Wednesday, October 31, 2007

On Good Mommies

I recently read something on the difference between “frustration tantrums” and “temper tantrums.” Meredith has a lot of frustration tantrums. These usually occur when she is trying to get herself dressed a certain way and her body is not coordinated enough to cooperate.

The other day Meredith was trying to pull a pair of tights over her pants and it wasn’t working, so she started having a fit. Then I offered to help her. Usually she is resistant to my help because she wants to do it “all by myself” but this time she let me. As I was pulling on her tights, she started patting my back and said, “You know what? You’re a good mommy.”

I don’t know if I am or not. But this is something that’s sure nice to hear from your two-year-old. And like Kevin said: even if I’m not a good mommy in other people’s book, who cares as long as my kids think so.

Monday, October 29, 2007

One of my favorite things.

One of my favorite things is the Safety 1st Bike Trailer.

My parents got this for us exactly two years ago. We have used it for countless family bike rides. We took a short break when I was in my third trimester with Clara and then shortly after she was born. But I’m happy to announce that now we’re back to family bike rides on weather-permitting Sunday afternoons! It's so much fun!

Friday, October 26, 2007

The longest line ever ...

I am now number 260 in line on the wait-list at my local library for the Deceptively Delicious book, thanks to Oprah featuring it on her show.

Last night I went to coffee with several of my friends from MOPS and Leah mentioned that she’s read the book and it’s easy—all you do is add pureed vegetables to everything from cupcakes to meatloaf.

Maybe next July when it's my turn to read the book I'll find out more ...

French Onion

In celebration of cold, autumn weather, we had one of our favorite soups last night. I used to order French Onion Soup in restaurants a lot until I realized how easy it is to make at home. And then I found this recipe, which is the best French Onion Soup I’ve ever had anywhere. It’s super easy to make and has a tantalizing, buttery taste. Adding the sherry is a must.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Spices of Life

One of the main reasons I went to Trader Joe’s today was to get vanilla bean for a crème brulee that I’m going to make on Saturday.

I was disappointed to learn that they decided to discontinue vanilla bean at my TJs store. This meant that I would either have to forgo the vanilla bean and use extract instead—which just isn’t nearly as good—or I would have to make yet another stop with tired and soon-to-be hungry children.

It turned out that the absent vanilla bean was a lucky twist of fate.

The TJs employee routed me to a specialty store called Penzeys where you can “see and smell more than 250 spices, seasonings, and herbs.”

Several weeks ago I saw a Good Eats episode where Alton Brown visited a spices and herbs store in Chicago. It was fascinating to learn about this type of business. I wondered if there might be one closer to Indy but never followed up with it.

Let me just say that I cannot wait to go back to Penzeys when I have the time to explore, learn, and experience more of it. It’s not exactly the type of place you want to hang-out at with a two-year-old.

The whole idea of a store dedicated solely to spices and herbs is very intriguing to me. I enjoy using fresh herbs when I can and I love a variety of spice flavors, but I realize there is so much more to learn about how to pack maximum, pleasurable flavor into food.

My mouth is watering just thinking about the possibilities.

Penzeys, I will return!

[Oh, yes, and I ended up buying a Madagascar vanilla bean, which is different than a Mexican vanilla bean, according to the lady at Penzeys.]

Trader Joes with Kids

I’ve been a Trader Joe’s fan most of my life but until today I had never gone with kids in tow. It’s hard enough going to one store with kids and, since TJs won’t meet all my shopping needs (it’s always for wine, specialty, or fun stuff, when I go), I rarely drag kids there.

Well, now I’m going to have to take Meredith back. She loved it. Shopping at TJs with kids was a fabulous experience. Here are a few reasons why:

1) They have cute shopping carts just her size for children to push around.

2) They have a stuffed monkey they hide in the store (a new location every day) for kids to find. When they find it, the kids get a “treat” from the cashier.

3) The treats are kid-friendly but also healthy. Meredith selected nuts and dried cranberries trail mix.

4) Meredith also got a helium balloon to tie around her wrist and take with her.

This was definitely the best-grocery-shopping-with-kids trip I’ve ever experienced.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Don't Hate Me

Please don’t be overwhelmed, don’t let me do that to you, but Christmas is less than nine weeks away.

I hate it when Christmas takes over the beauty of fall celebration. The Christmas season really shouldn’t start until after Thanksgiving, truly. But, on the flip side, the Christmas season is much less enjoyable if you’re not prepared for it. As a kid, I took it for granted that the tree just magically appeared and all the Christmas cards wrote themselves. It’s only been since I’ve been married that I’ve realized how much work Christmas can be.

So, I try to find that balance between planning for Christmas early but not allowing it to be a focus too soon.

This year I have really good intentions. I bought a special notebook and printed out a cover page that says “The Koons Family’s Holiday Notebook.” I plan to use it to stay organized this Christmas. I will also use it to keep all our holiday tradition ideas, recipes, and other fun stuff in one place. Now that I have kids, I think it’s important to make the most of every holiday.

Of course, this is something I’ve tried to do all my life. But now it makes sense to be more “intentional” about it.

Last year I attended several talks about making holidays memorable and ideas for creative family traditions. It will be interesting to see which ones we end up incorporating, and which ones stick. Every family celebration is unique.

Have you guys ever checked out the “Christmas Countdown” on They have a six week countdown planner that starts this week. Check it out!

Kid Update

Clara has become infatuated with her own voice. She will “talk” for five minutes straight and Kevin and I have concluded that it’s because she just enjoys hearing herself. I am imagining my life two years from now … two very talkative, giddy girls. Nice! At least I’ll never be bored.

Clara also smiles ALL the time. I don’t remember Meredith smiling half as much. It’s the most encouraging thing in the world; totally lifts my spirits.

