Ebb & Flow

**please bear with me as I write this long post. I have been away from blogging for a short time and I feel like I have a lot to say about the ups and down that come and go, here are some prime examples**

It is so weird how life ebbs and flows. It is like the ocean tide; flowing in and out. Watching the tide is mesmerizing and therapeutic to me. Why then, when life flows in and out, does it throw me off?

I have found it difficult to focus the last couple of weeks. I did all I could to continue with the things that made me happy the last two months- blogging, exercising and reading positive words of encouragement. Slowly the blogging stopped, the reading came to a halt but I did manage to complete the 8 weeks of the Pretty Fierce Workout that I was so dedicated to. *pat on my back, smile*

I had last weekend to myself in my own home to refocus and regroup. I had great intentions for the weekend. Weekends like this do not happen often. This was my third weekend home alone in 6 years. It was going to be equal time of cleaning and organizing sans kids and then doing the true things that make me happy- blogging over cups of coffee, running by Lake Bemidji, rendering my She Shed drawings and reading happy words of encouragement.

I spent Friday night walking quietly through Target and then went home to cry over a chick flick, both things that felt good.

I began Saturday with a plan to clean for a while, work out, and run into town. The cleaning felt so good- it was a deep clean of the kitchen that left me in a sweat. So, I went with my heart and kept cleaning and decided against the work out. *win for going with the flow* Eventually I made into town, ahem, to Target, again, ahem, day four in a row. This time it was for a few things the house needed. I stopped by KD Floral in Bemidji for some much needed house plants. See, we have this planter near our stairs that has never been occupied by anything but randomness. At times it houses our keys, at times it holds things that are meant to be taken downstairs, but really, it was now the home for any toys that our kids decided to put there. KD Floral was so good to me and helped me select a few plants that would do well in the space. I met a friend for lunch at The Cabin and accidentally locked my keys in the car. *sad face* After I tried to think of how I was going to get into my locked house to get the spare car key, I saw a college kid and his dad moving out of an apartment. It dawned on me, I left my car windows open a crack for my new plants, maybe these lovely people would have a wire hanger for me to use. I felt like a criminal trying to get into my own car, but with a few tweaks and a few prayers, I was able to grab onto my keys and open up the car. **win for me, gosh I was on a role** Lunch was grand. It is always great fun to get caught up with a friend I rarely see. She was one of the first friends I had upon moving to Bemidji. I don’t know if she realizes the impact she had on my mental and social well being when I met her. I headed back home to plant my plants. All of a sudden my neighbor pulled up to see if I was missing a dog or knew of the person the dog belonged to in the back of his car. A beautiful black lab curled up in the back seat. I didn’t know, but felt so bad for this grey haired pup. I told the neighbor that if he needed help housing her for the weekend that I was free to help. Less than an hour later the doorbell rang. Guess who was the proud “owner” of a dog for the weekend? Ebb and flow, ebb and flow I chanted in my mind as I thought of how much my plans all of a sudden changed. She was a quiet companion of mine. I made her some food, called a few people to see if anyone had reported a missing dog and put her smiling face on Facebook in hopes to find her owner. She had to have been missed. This well behaving sweetie was stealing my heart already. I had to have a talk with myself to not get attached. My “fun” things were not getting completed, but maybe this was God’s way of saying to me, slow down Kirsten. I moved her up to the porch and cuddled up next to her for the night. I put in This Is Us, Season One, and binged watched a few episodes.

Sunday morning came and I was due to be a Greeter at church. I got the pup hooked up on the rope outside and quickly ran to town. I made it to church and then ran to Target- again. Dog food, toys and a leash made it into the cart. Large poster paper to hang up all over the neighborhood was purchased too.

Together, the pup and I drove around and hung up signs. I just couldn’t believe this baby was missing from someone’s life. The house got cleaned as she relaxed outside, I gave the pup a bath and cuddled up as we waited for T and the girls to arrive home from their weekend away. The girls thought she was great. We took her for a walk and then we brought her to the porch again. She and I slept together one last night. The love and peace in her eyes was beyond a feeling I can explain. She brought a sense of calm to me.

