Surviving with One Car

Yes, you read that right, we have officially been a one car family for almost 6 weeks now! To say I was excited about our decision to junk my car

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Now that we have made it through 6 weeks, I can honestly say, it hasn’t been so bad. really. I’ve almost even enjoyed it, gasp. Crazy, I know! Truly, it has not been bad at all. For starters we never have to transfer those ridiculous carseats from car to car!!! Ah, that task alone was going to be the end of me;).

We also have definitely been saving money. Not only through insurance and gas but also on groceries! By having one car I only go to the grocery store once a week. I never realized how much extra money I wasted spent on those frivolous trips to the store. We have proudly been under budget for groceries each week since going down to one car. Another bonus has been the increase in communication between Eric and I. We faithfully have been sticking to our weekly check-in meetings! If for no other reason, to get our schedules in order for the upcoming week. Due to the nature of Eric’s job there is some flexibility when it comes to the car. He does not have an 8-5pm job. Some nights he is gone until 9 or even 10pm. So he can sometimes come home for lunch or go in to the office later. Now that we are down a car we have tried to make a few mornings ( usually Tuesdays and Fridays) work from home days. That way the girls and I can run to a friends for a play date or get out of the house in one way or another, and Eric can set up office from home. This has worked out extremely well.

Don’t get me wrong having one car has also been difficult. For example if we get one more snowstorm you just might have to admit me somewhere!! I definitely have a strong case of spring fever. And that mixed with not being able to get out of the house whenever I want is getting old! But I rest on the fact that we are possibly days away from 50+ degree sunny weather ( on a regular basis) and then the girls and I can walk to numerous parks, stores, and various other outings that do not require a vehicle. Although I would not want to live like this forever, we are making it work and life has been a lot simpler, which we are all loving!

Good for the Soul

I stole this phrase from my friend because it perfectly described this past weekend. A few months ago my 5 closest and dearest friends ( from high school, college and early married life) decided it was time to start an annual girls getaway. We decided a cabin in the woods was the exact escape we were craving. A place where we could relax, catch up, sip wine, and just be.

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From the moment our plans were set I was looking forward to this weekend. Out of the six of us, I am the only one who lives away. Being estranged from these girls is one of the hardest parts to lliving in Indiana. Thank goodness for smart phones, the Internet, and Facebook; for they shorten the distance between us.

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The weekend I had been waiting for was finally here!! I spent the morning cleaning, packing, and making sure all was set on the home front. I would be gone from Friday afternoon until Sunday. My first overnight away from both girls. Was I nervous? No. Would I miss them? Absolutely! I was excited for the special alone time Liesel and Moira would have with Eric. My only hesitation was that I had not weened MJ yet, but as long as I’m not around she usually is fine. This weekend would be the test:). And of course Eric was up for it! Lucky to have such a supportive husband, who sees the value in my girls weekend away!

The car was packed, kisses were given and it was time for me to hit the road. About ten minutes down the interstate I was struck by the quiet in the car. I smiled to myself and realized how much I was going to enjoy my weekend away. To pass the time I listened to a fabulous book on cd (one I had started reading weeks ago, but hadn’t found the time to finish), Bringing Up Bebe. All you Mama friends out there give this book a whirl! My five hour drive flew by! Before I knew it I was in Grand Rapids meeting my favorites for dinner. We finished the last leg of the trip together.

The cabin was in a quiet, wooded and very secluded area. Just what we were all longing for. We also had little to no cell phone service, a much welcomed break! We were truly able to turn off and unplug. Except for one short phone call and a few minimal text messages I had no communication with my loves at home. I knew they were in the best hands, I had no worries.

That evening we stayed up until the early morning talking and catching up. It’s amazing how much I’d missed these girls! Thankful that we can always pickup right where we left off. God has been so good to me in protecting my friendship with these awesome ladies!

Except for a quick trip out for burgers at a local tavern ( delicious) our weekend was spent at the cabin. Awesome conversations. Talking about our struggles, challenges and successes. Encouraging each other, laughing together and making memories to last a lifetime. This weekend was without a doubt good for the soul.

Life with Two

It’s true what they say, life with two is crazy! I remember while pregnant with Moira everyone telling me how easy you have it with one. just wait until #2 arrives, you’ll wonder why you thought life with just one was busy.. I even remember moms telling me that going from 0-1 kids is just as big of a jump as going from 1-2.

