come out to fix the electrical. He seemed a little dazed and confused, and I knew something was wrong. After our visit was over, I called my mom right away to let her know what had happened. “Something is wrong with grandpa” I told her, “he needs to get checked out.”

He had always been a sharp man. The kind of guy who could quote poems, riddles, stories and Bible passages without missing a word. He was the employee who was awarded $2000 for an innovative idea that would save Chrysler a fortune. Grandpa was a self sufficient person who always seemed confident in who he was and what he was about. The same guy who turned down a supervisor promotion to remain an inspector, because he knew what it meant. No, his weeknights and weekends were for hunting, fishing, tinkering in his garage and going to church. It wasn’t very long after our visit that he was diagnosed with early stages of Alzheimer’s. We all understood, himself included that it wasn’t safe for him to live alone. My grandpa, aunt, and mother saved a few personal treasured items, allowed the grandchildren to take any keepsakes, and kept what my grandfather would need. Then they contacted an estate sale company and put the house up for sale. A plan was set for grandpa to move into a first floor bedroom with my parents.

He had mostly good days at first. He could drive and go out to eat if he wanted to, his last bit of independence. Slowly he showed more and more signs of his disease. He would come home with 10 cans of the same baked beans because he couldn’t think of what else to buy at the grocery store. He would get frustrated and irritable. He was angry with himself for not remembering, and he would often take it out on his family members. Alzheimer’s has a way of making you suspicious on top of forgetful, and he started regularly accusing my sister of taking his belongings such as electric shavers and slippers when he had himself misplaced them. At doctor’s appointments, although clever, his answers became more evident:
“Who are these people?” the doc asked referring to my aunt and mother.
“Relatives” my grandpa answered.
“What kind or relatives?” the doctor prodded further.
“The good kind.” my grandpa replied.
He could no longer remember that they were his daughters. And so it went, some days worse than others. Some days we could cope with humor, like when it took him 20 minutes to baby-step/shuffle from the dining room into the living room. When he arrived he looked up at all of us watching TV and asked “Now what?” Some moments were frightening, like when there was a large crash in the middle of the night. He had pulled out a drawer of silverware that had dropped to the floor. He was just getting his tools he explained. Night wanderings had become more common and my teenage sister had a dead bolt installed on her door. She didn’t feel comfortable with the thought of grandpa walking into her room in the middle of the night. I couldn’t blame her. My parents had alarms installed on the doors after they were awakened to the police pounding on the door one morning at around 2 am. Thankfully they had found my grandpa walking down the road, and in a moment of precious lucidity he could offer to them my dad’s name.

My mother tried to keep him with her as long as she could. They paid my cousin and a family friend to be caretakers and help him with his hygiene when he could no longer remember how, not even when prompted. But it was only a matter of time when we were no longer able to take care of all of his round the clock needs. My mother and aunt found a comfortable adult foster care home with a 24 hour nurse and care he required just minutes away from their houses. They visited him daily, even though he didn’t know. As anyone with personal experience will tell you, the signature not-knowing is the curse and the blessing of the disease. It is the tormenting reality that the family members and friends have to come to terms with and accept. They have to watch their loved one become a shell of their former self, a person that resembles someone they knew very well. At the same time it is the only relief- to know when the Alzheimer’s has fully taken over, the infected person doesn’t seem to have any realization. And you pray that it’s true, that they don’t on any level know the depths of what they are going through.

I was with him early in the day of the night he died- my mother, sister, aunt, cousins and me. When I was told he passed I felt relieved to know he was finally at peace. He went to be with his Lord, with my grandma and many family members that had gone before. He was home and he had his memories. I didn’t attend his funeral services, I continued on a planned trip to Europe. In truth, I knew he was in a better place… and I had said my goodbye to grandpa a long time ago.

Mommy Blogging

If a picture is worth a thousand words; this is the my definition of mommy blogging. Something’s got to give in order to make it happen. 

Have a good weekend! (I’ll just be over here cleaning up…)

Family Day

Taking a family day. Have a great weekend!

