Who are these people??!

You know, the new wave of the perfect pintrest picture people: the 30 second ‘make food mixed with beauty’ people. The Martha Stewart meets Julia Child meets tommy the tech guy.

You’ve seen the super snippets of food video that have taken the internet by storm. Those 30 seconds that lead to a fully cooked and decorated Thanksgiving meal, complete with homemade turkey name plates to greet each loving guest.

Usually I just bypass those with a smile. I truly am glad that some people have the talent to pull all of those off.

Usually I am not foolish enough to think that I can even play in the same city, let alone the same park at these folks.


But this Halloween simply snuck up on me. In a desperate attempt to find some sort of ‘my mom is so Halloween Cool!’ check mark in the kiddos eyes, I got lured into one of the ‘look how easy this is!’ video snippets. The one that made worms in the straws. Made form gooey gelatin that somehow magically pours itself into the straws, leaving no mess behind, then slithered out of it’s own accord, to mix gleefully with perfectly crunched oreos to create the perfect ‘ewwww, this is so creepy cool!’ reaction.

In trying to reenact this grand affair in real time, the only ‘quick’ thing about this endeavor was the realization that they left a few things on the editing floor.

Like, for starters, when pouring the jello mixture into the straws, how did they actually get it to stay IN the straw?? They left THAT little detail on the editing floor. Something that I realized, right about the time I remembered, ‘oh yeah, straws are made for liquid to PASS THROUGH… not magically fill up!’

Enter impromptu edit #1: the frosting fix!

thumbnail_img_7003Yep – that’s exactly what I did – opened the frosting and just dunked all the straws in there. You won’t see THAT on the pinterest board!

Next was the actual pouring. I don’t know how they did it so perfectly in the video, but I had gelatin goo EVERYWHERE. Between the straws, pooling in the jar. Even running down my arms! There is a reason why I moved away from the Jell-o state, and this brought it all vividly to my memory.

As the concoction sat in the fridge, I actually let my long-subdued wanna be crafty self submerge for a season of hope. This really could be the time it works! I really could be sending my kiddos to school with super cool halloween snacks after all! I went to bed last night with visions of wormy treats dancing in my head.


Which quickly turned to dreams about snakes eating my children. No joke. That probably had more to do with us taking our kiddos to the jungle over Christmas (a post for an entirely different day!), but I should have taken it as an omen nonetheless.

I got up this morning, pulled the straws out, and laughably thought this would be just like the video – the saintly fingers gently coaxing the perfectly formed worms from their hibernation.

Not so.
thumbnail_img_7005See these blood-red fingers?? That is NOT jello stain people. Those ridges on the flex straws HURT! Even as I type this, my fingers are still missing a few layers of skin on them.

Speaking of the straws – what they forgot to mention in the video was that this project is NOT conducive to the cheap-o walmart ‘extended flex!’ crap. They meant for you to use INDUSTRIAL strength, non-stick polymer-filled straws (probably available by special order from martha stewart.com…). thumbnail_img_7006

these ones had worm gust squirting out from all sides. I got so desperate, I even tried my hubby’s (trying not to giggle while he offered) advice to ‘run them under hot water then just blow them out. Yep tried that. Nope. Doesn’t work. Great, now I have raw fingers, AND a ginormous trying-to-blow-up-way-too-small-of-balloon headache!

Son #3 comes down the stairs, so I’m desperate to get SOMETHING in the bowl (the kids have been anticipating this since they saw the crazy contraption in the fridge! Plus, I have NO plan B for Halloween food-fedishness, so I have to make it work somehow!)

I squeeze, I tug, I rub my fingers raw.

and from the huge bundle of straws, THIS is what I end up with:thumbnail_img_7007

So, I do what any dietitian-mom would do:

Add Oreos.









Because, at the end of the day, oreos really DO make things better!

And THAT, my dear friends, is how NOT to follow a ‘oh, this is super easy, even a non-crafter can do it!’ video.

Happy Halloween…

If you need me, I’ll be munching on some worms.

that I purchased from the store.

for .99.

