a saturday reflection

this morning i woke up in an empty bed. this isn't something that happens often. most of the time eleanor is curled up next to me, pulling the covers over her head not to be bothered by the light while daddy gets ready for work. but today, it was just me and the sun. my husband left before dawn to attend a convention in kentucky and eleanor and wolfgang were still tucked away in their beds. i laid there awake for a moment with my hand on my belly, feeling every move my growing baby boy made. i took time to look at myself. how my body has changed after carrying three babies. i held my hand up to the sun and tried to remember what it looked like as a little girl. it's so funny how time moves and changes things without us even realizing.

once i heard the distant "ma ma" calls from wolfgang's room, i pulled myself out of bed and tip toed into his room. he was sitting patiently, waiting for me to scoop him up, open book in hand. i gave him a thousand good morning kisses all over his face and took him downstairs for his morning routine ... a diaper change, yogurt and an episode of sesame street. our boy loves elmo to pieces. he calls him elbo and we will never ever forget the sound of his tiny voice asking for it.

eleanor woke up shortly after and came bouncing loudly down the stairs as she usually does. you can almost bet that the first words to come out of her mouth will be, "good morning, mama! time for breaktest (breakfast)?"

for the remainder of the morning we just hung around the house like sloths ... snacking and cuddling on the couch. we watched a movie and then i put wolfgang down for his nap. 10:30am ... everyday the same time.

when he woke up we hopped in the car to meet grandma for lunch. we ate at a cafe we had never eaten at before and afterwards we went to a greenhouse. we are particularly fond of this greenhouse because it has an area for kids to feed goats and play in the sand. it's a win/win for everyone ... on the way home, we stopped for ice cream and drank lots of water because it was such a hot day.

as i was driving home, we were listening to this song. everyone was riding quietly and i looked into the rear view mirror. there they sat. my two children. they were looking out their windows with dried vanilla ice cream and hot fudge on their faces. they were perfect... i began thinking that for the past eighteen months, my life has been spent solely with them. our every hour has been spent together. our routine down to a science. i guess i hadn't really ever thought about it, ya know ... but we're a team. kristen, eleanor and wolfgang... best friends. life partners.

in ten weeks, we will be adding another little person to our clan. he will have to learn the ropes, that's for sure ... but i know he will slide right in and it will be like he was there with us all along. listening to our music, looking out the car window and living our life.


you pick strawberries for the soul

spend the afternoon picking strawberries with friends. 

when you find yourself driving on a country back road, let your oldest babe hop in the front seat so they can put their arm out the window and feel free. turn the music up and look over at them. let your heart fill with the deepest joy. 

when you get home, let them help you make pie and say "yes" to a little bit more sugar.

let them stay up passed their bedtime to eat spoonfuls of cool whip straight from the container. 

give them an extra long hug before tucking them in and tell them you wouldn't want to live life with anyone else. 

easy strawberry pie:

four pints of strawberries is exactly what you will need to make one pie. 

1. bake a pie shell as directed on box or make one from scratch ... either way, bake and then let cool. 
2. place your chopped berries in the cooled pie crust. 
3. in a small saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups water, 3/4 cups sugar and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to a boil. let boil for two minutes. 
4. remove from heat and add one 3 ounce packet of strawberry gelatin. stir until dissolved. 
5. pour over pie and place in the fridge to chill. this will take a couple hours. 
6. add heaping spoonfuls of cool whip and smile with every bite! 



cleaning on a budget

 i have been rather sappy on social media lately (ahem, thanks pregnancy) ... so i wanted to shake off the emotions and do something a bit different.

let me begin by saying that we are not rich. like, at all. we like nice things as much as the next family and try to budget in a way that everyone is satisfied and we still have a little money left in bank ... it doesn't always work out that way because we are not perfect, but that is ultimately the goal.

for instance, if i have $100, i would rather spend it on a zoo pass than a years worth of expensive cleaning products.

a couple of years back ... when we first bought our house, i vowed to no longer spend money on lysol or windex or any of that other stuff that you just do not need. so, i began to make my own cleaner.

all purpose cleaning spray:

all you do is take the peel of one grapefruit and put it in a mason jar. you fill the jar with white vinegar and seal. sit it in the sun for about a week and give it a good shake about once a day. next, put a funnel in a spray bottle and pour the grapefruit vinegar in. discard the peels. lastly, fill the rest of the bottle with warm water and voila! i literally use this on just about everything. counter tops, toilets, spills, the stove ... everything. i do not spray it directly on wood. for wood surfaces, i just use a dry or damp cloth. nothing fancy.

glass cleaner: one part rubbing alcohol, three parts warm water.

so ...

one jug of white vinegar is usually under $2.00 and if used just for cleaner .. it will last well over a year.

one grapefruit usually costs me about 79c and i have to buy about three a year to make cleaner.

one bottle of rubbing alcohol costs about $2.00 and i honestly can't remember the last time i had to buy it ... it has lasted me a while because i only use it for glass cleaner.

