Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy 10th Birthday Jonah!!!

Celebrating Jonah
Jonah got a new bike for his 10th birthday.

Jonah has a special place in my heart.  I am sure all mommies would agree their first born does.  It's not that we don't love our other children as much.  Believe me, I love Carson and Camden every bit as much as I love Jonah.  But Jonah was the first.  The first person to ever help me understand the meaning of loving someone so much it hurts.

I will never, never, never forget the feeling I had when I looked down at Jonah, just two days after he was born, and tried to wrap my brain around the fact that he was mine.  No one else could take care of him like I could.  I looked at his yellow feet pajamas with the blue ducks, and felt the overwhelming weight of the simple fact that I chose those pjs.  And I would choose his preschool and most likely his first sport.  I would guide him to choose an instrument to play, and friends, and eventually a girlfriend...and college.  I remember watching Man on Fire with Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning.  I don't remember much about the movie, only that Dakota Fanning had been kidnapped and Denzel Washington was trying to rescue her.  But I do remember, vividly, the way the tears rolled down my face, as I watched the kidnapped girl run to Washington when he found her.  I looked down at my sleeping Jonah and felt like my heart would burst, imagining what I would do if someone ever took my child away from me.  I felt this need to protect him, to wrap my arms around him and shield him from the hurt and sadness of our world.

Now I know that I cannot protect Jonah from everything.  I know he will eventually have to deal with loss.  He has already dealt with bullying.  He will have rejections and heartaches.  But I also know that I can prepare him for those situations by keeping our dialogue going.  I can throw the football with him while he tells me about his day, go on bike rides, and take an interest in what he wants to play on the xbox.  I can read the same books he reads, read aloud to him, and have inside jokes with him.  I can cuddle with him at night and scratch his back (as long as he will let me).  I cannot believe that I have spent a decade getting to know him.  And there is so much fun waiting for us in the next ten years.

My dad sent Jonah a birthday email with his "Top Ten Favorite Jonahman Pictures."  Jonah loved getting that email.  And my dad inspired me to put together my Top Ten.

We call this "the picture."  It is classic Jonah at two months old.

First Day of School

It was love at first sight with these two.

And this little collage.  Because how can I celebrate Jonah without giving a little love to his first favorite sport?

I still have those yellow feet pajamas with the blue ducks, and I'll probably never be able to part with them.  They are a reminder of my commitment to take care of Jonah the very best way I know how.  By loving him and listening to him, from that special place in my heart.

I love you, my sweet Jonah!
Happy 10th Birthday!!!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Yummy Meal on Monday

When Jonah said, "This is really good, Mommy," I asked Justin if he told him to be nice to the chef.  It's not that the boys don't often compliment my dinners, it's just that I didn't expect them to compliment this particular one.

Chicken Sausage with Apples over Farro

Some of our favorite meals come from the ladies at Trader Joe's, who dream up delicious meals, gather the ingredients from their store, and cook right there in the back of my favorite grocery store.  They keep the food hot in a crock pot, and put out samples for all the customers to try.  Camden made a meal out of their spaghetti squash last week, and the week before, we both ate this dish up!!!

My hubby tweaked it a bit--he's a better cook than I am--when he made it this past Friday night. 

olive oil
chicken/apple sausage 
fuji apples
apple juice
chicken broth (or water) to cook the farro
farro (link to a blog with a good explanation of what this yummy stuff is)

1. Cut the sausage into bite sized pieces.  Peel, core, and slice the apples.  We used my handy peeler I got at Sur La Table.  FYI--Great for peeling apples for applesauce for your little people.  Here's a delicious recipe for cinnamon apple pear sauce you can make in the crock pot.  It's delicious!

2. Start a pot of water (or chicken broth) for the farro.  The package says it serves 3, but we always have plenty to go around plus leftovers.  Cook farro according to package directions.

3. Cook the chicken sausage and apples in a little bit of olive oil.  When the chicken sausage is almost done (lightly brown on each side), pour in 1/4 cup of apple juice and let it simmer for about 5 minutes (this is the part Justin added).

4.  Add the cooked farro to the pan with the chicken and apples and stir to combine.  Let mixture cook a few more minutes.  Serve!

This is such a yummy fall meal.  And it's healthy too!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What I'm Reading

First of all, I'm sure you noticed my AWESOME new blog design!  Thank you Amber Butler!!!  You did a fantastic job. :)

Last week I wrote about what my kids are reading.  And I have shared a bit about our read aloud time.  Now I want to share with you what I am reading.  I'd love to start a dialogue about what you are reading as well.