I won’t ramble too much about Monday. Long story short, we ended up finding this dog’s home. She had a chip and we were able to confirm where she came from. She is 12 years old, newly relocated to a home with one of her owners and became anxious with this move, hence the reason her for walking away from home. One of her owners is trying to find a way to make her less anxious. I have to have faith in God that a remedy will be found and she will find the calm she used to have; the calm that she showcased with me for the weekend. It was hard on my heart and my soul to leave her. There is a special place in my heart for the pups that come into my life. Maggie, Rookie, Ajax, Izze and now Daya…ok, I have to mention Lacy, Roxie and Logan too…see these pups are basically humans to me.

Life works in magical ways. Sometimes we see the magic and sometimes it left unknown. I will continue to flow as the ocean does. In and out. Sometimes there are some wicked waves we have to ride out. If we hang on tight, the calm will surface again.

Project Happiness: April Review

What happened to April? I can not believe that I am sitting here writing about my happiness journey again. The month was spent focusing on Parenthood. I am the organized parent, although, I can’t seem to remember that Stella has library day each Friday and needs to return her book. I get the clothes organized, toys put away, read books, know who got what toy or outfit from what person and when. I am the Type A parent. A bit OCD on things that don’t always allow me to be the more laid back, go with the flow, mommy I would like to be. For the month of April I was to focus on the following items:

Acknowledge the little’s feelings

Make happy moments

Take time for projects

Peaceful, cheerful, joyous moments

Act the way I want to feel

Repeat their concerns

Don’t say “no” or “stop”

That might be hard…

If I had a magical wand

Cleaning company

Anticipate, savor, express, recall

Up until the last week I would say I followed the more laid back mentality that I strive for but lack. I was happier. I can’t pin point the reason why I struggled the past week. Possibly, the full moon and Em’s energy was pushing my limits. I feel like I am good at pointing out the little details so as they did something well or positive I tried to crouch down to their level and thank them or acknowledge the positive attitude they were portraying. We are, more often than not, doing projects. They are my little artists. I don’t always find the projects peaceful and joyous so I tried to focus on the fun they were having rather than the clean up that would follow. I believe that I am going to constantly add in the rule “act the way I want to feel” as I think it is a struggle for me, but a rule I can keep on the top of my mind and make it my constant goal. I am a good listener, possibly too good when it comes to the kids. I listen to things I should not listen to. When they come to me with a concern that may not be a “real” concern, it is easy for me to get upset or agitated. This month I crept down to their height and repeated what they were concerned about and then followed up with words that showed them that it was no big deal or tried to help them through it. Hard to do, very hard to do, but I tried to not use the words “stop” or “no”. I would ask why they were doing something, or ask what they could do differently. This made me step back a moment, take a breath, and then gave them time to think about how they should fix something. The book suggested to use the words “that might be hard, but let me show you” this. I found this one hard to do. It is sometimes easier for me to just do something for them, rather than teach them a way to make it easier. This is a true point as to why I didn’t end up going into teaching, although, growing up I thought I was destined to be a teacher. Kids wouldn’t have learned anything from me, I would have just completed their homework for them! I have yet to set up a “cleaning company” with my kids as the key employees, I think they would like this “game” so I do need to tackle it yet. I also need to show them that if mommy had a magical wand, life would be so much easier, but mommy doesn’t have one. We have to work hard for what we get. Stella loves to hear stories about herself as a baby. I am trying to savor these moments as a mom. Time goes so fast, my babies are not babies anymore. They appear to be growing each day and I have to take the time to truly implant these moments in my brain. I want to be able to recall them for years to come.

** I used this photo as my backdrop on my phone so I had easy access to the reminders that I needed for the month.

Monday Meals: Bisquick Cheeseburger Pot Pie & Cannellini Bean and Pistachio Hummus

Last weekend I decided to organize our pantry and see what food we needed to use up. For some reason we ended up with a rather large box of Bisquick, something we don’t typically buy. I googled the Bisquick website and found the Cheeseburger Pot Pie recipe. It was a keeper, even T said we will needed to make it again. After the kids went to bed I used the rest of the box to make pancake after pancake. We froze three large freezer bags full of pancakes. This makes breakfast time in the morning quicker a little more fun for girls.