most people who make their own cleaners will add a few drops of essential oils ... i do not. i happen to love the smell of oils and if someone gifted me a bottle, i would use it ... we just simply do not choose to spend our money on them. :)

for my wood floors i add one drop of dish soap to a bucket of hot water. sometimes, i will add a tiny drop of almond extract that i use for cooking because it just smells so good!

lastly, i would say that the biggest money waster when it comes to cleaning are paper towels! i bought twelve white cloth napkins and just simply wash and reuse them. they work perfect for counter tops, dusting, windows and mirrors!

i am by no means a cleaning expert ... this is just what i do and it has worked wonderfully for my family. happy cleaning! :) p.s. forgive the state of my scrub brush. it gets used multiple times a day on our big industrial kitchen sink! it has seen better days ... but oh boy, i have loved that thing! i bought mine here


motherhood, a loneliness

we have been completely out of sync lately. well, i would say since we got back from vacation. these last few weeks of home school are dragging on and eleanor often refuses to start school. every morning i wake up and think to myself, "please be a good day. try to be patient." we have found that disciplining a seven year old is quite challenging. arick and i do not practice spanking and time out just doesn't work for her anymore. so, these times when she becomes combative or flat refuses to listen to me ... i am at a loss. it doesn't help that i am beginning to feel super pregnant and easily worn out. i have been going to the bathroom, closing the door and weeping ... thinking, "okay, what can i do? how can i make her obey?" and to be honest, i just don't know. today i took one of her toys away and she laughed at me. as i was sobbing, she laughed. as a mother, as a human ... i felt completely defeated. i know that she is just growing a lot right now and she will begin to regress because a new baby is on the way ... so, i will practice patience everyday and we will get through it. we love each other and sometimes relationships of any kind are just so hard. but they are worth it .... she has been crawling in bed with me in the middle of the night and i hold her so tight because it is just about the only time we have lately to truly show love for another ... in the most natural way ... i have began to cherish it so much. 

wolfgang has also been going through a change. he has officially entered toddlerhood and oh, man ... he keeps me busy. if he isn't climbing on top the table or trying to crawl down the basement steps, he is throwing a mighty tantrum.


someone once told me that motherhood is the loneliest thing in the whole world. when i was little, my mother stayed home with me and my brothers ... it was just the four of us all day while my dad worked. when my dad got home, we ate dinner and did the whole traditional family thing. well, at night ... my dad would leave again to go hunting. raccoon hunting. my mother and him often fought about this because she wanted him to stay home instead. as a child, i remember thinking that she was too hard on him. that she should just leave him alone and let him have fun ... well, now as i sit here ... a thirty year old mama with two children and one more away ... i finally understand. she was just lonely. i love motherhood ... oh my gosh, absolutely and i wouldn't trade it for anything else ... but on these really hard times ... being at home all day, everyday, alone with your babies ... it can feel so lonely. i have these moments when neither child is obeying and the house is so stressful and i can't keep up with a darn thing ... all i want is someone ... anyone ... to knock on my door and give me a hug. to just hold me for a few moments and whisper, "it's okay. everything is okay." like, if someone could acknowledge that we are struggling, i am struggling, that would somehow makes things better because i wouldn't be alone in it. 

arick and wolfgang took eleanor to ballet today, so i could have two whole hours alone in this house. i knew that if i could just be by myself for a bit, i could look back on things and find happiness. find myself. you know sometimes i think kristen is hiding in the woodwork. if i can myself, then maybe the loneliness will go away. 

so, i found a few things that gave me the deep breath i needed. things that make me happy. things i often do not see in moments of frustration and the loneliness of motherhood. 

1. i heard giggling in the bathroom and walked in on them rolling around and jumping up and down on my bed ... things that make me happy. a reminder that the good outweighs the bad. 

2. a snoozing wolfgang on his baby brother. something to cherish forever and ever and ever ... 

3. a letter from my husband. something kept tucked away in my drawer to read ... on those lonely times. 


a florida getaway

my little family and i spent the past eight days on the road. my husband had to visit tampa for work, so the kiddos and i decided to tag along ... and i am so glad we did. we had the sweetest time. while he worked during the day, we spent our time at the zoothe aquarium, and botanical gardens. late afternoon, we met back up with daddy and spent the evenings at clearwater beach. it felt oh so good to leave ohio for a bit after a long, cold, dreary winter. since we were already going to florida, we decided to spend one of our days at disney world. it was eleanor's first visit and in her words, "mom, this is the greatest day of my life." i didn't take a lot of photos of our day there because we wanted to make the day all about her. it fills my eyes with tears looking back on it already. what a wonderful thing it is to fill a child's heart with joy and watch them light up. it really was magical. 

now we are back home and i am busy unpacking and sorting laundry. eleanor and wolfgang are busy playing with their toys, eating popsicles and watching cartoons. they were the best travelers ... spending thirty hours total in the car can really take a toll on little ones, but they were troopers. we really couldn't have asked for a more peaceful and loving trip.