I pulled this book out last week, after I removed Camden's arms from around his buddy's neck.  Putting friends in the headlock is not ok around here.  I promptly put Camden in time out, but I wasn't sure he really "got it."  So I pulled out this book, and flipped to the chapter titled, "The Explorer." (The author has named each stage of a boy's life by certain traits boys usually display).

Wild Things, the Art of Nurturing Boys, by Stephen James and David Thomas has been one of my favorite reads.  This book has given me so many great ideas for how to be a better parent.  It also affirms the fact that my boys are right where they should be.  When I read, "As strange as it sounds, boys in the Explorer stage demonstrate love and affection through wrestling, head butting, and sometimes even hitting," I breathed a sigh of relief, realizing Camden was doing just what he was developmentally ready to do.  It made me feel better about Fight Club  storytime as well.
(Mike, Leah's husband, renamed storytime when Camden started stealing pacis and knocking children down--turns out this is all normal).

Camden is trying to give Abby a toy that looks like a paci to him.  He has a paci, why shouldn't Abby have one?

 There are three things that make this book a "must read."

1. The "tips" at the end of each chapter that help put the authors' suggestions into practice.  An example from "The Explorer" stage is Keep it Short and Simple.  They say one of the mistakes parents of 2-4 year olds make is asking their child if he/she wants to eat lunch.  Instead, we should let our children know it is time for lunch.  "It's time to eat lunch now."  Then we have removed the temptation for them to say NO, one of their favorite words.

2. The authors encourage "natural consequences."  I thought of this one just the other day when Camden was trying to wrestle a book our of a little girl's hands at storytime.  I was about to step in when the book snapped back and hit Camden in the chin.  He let go and rubbed his chin.  That was a natural consequence.  And Leah always enjoys telling the story of how I made Carson pay for the mulch he kept playing with in the front yard.  I did warn him.  I told him if he kept taking the mulch out of the mulch bed, he was going to have to buy the next bag of mulch.  So he paid me out of his allowance.

3. The end of several of the chapters recommends books/movies that kids at that stage would enjoy.  The authors suggest using these movies and books as discussion starters to talk about themes.  Some good questions are, "How did it make you feel when..." and "What did you think when..."  These movies and books can help our boys begin to connect with the outside world.  From this list, we have enjoyed some old favorites like The Princess Bride and E.T.  It's so much fun to watch movies we enjoyed as kids!

Other books I am enjoying now are Anything, by Jennie Allen (current momsanity bookclub book) and Among the Hidden, by Margaret Peterson Haddix.  Among the Hidden is the first book in the Shadow Children series.  The boys and I are reading this book together at night and I can hardly wait to read it each time.  I almost snuck a few chapters in today when they were at school!

What are you reading?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bacon, Football, and Turkey

Bacon, Football, and Turkey.  Does it get any better than that?

In the Karkow house, we love some bacon.  If I hear of a recipe that calls for bacon, I have to try it. Which is why I've made a Thanksgiving turkey wrapped in bacon, baked chicken in a yummy bacon coating, and cooked one of our favorites...Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Brown Sugar-Ketchup Glaze.  And when I heard bacon is "momsanity approved," I could hardly contain myself.  

When your biggest boy wakes up in the morning asking if there is any leftover meatloaf, it definitely says something.  Well, it might say we are on the cusp of the teenage years, but it also says he enjoyed his dinner the night before.  Jonah is a true carnivore--loves his meat--but this meatloaf was a winner all around.  Everyone enjoyed it.  It has become a meal I take to friends when they have had a baby and one that keeps well and heats well for leftovers.

This turkey was a winner as well.  I just wish he had showed up for the party.  It was a good thing we had a second turkey cooking for the 2013 Turkey Bowl.  For some reason, my fresh turkey seemed to be a bit frozen, resulting in a cooking time twice what it should have been!  My good friend Melissa had signed up for the other turkey, and her's was delicious and on time so we enjoyed her turkey for lunch.  Ours showed up in time for dinner and it did not disappoint.   I had to deliver some of the bacon wrapped meatloaf to my neighbors so they wouldn't miss out on that deliciousness.  I will definitely be making this turkey again this year. And hopefully I'll remember to take an "after picture!"