Bisquick Cheeseburger Pot Pie

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef

1 1/2 cup chopped onion

1 t seasoning salt

12 oz frozen mixed veggies

1 cup Bisquick

2 cups milk

4 eggs, beaten

2 cups shredded cheese

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees

Spray 13 x 9 pan with oil

Cook beef and onion over medium-high heat and, drain off the grease, sprinkle the season salt and mix.

In a bowl whisk Bisquick, milk and eggs.

Pour beef and veggie mixture in pan.

Pour the Bisquick mixture on top.

Bake 30 minutes.

Remove Pot Pie and sprinkle the cheese on top.

Bake another 10-20 minutes.

Another item we had an abundance of was cans of Cannellini Beans. Thankfully, I had just flipped through Kristin Cavallari’s True Roots cookbook and saw her Cannellini Bean and Pistachio Hummus. I love many forms of Hummus and this one has quite a great flavor. I added an extra 2 cloves of garlic for an added zing. I will eat this with cut up fresh veggies for lunch. It would be great on a wrap with sprouts and veggies for a more filling meal.

Cannellini Bean and Pistachio Hummus

Ingredients:

2 cans of Cannellini Beans

1-3 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup shelled dry roasted pistachios

2 T champagne vinegar

2 t parsley

1 T tahini

2 t lemon juice

1 t lemon zest

1 t cumin

1 1/2 t sea salt

1/2 cup olive oil

Directions:

Add all items to Vitamix or high powered blender. Keep refrigerated.

Friday Favorites: Fighting through It

Last night all I wanted to do was go to bed. Things had to be done though. Preparing for the next day, for the weekend events and THE workout. The kids went to bed, speaking of fighting…they fought that one, but down they finally went. Once the clothes were folded this mama put on her workout gear. Glutes, quads and hamstrings were conquered. The sweat always feels good, but what’s even better? That stretch and breath when it is finished. I have 1.25 weeks of this Pretty Fierce Workout, I will win this fight! Get those workout clothes on and get your sweat on!

Friday Fun Fact: this shirt was given to me in Kindergarten when I lived in Bismarck to celebrate 100 years. Talk about True Vintage!

Thoughts during Sunday Mass

Ever since T and I got married we have gone to Sunday mass more often than not. Even with babies and toddlers we both felt it was important to have them there. We would bring toys, books and snacks for them when they were younger and we had to occupy their time. We would remove them if they needed to leave for a bit, but even if they were squirmy we tried to keep them there. This is us teaching them our weekly tradition if you will. This isn’t the mindset of all young parents that attend a church. And that is ok. There is more than one right way to handle this chapter of life. We are blessed to have them now at an age where they can attend Sunday School or Children’s Liturgy of the Word most Sunday mornings. This allows T and I to truly listen to what is said and gives us time to reflect.

This past Sunday I felt like there were more children talking, squirming around us and possibly being escorted out, even Stella needed to go and get a Kleenex. Upon leaving mass we were handed the bulletin. I read the front page letter from the Director of Music & Liturgy, Aana Freihammer. It spoke to me and the thoughts I had of the children in mass that morning. It touched me so much that I reached out to Aana in hopes she would let me share her words. I am thankful she said yes. Please take the time to read them. As a parent, or anyone really, who notices the young children at church, these words are important. To the parents who struggle with their antsy little ones, hang in there! You will get to listen to the words again soon.

From the Desk of Aana Freihammer

April 22, 2018

A few years ago, I was directing a choir for a Sunday Mass. We were about to start the Eucharistic prayer, when a toddler found the light switch for the entire church and flipped it up

and down. After grandma found him, he raced to the altar, grabbed a pumpkin (revealing to the congregation that I had used fake pumpkins instead of real pumpkins, whoops!) and gingerly placed it on the presider chair. He headed back to the altar, while the altar servers shepherded him back to his grandma. Everyone laughed, and the grandma was beside herself with embarrassment. This

story is funny, but every time I recall the family, I get a twinge of disappointment, as I never saw this family at church again, I’m not sure if they ever came back. This is the cautionary tale of how easily we can influence anyone more deeply in the community at Mass or discourage them from ever praying with us again.