When Moira Jane first came home, I waited for the craziness to commence. But all seemed to be going smoothly. Liesel adored her sister (some would argue perhaps too much;)). It did not take long for us to find a new rhythm and that quickly became our new normal.

I remember with Liesel it took me weeks to venture out alone. With two, we went on outings the moment I was ok’d to drive. Life was busy with an almost two yo, not the newborn; she was easy!! And that definition stayed true for a while. MJ just went with the flow. Barely ever crying. Slept on the go. Ate wherever, whenever, for any duration. If we went on walks, to the park, story time, I could just throw her in the woven wrap and she’d sleep away, or be content awake. Life was easy and I knew it! Going from 1-2 was a piece of cake. Well, until recently;)

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I would say my challenges the first year of having two kids were minimal. I had prepared myself for these horror stories of life with two, and felt lucky to have it so easy. However, things have changed drastically in the past month or so. Moira started walking. And she has developed her own will and desires when out and about.

Life went from easy trips to the library with one being worn and one holding my hand. To one wanting to run anywhere and every where she can. Moira is on the move and boy life got a whole lot crazier!!!

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The saving grace is that we have entered a wonderful new stage with Liesel; that of understanding! I can explain to her what I expect her to do on outings and for the most part she adheres to my demands. Que deep exhalation. This stage is an absolute joy as well! Moira is beginning to talk and take part in activities. She enjoys making silly faces and loves to dance with Liesel. You should see the fun these two have!! Car rides are a riot with all the laughter and conversations. Liesel has also really started taking on the role of big sister. She is constantly asking MJ questions, [insert high-pitched voice] can you say doggie? Daddy? Do you want sips?

Although this new stage has thrown us new challenges, we are up for it!! I can already tell I am going to love it ( well for the most part).

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Irish Roots

With St. Patricks day just days away I thought it time to make our Liesel school themes revolve around shamrocks and green and everything Irish. We have enjoyed a week full of fun green activities: Painting shamrocks, making leprechauns, eating green vegetables ( an added bonus to pushing the holiday) and green popcorn, as well as green rice for sensory while searching for gold coins. This week has definitely been a treat!! It is funny how holidays ( even those you never really thought much about) become amazingly fun and interesting with kids:).

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Raise your hand if you like green popcorn!!

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In attempt to get in touch with my inner Irish roots, I decided to make a Corned Beef dinner. Having never attempted this meal before, I was slightly nervous. It turns out the meal was extremely easy to throw together and loved by all of us! While shopping at Trader Joes last weekend I spotted a brisket on sale. Grabbed some cabbage, turnips, carrots and onions and we were in business! Here is the recipe I followed.

Ingredients
2lbs Corned Beef Brisket, lean
1c pearl onions
2 medium turnips peeled, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
4-5 red skin potatoes, quartered
1 medium cabbage, cut into 6ths
1/4c parsley, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4tsp whole peppercorns
3c water

Trim all fat off of the brisket. Place all the ingredients into your slow cooker, except cabbage.

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Cook on low for 6 hours. Add in chopped cabbage and cook on high for an additional 1-2hours. I waited until meat was fork tender. As an additional side I mashed the red skin potatoes from to pot with a little garlic. Mmm. The O’Keefe and McGinnis lineages would have been pleased.

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I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Irish Blessings,

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

The Switch

Well we did it. We made the big switch. It has now been over a week since the girls started sleeping in the sister room. And I am happy to report that is has been a huge success!!

I had been itching to move the girls into the same room for quite some time. (and no I am absolutely not pregnant!). I believe there is a special bond that forms between siblings that share [a room]. My sister and I shared a room for many years, and although there was fighting about who stole who’s clothes, or who made what mess, there were also lots of wonderful memories. Like climbing into bed with Jenny when I was scared and listening to her tell me stories and making up plays to perform to our other family members. It definitely was a time that I look back on with fondness. I also believe that sharing a room helps you to not be as selfish: It is no longer your room, it is no longer your property, but a place that belongs to both of you. A place to love and take care of together. I know that my girls are only 2 and 1/2 and 1, and most of these memories won’t be made until they are older. I still feel like the foundations can be built now and that mixed with the desire to create more space in our cozy little home, I thought why wait?

I was completely prepared for this transition to be extemely difficult! Visions of hour long parties in the middle of the night, early morning wake ups, and endless hours of trying to get the girls to sleep were at the front of my mind. And naps? Well I honestly did not believe those would happen at all. I expected to have to split the girls up at nap time and was even prepared to pull the rug out from under the whole thing if necessary!

