Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pictures on a Beautiful Summer Morning

On Saturday we had some yearly pictures done of the kiddos. Even though we took them at 7:30 in the morning, Sophia was so cheery and had a great time exploring the park to find some pretty shady spots. Leo was not is such a great mood, but his sweet eyes made up for the lack of smiles!  Our friend and photographer Alzbeta was nice enough to give me permission to share a sample of the pictures with you all. I hope you enjoy!

Photo credit: Voboril Photography  -

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


It is nice to sit in a chair for about 5 minutes and I guess I figured I would do a little update as it has been a while since I was able to do so. Life changes so quickly, and can do a 180 right in front of you. While we had planned to stay in Denver for the upcoming year, after about a month of searching and failing to locate new affordable housing, we were surprised and pleased to be offered the option to move back to North Dakota. My poor parents were then called upon to put a leg forward and do the groundwork of helping us to find a place to rent for next year, as it was so late in the game there was no way of us getting up there before the move to find a place ourselves. Trying to get this all done while on a cross-country drive for an ordination and a short family visit made it even more interesting. Lo and behold we found a great place that we are very excited about, and more space for less rent $ makes me exceedingly happy.

This sudden change in plans has added some stress, trying to accomplish a cross-country move in a months time while Paul has been working out of town in FL for 17 days total this month has been a great challenge. It is a good day today though, I made some significant progress and I can now see the entire floor for the first time in over a week. :) So glad he will be home tomorrow. I think the kiddos and I need a brief period of separation to regain our sanity! I am trying to enjoy this last day of relative quiet before things get completely crazy and then we are loading and gone in a week. Sophia is very excited about the big yellow truck that is coming to take us to Fargo. She can't wait to see it and the grandparents. I am glad she is excited, I worry that such big change is hard on them, and I know she will greatly miss all her friends here just as I will miss mine!

Leo gets bigger every day. He stands really well all by himself for extended periods of time and has taken a few steps here and there a few weeks ago. He smacked his head hard, so he has been extremely cautious since. One of these days he is just going to take off though, and I hope the move is done by then. It is too crazy keeping up with them both. :)

Here is the story of the last month or so in pictures:

Mother's Day: Paul made me some awesome bacon scrambled eggs!

 What a ham he is...

We celebrated Sophia's 3rd birthday at a park in Lakewood and invited family and her friends for a small party. It was a bit windy but lots of fun!

I made and piped my own dark chocolate cupcakes with vanilla whipped frosting. They were a hit!

Paul and one of his TD's Sam and her fiance. Paul is in their wedding in September.

The ladies watching over Leo while I was taking care of things.

He loved the attention and the sun.

Then he discovered Avila's cupcake...

Well if you won't share... I will just take it!

Kendrick Lake Park

Saying goodbye to Paul's program director and my friend Holly! We will miss her but wish her the best as she heads to Illinois next year.

Getting ready to sing Happy Birthday.

Couldn't get the candle lit, it was way too windy. It was great to see everyone and a huge thanks to you all for coming out to celebrate Sophia's special day with us!

Leo helping me do May newsletters

Happy boy, although he is a handful when I am dressing him.

Paul and his friend Donald ran in the Denver Tough Mudder again this year. Soph wanted to go too, but I am not sure she would have enjoyed the 10 mile run up a black diamond with icy muddy water obstacles followed by a dosing of electric shock therapy. This is them before they came back covered in mud!

Sophia and Leo swinging in the park after we had their pictures taken on Saturday. She had a blast... he wasn't having the best of days.... poor Leo!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

April Showers Bring More May Showers?

After an incredibly dry spring, summer and fall last year, I cannot get over how wet it has been this spring. Not that we are complaining, we need the moisture (obligatory mantra in Denver), but this week has been a hard one.