The liturgy that we attend every Sunday is a unique opportunity where faithful from all over the Bemidji area participate in the sacrifice of the Mass and receive the Eucharist. The faithful coming to Mass includes people from all walks of life, all ages and every ability. The communal nature of the parish needs every part of the flock. The young and old learn from each other. The walking help those who cannot walk, the seeing help the blind. These dynamics in a catholic community, like St. Philip’s, illustrate healthy parish family. We are all responsible for each other, for everyone in the community. We learn faith from each other, we learn to hope from one another, we learn about God from one another. “The vocation of humanity is to show forth the image of God and to be transformed into the image of the Father’s only Son.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1877)

I do not want to over-romanticize community. Working with others is difficult and taxing. People are annoying, kids are naughty in church, the man next to you may seem a little strange. The communal nature of the church is imperfect, just like your imperfect family meals at home in which food is thrown on the floor, milk is spilled, or someone chews with their mouth open. It is tempting to wish we had a more perfect setting without crying babies, better behaved kids, holier people. The imperfect during Mass can distract us from the transcendent experience around us. Wishing that our liturgical prayer experiences were more perfect would completely miss the point – Christ is here to transform us, and we are not yet transformed, therefore our liturgies are going to be imperfect. “The church is not a museum of saints, but a hospital for sinners. (Pope Francis).”

We can expect then, bringing humanity together to celebrate this liturgy together will be messy. Yes, we will strive to be better at praying the Mass better. Yes, we will strive to have our kids behave at Mass, but expect things to be hard, messy, noisy, complicated. We need to all keep showing up and staying in the transformative experience. Children, and adults will be distracted. Those who do not come to Church struggle with rituals that are foreign and overwhelming. Expect imperfection because none of us are holy yet, and if we judge too quickly we could discourage families from ever coming back to experience Mass with us again.

We belong at Mass, all of us, from those searching, to those full of faith. Even on your own journey, if you do not feel prepared to receive communion, you do not have to receive. Just come and pray with us anyway. Coming together for one hour, from all walks of life is the one of the core principles of our Catholic faith and the essential component to Sunday Mass. “The Church is not a community of perfect people, but of disciples on a journey, who follow the Lord because they know they are sinners and in need of his pardon. Thus, Christian life is a school of humility which opens us to grace.” Pope Francis

https://stphilipsbemidji.org/bulletins/20180422.pdf

Monday Meals: Breakfast for Dinner

How about breakfast for dinner? My kids don’t request it too often, but it is definitely something that is done in our household. Most of the times when we do pancakes it is out of a box for the pure simplicity it offers to our short hours together. The Vitamix Recipe book has a great and easy recipe though too. If you don’t have buttermilk in the house you can add 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice to a cup of milk and let it sit for 10 minutes. We never have buttermilk in the house. My friend Ashley made us pancakes once and added food coloring to the batter. I don’t know if we have had “white” pancakes since. This morning we added sprinkles to the batter once it was poured onto the griddle.

https://www.vitamix.com/us/en_us/Recipes/Buttermilk-Pancakes

I was part of a Facebook group a couple of years ago that a gal put together. She prepared weekly menus for the group that were healthy and wonderful tasting. One that I use often instead of pancakes is an Egg/Banana Pancake. Here is how I make them:

Beat 2 eggs in a bowl.

Add cinnamon (I love this spice so I add quite a bit), a splash of vanilla and beat again.

Mash a banana and then add to the egg mixture. Beat again.

Heat pan on low-medium heat and spray with coconut oil.

Cook like an omelet, or mini pancakes. I usually make 4 small pancakes.

Eat with fruit or maple syrup.

One thing I wish my kids requested more of was French Toast. We made this often when I was growing up. I use the Better Homes and Garden’s recipe which adds just a bit more flavor.

French Toast

Ingredients

4 eggs, beaten

1 cup milk

2 T sugar

2 t vanilla

1/2 t vanilla

1/4 t nutmeg

Loaf of bread, I prefer the English Muffin Toast

Directions:

In a bowl beat eggs together then add milk, sugar, vanilla and spices.