The misconception of a missed conception



The ultrasound tech measured and clicked, and calculated and scanned on Baby A. But my eyes were fixated on Baby B. Where one week before there was a mini heart pumping a million miles a minute, I saw silence.
“I don’t see the heartbeat in the other one” I stated, fully expecting the tech to say, “oh it’s there – I just need to get a better angle.”
“I don’t either.” was instead the response.
And just like that, all the wind sucked out of the room and I felt like an anvil had just been dropped on my chest.
“Wait here while I go get the Dr.”
Shock. Disbelief. Some kind of sick technician joke. It had to be something, ANYTHING other than the inevitable M word. I don’t think I breathed at all waiting for the doctor to walk in. By the look on his face, I knew my worst fear was finalized.
Baby B was dead.
He said a lot of things to us that day, but I don’t really remember any of it. I couldn’t hear over the silent screams in my head telling me -no, telling God-that this wasn’t fair. It couldn’t be true.
We staggered out to schedule a follow up ultra sound for the following week. And then two weeks after that. And so on throughout the pregnancy. Told that we now had to keep monitoring the surviving twin pretty closely. So each week I got to re-experience the sight of a silent heart. And then baby B got smaller and smaller as baby A grew bigger and bigger.
It was like ripping out stitches of sadness over and over each follow up ultra sound. Seeing right there a life extinguished before it even truly began.
And each week as the grief washed over me, it was followed by a tidal wave of guilt. How dare I be so sad when I was still pregnant! How many women had lost a baby and had nothing?! In spite of losing one life, I simultaneously got to grow the life of another. It was the craziest wave of emotions.
Why is there such a stigma with the first trimester? The ‘we can’t tell anyone we are pregnant’ trimester ‘because what if something happens during this trimester?’ So what??! Something DID happen during that trimester. And now I had this part of me that was dead, and I felt like I couldn’t really even grieve about it.
Why is there such a silent stigma associated with miscarriages? Why is there such a hush hush about the unsurity of the first trimester. So the pattern goes: don’t tell anyone you are pregnant in case you have a miscarriage. In the case that you actually have a miscarriage, you are then compounded by the loneliness that no one knew you had a human inside you, so no one knows that you just lost a life inside of you. You instead get to paste on the plastic smile and go about your day as if nothing has changed.
But everything has changed.

Miscarriage #2 came just 6 weeks ago.
The first office visit.
A bed side ultra sound.
Dr. Asking, “how are you feeling?”
Me “very pregnant. The heart burn has come way earlier this time around, right alongside the nausea this time.”
As she started the ultra sound we chatted about different options for heartburn medication, and things that had worked for me in previous pregnancies. The chatter slowly stopped as I looked at the screen to see an image that brought back the gut wrenching sight that had sucked my breath away a few years before. I quickly looked at the doctor and her face once again confirmed what I told myself couldn’t be happening again.
She tried in vain to twist and turn and find an angle that would prove her own fears wrong. She finally broke the silence. “I’m not seeing much here.”
This time it was my own response that sucked the wind out of the room and left me staggering. “neither do I.”
We did some follow up tests. I got my hopes raised a bit. And then crushed once again with the realization that this baby would not be taking a breath in this life. This baby would not even be forming a mouth to take a breath. This baby wouldn’t even form a heart to have a heartbeat to call it by some people standards “Alive”
But it is every bit a death as the first one. It was a life inside of me that is now gone. A birthday we will never celebrate. A first step we will never cheer on. A first smile we will never see. A first giggle we will never hear. A first cry will can’t simply snuggle away.
Gone. Dead. And once again alone to grieve.
As I left the office, I texted another member of the carpool who was going to cover for me to pick up the group of kids from practice:
“Well my appointment ended sooner than I thought, so I can pick up the kids after all.”
“Great! Have a good day.”
And just like that, I got to once again paste on the plastic smile and pretend like nothing had happened.
But everything had happened. My world was once again turned upside down. I was left to try to make sense of it. Try to not be consumed by the guilt and the grief and simply get on with living.
I mean, c’mon I have SEVEN healthy, incredible kids! Am I even allowed to mourn the loss of one mere when-does-life-really-begin-being?? How dare I think to be sad when there is so much life literally crawling all over me! In the world’s standards I have certainly surpassed my quota of kids. I am fully embedded in mommy hood.
And still, on some days, there is a pain that hits out of the blue and suddenly sends tears streaming down my cheeks.
I have come to learn, however, that as I slowly open my mouth and share this situation with others, I am amazed by the sudden hurt mirrored in many of their own faces as they confide that they, too, are acquainted with this grief. And somehow that simple statement sends a calming balm through my soul as I realize that they are out there. You are out there. My miscarriage sisters. Waiting in the wings to grieve together and carry one anthers burden through this lonely walk of grief. If only we will open our mouths to speak the silent sorrow and let others know they are not alone in this lonely world of dashed dreams of an unborn baby.
On this week of baby loss awareness, if you have been walking through the shadow of silent sorrow, please know that you have a virtual shoulder right here.
I feel your pain.
I see your tears.
And my heart hurts for you.