To my surprise the transition was easier than switching L to her big girl bed ( and that went smoothly)! Here is a run down of our first few nights.

On Friday afternoon Eric and I decided tonight was as good a night as any to try, the switch. We would have the entire weekend to work at it with both of us present ( incase four hands were necessary). Here is a glimpse at the new room

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That night at dinner Eric asked Liesel if she would like Moira to start sleeping in her room? A gigantic excited smile spread across her face, she loved the idea of a sister room instantly! We decided to put the girls to bed at the same time. It was a great feeling to read our books, say our prayers and sing our songs as an entire family. Then it was time for the moment of truth… The night started with some giggling, which then turned to tears ( for Moira). After a few trips back and forth, they were finally quiet. Success!! High fives were slapped and a glass of wine was toasted. The girls slept through the entire night. And even when MJ woke at 5am I was able to quickly put her back down( L remained asleep through the whole thing) until our usual 7am wake up!! Pinch me, this really cannot be this easy I kept thinking. Surely, nap time will be an issue. Our first nap time was a bit more challenging than bedtime the night before. Eric and I heard lots of giggling, Moira jumping up and down in her crib, numerous songs including some of Liesel’s self compositions;), stuffed animals flying through the air, and a few more trips back and forth to the room. But after about 45 minutes… Parents conquer again, two sleeping beauties!

The next few days all follow similar patterns. Lots of laughter, songs, talking etc but always ending in sleep by both girls. It’s been a true testament to how sound they both sleep. Even when one wakes in the middle of the night, the other just sleeps right through! My fears of middle of the night parties have disappeared completely! There have been zero 5am starts to our days. And in the past ten days MJ has napped at every one and Liesel has only missed two ( which is not out of the ordinary). She has even successfully completed her quiet times on those days while Moira naps right next to her! To say I am proud is an understatement.

Listening to the girls talk and giggle at the beginning and end of their days has been such a joy. Eric and I are starting to see this sister friendship really begin to take form.

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S’mazing Bars

So, I definitely have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. I love the incredible ideas on there. I love the creative outlet it has provided for me. I love pretending that each and every pin I’ve made is not only absolutely doable, but will in fact be completed by myself in the near future. I however hate that every time I open up the app there are tons of recipes (mainly desserts) staring me in the face, begging me to try them!! Seriously, I’m blaming Pinterest for my expanding waistline;)

This recipe is one of those dessert recipes I’ve been dying to try. Lucky for me I actually had an excuse to make them. It was our week to host bible study! Thank you dear friends for always being my guinea pigs and providing me with a semi-regular opportunity to tap into my Martha Stewart side and give in to my Pinterest cravings!

This week I decided to try a recipe for S’more Bars. And they were indeed S’mazing! I adapted the recipe found here

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Ingredients

2 1/4 cups flour
1tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt
1tsp cinnamon
2/3 cups butter, softened
1cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla
2 sleeves of graham crackers
11oz dark chocolate chunks
1 1/4 cups mini marshmallows
3 Hershey’s chocolate bars

Preheat oven to 375. Sift together flour, soda, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside. Next, cream butter and sugars for 2-3 minutes on high speed.

Once the butter mixture is light and fluffy add in eggs one at a time and vanilla. Now slowly pour dry ingredients into the bowl. Continuing to mix on medium until all is fully incorporated.

By hand, stir in chocolate chunks and one cup of marshmallows. Feel free to try a pinch, mmm good:).

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On a rimmed baking sheet lay graham crackers down so that all are touching and no cracks are seen. Add large, ice cream scoop size, spoonfuls of cookie batter on top of the crackers and gently press down. There will be spots untouched by cookie dough and that is fine. Cookies dough will spread once cooked.

Place pan in the oven for 5 minutes. Take out and press individual Hershey pieces on top of cookies. Also press remaining mini marshmallows. Return pan to the oven and cook for 5-7 minutes, until marshmallows are a perfect golden color. Take out and let bars sit for 10-15 minutes. Cut into squares, following the lines of the graham crackers and enjoy!

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These were a huge hit. Everyone had at least seconds, which was awesome because that meant fewer left over for Eric and I to eat ourselves:). Cheers Pinterest for another fantastic recipe, my love for you still out weighs my hatred.