Coat both sides of bread in the egg mixture.

On the griddle over medium heat cook each slice of bread, about 2 minutes on each side.

Serve with butter (optional) and maple syrup.

True Roots on a Sunday Morning

I got to wake up to the sunrise this morning. This is one of the things that makes me happiest, being able to wake up with the sun. Northern Minnesota days see little sun for so many months out of the year. My alarm goes off at 5:30, or earlier if Emery wakes me up, which is pretty often. Today, Sunday, the sun woke me up at 5:51. A win for me! I got to shower in peace. Stella and I got a few minutes to snuggle even before Emery came stomping up the stairs. Stella and I do not get many minutes of time alone, the look of sadness crept across her face when she heard Miss Em coming upstairs. I gave her an extra squeeze and the lightest smile I could while I kissed her nose. Once the kids and I were ready for church I was blessed with a few moments on the couch, Spiced Latte in hand and the newest cookbook of my collection, True Roots. Thanks Kristin Cavallari for the Spanish Spiced Latte recipe. I made it per your directions yesterday and today I changed it up a bit.

Spiced Latte

Ingredients

Organic Cinnamon Coffee, brewed in my Keurig

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 t nutmeg

Dash of cayenne pepper

1/4-1/2 cup almond milk

1 T maple syrup

Brew coffee (I am a wimp, so it is made on a tall setting with my Keurig.

Mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.

Heat milk.

Pour milk into coffee cup.

Whisk in spice mixture.

Stir in maple syrup.

Friday Favorites: Good Bye Winter Clothes

It was five years ago that we had snow in April. Much more snow than this year. So, I guess we should be content with snow on the ground on April 20, 2018? That is Northern Minnesota for us. Nothing gives me pleasure like throwing all of the winter coats, snow pants, hats and mittens into the washing machine one last time before being packed away until next winter. I am certain we may need the hats and mittens a couple of more times, but I have faith that spring is here to stay. Bring out the sandals and dresses for I am ready to show off these pasty white legs! I may as well embrace them, just another perk to living in the upper Midwest. Happy Spring everyone!

Added bonus, look at our little Stella and her cousins on Lake Bemidji. This just happened to show up on my Facebook Feed.

Holy & Well Worn

There is something about a well worn piece of clothing. Something that makes my heart smile and encourages me to write about. My mind associates memories with music and clothes. Why does it do that? I don’t know. I get the music part of it, but I don’t understand the clothing piece of it so much. I guess they both tap into senses that speak to me.

These jeans I bought at Banana Republic during the weekend that a friend and I were in Minneapolis taking our NCIDQ exam, 7-8 years ago. We had stopped by the Albertville outlet mall. They have lasted through two pregnancies and have often been my “test” pants. If they feel snug, well then, it is time to amp up my workouts and lay off of the sweets. I guess they will no longer be part of my Friday Jean Day Work Attire, but they will be my weekend fun jeans.

Monday Meals: Southwest Quinoa Salad & Mango/Avacado

In Minnesota we are (patiently, or not) waiting for spring to actually arrive. On paper it is, in real life, it is so very not here. We will try anything for it to show it’s beautiful green face. Go ahead and try these spring and light salads. Maybe eating like it is spring will help. Fingers crossed, toes crossed, eyes, legs….and anything else that we can cross.

Southwest Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

1 cup cooked quinoa

14 oz black beans

14 oz corn

1/2 large red pepper, chopped

4 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

4 T lime juice

1/3 cup olive oil

1 t cumin

1/2 t pepper

1 t salt

Directions

Add beans, corn, red pepper, onions and cilantro to cooked quinoa.

Whisk lime juice, olive oil, cumin, pepper and salt together.

Pour over quinoa mixture.

Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

Mango/Avocado Salad

Ingredients

1 mango

1 avocado

1/2 bunch basil leaves

2 T balsamic vinegar

2 T brown rice syrup

1 T lime juice

1/4 olive oil

Sea salt

Directions

Chop mango and avocado.

Mix rest of ingredients with mango and avocado.

Makes 2 servings.