Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winter Comfort Food (and even kind of healthy)!

This recipe has become one of our favorites. We make it every week because I like to use the crockpot once a week for those super busy days and it uses some of the vegetables we get each week in our winter farm share. Rob loves it. I am actually posting this because of him. He asked me for the recipe so he could pass it on to the ladies at work. Now that it is here, I'll be able to find it whenever I need it! Enjoy!

Crock Pot Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Rice

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It is About Time!

It is about time that I FINALLY change the name of this blog to include the newest sweet addition to our family, little baby Annabelle. She came into our lives shortly after 11am on September 29, 2011 weighing 8 pounds 12 ounces and measuring 22 inches long. She seemed small to us considering her big sister weighed almost a half of a pound more! Although she has fit well into our lifestyle and has been an even easier baby than her big sister (and her big sister was actually really easy), I have not made the time to change our blog title until now.

While pregnant with Annabelle I looked forward to the long leisurely maternity leave ahead. I thought I would have so much time to do all of the things on my never ending to-do list. I anticipated spending quiet afternoons with Annabelle in my arms putting together digital scrapbooks and updating the blog to record wonderful family moments for my girls.

Since Annabelle has been so easy to care for, the days have been filled with fun activities, organizing baby girl clothing, many naps, some cooking adventures, a few walks, coffee and lunches out with girlfriends and Miss Elise (Annabelle's very best friend next to big sister Amelia :)! I have enjoyed almost every minute of this maternity leave, well, except for searching for childcare and working hard to treat the never-ending diaper rash on Annabelle's little bottom.

Now that the maternity leave is coming to a rapid end, I am realizing there are some things I neglected to get done as soon as I should have! One of them is updating this blog to include our sweet Annabelle. She brings much happiness to our lives and very little stress. Amelia adores her. She is our peaceful little bundle of joy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What I love about Fall in Vermont

Fall in Vermont is a lovely time, and it is nearing an end as the days get colder and shorter and the leaves fall off the trees. Here's a short list of some of the things I love about fall in Vermont:

10. Everything pumpkin...especially lattes and whoopie pies.

9. Fun apple cider drinks (this year, we made an apple cider sangria inspired by the one served at a local restaurant).

8. Apple cider donuts (these vary from place to place, and some are much better than others, but I enjoy taste testing them wherever we go!).

7. Picking apples at the local orchards (this is almost as fun as picking blueberries here in the summer...Amelia and I have enjoyed both activities since we've moved here).

6. Harvest festival at Sam Mazza's (there is ALWAYS a festival every weekend somewhere in Vermont and we like the festivals at Sam Mazza's because there are lots of fun things for Amelia to do and it is only a short drive from our house).

5. Making apple crisp with Vermont apples (I do think they are better than those elsewhere).

4. Beautiful colors (yes, the reds, yellows and oranges are more abundant and brilliant in here than anywhere I've ever been, even Northern MN).

3. Pumpkin carving party at Gretchen and Aaron's house (this year is the first time we've done this, but we hope they continue to have this party yearly because it was a blast! Although pumpkin carving can be done anywhere, not just in Vermont, we've started to really get into the Halloween spirit while living here since Amelia has become old enough to really participate in the festivities).

2. Visitors from home (people like to visit Vermont in the fall, and we love visitors...this year we had Rob's parents, my parents, Rob's sister Suzanne and her husband Matt, and Stephanie Bratney from Iowa....last year we had both sets of parents, Suzanne and Matt, and also Tom and Joe from the Iron Range, and Thomas Maust from medical school).

1. This year, the very best thing about Fall in Vermont is the addition to our family of Annabelle Kathryn Ward. She was born on September 29 at 11:13 am, weighing 8 pounds 12 ounces and measuring 22 inches long. She has brought much happiness to our family, and her big sister, Amelia, adores her.

Now that I have written this, I think maybe I should write a list of everything I love about winter in Northern Minnesota since that would include Amelia's place and time of birth. However, I don't think that list would be very long, because I remember the month after her birth being so frigid cold. I don't think the temperature ever got above negative 20 degrees that first month, and I do believe she got a little frostbite on her cheek. On second thought, I'll just stick to reminiscing about Northern Minnesota in the summer!

Friday, July 29, 2011

And they are off to the cabin!

In Rob's family, the cabin is a big deal. I love it, and fortunately, I've had many opportunities to spend time there. The most memorable time was when we spent the month of July there when Amelia was only 7 months old. It is lovely, and it is the perfect place to be in the summer with young children.