Mark Loidolt flew out to visit us on Friday. It was a nice evening, and Sophia and I took a ladies trip to DSW and we picked out a cheap pair of water sandals for me off the clearance rack and a bottle of nail polish for her. Paul and Mark were on the deck enjoying a beer, so we joined them and painted Sophia's nails before we sent her off to bed. We had a beautiful Saturday! Paul and Mark spent the morning and afternoon in Ft Collins at the New Belgium Brewery and some rabbit cheese place, while the kiddos and I went to a fabulous birthday party for Anni who turned 3! It was at a nice park in Lakewood near our apartment, and the kiddos spent hours playing on the great play set, watching a man and his son fly a neat bird kite, feeding the ducks and geese, chasing millions of bubbles, eating great food and cupcakes, and running and playing some more. When I got them home around 1:00 they both passed out for about 3 hours they were so worn out. Sunday, Paul and Mark went to a Rockies game before Mark had to fly back to ND, and that day I was feeling a little tough. Monday and Tuesday I felt awful and between the fever and head/neckaches I was completely useless. Today I was feeling much better, but the kiddos and I are getting some apartment fever from not getting out since Mass on Sunday morning.

Flannel Friday and nail polish!

Posing like Daddy does for his Insanity picture!

Mark and Paul in da Flannel

Silly Leo. He will kneel like this forever.

Sophia was helping me start my tomato plants, and she was having a grand time playing in the dirt for the pot we are going to fill with flowers.
These two are so cuddly!  I was taking my shower to look out and see Leo so angry as he was trying to stuff TP in the toilet. I made Paul take a picture. Poor Leo!
Listening to some music, and watching some home videos of her and Leo.

        Below: Sophia and I got to go solo to gymnastics, so I got some
        pictures. She really likes the tunnel, bar, and jumping on    


My gold star for today was keeping all electronics off including the tablet, tv, computer and her vreader. This was nothing short of a miracle considering it was cold, cloudy and raining all day, and we have had a challenging week. Adding to the fun was the lack of naps from either of them and Leo teething.

We did everything we could think of to pass the day: played in the tunnel, read books, made cookies, baked a spaghetti squash (which Sophia cleaned out herself), played in the rain until we got too cold while Leo took his first nap, washed all the bedding in the house, they jumped on my bed while singing the monkey's on the bed song, played little people, banged pots and pans in the kitchen, took baths......

By 4:30 I was running out of ideas, and noticed that all the pillows were on the floor already, so we did a quick clean up of all the other toys on the floor and played Hot Lava for a good hour. (Our version was tickle lava, where you get tickled mercilessly if you fall off the pillows :)

Leo thought it was great just chasing us around as we "hopped" back and forth from the pieces of furniture. Even Paul joined in when he got home so I could get the grilling done and food on the table for supper. Mission Accomplished!

The place was a disaster by the end of the day, but we made it through. Now both kiddos are sound asleep, Paul did the dishes while I did pickup duty, and I get to sit for 5 minutes. Here is to hoping that my mattress pad is dry before I have to make my bed before I crash for the night. Stupid thing takes all day to dry with the plastic backing.... and it is too expensive to replace to risk it in the dryer.....

Food: Nourishment for the Body!

I have come to realize how much I LOVE food as of late. Not just any food mind you... but quality, flavorful, creative, healthy food! I used to be so picky, and anything that was not in the cheese or bread family was pushing the borders of what I liked to consume. Thankfully, living in both Madison, WI and Denver, CO, traveling to different parts of the country with my husband's family as well as meeting so many different people from all walks of life has taught me to stretch myself and my palate. It is only in the last two years that I learned that not only do I enjoy a wide variety of spices, that I actually like Indian, Japanese, Thai, African, and a whole host of other foods I had always been too afraid to try! I have been on a journey of learning to cook things I have never even had, and to use vegetables I never even knew existed. Thankfully, my husband will eat virtually anything, so experimenting has been a lot of fun. I have also really been drawn to the social side of meals. Food is not just about our bodies need for nutrients to perform basic functions; food is tied so intricately to the social fabric of most societies. When we get together it is to commune over a meal, or to socialize over some food and wine. It seems that where there is found virtually any gathering of people, some form of food is there.

My love of food goes even further though, I find that I also like the whole kitchen. Dishes do not seem a chore to me (granted I do have a dishwasher that is my right hand man), rather I feel that having a clean, uncluttered kitchen makes me feel that I have indeed accomplished something for the day (namely feeding and caring for my family, and then cleaning it up!).