Connecting with Kids in the kitchen can get messy

Any perusal through pinterest land brings into our life images of sweetly singing, perfectly color coordinated children, skipping merrily around the kitchen helping you put together magazine-cover worthy delicious dishes, which they eat with smiles on their perfectly groomed faces.

Enter reality:
IMG_3755 adamYep, more often than not, life in the trenches can be a little *less pinteresty* than we like to admit. Like the time I only have 5 minutes to get dinner on the table, enlist the help of teenager (blue jacket in picture above), and that is the exact 5 minute interval in which both toddlers decide they must clamp themselves to your legs and practice their vocal ranges (yep – both can still hit the high scream pitch perfect!).

Or the time when 3 yo is dying to help… and thinks his sole mission is to free the cheese from it’s bag of bondage.

… Or that time when you really did boil the eggs for easter… but that’t not the ones the kiddos dyed.
IMG_4110 IMG_4857









… or the time when the baby got a hold of the chocolate chips, before anyone else was awake to stop her.


Yep, creating with kids in (or even out!) of the kitchen can be all kids of crazy. And messy. And even a bit sticky at times.

But believe me, in the end, it is worth every spill, split, and splatter.

and you will even have many moments…








When the cooking kids and stars align…









and simply steal your heart 🙂


Scrooge, Humbug, and Happy New Year

I know, I know Christmas is over. Even the New Years revelry in resolutions has now probably gone by the wayside. And yet, somehow, I can’t seem to shake this lasting thought from my mind. Why do we automatically associate scrooge with humbug, miser, and miserable old man?

Well, the short answer is because he was the main character in a beloved Christmas tale that depicts him as so – ruthless to the core, saying, among others, that if people can’t take care of themselves, they should just die quickly to help “reduce the surplus population!” Yep. I think that’s about as cold and miserly as one could get.

I have heard this story many times over, and have seen different depictions of the play and movie, and like so many millions of others, have come to type casting scrooge into this peg of a presence.

But this year something changed.

It all started as I <begrudgingly> agreed to let some of my kids take part in our community play of A Christmas Carol. I sat waaaay off to the side one night at practice, minding my own business, trying to get some work done and wondering what we had in the house that could be put on the table in under 10 minutes to feed the hungry crew at home once these kids finally finished their practice.

I looked up and noticed the directer sauntering toward me with a way-too-cheerful smile on her face and way-too-sweetly asked if I would be interested in taking part in this production. Before I could bellow “humbug!” she quickly explained that they were in desperate need of a ghost – they had the costume already – I didn’t have to sing or speak, or even show my face. All I had to do was don this huge black costume, walk on stage, and point. I apparently had the one quality that this part required: height.

Quite honestly, I agreed solely to be able to get my kids into good graces with this director and hopefully help them get some good parts in future productions, but inwardly groaned at the thought of having to secure babysitters (my #1 least favorite thing to do!) for the two littles not only for rehearsals, but also for 4 days in a row during school hour performances.

I’m not gonna lie – I was pretty impressive as my role of the ghost of Christmas future. I got the biggest reaction when I went on stage – mostly due to the fact that once secured on my body, the costume loomed a huge 12 feet in the air with long, bony arms and hands. It was quite the force to behold. And I could point with perfect precision (not counting the times I pointed in the absolute wrong direction, at the wrong times… hey it was my debut performance, give me a break!).

But what happened to me while I stood on the sidelines of the performances waiting for my part was nothing short of a miracle. I started listening to the words with more interest than I ever had before. I started to truly internalize and understand the message of this amazing play.

It got to the point where I wanted to jump out in front of the actors, push the ‘freeze’ button and ask the audience of kids, “did you get that?? Did you pay attention to that last comment?  THAT’S what life is all about… about making MANKIND your business… and doing it NOW, before it’s too late!” I wanted, just as jacob marley attempted, to warn them that life is so, so short, and an inward focus now will just lead you to misery later.