Loving Lately 🎬

Loving Lately: VidAngel

Occasionally there are iconic scenes from various movies that I tend to quote or relate to, especially in my interpretation. I like to reference these movies like everyone knows what I’m talking about. What I don’t say is that I don’t watch them, or haven’t in a long time… not in there entirety anyway… and sometimes wouldn’t at this point in my life. I’ll be honest, I’m kind of a prude. There was a time in my life (namely before children) that I was much more relaxed about my screening process. I don’t know why we were able to watch the movies we did when I was a kid. Seriously. After coercing my unexcited children into viewing a film ‘mommy liked when I was little’ I have been shocked (more than once) by some of the language, scenes and innuendoes that I didn’t remember (or which obviously went over my head). Maybe you’re all like “Oh Sadie, get over it”… I just won’t. But maybe you’re like “Oh my gosh, I know exactly what you’re talking about”… so this is for you! Have you checked out VidAngel? You basically can opt out of whatever bothers you and set restrictions based on your offenses. I’ve set it so far that it even took out insults like “idiot” and “moron,” which is extreme even for me… but who am I to judge? I LOVE it. I can pretty much watch any movie with my kids with comfort. Granted you have to pay attention to the content. I can’t expect to watch a war movie and not see or hear them talk about war. You catch the drift.

VidAngel streams through ROKU, chromecast, Apple TV and more. Oh, and it only costs $1 per movie!! For more information check out www.VidAngel.com. Friday night movie night full of fun and food has turned into common practice around here!

Image courtesy of VidAngel and the internet

Loving Lately

Loving Lately: Miracles

We had been having a great time on our family vacations. Back-to-back, we had been making good use of our new camper and our family’s cabin in the great up north. I love making these kind of memories with my children, the kind of reassuring building blocks for life. We’d been breathing fresh air and splashing in fresh water. It’s been picturesque. I wanted to share more, but I’ve been too remote to blog. I was able to get out a few recent pictures to show a glimpse of our activities from a nearby town. 

It was Thursday night, early Friday morning and I heard the baby cough. Normally he sleeps next to me. Our family of 6 takes over the loft in the family cabin. We aren’t very regimented about who gets which one of the three twin beds, or which kid(s) crash by me on the queen. What I do know is that I was extremely disoriented and when I heard the coughing I knew the baby wasn’t by me; for the past few nights my husband was keeping the baby with him in a twin so I could sleep in. If I would have been thinking clearly I would have rolled over and turned on the antler lamp, instead I got out of bed and walked toward what I believed to be the end of the room with the window and the light. My hands were out in front of me, low enough that I would be able to feel for the lamp on top of the table and shed some light in this pitch black loft, so I could finally check in my baby. Normally we leave a night light on. At times the moon and stars are bright enough to break the darkness, but not tonight I guess it was too cloudy. How and why I took a sharp left turn I have no idea. I guess I figured I had taken enough steps and should have felt it by then so I should change my strategy. How I didn’t step on any of the kids clothes they leave in the floor at every wardrobe change or a single toy they regularly leave out down the aisle between beds still puzzles me. As I was going down I grazed the finger tips in my right hand. When I hit the floor I felt my hips sandwiched between two hard boards, probably two of the twin beds. I yelled out “Owen, turn on the light.” I actually felt a little guilty being so loud. I thought to myself that I probably just woke everyone in the whole cabin. When the lights came on I was surprised to see I was at the bottom of the stairs. 

I must have sounded like I had a concussion or amnesia. I truly was in shock. I kept asking “Where am I?” and “How did I get here?” It still doesn’t make sense. I never felt one step. I didn’t know I was going down 9 vertical feet. I remember brushing the fingertips of my right hand. I know I crashed on my left side. I believe with all my heart that there was divine intervention. I tumbled, no- rolled, no- flew? down over 11 feet diagonally of hard wood stairs and smashed through the railing of the second set of stairs on the most padded part of my body. I didn’t hit my head, or neck, or wrist, or ankle. The CT scan (available after a hour long ride to the hospital) showed no breaks or internal damage. I have some bruising, the worst with an area around my bottom about 10 inches wide and 14 inches long. I’m sore, but I’m ok. I’m alive! I finally took a few steps, with the assistance of my sister and crutches. Tonight will mark 1 week since the accident. Thanks for all of the prayers. Thank you to my family who has taken such good care of me. And thanks to God for sending your angels to look over me. They did an awesome job.