More to come about these turkeys.  
Our fourth annual Turkey Bowl will be here before we know it!!! 

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Few of My Favorites on Friday

Our week in photos...

This just reinforced the fact that I need to keep making these ABC books.  Camden could not stop opening his book (and I am only on the letter P!!!) and looking at a picture of Lala (Leah) and another one of Daddy.  He was obsessed.  Guess I know what I'll be doing this weekend!

Have you ever heard of touch math?  You may do it and not even know it.  When adding two numbers, say the name of the larger number, then add on the smaller number using the "touch points" identified here.  When we were having "Homework Club" (Drew and Jonah do homework together, and Jake and Carson do homework together), I got out this chart.  It is useful for tactile learners.

This guy was CRACKING UP at one of his Music Together songs.  At the end of the song, there is a person singing, "Woof, woof."  For some reason that really made him laugh.  He really made me laugh when he went over to his Woof Woof and tried to get her to sing in his microphone.  She wasn't really interested.

Speaking of his Woof Woof.
Thank you to EVERYONE who gave me recommendations for what I could do to get my sweet 14 year old dog to eat!  I took a little of everyone's suggestions and now she eats a variety of meals.  I mean, who wants to eat the same dry dog food twice a day for 14 years?  So, we alternate between pouring turkey gravy on top, mixing her food with canned pumpkin, and wet food.  She's a good dog.

I could not be more proud of my biggest boy.  He was baptized at church on Sunday.  He got cold feet a few minutes before, but when he heard Chris Allen (our friend and campus pastor) was doing the baptisms, he wasn't worried anymore. :)
Carson's puzzle sandwich.  Because I will do ANYTHING to get that boy to eat!!!
No WIWW for me next week.  This is the only pic I took all week.
shirt: Forever 21, jeans: Old Navy, shoes: Target, earrings: World Market

Mmmmmmm.  Bacon.  Bacon Meatloaf.  Recipe coming...

This pic cracks me up because it almost looks like I glued it back together.  My sweet hubby ordered another mug for me when the first one had a mishap involving a toddler.  I couldn't talk to said toddler for a few minutes after it happened.  But now we're friends again.

Is this the cutest Cub Scout you have ever seen!?

And the cutest soccer player as well???  SOOO much about this picture makes me happy.  The smiling boy, the "highlighter" yellow jersey, but most of all, the soccer ball in his hand.  I am so happy my big boy is trying out my sport--and loving it!

How was your week?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

What I Wore

My husband always says, "Write what you know."  For the most part, I follow this advice.  So, I am stepping a little out of my comfort zone with this post.

I am going to try out this little thing called "What I Wore Wednesday."  I love reading The Pleated Poppy and looking at her WIWW posts for inspiration.  I also like the idea behind her Wednesday posts--a challenge to get out of pjs and work out clothes and into something that makes me feel good.  Because we all know that when we feel good about how we look, we are more productive.

So, here goes...


Ha, ha!  I wish!  This is my sweet daughter (well, her mommy, Amber lets me borrow her sometimes to pretend), wearing Naartjie.  Have you ever shopped there?  We had a girls lunch last week and poked our heads in this adorable store.  Well, Amber may have done a little more than poke her head in.  When I texted her later to ask what she ended up getting (I had to leave early to get my boys off the bus), her reply was, "Too much!"  I can see how it would be easy to get carried away with all those sweet girl clothes.  Luckily for me, the store is 85% girl clothes and 15% boy clothes--as usual.

Here goes, for real...

lunch with the boys at school
lunch with the boys at school
dress: Priddy by Puella (Golden Tote), necklace: Target, shoes: Target (a few years old)
see my post about Golden Tote here

storytime at the library

shirt: Target, shorts: Forever 21, shoes: Target, necklace: Lisa Leonard Designs

My first pic isn't very clear, so here is the necklace again.  I wear this necklace almost every day.  There is a charm for each boy's name, a star, and a fresh water pearl.  Lisa Leonard also has a blog I enjoy reading sometimes.  Her Hello Monday post is so sweet this week.  If you sign up for her free newsletter, you will receive 15% off your first order.  