But then came the biggest hit home lesson of all. During my scene, Scrooge is finally scared enough to the point that he begs to have another chance. He begs to be able to prove that he can change. He pleads with me to give him him some sort of sign that the awful scenes laid before him of his death (and the rejoicing therein) could actually be changed if he changed. It was about the only time I wanted to break script, to go over to him and pat him on his head to let him know that everything would be okay. But I guess a bony old hand wouldn’t be the most comforting feeling clonking you on the head… so I simply stayed silent and exited.

When he wakes up and realizes that he had, indeed been given a ‘2nd’ chance, he truly makes the most of it. During this part of the play, I simply sat behind the curtain (the action was taking place in front with the curtain closed) to wait for the bows. As I sat there, I got to listen over, and over, and over again to the final words of the play. And I started thinking and pondering on this last part:

“A Merry Christmas, Bob! A merrier Christmas than I have given you for many a year. I’ll raise your salary, and endeavor to assist your struggling family…”

“Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more. And to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he became a second father. He became as good a friend, indeed, as good a man as the old city knew, or any other city for that matter. He had no further discourse with spirits, but is was always said of him hat he knew how to keep Christmas well, if anyone alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, of all of us!”

… and day after day as I sat and listened to this last description of Scrooge I wondered at the power of pigeon holing.

Certainly if I were to walk up to someone and say, “My, you are so very scrooge-like!” they would not take that as a compliment. Yet, if we look at the last paragraph of the entire book, it is probably the highest compliment one could give.

I have often wondered about the importance of change. Especially around the New Year, it seems that many of us take the time to look back on our lives and find areas where we are lacking, or in need of revamping in some ways. With the donning of January 1, we also resolve to change some things in ourselves, be they a scroogely overhaul, or a tiny tim tweak.

And yet, as with many customs in society, the “New Years Resolution” has come under great scrutiny and scorn. Each year the statistics come out at how many people don’t complete their resolutions… and we even go so far as to scoff at the new crop of gym hoppers that fill the weight room, telling each other to just wait out the week, and then we will have the gym back to ourselves again.

On this kinda-sorta-still-start of the new year, I have a question for us all. As we embark on this lifelong journey of improvement and change, are we allowing others the space to change and grow?

In your mind, which image below exemplifies the life of scrooge?

Happy-Scrooge-on-Christmas scrooge_2425689k









I think it’s sometimes way too easy to judge others in their attempts to improve. Sometimes we may even become threatened by it – as if their improvement somehow diminishes our standing. Crazy, I know, but it happens.

I have seen this first hand in my life. On both sides of the coin. I have been on the side of begging people to see the new me and not hold the ‘old me’ over my head as an albatross I will never be able to break in their eyes. Sadly, I have also been on the other end, holding other peoples mistakes (especially-gulp-their mistakes that have hurt me the most) menacingly over their pleading looks to me for forgiveness and truly seeing them in a different light.

How about if we resolve, all together, to become the after-affirmers, rather than the before beholders. Could we perhaps each resolve that as we truly try to change day by day and week by week to mold a new remembrance of ourselves, we also allow those around us the space to do the same?

I think we can, and I think that vision looks glorious! In the spirit of this new year that is upon us – let’s work together to become our spectacular new scroogy-selves, and allow others the arena to do the same :).

KIKn it week one: You mean macaroni and cheese doesn’t come from a box??!



Let me preface this by saying, I am no Julia Childs.  I am a down home, traditional meat and potatoes type of gal.  I know how to cook… I just haven’t ever been one of those people who finds nirvana over steaming victuals.

In fact, true story:  our first Thanksgiving together, I woke up that morning, got the turkey out of the freezer (yep… I heard that collective gasp!), then called my mom to ask how to cook a turkey.  She wasn’t there (uh oh!)  So I dialed up my mother in law and asked her.  She gave me some great tips (that I still use to this day! thanks, Gramma Sue!!).  I may or may not have broken a few health code violations in trying to get the bird thawed first (really??  who knew you had to actually prepare some parts of the meal ahead of time??!), and then cooked.

Turns out, it was one of the best turkeys we had ever had.  (Yup, those tips really did pay off!  Good thing because we were hosting quite the crowd for dinner!).  I started to realize that cooking good food didn’t have to mean using ingredients that you couldn’t pronounce.