So as my love of food and experimentation has grown, I have decided that I am making it a goal to try one new recipe and share it each week. It can even be as simple as the side dish I prepared for dinner tonight. We were introduced to this side dish when we had a lovely evening with some fellow FOCUS staff and their families, and this was a great addition to any grilled meat.  I hope you enjoy!

Greek Spaghetti Squash

1 medium spaghetti squash
1 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp onion (I used spring onions)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small can of sliced black olives
1 Roma tomato - cut into small pieces
3 heaping Tbsp of feta cheese
1 tsp lemon juice
Fresh basil

To begin, split squash down the middle and clean out the seeds and pulp. Place halves cut side down on a pan with a little bit of olive oil. Cook at 375 degrees for 45 minutes until it is tender.

The olive oil really melds the taste of the squash.

Allow the squash to cool. Meanwhile, add some garlic and onion to the olive oil in a pan and heat until aromatic. Add the tomatoes and heat through. Use a fork to "pull" the "spaghetti strings" of the squash so that  they are almost like noodles. Add squash to the pan for a minute, stir until coated and then pour the whole mixture into a dish. Add the feta cheese, olives and finish with a touch of lemon juice and fresh basil. Toss and serve warm!

The finished product! Such a tasty and filling way to add some more vegetables to a meal! (Note: I was out of basil and had to skip it... but will make sure I have it next time)

*Warning: my food rarely looks pretty.... I care much more about the taste ;)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Stubborn Old Man Winter

This year couldn't be more polar opposite than last year. April 2012 we were already dying of heat stroke and had the air conditioning on already, and this year I am shoveling 3-4 times a week. Native Coloradoans tell me that it is usual to get a really good dumping a few times in March and April, but we are getting slammed with snow 2-3 times per week! I guess I should have seized the opportunity to take the kiddos to the park a month ago when we were having 75 degree weather and it was dry out. Good news is that the snow pack is 98% and we really, really need the moisture. Hoping for some serious green in the near future.

Other then weather, we keep busy. Paul has had a lull in travel this month, so it has been nice having him around, although it is very hard to keep a stocked fridge when he is here inhaling everything all the time. Leo isn't helping me there either as he has decided that baby food or mashed/pureed food of any kind is for the babies and birds and he is neither one. This morning he ate a whole 4x4 in slice of egg bake complete with potatoes, chunks of ham, mushroom, peppers, cheese and eggs. I will be making lots of egg bakes in the near future. His other favorite is Indian food with curry and naan, although chicken tiki marsala in a diaper is the nastiest thing I have ever seen or smelt... and that is saying a lot coming from me! He is getting more motile by the minute, pulling up and walking around everything. He also likes getting into and eating everything, so I am busy spring cleaning and putting things out of reach of little hands.

Paul is loving his Toastmasters Club, and since he won table topics one week was eligible to compete in a competition. He really enjoys it and it is helping him to stretch himself and become a better speaker. He aslo got to get out and do some golfing; just hitting range balls and putting, but he enjoyed being outside and getting back into the swing of things (he he, I love puns). He will be traveling a lot more for next few months as FOCUS is getting ready to do placements for the next school year and summer training is around the corner. Our family travel schedule will get buck wild come the end of May through the rest of the summer, and we will be doing several cross country jaunts. I am praying that the kiddos do well. All right, enough jaw flapping and on to the good stuff (pictures!).

Did I mention he LOVES spaghetti? He is also cutting 4 teeth on the top, so his new amber necklace has been helping keep the crabbies manageable.  

Sophia loves being read too, and she has memorized half of our books. 

After Mass a week ago, there were a bunch of First Communion kids all dressed up in their suits and white dresses. Sophia freaked, and wanted to wear a white dress and pretty flowers on her head. This was my best rendition using odds and ends around the house. She walked around like this the rest of the day.

AND.... more snow. Old news, but still fun.

At least Paul was off that day so they spent lots of time playing outside.

Sophia doing a little light reading: The Mystery of the Transfiguration 

Bouncy fun

He loves smiling and his fingers!

Dishwasher dash! All he needed was some motivation in the form of a plastic measuring cup.

They play really well together, especially with Soph's castle. Who knew that thing would provide hours and hours of fun.