If I had planned this pregnancy better, I would have had this baby in May or June allowing me to spend the summer at the cabin during my maternity leave. Unfortunately, the timing of pregnancies doesn't always work out just perfectly. I am due at the end of September. I certainly could pack up Amelia and baby and head to the cabin when baby is ready to travel, maybe in November, but that will be during the school year while Rob is teaching. Furthermore, northern Minnesota in November doesn't really appeal to me. I might as well be here in VT with Rob! So, maybe if I ever get pregnant again, which really may not happen, I may have better timing!

Right now, Rob and Amelia are in the air en route to Minnesota for their second trip to the cabin this summer. Unfortunately, I am not able to join them this time. I did spend a lovely week there in the beginning of July, so I haven't missed out completely. Honestly, the next month or so is going to be so busy for me, that it will be nice to have two weeks to get a lot done while they are gone. When they return we have a few fun trips ahead for pathology meetings, New York City in August and Texas in September, and then baby will come and the chaos will really begin!

This afternoon, I arranged to leave work a little early so I could get home and spend some time with Amelia before their take-off. I left the hospital at 4pm, and let me tell you, it was sure busy that time of day. It seemed that EVERYONE leaves the hospital at that time! Then, when I got on the highway to head home, it was completely backed up. My normal 15 minute commute turned into 45 minutes! Finally, near the exit I take to get to our house, I saw a car off to the side that must have been on fire shortly before I passed it. It was completely black and all the windows had shattered. There weren't any people there anymore, but the police were. During the long wait on the highway, I saw THREE ambulances go by on their way to the hospital. Overall, it looked like a bad situation.

When I finally arrived home, Amelia ran to me and gave me the best greeting she has ever given! As soon as I opened the door, I heard her little feet running through the house and she yelled, "Mommy! Mommy!" I grabbed her and hugged her and pulled her up onto my hip. She then proceeded to say, "Mommy, were you work-ing? Did you he-lp people?" I said, "yes". Then she said, "I went to basketball daycare, and then I went swimming. Now I am going on an airplane." It was so wonderful to hear all the things she wanted to tell me about her day. This is the most information I have heard her say at once. I was very impressed.

So, now, they are on a plane heading toward Detroit. I worry about their tight connection there, but I know they'll be fine regardless of what happens. Rob's good friend Sam is having a wedding reception in Rochester tomorrow afternoon, and I do hope they make it in time to attend. Then, they'll be heading to the lake to visit the MacGregors (Rob's mother's side of their family). I am sad I won't be able to be with the MacGregors this week, because I love them so much. They are such a wonderful family, and they've been so kind to me over the years (even allowing me to live with them for two months while doing rotations at the University hospital in Minneapolis)! Even though I will enjoy the peace and quiet, not to mention the tidiness of our home when the two of them are gone, I am sad to be missing out on time at the cabin with the MacGregors.

At the end of their visit, Rob and Amelia will spend a few days in Gibbon visiting my parents. Amelia has two sets of wonderful grandparents, and I am happy that she'll get to see both of them during this visit.

I am looking forward to their return and the upcoming trip to NYC when they get back!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gym Job Ears

Now that winter has finally arrived in Vermont, we have settled in to our more indoor lives. We actually got a gym membership since it is cold and icy on the roads now. We decided the only real option for a gym for us is one with a nursery, so we've joined Sports and Fitness Edge, which has a handful of locations around the Burlington area. Although it serves our needs, it is NOTHING like Lifetime Fitness in MN. Oh, how we miss our old gym! Since this is the best we could find in VT, we'll just have to be happy with it for a few years. Rob plays pickup basketball three times a week and also attends a spin class. His instructor was very impressed with his strong legs. I like the group fitness classes after work and on weekend mornings. Body pump is pretty tough.

Rob had a job interview on Monday! We are waiting for the end of the week when we find out if they liked him or not. He described the other science teachers as a bunch of guys that look exactly like him. I think that is a good thing, but I am not sure. The only problem is that if they have two candidates they like, they will ask them to do a lecture for the hiring committee. This idea is a nightmare for Rob, so we're hoping it doesn't come to this. However, we all know what an outstanding lecturer Rob is!