Fast forward many years, many trials and errors (let’s just say, our kids have become brutally honest when my ‘experiments’ aren’t quite up to eating standards!), and I have kind of gotten a little routine down of quick, yet somewhat healthy meals to prepare the family.  I patted myself on the back that we only broke out the mac n cheese a few times a year (so the kids viewed it as a ‘super special treat’ to have it for a meal!).

Enter week one of our KIK program.

I sat down the kids, dusted off the menu planner, and told them they could each pick whatever dish they wanted to do for their designated day.

7 yo son immediately chimed up “Mac n Cheese!!”

“awesome! pop open a few boxes, that is easy enough” was my first thought.  Before it even came out… my Bon-Appetite-loving hubby chimed in from the peanut gallery… “so… are you going to teach him how to do the REAL version??”

And suddenly it hit me.  I had spent years studying the fine art of nutrition.  I had worked in a campus cafeteria, and then managed that cafeteria.  I had taken food chemistry classes.  My entire college education centered around food.  My entire dietetic career has been spent teaching people to eat close to the farm… to try to stay away from processed foods as much as possible.  And here I was about to teach my child that to cook a dinner, you first need to open a box of processed food.

Of course, I couldn’t admit this to my eyebrows raised hubby, so I nonchalantly glanced over and said,

“yes, of course I am.”

And just like that, my whole outlook on this program changed.  I realized that I could do so much more for my kids than merely teach them how to get food-like-substances into their bodies.  I could really teach them how to COOK (and probably learn some things myself along the way!), and truly NOURISH their bodies.

So began our night number one:

lesson 1:  butter can burn.








Moving on:

Real lesson number 1:  how to make a roux (and in full disclosure, I just had to look up how to spell that!)

(I remember when I had baby #3, a dear friend brought dinner that contained the yummiest soup ever.  I called her for the recipe, and she started off with “oh, it’s so easy!”  major red flag when said friend is a gourmet cook, I later learned!  “you just start with a roux… ” she went on to explain this “super easy” recipe, but truth be told, she lost me at roux.  I had never made one before and thought that if I couldn’t even define the word, then making it would be even harder!).

Turns out, it really IS quite easy!

You simply melt some butter (careful not to let it cook too long… see picture above, ahem…), whisk in some flour, then add milk (while whisking like crazy!).  Suddenly you have yourself a super yummy-looking roux!









Next, you stir in some cheese









Pour it over some noodles (that you have already boiled!)















Cover with some bread crumbs:








And bake in ‘that hot thing over there!’ (as quoted from 5 yo… hmmm, maybe we’ll need to incorporate some kitchen vocabulary into her KIKn night!)

Then you sit and watch the magic happen as all of the ooey, gooey goodness melts together.

All in all, this recipe was a double thumbs up from all the kiddos… who were just as surprised as I was that mac n cheese could come from a place other than the little blue box :).

Here’s the recipe (from Alana Spillman – a girl I have never met. She is found in the family recipe book given by my dear friend… which book also contains the recipes for frogs legs, mutton, and head cheese.  First of all, I am suddenly rethinking your family lineage, Sue 😉  and second of all… I don’t think those recipes will be making their way into the kitchen any time soon!  But this one was a keeper!)

1 (12 oz) box macaroni noodles (cooked and drained)

6 tbsp. butter

6 tbsp. flour

1 1/2 cup whole milk (we used skim milk)

1 1/2 cup cream (we used fat free half and half)

3/4 tsp salt

pepper to taste

3 cups shredded cheese (we used part milk and part sharp cheddar)

3/4 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray bottom of 9×13 pan.  Melt butter in sauce pan, then whisk in flour (mixed with salt and pepper).  Slowly pour in milk and half and half while whisking.  Bring to boil while stirring constantly and boil 2 min.  Reduce heat and simmer additional 10 min (declaimer – we were short on time, so didn’t wait the whole 10 min).  Stir in cheese until melted and simmer another 5 min (again short on time, so just stirred until melted).  Pour in noodles and stir until coated.   Pour into pan, top with bread crumbs, and bake for about 20 min (until top is golden).

Serve and “make sure to tell everyone that I made it, okay mom?”

Long live KIK!!!

Join me in the journey… what’s cooken in your kitchen??