Music Together with Camden
shirt: Golden Tote (one of my surprises), shorts: J Crew, shoes: Converse All Star (Journeys), necklace: Old Navy

dinner with my husband and his coworkers

earrings: World Market, shirt: Merrick for Golden Tote (one of my chosen items), jeans: Old Navy, shoes: American Eagle
outfit inspired by this post
If you don't read Pinterest Told Me To, you should.  This girl is HIL.AR.I.OUS.

lunch with my girls
sweater: Ann Taylor (ooooold, like before kids old), shirt: Gap, belt: Target, distressed skinny jeans (Old Navy--on sale now), shoes: American Eagle necklace: Francesca's

walk with Leah, errands, and momsanity workout
oops--didn't quite make it out of workout clothes this day...
hat: Life is Good, tank: avia brand (Marshall's), shorts: Brooks, shoes: Saucony (Fleet Feet), socks: Feetures (if you are a runner, you MUST check out these socks).

church (Elevation)
Justin and I serve in eKidz (Sunday School) every week so this is my usual attire

earrings: Francesca's, skirt: Gap, shoes: Target

AND, to top off an already fantastic weekend, my biggest boy got baptized on Sunday!!!  Our hearts are overflowing with joy.  So proud of him!

I'd say I did pretty well this week.  I definitely did better at actually putting a little thought into my outfits since I knew I would be snapping a pic.  

And another plus?  I made my bed EVERY day this week.  Had to--it shows in most of my pics.  If that's not a reason to put a little thought into how I look, I don't know what is.

I am linking up with The Pleated Poppy's What I Wore Wednesday this week.  You should check her out.  She does WIWW a lot better than me! :)

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Recently I have developed an addiction.  An addiction to labeling.  At first, it was just in an effort to get organized.  Then I started reaping the benefits of my labeling.  My husband even caught the labeling bug.

First let me take you on a tour of all our labels.  Then I will share why I love to label so much!

For some reason, I thought summer was the time to organize closets.  Boy, was I wrong.  Having the kids home 24/7, pool dates, beach trips, and playdates made organization a near impossibility.  But, now that the big boys are at school during the day, I am having a lot more time to get in their closets and take care of the clutter.

Carson's closet was beyond out of control.  I had taken some of his baskets when I reorganized his bedroom, and left an enormous mess behind.  Yes, I take responsibility for the disaster that was his closet.

Little peek at Carson's "new room" before the closet organization...
We turned Carson's bed sideways.  He needed more room to play. :)
The baskets I took out of his closet are now on the bottom shelf of that yellow bookcase.  I had not "restocked" the bookshelf when I snapped this pic.
Now for the closet.  A few $0.77 tubs later (10 to be exact), and here we are...

before and after...

I apologize for the blurry iphone pic.  Here's what you're seeing, clockwise...
small drawer system holds rainbow loom bracelets, miscellaneous bracelets, and sweat bands; 10 tubs hold school supplies; electronics (headphones, ipod); Little Passports suitcase; memory box (medals and awards); dress up; toys and balls; action figures; scouts/camping; spy gear; and hats.
After this fun project, I was on a roll, and went on to tackle these two out of control areas...
The playroom closet...

And, the downstairs supply closet...

Want to see the before???

Ugh.  I can hardly even look at this picture.
Other items I have labeled...
My entire pantry.  See this post for full details.

Now that we have a house full of readers (Camden will catch up soon), everyone can put things back in the correct tub.  Theoretically...

This is one my favorite containers.  I used to store my extra K cups in the original box they come in.  We buy our K cups at Costco.  Now, I fill the canister next to our coffee pot and keep the overflow in this container in a closet.  I can see when my supply is getting low so I can restock.  That is a very good thing. 

My iphone cord.  One of the issues of having more than one apple device in the house is cords being "borrowed" by others just when your own device dies and you need to recharge.  Now I know that this cord in MINE and can relocate it when it walks away.  I used washi tape, so there will be no sticky residue if I want to remove the label.

Another cool thing I have started labeling is the boys snack and lunch Ziplocs.  I found these neat bags at Harris Teeter and once or twice a week I write a note of encouragement to my boys.

Here's why you should label...

1. It is FUN to SORT!  Yes, I was a first grade teacher.  When you are cleaning out a disaster of a closet and just need to find somewhere to start, designating containers for items like "school supplies," and "hats" can help you find order.  Cute labels help too.

2. It is much easier for you and your family to return items to their appropriate spots when there is a label on the containers.  I cannot tell you how much neater our playroom has stayed now that there are labels on all the containers.  When the boys' friends come over, they know where to return items when it is time to clean up.

3. It will make you happy.  Order makes me happy.  How about you?