Loving Lately 🚣

Loving Lately: The Great Outdoors

Does it seem like I’ve been on vacation forever? It feels like that to me. Maybe it’s just a state of mind. Anyway school’s out and we are outdoors. We are on hikes, canoe rides and kayak trips. I can write a little from our cabin and post it when we get to town. It’s been awesome really. We don’t even have phone service let alone Internet. I am connecting with nature and recharging my batteries. We’ll be back when we’re done exploring…

A 4th of July Tale

It was the year of 2012 and I was 8 months pregnant with my third child. It had been a record breaking summer for heat and high temperatures. I usually love the 4th of July, but this year I was having a hard time getting excited about the festivities (or much of anything for that matter). We had started a new family tradition of watching the local fireworks near my parents’ recently purchased cabin in the woods. But honestly, the thought of loading up my kids with bug spray so I could chase waddle after my 18 month old daughter through the crowds of people so my 6 year old could stay out late to watch the fireworks sounded like the opposite of a good time. So when my mom suggested taking the pontoon boat down the river and catching the fireworks from the bay I didn’t hesitate. Thankfully my family and a couple of our close friends who joined in with us for our holiday getaway were graciously accommodating. Our group loaded up the pontoon and the little fishing boat to head 7 miles down the river to see what we could see. We knew the display was a little way down the shore of the great lake Superior, and that our little boats weren’t meant for rough waters -so we wouldn’t be close; but the thought of watching them with my favorite people from the lake was enticing. Once we were in the bay we dropped anchor and tied the boats side by side. We were a little early so we made small talk and indulged in our refreshments. It didn’t take long before I had to go to the bathroom. Great, right? Where was I going to go to the bathroom? The pontoon was equipped with a porta-potty accompanied by a pop-up curtain. Under normal (not-pregnant) circumstances I would have refused, but I had no choice. So everybody made room for my dad to set up the station so I could use the facilities. Except I was too embarrassed about the predicament of only being separated by a boat full of people by a curtain, that I couldn’t go. So naturally I spoke through the fabric barrier and asked everyone if they would politely make some noise, But you know how it is when you ask someone to talk, right? It’s like all of the sudden there is nothing to say. What are we going to talk about? The awkwardness? No, of course not. But what??? So I say, maybe you could sing a song? Perfect. So the first song that popped into one of their heads was Jingle Bells, to which the whole lot quickly jumped in on. The entire ordeal just struck me and I lost it; I couldn’t stop laughing. Here are my loved ones singing Christmas carols on the 4th of July, so I could relieve myself in a make shift bathroom on the back of a pontoon in the middle of a bay. Awesome. To this day I am moved by embarrassment the love and friendship. It was just about dusk so we knew the show was about to start. In the distance we could see a few little fireworks that people were beginning to set off, probably from their back yard. If you held your thumb up you could literally cover the whole firework from your view, seriously no more than an inch of a spark. But that person went all out, because they had a continuous display. Every couple of minutes we could barely make out another firework that would go off in the distance. In the meantime, something had upset my 4 year old niece and she began an inconsolable screaming cry, just a little ambiance to go with the show; of which shortly thereafter we had the realization we were watching! Those little sparks were from the local community display! Now it was time to pack it up and make our way back home. Naturally it was pitch black. The great thing about being out in the woods is that there is a vast amount of nature, however that doesn’t lend us a lot of light. My husband and brother-in-law tried to lead the way to make a path to follow in the fishing boat. The river is protected by the state and kept very natural- which means logs could be floating or better yet lodged and sticking out of the water. This could dangerous for the pontoon, so my friend Molly did her best to keep a spotlight scanning back and forth across the river to shed as much light and information as possible. The fearless leaders did their best to navigate through the dark unknown. We were probably traveling at a pace of about 2-3 miles per hour, and almost half way home when my dad (who is excellent with boats, but had never driven this pontoon at night) flipped a switch and found to all of our surprise that the pontoon had headlights! Wow, that river shone like the sun! And the look on my husband and brother-in-law’s faces was priceless, like watching the transformation of two cave dwellers becoming two stunned deer in head lights. After a couple minutes of adjustment for all, the whole river echoed our combined laughter. To this day it remains the best-worst 4th of July ever.

Featured image courtesy of Ryan French