And here are some excerpts from Meredith’s journal (I try to keep journals for both my kids, cute things they say and do, and how God is working in their lives. It’s to keep me from feeling guilty that I don’t scrapbook very often!):

Meredith has now learned to help with laundry by sorting the “lights” and the “darks” into different piles. She’s at about an 80% accuracy level.

Meredith is known to float around the house and say things like: “It’s so beautiful! It’s a wonderful dream come true!”

The other day I wiped peanut butter off Meredith’s chin with a washcloth. She was upset because she wanted to do it herself. After screaming for a few seconds, she took a little piece of peanut butter sandwich left on her plate and smudged it all over her chin to “undo” what I had just done. Do I have a strong-willed child, or what? I need prayer.

When I told her I needed to change her diaper, she said, “No, you already changed it yesterday.” (This is also her line when I want to brush her teeth.)

Meredith often mimics Clara and says: “Clara not say any words. She just say ‘aaaaaaaahhhck.’”

When I told her she could pretend to nurse her own dolly, while I fed Clara, she looked at me quizzically and said, “No, mine are too little.”

When I gave Meredith Gatorade she said, “That sounds like alligator. Alligatorade. Heh, heh!”

“We eat spaghetti with Hannah” is what Meredith told me last night when I served her spaghetti. I was incredulous because yes, indeed, three months ago Hannah’s family brought us spaghetti dinner after Clara was born. Then Meredith added, “We eat chocolate too.” Yes!! We also had chocolate cake that night, three months ago. Her memory and retention scares me sometimes.

Monday, October 22, 2007

"Family" Vacation

The decision for Kevin to go back to school has taken its toll. Our family really needed to get away for a few days. Although Kevin had a paper to write over his fall break, we decided to take a mini-vacation anyway. All the state park lodges were booked so we decided to stay at the Embassy Suites on the NE side of Cincinnati, take our time getting up (you can’t really “sleep in” with kids), eat their amazing breakfasts (the best omelets and pecan pancakes ever), splash around in the heated pool, and do whatever else suited our fancy.

We ended up going to a really cool park with a lake and getting a paddle boat. We also took Meredith to see her first movie in the theater (Ratatouille), which she loved. On the way back home we took the scenic route, following the Ohio River to Madison, Indiana. This trip was the best thing we could have done. It was so much fun.

It really was our first “family” vacation because the last time we took a trip, up the Oregon coast and through Seattle, Meredith was only 10 months old and could care less what we did. This was the first vacation where we tried to do kid-friendly things and got our child’s input on what we did next. (And, yes, she did have definite opinions.) I told Kevin that I really feel all “grown up” now being the MOM on a family vacation. It was such a different feeling.

On the way to the hotel we told Meredith that she was going to sleep in a “special bed” that folds out of a couch. She thought that was the greatest thing ever. As soon as we got there, all she wanted to do was promptly go to sleep in “my bed.” She never gave us trouble about going to sleep because, after all, her bed was “cool.”

Embassy Suites are great for young families because the suites allow you to put your kids to bed early and then the parents can shut the door and play games, watch a movie, etc. without worrying about waking the kids up. Meredith also loved the pond in the lobby with the fish and turtles. I think this indoor pond/ stream thing is fairly common at ES.

Recently I read in Parenting Magazine that 60 percent of adults think vacations with their kids are “more fun” than adults-only vacations. This statistic really surprised me because you obviously have to skip out on things when kids are in tow. But, after going on this little trip and seeing Meredith so thoroughly enjoying everything we did, I have to agree. It’s so much fun to see your child enjoy herself.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I have a crazy, loveable sister.

Betsy called me late last night and said, “Hey, I’m in Chicago and I have to fly out tomorrow at 11 a.m. Can I come and visit you guys tomorrow morning?” My sister is a pilot who flies private jets around the country and sometimes internationally. She hadn’t seen Clara yet and wanted to visit both girls.

Chicago is three hours (and one time zone) away.

She arrived at 5:45 a.m., with Steve her boyfriend (he’s a pilot too and often flies with her). We greeted them with sleepy eyes and bed head. Fortunately they were bearing Starbucks coffee with them. We woke Clara up at 6:00 and Meredith at 6:30. Clara was her cute self and gave her aunt several smiles. Meredith sang some songs and read a few stories with Betsy.

They left for Chicago O’Hare at 7:30 a.m.

My sister is crazy and I love her. I love people who do spontaneous and impractical things just for the sake of good times. That just about sums up Betsy.

Sick baby, sick toddler, sick mommy.


If you’ve noticed my absence on Blogger, it’s because last week I was super busy and this week we’ve all been sick.

This was my first time to have two sick kids and be sick myself. Meredith had a nasty head cold which she generously passed on to her mother and baby sister. Then Meredith got the flu. We changed her bed sheets five times in one night. The second time she got sick, I got smart and put a plastic bag over her pillow before putting her pillow case on top!! Fortunately no one else got the flu. I think God knew I was at the limits of what I could handle.

But I have to say … caring for kids while you are sick yourself is the pits. Mommies don’t get any “sick time” off to sleep and drink chamomile tea when they’re under the weather.

Kevin’s wonderful mother brought us chicken pot pie last night for dinner. Let me just say that, when you’re sick, there’s nothing better than having yummy, homemade chicken pot pie delivered to your doorstep. Mmmm. Good, healthy comfort food!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Company Picnic

Bounce Fun

At the pinata with daddy.

She was so happy to get ONE piece, she got up and left the group to show me!

Kevin plays "Egg Toss"

Yep, caught it!

Clara at her first Company Picnic

Clara loves her toys!! I often catch her smiling at this bug.

I think we've got another blue-eyed girl on our hands.