Amelia and Rob took an exciting visit to the hospital today. They met me in surgical pathology, which according to Rob, is difficult to find. Amelia chatted with some of the other residents, and then we went off to her ENT appointment. The tube in her right ear is still in place, but the left tube has fallen out. Unfortunately, there is fluid building up behind the tympanic membrane on the left side. We have another appointment in 6 weeks to see if the fluid clears, but I am not hopeful. Although it sure isn't a huge crisis, we aren't that excited about the prospect of having another tube place...just spendy and time consuming. However, we are fortunate to have good health for the most part, so we can't complain.

Amelia is as cute as ever. Her vocabulary expands daily. She loves to read books, play with her babies, and she has a newfound interest in coloring, which I have been trying to encourage for awhile now! We had a glorious time last night while Rob was off at Bridge League. Amelia colored for 30 minutes while I tried two new recipes to utilize all the root vegetables we get in our farm share. Oh, it was such a treat! She did end up coloring her doll's leg, and then came to me at the sink asking for "dope", ie soap. She tried scrubbing the doll's leg three times with no success. Maybe she'll learn her lesson not to color her dolls anymore!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Everyone is in Minnesota!

Rob, Amelia, and I have been vacationing in Minnesota. After they left me in Vermont for a week by myself, I flew to Minnesota to spend the week of the fourth at home in Minnesota. My parents picked me up at the airport, and we drove up to the Ward cabin near Hackensack, MN. We had a wonderful weekend at the cabin with Rob's family. My parents left on Sunday morning, and following tradition, we went to Rob's grandmother's sister's place on Woman Lake for the annual family fourth of July parade and picnic. After parading through the property in various vehicles, we picnicked on the beach. Amelia spent most of the afternoon in the lake, and we all got lots of sun.

Amelia is working on her language. She now is able to say shoes. She says "bye" appropriately, and is very social. She learned how to start and stop the washer and dryer at the lake home, which is not as helpful as I am sure she intends to be. She spent her days in the water, playing on the beach, going for walks, and playing with her toys and books inside the screened porch. The most exciting moment was when she stepped right off the dock as she was walking on it and fell into the water. Fortunately, she was wearing a life jacket, which brought her face right up to the water. She was startled though, and she even cried a little from all the excitement.

As always, it is good to spend quality time with Rob's family on Arthur's Point. I was so sad this morning when we left, because I know we won't be spending as much time there as we have in the past. I am sure Rob and Amelia will take one more trip to MN this summer, but it isn't the same as in the past when we were able to go up every weekend in the summer.

We are now at my parents' farm in Gibbon. We'll be here for the weekend, and then back to Vermont. Everyone in Minnesota enjoys Amelia's visits!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Long Distance Vacationing

Amelia and Rob are back in Minnesota, while I am starting my first rotation here in Vermont. They are up at the cabin with Rob's parents, and I call constantly! It sounds like everyone is having a wonderful time together, and the grandparents are enjoying Amelia! Last time I called, she was obsessed with the phone and wouldn't let Rob talk to me. I heard her babble through the phone, and I told her about all the things I've been doing here in Vermont.

I spent the weekend in New York City with Rob's sister Suzanne since I had the weekend to myself. It was so nice to see Suzanne and her husband Matt and to visit the big city for the first time. I had an enjoyable Sunday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and took the time to read about the paintings I was interested in. This is something that would be difficult if I had little Amelia along! Since I went to the Picasso exhibit, I purchased a book about Picasso for kids. I may bring her to the museum in the future, but it will be a different type of visit! Eventually, I can't wait to go to big museums with her when she is interested in the art as well!

I took the train from New Haven, CT into the city. It went smoothly, until the train stalled on the tracks on my way home Sunday evening. After transferring to another train right out there on the tracks, I finally arrived in New Haven three hours after the scheduled arrival time. Then, I had a 5 hour drive home, during which I witnessed a terrible accident, and I finally got home at 2am. Wow, what a trip. Despite my preference for train travel, next time if Rob and Amelia come along, we may consider driving into the city and parking outside of Suzanne's apartment. I hear driving into the city is not bad on the weekends, especially with a GPS.

I started my cytopatholog rotation this week. It basically involves learning how to interpret cervical pap smears. There is much more to cytolopathology, but this will be the focus for my first month. Honestly, this program is so great. Everyone is very kind and the learning experience is enjoyable. I am confident that I found the perfect program for me. But too bad it is so far from home!

The past two evenings I spent shopping in the area since no one else is home. It has been fun to explore the Church Street area in Burlington, which is a cobblestone walking street with lots of great shops! This evening I went to an outlet center in a nearby town. I bought Amelia a cute fourth of July outfit that I can't wait to put on her when I meet them at the cabin in MN this weekend!